Taste It Thursdays: Naptime M.O.Ms Cook Dan Dan Mian with Chef Devin

Devin Alexander is a New York Times best selling author who is winning the war against obesity with her unique approach to healthy cooking and eating.  Devin is also the host of Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander on Fit TV.

She lives and eats her message: you don't have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy.

Let's Taste It Thursday with Chef Devin:

What is your best advice for M.O.Ms who want to plan a healthy family meal?

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.  There are plenty of really simple recipes that can be thrown together in no time.  For instance, I love to season boneless, skinless chicken breasts with olive oil (only 1 teaspoon is needed per pound), salt and pepper.  Then I brown them over high heat in a an oven-safe non-stick skillet.  Then I top them with whatever ethnic ingredients I’m in the mood for and continue cooking them in a 400 degree oven until the chicken is no longer pink inside.  Try topping them with goat cheese and canned, fire-roasted tomatoes or canned enchilada sauce, 75% reduced-fat cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro leaves.  Then get creative on your own. 

I’d also recommend making a big batch of brown rice, faro, whole wheat couscous or another healthy grain on Sundays to have on hand to use in other dishes for the work-week.

What is the key to prep meals for the week?

Make basic prep part of your Sunday ritual .  Grill some chicken breasts or top round steak (a perfect example is the “Carne Asada” from “The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook” that you can slice and use for salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, etc. during the workweek.  Wash and dry all of your lettuces, herbs and veggies for a few days.  Wrap the lettuces and herbs in paper towels then store them in produce bags (DON’T seal them—you don’t want moisture to get trapped in the bags).   Also, get in the habit of buying extra frozen chicken, shrimp or fish to store in your freezer so you can take some out every night before bed or just after you’re finished your dinner clean up.  Just be sure you buy the chicken or fish from the freezer and keep it frozen until the day or two before you are ready to cook it.  If you buy it fresh then freeze it, it will likely lose quality.  If you always have that on hand, you can throw together recipes like “Fiesta Fish Tacos” in no-time flat. 

 Kitchen must-have or book ‘to cook by’
Without a doubt, a Grillex (www.grillex.com) will change your life.  It’s an indoor, smokeless grill (based on Brazilian barbecue) that allows you to cook a different meal for every member of even the pickiest family and your lunch for tomorrow at once in 20 minutes or less (cook time).  Then, all you do is throw the skewers and baskets in the dishwasher and all you have to do is clean the nonstick bottom, basically 1 non-stick pan.  You can make everything from kebabs to fish to healthy chicken nuggets and soft pretzels all in one unit that compacts.  I was introduced to it in December and I’ve used it so much, I haven’t taken it off my stove top except one day when I was shooting an episode of “The Doctors” in my kitchen and 2 days that we took it camping (it’s outdoor-friendly too with the gas burner that comes with it).  I love it so much I just signed on to be the SpokesChef. 

If you’re looking for a cookbook—I’ve written seven now—and are constantly craving takeout, you definitely need “The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook”.  It’s chock full of recipes like Chorizo Nachos, Three Cheese Spinach Lasagna, Garlic Southern Fried Chicken and even Sausage and Pepper Goat Cheese Pizza.  The ingredients are so clean the dishes are 100% guilt free.  That said, if you’re having trouble getting a healthy dinner on the table  and need a book that is chock full of simple recipes like the chicken dishes I describe above, you definitely have to get, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!...Over 150 Ridiculously Easy Recipes for The Super Busy!”.  

That’s more of a starter cookbook for the time-crunched.  Either way, be sure to sign up for my free monthly newsletter: www.devinalexander.com. Each month you have a chance to win something cool (this month I’m giving away a Tiffany & Co. Cupcake Necklace and a Devin Alexander Pantry Essential’s Gift Basket), you get a recipe, motivation from one of my friends or colleagues, etc. 

Recipe for our M.O.Ms to Enjoy:
Dan Dan Mian (Spicy Szechuan Noodles)

Dan Dan Mian and similar peanut noodle dishes typically have as many as 20 grams of fat and 1,638 milligrams of sodium per serving. The Biggest Loser contestants love this much-improved version that doesn’t weigh them down in calories or in spirit.
6          ounces dry 100% whole grain udon noodles (I used Eden Organic)
1 ½      recipes Asian Peanut Sauce (page 207)
½         cup all-natural low-sodium chicken broth
12        ounces extra-lean ground turkey (I used Jennie-O)
2          tablespoons freshly minced garlic
2          tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2          teaspoons all-natural lower-sodium soy sauce
½         cup finely chopped whole scallions
            Canola oil spray (propellant free)
2          cups mung bean sprouts
Finely chopped fresh Thai green or red chiles, to taste (wear plastic gloves when handling), optional

Cook the noodles according to package directions.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Asian Peanut Sauce and broth until well combined. Set aside.
In another small mixing bowl, mix the turkey, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of the scallions until well combined.
Place a large nonstick wok or skillet over high heat. When hot, mist with spray and add the turkey mixture. Cook, breaking the meat into small chunks, for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Add the peanut sauce mixture and cook for 1 minute, or until just hot. Remove from the heat.
Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Top each with one-quarter of the pork and sauce mixture. Top each with 1/2 cup of the bean sprouts. Divide the remaining 1/4 cup scallions among them. Top with chiles, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 345 calories, 32 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates (7 g sugar), 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 428 mg sodium

Recipe credit: Recipe credit is: Reprinted from: The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook by Devin Alexander (c) 2011 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. The Biggest Loser (TM ) and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold.