Tag Archives: rice vinegar

Healthy Pad Thai

L1030054I am not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  Rather, I prefer reflecting on the past year–my accomplishments and what I am grateful for.  It helps me to take stock of where I am in life and how I want to move forward in the coming year.   2015 was a very good year:  I was promoted to General Manager of the bakery I work at, I concluded therapy after 4 years with an incredible therapist, and I traveled to Norway, Sweden, France and Switzerland with my husband.
L1030053Seeing as that I’m turning 40 this year, I feel the need to try some new things and push myself out of my comfort zone.  I signed up for a Half-Marathon in April, and Mr. K and I plan on taking a trip to China this summer.  I also want to learn Spanish, once-and-for-all!  Of course, always on my list is trying out new recipes, and this past week it was Pad Thai.  I, like most people, love Pad Thai, but I rarely order it when I eat out, as it’s usually a really heavy dish, and loaded with calories.  I found this Mark Bittman recipe and decided to tweak it a bit to make it lighter and healthier.  Enjoy!
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Healthy Pad Thai
Adapted from Mark Bittman via The New York Times

4 ounces fettuccine-width rice noodles
1/8 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup red cabbage
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Put noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit until noodles are just tender; check every 5 minutes or so to make sure they do not get too soft. Drain, drizzle with one tablespoon peanut oil to keep from sticking and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, put tamarind paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, oyster sauce, salt, pepper, honey and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Stir in red pepper flakes and set aside.
  3. Put remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when oil shimmers, add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add eggs to pan; once they begin to set, scramble them until just done. Add cabbage and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt.
  4. Add drained noodles to pan along with sauce. Toss everything together to coat with tamarind sauce and combine well. When noodles are warmed through, serve, sprinkling each dish with peanuts and garnishing with cilantro.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

DSC_5826I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before how I used to despise brussels sprouts when I was a kid.  My mom would simply boil them and serve them to us, as though they were supposed to be edible.  Since then, I have come to love brussels sprouts.  In fact, they are one of my top 5 favorite veggies of all time.   I love their bitter earthiness, and they are so versatile – you can pair them with sweet, sour, spicy, umami, whichever flavor profile you want!  They won’t let you down.  One of my 2015 goals was to make more Asian dishes, because, well, why not, really.  I came across this recipe in a recent Bon Appétit issue, and ripped it out immediately to add to my recipe folder.   Taking a look at my folder reminded me that I need to post on this blog more frequently, lest I want to end up being a recipe hoarder and die by having a box of recipes fall on my head.

This recipe is for all of the brussels sprouts lovers out there, as well as the Asian food lovers.  Enjoy!

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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped, peeled ginger
2 Tbsp. hot chili paste
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.  Toss brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2.  Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20-25 minutes.  Set aside.
3.  Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.
4.  Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
5.  Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes.  Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry.
6.  Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Toss brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.

Soba Noodles with Miso-Roasted Tomatoes

DSC_4854My food cravings are slowly disappearing.  I have had a sweet tooth ever since I can remember.  Along with that, I am someone who thinks about food constantly.  This is all wrapped up into my love/hate relationship with food.  I love it because it brings me so much pleasure to eat.  The unhealthy side of this is that I, for most of my life, have been an emotional eater.  So while food might give me pleasure while I’m eating, as soon as the meal is over, the pleasure evaporates into nothingness.  I am usually left with feelings of guilt and lots of critical analysis as to how healthy what I just ate is and what it could potentially do to my body.

Layered on top of this is my love of cooking and baking.  As I stated in one of my early blog posts, being in the kitchen is like therapy for me.  I love the challenge of trying a new recipe, the smells that emanate from the kitchen and waft throughout my home, and the anticipation of tasting what I created.  However, if I am baking, I often times have to wrestle with myself to not eat too much of what I’ve just baked.  If I do, it will eradicate all of the good feelings that I associate with baking and I will end up feeling defeated by my own self-loathing.  It’s a slippery slope.
DSC_4838A few weeks ago I decided to try something new.  I recently read a book called Grain Brain.  The author’s hypothesis is that gluten (and carbohydrates in general) is not only bad for our bodies, but bad for our brains.  People with gluten sensitivity are more prone to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other mental health issues.  This information jolted me into action.  I decided I was going to try and cut out 80% of the carbs in my diet and see how I felt.  If it helped assuage my anxiety in any noticeable way, I figured it would be worth it.

Since then, I have noticed significant changes in my thought patterns.  I feel calmer overall, and not nearly as anxious about things that might have created a non-stop loop of negative self-talk in my mind just a few weeks ago.  But the most surprising thing has been my diminished cravings for carbs, sugar in particular.  I noticed this the other night when Mr. K and I were sitting on the couch after dinner watching television.  For the last few years, I was in a bad habit of eating dessert several nights a week.  It was such an automatic behavior that NOT having dessert would feel like deprivation.  However, the other night I noticed that I had absolutely no cravings for dessert.  In fact, it didn’t even sound appealing to me.  Who am I?  I thought to myself.  This is a completely new feeling.  But you better believe the feeling made me smile.
DSC_4833One of my goals in the cooking realm of this blog was to cook more Asian food.  I love most Asian cuisines but I haven’t cooked many recipes that hail from this part of the world.  I think my biggest obstacle was a feeling of intimidation due to the fact that I had never used many of the ingredients.  I have made a couple of Asian dishes over recent months, and I love the way they have all turned out.  This recipe falls under that umbrella.  The miso and sesame oil give the dish that familiar umami quality that is associated with so much of Asian fare.  Although it’s a noodle dish, it doesn’t taste or feel heavy at all.  As we were eating it for dinner last night, Mr. K and I agreed that it was yet another perfect meal for spring; it’s light and yet very satisfying.  Of course, if you can’t find soba noodles at your local market, whole wheat spaghetti noodles would make a perfectly fine substitute.
DSC_4847Soba Noodles with Miso-Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Food and Wine

1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light yellow miso
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
sea salt
2 pints cherry tomatoes
8 ounces soba noodles
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a bowl, whisk the canola oil, vinegar, miso, ginger, sesame oil, honey, lime zest and lime juice until smooth.  Season with salt.
2.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the miso dressing and season with salt.
3.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes are charred in spots.  Scrape into a large bowl.
4.  Cook the soba in soiling water just until al dente, 4 minutes.
5.  Drain and cool under cold running water.
6.  Add the soba, scallions and half of the remaining dressing to the tomatoes and toss well.  Season with salt.
7.  Transfer to a platter and garnish with the sesame seeds.  Serve with the remaining dressing.