Eat Healthy and Boost Your Energy the Vietnamese Way

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M & A in Vietnam

The Classic Vietnamese Sandwich

Want to eat healthier, save time, money and boost your energy? Try eating the Vietnamese way. Flavorful, filling, low-fat meals are what you can look forward to.

The biggest difference you will find from the typical American diet is that meat becomes an accent to your meal, not the main dish. Vegetables, spices and sides take center stage, resulting in tasty meals for every palate.

Cut down on heavy portions of meat and fatty foods, while ramping up your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This is easy to accomplish with a little bit of menu planning and shopping.

Saturday in the Kitchen

I used to love Saturday mornings in the kitchen with my mom. We would go through multiple cookbooks, find new recipes to try, then shop accordingly. We planned out the weekly menu and posted it on the fridge. We only did this during the school year to save time shopping, keep the pantry stocked, and keep meal preparation organized. This solution applies to our bustling lives today, by helping us to eat healthier by organizing meal choices, having all the ingredients on hand to cook, therefore avoiding last-minute shopping trips.

Make a list and give yourself one hour to carefully shop for your ingredients, and dedicate one hour to prepare your meals for the week ahead. Invite a friend over to share in the fun! This will pay off big time in money and time savings throughout your week. Ask yourself how much time you spend simply trying to decide what to eat for each meal every day, and how much you spend on an average lunch and snacks. Once you master-plan your meals, you are immediately on the way to taking control of the foods you eat, creating better health as well as time and money management.

Start your healthful journey by finely slicing strips of chicken, beef, pork, turkey, or any meat you like.
Then marinate the meat strips for a few hours or overnight using lemon, lime, fish sauce, herbs, spices and accents such as mint, cilantro, green, red or white onion, garlic, hot or mild peppers, salt, white, red or black pepper, oil and rice or wine-vinegar. Mix the vinegar and oil in a bowl with the finely chopped herbs add meat strips. Use freezer bags or storage containers to portion into individual or family serving sizes to use throughout the week. Prepare a big batch of marinated meat on the weekend to use for your weekly meals ahead, and freeze the meat strips to use as needed.

Here are some meal ideas and recipes to get you started:

Shrimp with Vegetables
Zucchini, celery, carrots and bell peppers fried with fresh shrimp is a fast, easy to make dinner dish, providing sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Add a few sprigs of cilantro and mint to bring out the flavor.

Noodle Bowls with Meat Strips Bun Thit Nuong – Grilled meat Vermicelli with fish sauce and fresh vegetables (Hue style)

Avocado Toast with Egg: Perfect for any meal of the day!

Peel and slice two ripe avocados, mash into a small bowl, add a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes or sriacha if you like it spicy. Mash and set aside for five minutes while you fry two eggs, sunny side up or over easy. Spread avocado mixture on the toast and place eggs on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Buffalo Hummus
Buy plain store-bought hummus, place in a bowl, stir in a teaspoon of hot sauce, add salt and pepper and top with diced red pepper and scallions.Serve with raw celery, peppers, carrot slices, crackers or pita chips.

Slow Cooker Honey-Sriracha Chicken
Recipe courtesy of Slow Cooker Gourmet.

Daikon and Carrot Pickle (do chua)”>Daikon and Carrot Pickled Veggies for accent. This recipe is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, and can be added to most any recipe. Prepare and store in the refrigerator to use as needed for the week ahead. If you like your meals spicier, add one finely sliced jalapeno pepper to the mix.

Banh Mi Sandwich recipe
1 petit baguette roll or a 7-inch section cut from a regular length baguette, mayonnaise, Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Your choice of boldly-flavored meat or tofu, sliced and at room temperature.
3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, marinated or plain
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices
Daikon and Carrot Pickles

Slice the bread lengthwise, and hollow out a small amount to hold your ingredients. Lightly toast the bread roll for crispiness, and let cool for a minute before adding the meat and vegetables. You may butter the roll, add mayonnaise or virgin olive oil. Fill with shredded meat, pickled veggies and enjoy!

Pho, which is excellent for breakfast, lunch or dinner, is always satisfying and can be modified to include any meat, extra vegetables, and a variety of spices to mix up the flavor and texture to be just the way you like it. Here is the Classic Pho recipe from Vietnam’s Iron Chef:

Vietnam’s Iron Chef: Definitive Guide on Pho

Our next segment will focus solely on Vietnamese desserts! Enjoy!

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