More Noodles, More Good Luck

Since the Chinese New Year celebration officially lasts 15 days, I figured we’d better keep the Asian food coming a little longer.  I hope I’m not the only one out there that loves it!  And one thing I really love about Asian food is Peanut Sauce.  I feel like pretty much everything tastes better with a little peanut butter in it!  So this recipe is great because it gives you that peanutty goodness, but also a lot of fresh veggies so you feel better about eating it.  It comes from Cooking Light.

You’ll notice it’s a little carb heavy and protein deficient, so I like to chop and boil 2 packs of extra firm tofu to throw in there and balance it out.  Please don’t tell me you hate tofu…it is so deliciously creamy, especially in this.  I mean, didn’t we just establish that everything is better with a little peanut butter on it?  Tofu is no exception to that.  If you can’t bring yourself to do it, two pounds of cooked chicken is a fine substitution.

Just keep in mind this is already quite a lot of food, so when you add the meat to it, it makes a ton.  If you aren’t feeding a pile of people, feel free to half it so you don’t go leftover crazy days on end.

Peanutty Noodles

  • 2  carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups red bell pepper strips
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed
  • 8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Shave the carrots lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable peeler, and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and minced garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt); stir until well-blended. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and snow peas; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine carrot, peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mixture, and linguine in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

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Happy Chinese New Year

That’s right…today we embark upon the Year of the Dragon, so to commemorate that I thought it best to highlight some Asian cuisine this week.  Of course, today’s recipe comes from Rachael Ray, so I will not call it authentic, but I WILL call it delicious.  It seems that most foodies have strong opinions about Rachael Ray, so I apologize if you hate me sharing her stuff!  Personally I will probably never understand how she got her own talk show, as I prefer watching her cooking show on mute, but she does have a lot of good go-to recipes.

Anyway, as a general rule the Chinese are a very superstitious people with many traditions upheld to bring good luck, and others to avoid bringing bad luck.  The New Year has many such traditions, and one way to bring yourself good luck throughout the coming year is to eat noodles.  Noodles are actually a symbol of longevity, so I felt it double appropriate to highlight noodles this week since longevity is what this blog is all about (not to mention the meaning of the character up there on the right!)

Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Bowl

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 inches ginger root, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks or grated
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps (a couple of cups), sliced
  • 1 medium bok choy, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces, then cut into sticks lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup seafood stock, available on soup aisle or 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound vermicelli (thin spaghetti)
  • 4 scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces, then shredded lengthwise into thin sticks

Directions

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and bok choy, then season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and seafood stock or clam juice. Put a lid on the pot and bring soup to a boil.

Add shrimp and noodles and cook 3 minutes. Add in scallions and cook 2 minutes, then turn off soup and let it sit 2 to 3 minutes more. Adjust salt and serve.

**Rachael says this serves four, but I’m scaling this nutrition info to six portions, as we eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of her monster portions.**

Also, to make this a little healthier, just use 1 tablespoon of oil while cooking the vegetables, you definitely don’t need 3 in my opinion!

NUTRITION: Calories 301 / Fat 11 / Carbs 28.5 / Protein 37.5 g / Fiber 2 g

If you are in need of a little more luck for this year than you feel noodles can provide, eat some tangerines, dumplings, whole fish (yes, head and tail included!!), and spring rolls.

Gongxi Facai!

Protein Pancakes

This past weekend we headed to Colorado to visit some friends and of course hit the slopes.  We had always heard great things about the skiing there, only to arrive to one of the driest winters they have had in many years and ski on icy, man-made snow.  And what did I encounter on my return to “mild” Washington?  A huge snowstorm that left us snowed in the entire day and a foot of snow in our driveway.  Figures.

What better way to spend a snowed in day than baking something?  Since I am only a week into the 90-day dessert fast I had to ignore those desires and made something a little less goal-sabotaging, but still delicious, Bill Phillips’ Protein Pancakes.

As you read the ingredients you may think they aren’t going to turn into pancakes, or if they do they will be strange, but let me tell you, I love them.

Ingredients:

6 egg whites
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of vanilla

Dump everything in a blender until it looks like batter, cook on the griddle, and voila!  You have a nice low carb, high protein pancake that you won’t feel guilty about and will actually keep you full until the next meal.  Serves 2.

