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The Main Ingredients Spring Edition: Stir-Fry (Challenger's Meal)

03/12/2014 03:10 EDT | Updated 05/12/2014 05:59 EDT

My kids aren't big fans of the unknown, at least when it comes to food.

For the past few years, my twin girls (now 6 years old) have become very comfortable with the foods they like, and very uncomfortable with anything else. Their tastes are healthy, for the most part, but when it comes to vegetables, their hit list totals exactly four (carrots, cucumbers, peas, and corn).

My husband (Sean) and I like being adventurous when it comes to dinnertime, and since we both love pretty much every veggie under the sun, we are continually trying to get our girls to broaden their horizons. Like many other families, our household is busy between work, school, domestic duties, and social engagements. And because our kids are so picky, Sean and I are often making two sets of meals -- one for them, one for us -- which is a waste of money and valuable family time.

I wanted to find a healthy stir-fry that would be tasty and colourful enough to encourage my girls to take a bite, with a little bit of the sweetness they crave. I couldn't find a recipe that hit all the right notes, so I decided to see what I could come up with on my own. And since Sean really is the chef in the family, we concocted this one together.

Here is our Fruity Cashew Stir-Fry! (Since I haven't eaten meat or poultry in 15 years, I went with a meat-free version, while my husband Sean added in some chicken breasts.) Enjoy!

20-Minute Dinner: Fruity Cashew Stir-Fry

Main Ingredients Used:

The Main Ingredients Spring Edition: Challenger's Meal 2

  • Crimini Mushrooms
  • Bell peppers
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cashews
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken (optional)

Ingredients list:

Sauce:

  • 180 mL (3/4 cup) orange juice
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) corn starch
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) honey

Stir-fry:

  • 6 carrots, chopped in 2-4 cm (1-2 inch) pieces
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped in 2-4 cm (1-2 inch) pieces (we chose red, yellow and green to boost colour)
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 200 g (1 cup) cashews
  • 226 g (8 oz) cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 142 g (14 oz) package of fresh baby spinach
  • 250 mL (1 cup) quinoa
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 cm (2-inch) pieces (optional)
  • 1 large handful of raspberries

Preparation:

Sauce: Add together orange juice, corn starch, and honey and mix until smooth.

Stir-fry: Add carrots and peppers to wok with vegetable oil and cook on medium. Once carrots and peppers are getting tender, add cashews, mushrooms, and baby spinach and cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 more minutes or until cooked through.

Quinoa: Boil 500 mL (2 cups) of water in a saucepan, add quinoa, bring back to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

(NOTE: If you are using chicken breasts, cook them with a little oil in a separate frying pan at this point.)

Add raspberries to veggie mixture, cook for a few minutes more to warm up the berries (being careful not to destroy them), then add orange juice mixture to veggies, ensuring it is distributed well. Add chicken pieces to stir-fry if you using.

Serve stir-fry over quinoa.

Serves four

The Verdict:

In a word, this dish was delicious. The sweetness of the orange juice and the tang of the raspberries was a nice change from the savoury stir-fry dishes we usually make. My husband and I gobbled it up. It was also very fresh, easy to prepare and beautiful to look at.

As for my children, they had more mixed reactions. My more adventurous twin loved the look of the dish, but spent most of the time picking out the elements she likes best (cashews, carrots, raspberries and chicken) and eating those. My super-picky twin nibbled a bit, but ended up enjoying the extra chicken that Sean had prepared much more than the main dish.

However, we will DEFINITELY be making this dish again, and I am looking forward to leftovers today.