When a dish is particularly delicious, it can result in cravings powerful enough to haunt my sleep. Pad Thai is one of those dishes. In the past, if I’ve made it and had leftovers, I’d swear I heard it calling me from the refrigerator.
But what’s more frightening is the job the usual combination of some questionable ingredients can do on my body. As I’ve become more health-conscious and less interested in eating to feed my taste buds at the expense of my internal organs, Pad Thai is a dish that has been kicked to the curb for its rice noodles, soy sauce, peanuts and sugar. What’s left? It almost completely lacks in nutrition, which is a shame.
A few years ago this might have been the onset of a severe food-related depression. Now, I’ve come to realize that for just about every scrumptious, addictive dish there is a healthy alternative that won’t make you run screaming from the bathroom scale after one serving. I say, if you’re going to feed your flavor addictions, let them be the kinds that nourish you. While this Pad Thai alternative may not be an undetectable food swap, it’s sure satisfying enough to drown out your anxiety when you answer its call from the kitchen. This dish has several components, but it’s worth it.
If you’re new to the Paleo diet, it’s a fairly simple concept based on eating the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, including meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, but not dairy, grain products or anything processed.
Ingredients for Grilled Chicken Thighs:
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Ground black pepper
- Course (granulated) garlic powder
Directions for Grilled Chicken Thighs:
- Preheat a gas grill with all burners on high and the lid closed about 10 minutes. Place the chicken on a large platter or baking sheet in a single layer, smooth side facing up. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then add just enough paprika for a little kick. Flip the chicken and season the other side.
- Place the chicken smooth side down on the heated grill and close the lid. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 4 minutes with the lid closed. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear, and it has turned toasty brown on both sides.
- If you don’t have a grill, preheat the oven to 400 F. Following seasoning instructions for grilling then place the chicken in a single layer, smooth side up, in a large baking dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until juices run clear and the tops are well browned.
Ingredients for Roasted Spaghetti Squash:
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon water
Directions for Roasted Spaghetti Squash:
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. The easiest way to do this is, surprisingly, with a small knife. Use a sharp paring knife to carefully create a shallow slit along the top of the squash, lengthwise. Now, using a large knife, place the blade in the slit and bang the squash carefully with some force on the cutting board. It should crack along the fault line created by the small knife. Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a large spoon.
- Place squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the water onto the paper around the squash. Roast until the squash is tender, but not mushy, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack, and using a hot mitt, turn the squash cut side up to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the inside with a fork to shred the squash into gorgeous spaghetti strands.
Ingredients for Sunshine Sauce:
- 1 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon rice vinegar
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter (no sugar added)
- Dash ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- ¼ cup coconut milk
Directions for Sunshine Sauce:
- Place all ingredients except coconut milk in the bowl of a food processor and whirl until well blended.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper, then add the coconut milk. Process until it’s blended and smooth. Store covered in the fridge.
Ingredients for Paleo Pad Thai:
- 1 batch Sunshine Sauce
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- ½ medium onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
- 1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 cups Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- 6-8 ounces Grilled Chicken Thighs, diced
- Chopped toasted cashews or almonds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sliced scallions
- Minced cilantro
- A squeeze of lime juice
Directions for Paleo Pad Thai:
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and use a fork to scramble them with the coconut aminos. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons coconut oil to the skillet, and when it’s melted, pour in the eggs and let them spread like a pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid, letting the eggs cook until they’re set and beginning to brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and lightly brown the other side. Remove the eggs from the pan and cut into strips with a sharp knife.
- Using the same pan, increase heat to medium-high and add 1 teaspoon coconut oil to the pan. Sauté the onion and snap peas, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they’re crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the spaghetti squash, chicken, and cooked egg to the pan and, stirring with a wooden spoon, cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
- Add the Sunshine Sauce to the pan and stir-fry until everything is well-blended and hot. Divide among two plates, sprinkle with garnishes, and dig in.
Source: Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Jowls