Satisfy your weeknight take-out craving with this flavorful, sweet and savory, healthy one-pan pineapple fried rice that comes together in less than 30 minutes. Plus, learn my secret to keeping your fried rice from getting soggy!
You all asked for simple, quick dinner recipes that can double as a healthy lunch meal and today’s blog post seriously delivers.
I didn’t originally plan for that sentence to have a pun, but I suppose that it does since this recipe is a healthified version of one of my longtime favorite take-out dinners—pineapple fried rice!
The first time that I ate pineapple fried rice was more than a decade ago with my husband, who was at that time not even my official boyfriend. Actually, I think it was only our second date so definitely waaaaaay too early in the relationship to be throwing around the B word.
Anyway, we went to dinner at a small, local Thai restaurant that was a few blocks from my apartment and my date ordered pineapple fried rice with chicken, which I quickly learned was not only one of his favorite meals to eat out but also cook at home.
You see, I had never had pineapple fried rice and when I asked if I could try a bite of his he told me no and before I could roll my eyes and pretend not to be secretly annoyed by his candid response, he told me what I could do was try his signature version of said dish the following weekend.
I think he actually said, “No, but I make a mean bowl of pineapple fried rice that I’ll let you try” so it was definitely more playful (but still…insert lots of eye rolling).
Secret annoyance aside, I was intrigued because any man who claims to have a signature dish and offers to cook it is a probably a keeper. .
Luckily, it turns we were both right…
He is a keeper and definitely does makes a mean bowl of fried rice, among other things—I’ll be sharing his epic take on a turkey burger, as well as sugar-free barbecue sauce and plantain chips SOON.
But first, pineapple fried rice!
It’s no secret that if you want to start eating more healthfully, it’s essential to find ways to prepare more of your favorite meals at home. Even if you only eat take-out or dine at quick service and fine dining restaurants 1-2 times a week, you significantly increase your risk of developing overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
While more healthful eateries are beginning to gain popularity, especially in larger cities like San Francisco (The Plant Café, Blue Barn Gourmet), Los Angeles (True Food Kitchen, Cafe Gratitude), New York (by Chloe, The Butcher’s Daughter), and Chicago (Real Good Juice Co., Range), the majority of the restaurants most people frequent use far too many processed ingredients, refined oils, preservatives, artificial flavorings, added sugar, and excess sodium in their food.
All things that I’m sure you all know!
This healthy take on take-out is not only good for you, it’s easy to prepare any day of the week and even the most reluctant cook can master it.
EASIER THAN TAKE OUT. TRUST ME.
I may be a dietitian and food blogger, but I like to keep it real with you guys when it comes to my feelings about cooking. Yes, I have grown to enjoy it the more I do, but I’m no chef and never aspire to be one.
You can trust that whenever I’m sharing a recipe here, it’s going to be SUPER simple and straightforward.
Because you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to eat healthy or transform your favorite meals into better-for-you versions and this recipe is the perfect proof!
The whole thing comes together in under 30 minutes so long as you cook the rice ahead of time.
It’s also super, super easy and so much healthier than your typical fried rice from a restaurant.
WHAT MAKES IT HEALTHY
I know that the words “fried” and “healthy” don’t usually belong in the same sentence but this healthy one-pan pineapple fried rice really is WAY better than what you’d find at a Chinese or Thai eatery.
Traditional fried rice gets its crispy crunchy texture from being pan-fried with loads of refined cooking oils like canola, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, etc. These oils are full of omega 6 fatty acids, which in large amounts have been shown to be harmful to your health.
When the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids versus omega 3 fatty acids in the body becomes disproportionately skewed toward having too many omega 6 fatty acids, it contributes to inflammation.
Instead, I recommend using coconut oil, which despite being high in saturated fat is truly the perfect cooking oil for this dish. Not only is stable at high temperatures, it also lends a slight coconut flavor to the rice and nicely compliments the pineapple.
Restaurants that serve Asian cuisine are also notorious for going overboard with the soy sauce, which leads to meals very high in sodium.
By making this recipe at home, you can control the amount of added fat and sodium, as well as choose a more healthful alternative for the latter like coconut aminos, which is by far my favorite soy sauce substitute. There’s also low sodium tamari (a gluten free soy sauce), Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or low sodium soy sauce if you tolerate soy products.
All that said, you definitely need to use fish sauce in this recipe unless you’re vegan then skip it! The fish sauce adds so much depth and umami goodness!
The pineapple adds sweetness and contains digestion-boosting bromelain. This enzyme helps break down proteins and also has anti-inflammatory effects.
