Peanut Chicken Salad

Ahhh. Today, my friends, is my 6 month surgerversary! Yes, 6 months ago I was amputated and rebuilt and although it seemed like it took for-evah, I am back to what feels like normal. Maybe in another 6 months I'll tell you I have more energy and can rebound more quickly, but I know I'm driving myself HARD right now, and I'm holding my own with the best of 'em. Big gold star for me (and my amazing healthcare team)!

I've also closed out week 3 of my intense exercise and dieting plan and I am feeling so, so good. It hasn't been a walk in the park, but I've pushed through the trouble spots and am being rewarded - I am stronger, leaner and I have more energy than I have in months. I can wear my skinnier skinny jeans again. I can now do sissy push-ups with the best of 'em - moving forward into "big boy" push-ups now. Remember, my goal is to do at least 10 big-boys in a row by the end of this year - so long as I don't stop, I'll meet that goal WELL before December. Best yet, I've been allowed back into Pilates classes for "normal" people - my strength is back all over my body, and I'm now stronger than ever in my upper body, despite those parts being removed and replaced 6 months ago. I feel, in a word, vital.

It's a helluva lot of work though. I won't lie. And there are days (afternoons, mostly) when I say to myself, "This sucks. It's boring, it's hard and it's just not that much fun." I want it to end. Many days it feels like it's going too slowly, but I haven't met my goal yet. 9 more weeks to go. Weight loss done the right way is necessarily slow - 1-2 lbs. a week are all you should lose if you want it to stick later, people. To combat these feelings, I need to spice it up - and you can't take the foodie out of the girl - so I'm entertaining myself by trying to cook up delicious, but dietetic food. Four words that do NOT always go together. And honestly, this is not as yummy as biting into a cheesy gooey pizza. But it's got vibrant flavor, is interesting texturally and it's got lots of protein and fiber to fill you up. There is no substitute for a burger and fries, but maybe this'll keep you interested enough to go another few days on the healthy eating plan? I hope so. You will feel light and clean and satisfied after eating this, and really, what more can you ask for when you're dieting?

Peanut Chicken Salad (inspired by The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook)

4 oz. dry rice noodles (or 2 c. cooked)
 

Dressing

 
1 T. smooth peanut butter
1 T. plain unseasoned rice vinegar
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 t. minced fresh ginger
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. lime zest
 

Salad

1 c. cooked diced chicken (about 1 4 oz. breast)
2 c. shredded Napa cabbage
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c. sliced carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 fresh oranges, cut into chunks  
 

If you don't have cooked chicken on hand, quickly poach your chicken breast by placing it in a saucepan with water to cover. Heat until boiling, sprinkle a little salt in the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan, let stand for 5 minutes, and then cut into bite-sized pieces. This is a great technique to have in your back pocket when you want to cook chicken with NO extra fat or calories.

Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions (this usually involves pouring boiling water over them, letting them sit for a few minutes, then draining them and rinsing them with cold water and draining again - very very easy).

Combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, lime juice, ginger, garlic and lime zest in a small bowl or jar and stir or shake vigorously until smooth.

Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl along with the rice noodles and toss well. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again. Eat up!

Serves 2, but this could easily be doubled.