When I hear fritter I think of some morsel of food that’s been covered in a batter and deep fried. Think of corn fritters, hush puppies or apple fritters and the word healthy doesn’t come to mind. However, fritters can also be pan fried with a little healthy fat and made up of any number of vegetables. My aim is to find recipes that are good for you, taste great and are simple to make. This recipe fits the bill. It has just 9 ingredients that should be readily available at most stores or could be substituted. These vegetable fitters are versatile and are even good cold the next day for lunch, so double the recipe and have plenty left over. Pair them with a kale salad and you have a nutritious complete meal.
Potential Health Benefits
There’s lots of healthy goodness in this meal. The ingredients contain antioxidants, nutrients, essential fatty acids, and minerals that boast numerous health benefits. As a result your brain, skin, eyes, joints, gut and heart will thank you. In addition, a dinner like this can speed up your metabolism, increase your energy and improve your memory.
Zucchini is low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. Essential nutrients like potassium and manganese are high in zucchini. In addition, it has a high water content that makes you feel full.
I grew up watching commercials for Chia Pets, and was surprised when chia seeds became a popular superfood. There are a number of reported health benefits to adding nutrient dense chia seeds into your diet. Studies have shown that they can improve heart and digestive health, boost your energy and metabolism, help you build muscle and lose weight, and prevent premature aging of the skin. They are versatile and can be added to many recipes. I’ve use them in our morning smoothies, breads and pancakes, on yogurt with granola and in these fritters. There is some evidence that soaking them in water for 30 minutes makes them easier to digest and makes the nutrients more readily available.
The list of health benefits for coconut oil goes on and on. From reducing inflammation to improving memory in addition to boosting the immune system and increasing energy and endurance it has an impressive line-up of benefits when used both orally and topically. It is important to buy cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil and avoid the refined or processed oil to ensure that you get the greatest health benefits.
These vegetable fritters are so easy to make especially if you have a food processor. My Cuisinart is about 25 years old and still running strong. It makes quick work of prepping vegetables, making hummus, chopping nuts and making smooth salad dressings. I keep mine readily available on a shelf in my pantry so that deciding to use it is a no brainer. If your useful kitchen tools and small appliances are buried in a cupboard behind other things you won’t use them. At least that is my experience, because a knife or grater is easier to grab than getting down on your knees and pulling things out to get to the food processor. Alternatively, you can use a box grater if you don’t have a food processor.
Carrots & Zucchini
You’ll want about 2 cups of grated vegetables for this recipe. You can see that I have a heaping 2 cups from 1 large zucchini and 2 large carrots. I had extra grated carrots that I then used in the kale salad. The zucchini has a high water content, so it helps to squeeze or press some of the moisture out of it before adding it to the other ingredients. After grating the zucchini put it into a colander with small holes or a mesh sieve, sprinkle a little salt on it and let it sit while you prepare the carrots and onion. Then just push the zucchini down and let the excess water drain out. Alternatively you can squeeze it with your hands. You could also use sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, or butternut squash.
Dice half an onion to equal about 1/2 cup. Onions add immense flavor to savory recipes.
Add Flax & Chia
Put the carrots, zucchini, and onion into a bowl and add 1/3 cup of flax meal and 3 teaspoons of chia seeds.
Break two eggs into a smaller bowl and give them a quick whisk with a fork.
You can make this a vegan meal by replacing the eggs with chia seeds.
Next add a 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan pink, sea or kosher salt and 3 grinds of pepper from a pepper mill. Mix it all together.
Kale Salad to Complete the Meal
This is a simple kale salad to serve along with the fritters. Plus the ingredients add to the nutritional bang of this meal. I like to use Lacinato (dinosaur) kale in salads, but I had curly kale, so I used it. There are just 7 ingredients in this salad. Wash, de-stem and chop the kale. Put the kale, the extra grated carrots, and 2 tablespoons each of pepitas and goji berries into a bowl. Drizzle the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top with a pinch or two of salt and toss to combine. When I make a kale or cabbage salad I like to make it first and let it sit while I prepare the rest of the meal. This helps to soften the kale and the flavors have time to mingle and create a more flavorful salad.
