BALANCE, RIGHT? …
What a difference a week makes. For the last week I have been eating protein packed breakfasts (quinoa with sautéed spinach, an egg, and a couple slices of bacon), and huge salads for lunch with chicken, black beans, or another great protein source. We also been having fabulous, giant salads for dinner. All of the above recipes are adaptions from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Good. I’ve also been taking my prenatal vitamins, increased my calcium and vitamin D intake. I feel like a million bucks.
I really haven’t been a breakfast eater since Gigi was born. Up until last week, my usual breakfast consisted of two mugs full of coffee and warmed milk, sweetened with a little honey and a splash of vanilla extract, and the occasional piece of toast or maybe a banana. This week was definitely hard in that I had to fight my normal habit of sitting down at my computer with coffee in hand. Instead I spent most of my “free time” making large breakfasts for myself.
As for lunch, I’m ashamed to admit that my regular lunch was usually pretty meager; leftovers if we had them, a scrambled egg and toast, or some yogurt… I would usually eat something once the girls were down for their afternoon naps, sometime between one and two, while, you guessed it, working! But this week I planned large salads for dinner, portioning them out in the evening and putting enough in the fridge for Kyle to take for work, and for me and Gigi to have for our lunch.
Three large meals a day, plus a small snack around four and, I’m telling you, I feel incredible! The irony is that I’ve actually accomplished at least as much work as I normally do in a week, if not more than usual. Plus I’ve even kept the house cozy and tidy and I’ve gotten the girls and myself dressed every day before noon. I kind of feel like superwoman.
Tonight I’m making my very favorite salad, this might actually be my favorite salad, ever. I first started making it when Gwyneth Paltrow shared it on her website three years ago and it’s been in regular rotation around here ever since. We make it least twice a month. I always double the recipe so we can have it two nights in a row, or for dinner one night, plus a few lunches. My favorite way to serve it is with fried tofu that’s been lightly coated in corn starch, it’s light, crispy and the coating absorbs the fabulous Thai dressing… the dressing is so, so good. I’m half considering doing a cleanse in which I only drink this dressing for three days (just kidding, but it’s really delicious).
CHOPPED VIETNAMESE SALAD WITH FRIED TOFU
(adapted from Gwyneth Patlrow’s: It’s All Good)
half head medium size napa cabbage, shredded
2 small heads bok choy, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
small handful of each: basil, mint, cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias
1/2-1 thai red chili, seeded and very thinly sliced*
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small shallot, minced
14oz firm tofu, drained
a few tablespoons corn starch
a few tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Dry the tofu a little by pressing it with a few paper towels. Slice it into 1” cubes. Toss the cubes in a large bowl with the corn starch, lightly coating them. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat until it’s shimmering. Carefully toss the cubes in, one at a time. Using tongs, gently flip them until all the sides are a light golden brown. Remove them from the pan to a paper towel lined plate.
Make the dressing my mixing together all of the ingredients in a jar or medium sized bowl.
To assemble the salad, simply toss the bok choy, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, fresh herbs all together with the lots of the dressing (I usually use it all), use tongs to transfer it to plates. Top with the peanuts and thai red chili’s. Place a few cubes of the fried tofu on top of each of the salads.
*If you’re serving this to your kids, you might hold off adding the thai red chili until serving time. That way you can add it to your salad but not theirs…. although, that being said, we didn’t put the chili’s on Gigi’s last night and she picked them all off of our salads and ate them. The original dressing recipe also calls for a bit of hot sesame oil, which I usually omit, and I use more chili than her recipe.
If you are doubling this recipe for leftovers, I recommend keeping the ingredients compartmentalized as follows: the salad greens can be stored together, the carrot and cucumber together, the thai chili on it’s own, the peanuts on their own, and the herbs on their own. It’s really easy to toss it all together when you’re ready, along with the dressing, and keeps things from getting wilted and soggy. I would definitely double the dressing recipe if you’re going to double the salad recipe.
A final, important note about serving this salad as leftovers… Even if you’re only making lunch for yourself, I highly recommend serving it alongside a plate of my Crisp Oven French Fries. It’s about balance, right?
CHOPPED VIETNAMESE SALAD