Crunchy Thai cabbage salad with smoked tofu and peanut dressing

Crunchy Thai Salad with Smoked Tofu & Peanut Dressing Prep
Making of the crunchy Thai salad with smoked tofu, with a creamy peanut dressing. This was a good, filling and DASH diet-compatible lunch the day after a heavy dinner.

How’s your new year’s healthy eating resolution going–if you made one? Mid-January might be when a lot of people start feeling the January doldrums, whether they have a resolution or not. (I’m in the latter camp, but totally feeling the doldrums!) This salad might be just the booster you need if you are in a DASH diet rut.

I made this salad for lunch the day after we had a pretty indulgent dinner of Korean fried chicken and kimchi fried rice, which followed a fun weekend of lots of good (but not-so-DASH-compliant) food with my SIL. My DASH diet radar graph pretty clearly showed that I needed a meal that’s high on veggies and low on meats, fat and sugar to balance out the feasts, but I also wanted something that’d satisfy me and keep me going till I got back home to cook dinner. Otherwise I’d end up being either hangry or snacky–or both, lol.

This crunchy salad of cabbage, cucumber and other flavor-packed vegetables was just the thing I needed. The salad gets a “Thai” boost from a creamy peanut dressing spiked with ginger, garlic and lime juice. Smoked tofu adds a layer of savoriness and the much-needed protein without adding to the meat servings. Crushed peanuts are fun, and the fiber and fat in the peanuts helped me stay full.

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Crunchy Thai cabbage salad with smoked tofu and peanut dressing
DASH considerations: Crunchy vegetables and savory smoked tofu make this salad quite satisfying, despite the lack of meat, chicken or egg. The peanut dressing, similar to the peanut sauce served with Thai-style chicken satay, is creamy and aromatic, tying all the salad ingredients together. Go easy on the dressing, and this salad is a good “reset” lunch after meat- and/or fat-heavy dinner.

DASH servings:
4 vegetables & fruits
1 fat & oil
2 beans & nuts
¼ sweets
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the salad
For tne peanut dressing (this will make about 3 servings)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the salad
For tne peanut dressing (this will make about 3 servings)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients except for the water in a small bowl.
  2. Add and mix in water thoroughly, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dressing is at a desired consistency. (You want the dressing to be pourable enough to coat the salad easily.)
  3. Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl large enough to toss the salad.
  4. Spoon about 1/3 of the peanut dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing gradually if needed.

I brought the salad to work for lunch. To prevent the vegetables from getting soggy if you aren’t eating it right away, it’s a good idea to keep the dressing in a separate container and toss the salad just before eating.


Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Butter Green Beans

Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Green Beans

I picked up a bag of frozen salmon burgers form Costco a while ago. They are a decent alternative to a freshly made salmon burgers, though a little weirdly spongy-chewy. The nice thing about them for DASH diet followers is that the sodium content is relatively under control at about 10% of the daily limit. I used those frozen salmon burgers to put together this quick DASH dinner.

In this recipe, frozen salmon burgers are topped with crunchy, vibrant Asian coleslaw and served on a whole wheat roll. The slaw is scented with just a bit of sesame oil and works like a sauce on the burger. This means you don’t need mayo and other fat- and sodium-heavy sauces to make the salmon burger interesting. On the side, I added “green French fries,” a.k.a. green beans. Freshly grated ginger to the green beans goes well with the vaguely Asian theme, and spices things up without a lot of salt–another DASH diet win.

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Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Butter Green Beans
DASH considerations: This salmon burger meal is the straight A student of DASH diet. The salmon burger on a whole wheat bun provides lean protein and whole grains, while the abundant Asian slaw, lightly dressed with sesame oil and sushi vinegar, adds a crunchy, vibrant supply of vegetables. Ginger-spiked green beans with just a little bit of butter seals the deal with one solid serving of vegetables without adding a ton of sodium or butter. Skip buttering the rolls to reduce the amount of fat in the meal. (It doesn’t really need the butter or mayo.)

