As the temperature drops and the snow builds up, we can’t help but want to curl up with a big, warm bowl of goodness. Whether you crave fresh soups, savory noodle dishes, or plan old childhood favorites like mac and cheese, nothing warms the heart and soothes the soul like comfort food. Inspired but the upcoming Chinese New Year, the comfort food I’m craving is Chinese food. The combination of salty and savor, mixed with fresh vegetables always fills my belly and satisfies my taste buds. Unfortunately, with my allergies (celiac disease) and my new lifestyle (Keto), many of my favourite Chinese dishes are not acceptable for my diet. I knew I’d have to be creative!
When I think of some of my favourite Chinese dishes, I realized that they have the same basic steps and only vary by a few ingredients or cooking techniques. When searching for a recipe that I could make Gluten Free and Keto friendly, I knew I would need to examine the key properties of a Chinese dish to discover where I could adapt it.
Key Properties in a Chinese dish
- RICE and NOODLE – One of the most common ingredients found in a Chinese dish is rice. It can either be used in its whole form as rice, or ground up to create delicious rice noodles. Keto friendly means low to no carbs, so unfortunately rice is out of the picture. Instead, people on a Keto diet tend to substitute other vegetables to create the same texture dish. In the case of rice, you can use riced cauliflower and in the case of noodles, you can use spiralized zucchini.
- COOKING OIL – Many Chinese dishes require some form of cooking oil to create the meal. Choosing the right cooking oil is essential for maintaining the heat during the cooking process or adding a particular flavour/aroma to the dish. This is an easy task for the Keto diet. High in healthy fats, oil is encouraged. Using sesame oil or my favourite, peanut oil, is the best choice for a delicious flavour.
- SAUCES and SEASONINGS – One of the most common seasoning used in Chinese cooking is soy sauce. Whether it is used for sauces or marinades, dips or seasoning, soy sauce provides a fantastic salty flavour and rich dark colour to your food. While many soy sauce products contain gluten products, gluten-free tamari sauce and coconut aminos are great Keto-friendly alternatives to soy sauce.
- Protein – Unless you are ordering a vegetarian meal, protein plays a large part in a Chinese meal. It can vary from beef to pork, chicken and seafood, but each plays an important role in the dish.Eggs and tofu are also very popular choices in many meals. This MUST HAVE ingredient is very congruent with the Keto diet.
- Vegetables + Fruits – The Chinese cuisine is made up of many different combinations of fresh fruits and vegetable. Some vegetables are very familiar to us (garlic, peppers, etc), whereas others (water chestnuts, bok choi, Chinese mushrooms, etc.) may not. A Keto friendly diet focuses on dark, leafy green vegetables so it is important to keep this in mind when creating a dish.
Chinese Shrimp Fried Rice(d Cauliflower)
- 2 Tbsp of peanut oil
- 2 cups of cauliflower, riced
- 1/2 cup of onions, diced
- 1/2 cup of green and red peppers mixed, diced
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup of baby shrimp
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce (gluten free)
- 2 eggs beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Heat up the peanut oil in a frying pan. Add onions, garlic and peppers. Saute on medium heat for 2 minutes.
Step 2: Add shrimp and cauliflower into the mixture and cook for another 2 minutes, or until both are cooked and tender. Push to one side of the pan.
Step 3: Beat eggs in a separate bowl, and add the empty side of the pan. Scramble the eggs. Incorporate into the rest of the mixture.
Step 4: Add soy sauce and salt and pepper!
Step 5: Enjoy!