One of the hardest adjustments for our family after my daughter had her first severe reaction to peanuts was not being able to eat at the Thai restaurants we loved. The risk for cross-contamination is far too high to eat Thai food out, so I began making it at home. Since we have family in Thailand I felt it important that my children experience the vibrant flavors of Thai cooking. I feel that children with food allergies tend to be “stuck in a box” when it come to trying new cuisines, since many foods can potentially be fatal. I strive to bring my children out of that box in a safe environment, and they are beginning to develop sophisticated palates and an appreciation for the foods of all cultures. I love to use food to teach children about the world around them!
Here’s one of my kids’ favorite recipes-—it’s my take on Thai Peanut Chicken, without the peanuts, of course, to make it safe for my children. It’s something I make all the time in the summer because it’s so easy to prepare, and the “no-cook” sauce comes together in a minute in the blender! The entire dish can be made well in advance and thrown together right before dinner. And it gets better the longer it sits. Any grilled chicken will do (or rotisserie, for that matter), but I love to use my Vietnamese Marinated Chicken.
Thai Sunflower Noodles with Chicken
1 lb Asian wheat noodles (or spaghetti)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 clove of garlic
a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 cup organic, unsweetened sunflower butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/3 cup hot pasta cooking water
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded in cut into crescents
4 scallions, sliced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
3 Vietnamese marinated chicken breasts (or well seasoned, plain chicken breasts), cooked and chilled
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining. Drain and rinse the pasta under cool water. Place in the serving bowl and toss with the sesame oil. Set aside.
While the noodles cook, prepare the sauce. Start with a clean, empty blender. Turn the blender on and carefully drop the garlic and ginger onto the blades. Process until finely chopped. Add the sunflower butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Process until will blended. Pour in the hot pasta cooking water and process until smooth.
Pour the sauce over the noodles. Slice the chicken and add to the noodles. Add the cucumbers and scallions and toss until everything is well coated with the sauce. Top with the chopped cilantro. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Rebecca Hirt is the mother of two children with severe allergies, who strives to show other parents how they can live a beautiful life with food allergies, with recipes and tips on her site Pure and Peanut Free.