Noodle Bowl with Lemongrass Chicken and Peanut Sauce

Noodle Bowl with Lemongrass Chicken and Peanut Sauce

This noodle bowl with lemongrass chicken and peanut sauce can be prepped in less than 30 minutes! Perfect make ahead lunch for the weekend! Serve lemongrass marinated chicken over a bed of brown rice noodles, chopped fresh veggies, tons of herbs and a store bought peanut sauce!

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Sesame Soba Noodles

Sesame soba noodles! Toss whole grain soba noodles in a creamy tahini sauce then add crunchy carrots and cucumbers to make this cold Asian salad. 

Oh hayyyyy there sesame noodles. Don't worry, we'll come back to you. But first, let's talk Olympics.

Tell me, are you watching? What's your favorite sport? It's badmitton, isn't it? ;) I'm typing this while watching women's gymnastics qualifiers. Sidebar - Simone Biles OMG!!! How does your body do these things? I literally do not understand.

I'm always super ambivalent about the Olympics when they're first starting then two days later I find myself in tears watching some random Armenian's medal dreams get crushed. Currently, I've cried at least five times including when the Dutch cyclist crashed, when Gabby Douglas stepped out of bounds during the floor routine, and when my husband made a remark about the diversity of American athletes showing off what's cool about our country. Tears. What is wrong with me? I think I need to get my hormones checked...

So back to these sesame noodles. I'm a huge fan of Asian noodle salads. It's all the things I want in the summer. Salads and substance.

You'll want to find soba noodles if you can. One hundred percent buckwheat are my jam, and gluten free too for those who must avoid, but the whole wheat or mixed buckwheat and wheat are easier to find and work just fine. Regular spaghetti also works in a pinch.

This sesame sauce is the bestest. Most sesame noodles use sesame oil as a dressing, but sometimes that gets a bit greasy. So I used tahini, which was almost like a peanut satay sauce. Actually, you could probably use peanut butter instead of tahini and it would be equally amazing.

To round it out, add rotisserie chicken or baked tofu cubes. You could also serve it over a bed of lettuce for more green.

Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounce soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
  • 2 carrots, shredded

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. When cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. While noodles are cooking, whisk together tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sriracha.
  3. Toss noodles in a large bowl with dressing, scallions, cucumber and carrots. Serve room temperature or chilled.

More Asian noodle salads:

Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Tempeh
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Tempeh
Kimchi Noodle Salad
Kimchi Noodle Salad

Black Garlic Tofu and Mango Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

These vegan black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls are a unique spin on traditional flavors! Serve with a sweet and savory peanut dipping sauce. 

Before we went to Vietnam last year, I had dreams of learning to create authentic versions of all the delicious food we ate on our trip. Then after a street food tour of Hoi An where we learned just how much time and effort went into perfecting each dish, how street food vendors spend their lives cooking the same dish each and every day, passing their secrets down to their children, I realized authenticity was kind of a silly dream. Now when I'm craving Vietnamese, I go to a local Vietnamese run restaurant or if cooking at home, use the recipes as inspiration, not a rule. Kind of like I did with these black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls! Not authentic at all, but SO delicious and packed with summer flavor.

When we were in Vietnam, we sampled dozens of different spring rolls with different types of rice paper wrappers, fillings, and sauces. Also, using rice paper to make rolls out of shrimp pancakes or grilled pork skewers  with herbs at the table was really common. When I spotted these brown rice paper rolls at Earth Fare, on a whim I decided to whip up spring rolls with what I had on hand.

Impulse buy number 2 - black garlic from Trader Joes. It had been sitting in my vegetable basket at least a week or so while I tried to figure out what on earth to make with it. All the recipes I found were a little too chefy for me (black garlic ice cream....errr, no thanks). In the end, I simply blended it up with tamari to make a simple sauce for pan seared tofu.

