Eating and cooking at home is essential for any fitness and weight loss plan. If you have ever looked at the nutritional information (required for restaurants with 20 or more locations) you know what I’m talking about. If the calories don’t blow your mind…or your waist line, the sodium content will.
The perception that ordering a salad is healthier and lower in calories is completely false. Caesar salads with croutons, parmesan cheese and that delicious dressing, Cobbs with bacon and blue cheese, and Chef salads with deli meats and cheese are notoriously high in calories. You can, however, be “good” with a simple green salad or chopped vegetable beauty like this vibrant Crunchy Asian Vegetable Salad that made my day at a Melissa’s Produce event last week.
The recipe that Melissa’s chefs shared with us is designed for food service, but you can easily cut the quantities in half, and for the dressing…I adjusted the ingredient quantities for home use, but feel free to adjust to your liking. The standard ratio of oil to vinegar in salad dressings is 3:1, the recipe calls for sesame and canola oil – the sesame oil lends a distinctive Asian flavor, along with the ginger, peanut butter, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce and soy sauce.
It’s always a friendly reunion of food bloggers when we go to Melissa’s for an event, and after the holidays, this one was especially exuberant. And it was Chef Tom’s birthday, so we embarrassed him by singing “Happy Birthday”. In addition to the colorful Crunchy Chopped Asian Salad (prepared with chicken and without), Melissa’s chefs had prepared us two kinds of soup: Cauliflower & Celery Root and Blackeyed Pea & Vegetable Stew, Honey Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Hatch Chile and Devils Food Cookies.
After lunch, we were introduced to Mike Krepistman, a principal owner and one of the founders of Chefs’ Toys along with Steve Dickler. Mike delivered insight into the company’s history and plans for expansion – San Diego in 2016, Santa Barbara slated for 2017. Chefs’ Toys is the leading restaurant equipment and supplies company in Southern California and last week announced its acquisition of Michael Blackman & Associates (MBA). MBA has been operating for over 30 years and is known as one of the top restaurant kitchen designers in southern California and nationally. Among MBA’s clients are Spago, Sizzler, Johnny Rockets, Pieology, Hyatt, Lemonade, Urban Plates, Veggie Grill, Umami Burger, Nobu and many more.
Of course, there were Chefs’ Toys prizes to tempt our group and Kim Pham, Marketing Coordinator and Social Media ninja, laid out the criteria for winning – (most creative Instagram post as determined by she and Marketing Director Jim Wendt).
Next, all eyes and cameras were on Chef Doug Schonfeld, Sales Manager at Chefs’ Toys as he demonstrated of an array of cooking tools. They couldn’t have asked for a more captive audience! As food bloggers, writers, and enthusiasts we were totally engaged and making mental notes of must haves. Who doesn’t want to make food prep easier?We watched him slice, dice, peel, core and curl dozens of vegetables and fruits in mere minutes. First off, the Saf-T-Grip cutting board, chef’s knife, paring knife, spiral vegetable slicer, Y-shaped peeler, julienne peeler, 5-blade garnishing slicer, apple corer, etc. There was the commercial grade mandoline and, more importantly, the cut-resistant gloves – my must have of the day!
And now, for that recipe! Perfect to include in my Foodie’s Guide to Fitness and Weight Loss series and timely in that 2016 appears to be the Year of the Vegetable as trend forecasts and various food related articles from NPR to the Specialty Produce Association made predictions indicating that vegetables are finally getting their due!
- 2 cups Napa Cabbage-(shredded thick)
- ¼ cup Red Cabbage-(shredded thin)
- 1 head Baby Bok Choy-(cleaned and sliced thin)
- 2 cups Baby Mixed Greens
- 1 cup Mini Bell Peppers-(cored and sliced into rings)
- ¼ cup Edamame-(cooked and shelled)
- 1 Asian Pears-(peeled, cored, and julienned)
- 1 Carrot (peeled and sliced)
- ¼ cup Cashews-(roasted and lightly chopped)
- ½ cup Fried Won Ton Strips
- ⅓ cup Ginger Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 2 Tablespoons creamy Peanut Butter ½ cup Sweet Chili Sauce
- ½ cup Rice Vinegar
- ¼ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Sesame Oil
- 1 cup Canola Oil
- 1 cup cilantro (stems removed, chopped)
- 1 Green Onion (sliced into thin rings)
- Combine the first 7 ingredients into a blender and blend until a smooth puree.
- While blender is still running, slowly add in the salad and sesame oil.
- Once all oil is incorporated to dressing, add in cilantro and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and remove from blender to serving vessel.
- Stir in the thinly sliced scallions and serve.
- In a large mixing bowl, add first 8 ingredients and mix until combined. Add dressing and toss well.
- Remove salad from bowl and place in a pile on a round plate. Sprinkle cashews over salad. Place fried won ton strips on top of salad and serve.
With locations in Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Torrance, Van Nuys, Inland Empire (Corona), and West Los Angeles there’s bound to be a Chefs’ Toys near you! All stores are open to the public and provide excellent customer service -I shop at the one in Fountain Valley and they will help you find whatever you’re looking for among the 20,000 stocked items!
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