RICE THAT’S NICE
Ugh, you guys why am I SO nerdy? Seriously, how you do put up with me? Maybe don’t answer that one.
I know it may be surprising that I recommend using white jasmine rice in this recipe because everyone swears that whole grain, brown rice is, like, WAY better for you. But actually, white rice is often easier to digest (especially for any of you with compromised or sensitive digestion), as it contains less anti-nutrients compared to brown rice.
Of course you’re welcome to use your favorite type of rice or substitute the rice altogether with paleo-friendly cauliflower rice! I’ll always, always encourage that as an option regardless of whether you follow a paleo diet or not because more vegetables = all the heart eyes!
THE SECRET TO THE BEST FRIED RICE
OK so now let’s get to the really good stuff…The secret to making the best “fried” rice!
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of learning all my husband’s secrets to cooking the perfect rice and this case, healthy fried rice.
Precooked, completely cooled rice!
Whoa. I know. Not exactly innovative but hear me out!
There are two reasons why this is so important:
- It’s one less thing you’ll have to do on the night you decide to cook it—always a win.
- It will greatly improve the quality and texture of the final dish.
Actually, it’s ESSENTIAL because no one likes soggy fried rice.
OK maybe some of you do in which case, ignore the next two sections of this post. Ha!
Have you ever attempted cooking fried rice and had it turn out super soggy and clumpy and wondered what went wrong? The rice was most likely too warm when you added it to the pan with the other ingredients.
If the rice doesn’t have time to properly cool all the way through before being stir fried, the leftover steam won’t have a chance to fully evaporate. The extra moisture results in a sticky, gummy consistency. No thanks!
Sure, it’s still edible, but if you’re going for a truly take-out worthy fried rice texture, you definitely want to precook and cool it completely.
I know it might suddenly seem like this recipe requires more work than I first said, but with a little advance planning, you’ll have a crazy easy weeknight meal.
If you recall from my post, where I dished on Prep Dish, I love weekly meal prepping. Then when I’m ready to cook, all that’s left to do is assemble the components and maybe roast some protein or something and dinner is done in a flash.
If you’re already a batch prepping pro, simply add cooking the rice it to your cooking to-do list whenever you typically prep ingredients and recipes for the week.
BUT, if meal prepping isn’t your jam, that’s OK, too! There are other shortcuts available. For example, you can always use parboiled rice (i.e. 10-minute rice) or grab a few of those precooked brown rice pouches from Trader Joe’s.
It’s like I always say to you guys and my nutrition coaching clients, find a process that works for you and your lifestyle. If that means relying on healthy—truly healthy ahem—convenience items from time to time instead of setting aside a few hours each week to chop, dice, and cook so be it!
Let’s get straight to it!
Serves: 4-6 servings
- 3 cups pre-cooked jasmine white rice
- 2 whole carrots, chopped (or 1 cup shredded carrots)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 green onions, diced
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- 2 garlic gloves, pressed or finely chopped
- ½ cup green English peas
- 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple (if canned be sure to buy no sugar added)
- 2 tbs Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos*
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- ½ tsp ginger powder or 1 tbs fresh minced ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- dash black pepper
- ½ tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tbs coconut oil
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- Add a tiny bit of coconut oil to a large saute pan (or a wok if you have one) and scramble eggs on medium heat. Remove eggs from pan and set aside.
- Add the rest of the coconut oil to the pan/wok along with the ginger, red chili pepper flakes, garlic and red onion and cook until onions are translucent.
- Add the rest of the vegetables—carrots, red bell pepper, and peas—plus the pineapple. Cook until pineapple is caramelized and the vegetables are tender...About 8-10 minutes.
- Add the coconut aminos and fish sauce to the pan/wok for 30-60 seconds and then add the cooled, precooked rice. Saute for a few minutes and then add the cooked eggs and green onion, stirring to incorporate everything together.
- Serve immediately!
- *Substitute with gluten-free tamari, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, or low sodium soy sauce
As always, feel free to add more protein depending on your preferences. Good options include organic tempeh, tofu, wild-caught shrimp, organic chicken breast, lean grass-fed beef, etc.
You can also customize the vegetables and always add more! Broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, green beans, eggplant...The sky's the limit!
Hope you all enjoy this super simple weeknight meal that can easily moonlight as lunch for the week!
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
What’s your favorite take-out meal that you wish you could make healthier? Share below and I’ll see if I can put a better-for-you spin on the recipe for an upcoming post!