My main goal when starting this food blog was to encourage myself and others to make healthier choices. I don’t believe in elimination diets or even “dieting” in general. I’ll never be the type of person who can eat a bowl of leaves and feel satiated and happy. (But if you are one of those people, I’m glad you’ve discovered a relationship with food that makes you feel fulfilled.) I need carbs. I need food that feels like home and comfort and warmth. I need pastries bursting with berries and laden with half-melted cream. And sometimes, ya girl just really, really needs a slice of cheesecake. (Side note: stay tuned for my grandma’s legendary cheesecake with a special Feelin’ Whisky twist. It’ll change your life. Coming to the blog soon.)
However, I also need food that makes me feel energized, both mentally and physically. I need food that is better for the environment and the global economy. Finding food that strikes that balance, though, often proves difficult. Recently, I’ve had to accept that, at this point in my life, eating healthy, sustainable food isn’t always an option. I’m 22 years old. I often find myself at the mercy of fried-food-centric restaurant menus or friends’ pantries for days at a time. Once, I stayed at a friend’s house for 4 days and didn’t eat a single vegetable the entire time. I’m certain that others my age frequently end up in similar situations.
This way of eating is unsustainable, sure—but it’s also a part of growing up, and one that we shouldn’t punish ourselves for. I’m writing this as I eat an everything bagel. I didn’t have any other options. I refuse to beat myself up for that. All I can do is move forward and try to make healthier choices whenever I can. That’s why I’ve committed to health-ifying some classic favorites, just like the recipe I’m sharing with you today.
Fried rice is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s also one of the foods that made my self-esteem plummet. When I was working at P.F. Chang’s, I ordered a combo fried rice to go at least once a week, but usually more. It was one of the cheapest things on the menu, and I could stretch it into two meals. (In retrospect, I probably should have stretched it into four.) Once I realized how much weight I had gained, though, fried rice became public enemy #1. I didn’t eat it, or any variation thereof, for almost two years. In fact, I was afraid of it.
This recipe is my way of making peace with myself and with fried rice. It has all the flavors I remember and crave, but it loads up on vegetables and uses a healthier (and in my opinion, tastier—do not @ me) grain. The mushrooms add a meaty bite, so this is a meatless main dish that won’t leave you wanting more. Guaranteed! What guilty pleasure foods would you like to see health-ified?
Vegetarian Fried Quinoa
Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 10 mins | Serves: 4
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tsp vegetarian oyster sauce*
- Optional: small pinch white pepper
- 1 Tbsp oil (any neutral oil is fine)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 shiitake mushroom caps, diced
- 1/2 cup carrots, julienned
- 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup dry)
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly
- Optional: 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and white pepper (if using) in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and stir-fry for 4–5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and mushrooms are beginning to brown.
- Add carrots and broccoli and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp. Add frozen peas and cook for 1 minute.
- Push veggie mixture to one side of the pan and add beaten eggs to the open side. Cook eggs, stirring frequently, until they are mostly solid, then stir together with the vegetables.
- Add cooked quinoa and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes.
- Add soy sauce mixture and stir together until well coated and cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Top with scallions, drizzle with sesame oil, and enjoy!
- You can usually find vegetarian oyster sauce at health food stores, but if you can’t find it, you can omit it. You can also sub regular oyster sauce if you don’t need this dish to be vegetarian!
- This recipe works best with day-old quinoa that’s been refrigerated. However, if you don’t have cooked quinoa on hand, just cook it right before and allow it to come to room temperature before adding it.