Chinese Takeout

15 Mar

Who doesn’t like Chinese food? I practically lived on it while I was in college. My favorite meals were always the ones that were saucy and had lots of mushrooms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don’t get as much joy from Chinese takeout as I once did. Since I started eating healthy foods consistently I have found that the greasiness of Chinese food does not make my belly happy.

Interesting fact: By eating a whole food, plant-based diet I was able to cure my tummy troubles. For at least a year I would have a belly ache after eating (every meal) and lived on Tums and Pepto. I was popping antacids so often that I couldn’t leave home without them; I kept some in my car, in my desk at work, and had to take them on long trips. I never anticipated that my diet was causing all of this discomfort, in fact, I was doing research online about Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a desperate attempt to understand what was going on. Within about a month of changing my diet I realized that I wasn’t taking Tums or Pepto EVER! Since then I rarely have a belly ache, and every time I do I can tie it to an unhealthy meal that I ate (especially dairy). And now, instead of popping something pastel and chalky I have a ginger chew which is delicious and is just the thing I need to settle my stomach.

such cute packaging, don't you think?

But I digress; let’s get back to the Chinese food.

Although I don’t much care for Chinese takeout any longer, I do love all of the flavors of Chinese cuisine – and what’s great, is that you can whip up your own takeout in just minutes and make a very flavorful meal.  This meal came together in under 30 minutes, less time than it takes for you to read a takeout menu, fight over who is going to call it in, and wait for delivery.

 

Tonight I made Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir Fry which had a wonderful sauce and could easily be customized by swapping in your favorite veggies. I also made Miso Soup for the first time… it was the best soup I have ever made! This meal was enough to feed two so make sure to double the recipe if you are cooking for a family or want leftovers.

Shitake Miso Soup (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (about one handful, stems removed)

3 green onions, whites and light green part sliced

2 cups water

1 Tbsp miso

1 tsp kelp

  1.  Sauté mushrooms in water in a medium pot.
  2. Once softened stir in miso adding a small amount of water if necessary to prevent clumps.
  3. Add green onions and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  4. Add kelp and simmer until soup is warm. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to enhance.
  5. Note: Feel free to add addition miso, soy sauce, or other veggies/flavorings along with the kelp to make your own customized soup.

I suppose now would be a good time to clue you in on what kelp is.

Kelp is a variety of seaweed and is often used in Asian cuisine. According to Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier, “sea vegetables are among the most nutritionally dense foods, containing about 10 times the calcium of cow’s milk and several times more iron than red meat, sea vegetables are easily digestible, chlorophyll rich, and alkaline forming. Packed with minerals, sea vegetables are the richest source of naturally occurring electrolytes know.”

Kelp comes in a variety of forms (powder, granules, strips) – I have larger strips and toss them in a coffee grinder when I need it ground up. You can find kelp at your neighborhood Asian Food store, health food store, or in the international aisle of many supermarkets. I use kelp (and other sea vegetables) in soups and to make a mock-tuna salad, it adds just the right about of flavor to replicate recipes that use seafood.

Did you know that by throwing in a piece of Kombu (another sea vegetable) when you are cooking beans will add nutrients, improve digestibility, and reduce flatulence?  Surely I couldn’t keep that tip to myself… let’s start making the world a little less stinky 😉

Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir-Fry (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets

1 tsp cornstarch

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

  1. In a pickle jar combine water, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, mustard, spices, and Worcestershire sauce and shake vigorously. If you don’t have a pickle jar you could do this in a bowl with a whisk.
  2. Pour half of the sauce into a large skillet and bring to a boil.
  3. Add broccoli and cook over medium heat until most of the sauce cooks down.
  4. Add cornstarch* to remaining broth and shake until combined. Pour over broccoli.
  5. Add peppers and cook over high heat until the broccoli is dark green, the peppers are crisp-tender, and the sauce has reduced down.
  6. Serve veggies and sauce over brown rice.

Don’t worry if you think you have too much sauce, this recipe makes a lot to drown your veggies and rice in J

*Note: If you are concerned about lumps (from the cornstarch) you can pour the sauce through a sieve when adding to the broccoli.

 

I am thinking that the next time I make Chinese Takeout I’ll have a party and I make customized stir-fries for my friends and serve them in Chinese takeout food containers with chopsticks and make homemade fortune cookies. How cute would that be?

 

~Happy & Healthy Eating

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