My simple go to East meets West dishes

When I set myself a healthy eating resoultion, I knew the way I cook my food and my bad habits where I automatically reach for the soy sauce to flavour my white rice or when I’m shallow frying some mushrooms with herbs, I’ve also made my favourite Chinese chicken dish you cook with some soy sauce, a can of Coke and sugar (honestly, I’m serious!) my mum made one of my favourites, Coke Chicken (a similar recipe can be found here from Nigella).

The aim is to fine quick and simple recipes that are also a healthier option to using additive or ingredients that require added salt (including soy sauce) or sugar. These past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to create recipes of my own by throwing together ingredients we’ve got in the fridge that needs used up and finding alternative ways to get a full and flavoursome dish without those dreaded salty or sweet stuff.

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Broccoli with chicken and cashew nuts

Serves 3-4

Cooking time: Approx 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts
Half a head of broccoli (or you can replace this with a stick of celery or veg of your choice)
250ml of boiling water water
2 tbsps of cold water
1 stock cube
1 tbsp corn flour
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp of oil
A handful of cashew nuts
Rice (Optional)

1. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized cubes

2. Boil the water and add the stock cube when this is ready. If you’re serving rice with your dish and you’re using a rice cooker, cook your rice at this stage.

3. In a pan over medium heat, pour in the stock then add the raw chicken breasts. Allow this to simmer and for the chicken to cook – cooking the chicken in this way allows the chicken to remain soft and not stringy

4. Finely chop a clove of garlic and add this to the chicken and stock

5. Cut off the head of the broccoli and the stem if you like crunchy broccoli sticks, making sure to remove any stringy parts from the outside

6. In a separate pan, boil some water with a dash of oil. Once the water’s boiled, add the broccoli and leave for a few minutes only before draining (in Chinese cooking, boiling vegetables for too long means the veg is devoid of its nutrients. For nice, crunchy veg, remove them from the heat and drain once the green colour becomes more prominent)

7. Once the chicken’s ready, add the broccoli florets and stalks to the stock. Simmer for a few minutes on low heat

8. In a small bowl/cup mix the corn flower with about 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add this mixture to the stock, chicken and broccoli and turn up the heat to medium to allow the stock to thicken

9. Once the stock has reduced and thickened in consistency similar to thin gravy, mix in the cashew nuts and serve on a bed of rice (if desired)

This is one of my favourite Chinese dishes, because of the different textures you get all in one dish: the soft chicken, soft-crunchy broccoli with the hard crunchiness of the cashew nuts. There are no added ingredients for flavouring (ie soy sauce, salt etc) so the full flavour of the dish is mainly from the ingredients with the garlic adding a bit of added dimension. The great thing about this is you can always substitute the ingredients with others in the same veg/meat/main carb family.

This is an East meets West blog post, right? Since you can replace the ingredients with anything you want, I had a little experiment last night which worked really well!

Chicken and mushroom with spaghetti

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Instead of using broccoli, I swapped this for mushrooms and rice for spaghetti. I kept the chicken, stock and garlic as per my recipe above and it still tasted amazing!

My favourite European dish that I happened by accident when I was looking for a quick and simple meal to feed the starving OH when he’s been busy working away at the garage!

Spaghetti with king prawns, garlic and chilli

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Serves 2-3

Cooking time: Approx 15 minutes

Ingredients:

200g king prawns (raw or cooked)
200g spaghetti
1 clove of garlic
Small section of chilli
2 tbsps of oil

1. Cook the spaghetti according to your own method or the packet’s instructions

2. Finely chop the garlic and chilli

3. When the spaghetti is nearly cooked, add the oil to a pan and add the prawns

4. After heating/cooking the prawns till their hot and well cooked, add the garlic and chilli. Cook for another few minutes

5. Add the spaghetti to the prawn, garlic and chilli and mix well. If the spaghetti seems a bit too dry, you can either add a dash more oil or a small pat of butter before serving

Again, this is all about the simplicity and ease of cooking without adding too much flavouring or condiments. The garlic and chilli are natural ingredients and a healthier option of cooking the prawns, instead of using vegetable oil you could use (if you like, extra virgin) olive oil instead. No added salt, sugar or soy sauce.

The best part of all, you can swap all the ingredients for an alternative. If you’re vegetarian, you can leave out the meat/seafood and use vegetables instead. It’s also very vegan friendly without the meat, so it’s simple and easy to make to suit your requirements.

If you do try out my recipes, let me know what you thought of them! Have you got any favourite recipes of your own to share?

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