I love getting carry-out from a local Chinese restaurant, but it’s something I do VERY rarely…like, once a year, at most. Cashew chicken has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. My kids recently spent a few days with their grandparents in Ohio, so I knew that was one of my few opportunities to take advantage of getting carryout. My kids aren’t big fans of Chinese food (though, I think if they tried a few things, they would actually like it). My husband doesn’t really care for it either, so it was just me that wanted to get carry-out when the kids were gone…and I was totally okay NOT sharing my dinner with anyone (for once). 🙂 I ordered cashew chicken with (white) rice and an appetizer of crab rangoon. YUM! Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I know this isn’t all ‘real food.’ Of course, I felt a little guilty about it…but not enough to stop me from ordering it. For me, this lifestyle change has been all about moderation and occasionally (as I’ve mentioned before) I like to eat something and not ‘over-think’ it. Well, as I was eating it, I thought of all the ways that I could make this dish myself…but cleaner. I made note of all the ingredients and decided I would try to come up with my own version. I’m happy to say that my first attempt turned out much better than I expected! Is it exactly like my favorite Chinese restaurant? No. Even though I still really enjoyed it, I will admit that it’s missing something.* The consistency was perfect, though, and I thought it looked just like the restaurant version. My husband even said it was pretty good and we both had it for leftovers the next day.
*Update! I added a couple of ingredients (Tamari soy sauce and garlic powder) when making this the second time around and it turned out great! I no longer feel like it’s missing anything. Very happy with the 2nd attempt and the recipe has been updated below.
- ⅔ cup organic chicken broth (I used homemade)
- 2 T arrowroot starch (or corn starch can be used)
- 2 T organic soy sauce (low-sodium)
- 1 T organic Tamari soy sauce (optional, but increase regular soy sauce to 3 T if you don't use it)
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 2 T organic sesame oil (or olive oil), divided
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks (I buy local, free-range from Seven Sons)
- 8 oz can water chestnuts, sliced (I buy Dynasty because there are no additives)
- 2 organic celery stalks, diced
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- ¾ cup raw cashews
- Whisk the arrowroot starch into the chicken broth.
- Then whisk in the soy sauces, ground ginger, and garlic powder.
- Set aside.
- Heat 1 T of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken.
- Cook until no pink remains.
- Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet and add the water chestnuts, celery, and mushrooms.
- Cook for about 8-10 minutes (or until everything has softened).
- Whisk up the sauce again and add to the skillet.
- Bring to a boil and then add the chicken back in.
- Stir (the sauce will thicken immediately).
- Sprinkle with cashews.
- Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice.
Have you tried quinoa yet? Cooking it is extremely easy. Plus, it’s a 100% whole grain and is highly nutritious. It’s a great source of protein and is a great option for people that are looking to reduce their consumption of meat (something that I’m striving towards). Quinoa is also a great source of fiber, vitamin B, and iron.
To make the quinoa that I served with the cashew chicken above, I combined two cups of water with one cup of quinoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes. And that’s it! You can even make a larger batch and then reheat it as you need it throughout the week. We kind of forgot about quinoa for a little while, but after making it last week, I’m anxious to start using it again more often. It’s so easy and will go great with so many of the dishes we make!