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We are returning to the little white take out box again… the go-to fried rice. Delicious on the side or as a main meal, but most restaurant varieties are made with white rice, lots and lots and lots of oil (that’s the “fried” part) and typically few vegetables or lean meats. That’s what I call a “splurge” food.

Like what I did a few nights ago with my gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough coconut milk ice cream (that’s a mouth full and I know sounds extravagant, maybe not so appealing to some, but it is a huge treat for me) and yes I ate almost the whole pint as my birthday cake, and yes I had a headache from the copious amount of sugar, but we all have to live a little now and then right?

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Back on task now, my remake involved various simple swaps but none lead to a loss in flavor. This one will fill up the heartiest of eaters, with 40g of protein per serving it is a nutritious powerhouse meal. Quinoa (click for more nutrition information) for white rice, reduced oil, lean chicken breasts and increased amount of veggies brings this “fried rice” to a whole new level. Added bonus, it’s easy and great leftover.

Healthy tip #5: Use frozen vegetables and fruits, especially in winter seasons. Don’t be afraid to stock up in the freezer isle (not on hot pockets of course) on frozen produce. Flavorful, nutritious and already cut and ready to go. A quick tool for the busy, health conscious cook.

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Restaurant Chicken Fried Rice (like PF Chang’s) whole entree dish contains 1,240 calories – 25g fat – 4.5g sat fat

My healthier Chicken Fried Quinoa (as a main dish) comes in at a low 400 calories – 11g fat – 2g sat fat

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Another tasty and easy Friday night take out meal from your own kitchen. Gluten-free option below.

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serves 4 – as main dish

• 1 cup QUINOA, dry
• 1 lb CHICKEN BREASTS, cut into bite size pieces
• 1 tsp SESAME OIL
• 3 EGGS, large
• 1 1/2 cup SOYBEAN, EDAMAME, SHELLED, frozen
• 1 1/2 cup PEAS & CARROTS, frozen
• 2 medium GREEN ONIONS
• 1 tbsp RICE VINEGAR*
• 1/2 tsp GINGER, GROUND
• 1 tsp SRIRACHA HOT CHILI SAUCE, (optional)

*Gluten-free option: Use wheat free Tamari soy sauce and Rice Vinegar.

1. Rinse and cook quinoa according to package directions (may do this step ahead and refrigerate).
2. In a large wok pan or skillet, heat 1 t. sesame oil over medium-high heat and add the 3 whisked eggs stirring to scramble; cook for about 1-2 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and set aside.
3. Spray wok with cooking spray and add chicken pieces; cook for 6-7 minutes until cooked through and browned. Add cooked quinoa, 2 sliced green onions, 1 1/2 c. thawed peas & carrots, 1 1/2 c. thawed shelled edamame; sauté for 2-3 minutes.
4. Whisk together 3 T. soy sauce, 1 T. rice vinegar, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. ground ginger and 1 t. Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional). Pour mixture over quinoa and add cooked eggs, toss to coat all ingredients with sauce. Simmer for 5-6 minutes until heated through, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot with fresh chopped cilantro if desired. Serving size about 2 cups.

VARIATIONS: Use shrimp for chicken and other vegetables like broccoli, snow peas or bean sprouts.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING: 410 calories, 11g fat, 2g sat fat, 215mg cholesterol, 38g carb, 6g fiber, 2g sugar, 40g protein