The best things happen by chance – Sweet & spicy Chickpea stir fry

What do microwave ovens, chocolate chip cookies, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, potato chips and saccharin have in common? They were all, believe it or not, invented by pure accident. These items revolutionised the way in which people consume common foods, yet the inventors had no idea how their experiments would turn out when initially embarking on their journeys. Sound familiar to any aspiring cooks out there?

You can find a more comprehensive list of these accidental inventions here.

I love finding inspirational stories and examples of events occurring by chance, because it encourages me to believe in the seemingly impossible – to keep on going despite the rising odds. It is as if the universe erects a flashing neon sign saying – “Don’t give up! Nothing is Impossible! Learn from mistakes!”  Plus, on a less philosophical note, it makes me feel better about the hundreds of flops and mistakes I make for every one successful creation produced 😉

This week I encountered two of these ‘aha’ moments. I was not expecting anything good to come out of my attempts at all, yet at the end of the day I was blown away by the results. The first relates to a gym workout , the second to an insanely easy, ridiculously tasty and incredibly healthy vegan stir fry recipe.

First, the workout. I started classes at university again this week, and decided that as this was the beginning of my academic year, it should be complemented by a fresh start to my exercise regime. I have been threatening for ages that I want to run a 21km race and I reasoned that joining the gym to make full use of the treadmills would be a good place to start. So I laced up my running shoes and went forth – only to discover a big fat ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on both treadmills…workout plan demolished. Not wanting to skip a workout I actually made the effort to dress and plan for, I pushed aside my disappointment, reassessed the situation and came up with an impromptu circuit workout which ended up being a lot of fun. The different moves help to beat the monotony of a long treadmill run and the mix of weight training and cardio really gets your heart rate up! So for those who are interested in trying something a bit different, here you have it:

  • 10 min warm up on the eliptical trainer
  • 40 walking lunges – 5kg kettle bells
  • 15 bicep curls – 4kg dumbbells
  • 25 kettle bell squats – 5 kg
  • 30 tricep kickbacks/extensions – 2kg dumbbells
  • 15 side-to-side jump burpees
  • 20 push ups with legs on exercise ball
  • 50 jumping jacks

* repeat this circuit twice to complete it 3 times in total

  • 5 min cool down on the elliptical trainer

My second ‘better than expected’ moment happened last night. It was a long day at university and on the way back we were faced with heavy traffic. Not knowing what to do about dinner, my mom suggested stopping at Pick ‘n Pay to get some groceries. We picked up a bag of Pick ‘n Pay’s ‘Fusion stir fry’ – a fresh, prepacked mix of stir fry vegetables (preservative free) which included green beans, baby marrows, baby corn, peas, thinly sliced leeks, red pepper, carrots and red cabbage. A winning combination of vegetables, but of course we all know that the secret to great stir fry is really in the sauce.

When I got home, I halfheartedly began making dinner, mixing up a sauce on the spot and not really knowing what it would taste like in the end. I didn’t particularly care either – I was tired, ravenous and really just wanted the finished product on my plate. How wrong I was to treat this meal so casually – because in the end it blew me away! So simple, yet so tasty. The mix of fresh, crisp vegetables, a sweet, rich  and spicy peanut butter and chili sauce and the comforting warmth and crispiness of wholewheat toast was the perfect combination. I ended up having seconds, and desiring thirds, but luckily I restrained myself so that I could pack some of it for lunch.

Unfortunately I only realised the potential of this recipe after the first bite, so my photos are only quick snapshots revealing the final product. Nonetheless, I think they give you a good idea of what it will look and (potentially) taste like!

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I did!


Option 1 - Wholewheat Toast

Option 1 – Wholewheat Toast


  • 1 pack of Pick ‘n Pay Fusion Stir Fry (If you do not have access to a Pick ‘n Pay, simply chop up the following mixture of vegetables in your desired quantities: Green beans, Baby marrows, carrots, red cabbage, baby peas, leeks, red bell peppers, baby corn.
  • 1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 tsp of honey (optional) – I cannot imagine that it makes a big difference to the final taste. Substituting more molasses would work too
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used Ina Paarman’s dried vegetable broth – 1 tsp +125ml boiling water)
  • wholewheat toast or wholewheat spaghetti
  • Cashew nuts (raw or roasted and unsalted)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 tsp Coconut oil for stir frying


  1. Prepare the vegetable broth according to the instructions on the packaging
  2. Add the soy sauce, chili, ginger, peanut butter, molasses and honey to the vegetable broth and stir until well blended (peanut butter must dissolve completely)
  3.  Heat the coconut oil in an electric frying pan or stir fry wok over high heat and add the stir fry vegetables.
  4. Stir vegetables frequently for 2-4 minutes, making sure not to burn them. Add the chick peas.
  5. Pour the chili peanut butter sauce mixture over the vegetables and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes
  6. Upon completion vegetables should be firm and crisp, yet warm. You do not want them to be raw.
  7. Remove the pan/wok from the heat and serve on wholewheat toast or wholewheat spaghetti.
  8. Sprinkle cashews on top if desired (highly recommended!)
Option 2 - Wholewheat Spaghetti

Option 2 – Wholewheat Spaghetti

After having the leftovers with spaghetti for lunch today, I can confidently say that both taste great, but the wholewheat toast option wins hands down for me!

What is your favourite way of eating stir fry?


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