light chinese chicken salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette.

It seems ubiquitous that my 100th post(!) is a salad. I suppose it would be completely appropriate if my salad was lemon-themed, but let’s face it, I am just not that organized, and lemons were not in my meal plan this week, aside from my daily warm lemon water routine (<– SO good for you!).

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However, today’s recipe is a salad of Asian inspiration, which is fitting, seeing as Asian flavors are ones that I never, ever tire of. Do you have flavors/cuisines like that? Even with the copious and frankly embarrassing amounts of ginger I consume on a weekly basis, I can never get enough. So I bring you a light and healthy Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think this recipe is authentically Chinese in any realm, but these salads have enjoyed massive popularity for years. Sadly, most restaurant versions are positively laden with sodium and fat, and before you know it, your “healthy” meal has turned into a calorie bomb. No thank you.

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Here, we are grilling our lean chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless thigh meat if that’s what you prefer), throwing tons of delicious veggies into our salad, and topping off with a delicious dressing that is rich, thanks to the sesame oil, but not cloying at all. Sliced, roasted almonds provide the crunch factor, and provide us with healthy fats which keep us fuller, longer. This is one recipe I can make over and over again, and never tire of. I hope it’ll do the same for you!

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light + healthy chinese chicken salad.
inspired by many of the Chinese chicken salads I’ve had over the years. 

1 heart of romaine, chopped
2 cups savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup roasted, sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
sea salt and black pepper

dressing:
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

directions
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients except oil into a blender. With the blender on medium, stream in the tablespoon of oil to emulsify. Pour into a container and set aside.

To cook chicken: Turn the grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet onto/over medium-high. Season chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. If using a grill pan or skillet, add in one teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the pan to heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter, and cut into thin slices.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl add cabbage, lettuce, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. Add half the dressing, and lightly toss. Top with chicken and additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish salads.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.

Happy Thursday! This week sure has seemed long, hasn’t it? I’ve had a series of deadlines and deliverables looming over me, both at work and for school, so my free time has been greatly reduced. Who needs to sleep??

While amounts of sleep may be variable, the need to eat certainly is not! I know we all need  easy dishes that come together quickly and stay delicious for next day lunches. Today’s recipe is just that: a rice noodle dish positively loaded with veggies and protein to keep you full and satisfied through the most stressful of days. I’m not sure how authentically Thai this dish is, but I promise you it is positively delicious!

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I like the thin brown rice noodles for this, often called ‘stir fry’ noodles at the grocery store. The brown rice adds additional whole grains and fiber, but if you cannot find, simply substitute white ones. I let them soak until they are just shy of soft, as they will cook a bit in the wok, and continue to soften as they sit. Six ounces of baby spinach (weight) may seem like a lot, but it wilts quickly and you’ll be surprised at how much it cooks down.

Serve with some sake, or a crisp white wine, and congratulate yourself on cooking a healthy, filling meal in less time than it takes to order takeout!

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thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

directions
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh, minced ginger
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
1/2-3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
6 ounces baby spinach
1/3 cup fresh basil, minced
1 lime, juiced
8 ounces thin brown or white rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
sea salt and black pepper, if desired (optional)

directions
Heat oil in wok over high heat.  Stir fry chicken for 3-4 minutes, or until no longer pink.

Add bell peppers, ginger, and garlic; sauté until peppers just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add green onions; toss 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Toss to blend, about 1 minute. Add thai rice noodles. Add spinach in 3 additions, tossing until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute for each addition. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Toss consistently, to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

brown rice noodles with cabbage + leeks.

I’ve always wondered why people stay away from Asian-inspired cooking… too intimidating? Too many ingredients? Unfamiliarity? Whatever the reason, I find that people are timid when attempting Asian-inspired dishes. I’m not sure how authentic this dish is, but it’s simple, fast and delicious. Also? It’s perfect for everyone. EVERYONE. Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and even vegan – this dish will please just about anyone that you serve it to. Pasta with cabbage is a traditionally Polish dish, Haluski. We’re going to switch it up today, using brown rice noodles instead of egg noodles, and napa cabbage stir fried with a simple sweet and salty sauce.

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These are a little spicy, a little sweet, a little tangy, and super satisfying. If you did want to add more protein, I would probably add extra firm tofu. Just cube it, and lightly saute it before adding the vegetables. Then remove and add back at the end with the noodles to reheat through.