If you've never tried black garlic before (I hadn't!), it's a typically Asian ingredient made by slowly caramelizing whole heads of garlic over the course of a few weeks. It tastes sweet and just barely garlicky, more like balsamic vinegar or a savory jam to me. If you can't find it, honestly you could just leave it out and swap flavored baked tofu or plain pan seared tofu. While you can taste the rich and savory flavor it lends behind the sweet mango, fresh herbs and peanut sauce, it's not super obvious, so feel free to let those flavors shine.

Rolling spring rolls can be a little tricky, but the good news is they don't have to be pretty, just edible. Rice paper gets soft with just a couple seconds in warm water, no boiling needed. Layer the ingredients in a line down the middle, fold the edges in, then roll. It's kinda like making a mini burrito!

Black Garlic Tofu and Mango Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Makes 16-20

Ingredients

Black Garlic Tofu:

  • 1 lb block firm tofu
  • 6 peeled black garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Spring Rolls: 

  • 8 ounce package brown rice paper rolls
  • 8 ounce bag cellophane noodles
  • 2 mangos, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups sprouts or microgreens

Dipping Sauce: 

  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil (or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Instructions

  1. Remove block of tofu from container. Wrap with paper towels or a kitchen towel and place on a plate topped with a heavy can to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. While tofu is draining, make the dipping sauce. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and puree until well combined. Taste and season with salt to taste. Pour out into bowl and clean out blender or food processor to use for making black garlic sauce.
  3. Blend together black garlic, soy sauce and water until pureed. Set aside. Cut the tofu in half through it's widest part, then cut into thin sticks. Heat sesame oil on medium high heat. Add tofu and sear. Flip every 3 minutes until most of the tofu is crispy and lightly browned. Pour in sauce, cook until thick and mostly of the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Cook rice vermicelli according to package directions. Using kitchen shears, cut into the noodles making 3-4 cuts so they aren't quite so long.
  5. Arrange the spring roll fillings (tofu, noodles, mango, cucumber, pepper, mint and sprouts for easy assembling.
  6. When ready to assemble, fill a shallow bowl with very warm water. Dip a rice paper roll into the water, pressing gently to submerge until pliable, about 10-20 seconds. Remove, shake off extra water and place on work space. Press 2 mint leaves down the center of the wrapper. Top with 2-3 sticks of tofu. Top with a small handful of rice vermicelli noodles, cucumber, red pepper, mango and sprouts. Be careful not to overstuff. Fold top and bottom edges over the edges of the filling. Carefully wrap one of the edges not covered in filling over the top of the filling, then roll into a roll, pressing in the edges and filling as needed to keep it compact. Set aside and repeat with remaining rice paper rolls and filling.
  7. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

You might also like: 

Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Soy-Lime Dressing
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Soy-Lime Dressing
Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Salad with Mango and Peanut Sauce
Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Salad with Mango and Peanut Sauce

Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Vegan Vietnamese brown rice noodle salad is packed with bright, fresh flavors from crunchy raw vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy sesame tempeh and a tangy sesame vinaigrette.

Happy Monday! Sending this post out from the airport on my way to Lodi, California, where I'm spending the next three days traveling with California Almonds. Very excited for this amazing experience, and to learn about my favorite nut along with some incredible RD bloggers. Follow me on instagram for updates!

This trip is the start to a season packed to the brim with travel. Next week I'm headed to Chicago, where I'll be spending a few days exploring the city with my mom before my cousins wedding. The week after that, we're headed up to Philadelphia a dear friends wedding. Then I'll have a few weeks at home before I head to Nashville for FNCE, the national conference for dietitians. From there (and I mean literally from there, like, the day after FNCE ends) I'm headed off for the two week trip of a lifetime with my hubs to....

VIETNAM!!

Hence this Vietnamese rice noodle salad, which I'm sure after eating authentic Vietnamese rice noodle salads I will look back on and cringe.