After the salad sits for 10 minutes give it a taste test and add more lemon juice or salt if you think it needs it. If you don’t have any more lemon juice then apple cider vinegar works as well.
Cooking the Fritters
Heat a griddle pan or skillet on medium heat and melt 1/2 a tsp of coconut oil on the hot surface. I love this griddle pan from Al Clad. It covers two burners and allows me to fry more fritters at a time. Measure about a 1/4 -1/3 cup of fritter batter onto the hot skillet and let them cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the fritters and brown on the other side. Make sure you keep mixing the eggs back into the batter. They tend to puddle in the bottom of the bowl and you want them to cook with the fritters.
These fritters smell delicious as they are cooking and get a nice golden brown crunch on them. You’ll want to sneak bites as they come hot off the griddle.
Dinner is Ready
Plate 2-3 fritters along side the kale salad and get ready to enjoy. Save any leftover fritters for tomorrow’s lunch. One of the nice things about using kale in a salad instead of lettuce is that the leftovers don’t get limp or slimy by the next day. You can enjoy leftover salad tomorrow as well.
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2 cups grated carrots and zucchini (about two large carrots and one large zucchini)
2 eggs; whisked (organic and/or free-range if possible)
1/3 cup flax meal
3 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
3 grinds on a pepper mill
1-2 tsp coconut oil
THE KALE SALAD:
2 cups of chopped kale
1 cup of grated carrots (you can use what is left from the carrots grated for the fritters)
2 TBS pepitas
2TBS goji berries (could replace with raisins, dried cherries, or dried blueberries)
Juice from 1 lemon
1-2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Add all of the salad ingredients to a bowl and toss to combine. Let the salad sit while you make the fritters. This will give the kale time to soften.
To make the fritters combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Heat the coconut oil in a hot skillet.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the fritter batter onto skillet and flatten out like little pancakes. Fit as many as you can onto the cooking surface.
Let the fritters fry for about 4 minutes until brown underneath.
Turn them and let them brown on the other side.
Serve the fritters with the kale salad and enjoy!
Zucchini has a high water content and it is best to drain some out before adding it to the other ingredients. After grating the zucchini put it into a colander with small holes or a mesh sieve, sprinkle a little salt on it and let it sit while you prepare the carrots and onion. Then just push the zucchini down and let the excess water drain out. Alternatively you can squeeze it with your hands.
You can make this a vegan meal by substituting the eggs for more chia seeds, 1 TBS/egg) that have been soaked in water for about 30 minutes or so. You can used ground chia or flax seeds as an egg substitute as well.
This chicken noodle Pho-style soup is soy and gluten-free, and it is full of goodness for your body. The shiitake mushrooms alone have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties. They can help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar levels. Ginger also reduces inflammation and has been effective as a pain killer. It supports the digestive tract with its prebiotic content that causes good bacteria to grow. That’s just a start to the health benefits of this soup.
A CRAVING FOR PHO
Last weekend I had a craving for Pho, the Vietnamese soup pronounced “fuh”. I love the intensely flavored broth. It comes to the table steaming with rice noodles and blanched chicken. On the side you get a plate of flavors to add to it like Thai basil, cilantro, caramelized shallots, sliced Jalapeño or Serrano chili, lime, and a pile of mung beans. It is probably my favorite version of chicken noodle soup. Last winter when I was sick it was the only thing I ate for three days while my stomach healed.
CHANGE IS GOOD
However, there are two things I’d change: make the chicken more flavorful and add more vegetables. The chicken Pho I ordered from our local Vietnamese restaurant was perfect with minimal ingredients and bland chicken when my stomach wasn’t ready for much more. I was certain I could make some improvements with a few changes and come up with my own chicken noodle Pho-style soup.
When I was buying groceries on Monday my craving was still on my mind. I decided that I’d experiment and make my own version. We had it for dinner Tuesday night and it was pretty darn good, so good that I want to share the recipe with you.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Start by mixing Coconut Aminos, Umami (a Japanese flavoring), Fish Sauce and chili flakes in a small bowl. I use Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce or tumari. I have a soy intolerance and the Coconut Aminos are the closest substitution I have found. I even carry a bottle with me when we go out for sushi. Put the chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. The chicken will marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, however, you could do this a few hours ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. This will give the chicken more time to soak up the flavors in the sauce. If you do put the chicken in the refrigerator take it out when you start preparing the other ingredients to bring it to room temperature.
