We all have them – those days where you just don’t have the desire to pull out the pots and pans and cook.
Story by Naveen Atwal
A girl’s gotta eat and the easiest thing to do is dine out and let someone else do all the work! But in our hyper-aware society, we all know the harm that too much takeout can do to one’s gut and waistline. Restaurant dishes are typically richer (all that yummy butter and cream), are carb and sodium-loaded and can be high in saturated fat… not to mention an expensive way of filling one’s belly.
To avoid adding to my credit card bills and my already-expanding pregnant waistline, I’ve been sticking to one-bowl dishes: vegetable and fruit salads, soups and pasta or noodle dishes. One-bowl dishes often mean they involve “one-pot cooking,” and this totally works for me – the less dishes to wash, the better! I also prefer this type of cooking because one-bowl dishes are portable, meaning I can easily just munch away sitting on the couch when my pregnant hips can’t bear to sit any longer in a chair.
One of my absolute favourite takeout dishes is pad thai (also a dish I’m constantly craving right now). I like to try new things but when I’m at a Thai restaurant, I always go for the pad thai. Every Thai restaurant tends to have a different spin on this classic dish and I enjoy discovering which different flavours will be incorporated. There is one downside to this indulgence – restaurant pad thai can often score low on the nutrition scale. The litre of water I end up drinking as well as the tinge of heartburn I feel post-meal are strong indicators of the high sodium and saturated fat content.
During my pregnancy I’ve tried to keep dining out to a minimum, for obvious food safety and nutrition reasons. But as you know, when you have a craving, it can be hard to ignore. That’s why I like this homemade pad thai recipe. It’s pretty quick to whip up and I can control the portion size as well as the ingredients added. And most importantly, it satisfies the cravings.
Vegetarian Pad Thai
6 oz flat rice noodles (about 4 handful of noodles)
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 knob of ginger, peeled and finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
Handful of green scallions, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded, halved and finely sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 tbsp tamarind chutney
3 tbsp almond or peanut butter
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce*
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
2 limes – juice of 1 lime**, plus 1 lime cut in wedges for serving
1 tbsp chilli sauce or Sriracha, to taste (optional)***
Handful of peanuts or cashews, finely chopped, for garnish (optional)
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish (optional)
Vegetable or grapeseed oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Prepare the sauce: In a large bowl, whisk together tamarind chutney, almond/peanut butter, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, stock, lime juice and chilli sauce. Taste and adjust for sweetness (tamarind chutney and/or brown sugar), saltiness (Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce) or spiciness. Set aside.
2. Prepare noodles as per package instructions (make sure you don’t overcook the noodles). Once cooked, toss with a very light coating of oil to prevent from sticking, and set aside. Check on the noodles while cooking and lightly toss/move the noodles around so they don’t stick.
3. In a large wok or large, deep-set frying pan on medium heat, add about a tablespoon of oil. Once heated, add the eggs and quickly scramble until set.**** Remove the eggs and set aside.
4. Increase heat to medium-high, add about two tablespoons of oil and add garlic and ginger. Stir quickly to prevent from burning, about one minute. Then add the carrots and bell pepper and saute, stirring quickly again to prevent anything from burning. Cook vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes. If you feel the heat is too high, lower slightly to medium.
5. Add the noodles, sauce ingredients, scallions and eggs. Toss everything together gently, incorporating all the ingredients and making sure the noodles are evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper).
Serve right away, topped with chopped peanuts, lime and cilantro. Makes 4 servings.
*Fish sauce is commonly used in pad thai dishes. I’m not a huge fan, so Worcestershire sauce has been used for the same salty, tangy effect.
**To get the most juice from a lime, roll the lime and then microwave it for 10 seconds. This helps loosen the juices.
***I typically can’t eat spicy food, but I found this amount worked well in the dish — it provided just enough heat and a nice layer of flavour without overpowering the dish and setting my mouth on fire!
****Being pregnant, I cook the eggs all the way through since I can’t have runny eggs.
Story By: Naveen Atwal | Photography By: Billy Grewal