How To: Healthy Lunch – Asian Bean Salad

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Do you know that the last time we posted a healthy lunch post was way back in April with a delectable quinoa salad? I know, it’s just terrible! It’s the beginning of September, back to school season, and we are seriously lacking recipes and posts in the healthy lunch department. Let me make it all better with this delicious and oh so simple Asian bean salad.

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I actually had to do a serious and thorough reading of past blog posts to make sure I hadn’t posted this recipe for you in the past (with almost 200 recipes!!!! it’s easy to lose track). It’s a household staple that I really can’t believe it has taken me this long to share it with you.

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When I said this recipe was simple, I meant it was really REALLY simple. The dressing is just three ingredients – apricot jam, olive oil, and rice vinegar. A sweet and sour combo that works so well in this bean salad.

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And what else could you want in a healthy lunch for the back to school season besides simple?

So I think it’s fair to say this recipe makes up for the lack of healthy lunch recipes in the past months, don’t you?

Dara

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Asian Bean Salad

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
By author Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds green beans
  • 1 package frozen and shelled edamame
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 5 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Note

The bean salad is great as a vegetarian main for lunch or a side for chicken or fish for dinner. It's best made a day ahead of time so the beans can soak up the flavourful dressing. Some grated ginger or garlic would be a great addition to the dressing.

Directions

1. Steam green beans and edamame until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut green beans into 1 inch pieces and place in a large bowl with edamame.
2. Add green onions, red pepper, and black beans to green bean mixture and mix until combine.
3. Mix together jam, oil, and vinegar and pour over bean mixture. Toss until mixture is fully coated and season withs salt and pepper to taste.

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How To: Quickie Meal – Thai Kale Salad with Sesame Tofu

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We are definitely making up for our long and cold winter – this weekend was hot hot hot! I normally am not one to complain about a beautiful sunny summer day. It’s never a bad thing when you have a drink in hand and a pool to sit by.

However, when your air conditioning breaks in your condo for the umpteenth time and your thermostat is reading 78 degrees, a hot summer day becomes problematic.

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And that is when a no cook meal comes in handy. And when I say no cook, I really mean NO COOK. I too was a bit skeptical of eating tofu simply as is. But after enjoying a cold tofu salad at my local sushi spot, I was sold. The sesame seeds add a nice nuttiness to the tofu and once it’s all drenched in the luscious peanut dressing, it really is drool worthy.

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The kale just needs a little massage (don’t we all!) before getting topped with all the other goodies. Working in the lime juice, oil, and maple syrup helps to soften the kale and make it that much more tender and enjoyable.

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If you like an extra kick, top it with an additional squirt of spicy sriracha. Then drizzle the whole bowl full with the scrumptious peanut sauce if you’re planning to finish it all right away. Keep the sauce on the side for leftover lunches throughout the week. Although, if I had to guess, I would say you may find yourself spooning the sauce straight from the bowl into your mouth. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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IMG_3789 Even though my air conditioning is yet to be fixed and the temperature is still hovering around 76 degrees, I can still enjoy a delicious dinner without adding to the stifling heat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stick my head in the freezer!

Dara

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Thai Kale Salad with Sesame Tofu

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Website Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale (stems removed and chopped)
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 4 radishes (sliced)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cashews (chopped)
  • 1 block extra firm tofu (cut into cubes)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha (plus more for garnish if you like things spicy)
  • hot water

Note

This salad keeps well for a day or two, but keep the peanut sauce separate. You could replace any of the vegetables with some sliced cucumber or red onion. The peanut sauce would also be great as a dip for vegetables or spring rolls or drizzled over some grilled chicken.

