The Lazy Psychologist in the Kitchen: Quirky Chicken Fried Rice

The Lazy Psychologist has been back in the kitchen this Fall! If you’re new to my blog, you may be asking yourself why a psychologist is posting recipes on her blog about mental health. Good question! Here’s the simple answer: food affects mood. Please check out my blog post Our Second Brain: The Important Connection Between Food, Gut Health, and Mood  and my earlier Lazy Psychologist recipe posts to learn more about the growing body of research showing that what we eat affects how we feel, both physically and emotionally.

Regular readers of my blog will undoubtedly remember that while I value making healthy food choices, I am also easily overwhelmed by the planning and preparation and effort needed to make complicated meals. I earned a Ph.D. and run a small business but when it comes to cooking, those advanced cognitive skills seem to fly out the window and I am reduced to the intellectual level of my cats, Baxter and Hazel (see below). I think we can all agree that they are incredibly adorable (right?!) but not gifted in the kitchen. One of my goals in life is to create simple recipes that allow me to put clean, healthy food in my body (and my families’ bodies), and I like to share them once in a while on my blog. An important disclaimer for all of my recipe posts: I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or physician, so don’t take my recipe posts as golden advice based on the most recent nutrition science. In sharing some of my personal recipes, my goal is to inspire you to find easy ways to incorporate healthy eating as one way to cultivate healthy mood.

Adorable, but not a culinary genius

Also adorable but not gifted with kitchen skills

Today’s recipe: Quirky chicken fried rice. Let me explain “quirky” right off the bat. This fried rice dish won’t taste like fried rice from your favorite Chinese-style restaurant. I add some unique ingredients to make it a little more exciting and a lot more packed with veggies. You can see that this recipe has quite a few ingredients. It comes close, in fact, to tipping me into “this is too overwhelming for my little brain” territory. To ease my easily overwhelmed brain, I make it on the weekends. This recipe is relatively quick to make (about 20-25 minutes now that I’ve done it a few times) and everything is thrown into one pan. Boom! This is important for most Lazy Chefs because the idea of having to coordinate cooking multiple dishes at once can leave us teetering on the brink of stability, feeling insanely jealous that our pets eat the same exact thing every single day. Most importantly, this recipe makes A LOT of leftovers. Leftovers, especially ones that freeze well, earn major Lazy Chef bonus points because they allow us to conserve energy later for other lazy activities.

Now on to the healthy goodness!

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons soy sauce or liquid aminos (I use Bragg’s)

1-2 teaspoons Chinese hot mustard (use less if you don’t want much zing)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

3 eggs, beaten (optional)

2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided (I use sunflower or coconut)

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks (Lazy Hint: You can buy precooked chicken breasts and save time!)

1 medium/large yellow onion, chopped

1.5 cups frozen chopped vegetables (I use a blend with carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Try to find a bag that has fairly small chunks of veggies because Lazy Hint: They cook faster!)

1/2 cup bean sprouts*** (please make note of instructions below that vary a bit depending on what kind of bean sprouts you buy)

3-4 green onions, trimmed and sliced thinly

1 tablespoon chopped garlic (Lazy Hint: You can buy this in a jar! So much easier for lazy chefs!!)

3 cups cooked brown rice (Lazy Hint: You can buy this frozen and just thaw beforehand.)

Instructions:

  1. Mix up the soy sauce, mustard and sesame oil in a small bowl, and set aside, feeling good about yourself that you’ve gotten the important first step done. You can do this!
  2. if you want to include the eggs, scramble them over low-medium heat in a separate small skillet, then set aside.
  3. Heat up 1 tablespoon cooking oil on medium-high heat in large wok or skillet. Add chicken breast pieces and cook through…or if you bought pre-cooked chicken breasts, do a little dance to celebrate your laziness-inspired ingenuity! Way to go!
  4. While chicken is cooking, microwave frozen vegetables for 30-60 seconds and rejoice in the lazy pleasure that someone else did the chopping. YES! When the chicken is cooked through, remove it and set aside.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon cooking oil to wok/skillet, still on medium-high, then add chopped onion. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, allowing the onion to soften. Add chopped garlic and vegetables to wok/skillet and stir fry for another 4-5 minutes. Add the green onions during the last minute or so. ***If you bought bean sprouts that are fairly thick, like mung sprouts, add them with the chopped vegetables and allow them to sauté. If you bought sprouts that are fairly thin and stringy, like alfalfa sprouts, add them with the green onions.***
  6. Add rice, sauce mix, and scrambled eggs (if using). Mix well, serve, and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 8 servings and freezes well.

Happy and healthy eating!

Dr. Jen

It really does make a lot

P.S. Check out these other recipes from The Lazy Psychologist in the Kitchen:

Savory Oatmeal Stew

Slow-cooker chicken tikka masala

Veggie frittata

Chicken enchillada soup

Asian beef