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What the Pho

February 18, 2012

A friend took Lee to a Vietnamese restaurant a couple of years ago, called “What the Pho.” Since then, we’ve gone there every few months and always eaten the same thing. I can’t remember the name of the thing we eat though. Lee is somehow able to figure out which item on the vast menu it is once we get there. It’s part soup, part salad, resting on a bed of rice noodles. It’s also massive, but  light. It’s filled with all sorts of vegetables with a thin as water ginger dressing. We top it with a sauce mixture Lee concocts from the bottles of sauces on the table. It is to-die-for delicious.

I’ve tried to duplicate it a couple of times, replacing the rice noodles with thinly sliced cabbage lightly steamed with a bit of soy sauce.

Here is how my latest attempt was made.

I started by slicing some green and some purple cabbage super thin.

This was to trick our minds and bellies into thinking we were eating noodles.

I put about 1/2 cup of water and a generous splash of low sodium soy sauce in a saucepan with the lid on.

I brought the cabbage to a quick boil, gave it a good stir, then turned the burner off. I didn’t touch the lid again, letting the cabbage steam while I prepared everything else.








Next, I sliced an onion, 2 carrots and a large turnip very thin.

I let them slowly saute in a skillet with a little soy sauce.










Then, I cut up some yellow squash (I also discarded the seediest part, to avoid the squash making everything too wet) and cauliflower.

This was pretty, but lacked a bit in color.








So, I added some fresh broccoli one of Lee’s customers had given us from his garden.

I’d never had home-grown broccoli before. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

I added all these vegetables to the sauteing onion, carrot and turnip mixture, for a brief steam.

I wanted them to keep the majority of their fresh, crunchy bite.








Then I made the sauce.

In a small bowl:

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup lite soy sauce

1 tsp peanut butter

2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp curry

1/4 tsp black pepper

lite sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp of this wonderful stuff called General Tso’s Sauce and Glaze, though I think the sauce would have been equally delicious without it.

I heated the mixture in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until it was well blended and hot.


Finally, I sliced a cucumber.

To assemble our mock Pho, I filled our bowls half full of cabbage.

To the cabbage I added a generous spoonful of the sautéed veggies.

Then a nice drizzle of the sauce and topped each with a few slices of cucumber.

It certainly isn’t much like the delicious dish we’ve had at that restaurant, but it is incredibly tasty and still leaves us feeling rather righteous.

Any vegetables would work and though I never make the sauce the same way twice, with the honey and the soy sauce as the base, it’s good every time.





After all that righteousness (and I hate to admit this to you!), and all our efforts these past few weeks, we had a double cheese pizza last night.

It was so good! I moaned with every bite! I didn’t want to brush my teeth because I didn’t want the taste to go away! I could eat another one today. I won’t, but I could. I would love it, too.

I like to think this blog helps someone now and then besides me. Once I started writing about my fat-free food attempts, I hoped someone might find that helpful as well. I hope my admission of caving to the craving inspires, too. If not, I hope you at least find it amusing.  I’d love it if this was easy. However, it seldom is. On the best day, I believe I can do this perfectly from now on. Most days, I just try to avoid the pizza.

Happy eating, whatever you eat today.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna Hayden permalink
    February 19, 2012 11:49 am

    Remember my delightful friend, keep it simple! Just eat your “plants” today. Never mind tomorrow…..cross that menu when you get to it. Dare I remind you that you can ask for help with this? “There is one who has all power”

    37.75 years ago I was dying of a fatal disease. I knew I was dying if I did not stop drinking, and just as you said, one would have thought I would have simply stopped with the knowledge I had. Knowledge and will power are useless against compulsion. I received the strength I needed when I finally ask for it from the correct source.

    Perhaps it would help you if you thought of your cheese and chocolate as an addiction? Then you could tap into the Power for your strength against it. In the meantime….keep blogging and just stick to the plan for today.

    With Love for you and Lee….Mother Hayden

  2. February 19, 2012 1:26 pm

    I am powerless over cheese…sounds a little cheesy…but alas, it is true. If it were not, this would be easy. Thank you Mother.

  3. Wanda permalink
    February 28, 2012 11:21 am

    You inspire me!

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