DASH servings:
3 grains
4 vegetables & fruits
2-3 meats & fish (depending on the size of the patties)
2 fat & oil
Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Green Beans
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Green Beans
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the salmon burger patties, according to the package instructions. Mine took 3-4 minutes per side, cooking from frozen.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add a small pinch of salt once boiling.
  3. While the salmon burgers cook, sprinkle the shredded cabbage with a pinch of salt and toss to mix in a bowl. Knead the cabbage with your hand to help the salt penetrate the cells. Let sit for a few minutes.
  4. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch briefly. Drain thoroughly once the green beans turn bright green.
  5. In the same saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat and add the green beans back in. Add the grated ginger. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Turn the heat off so the green beans don’t overcook.
  6. Squeeze as much water as you can from the shredded cabbage. Drizzle the sesame oil and sushi vinegar. Add the scallions and toss to combine.
  7. Cut the kaiser rolls in half horizontally and toast the pieces lightly.
  8. On the bottom pieces of the rolls, arrange the sliced cucumber.
  9. Once the salmon patties are cooked through, top the rolls with the salmon patties.
  10. Pile as much of the cabbage slaw on top of the salmon patties. You’ll be surprised how much you can put on!
  11. Place the top pieces of the rolls on top of the slaw. Serve with the green beans on the side.

Thai Eggplant & Shabu Shabu Beef Salad

I had a couple of Chinese eggplants that needed to be eaten. If cooked in oil, eggplants soak up it (that’s partially why they are so tasty). So, stir-frying them or roasting them with a drizzle of oil would likely eat up more than half of the daily oil limit of DASH diet. I wasn’t sure what to do with them. That is, until I remembered the grilled eggplant salad we like to get at Thai restaurants. That sounded like the perfect low-fat solution to my eggplant conundrum.

Thai Eggplant & Beef Salad
Thai eggplant and beef salad on a bed of shredded cabbage. By poaching beef sliced super-thin, the salad cuts down on the oil. It’s a DASH diet-friendly meal!

I decided to roast the eggplants whole in the oven without the oil, and use the Japanese technique of quick-poaching über-thinly sliced meats to further reduce the fat content. This technique, called shabu shabu, somehow retains the meaty umami but drains away a lot of the fat in just a few quick seconds. It’s a perfect technique for DASH eaters! I threw in a bunch of Thai herbs for good measure, and the result was a bright, refreshing and satisfying salad with creamy, earthy eggplant chunks and umami-packed beef slices.

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Thai Eggplant & Shabu Shabu Beef Salad
DASH benefits: This bright and savory Thai eggplant and beef salad uses oil-free roasting and quick-poaching techniques to drastically reduce the amount of oil. Lots of different textures and flavors keep every bite interesting: The creamy eggplant, crunchy cabbage, savory beef, refreshing lime, slightly kicky chili and bright herbs. Since the sodium content is on the high side, I’d pair it with plain jasmine rice for a light but satisfying dinner.

DASH servings:
4 vegetables & fruits
2 meats & fish
1 fat & oil
0.25 sweets
350 mg sodium
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. (I used my small toaster oven.)
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  3. Poke a few holes in the eggplants to prevent them from bursting in the oven.
  4. Roast the eggplants on a pan for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. They should feel limp and a knife inserted in the middle should feel no resistance.
  5. While the eggplants roast, place the cilantro, basil, red onion, scallion and jalapeño in a large bowl.
  6. Mix the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl to make the dressing.
  7. Poach the beef slices in the boiling pot of water for 10-15 seconds each, until just cooked through.
  8. Add the beef to the bowl of vegetables.
  9. When the eggplants are cooked through, cut them into bite-sized rounds or half moons. Add them to the bowl of vegetables and beef.
  10. Pour the dressing over the eggplant mixture, add a few generous grinds of white pepper, and toss to combine. (You’ll likely have some leftover dressing.)
  11. Place the shredded cabbage in salad bowls. Place the eggplant mixture on top. Top with fried shallots, if using.
Recipe Notes

*I buy my meats from Korean and Japanese stores when I need them sliced super-thin. (I'm talking as thin as delicate deli meats, if not thinner.) I've tried asking neighborhood American butchers for custom thin slices, but they tend to be still too thick for shabu shabu poaching method. If you don't have easy access to Korean or Japanese store, your best bet is to use ground beef, pork or chicken instead. Poached shrimp works, too (and that's actually pretty authentic, according to a Thai cookbook I have!).

Leftovers: Actually the Best Part!

The eggplant mixture actually improves overnight. Like, way better. I had the eggplant salad minus the cabbage (plus a couple of cocktail tomatoes) for lunch the day after, and the extra marinating time really did it wonders, especially the eggplant that soaked up all the flavors of the dressing and the herbs. I highly recommend making this salad (up to step 10) the night before, if you can pull if off.

Grill ’em, If You Can

The salad would be even better if you can roast the eggplants on a charcoal grill. This is how it’s done in Thailand and some Thai restaurants in the US. Smoky char really adds to the overall complexity of the salad. Sadly this isn’t an option for me, given the lack of outdoor space in my NYC apartment. I should try adding some smoke powder next time.

