Even though I’m only five days into my summer weight loss journey, I feel like there’s so much I could talk about. So in order to keep this post focused, let’s just discuss food for today.
Cutting out junk food really feels like a cleanse. Of course I’ve been drinking more water, snacking on fruit, and eating smaller portions, but what has been so significant is making the distinction between wanting to stuff my face and actually being hungry. I had become so used to regularly allowing myself things like pizza, burgers and ice cream, so now it feels kind of weird restricting those foods again. But it’s a good weird. It feels good to make healthy choices at restaurants and pack myself a healthy lunch to take to work. And It gives me a reason to come up with and try new recipes.
Since I remembered having a low-calorie Venetian Apricot Chicken dish at the Olive Garden, I thought I would try my mom’s spicy apricot chicken and rice recipe that she’s been making for a years. Although she originally got the recipe from some cookbook, when I asked her for the ingredient measurements, her response was very vague. In truth I admire the non-conformist, free-spirited attitude she affects when cooking. She often doesn’t have a need or desire for guidelines but instead relies on her senses–most importantly sight and taste–to conjure up the right combination. A true Taurean woman indeed.
So here’s what happened after interpreting my mom’s directions. I’d like to mention that it turned out fantastic. Much better than that of the Olive Garden. May your experience be just as successful.
Apricot Chicken Stir-fry, Adapted from My Mother
My mom instructed me to add more of certain ingredients according to my preference. Knowing that I had begun my weight loss plan, she recommended that I use Smucker’s Simply Fruit instead of regular apricot preserves to cut calories and sugar. I also used brown rice instead of white rice, and added veggies to her usual sauce which often just includes chicken, onion and garlic. It turned out to be more of an apricot-chicken-stir-fry. Take these measurements with a grain of salt.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 large chicken breast, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
- olive oil
(These measurements are approximate. If you want it sweeter (or just a greater amount of sauce), add more apricot. Saltier? Add more soy sauce. For more spiciness, put some more chili sauce in. You get the idea.)
- 3/4 cup Smucker’s Simply Fruit, in Apricot
- 2 Tbs chili sauce
- 1/2 Tbs yellow mustard (dijon also works)
- A dash of soy sauce, add as desired
Start cooking the rice as directed on the package (a rice cooker is often the best option). In a large skillet, drizzle chicken with olive oil and cook over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like. Once cooked through, remove chicken from pan. In the same skillet, combine vegetables and garlic with oil, and cook over medium heat until tender. Remove vegetables from pan.
Reduce heat slightly. Combine sauce ingredients, stirring constantly so it consolidates. Add more ingredients to your preference if desired (keep in mind that you want to have enough sauce to coat all your veggies and chicken). Bring to a simmer, and then put chicken and vegetables back into pan. Stir the mixture thoroughly to consolidate. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Serve over a bed of brown rice.
Yield 1-2 servings.