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Top with scallions, a drizzle of sesame oil and sriracha if you want some extra heat. Yum!

brown rice noodles with cabbage + leeks. 
adapted from Family Table. 

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ingredients
8 ounces brown rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 head napa or savory cabbage, cored and sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 leek, washed well, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (or unrefined sugar)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1.5 teaspoons sriracha
3 scallions, light and dark greens parts, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

directions
In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and garlic cloves together over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, and then remove the garlic with a slotted spoon.

Add the cabbage, leeks, carrots, ginger and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often for 7-10 minutes, or until just tender.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar, soy sauce/tamari, coconut sugar and whisk until well combined. Add the sauce mixture to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add the rice noodles and toss well. Drizzle in sesame oil and sriracha. Top with sliced scallions, sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 3-4.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

10 minute ‘fried’ quinoa with edamame + carrots.

This take on fried rice is healthy, packed with protein and only takes 10 minutes from pan to plate!

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One of my favorite things about getting Chinese takeout is the containers of fried rice. I can never eat that much of it on the first go around (I reserve my hunger for spicy shredded pork or hunan shrimp!), so I always have at least a container or two of rice hanging out in my fridge. I usually eat it cold with a splash of tamari in the morning standing over the sink. Shameful, but true. How good is cold leftover Chinese food??

Unfortunately, fried white rice is decidedly NOT healthy, and getting takeout all the time is neither healthy or economical. I’ve been wanting to try ‘fried’ quinoa for a while now, and last week I decided to finally try it out. Cold quinoa is essential for this dish. You can make that same day and cool it, but I would recommend cooking it another time, maybe make a double batch when you’re making it for another recipe to keep this super simple.

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Just try to not eat the entire pan of this. It is so, so good.

‘fried’ quinoa with edamame and carrots.
adapted from simplyquinoa.com 

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ingredients

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of shelled edamame
2 eggs, whisked
2 tablespoons of gluten free soy sauce or tamari (up to 3 to taste)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2-3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

directions

Heat sesame oil over medium high heat and add garlic, stirring frequently until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add carrots and edamame and cook for 1 minute, and add quinoa to vegetable mixture. Stir frequently until mixture is coated and begins to soften. During this time, crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk.

Push quinoa mixture off to one side and add eggs to other side of the pan and scramble them until cooked through. Break them up as needed, and stir them into the quinoa mixture.

Add soy sauce/tamari, ginger, and pepper and mix in until combined and hot. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Spoon into serving dish and garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main dish.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

 

sesame-soy turkey meatballs.

A gluten free, egg free, healthy, Asian-inspired meatball that doesn’t fall apart? Yes, it can be done! To ensure this dish is gluten free, make sure to use certified GF soy sauce, or use tamari, which is common in Japanese cooking, a thicker, more fermented soy sauce, and is usually gluten free (but make sure to double check!).

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For some reason, meatballs always seem like such an ordeal. A liquid, an egg, a binder, meat, spices… and my eyes are glazed over already. Granted, I do make meatballs in the classic fashion (see these delicious chicken parm ones!), but these Asian-inspired ones are  SO. EASY. Just a few ingredients, mix together, roll and bake. Done.

They are delicious on their own, but I’ve been eating them with quinoa and steamed carrots and green beans, drizzled with a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce. You could even make these smaller and use them in soup. Or stick a toothpick in them and serve alongside your favorite Asian dipping sauce. Endless possibilities!

Make a double batch and freeze them for a rainy day!

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sesame-soy turkey meatballs.
adapted from Cooking Light. 

ingredients

1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1/3 cup scallions, sliced very thinly
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons reduced sodium, gluten free soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chile garlic paste
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
cooking spray

directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add turkey, scallions, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile garlic paste and garlic. Using your hands, mix together until all combined, being careful not to over mix.

Using a one tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop a heaping tablespoon and roll into a ball. Place onto baking rack. Repeat with remaining mixture; you should end with about 15 meatballs.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until no longer pink and browned on the outside. Remove and cool completely prior to freezing.

Yields 15-16 meatballs.

**Please use all organic ingredients**

 

NOTES:
*I like to use a baking rack to let any extra fat drain off during the baking process! This is not necessary, and you can skip it if you’d like.

*Over mixing will yield a tougher meatball, so mix only until ingredients are combined.