I won't lie, looking at my calendar, rapidly filling appointment slots and wondering when I will have time to keep up with this little blog of mine, it's a bit exhausting. But I mean, getting a free trip to California, having mother-daughter time in an awesome city, seeing lifelong friends and making new ones, going to freaking Vietnam...I really can't complain!

Right after my husband, travel is the love of my life. Nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring a new place and soaking up every last drop. Even if it's in our own state, it brings a joy to my life that I can't quite describe.

There's a saying attributed to the Dalai Lama to "once a year, go someplace you've never been before." I love this advice. Traveling, more than taking a vacation, expands your life in so many ways. It builds confidence, makes you a more compassionate person, opens your mind, makes you less materialistic, and (I think) sexier.

Travel can make you healthier. Looking back at my life, I truly believe traveling as a child was the single greatest factor in me becoming a dietitian and making my wellness a priority. Really. If you think travel is all about indulgent restaurants and skipping workouts, well, you're right, but there are other ways travel can make you a healthier person.

It's helps you see past the insanity of fad diets. When you travel around the world, you see a wide range of traditional diets. You also see how the people eating these different diets are generally pretty healthy, much healthier than we are here in the States. For example, in Peru, potatoes were a major part of every meal. At the farmers market, there was an entire potato section which consisted of two 30-foot long tables overflowing with dozens of different types of potatoes. I also saw native Peruvians absolutely whooping fit Americans on the Incan trail. Our guide said Peruvian guides hiked to Machu Picchu and back in one day. It takes other travelers three days, one way. It's kind of hard to give in to the low carb propoganda after seeing that.

Travel expands your taste buds. Picky eaters...not exactly the healthiest. Travel exposes you to new foods and flavors. When you're a more adventurous eater, eating healthy food is less about dieting and more about trying new and delicious foods.

Travel makes you appreciate what you have. In many countries, poverty is much more visible than we're used to. Seeing how people not only live, but in many ways thrive, with much less material possessions than we're used to, makes you truly appreciate what you have. When  you truly feel grateful for the food in front of you, it seems wasteful not to enjoy and savor it mindfully.

Travel motives me to be healthy later in life. Scott and I are planning our lives to ensure we're able to travel as much as possible, as late into life as possible. I am fully prepared to be that little old lady, cane in one hand, Scott's hand in the other, navigating the streets of some small European town.

You don't even have to travel to exotic places to get these benefits. Exploring new places in your own backyard can be just as beneficial, and fun! Some of my favorite trips have been less than a couple hours drive - camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking with friends in the upstate, and exploring historic sites in South Carolina. You can even learn a lot from exploring your own town with fresh eyes!

Do you love to travel? If so, how has it enriched your life and made you a healthier person? 

Vegan Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Serves 6

Adapted from Thug Kitchen

Ingredients

Ginger-Sesame Tempeh:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil

Salad:

  • 8 ounce package thin brown rice noodles
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. First, make the tempeh. Cut the tempeh into 16 slices width-wise. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the tempeh ingredients. Pour over the tempeh in a shallot bowl, flip to coat evenly with marinade. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. When ready to cook, warm 1-2 teaspoons in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add tempeh slices and cook 3-4 minutes, flip, then cook 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. To make the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package directions. When they are done, drain, rinse under cold water until cool, then set aside.
  4. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  5. Divide the salad greens between four plates or large bowls. Top with a scoop of rice noodles in the center. Place the carrot, cucumber, herbs and green onion in piles around the noodles. Drizzle with dressing, top with cashews and serve.

More recipes inspired by my travels:

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens

Good Mood Food: Kimchi Noodle Salad

Kimchi noodle salad is a delicious way to sneak in mood boosting probiotics, and it takes less than 30 minutes to make. Vegan and gluten free too! 

Happy Friday! I'm excited to share the first post of my new series, Good Mood Food. As you know, I'm a firm believer that food can and should contribute to a healthy and happy life. In this series, I'll be highlighting foods that have a specific impact on brain health, and mood and using it in a tasty new recipe.