Okonomiyaki Eggs (Fauxkonomiyaki)

Fauxkonomiyaki Ingredients (Flourless Okonomiyaki)Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake. This is a flourless version that I sometimes make for breakfast. It’s basically cabbage-laden scrambled eggs, but with strategic use of mix-ins and toppings, you can make it taste a lot like okonomiyaki without the weight of the flour and oil. Okonomiyaki eggs would be a good, quick but reasonably healthy dinner option for those of you who are “breakfast for dinner” types. Try it!

Additional toppings include bonito flakes, nori flakes and mayonnaise. You can also mix in chopped scallions, cheese, dried shrimps and/or kimchi for more variation. Did I say this is versatile?

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Okonomiyaki Eggs (Fauxkonomiyaki)
DASH benefits: Okonomiyaki eggs (fauxkonomiyaki) add a full serving of vegetable to breakfast, along with a lean protein from eggs. It does have bacon, but one strip is more than enough to give the okonomiyaki eggs for two a serious savory punch. Go easy on the okonomiyaki sauce, which is pretty sweet.

DASH servings:
1 vegetables & fruits
1.25 meats & eggs
1 fat & oil
0.25 sweets
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the bacon until they start to brown. Add cabbage and cook until slightly softened.
  3. While the bacon and cabbage cook, beat the eggs with milk.
  4. Sprinkle the cabbage with the pickled red ginger and dashi powder, and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and scramble.
  6. When the eggs are cooked through, serve with okonomiyaki sauce drizzled on top.

A couple of notes about the Japanese ingredients:

“Red pickled ginger” is this one, not these slightly sweet ones typically seen next to your sushi.

Dashi powder is optional, but its savory, slightly oceanic umami really does make the overall flavor profile of the fauxkonomiyaki. It keeps forever in the pantry, and is a great soup base for miso soup, so investing in a small package might not be a terrible idea. This is a classic brand. In this recipe, you can substitute it with a pinch of salt if you don’t have it on hand.

This is the classic okonomiyaki sauce I use.

DASH Menu: Jamaican Curry Soup with Cod and Cauliflower

Jamaican Curry Soup with Cod IngredientsSoups and chowders often taste better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two, but sometimes I don’t want to eat the same thing twice within a span of a few days. Adding curry powder to creamy chowders is a trick I use often to liven up a leftover in those cases. Here, I added a generous amount of Jamaican curry powder to the milk-based cod and cauliflower chowder from a few days ago, and served it as a soupy curry with basmati rice. It was warm, aromatic, savory and filling; just what I needed on a cold winter night after a day of work!

I also made a quick vinegar-based coleslaw and sliced up some tomatoes (not in the recipe below) to up the vegetable intake. The cool, crunchy vegetables were definitely a nice contrast to the warm, tender veggies in the curry soup.

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DASH Menu: Jamaican Curry Soup with Cod and Cauliflower
DASH benefit: The same benefits as those for the original cauliflower cod chowder applies here: The curry gives you loads of vegetables and lean protein in an aromatic Jamaican curry sauce without the fat of heavy cream. Many recipes for basmati rice call for salt, but it really isn't necessary here, either, as it soaks up the tasty curry sauce in the bowl.

DASH servings:
2 grains
4 vegetables & fruits
0.25 dairy
2 meats & fish
0.75 fat & oil
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
For the curry soup and rice
For the coleslow
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
For the curry soup and rice
For the coleslow
Instructions
  1. Rinse the basmati rice in a few changes of water. Add the rice and water in a small saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to a boil on high. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it bubble and simmer until all the liquid is gone, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, toss the shredded cabbage with a pinch of salt. Let it marinate for a few minutes.
  3. Squeeze out the moisture from the cabbage. Add the scallion, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar and freshly ground black pepper to the cabbage. Toss to combine.
  4. Reheat the cauliflower cod chowder on medium low. Once heated through, add the Jamaican curry powder. Stir to combine thoroughly. Taste, and add more curry powder if needed.
  5. Fluff the rice. Divide between two bowls and top with the curry.

*My favorite brand of Jamaican curry powder is Blue Mountain, which seems to be available at some chain grocery stores and Caribbean markets around here. I use the mild version in a yellow jar, not the hot one in a red jar. Other types of curry powder might also work (Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.), but I think the garlic-thyme combo in the original cod chowder works best with the Jamaican flavors.