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Remember The Skinny Truth, “Eat Like You Shop?”

Well, here’s a recipe that proves a knock-off of a designer original can deliver a huge bang for your calorie buck.

For years, when my family craved the taste and texture of Szechuan noodles, I relied on the recipe from the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook—which, I have to admit, is delicious.

But, when I started doing the math, and added up the calories and fat in the list of ingredients, I quickly realized why that little delish dish was doing a huge number on my figure.

That recipe (which serves 6-8), has a half cup of vegetable oil (964 calories), a half cup of tahini (700 calories), a half cup of peanut butter (750 calories), another 500 calories in honey, sesame and chili oil, and nearly 1600 calories in spaghetti noodles. Which means that when I ate one bowl of it, I was eating  nearly 1000 calories…almost two-thirds of the calories my 5’5 body should have in an entire day!

Now, by redesigning Ina’s great recipe, drastically cutting the fat, bumping up the vegetables and using 40 calorie a cup soy noodles instead of 200 calorie a cup pasta, I can still have the nutty taste and noodle texture I crave…but for only 300 calories in a big 3 cup bowl! And, since this version also has a bit of lean chicken, it’s not just a side dish, it can be a full meal!

And with these nutty noodles, you not only save calories and fat, you save time. From start to finish, this takes only 15 minutes!


The original version of this recipe calls for peanut butter to give it the nutty taste.  But because my children love to have it in their school lunches– and peanut allergies are an issue there–I use almond butter. But you can use any nut butter you like best, peanut, almond, soy nut, even sunflower seed butter.  They all have about the same calorie count, roughly 100 per tablespoon.

And, this is another reminder that if you want to buy more economical packages of thin sliced chicken, beef, pork or lamb, and freeze them in smaller quantities, you can pull out just the meat you need when you need it… which means quick de-frosting and no waste!

1 T almond butter

1 T seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 T sherry

2 T Soy Sauce or Tamari (wheat free soy sauce)

1/2 c chicken breast (about 1/2 of a thin sliced breast fillet), cut into fine slivers

1 T fresh ginger, sliced into skinny sticks

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 Persian or pickling cucumber, sliced into thin batons

2 c bean sprouts

1 package Shiratake Angel Hair Soy Noodles

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

3 green onions, chopped

fresh cilantro for garnish

In a tiny bowl, mash the almond butter (or any nut butter) with the rice wine vinegar, sherry and soy sauce (or tamari) until nut butter is dissolved and set aside.

Drain the funny smelling tofu water from the Shiratake soy noodles in a colander in the sink and rinse well with cold water. Sprinkle with 1/2 t of salt, toss with your hands, and let them rest until you need them.

Put a large skillet over medium high heat for a few seconds, spray well with cooking spray and heat 20 seconds before tossing in the chicken and the ginger. Stir until chicken begins to look opaque, about 2 minutes.

Toss in the bell pepper, cucumber and sprouts and stir for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Add the drained noodles, sauce and red pepper flakes and continue to cook and toss on medium high heat until sauce reduces and has coated all of the noodles and vegetables, about 3 minutes more.

Serve in a bowl and top with fresh green onions and a little cilantro.


If you’d like to use pork or grass fed beef or bison instead of chicken, do it!

If you want a vegetarian dish that has protein, just skip the meat step and add a half cup of frozen and shelled edamame when you add the fresh vegetables.

And, if you have a thyroid issue, and can’t use soy noodles, you can always boil some Buckwheat Soba Noodles which are much better for your body than wheat noodles. But, remember, even healthy noodles made of whole grains have 200 calories a cup. You’ll have to limit them to just one cooked cup per supper and bump up the veggies to keep yourself in a low calorie range.


About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
This entry was posted in Beautify the Bird, Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Quickies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Chloe Dahl says:

    Hey Lisa,
    We really want to make this but can’t find tofu noodles anywhere- Trader Joes, Safeway, Whole Foods, etc. where do you buy yours?

    • Lisa McRee says:

      In L.A., Shiratake Tofu Noodles are available at Whole Foods (in the produce section near packaged tofu), and at Ralph’s Grocery Stores (in the vegetarian cheese/lunchmeat section.) I’ve even found them in Maine at the Hannaford supermarket chain so they’re pretty widely available, you just sometimes need to ask because they’re in a strange location…(like the produce section!)

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