I know I said I’d post the burrito recipe. I KNOW. (I’m sorry, it’s going to have to be next week.) Here’s the thing: something incredible happened last night. I made Chicken Pad Thai on a whim, and it knocked the proverbial socks (proverbial because chickens don’t wear socks) off of literally everything else that I ate this week. EVEN CHICKEN STRIPS. That’s a big deal.
During last weekend’s trip to the grocery store, I picked up a package of brown rice fettuccine noodles with the intent to make Clean Shrimp Alfredo using a recipe that a friend sent me on Facebook. I attempted that on Tuesday night and it was okay, but I need to do a little tweaking before it’s blog-worthy. I was left with a load of unused brown rice fettuccine and had no idea what to do with it. As I was staring at the package pondering on how I should put the noodles to use, I read two little words on the label: Pad Thai.
Ding ding ding!!! I had a light bulb moment. Screw trying to re-make fettuccine. Gah, reading labels leads to so many amazing things. Like smarter decisions at the grocery store and delicious PAD THAI.
A little fat-filled #flashbackfriday for you: In college, I used to have an obsession with Pei Wei. I can’t tell you how many times I went there exactly, but I think it was at least a weekly thing. Right, Niki? We ate SO MUCH EDAMAME. (There’s something about Asian food that just does the trick when you’re hungover. I swear.) Every time I went, I’d get the Chicken Pad Thai. Looking at Pei Wei’s nutrition facts, the dish packs a whopping 1460 calories, 31g of fat, 190g of carbs (56g of sugar), and 82g of protein. I’d order that dish with a side of crab rangoons or an egg roll and eat almost an entire day’s worth of food (along with a ridiculous amount of sugar) in one sitting.
Would I ever do that today? Hell. No. My health goals are far different than they were back then, and I like to make informed, health-minded choices in the food that I eat. However, my love for Pad Thai hasn’t disappeared along with the 50 pounds that I’ve lost.
The version that I created has 1/3 of the calories, about 1/4 of the fat, and about 1/4 of the carbs of Pei Wei’s while maintaining 100% of the flavor. :o) You’re welcome, waistline.
I’ve had an incessant craving for Asian food for the past couple of weeks, so having the idea to clean up the traditional Pad Thai recipe went along with what my taste buds have apparently deemed “Asian Month.” I (ever-so-conveniently) had a huge stash of green onions and cilantro left over in my fridge that was on the verge of expiring, so along with the noodles and a bag full of chicken marinated in soy sauce, I had almost all of the necessary ingredients to make this little experiment. I just needed to grab some weird stuff from Whole Foods and I was ready to rock.
I will say that I was totally unsure about this as I was cooking it. I’m not big into fish, so anything using “fish sauce” makes me skeptical. The Pad Thai sauce didn’t taste right before I added it to the chicken and noodles, but TRUST ME ON THIS: when it’s all cooked together and the sauce thickens over the rest of the dish, it. is. divine. Added bonus: it’s way easier to make than you’d think.
Clean Chicken Pad Thai
Cook time: 30min
- 8oz. chicken breast, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4c. low-sodium soy sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
- 2 tbsp low-sodium Teriyaki sauce
- 4oz. brown rice fettuccine style noodles
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce (I used Trader Joe’s, but you can find this at nearly any grocery store by the soy sauce/Sriracha/etc.)
- 3/4 tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp granulated Stevia
- Dash of white pepper (>1/8 tsp — just a sprinkle)
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts or cashews (I used cashews because it’s what I had on-hand)
- 2 lime wedges
- Combine soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, and chicken in a bag or shallow dish and let marinate for at least 15 minutes (up to 8 hours)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your noodles. Turn the heat down to low-medium (2-3) after about 2 minutes and allow them to cook
- Place oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat (6-7). Add garlic and sweet chili sauce
- Stir for 1-2 minutes until the garlic starts to lightly brown, then add your chicken. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring every now and then
- While your chicken cooks, combine the tamarind/water mixture, fish sauce, cayenne, honey, stevia, and white pepper in a small bowl
- Drain your noodles and add them to the skillet with the chicken, then pour the sauce mixture on top
- Using two spoons (or a set of tongs), stir-fry the noodles, chicken, and sauce for about 2 minutes, then add the sprouts
- Continue stir-frying for another 2 minutes until the sprouts are tender-crisp
- Transfer to two bowls and top with green onion, cilantro, chopped nuts, and a little bit of fresh-squeezed lime wedges
Seriously. This was the bomb and incredibly simple to make. Sure, there are quite a few ingredients in the dish and you have to get 2-3 of them at either an Asian market or a specialty grocery store, but they’re not way expensive and they’ll last forever. If you can only make one fun dish this weekend and happen to be craving Asian, try this one out. It won’t disappoint.
The Weekend Ahead
It’s Friday. I LOVE FRIDAYS. This one is especially fantastic because I get to hang out with my brother and my mom tonight. We’re cooking something — I’m stuck between Chicken Parmesan and Bacon and Brussels pizzas on gluten-free crust. I can’t decide. They both sound amazing right now because I’ve had a crazy-major appetite all week.
Tomorrow morning is going to be exciting for me. I’ve signed up to do another Hydrostatic Body Fat Test in the dunk tank truck immediately after the 9AM boot camp class at Synergy, and I’m pumped to see what kind of progress I’ve made since my last dunk in December. I know something has changed, because all of the pants I bought around Thanksgiving/Christmas are too big. The scale at home hasn’t moved too much, but I’m not so worried about pounds anymore (and I hardly ever step on that thing anyway).
This will be my third time doing hydrostatic testing. I lost 11 pounds of pure body fat from October (first time) to December, but that was before I’d started lifting weights on a regular basis. Since late December, I’ve been hitting the weights for about an hour each night after boot camp. I find that the extra hour of lifting really calms and centers me — almost like cooking does — even if there are a ton of people at the apartment gym. I love seeing my strength increase, and now that I’m down to the “goal weight” for my age and height, I just want to see more muscle definition and to be able to lift more. I didn’t gain any muscle in my last dunk; in fact, I lost 2 pounds of it, so I’m hoping that’s not the case this time around. I don’t expect to see drastic changes in my weight, but I’m excited about it nonetheless. :o)
I’ve found that getting accurate weight and body fat measurements is CRITICAL. I wouldn’t say it’s as critical as feeding your body well and regularly working out, but it gives you the foundational knowledge that you need in order to fuel your body appropriately. I rely on these tests to know what my RMR/TDEE is, which then translates to how many calories I eat on a daily basis. You have to know where you’re at before you can figure out how to get where you want to be. I use these tests as my baseline for hashing out my plan to attain my weight loss/fitness goals, deciding how to plan my meals, and gauging my success in all of this. If you haven’t used any method other than a traditional scale to weigh yourself, I’d HIGHLY recommend it. I keep the printed results from my tests as a reminder of how far I’ve come since October, and just like the progress pictures, I wish I’d started tracking this stuff sooner. (I’m a data dweeb.)
I’ll report back next week with my results AND the burrito recipe. I promise. (Unless I come up with a random new recipe that is equally as jaw-droppingly delicious as Pad Thai this weekend…)