52 Weeks of Cooking: Make it Healthy
Chinese New Year may seem like an odd time to cook something healthy. Chinese food though, is often the last minute take out, the mall food court conquest or simply something we eat when we need a shot of sodium, fat and carbs. Tasty stuff, but there’s a better way.
When I knew I wanted to cook for Chinese New Year but keep it within my eating plan I began to research (It’s still January, resolutions you know. )
What is healthy?
The problem with the idea of healthy, is that it’s different for everyone. What I think is healthy doesn’t meet my best friends idea of healthy and doesn’t meet my bosses idea of healthy. Since I’ve struggled with my weight, I’ve tried lots of different ways to “eat healthy” to help shed some pounds. Bottom line, I believe it’s not the what you eat, but the calorie count involved, and the food itself has to bring you satisfaction. Folks who are success of Keto or Paleo are eating food they find highly satiating in calorie counts lower then what they ate pre “diet”. (I hate that word) Those who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, are satisfied with the content of their diet as well. It’s all about what makes you happy and feeds your soul.
I have standards (and privilege*).For me that means I look to whole foods. Ingredients I recognize, things I could grow myself, harvest myself or even butcher myself. (If I wasn’t squeamish. ) I limit low fat ingredients, and avoid unnaturally fat free ingredients. For example, I would rather have a smaller portion of homemade ice cream instead of eating a pint of Halo top. A poke bowl of Ahi Tuna with a little avocado and a shake of sesame seed and seaweed feeds my soul more then a bowl of low fat macaroni and cheese, made with fat free cheese and skim milk. It might not work for you, but that’s what makes me happy. (and I balance my diet at about an 80/20 between whole foods/other foods )
*I’m lucky. I know I have the ability to buy the food I want to eat, and that I find healthiest. Not everyone does. I have grocery stores near me, fabulous farm stands, and last year I even bought into a CSA basket, where I had more vegetables then we could eat. I know not everyone is there.
Fresh Vegetables, Meat and Sauce
Nothing too weird, right? Chinese cooking is simple in this aspect. Sauces are made up of flavorful liquids (rice wine, soy, sesame oil), seasonings (garlic, ginger, miso), sometimes a little sweetner (honey) and a thickener.
Meet my inspiration. The big book of Stir Fry was a discount book find, and has hundreds of great recipes, simple ingredients, but good flavors. My Weight Watchers book, which has a section on theme nights offered a miso ginger bok choy as well as a vegetable dumpling that I still need to get to.
The Paleo Takeout book may seem like an odd choice. After all, aren’t those paleo people just chowing down on buckets of bacon. (Incidentally, Buckets of Bacon is my GWAR tribute band.) People eating a paleo diet are interested in vegetables and meats, without additives or excessive processing. Sounds pretty whole foods to me.
Fully inspired, I began to cook
I started with the Boy Choy with Miso dressing, then Moo Goo Gai Pan and so on.
All told I made.
- Baby Bok Choy with Miso Ginger Dressing
- Moo Goo Gai Pan (4SP)
- Chicken with Mushrooms (6SP) (just like Panda Express!!)
- General Tso’s Chicken. (6SP, not fried just sauteed)
- Cashew Vegetables (7 SP, cashews are killer.)
- Cauliflower Fried Rice (3 SP)
The bonus was that once I made one of the dishes, the Moo Goo Gai Pan, I realized that the rest of the dishes worked pretty much the same way, except the sauce ingredients changed and the vegetables changed. It reminded me a lot of ratio, and I think I know how to experiment with making Asian style sauces for vegetables.
More on that soon.
Baby Bok Choy with Ginger Miso Dressing.
1/3 Cup Water
1 tbls canola oil
3 large garlic clove , thinly sliced
1 lb baby bok choy cut in half, the long way.
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbls rice vinegar
2 tbls miso (lighter misos like white, are lighter in flavor and better here.)
2 tbls mirin
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp grated peeled ginger or 1/4 tsp dried powdered ginger.
Combine the water, oil and garlic in a saute pan, simmer then add the bok choy. Season with salt, and cook until tender 12-15 minutes.
Combine dressing ingredients.
Drain the bok choy well. Set it aside. Add the dressing to the saute pan, cooking until it is simmering then gets thick and a little syrupy. Pour over the bok choy, and serve either warm or at room temp.
From Weight Watchers Family Meals
I’ll double this one next time, it was fantastic.
Moo Goo Gai Pan from Paleo Takeout
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 inch minced ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp Mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp arrowroot starch (this is a fine powder, looks like cornstarch in texture, I had to get it from a health food store. )
1 tbsp cold water
2 sprays olive oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
splash of tamari or coconut aminos
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup snow peas sliced
5 oz white mushrooms, quartered
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the dish. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot starch and cold water to create a slurry, then set aside.
Heat up the skillet, and add a spray of olive oil.Add the chicken in batches, cooking until mostly cooked through. Add a sprinklet of salt and pepper then transfer to a bowl. (Don’t crowd the pan, cook in batches)
Add another spray of olive oil, then add the carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, to the pan adding a little water if needed. Sauté until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, then stir to combine. Pour in the sauce and simmer; pour in half of the arrowroot starch slurry and stir until thickened, adding more slurry if needed. Taste and add salt if needed, then remove from the heat and serve.
Was it healthy?
In the end, everything I cooked fit my needs of healthy. There were more vegetables then anything else on my plate, and I had a fridge stocked for the week.
Healthy life choices, healthy food.
Sounds like a win win to me.
Source: Almost Dinner