For my first post, I want to look in depth at a group of foods essential to mental health - fermented foods. Fermented foods have been preserved or produced by the action of microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts, which digest sugars, turning it into gasses, acids or alcohol...I know, I'm not really selling it. But trust me, fermented foods are much tastier than it sounds, and they've been an essential part of the human diet for thousands of years. And guess what? If you've had yogurt, sourdough bread, sour cream or soy sauce, you've already swallowed a nice little mouthful of bacteria.

Fermented food is important for health because it introduces and replenishes the supply of probiotic bacteria to our gut. Did you know we have more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body? In fact, our gut bacteria outnumbers our cells 10 to 1. So, I guess we kind of are what we eat!

Having a healthy intestinal flora is important for more than digestion. Studies have shown how changes to our intestinal bacteria can effect weight and have an impact on cardiovascular health and bone health. But what I find most notable and fascinating is how fermented foods improve mood.

You probably think of your brain as this intricate and complex organ and your gut as, well, a poop shoot. But you could argue that our gut has almost as much influence over our thoughts and mood as the brain. The gut is home to the enteric nervous system (ENS), the second greatest concentration of nervous system cells outside the brain. Many scientists refer to the gut as "the second brain." While the gut can't think, per se, it does influence thoughts and mood in other ways and one of those ways is through our gut bacteria.

Gut bacteria produces neurotransmitters, including 95% of the bodies serotonin and about half the bodies dopamine. Serotonin is often called the good mood hormone and dopamine is part of the reward system. Gut bacteria also protects against an endotoxin called lipopolysaccharide, which even small increases of can provoke depressive symptoms (and increase blood sugar). Fermented foods also decrease inflammation in the gut. Mild inflammation in the gut has been shown to increase anxiety and and lower levels of brain derived neurotropic factor, a neuropeptide that's known to be low in depression. If you'd like to read more about the science behind it, here's a fascinating journal article that looks into the science of mental health and fermented foods.

Kimchi might be my favorite fermented food. I'm slightly addicted. If you ever catch me hanging out in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open, it's probably because I'm eating kimchi out of the jar (or peanut butter, but that's another post). Kimchi, made by fermenting cabbage in chili paste, is essential to Korean cuisine. It's used to flavor soups, stews and in fried rice or is eaten as a side dish. I know fermented cabbage might not get you excited, but trust me, it's incredible! Think of it as spicy saurkraut!

This dish is a great way to enjoy kimchi in all of it's raw, probiotic filled glory. To make a full meal, add some type of protein. We tossed in pieces of grilled local chicken breast seasoned with 5-spice powder. Or for a vegan version, use edamame, cubes of baked tofu, or sprinkle it with extra peanuts or hemp hearts.

Kimchi Noodle Salad

Serves:

Serves 4

Toss in edamame, cooked chicken or baked tofu for additional protein.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole grain noodles (I used black bean noodles) 
  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and chopped into thin half moons
  • 1 cup kimchi, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha or gochujang 
  • 1/2 cup toasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to prevent it from clumping. Set aside to cool.
  2. When noodles are room temperature, place cucumber, kimchi, scallions and cilantro in a large bowl. Add noodles and toss to combine. Drizzle remaining sesame oil and sriracha/gochujang over the top. Toss again to combine. Top with toasted peanuts.

 You Might Also Like:

Buddha Bowl with Marinated Tofu

Buddha Bowl with Marinated Tofu

Kimchi Fried Rice
Kimchi Fried Rice
Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Soup
Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Soup

Vegetable and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

Vegetable and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

This vegetable and soba noodle stir fry is made with chewy, buckwheat soba noodles made from sweet potato and buckwheat. It's packed with veggies - strips of eggplant, green beans, bok choy, and red bell peppers, as well and stir fried tofu and drenched in a spicy peanut sauce!

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