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Better than Asian Carry-Out

Stick to your New Year's resolutions, and cut the fat and sodium with these easy-to-make alternatives to your usual carry-outs. Making Asian food doesn't need to be complicated, and nobody will ever know with these delicious recipes are good for you too!

According to time management experts, Franklin Covey, most New Year’s resolutions are broken well before the end of January.

“Eating healthy” surfaces to the top of the list of usual resolutions year after year. Making healthy food does not have to be boring or expensive. With a few simple ingredients found locally, you can stick to your resolutions without breaking the bank.

The following recipes are a great alternative to Asian carry-out, minus the sodium and fat that typically accompanies restaurant food.

The Asian Chicken Wrap recipe is loosely based on a recipe clipped from Cooking Light years ago. For the quinoa, you can add any vegetables that you would find in fried rice. Add leftover chicken breast or roasted pork, to turn the quinoa into a one-dish meal.

The best way to boost flavor in low-fat cooking is to use great herbs and spices.  in St. Charles is a top pick for fresh spices that run circles around mass produced ones. The strong flavors brighten any dish without added salt or fats.

When you do need to add a bit of oil,  offers different oils and vinegars to enhance any style of cooking. They offer samples so that you can get just the right combination. My current favorite is the sesame oil. Just a splash turns otherwise bland food into upscale Asian in an instant.

 is another place to help you keep your resolutions. While you can find quinoa most anywhere these days,  offers other grains for you to experiment with.

Asian Chicken Wraps                                                            

Serves 4

For the marinade and sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (found in the Asian section of local markets)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the wraps:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, removed from stems
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade and place the remaining marinade in a zip top bag. Add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for at least two hours, up to 24.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and grill to desired doneness. Slice the breasts into strips no more than ½ inch thick. Discard the chicken marinade.

To assemble the wraps: Place chicken breast strips into lettuce leaves and garnish with mint leaves, peanuts, and a squeeze of lime. Drizzle a bit of reserved marinade/sauce over the chicken.

“Not Fried” Quinoa

Serves 4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried, ground ginger
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Chopped green onion for garnish

Combine quinoa, water, oil, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa can be fluffed with a fork.

Stir in peas and top with green onions.

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