Monday, September 24, 2012

Takeout Makeover - Lightened Up Asian Dinner

Zucchini Ribbons, Photo: NK
One theme of my thirties thus far has been,"a moment on the lips, forever on the hips." It is really amazing how metabolism changes as you age. And by amazing, I mean awful. 

Back in the good old days, overindulgences were easily remedied by a couple of days of smart food choices. Not so anymore. For me, it takes a lot more to peel off those pounds. When I want to lose a few, I also have to make sure to exercise more because as you may guess, I'm not all that willing to deprive myself of the foods I love. 

Today's post is all about flavor, and how even the most fattening takeout delights can be lightened up yet still remain satisfying in all the right ways. Our first recipe is a bold, Thai-inspired salad made with absolutely no fats. Zucchini Ribbons sliced on my new Mandoline (courtesy of my wonderful Mother-in-Law) make for a lovely presentation, and the tangy, sweet and salty dressing packs a delicious punch. You will almost forget that you're eating healthy. 

For our entree, I checked out a few WeightWatchers recipes and came across their virtuous version of General Tso's Chicken. I will say - it came out pretty good. While it was by no means an exact copy, the recipe yields a tasty and flavorful chicken dish nonetheless. Just because you are on a diet doesn't mean you can't enjoy! 

Super Healthy Thai-Style Mango Salad
Adapted from Veggie Wedgie
Serves 2-3

Juice of One Lime 
1 teaspoon Agave Syrup or Honey
1 teaspoon Orange Juice
1/2 teaspoon Fish Sauce (optional)
1 dash Sriracha 

1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Hot House Cucumber, unpeeled, or 1 regular Cucumber, peeled
1 Zucchini
1/2 Lb Sugar Snap Peas
1 Yellow Thai Mango or underripe regular Mango

Julienned Mango, Photo NK

In a small bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients to make the dressing. Set aside.

Next, peel and cut Mango into matchsticks (julienne them) and chop Snow Peas

Using a spiralizer, mandoline set on the thinnest setting, or sharp chef's knife, cut zucchini lengthwise as thin as you possible can, to create ribbons. 

Chop Cucumber by hand into 1/4 inch thick slices and then roughly chop them. 

Combine chopped Cucumbers, Sugar Snap Peas, and Cilantro together. Pour half the dressing over and toss, the add in half the Mango matchsticks.

Snap Peas, Cilantro and Cucumber, Photo: NK

Next, Spread the Zucchini Ribbons on a flat surface and gently toss them in the remainder of the dressing. 

To assemble the salad, pile the Snow Pea, Cucumber, and Mango mixture onto a plate. Place Zucchini Ribbons on top or on the side (whatever you prefer presentation-wise!). 

Finally, top with the reserved Mango matchsticks. Serve and enjoy!

Thai-Style Mango Salad, Photo: NK

WeightWatchers General Tso's Chicken
Very lightly adapted
Photo: NK
Serves 4. *8 Points Per Serving

3/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1.5 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Peanut Oil
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 Jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper 
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Scallions, white and green parts sliced

2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice,we like Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (done in 90 seconds in microwave),kept warm

1 Lb Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into two inch chunks


In a bowl, combine Chicken Broth, Cornstarch, Soy, Sugar, Vinegar and Ginger powder. Whisk briskly and set aside. 

Heat oil in a wok or large, high sided skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure it gets nice and hot. Add Scallions, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes and Jalapeno. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. Add chicken and sauté until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. 

Next, add the Sauce that you set aside and simmer until the sauce becomes thickened and the Chicken is fully cooked, about 3 minutes.

Serve over Rice and enjoy!
Lightened Up General Tso's, Photo: NK
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