I’m back for another slimmed down recipe. This week I’m tackling this amazing Kung Pao Spaghetti from Damn Delicious.
The original recipe is so good! The sauce is savory, rich, and spicy. Not to mention it makes four HUGE servings.
Unfortunately, each delicious serving of the original is almost 1,000 calories and, as a person who is trying to lose weight, I just can’t afford 1,000-calorie dinners. At least not without starving myself for the rest of the day, or wanting to exercise a lot. Which I don’t. I really don’t. I know there are people who love to work out. I’m just not one of them. I don’t get those lovely endorphin rushes. I hate it the entire time I’m working out and, when I’m done, I just feel like I want to die. Or, bare minimum, do nothing for the rest of the day.
But this Kung Pao Spaghetti is so, so, so good! It’s so good that I just really wanted to find a way I could work it into my life a little more frequently. So I figured that made it a fantastic candidate for this ‘Can I Halve it’ series. Pun intended? Not really. I want you all to know I did not know there was a verbal pun when I named this series. I just though, I’m trying to cut the calories in half, so call it Can I Halve it. And now every time I say it aloud I feel like I’m saying ‘Can I HAVE it’? Ugh. Verbal puns. Pretend you love them with me, okay? Thanks.
My version is good. It’s very similar. Because I reduced the sugar, the spiciness comes through more. It’s still not burn-your-mouth hot, but it is more prevalent. The sauce was a bit thinner, probably from the zucchini giving off a bit of liquid. The hubs said he thought the sauce felt lighter. I don’t know if I noticed that, per se. I noticed that there was more sauce, which as a sauce and condiment lover, I was happy with that.
I cut the spaghetti in half. I went from 1 pound of spaghetti to 8 ounces, which is an actual serving of pasta per dish. But I didn’t want to murder this dish. I didn’t want to kill the indulgent factor. Yes, just cutting the spaghetti in half would cut the calories in half, but that not my goal. My goal is to cut calories while making it as close to the original recipe, flavor-wise and feel-wise, as possible. So I spiralized two zucchinis to add bulk and veggies. I also reduced the oil that the chicken is cooked in (and used a garlic-infused oil I made, recipe upcoming).
There was less chicken, but it wasn’t noticeable while eating. I used a half pound less, which was 2 ounces less per serving, which might sound like a lot, but since it loses some weight in the cook down, it’s not that significant, and with the reduced noodles it feels the same.
I also reduced the peanuts, which I thought was better. The original had more peanuts than the hubs and I wanted, honestly, so we preferred this. I also sprinkled them on as a garnish so it felt like there were more.
So, calorie comparison. I didn’t win this week there. I did cut the calories by 379 and it still tastes great, so for me it’s still a triumph. I couldn’t halve this recipe without making changes that would significantly alter the recipe. But 572 calories is much more manageable than 951, and I am happy with that.
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*All my calorie calculations are through my Lose It! app. You may get different results based on products used.