For the last week I have been nursing an upper respiratory infection and I'm happy to finally be getting better. Curtis kept telling me to go to the doctor and this time I was the unreasonable one. It didn't make any sense, I'm usually the one telling him to go. The first two days after I got home from a trip last week, I spent them in bed. I feel grateful that I'm on the mend now. And so is Curtis. Did I mention I got him sick too?
Things I'm looking forward to again: being able to taste my food and being able to have a restful night's sleep. I haven't been able to wear my CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) while I sleep since I got sick. My CPAP is for my sleep disorder, sleep apnea. I actually stop breathing while I sleep and have been sleeping with the aid of a CPAP for about 8 years now. One of my favorite things that I encounter when traveling is the people I meet. On a trip last week to Las Vegas for the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I sat next to a kidney doctor and I'm not sure how we got into talking about this but I told her about my sleep apnea. She actually talked about her own concerns that she had it and promised to get checked out for it.
It's such an odd thing because my sleep apnea is such a part of my life, I'm so used it and once you get me started talking about it, I can't stop. It started with me figuring out something was very wrong when I doing a long commute (about an hour each way), I was nodding off while I was driving. My primary care physician told me I should get more rest when I complained of being tired all the time. It was my allergy doctor who finally said I should go for a sleep study. Talking to this doctor and a friend who recently was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I realized how much fear there is associated with sleep studies and with CPAPs. They really aren't that bad and the treatment, wearing a mask that's hooked up to a machine that brings continuous air pressure is worth it compared to the alternatives. High risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and not getting restful sleep.
To explain a little further, the CPAP machine is set to a level of pressure prescribed when I went in for a second sleep study. I sleep with a mask connected to a tube to the CPAP machine. Since I stop breathing in my sleep, my brain sends a signal to my body to wake up, to alert it — that it has stopped breathing. Whatever obstruction I have causes the snoring and the stopping of my breathing causes gagging noises. And the constant waking up makes it very difficult to have a full night's restful sleep. The CPAP takes air from the room and sends it through filters and a tube into a mask that I wear while I sleep. It's supposed to keep me from waking up when I stop breathing. The hope is that by sending the air at a constant pressure, if I do stop breathing, it's momentary and doesn't cause me to wake up. After I started using it for a few weeks, I noticed a huge difference. The big test was about 6 months after I was fitted with the CPAP and we went away for a weekend. I completely forgot to pack it, I noticed how really really tired I was all weekend. You don't realize how much your body has been coping with something for so long until it's “fixed” and then you have a relapse. I still recognize how important the CPAP is for me. If I fall asleep on the couch and nap without my CPAP, I wake up with a really big headache and often feel even more tired than when I fall asleep.
My research into sleep apnea also shed some light on sleep apnea sufferers, we are more likely to have hypertension and develop heart disease if left untreated. I believe tons of people live undiagnosed and it's a little scary to me because I read that if you have sleep apnea and need to go into the hospital for surgery, your doctors need to know this. So they can monitor you even more closely under anesthesia (since you stop breathing easily under normal sleep). The machine is a pain to travel with and something I have to take out for the TSA folks (in a separate tub) to look at just like my laptop but for me it's about quality of life. Luckily, the machine is not terribly noisy. It makes a small humming noise, almost like a whoosh of air and Curtis will often wake up if the mask has slipped off my face or if I unknowingly take it off in my sleep and will wake me up to put it back on. And more importantly, he can sleep and doesn't have to sleep on the couch anymore! Wow, I totally rambled. I have been wanting to share this here, in my little space on the internet because I feel so strongly about telling others about my diagnosis and my sleep disorder because I know so many others go through the same thing I do. We don't have to be embarrassed, we don't need to live what I called living like the walking dead for so long. It's not healthy and in my case it was life-threatening because I was doing those long drives.
Here's more information on sleep apnea and I need to say and note that, I'm not giving any medical advice (I'm not a medical professional), I'm just sharing my story with you, in the hopes that it will help someone, maybe you! If you need medical advice, you should consult your doctor.
Now back to the recipe. Saying that Curtis loves stir fries is an understatement. He loves them! I get bored easily and like to try new things. This recipe started out as an experiment. I wanted to start making my own stir fry sauce that I could use in different dishes, just chaining out veggies and the meat. And Curtis wanted me to come up with a version of his favorite Chinese take-out pepper steak.
I have to say I'm not a huge fan of bell peppers but I yielded. Why not give this a try? Well guess, what it turned out really nicely. You can put this recipe together fairly quickly and it tastes great! I have made it so many times and finally got to photographing it so I could share it with you.
First, mix the stir fry ingredients together.
