Sweet, Spicy, Savory

Start the New Year Off Right With Delicious (and Healthy) Korean Flavors

Article by Nancy Sheridan

Photography by Nancy Sheridan

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

Give your New Year’s healthy eating goals some Asian flair with a palette of fresh, zesty Korean flavors. Here you’ll find a refreshing cucumber salad, a spicy cold noodle side, an elevated take on Korean bibimbap, and a bowlful of colorful, tropical fruits for a sweet and simple dessert. But remember, the secret ingredient is always the delicious sauces. My versions of these Korean sauces are soy- and gluten-free and sweetened with honey. You can easily substitute to make the rice and noodle dishes grain-free too. Dig into a tasty and healthy New Year!


(serves 2)

8 oz smoked salmon, sliced
English cucumber, carrot, and red onion, julienned 
Mung bean sprouts
Kale or spicy sprouts
¼ head red cabbage, julienned
1 bunch kale leaves or 1 bag chopped kale
Salt and pepper (red or black)
4 tbsp apple cider or rice vinegar
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked rice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp honey
Green onions, minced (optional)
Enoki mushrooms, trimmed (optional)

Korean-style “soy” sauce
6 tbsp coconut aminos
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp honey
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches black pepper

Spicy gochujang sauce
2 heaping tbsp gochujang 
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp apple cider or rice vinegar
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
Sesame seeds (optional)

Marinated kale: 
Blanch the kale leaves in boiling water until they're bright green and tender. Pour out the hot water and immediately dip the greens into ice water. Then, gently and thoroughly squeeze the water out. If it isn’t already, cut the squeezed kale into bite-sized pieces. Mix this well with ½ tsp sea salt, 1 tsp garlic, a sprinkle of pepper, and toasted sesame oil. 
Add salt to taste.

Pickled red cabbage:
Combine red cabbage with ½ tsp sea salt, vinegar, and honey in a sealable bowl or jar. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To serve, mound 1 cup cooked rice in the center of a large bowl. Place 4 oz smoked salmon slices on top. Arrange the marinated cabbage, kale, and raw veggies around the rice. Garnish with enoki mushrooms or green onions. Add coconut amino or spicy gochujang sauce as desired. To change it up, you can also substitute Korean BBQ beef for the salmon and top the whole thing with a delicious fried egg. 

(serves 2)
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
Sea salt
4 tbsp apple cider or rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
Red pepper and/or red onions, thinly sliced (optional)

Cover sliced cucumber with ⅓ tsp of sea salt. Mix it together well to make sure the cucumber is well-seasoned. After you let it sit for a few minutes, marinate the cucumber with the vinegar, honey, a sprinkle of red pepper, and salt to taste. To serve, lay the cucumber slices out elegantly on a plate and garnish with thinly sliced red pepper or red onions.

(serves 2)
2 bundles somen or soba noodles
Green onions, chopped
Red peppers, sliced

Boil the noodles in water for 6-7 minutes. Rinse them in cold water, and strain. To serve, mound the noodles in the center of a large bowl. Garnish with some of the green onions and sliced peppers, and drizzle the coconut amino sauce or gochujang sauce on top.


Dragonfruit, cubed
Mango, cubed
Pineapple, cubed
Green grapes, halved
Mandarin orange, sections
Pomegranate seeds
Starfruit, sliced

Toss all ingredients into a bowl and serve!

Adding some Asian zing to your meals this year is a great way to ensure balanced meals and — as you can see — it can be a lot easier than you might think. And they’re also highly versatile. You can mix and match proteins, add in your favorite veggies, and even come up with a sauce of your own. And if there are any food sensitivities or allergies you have to consider, it’s easy to swap in cauliflower rice or go with “zoodles” (spiralized zucchini) or sweet potato glass noodles to cut the grain from your meal. So get creative and resolve to have fun and feel great about your food this year! 

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