For a dietitian, I don’t talk about nutrition on this blog an awful lot. But when I do it’s almost always about eating more veggies!
You’re probably sick of me going on about it but it’s for good reason. So when I’m choosing healthy lunch options to prepare for the work week, I always make sure I choose recipes that are loaded with veggies- and what better way than to start off with a vegetarian recipe like this Raw Pad Thai Salad?
Although I’m not vegetarian or vegan, I’m always quite intrigued by vegan/vegetarian foods. It can be difficult to achieve the depth of flavour that’s often found in meat based dishes, so I find that vegan/vegetarian dishes which work well involve some degree of creativity. This often involves a lot of oils in Asian vegetarian dishes, to impart flavour. But since I’m going for something healthier and lighter as a daily lunch option, veggie options from cafés serve as a better source of inspiration. And with so many vegan cafes which seem to be popping up, there’s no shortage of inspiration!
And this is how I came across the idea for today’s recipe. It’s my recreation of Short Straw Hawthorne’s Vegan Raw Pad Thai Salad. I’ve never actually tried the original, nor have I visited the café myself. I’d love to (they have the most photogenic dishes!) however they’re in Melbourne, so it’s a little far away. But the photo of this dish was enticing enough to make me want to give it a go anyway!
I love the idea of turning a classic Thai dish that’s quite heavy and oily, into something fresh and much lighter. And most importantly, just as enjoyable! Short Straw’s ‘Raw Vegan Pad Thai’is served with zoodles and a variety of fresh veggies on rice noodles, with a creamy avocado lime dressing. It might not sound all too exciting on paper, but have a look at the photos on Instagram. You’ll be wanting a serve yourself too!
I made do with what I had on hand, so I
- skipped the cabbage
- used basil instead of mint
- used peanut instead of avocado for the dressing
- Added shredded chicken cooked in a my own Pad Thai sauce
- and to save time I also skipped the rice noodles (I’d probably add this in next time as the carbs do help to make the dish a little more filling)
The term Pad Thai is used quite loosely for this salad. The dressing doesn’t exactly have the sweet and tangy tamarind flavours of a Pad Thai sauce. But it does have the nutty, lime and basil flavours you’d find in Thai dishes. So it does make sense in a way……
Regardless it’s a delicious, easy and very pretty salad. Which is totally a winner in my books!
A Quick Note on Nutrition:
Thai food does not have a reputation for particularly healthy, so I think most people are aware that a Pad Thai is not exactly the healthiest option when dining out. There’s more sugar in it that you might think (make your own at home and you’ll be surprised!), more than your day’s worth of sodium in one serve, and high fat due to the oil often used to keep the noodles from sticking.
Whilst not quite the same, this Raw Pad Thai salad is much lighter as it contains about a third of the fat (~16g) and calories (~280Calories/1170kJ) compared to a regular Pad Thai. The sodium is also much lower, as the only added salt comes from the soy in the small amount of Pad Thai sauce used in for the chicken.
That said I’ll still be enjoying my real Pad Thai’s every once in a while. But for my weekday lunches, this Raw Pad Thai Salad is an equally satisfying and healthier alternative. Give it a go and let me know what you think!
And now for the Raw Pad Thai salad recipe!
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/4 cup (70g) almond butter or pure peanut butter
- 2 tbs lime juice
- 21/2 tbs pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup Pad Thai sauce
- 1 medium chicken breast
- 3 medium zucchini, spiralised or grated
- 2 carrots, spiralised or grated
- 1 red capsicum, seeds removed, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup (80g) bean sprouts, trimmed
- 1 cup Thai (holy) basil leaves
- 1 cup (150g) frozen podded edamame, thawed
- 100g snow peas, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthways (optional)
- 30g crushed peanuts
- 1/4 cup fried onions
- Place all the ingredients in a blender with 2 tbs filtered water and whizz to combine, adding a little more water to thin the mixture if necessary. Season and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat Pad Thai sauce. Add chicken, cover and heat over low heat for 10 minutes or until cooked, turning half way. Remove from heat and let chicken cool. Once cool, shred chicken
- Place the zucchini, carrot, capsicum, bean sprouts, basil, edamame and snow peas in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates, top with the basil and chicken. Serve with a sprinkle of peanuts and fried onions.
- You can make your own Pad Thai sauce by combining equal parts soy sauce, tamarind juice and sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves and sauce starts to thicken.