Pad Thai with a Healthy Twist

Up for an international adventure that’s healthy and scrumptious? I thought so.

If you think Pad Thai is…

  1. Too difficult to make at home
  2. Too greasy and goopy to be healthy

…then it’s time to freshen your perspective. Pad Thai at home can be hugely rewarding both in flavor and nutrition. The recipe below is adapted from a Wolfgang Puck recipe and made even healthier with my secret ingredient: broccoli slaw. Adding this superfood to your noodles bumps up the health factor and you probably won’t even notice that it’s in there!

While most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at your local grocery store, you may or may not find the tamarind paste without going to an international market. You can either substitute it with lime and brown sugar, OR…you can go on an adventure! I recently took three kiddos ages 7-13 to Fresh Fresh International market and they were positively giddy to explore the aisles full of ingredients from around the world. Granted, we couldn’t read most of the labels, but that didn’t matter. I highly recommend exploring the world in a market. Also, added bonus—if you buy the rest of the ingredients there, they will all likely be way cheaper. For example, cilantro at our local market is usually 3 bunches for $1!

Tamarind paste is a great reason to go on an adventure!

Once you get home, the recipe itself involves many simple techniques that kids can practice, including chopping and dicing, scrambling eggs, deep frying, and sautéing. You will also get to experience the, uh, remarkable aroma of fish sauce. Perhaps a family member could take a picture of your face upon first whiff. 😊



3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons tamarind paste (can substitute 3 more tablespoons lime juice and ¼ brown sugar)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup palm sugar or coconut sugar (can substitute 1/3 cup brown sugar)

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced cilantro leaves

Pad Thai:

8 ounces rice noodles, linguini size

Oil, for deep-frying

1 package firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 tablespoon butter

3 eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon milk plus salt, to taste

1 small diced shallot

2 teaspoon minced ginger

1 package broccoli slaw

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

Optional Toppings

2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

1/2 cup bean sprouts

Julienne green onions

2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

Lime wedges

Consider adding more protein with pan-seared chicken breast slices or shrimp.


  1. To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the lime juice, tamarind, sugar, paprika, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients until well blended. Reserve.
  2. Boil some water and add the noodles. Remove from heat and soak the rice noodles in until softened. Keep an eye on these because they go from crunchy to mushy all of a sudden. Once softened, strain, and rinse with cold water to keep noodles from sticking together. (This step can be done ahead of time using cold water.) Strain and reserve until needed.
  3. Heat 1 inch oil in a medium saucepan or wok. Deep-fry the diced tofu until crisp and golden. Drain in a paper towel and set aside to cool. Reserve.
  4. In a skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon butter. Cook the scrambled egg and milk mixture until barely firm. Season with salt. Place on a plate and allow to cool. Chop coarsely and set aside until needed.
  5. In a wok or large skillet, over high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of oil. Stir-fry the shallots, ginger, and broccoli slaw. Add the softened noodles, fried tofu, scrambled eggs, and the sauce. Remove from heat and stir until noodles are well coated with the sauce.
  6. Top with your choice of garnishes. Serve a wedge of lime on the side.
  7. Devour.
%d bloggers like this: