The Fit Writer

According to the frightening statistics on the website of the Center for Disease Control, there has been a “dramatic increase in obesity in the United States” in the past 20 years and “about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese.” Prepare to be shocked as the U.S. map on that page shows the changes in percent of obese adults per state from 1985 to 2010. As of 2010, at least 20% of the population of every state is obese and in some states, that number is over 30%. We’re not talking merely overweight (people with a BMI of between 25–29.9), we’re talking at least Class I Obesity (30–34.9 BMI) and higher.

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those statistics. I spent nearly 25+ years mostly sitting at a desk in my previous profession, especially in the last 10 years. And now, well, let’s face it, writing isn’t the most active of careers (yes, I’ve seen those “treadmill/desk” combinations, but personally, I’d rather shoot myself than use one).

In January of 2010, Mr. W and I made a “get fit” pact. We modified our diet and began exercising regularly. We both lost a respectable amount of weight that year and have kept it off (I lost 28 pounds and dropped two BMI levels). While Mr. W only has a few more pounds to lose, I’ve rededicated myself to making this the year I lose the rest of the weight–50 additional pounds. I thought I’d post updates occasionally on my progress. Who knows, maybe it’ll provide inspiration to others to start moving and to make healthier choices.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy food. The biggest change we made in the food we eat was to cut out as much processed food as possible. The aroma and flavor of fresh food is amazing, and adding spices instead of butter and salt makes your taste buds come alive. Still, whenever the “D” word is used, my lizard brain automatically assumes the food I’ll be eating will be bland and tasteless. “Give me Chinese Food,” it begs, “or Tacos. And what about Pizza? Am I ever going to eat Pizza again?”

I’ll deal with Mexican food and Pizza another time. Right now I want to talk about Chinese food. I’ve steered clear of Chinese restaurants for the most part for almost two years now and that’s saying something, because we both love Chinese food. But so much of it is loaded with fat and sodium; the reward (eating it) just wasn’t worth the risks (high blood pressure, weight gain, etc.).

Last week the cravings were just too much. I had to come up with an alternative before we both caved in. I used to prepare elaborate Chinese meals, with stir fry, rice, egg rolls, and more. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before this that I could modify one of my stir fry recipes to be more healthy. There’s nothing earth shaking about my recipe, but it sure did the trick of curbing our Chinese food jones. Oh, and it’s simple to make (a must for me!). Adapt the following recipe to match your own preferences.

Deb’s Healthy Chicken Stir Fry

My Cooking tools:

  • Non-stick wok or wok-shaped pan
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Rice cooker (I can’t cook rice without one!)
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (or two small) cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut in wedges
  • 1 tomato, cut in half and then in wedges
  • 1-2 large crowns of broccoli cut into small stalks, trim stems to taste
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and sliced length-ways
  • 3-5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp light olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp Oyster sauce (high in sodium, so watch how much you use)
  • 1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp garlic chili sauce (add more if you like it spicy, otherwise, adjust the Oyster/Hoisin to taste)
  • pinch(es) of Chinese 5 Spices to taste
  • Brown rice


Cook brown rice in rice cooker according to instructions (or however you normally cook it).

Cut up chicken and vegetables. Put broccoli in microwave safe dish with one Tbsp water. Cover with plastic wrap (vent one corner) and cook on high in microwave for one minute.

When rice is almost done, pre-heat wok. Be sure to have the pan hot (medium to med-high at the most) before adding 1 tsp of the olive oil (using a hot pan means not having to use as much oil). Add the ginger to the oil to bring out the fragrance. Remove ginger before adding the chicken (or leave it in if you like ginger).

Add the chicken and cook until chicken is just done. You don’t want it pink inside, but you don’t want to over cook it. Remove chicken from wok, discarding any liquid that was formed.

Add 1 tsp olive oil to hot pan and add broccoli, yellow onion wedges and water chestnuts. Add Oyster Sauce, Hoisin, and Chinese 5 Spices. Stir and heat through. Add tomato wedges and chicken, stir and heat until eveything is nice and hot (this will only take a few minutes). Add green onion just before removing from heat.

Divide and serve over 1/2 cup of brown rice. My husband likes to add Chinese mustard to his serving for additional heat.

Makes 2 servings

This was quick and easy to make, and healthy, to boot. Hope you enjoy it!