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Asian Vegetables: Try Something New!

As a registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I provide nutrition consultation to people in need. Most of my patients have metabolic diseases (ie. high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity). The majority of people I see need or want to lose weight. Arguably a pathological condition, Obesity seems to be the root cause of many ailments. The prescription that my office recommends is to eat more vegetables.

We all know that eating more vegetables is something we should do, but why? Here’s just a few reasons:

  • By eating more vegetables, you are replacing the volume of food you consume with fewer calories.

  • Vegetables prolong the speed at which food travels through your gut. This leads to increased satiety and a greater sense of fulfillment.

  • Most vegetables contain a slow-releasing carbohydrate that stabilizes your blood sugar.

Yeah sure, we get it……...Eat Your Vegetables! The common complaint that I get from patients is that the thought of broccoli, carrots or peas are just too bland and boring. People literally say that they are bored and they don’t know what to eat and mutter “I don’t like broccoli”, like that’s the only vegetable available on the planet.

On several occasions, a fellow shopper has asked me “What’s that?” or “How do you cook that?”, as I picked up a bok choy, nappa cabbage or exotic-looking melon and put it in my grocery basket. It’s actually inspired me to start promoting these lesser-known vegetables that are available in just about any supermarket in America (yes, this includes El Super).

For instance, napa cabbage is commonly found in most non-asian supermarkets, yet is seldom used in mainstream recipes. We don’t see a “Napa Cabbage Battle” on Iron Chef or hear Bobby Flay talk about the ingredient on one of his shows.

In life, sometimes simplicity provides the most beautiful answer. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, it took me years to come to the realization that stir-frying vegetables is not the default way to cook in many other cultures. Stir frying vegetables is the easiest way to bring amazing flavors out of your vegetables and for my family, it’s our go-to way to cook.

A classic example of this is with Chow Mein. The translation literally means “stir-fried noodle”. Popularized by Panda Express and P.F. Chang’s, I decided to make this dish at home and incorporate as many vegetables as possible. There’s really no limit to the creativity and “twist” you can bring to this classic dish.

If you want to stir fry your vegetables, there’s a few simple rules of thumb that will keep you on point:

  1. Use high heat for the oil, pop in the spices for 1-2 minutes. Try garlic, onion, ginger, shallots, green onions, etc.

  2. Thoroughly rinse your vegetables with as little remaining water as possible, BEFORE you add them into the skillet or pan.

  3. Stir fry those vegetables to YOUR desired texture. Just because your recipe says to stir fry for a set amount of time, does not mean you have to follow it exactly. Cook to your own preferences, instead of by-the-book.

  4. Season to finish with salt, pepper, bullion or chicken essence, chilli powder, garlic salic. Really, anything.

Simple Chow Mein Recipe

*every ingredient and its quantity is flexible, please adjust it to YOUR liking!

Onion - ½ each

Ginger - two slices

Carrots - 1-2 each

Zucchini - 1-2 each

Mushrooms - 5-10 each

Choice of animal protein (optional) - imitate crab meat (2-3 oz)

Napa cabbage - 3-4 big leaves

Noodle (udon) - 2 packages (anywhere from 0-2 works, really)


Soy sauce - 2 tablespoon

Sesame oil - 1 tablespoon

Pepper - 1 teaspoon

Salt (optional) - ½ teaspoon

Chicken essence - 1 teaspoon

Sugar - ½ tablespoon


  1. Clean and slice all vegetables

  2. Separate the tender and crispy vegetables

  3. Prepare sauce, mix everything well

  4. Boil noodle according to package instruction, set aside

  5. Heat oil under high heat, add in all the crispy vegetables

  6. Cook for 3-4 minutes, mix well

  7. Add sauce, precooked noodle, mix quickly for 1-2 minute

  8. Add in tender (leafy) vegetables shortly before serving, mix well. Turn off the heat, use the remaining heat to cook vegetables to desired texture.

Enjoy our recipe demonstration below! Find more recipe videos here.

Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and % body fat analysis with our Smart Eater Dietitians at 626-283-5128 or email

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