NUTRITION: 211 Calories / 2.2 g Fat / 24 g Carbs / 22 g Protein / 3 g Fiber

Walnut Blueberry Banana Bread

Ever since we got the VitaMix, there is one food that our house is 100% guaranteed to have on hand.  Any guesses?  Bananas, in various stages of ripening.  You see, my sweet little grandma Baria taught me from an early age the beauty of a ripe banana.  Pop it in the freezer and then pop it in your smoothies to give it sweetness without adding sugar and thickness without adding ice cream.  Yum.

But this post is not about smoothies.  My grandma Baria also makes a mean Banana Bread, a recipe passed down from her own mother who was a professional chef.  It is so delicious and I was happy to find this healthier version of banana bread in my Clean Eating Magazine.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar or raw honey
  • 1 cup 1% buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tsp orange rind, grated
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup unsalted walnuts, chopped

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a nonstick loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together banana, flaxseed, egg whites, agave and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, salt, flours and orange rind. Combine dry ingredients into banana mixture. Gently fold in blueberries and walnuts. Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Serves 10 slices.

NUTRITION: Calories: 200/Fat: 6 g/Carbs: 33 g/ Fiber: 6 g/Sugars: 13 g/Protein: 8 g

Decide, Commit…

Yes, we have a new year on our hands, a universally recognized time to evaluate the year past and make plans for the year to come.  I will spare you the complete details of my own reflection, but there I’m going to make a public commitment to one of my goals so you can hold me accountable.  I know I’m a week late, but better late then never, right?

We recently received P90X2 in the mail and as we started the program decided to start the meal plan as well.  I am sad to say that we only lasted on it three days; it is a little complicated to track and doesn’t provide enough carbs for this nursing mom.  But since I still wanted to set some goals to improve my health (and attack that baby belly), I am going to have a 90 day dessert fast.

As I have a strong love for desserts, I will need your help!  Harrass me if you see me wavering.  If you want some extra support/harrassment with your own goals, feel free to share them and we can work on things together.

Great Green Chili

As promised, I am back with more soup to keep you warm and happy on these January nights.  It comes from Eating for Life, the companion cookbook to Bill Phillips’ Body for Life, which was the first regimented program I ever tried to consciously eat healthier.  For those who don’t really love cooking, I would definitely recommend it as the recipes in it are quite simple.  This one is a favorite.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 packages Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy Mix
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 jalapenoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) white hominy, drained

I won’t tell you the instructions in the cookbook because that’s not what I do…I’ll give you my lazy instructions.   Dump all but the last two ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning and put on low for 8 hours.  If you forget, you can also do it at lunch and just cook it on high.  No worries.  Then an hour before you want to eat throw in the cilantro and the hominy so the flavor of the cilantro pops and the hominy is not soggy. 

If you love hominy as much as I do, please put in two cans instead of one.  If you aren’t a fan at all, like my sister, you can subsitute corn very easily.  Also if you have a gluten intolerance or you just like a thinner, broth-type soup you can also leave out the gravy altogether.  They suggest serving with warm flour tortillas, but I always prefer some yummy cornbread.  Up to you.

Makes 8 1.5-cup servings.

NUTRITION: Calories: 167/Fat 3.5 g/Protein 11.6 g/Carbohydrate: 21.6 g/Fiber 3.5 g

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Yes, it is winter here in the Northwest.  That being the case, it is damp.  And by damp I mean soggy to the n-th degree.  It is by personal standards cold, though those in places like the Midwest or Alaska might disagree with me, but hey I am a Texan at heart so I have every right to complain about cold whenever it gets below sixty.

Anyway I am sure all can agree that few things bring warmth to the soul during whatever your decold and the yuck like a nice bowl of soup.  Wasn’t there a ridiculously long book series attesting to that fact?  So it is quite possible that I will be making quite a few posts about soup in the hopes that I can regain my inner chi until the sun returns.

Today’s soup is one from Cooking Light, one of my favorite places to look for healthier recipes.  They aren’t kidding when they say quick, especially if you already have some leftover chicken that you are looking to put to good use.

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breast halves)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

Preparation

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and jalapeño; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 5 minutes).

Makes 6 1-cup Servings

NUTRITION: Calories: 257/Fat: 8.1g/Protein: 19.1g/Carbohydrate: 28.6g/Fiber: 1.9g