Thirty Minute Thursdays: Sesame Noodles with Edamame

A lot of nutrition students seem to go through a militant phase where perfectionism collides with newfound knowledge in an epic, holier-than-thou way that can be a real turn off to the average Tom, Dick or Harry. I don’t say this in a way to distance myself from these RDs-to-Be – in fact, I think it’s been pretty apparent to those around me that I’m just now beginning to come out of that Food Nazi shell. I labeled foods as evil – trans fats and hydrogenated oils, high sodium sauces, those liquid sugar gel tube candies that are marketed as “goo” – and there was no way, no way at all, that I was going to consume anything that could possibly do my body harm. Except chocolate cake. And ice cream. And, on rare occasions, gummy worms because they’re my absolute favorite candy. Maybe I never was as militant as militant can be, but I was stubborn and particular nonetheless. I had become a picky eater.

Now, I haven’t thrown the towel in, as you might have guessed. I still check labels for hydrogenated oils and avoid pie crusts in restaurants unless I know for certain they’re made with all butter; I still cringe when I see more than 300mg sodium per serving of anything; and I still can’t get myself to consume a pouch of liquid sugar, dyed bright blue and green for effect. I’m sure I’m not as flexible with food as some people around me might like me to be, but I’m beginning to learn the true meaning of “moderation” and “balance” rather than the repeat-after-me mantras that you’re taught to preach in Nutrition 101.

One piece of evidence in support of this change in my approach to food is the bottle of hoisin sauce in my refrigerator. I’ve always enjoyed Chinese food, but never cooked it myself because I couldn’t justify dumping all of that sodium into one meal. Soy, teriyaki, hoisin – all of those sauces are laden with salt, and some even have somewhat alarming sugar levels to boot. But then I stopped and thought about it, and did a little bit of math. Yes, ½ cup of soy sauce in a recipe that feeds four people is a little too much for me still – admittedly acceptable to indulge in on rare occasions, but just not worth it to me – but adding ½ tablespoon or even a full tablespoon to my dinner would not send me into hypertensive shock.

This Thirty Minute Thursday meal would not have been possible had I not made this small concession, and then I’d really be missing out because this recipe for Sesame Noodles is really, really enjoyable. The sauce was a little heavy and I recommend adding edamame for some color and protein, but aside from those and a few other small changes (all reflected in the recipe below), I would call this a winner in the Floptimism kitchen. The red pepper flakes add a subtle kick, balanced out by the gentle sweetness from the hoisin and almond butter (the original uses tahini, but I say go with what you’ve got). It’s also very easy and laid-back to make, with the components flowing well and being very forgiving in terms of getting everything together on time.  You can absolutely make this for a weeknight – or, better yet, make it on the weekend and stick it in the fridge to portion out all week long. It’s meant to be eaten cold, so you really can’t go wrong!

One Year Ago: Black Bean Burgers
(But if you really want a good veggie burger, try these Killer Black Bean Burgers)

Sesame Noodles with Edamame, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals
Yield: 4 servings

The Ingredients
¾ - 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons hoisin
1 ½ tablespoons almond butter
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
healthy pinch or two of cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups steamed edamame (no shells)
1 large carrot, grated
3 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle

The Method
Start water for the pasta to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to chill the noodles; then, set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the hoisin, almond butter, sesame oil, cayenne, garlic, and ginger in a medium-large serving bowl until smooth. Add in the noodles and edamame and toss until even coated. Mix in the carrot and top with the scallions to serve.

P.S. Please don't judge me too severely for this photo. Not only am I now back to my dinky point-and-shoot (I was using my dad's beautiful DSLR while home for the summer - must start saving for one of my own!), but I was several bites into the meal before I realized I hadn't gotten a picture yet. Needless to say, not my best effort. It tasted fantastic, though, so don't let that be a deterrent! 


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