Prep the vegetables and the chicken. (When I photographed the step by step photos, I used yellow and red peppers. When I finally got to photographing the final shot, I used red and green peppers. We like using either or…use your favorites!)
Cook the chicken in a wok on medium high heat and in the last couple of minutes of cooking, add 1/2 tablespoon of the stir fry sauce.
Remove the chicken and add the onions and peppers. Cook those for a few minutes and then move the veggies to edge of the wok, creating a circle in the middle.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 60 to 90 seconds, pushing down with the side of your spatula while it's cooking.
Then, mix it all up.
Add the chicken, stir fry sauce and cashews and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
And you're done.
Pepper Chicken with Cashews Stir Fry Recipe
- Jasmine rice, cooked according to package instructions
Stir Fry Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon sherry wine
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon grape seed oil
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons)
- 3 Tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cutlets and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped (I used raw ones, be sure to get them unsalted)
- Whisk all of the stir fry sauce ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add garlic, ginger and 1 Tablespoon grape seed oil and mix. Set aside.
- Prep vegetables and set aside. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and add salt & pepper.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of grape seed oil in a large wok on medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and browned, stirring occasionally. In the last minute of cooking, add 1/2 Tablespoon of the stir fry sauce. Remove chicken from wok and place in a clean bowl. Set aside.
- Add vegetables and turn heat down to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Move vegetables to the edges of the wok and then add garlic & ginger and smash down with spatula. Cook without stirring for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Add chicken, stir fry sauce and cashews to the pan. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes and serve with white rice.
Love this recipie! I stumbled into your site looking for pot stickers and I think I’m staying. I did have an issue because I added some bean sprouts and water chestnuts. Things got a little moist from those, but the flavor was still awesome. Thanks.
Can one substitute anything for the grape seed oil and sherry wine or can they be omitted at all without too much loss of flavor in the recipe?
Thank-you! It sounds like a great recipe!
Julie Deily says
Chris, you can use vegetable or canola oil instead of grape seed oil. As for the sherry wine, you can use a dry white wine but I haven’t tried this so I can’t promise it will taste exactly the same. Hope that helps!
Hi, I have a question about the chicken cashew recipe but I see you don’t reply to comments. How does one contact you for a reply?
Julie Deily says
I do reply to comments that have questions. What’s your question, Chris? Feel free to ask in the comments.
Thanks for sharing your story, Julie! I’m sure your friend truly appreciated you taking the time to share your story and experience with them. As someone who has recently been through two sleep studies and been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I will echo the fact that it is a little scary as well as frustrating. It is helpful to know that there is a potential light at the end of the tunnel that will include me finally getting a good nights sleep – something I haven’t experienced in nearly 16 years.
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies says
Cashews are my favorite addition to a stir fry–they are so good!
Thanks for sharing your story about sleep apnea. As you know, I have issues breathing too & they get worse at night and although my doctor doesn’t think they can be corrected by a cpap, I think I really should get a copy of the sleep study and get a second opinion! I can’t even imagine what it would be like not to be tired all the time!
it was so nice meeting you at the pillsbury bake off a couple of weeks ago. this stir fry looks delicious!!
so, remember how we were talking about contests and it’s such a pain in the butt to get people to vote for your site? i’m finally having my first experience on how terrible it is! hahah. i feel so bad nagging people– yet i’m so close to the first place that it’d be a shame to stop. NOW i understand what you were talking about back then! this will be my first and last voting contest. lol, random i know. i just thought of our conv back then since i’m going through it now. hope all is well and hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon!
I’m so glad you shared this information and opened up your story to others. I personally don’t have sleep apnea but my oldest brother and mom both do and it’s a scary thing!
Way to go helping get the word out. I’m sure you convinced many people to get diagnosed now!
Liz @ The Lemon Bowl says
You’re so brave for sharing your story publicly! It’s good to learn more about sleep apnea. And this stir- fry – you know it’s right up my alley!! YUM!
Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction says
We love stir-fry and the flavors in this one sound amazing!
Cookin Canuck says
That’s such great information, Julie! I have a feeling there are a ton of undiagnosed cases of sleep apnea out there and I’ll bet this post will encourage some people to investigate further.
This chicken stir-fry looks wonderful…especially with the cashews!
It’s amazing what can be done to improve quality of life! My brother has had a CPAP machine for years and yes, it’s a pain to travel with when flying. However, as you said it’s worth it. I think it’s great that you shared your story and more information on sleep apnea here as most people don’t even know what it is.
I have a couple of family members who have that machine. I’m lucky I can sleep just fine, although the older I get the earlier I wake up!
