Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spontaneous (and Skinny!) Foodgasm

In my quest to fit (comfortably) back in my skinny jeans and put the inner back in my Inner Fat Girl, I've been eating more healthily and reintegrating exercise back into my routine this week. Breakfasts have been coffee with a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk - because it's my favorite thing and makes my day better, and it's nonnegotiable! - followed by (when I start to feel hungry) a fruit smoothie :

1 cup almond milk + 1 serving fruit [i.e. blueberries, banana, pear, etc.] + ice.

 Lunches have been a green smoothie with a nutritional powder (I use Vega One) added:

1 cup almond milk + 1 scoop powder + 1-2 cups greens (spinach, kale, etc) + 1 pitted date

If I'm craving more calories at lunch, I'll add a serving of fruit to the smoothie, as well.

If I'm hungry in between, I snack on something with protein and fiber (like a Think Thin bar or leftovers from dinner). I've also upped my water intake throughout the day quite a bit. I'd completely fallen off the exercise wagon for more weeks than I'd like to admit, so I'm easing back onto it with walking and some beginner-level Tracy Anderson muscular structure and cardio. 

I save my bigger meals (and foodgasms) for dinner, when I can share them with my family. 

Yup, food-orgies around the table. That's how we do.

I've never been a big eater throughout the day - my appetite doesn't really kick in until around 2pm, especially if I have a few cups of coffee - so this week's breakfast/lunch routine hasn't been much of a challenge. It works for me. If you're the kind of person who needs to eat breakfast everyday to feel sane, then it probably wouldn't work for you. I don't do diets anymore, but I can recognize when I need to rein things in (and when I need to really rein it in... like NOW). So for the next few weeks, for 5-6 days a week, the reins will be really tight...

What with my almond milkshakes bringing all the boys to the yard for a couple meals a day...

 And dat ass will get tight (I hope) from all the exercisions.

Giving me hope to get through each day without running out for a tub of Ben & Jerry's will be dinners like this...

It was deeeee-rishous!!! Okay, Ben & Jerry's it is most definitely not, but it also won't leave you wanting to kill yourself if you eat the whole thing! Spicy, tangy, slightly sweet, comforting, and full of texture. The veggies still have a bit of crunch to them, which is balanced by the soft shirataki noodles. The ginger adds a some warmth, but the real heat comes from the garnish, so you can control how hot (or not) you want it. The honey and the crema balance out the spice. Other than the healthy fat added by the spoonful of crema for garnishment and the marginal amount found in the shirataki noodles, this is an extremely healthy dish, chocked full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


For the soup
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
handful each of cilantro and mint
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 large zucchini
1 small or 1/2 of a large red bell pepper
1 tbs honey
1 package shirataki noodles (found in the refrigerated Asian noodles section), rinsed, drained, and microwaved for 1 minute
2 big handfuls fresh spinach, roughly sliced
salt to taste

For garnish
cilantro and mint, roughly chopped
pickled jalapeño,
sriracha sauce
peanut crema or vegan cashew crema (optional - recipe to follow)

Add the chicken breasts and broth to a soup pot and bring to a boil. While it's heating up, zest the lime and reserve the zest for later. Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice directly into the soup pot, then add both lime halves, the garlic, and the ginger to the pot, as well. Pick the leaves from the cilantro and mint and reserve for garnish. Bundle the stems together and tie them with kitchen string, then add the bundle to the pot. Once the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the soup cooks, prepare the veggies. For the celery, carrots, and zucchini, using a mandolin, knife, or julienne peeler, julienne the veggies into long, noodle-like strips. Alternately, use a vegetable peeler to create wide, long ribbons of veggies. Reserve. With a knife, julienne the bell pepper and reserve it.

Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the broth and move it to a plate to cool. Remove the lime halves and stem bundle and discard them. To the broth, add the julienned celery, carrots, and bell pepper and simmer them for 10 minutes. Reserve the zucchini - don't add it yet! Shred the chicken breast and reserve that, as well. Roughly chop the shirataki noodles (if they have retained a bit of their "authentic aroma," worry not - you won't taste it in the soup).

After 10 minutes, the veggies will have softened in the gently simmering broth. To the soup pot, add the honey, the reserved lime zest, and the noodles. Just before you're ready to serve, add the spinach and stir it in to wilt. Add the shredded chicken. Taste the broth and season with salt as necessary. Remove the soup pot from heat. ATHEVERYLASTSECOND, add in the zucchini "noodles" and gently stir in. (Tongs may work better than a spoon at this point.) Zucchini has a very high water content, so in this delicate noodle state, heat and salt will make it break down very quickly. Adding it at the very end, off the heat, will keep it from turning to mush. The residual heat in the soup will soften it perfectly.

Use tongs to remove the noodles and chicken to your serving bowls, then ladle the broth over top. Garnish with crema, sriracha, jalapeños, and the herbs as desired.

To Make Peanut Crema:
Combine 2 tbs PB2 (or warmed peanut butter) and a pinch of salt with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt - whisk well until completely combined. Add more peanut powder or yogurt as necessary for your desired consistency. 

To Make Vegan Cashew Crema:
Add 1 cup toasted cashews to a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 tbs water, a pinch of salt, and 3 tbs apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the nut puree, and process until it becomes very smooth, adding more water, vinegar, or lemon juice as necessary for the smooth consistency and to suit your taste.   

*In my Vitamix, it took about 2 minutes on high, scraping the sides periodically. I added a couple extra tablespoons of vinegar and no extra water, but I like the acidic flavor of vinegar against the rich cashews.*

Store leftover crema in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It's a great swap for mayonnaise in salads and salad dressings.

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