January 25, 2010

January 25: THE MONDAY MENU Amerasian Chicken and Mushrooms with Bacon Fried Rice

Most overweight people who switch to healthy eating quit within two weeks. This happens for two main reasons: 1) They do not identify with a healthy lifestyle; and 2) They have so radically changed their eating habits they are unable to control their cravings.

In today’s diet-crazed world fat and carbohydrates are looked upon as evil. But for people who are accustomed to the dopamine rush that comes from eating a big steak dinner, or the rush of serotonin that comes from eating a buttery baked potato, suddenly switching to a fat free or carbohydrate free lifestyle is synonymous with kicking cigarettes cold turkey.

The key to switching from a high fat, high carbohydrate diet to eating healthy is to make the move gradually. Start by eating less and preparing meals that are not low fat, but lower in fat. Cut back on the carbohydrates, but don’t eliminate them. The body needs them for energy.

Today’s recipe is an example of how we can cook using this gradual step-down approach, and includes one of my favorite comfort foods – bacon. This recipe is low in calories, provides two full servings of vegetables, and is full of healthy protein. At the same time it is satisfying, full of flavor and lends itself to beautiful plating.

Oh, and did I mention that it contains bacon?

Conversation Starter: What comfort foods would you like to see incorporated into a healthy dish?


2 slices smoked bacon
8 oz raw chicken breast cut into ¾” cubes
¼ Cup dry roasted cashew (salted)
1 Cup cold cooked rice (unsalted)
1 large egg
2 Cups whole button mushrooms (approximately 8 oz)
1 Cup fresh Pea Pods (snow peas)
½ Cup frozen peas and carrots
2 Tbs. light soy sauce
3 large cloves finely diced garlic (optional)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger (optional)
½ Cup water

Fried Rice

Use only cold cooked rice. Leftover rice from a previous meal is perfect as long as it has not been seasoned with butter or any other flavoring. Unsalted rice is preferred, but not necessary.

Cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until crispy. Do not allow the bacon to burn. Remove and allow it to slightly cool. Do not wash the pan as it will be used to fry the rice. Once cool, chop bacon into small pieces (about a quarter of an inch). Pour off the remaining rendered fat into a small cup and save for later use.

Beat egg well. Spray a small non-stick or well-seasoned skillet cook with cooking spray or a teaspoon vegetable oil and cook egg over medium heat without scrambling it. Egg should be round, flat, and cooked thoroughly.

Using the pan the bacon was cooked in add half the garlic and chopped bacon. Simmer for a minute or two over medium heat stirring occasionally to keep garlic from burning. After two minutes turn the burner up to medium high and add rice, soy sauce and egg. Mix well chopping egg into small pieces. Cook rice mixture on one side for four minutes, paying careful attention not to scorch it. After four minutes, stir the rice and cook for an additional four minutes. Rice will turn slightly brown and appear to have crisped up as the soy sauce caramelizes. After four minutes stir again. Add cashews, peas and carrots and cook for two more minutes. Remove and store in an airtight container until ready for use.

Chicken and Vegetables

In the same large non-stick pan over medium high heat add back the rendered fat from the bacon (approximately 1 Tablespoon). Add chicken, the remaining garlic, fresh ginger and soy sauce and cook over medium high heat for five minutes stirring occasionally until the meat is no longer visibly pink.

When the chicken is halfway cooked, add mushrooms and water and cook over medium heat another eight minutes until mushrooms are tender. After eight minutes remove chicken and mushrooms leaving any remaining broth. Add the pea pods to the broth and. cook for one two minutes over medium high heat, stirring often. Pea pods should remain bright green and crisp. After the pea pods have been blanched remove them from the pan.

To serve: Pea pods can be divided into equal amounts and used as an ornate base for the chicken and mushrooms which is also served in equal amounts. One half cup serving of rice is placed beside the chicken and mushrooms. Serve with additional soy sauce if desired.

Nutritional Information**
Total Calories 876
Total Servings 2

Amount Per Serving
Fat 21 g
Sat Fat. 6 g
Sodium 727 mg
Cholesterol 137 mg
Carbs 41 g
Protein 23 g

*It’s a good idea to keep ingredients like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce on hand. When stored properly they can last for up to a month or longer without spoiling or losing their flavor.
**All nutritional data is based on approximations.

Chef Tim Wade is a Personal Chef and owner of Culinaria in Raleigh, NC.

For more information about Chef Tim or Culinaria please visit their website.

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