Love the sound of this dish.
Martha Richitelli says
Hi Julie: I liked your comments about sleep apnea. As you know, I have it also, and never heard it described as well as you did! You sure nailed it, girl.
The pepper chicken stir fry sounds great, and we also love stir fry dishes, going to try it really soon. Hi to Curtis.
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
So glad you’re able to get the treatment you need, Julie! I know that sleep apnea can be a very tough thing to deal with – my father in law has it also. Just proves our health is really in our own hands. Good for you doing research! This pepper chicken stir fry looks absolutely delicious, too!
I know a couple of people with sleep apnea and it can be such a scary condition especially when you’re first diagnosed so thank you for being so open and honest about it. I hope you start feeling better soon and can get back to sleeping well : )
Nutmeg Nanny says
I adore stir-fry dishes 🙂 this recipe looks so perfect, I know it’ll be a hit when I make it
Leslie Hoppner says
Julie your story totally resonates with me. When I met my future husband,23 years ago, after a few months of living together I would watch him as he slept. Partly because he kept me awake from his obnoxious snoring and partly because I loved looking at him:)
I would notice that when taking a breath, his chest would not rise and it looked like it was a struggle. I knew that wasn’t normal, but he pretested profusely, that it was. 13 years later and married, we moved about 1 1/2 hours from work, 2 with traffic. He found himself falling asleep at the wheel, almost running into the pylons several times and scared himself so bad, I was finally able to convince him to get checked. And yes, he had severe sleep apnea, He would wake up aprox. 116 times an hour and stopped breathing about 230 times per hour, How can that be good for you?? All I can say, is that little maching has saved his life!! Yes, he forgets it sometimes when traveling too, but I am a constant nag. His new machine makes no noise at all(you may want to check with your provider) stays on better and well, his life, not to mention that he is still alive, is so much better mentally and physically. Please folks, if you’re really tired every day, get checked!! About the stir fry, it looks yummy! I love them because they’re so quick and easy and not to mention a one pot clean up!. If you like spicy, you can throw in a couple of dried asian chilies, found in bags in the produce dept., while cooking the chicken. Remove before serving.
Thanks so much for sharing, Julie. Your terrific food and a story that everyone should ready. It could save a life!!!!
Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas says
It’s so great you shared your story Julie! I think a lot of people may not even think of it as a possibility. And PS delicious looking stir fry! Stir frys are life savers on busy week nights =)
Linda | The Urban Mrs says
Yay! Happy that you’re feeling better now and thanks for sharing about sleeping apnea. Frederick had sleeping problem in the past, too, and we went to several doctors. It’s amazing how technology helps us to live better. On another side, I just thought of having stir fry today and I love pepper sauce. Yum!
Glad you are felling better and thank you for sharing you story! I really knew nothing about sleep apnea.
This stir fry looks so good. I love cashews!
Jennifer @ My Sweet Sanity says
Your recipes always make me so hungry. I definitely need to try this.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I love a great stir fry, this is a perfect week night dish. Thanks for sharing your story too, it’s so important to bring awareness to health struggles that could easily go unnoticed!
Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor says
Thanks for sharing your story of sleep apnea, Julie! I love love love dishes with chicken and cashews. Can’t wait to try this soon!
ADORE this one, Julie! Stir fry is my favorite.
Christine (Cook the Story) says
Your sauce and stir fry look and sound amazing. Thank you for sharing about your sleep apnea. I think that probably Graz and I both have it. You’ve made me realize how important it is that we look into it. Thank you!
Michael Schwartz says
Yes sleep apnea is a huge sleep problem. It affects men more than women, until menopause then the rates are about the same: about 1 in 10. Sleep apnea (OSA) usually creates snoring, restless sleep, dry mouth, weight gain, morning headaches, and daytime sleepiness. If left untreated, it can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes, and driving accidents. First line strategies are weight loss, reducing alcohol consumption, and not sleeping on your back. From there, it’s CPAP or an oral appliance (pulls jaw forward). also, the American Sleep Apnea Association is a good resource.
My main interest in sleep is chronic insomnia, thought to be about 10x more prevelant as OSA, with some similar health consequences if not addressed. Usual “treatment” is pills, but they tend to be just a quick fix with poor long-term success. I do sleep counseling at a sleep center for people with insomnia, with good success for those that stick with it. Lately I’ve been working on a research-based sleep training device called SleepQ. We’re on Indiegogo right now at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sleepq.
Let me know if you or your followers have any sleep-related questions anytime!
Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer says
So glad you got help, friend. Now for the recipe — it sounds fantastic! I need to cook a good Julie-meal.! 🙂