Prepare a cup of each of the following: sliced shiitake mushrooms, chopped red pepper, chopped snow peas and grated carrots. I bought the organic carrots already grated in a bag to save time. Peel and slice a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root. Wash, de-stem and chop a handful of cilantro, about a half cup. Slice the white and light green parts of 3 scallions. Cut a lime into quarters. You can keep all of these fresh ingredients in neat little piles on your chopping board or separate them into small bowls.
WHAT ARE MIRACLE NOODLES?
Instead of the rice noodles used in traditional Pho I tried something different. A few months ago I heard about Shirataki pasta or Miracle Noodles on a podcast. I bought some and they’ve been in my pantry waiting for me to use them. These noodles are made from the soluble fiber from the root of a plant called the Konnyaku Imo. They are zero calorie, soy free, gluten free, cholesterol free and vegan. You can use rice noodles, however the Miracle Noodles are worth a try if you can find them. I used the fettuccini noodles, but they come in a variety of pasta sizes. They are easy to prepare by following the directions on the package. I actually thought they were easier than rice noodles.
GRILL THE CHICKEN
At this point you’ll want to get a pan to cook the chicken in. I prefer my small grill pan. When looking for cookware make sure it is PFOA, PTFE, lead & cadmium-free. You want to avoid the toxins in traditional non-stick cookware that can leach into the food cooked in them. Heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan and when hot drop the chicken strips into the pan searing them on all sides. Turn the heat down and let them cook until just done. Try not to over cook because they will cook a bit longer in the soup pot. Let them sit for 5 minutes off of the heat before shredding or slicing.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
I chose another short cut by using Pacific Organic Chicken Pho Soup Base. It has a nice flavor and helps make this recipe a quick week night meal. Pour the broth into a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients. I love my Le Creuset enamel pot. It is heavy but has held up over years of use on the stove top and in the oven. When the soup comes to a simmer add the ginger, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook those for 3 minutes and then add the red peppers and snow peas. You can add the noodles and chicken now as well. If you like heat sprinkle in some chili flakes.
CHICKEN NOODLE PHO-STYLE SOUP
DINNER IS READY
To serve, ladle the all the goodness into bowls and top with cilantro, green onions and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy and know that you are nourishing your body with immunity building, inflammation fighting and digestive tract support. We had plenty for the two of us and enough for my lunch the next day.
What is your favorite soup?
Thérèse Buckingham for Vitality in Focus
Yields 3 large portions
Serves 2 cups
Chicken Noodle Pho-Style Soup with Vegetables
This good for you, flavorful soup stands on its own for a satisfying meal.
7 boneless chicken breast tenders; about 3/4 pound
3 TBS Coconut Aminos
1 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS Umami
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 quart Pacific Organic Chicken Pho Soup Base
thumb size piece of fresh ginger; sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms; sliced
1 cup carrots; shredded
1 cup snow peas; sliced
1 cup red pepper; chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts; sliced
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 lime; quartered
Mix the Coconut Aminos, Umami, fish sauce and chili flakes in a small bowl.
Put the chicken tenders into a glass bowl, pour the sauce over the chicken and turn to coat
Let the chicken sit while preparing the other ingredients or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Chop and slice the vegetables and keep them in separate piles.
Heat coconut oil in grill pan on medium high heat
Sear chicken tenders on all sides, turn heat down and continue to cook chicken for about 10 minutes; turning every 3 minutes.
While the chicken cooks pour the soup base in a soup pot, bring to a slow boil and then simmer.
Drop ginger, shiitake mushrooms and carrots into broth and keep it just below boiling.
Take chicken off of heat when cooked through and let it sit for 5 minutes before shredding.
Add cooked chicken to the broth. If it is still pink it will finish cooking in the broth.
Add the red pepper and snow peas to broth. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro leaves, onions and a squeeze of lime.
I am not a nutritionist. The recipes and experiences I share on my blog are based on what works for me, my own experiences with food, and what I have learned from reading about health and nutrition. If you are in need of specific nutritional advice please consult with a health professional.