Another Spring Break has come and gone. It’s so hard for me to believe that we’re just weeks away from finishing up the school year down here, but that’s what Spring Break means for students in Georgia! This year for Spring Break, I took the girls up to the Gatlinburg, TN area for just a few days. It was a great little getaway filled with all sorts of that silly-family-fun-touristy stuff that the kids (and I) love. We spent a fair amount of time at Ripley’s attractions, loved the aquarium, toured the Titanic museum, braved the Forbidden Caverns, and hung out at the hotel pool. It was a nice little trip.
As with most nice little trips, we also ate…a lot. If you’ve ever been in the Gatlinburg area, you know that “light” fare is hard to come by. It’s a heavy, country-cooking type of place. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just can’t do it all the time. Let me paint a picture for you: One place we ate in for dinner (which I would highly recommend, should you travel to the area) offered a heaping basket of amazing homemade apple fritters and apple butter as they sat us down at our table. Apple fritters…as an app!
(They were delicious.)
Another day, we stopped at a local pancake house for lunch, where I dined on this…
Enormous (delicious) crepes, filled with a cream cheese and ricotta filling, topped with a berry compote and whipped cream. Whipped cream!! At lunch!
The food we ate was so heavy, my girls never once asked me for a snack the entire time we were there. Those of you with young children realize how that is a miracle, in and of itself.
We had a great time on our trip, and I don’t regret a single thing I ate over those three days. It was vacation, after all! But, as soon as I got home, two thoughts flooded my mind.
1.) In six weeks, the girls will be done with school and I’ll have to fit my apple fritter lovin’ behind in a swimsuit.
And, 2.) When I am finally hungry again, I want something fresh, and light. Really light.
Enter this delicious Chinese chicken salad. This salad fit the bill perfectly! Cool, crisp Napa cabbage, carrots and green onions, mixed together with some shredded chicken, crunchy baked noodles and toasted almonds in a delicious orange-soy-sesame dressing. It was the perfect “Welcome Home! You ate like a pig for three days!” kind of dinner.
I started by poaching a few chicken breasts in some water, along with some sliced fresh ginger. The ginger subtly flavors the chicken, without overpowering it. As the chicken was poaching, I crumbled up a packet of ramen-noodles and tossed the crumbles with some slivered almonds, sesame seeds and just a dab of canola oil. I baked the noodle mixture in the oven until it was nice and crunchy-toasty.
I set the noodles aside to cool and whipped up a quick, amazing dressing for the salad out of some orange juice, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and just a bit of sugar to sweeten it up.
Once the chicken was done, I set it aside to cool for a bit and then shredded it up. You can use two forks to shred up the chicken, but I usually just get frustrated with the forks and end up pulling it apart with my fingers. It’s much less tedious and it gets the job done!
Once everything had cooled, I shredded up some beautiful Napa cabbage, and a carrot, chopped up some fresh green onions, and started to build my salad.
Once everything was tossed together in the bowl, noodles included, I had a delicious, crisp, cool, PERFECT post-vacation-food-hangover meal on my plate. It was everything I needed, and more. I can’t wait to make it again, and next time, it won’t have to be because I had whipped cream for lunch.
CHINESE CHICKEN & NOODLE SALAD
Adapted from Eating Well
- 1 (3 oz.) package low-fat ramen noodle soup mix (discard the seasoning packet!)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1½ teaspoons canola oil
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. orange juice
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 5 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
- 5 tsp. sugar
- ¾ tsp. sesame oil
- 2-3 cups shredded Napa cabbage (just under ½ head of cabbage)
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 3 green onions, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350*.
- Crumble ramen noodles onto a large baking sheet. Add the almonds, sesame seeds, and canola oil. Toss to coat. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and then bake for about 5 minutes more, until golden brown. Let the noodle mixture cool completely before using.
- Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan with enough water to cover them. Add the ginger slices and salt. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, gently, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, 10-15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and allow to cool. Shred the chicken breasts and set aside.
- Combine the orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil in a small resealable container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine, until the sugar has dissolved.
- Just before serving, combine the cabbage, carrots, green onions, noodle mixture and chicken. Toss with the dressing and serve. Serves 4.