Maybe it’s just me, but January is usually frantic. The holiday’s are over and we are all over the place. Mission number one becomes getting rid of all evidence Christmas even happened, which is ironic since I spent every single moment after Labor Day counting down the seconds until I could start decorating.
After fighting so hard to make every corner of my home jolly, every year, without fail, the last gift isn’t even fully unwrapped before I start getting antsy. I begin to look around and wonder when we moved into The Christmas Tree Shop. When and why did I buy so many trees? How many nativities does one family really need? And why did people think it was a good idea to buy me 2 Christmas records… the second they were unwrapped Christmas was over!
The irony is as heavy as the many ornaments dangling carelessly on my practically dead tree. [Note to self: resist the urge to buy a tree before Thanksgiving. It will be dead by Christmas.]
But as luck (or kayak.com) would have it, flights are always cheapest the day following Christmas so it’s on that morning, usually at the crack of dawn, that my family is hopping into an UBER and making our way to the airport to visit Mimi, leaving behind Christmas since actually taking down Christmas on Christmas is pretty terrible.
I’m not a grinch, you guys.
And every year, without fail, I return home and after unpacking and putting away every single item from our luggage (wow, I sound really OCD), I get to taking down Christmas. This year it didn’t take long, though our tree really had the last laugh and was 90% shed by the time it made it’s way out the door. And just as I was patting myself on the back for being so efficient this year I realized it was after 4 p.m. and I had absolutely nothing ready for dinner. I had to think quick to avoid the dreaded call to my local takeout place.
You know that feeling: that “oh snap, shoulda planned, now I feel like a jerk cause it’s the new year and I’m trying to eat healthier and now I have to fill myself and my family up with junk, I’m such a failure” feeling. It’s the realization that if you don’t think quick you’re going to have a mutiny on your hands. At this point, who cares about the trans fat and excessive calories- this is life or death.
In reality, takeout every once in a while is fine, but I like to do takeout on my own terms. Treating myself on the weekend to my fave Columbian place is seriously the best and trying new local spots is my jam. But I almost never feel good about the last minute pizza or greasy Chinese we’ve had to buy in a pinch. I always feel like my money could have been better spent and like I let my family down. I know it seems ridiculous but I feel like the health monitor in our home so when I could have made a better decision I kick myself for not planning ahead. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it is.
You guys, it’s time to break the cycle.
That’s why every week I’m bringing you healthier takeout options- not healthy, not clean, not diet approved: healthier.
Starting with my under 30 minute Lo Mein.
I’ve been teasing this on the gram for some time and I apologize for my feet dragging. The truth is I’ve been blessed not only to have people who’ve connected with me as a fellow human being on IG but also people who cook my recipes. And you guys, that is a burden I take seriously. I got this Lo Mein recipe just right but wanted to give it one more try to make sure it was on point.
You guys, this recipe is ON POINT!
I made a surf and turf lo mein for my mom when we visited her last week because I like to spoil my mama. (I mean, technically she had steak and shrimp in the house so she spoiled me… but I cooked it, so…).
There’s no crazy tricks to this Lo Mein and the ingredients aren’t ridiculous- it’s stuff you’ll find in your local supermarket and I promise, PROMISE, this will take 30 mins and not leave you feeling like a greasy mess.
- The sauce:
- 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown or white sugar
- 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- For the LoMein:
- 1 package stir fry noodles
- Sliced vegetables of choice (mushrooms, snow peas, peppers, shredded carrots, etc.)
- Accoutrements of choice (bean sprouts, sliced water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, sesame seeds, etc.)
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Mix all ingredients for sauce and set aside.
- Heat 1 tsp of sesame oil in a wok or large non stick pan over medium high heat.
- Add vegetables and cook until brown, about 6-8 minutes. If you're cooking a large amount of veggies do them in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. You want your veggies to brown. I like to do mushrooms first in the pan, then add the snow peas and carrots since those don't really need to brown, only to get tender.
- Add garlic and stir for a minute until fragrant.
- Make a small well in the pan and another tsp of sesame oil. Add noodles, stirring a few times, for a total of about a minute, until noodles begin to loosen.
- Add the sauce and toss until everything is well coated, about another minute.
- Serve and top with scallions or sesame seeds.
In my search for the perfect Lo Mein recipe I noticed many using pasta or even ramen as the noodle. While both would work in a pinch, stir fry noodles are the best since you don’t need to cook them beforehand and they get coated in the sauce perfectly. I love how quickly this comes together, how it never gets boring since you can add whatever protein or veggies you’re currently craving, and best of all my toddler always finishes his bowl- veggies and all!
Speaking of protein, here’s what I do for the various meats:
- Shrimp: Heat pan with 1 tsp of sesame oil and add raw shrimp seasoned lightly with salt to the wok. Cook until shrimp are no longer translucent and set aside. Follow all other steps above.
- Steak or Pork: For steak or pork lo mein, I like to cook them in a cast iron pan right before cooking the lo mein, prep veggies while its cooking (12-15 minutes) and then allow it to rest while I make the noodles. I like my steak pretty medium rare (look above for proof) so I place a steak (which has been sitting out of the fridge for 15-20 minutes and is seasoned only with salt and a couple of drops of sesame oil) in a the cast iron which has been heating up for 10+ minutes. I flip it after 5-6 minutes and then remove it after another 4-5. You would add another minute or two for a more well done steak. The process is the same for the pork except pork needs to be cooked fully, which is why for this recipe I like a sliced pork tenderloin which I then slice thinly after cooking and add to the lo main after adding the sauce.
- Chicken: You know how you like your chicken best but I love using any leftovers from rotisseries or baked chicken from another recipe. I would add the chicken after adding the sauce and then toss to coat in sauce.
That’s it you guys! Time to say ‘peace out’ to last minute Chinese takeout and ‘what’s up’ to a quick family meal that can be made by cleaning out your fridge. Best of all, you’ll feel satisfied without feeling like a gross mess and still feel like you got to treat yo’ self!