Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lightened Up Peanut Sauce

Is there anything better than peanut butter?  Really?  It can be sweet, savoury or spicy, but any way you use it, it is bound to make your meal delectable.

So it's a real shame that peanut butter - like all nut and seed butters - is something that should be eaten in moderation.  Waah!  Yes, it's full of good for you monounsaturated fats, but it is crazy high in calories (90 per tbls), and excess calories can lead to excess weight, which - even if it's due to overconsumption of HEALTHY foods, can put you at risk for Type II diabetes, heart disease, and various cancers.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy peanut butter is simply spread on whole wheat bread with creamed honey on top.  I've loved this treat since I was a kid.  But I also love using peanut butter for savoury dishes.  Asian peanut sauces are a weakness of mine, they are so awesome for pouring over noodles or stir-fries, or using as a dipping sauces for salad rolls or satays.  But those peanut sauced dishes you see on most restaurant menus pack a massive calorie wallop, and unless you are Michael Phelps - the Olympic swimmer who needs 10,000 calories a day to fuel his training - than you have to watch these types of sauces.

THIS one, however, you can go ahead and guzzle if you wish.  It's got all the flavour and creaminess of a regular peanut sauce, but is much lower in fat and calories.  It's super thick as is, perfect to sauce shiratake noodles, or you can thin it out with water to the desired consistency and use as a sauce for rice noodles, a salad dressing, or dipping sauce.

It is also crazy easy to make.  I made it yesterday when I was stuck home with Little A.  She has a cold and bad cough, and I thought she might spike a fever if I sent her to daycare (Murphy's Law!), but the minute I told her she could stay home she was suddenly full of energy and happy as a clam.  Sigh!

This kid is something else, I tell you.  Several times she said to me yesterday, "Mommy, you're making me crazy!"  Say what?  I have not the slightest idea where she got that from!  But she poor thing really was miserable for part of the day because she hadn't pooped in 3 days and she has a sore spot in her mouth (a canker? a cavity?) that we can't see, but is making it difficult for her to eat.  Fortunately, a ginger ale and 2 prunes later, things started moving.  I heard grunting from the living room. So I rushed in excitedly from the kitchen to ask if she was pooping.  "No mommy, I'm hiding, go away, I don't want you to look at me!"  she yelled.  I agreed to give her some privacy and told her to find me when she was ready for a diaper changing.  A few minutes later she climbed the stairs to my bedroom and announced she was ready.  She could barely walk due to her wide load.  Ah relief, suddenly I had a much happier child with an appetite again!  So all this to say, it takes nothing to make this peanut sauce.  That's my segue from diapers to peanut sauce...

Lightened Up Peanut Sauce

1 lb butternut squash, cubed
1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into medium pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbls natural peanut butter
2 tbls low sodium soy sauce
4 tbls rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional: omit if you don't want it spicy)

Spread squash cubes on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes (no oil needed).  Let cool.  Place squash and all other ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.  Add water as needed until desired consistency is reached.  Will keep refrigerated for 4-5 days, or can be frozen.

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