Directions

1. Add kale leaves to a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice, olive oil, and maple syrup. Massage kale with fingers until leaves are slightly wilted and bright green (about 1-2 minutes).
2. Add kale leaves to a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice, olive oil, and maple syrup. Massage kale with fingers until leaves are slightly wilted and bright green (about 1-2 minutes).
3. Place tofu cubes in a large zip lock bag or bowl and toss with sesame seeds until evenly coated.
4. Place tofu cubes in a large zip lock bag or bowl and toss with sesame seeds until evenly coated.
5. Top kale with sliced peppers, radishes, tofu, carrots, and cashews. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve.
6. Top kale with sliced peppers, radishes, tofu, carrots, and cashews. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve.
Peanut Sauce
7. Combine all ingredients except hot water. Add hot water about 1 tbsp at a time until sauce is pourable. It took me about 1/4 cup of hot water.
8. Combine all ingredients except hot water. Add hot water about 1 tbsp at a time until sauce is pourable. It took me about 1/4 cup of hot water.

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How To: Healthy Lunch – Cashew Quinoa Salad with Asian Grilled Chicken

Saturday night we switched the clocks forward an hour in anticipation of the warm spring weather. I normally wouldn’t complain about losing an hour of sleep in favour of ditching the winter boots and heavy jackets.

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Except, what we now have is an hour less of sleep, heavy jackets and winter boots, and snow on the ground. So how is this fair? 

Well to make up for this, I have a treat for you today. Not one, but TWO recipes – who doesn’t love a good 2 for 1 deal? (and this totally makes up for this long and cold winter we’re having, right?)

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While this cashew quinoa salad can certainly stand alone as a delicious and healthy lunch or light dinner, the addition of an Asian flavoured grilled chicken breast adds a little bit of extra protein. Not a fan of chicken? The marinade would also work great on salmon, tilapia, steak, or tofu.

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And just like our other delectable quinoa salad, you could definitely just throw in a can of beans or chickpeas and call it a meal.

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Not only is the quinoa loaded with crunchy cashews, but it gets an extra nutty flavour punch from the gingery peanut dressing. I just realized I gave you another gift to beat these winter blues – the dressing can certainly be used on almost anything, from a leafy green salad to a sandwich spread or vegetable dip.

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While we may still need our down filled jackets and UGG boots for a little while longer, you can now spring forward with gusto to a delicious lunch with these two new healthy and flavour packed recipes.

Dara

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Asian Grilled Chicken Breasts

Serves 2
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Misc Freezable

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Note

These chicken breasts pair beautifully with the Asian flavoured quinoa. They are also great as a make ahead and stored in your fridge or freezer. Chop them up or cut into strips and add some extra protein to your next salad or pasta or roll them in a tortilla or pita for an easy lunch option.

Directions

1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil and place in a zip lock bag with chicken. Let marinade in fridge overnight or for at least 2-3 hours.
2. Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. At the same time, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.
3. Grill chicken on grill pan for about 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until fully cooked through.

Cashew Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing

Serves 4-6
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Website Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups quinoa
  • 1/2 head red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 2 carrots (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup cashews

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp ginger (grated)
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2-4 tbsp water (to thin dressing to desired consistency)

Note

This quinoa salad makes a great lunch or side for dinner. I've served it with grilled chicken but it would also be great as a side to salmon or steak. Or toss in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.

Directions

1. Place quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl combine quinoa with remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Pour dressing over quinoa and toss until coated.
Dressing
3. Combine peanut butter and honey in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and add in remaining dressing ingredients. Add some water, a tbsp at a time, until dressing is pourable.

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How To: Quickie Meal – Thai Chicken Cabbage Wraps

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After a slew of vegetarian dinners, lunches, soups, and healthy sides, I think it is high time we satisfy our hungry carnivorous readers out there.

I think we’ve mentioned it before, while we both tend to cook vegetarian most nights of the week, I still keep my freezer stocked with chicken breasts, lean ground meat, and ice cream….wait, what?

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And lean ground chicken breast is the perfect vehicle to be slathered in a delicious and spicy peanut sauce and piled high into sturdy cabbage leaves. We’ve posted in the past a fantastic tofu lettuce wrap recipe, but I find these cabbage leaves are able to hold a lot more of this hearty filling, so you can pile these babies high with toppings galore!

