A stir fry is a quick, delicious and veggie-packed meal, but many restaurant stir fry dishes and packaged stir fry sauces are packed with sugar, salt and additives.
If you're trying to eat more healthily and reduce your intake of these ingredients, making your own stir fry and stir fry sauces at home is easy, quick and cheap.
"Stir fries can be made using everyday ingredients, and they're usually a dish the entire family enjoy and can help prep," nutritionist and celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin told HuffPost Australia. "They're also incredibly versatile -- mix and match protein, vegetables and sauces."
A stir fry is also one of the easiest ways to include lots of veggies into your meals.
"I'm a huge fan of stir fries because they're such an easy way to meet that five-serves-a-day requirement," accredited practising dietitian Chloe McLeod said. "Usually stir fries are predominantly made up of vegetables and a bit of protein, whether it's chicken, beef or tofu, as well as noodles or brown rice.
"A lot of the store-bought stir fry sauces, however, can be really high in sugar. To be honest, I wouldn't really recommend a packet stir fry sauce. I always say to make your own."
How to make a sugar-free stir fry
Instead of purchasing sugary stir fry sauces like sweet chilli sauce, honey soy, satay, sweet and sour and teriyaki, try these delicious homemade ideas.
"It's so easy to make a delicious stir fry sauce without all the stuff which is in the packaged ones. Use fresh coriander, Thai basil, lemongrass, ginger, chilli, garlic and onion -- there are so many things you can use to add flavour," McLeod told HuffPost Australia.
When you've picked your ingredients, you can make a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor, or simply chop finely and add to the pan with some oil. You can also add peanut butter or tahini to the base for a creamy, satay-inspired sauce.
"Peanut butter, lime with a bit of ginger would be perfect. This way you're adding other nutrients in the meal, so the stir fry becomes really nutrient dense, satisfying and enjoyable," McLeod said.
"If you wanted to, you can add a drizzle of sesame oil over the stir fry once it's cooked just to add flavour, rather than cooking with the sesame oil."
If you love soy sauce in your stir fry, just remember to avoid going overboard due to its high salt content.
"If you do need to use a bit of soy or fish sauce, just dilute it so you're using a small amount for enough flavour, but not overdoing the salt or sugar," McLeod said.
And if you do choose a supermarket stir fry sauce, remember these handy tips.
"If you're purchasing a sauce look for 'no added MSG', 'preservative free', and make sure sugar is not the first or second ingredient. Also check that the sugar per 100 grams on the nutrition information panel is (ideally) less than five grams," Bingley-Pullin said.
"If you must use packaged stir fry sauce, get a quarter of a cup measure, put no more than a tablespoon of the sauce in, and top it up with water. Stir until it's well mixed and pour that onto your stir fry. This is a good way to still get the flavour, but without as much sugar, salt and so on," McLeod said.
Make sure to pack your stir fry with lots of low starch vegetables and moderate amounts of lean protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you full for longer.
How to make a healthy stir fry
- Use lean protein like chicken, tofu, seafood or tempeh
- Serve with complex carbohydrates like brown rice, soba noodles or quinoa
- Make your own stir fry sauce
- Include a variety of low starch vegetables like zucchini, capsicum, green beans, celery and Asian greens
- Add nuts and seeds on top of your stir fry for crunch, protein and healthy fats.
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