Updated: Feb 15, 2022
If you're a fan of Thai takeout, this Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry recipe is for you! I grew up in a family of Thai food lovers. Whenever Lucas and I visit my family in Birmingham, AL I expect to have Thai food (takeout or homemade by my fabulous cook of a mother) at least one evening for dinner. This recipe is inspired by one of my dad's favorite Thai takeout dishes, Gai Pad Med Mamuang, aka cashew chicken. It's super simple to prepare and packed with so much flavor and a whole lot more nutrition than your standard Thai takeout! It's also a great meal prep option.
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist's Take on Thai Takeout
Takeout is a dinner staple in the typical American household. My mom prepared most meals at home, but on busy days during my teenage years Thai takeout was the move. It's convenient, delicious, and was something everyone could agree on (which was a big deal for a family of 8). However, takeout is usually pretty high in sodium, contains hidden sugars, and is lacking in vegetables.
With all this in mind, I decided to make my own "healthified" version of classic Thai cashew chicken, and this Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry is the result. What did I do? Well... I might have added a few more veggies to this dish than it traditionally calls for, but can you blame me? I am a registered dietitian nutritionist!
For ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet see here.
How To Healthify Your Favorite Takeout Dishes
If you love your Thai or Chinese takeout, here are a few suggestions on how to "healthify" you favorite dishes:
Ask for the sauce on the side. The sauce contains most of the sodium and added sugar. And let's be real, Thai or Chinese takeout dishes always have a TON of sauce. If you ask for sauce on the side, you get to decide how much sauce you want to use. This is an easy way to cut back on excess sodium and added sugar.
Order or prepare steamed or stir fried veggies to go with your meal. Some takeout dishes contain vegetables, while others don't contain any. Vegetables are packed with fiber and antioxidants and an important part of a balanced diet. Balance out your meal by preparing or ordering some mixed veggies to pair with your protein and starch/grain.
Make your favorite takeout dishes at home. By making your favorite takeout dishes at home you control the sodium, sugar, and vegetable content. This Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry is a great option!
If you like the flavors in this dish you may also like: Satay Chicken and Veggie Skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Curried Sweet Potato Squash Soup
This Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry is packed with protein from chicken and cashews; healthy fats from canola oil, sesame oil, and cashews; and antioxidants and fiber from a variety of colorful vegetables. The one thing this dish is missing is energizing carbohydrates, the body's preferred energy source.
Make this dish a balance
Serve garnished w
sesame seeds and fresh basil as desired.tore .tore.tor.to.t - you choose! Cook the noodles or rice while you prepare your stir fry, and you'll have dinner on the table in just over 30 minutes.
My favorite way to enjoy this Thai-inspired Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry is to serve it over a bed of basmati rice topped with fresh, chopped basil and sesame seeds.
What’s in This Recipe?
Chicken – rich in protein, contains iron and several B vitamins
Seasonings – salt and pepper
Cornstarch – thickening agent
Sesame oil – contains vitamin E and heart healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
Canola oil – rich in unsaturated fatty acids, linked with lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels
Mushrooms – contains selenium, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin D
Carrots – contains vitamin A and fiber
Onion – contains quercetin and organosulfur compounds
Bell peppers – rich in potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, folate, iron, and antioxidants
Green beans – contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and fiber
Zucchini – contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carotenoids
Coconut aminos – made from the "sap" of coconut palms, a soy-free and gluten-free alternative to soy sauce
Maple syrup – natural sweetener, rich in manganese
Garlic – has antioxidant properties
Ginger – contains gingerol, may help protect the body from oxidative damage and cancer
Notes: This recipe is naturally gluten free and dairy free. For a balanced meal, pair this stir fry with cooked rice or noodles.
Cashew Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes
Stir Fry Ingredients:
1 lb. raw chicken breast, chopped into 1" cubes
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. canola oil
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 cup zucchini, chopped into 1" cubes
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
3 tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tbsp. maple syrup
4 cloves or 2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
Add the chicken to a medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss in cornstarch.
Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add carrots and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook for 7-8 minutes until the mushrooms are lightly browned and the carrots start to soften.
Next, add the chicken to the wok. Sauté stirring frequently for another 5-7 minutes until browned.
Add the onion, bell peppers, green beans, and zucchini to the wok. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, the add the sauce. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes until sauce thickens.
Stir in the cashews, then remove from heat. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with sesame seeds and fresh basil as desired.
Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. When you make this recipe, tag me at @hope.for.balance and use the hashtag #hopeforbalance for a chance to be featured in my Facebook or IG stories. I LOVE seeing your creations!