Sweet chili greens beans, topped with sesame seeds, caramelized onion, and bacon crumbles. Mm-mm good!
Update: I got the coconut flour I ordered and can make some wraps and brownies! Tropical Traditions shipped my order lightning fast and I got it in two days. They are a wonderful company if you’re looking to order coconut products online.
It’s a toasty 92 degrees outside in southwest Florida, so I’m not in the mood to heat up the kitchen. Been digging cold foods lately. To fulfill this need, I bring you Tyler Florence’s Cold Sesame Noodles, with a few tweaks to make it low carb and gluten-free, of course. It incorporates my obsession with peanut butter into a savory dish, and is a delicious way to get in your daily veggies. So what if you’re impatient like I am, and just can’t wait for whatever you’re cooking to cool down because it smells ridiculously good? Fear not my impulsive friend, because these flavorful noodles are amazing served hot as well. I enjoy them most after they’ve been chilling in the fridge, though. Gotta give time for the flavors to meld, baby!
To make over this dish, we gotta ditch the sugar and standard noodle varieties, which pack a carby punch. This feat is simpler than it sounds! If you can find shirataki noodles in your area, they’re nothing short of miraculous. They contain only 2 grams net carbs per 8 ounce package if you can believe it! The only caveat is their chewiness, which I don’t mind, but a couple of my pasta-loving testers called out. I guess when you haven’t had noodles in a year, you take what you can get! Another note about this recipe is that it makes a ton of the peanut dressing, so I reserved about one third of it for later use. This sweet and spicy sauce would be delicious with some chicken or a crisp salad. It’s seriously good enough to drink.
Another option if you prefer to abstain from processed soy food products is julienned zucchini. Sounds weird and looks disconcertingly green, but it’s actually refreshing, with no funky cooked zucchini taste. Try it! If you want to go this route, you need to find a mandoline slicer at a closeout store to save a half hour of prep and keeps the tips of your fingers intact. Once you get started julienning, you might become addicted. Shredding stuff is fun. Go crazy with it, you fibrous-veggie loving health nut!
Cold Sesame Noodles
Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence
Makes 4 servings
2-8 oz packages of shirataki noodles, or 4 cups organic zucchini, julienned
1 organic carrot, julienned (optional)
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons unrefined peanut nut oil (any neutral-tasting cooking oil is fine)
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (or 1 dried ginger)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (I used 2 tablespoons erythritol and a pinch of stevia)
1/2 cup creamy all natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cucumber, julienned, for garnish
Peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Green onion, for garnish
If you are using shirataki noodles, empty out both packages into a colander. Rinse for 1-2 minutes, until there is no lingering fishy smell. Line colander in paper towel and mix a few big pinches of sea salt in with the noodles, stirring them around to coat. Drain for 30 minutes. Rinse again and dry well. Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir noodles around skillet for a couple of minutes, until they start to release some moisture. Transfer noodles to a plate or a bowl.
If you are using zucchini, use mandoline slicer to julienne into long thin strips. You can cut out the core of the zucchini first if you don’t want seeds in your zucchini noodles. Salt zucchini liberally, then transfer to a paper towel-lined colander. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw some of the moisture from it. Rinse well and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat sesame oil in skillet over medium low heat. Add zucchini and carrots to skillet and stir it all around for 1-2 minutes, until heated through and a bit more tender. Just barely cook the veggies. You don’t want them soft and mushy! Transfer to a plate or bowl.
Mince up ginger, green onions, and garlic cloves. Whisk sweeteners, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water together until sweeteners are dissolved and a smooth sauce is formed. In a skillet, heat the macadamia nut oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced mixture along with the red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Add peanut sauce to skillet and cook for one minute. Add noodles or zucchini to pan, and remove pan from the heat. Stir well to coat, adding half the sesame seeds if desired. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use. Garnish with the rest of the sesame seeds, julienned cucumber, red pepper flakes, and chopped peanuts if desired.
Using 2/3 of the sauce—
With shirataki- 5.5g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 7g net carbs for 4 servings
Using all of the sauce—
With shiritaki- 9g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 10g net carbs each for 4 servings
A peanut buttery main course must be followed up with an equally peanut buttery dessert. Any Ohio State fans out there? I never realized that Buckeyes were associated with anything other than Christmas until Google enlightened me. Whatever these addictive candies mean to you, they rock, with a smooth and sweet peanut butter filling coated in rich chocolate. To replace the copious amounts of powdered sugar in the traditional recipe, I used a couple of surprising ingredients–ricotta cheese and coconut flour. I promise they don’t taste like cheese or coconuts. They’re basically a party in your mouth. Make a small batch if you like PB as much as I do!
**Updated recipe for Buckeyes HERE!**
I always felt sorry for those ladies in the mall food court, standing around heckling innocent mall goers to try their chicken on a toothpick. Every time I walk through the entrance by Panda Express I take a sample nodding and smiling, guilted into heading over to the counter to ask about the $4.99 special. Although it tastes exactly the same everywhere I tried it, this Chinese restaurant staple of questionable cultural authenticity is totally addictive, and it’s not just the MSG. It’s sweet with hint of caramel flavor from the bourbon.