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The filling comes together in literally 15 minutes – the rest of your time is spent chopping and dicing as many or as little vegetables to garnish the wraps as you’d like. Note the baby monitor – vegetables chopped and dinner cooked just before the afternoon nap is over. You can definitely have this one on the table in no time!

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No matter what vegetables you choose to top your leaves with, do not skimp on the sauce. I think that anything would taste good slathered in this spicy and sweet peanut sauce.

This quickie meal would also make a fun dish for a dinner party. Like our tortilla soup, everyone can customize their own plate to their liking.

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So head to your butcher and grab your wok and cook up a terrific Thai inspired meal tonight!

Dara

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Thai Chicken Cabbage Wraps

Serves 2-4 (depending how hungry you are!)
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Website Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger (grated)
  • 1/2 red pepper (diced)
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • 1 can water chestnuts (drained and chopped)
  • 1 head green cabbage (leaves separated)

sauce

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 7 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp sriracha

garnish

  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • 5 radishes (sliced)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and cut into strips)
  • 1/2 red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cashews (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro (chopped)

Note

These cabbage wraps would also work great with ground turkey. You could also use bib or iceberg lettuce in place of the cabbage, they just won't be as sturdy. Do not skimp on the sauce!

Directions

1. Preheat a non stick wok over medium high heat and spray with non stick cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, and ginger and stir fry for about 3 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly softened.
2. Add ground chicken breast and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir to combine. Add green onions and water chestnuts and cook another minute or two, until heated through. Serve in cabbage leaves topped with the garnishes of your choice and a spoon or two of extra sauce.
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3. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds.
garnish
4. Set aside cut up veggies and nuts to top the cabbage leaves with.

How To: Quickie Meal – Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Toronto has caught a fever…the taco fever that is!

Kung Pao chicken tacos

It seems like every day there is a new taco joint opening up – trying to come up with a new spin on the classic Mexican street food.

Well, we have definitely been feeling the heat and given the success of our fish taco recipe, it was high time for another taco treat. And this Asian inspired version definitely shows up your average chicken taco plate.

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I mean, who doesn’t love that crispy kung pao chicken? And you can make a healthier version at home without deep frying in a vat of oil.

Coating the chicken in cornstarch and stir-frying in a wee bit of canola oil gives them a crispy exterior and super tender interior. Perfect contrast to the soft taco shells and crunchy veggie topping.

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The sauce gets another shot of cornstarch to help thicken and coat the chicken in a sweet and spicy glaze. And this whole delicious and impressive looking Asian-Mexican feast is completely work week friendly. Hence the “quickie meal” title.

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So go ahead and feed your taco fever!

Dara

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Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce (divided)
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tsp cornstarch (divided)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sriracha
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 3 stalks celery (sliced)
  • 2 red peppers (sliced)
  • 1/3 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 2 limes (cut into wedges)
  • 8 corn or small whole wheat tortillas

Note

This Asian twist on the classic Mexican taco is also delicious served over rice or noodles. Feel free to sub tofu or shrimp for the chicken.

Directions

1. Place chicken pieces in a large zip lock bag and add 2 tbsp of soy sauce. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes. Remove chicken and discard remaining marinade. Place 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to evenly coat.
2. Preheat a wok or large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add 1/2 tbsp of canola oil. Shake excess cornstarch from chicken and add half to pan, cooking until brown (about 5 minutes). Add remaining 1/2 tbsp canola oil and cook the remaining half of the chicken. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, Combine remaining 3 tsp cornstarch, remaining soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha, and garlic. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
4. Add celery to the same pan you used to cook the chicken over medium high heat and cook for about 3 minutes, or until slightly soft. Add back the chicken, sauce, and cashews and cook just until everything is heated through. Remove from heat.
5. Divide chicken mixture between tortillas and top with red peppers, green onion, and a squeeze of lime juice.

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