No need to feel guilty when eating Pad Thai. By making a few simple changes, you’ll enjoy a tasty and healthier version with the recipe below. Part of the plan is to bulk up the serving size of Pad Thai by adding in lots of healthy veggies like matchstick carrots, snap peas and scallions. And swap out ground chicken for the typical beef; then look for whole-grain brown rice pad Thai noodles to add an additional 3 grams of fiber to each serving.
You have a choice of using store-bought Pad Thai sauce or making it yourself, which you can adjust to your own preferences. It might be a bit difficult to find at your regular grocer store, but check out an Asian Mart or order online ahead of time. With just a few clicks on the computer I was able to order a jar of Tamarind paste and it was delivered to my doorstep 2 days later. I liked the fact that I could make it to my own liking—and it didn’t disappoint!
Healthier Chicken Pad Thai
- 8 ounces pad Thai rice noodles, preferably brown rice noodles
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 pound lean ground chicken, preferably organic
- 2 cups matchstick carrots
- 2 cups stringless snap peas
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ½ cup pad Thai sauce, store bought or home-made*
- Chopped peanuts and lime wedges for serving
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles in boiling water according to package instructions until al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain the noodles.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken, and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add snap peas, carrots and scallions, and cook, stirring often, until the peas are bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add sauce, the noodles and about half of the reserved cooking liquid; stir with tongs to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, adding more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve hot with chopped peanuts and lime wedges.
*Making your own Pad Thai sauce:
Ingredients (makes 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup Tamarind paste
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- Lime zest, optional
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the brown sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not let it reduce any further once the sugar is dissolved or it won’t be the right consistency for making Pad Thai.)
- IMPORTANT: At this point, you need to taste the sauce and adjust it to fit your taste. Some people like their sauce a bit more sweet, so if that’s you, add a bit more sugar and simmer for another minute. If you prefer a bit more salty/umami flavor, add a bit more soy or fish sauce. You can also add a bit of lime zest if you like a more pronounced citrus flavor.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.