 

easiest ever slow cooker orange chicken.

This might be the easiest dinner I’ve ever made that turned out so insanely delicious. Lots of things are easy to make (ahem, all the food in the frozen section), but super simple and oh-so delicious are not always synonymous. Then I made this orange chicken in my slow cooker, and those worlds collided, just a little bit.

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In truth, I had an entirely different dinner planned (which seems to happen to me a lot). I was flipping through my recipe book for inspiration, and came across an old magazine recipe and realized that I had every single ingredient hanging out in my refrigerator at that exact moment. Which almost never happens, considering this calls for orange marmalade. I rarely have any type of jelly/jam/preserves, as I like my toast with butter and a drizzle of honey. I had purchased the marmalade for testing a recipe a few weeks back (it was a fail, but it left me with a half of a jar). This also calls for barbecue sauce, which I usually make from scratch, but happened to have a bottle leftover as well. As soon as I realized that I’d be able to use up some of the condiments in my possession and end up with a yummy dinner with next to no effort? I’m in. 

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Honestly? I did not expect this to be so good, let alone blog-worthy! I figured it would be tasty, an easy way to use up ingredients and keep me stacked for lunches for the next few days. But, no. This was delicious, made all the more amazing by how easy peasy lemon squeezy it was to make. 3.5-4 hours in the slow cooker and you’re DONE. Serve it up with some rice, steamed veggies, or with some ginger scallion quinoa, like I did. You won’t be sorry!

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slow cooker orange chicken.
adapted from Food + Family magazine.

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ingredients

1 pound boneless, chicken chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup barbecue sauce (scratch, or your favorite. I like Stubb’s)
1/3 cup bitter orange marmalade (see note*)
2 tablespoons GF soy sauce or tamari
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
1.5 tablespoons of GF cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)

directions

Combine chicken and cornstarch in slow cooker, toss gently to combine and coat the chicken pieces.

Add marmalade, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, pepper, garlic and ginger in a separate bowl, whisk to combine. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-3.5 hours, checking after 3 hours for doneness. Turn heat up to high and let cook for 15-30 minutes longer, stirring occassionally, until sauce reaches your desired thickness.

Serve hot with cooked rice, quinoa or steamed vegetables.

Serves 4.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**

NOTE: I searched high and low for a marmalade that did NOT contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. I found Hero brand’s premium bitter orange marmalade, that was HCFS-free and much less sweet, which I much prefer. I recommend it.

 

hot + sour soup.

Hello there! We are in a bit of a cold spell here in NY, with a few inches of snow and temperatures in the 20s. Winter had about six months to show up, and it barely did, but I suppose one last hurrah in early April is its sendoff. Call me crazy, but I’m more than ok with it! I’m not ready for hot, summer temperatures, because when it’s chilly, it’s still soup season, and today we’re making a take-out classic right at home!

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Hot and sour soup is something I generally order when I get Chinese take-out, I just love the balance of flavors, and by eating a brothy soup I’m usually less likely to overindulge in scallion pancakes, sesame beef or my favorite guilty pleasure, shrimp egg rolls.

I was perusing a recent issue of Wegmans Menu Magazine, and the issue had multiple Asian-inspired recipes, and this soup caught my eye. I’ve really come to love mushrooms as an adult, and they are wonderful for you. Add some ground pork, aromatics, and some Asian cooking staples, and you’ve got a soup fit for company and cozy nights in, all done in under 45 minutes! How’s that for easy, comforting, healthy and inspired?

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hot + sour soup.
barely adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine.

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Ingredients

1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 lb. organic ground pork
2 tbsp. garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
10 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed. Thinly slice.
8 cups of organic chicken broth
3 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup warm water
½ cup gluten free soy sauce (reduced sodium)
½ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. white pepper
1.5 tsps. sesame oil
1organic egg, beaten
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced on bias (green parts only)
salt, if needed

Directions

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add pork, and cook, stirring to break up any large pieces, for 5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Drain.

Add pork back to pot, and add garlic, ginger and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes longer.

Add broth; bring to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. While simmering, mix together cornstarch and water in a small bowl until well combined and smooth.

Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, pepper, and sesame oil to pot; stir to combine. Add cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until well combined. Slowly drizzle egg into soup, stirring constantly.

Garnish soup with scallions before serving.

Makes 12 cups.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**