Tom Kha Gai

Here is the first recipe of the new year. I wanted to do a recipe that was healthy, fun and easy. I wanted to post something that is totally contrary to what people think eating healthy is this time of year. Many people are countering their weeks of excess with bland, unseasoned poached chicken breast with dry rice and boring veggies. “I’m going to lose the weight for real this time!” they say before giving up by mid-January and maybe February for the slightly more committed. Only to start the cycle over next year. Why not stop the cycle of boring healthy food to start. I decided to pick a recipe from Martha Stewart. This is her version of a Thai dish called Tom Kha Gai. Let’s start the healthy eating cycle with something that feels indulgent. Thai food that reminds you of take out, but this adapted version is much healthier. The original recipe has stats that are a little high in sodium and calories and low in protein and vitamins. When we get to the final recipe, I promise this recipe will help you find that eating healthy does not have to be boring. Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I updated:

  • I increased the servings from 6 to 10 to lower the calories.
  • I replaced the full fat coconut milk with light coconut milk to lower the calories
  • I increased the carrots from 1 to 4 to increase the vitamin A.
  • I added red bell pepper to increase the vitamin C
  • I added one brick of extra firm tofu to increase the protein.

Here are the final stats:

Here is the final recipe:

Tom Ka Gai

Serves 10

  • lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed
  • cups low-sodium chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • tablespoon sugar
  • (2-inch) piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • kaffir lime leaves, halved, or 6 strips lime zest with a vegetable peeler
  • shallot, thinly sliced
  • Thai bird chiles
  • 1 1/2 pounds pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened light coconut milk
  • large carrot, finely chopped
  • tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • tablespoons chopped Thai basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • scallion, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat a 4-quart slow cooker.
  2. On a cutting board, using the side of a chef’s knife, lightly smash lemongrass. Combine lemongrass, broth, fish sauce, sugar, galangal, lime leaves, shallot, chiles, chicken, tofu and mushrooms in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until chicken is cooked through, about 2 1/2 hours (or on low for 5 hours).
  3. Add coconut milk, bell pepper, and carrot, and cook on high 30 minutes longer (or on low for 1 hour). Stir in lime juice, cilantro, basil, and scallion. Top with cilantro and basil, and serve with chili oil sauce.
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