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October 25, 2014

Dinner from the Orient, express

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Paula Mee

Continuing her series on healthy meals, independent dietitian Paula Mee brings IMT readers a taste of the Orient with a quick and flavoursome chicken and vegetable stir-fry.

Week 6
Recipe — Edward, Dunbrody House

Oriental chicken, mild vegetable stir-fry

Serves 2
This dish works really well and has an absolutely fantastic burst of flavour.

Oriental chicken:

  • 2 well-sized chicken breasts, skinless
  • ½ red chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch root ginger
  • Grated zest of ½ lime
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Vegetable stir-fry:

  • ½ red chilli, diced
  • ½ inch root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 2oz/50g mangetout
  • 2oz/50g green beans
  • 2oz/50g broccoli, broken into spears
  • 1 tablespoon water

Method:
Begin by marinating the chicken breasts. Finely dice the chilli, garlic and ginger and add to a small bowl with the lime juice, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Meanwhile, take the chicken breast and, using a sharp knife, make two or three incisions in the breast to allow the marinate to penetrate through.

Put the chicken breast in the marinade and leave for anything from 20 minutes up to three hours.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Meanwhile, heat a pan with a little oil and place the chicken breasts onto the pan and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to a small baking tray and pop them into the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are cooked through.

Reheat the pan on which you cooked the chicken, add the diced chilli and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the green peppers, broccoli, mangetout and green beans and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. If necessary, add in the water during the cooking process to prevent the vegetables from burning.

Serve the vegetables on a large serving platter with the chicken breast on top. Garnish with a sprig of coriander.

Oriental chicken, mild vegetable stir-fry — nutritional information
This Dunbrody recipe is quick, easy and bursting full of flavour. And it’s far tastier than any old monosodium glutamate-laden Chinese takeaway, for that matter! The garlic, ginger, chilli and lime replace salt and fat, and without a serving of rice or noodles, this little oriental dish comes in at only 233kcal per person. Seconds, anyone?

Back in the 1950s, the Japanese had one of the highest death rates from stroke. In 1960, the government initiated a campaign to reduce the national salt intake. In the next 10 years, intakes reduced from 13.5g per day to 12.1g per day, and in northern regions, intake fell from 18g to 14g per day. Paralleling this reduction were falls in blood pressure in adults and children, and an 80 per cent reduction in stroke mortality. This was despite increases in fat intake, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and rising obesity levels.

Closer to home, the Finns (in 1975) initiated a similar drive to reduce salt intake in the entire population. They educated the public and worked closely with the food industry to develop reduced-salt products. Over the next 30 years, salt intake fell by a third. This was measured using the gold-standard 24-hour urinary sodium output. A fall of more than 10mmHg in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and a remarkable 75 per cent to 80 per cent reduction in stroke and CHD mortality, were observed.

The Finns also significantly reduced saturated fats in the diet and smoking in their population at the same time, which would have significantly impacted on the results, yet it is interesting that body mass index and alcohol consumption actually increased during that time period.
Reducing salt is without a doubt a major contributing factor to the fall in blood pressure and risk of stroke.