I googled many combinations of “mall bourbon chicken” to find an ingredients list for the commercial dish, to no avail. A few recipes purporting to taste like the food court fare popped up, so I took the plunge and pieced together a test recipe. After tasting the results, I proceeded to eat way too much chicken and toyed with the idea of keeping this magical formula for chicken nirvana to myself. Good thing for you, I never was good at keeping secrets. This recipe really does taste like the stuff you get in the mall. Just keep it on the dl, please. Those ladies with the samples have to make a living, too!
This meal is pretty budget friendly considering a lot of the ingredients are components of a well stocked pantry. Target has the best deal for organic chicken in my area (Coleman brand), which you definitely want to spring for. Macadamia nut oil is a wonderful investment because of its health benefits and delicious nutty flavoring that’s not overpowering in most applications. It has a high smoke point for high heat cooking, and beats olive oil in the amount of monounsaturated fats. Coconut oil would also work nicely. Peanut oil would taste fine, but is not the healthiest option since it’s highly polyunsaturated. Extra light virgin olive oil would be a last resort, as it wouldn’t complement the other flavor components. If you don’t have a lot of the key items, you can stock up with this recipe and make fake Chinese take out to your heart’s content.
The recipe makes three large servings, but you’d best divide it up in advance because it’s hard to stop with this stuff. You don’t have to feel guilty if you overindulge a bit, though. No sugar, no gluten, no transfats or polyunsaturated oils, nothing artificial. The best part is you would never know that if I hadn’t told you.
Made-over Mall Food Court Bourbon Chicken
Makes 3 large servings
1 1/2 pounds of organic chicken thigh meat, cubed
2 tablespoons of oil (see note above)
1/4 cup soy or wheat-free tamari sauce
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2-4 tablespoons sweetener
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-2 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol
-stevia, to taste
1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1T diced yellow onion, or 1 green onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
sea salt, to taste
Combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk together. Taste and add more sea salt or sweetener if necessary. Toss chicken thigh chunks in marinade, then place chicken and marinade into a zip top bag and leave in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or overnight, turning occasionally to expose all of the chicken evenly.
Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and pour chicken and marinade into a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, turning pieces over and moving them around in the marinade during the baking process. Serve hot from the oven and refrigerate leftovers immediately.
~2g net carbs per serving!
At the risk of being culturally insensitive, I’m posting a faux-fried rice recipe to suit those of us who have a love-hate relationship with this nutritionally devoid yet ridiculously addictive grain.
Yeah yeah, asians are skinny and all they eat is rice, right? For the record, a couple of my chinese friends brought that one up. Answer: I know what works for me, and rice does not! Its high glycemic starchy goodness jacks up my appetite, making me a threat to anything carby with a one mile radius. Then it’s off to slumberland to sleep away the carb-induced lethargy. The seratonin high that hits you after the first few forkfuls is pretty intense (do I sounds like a junkie?), but productive when you need to get back to studying? Not so much. My exam weeks were probably a lot more stressful then they should have been with all the Dragon Gate meals I would pack away under pressure.
Savor the salty goodness of a beloved Americanized asian staple and your mental acuity with this low carb adaptation. This is not an original recipe, by the way. Some brilliant low carb chef who came before me cooked up (har!) this crazy idea. The rice component is replaced by grated cauliflower, no joke, prepared with the same familiar flavorings. It’ll smell funky in the pan for a moment, but then your kitchen will fill with the comforting aroma of a Panda Express kitchen. Bonuses: It takes a lot less time, packs a nutritional punch (courtesy of the brassicas), and won’t leave you with a carb hangover.
This recipe is totally flexible. Use whatever veggies you like. Make it yours! I happened to have peas on hand, and was out of green onions. Carrots are pretty “traditional” in this, too. Be warned: this is just as tasty as the original, and possibly more flavorful because you’re not deeling with the heaviness of the rice gunking it all up. Seriously, you might want to make this with a hungry friend to solve any portion control issues.
The shrimp got decapitated by my vigorous wok action.
Shrimp Fried “Rice”
Makes 3 servings
2 heapings cups of grated fresh cauliflower
2 tablespoons coconut oil (any cooking oil is fine)
1/2 cup sugar snap pea pods
1/3 cup onion, chopped
4 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
dash of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-4 oz can of baby shrimp, or protein of choice
1/4 cup of green peas
2 eggs, beaten
green onion, for garnish (optional)
Grate cauliflower using a fine cheese grater. Heat up pan with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Mix together sesame oil, tamari, and seasonings in a bowl. Sautee onions for 3 minutes over medium heat, or until translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Sautee sugar snap peas until tender. Add more oil if necessary and all of the cauliflower, stir frying for a couple of minutes. Pour in 1/2 of the soy sauce mixture and stir fry to coat the cauliflower evenly. When the cauliflower is tender, add cooked vegetables, shrimp, and peas along with the rest of the soy sauce mixture. Push “rice” to the side of the pan and scramble eggs on the other side, moving spatula quickly to incorporate eggs with the “rice” mixture. Serve in cute bowls with chopsticks and pig out with no regrets!
Excuse me now…
~7g net carbs
P.S.- Now accepting donations of pretty plates and bowls!