From the kitchen of Chef Tse: Nutritious family dinners

By now, I’m willing to bet you’re exhausted. Who knew staying home could drain your energy so quickly? Family members living in close quarters, working from home, helping kids with online schooling, and cooking three square meals a day is time-consuming. I often find myself too tired at the end of the day to do anything but sit on the couch.

In addition to being tired, everyone in my family is eating more, especially during dinner. So, I’ve started trying to make healthy family dinners that nourish us, comfort us and keep us connected to each other.

It is possible to have a great meal and still practice moderation. Here are a few tricks and tips I’m using at home.

Real Food

I’m limiting my consumption of processed foods. Yes, they are easy to prepare and less expensive, but they tend to be unhealthy. I don’t like added chemicals, artificial flavors, additives, high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils in my food. Since this is the only body I have, I’m going to feed it the best food possible.

Fresh Ingredients

I try to limit the shopping I do in the interior of the grocery store and instead focus on the perimeter where the fresh ingredients are – dairy, fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. Although it may be more expensive and require preparation, adding fresh foods can add more nourishment and nutritional benefits..


I have a tough time with this one! When something tastes good, I want to eat a large portion, but I’m training myself to slow down and really enjoy each bite. Here are some portion control techniques:

  • Spend part of the meal just focusing on the act of eating. It’s amazing how effective this is with kids and adults alike.
  • Instead of passing large bowls of food at the table, plate each meal in the kitchen and then serve. Overeating can happen with an abundance of food on the table.
  • Try replacing dinner plates with smaller salad plates.
  • Eat in courses. The French are fantastic at this! Instead of filling a plate all at once, start with salad or vegetables, then move on to protein and side dishes. After a little pause, have some yogurt and/or fruit.

I love the following quote from Alton Brown, “There are no bad foods just bad eating habits.” I have a passion for food, but sometimes that passion can get a bit out of control, especially when I’m stressed out. So, try some of these suggestions and see how they work!

Cheers to happy, and healthy, eating!


Warm Steak Salad with Caramelized Shallots and Roasted Red Peppers

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

Serves 4

For the dressing

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


For the salad

2 4-ounce tri tip steaks

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

2 large shallots, peeled and sliced

2 large red bell peppers

8 cups mixed baby lettuce

To make the dressing, add a pinch of salt and pepper to a small bowl. Add Dijon and blue cheese. Mash together with back of a fork. Add vinegar and mix well. Slowly whisk in oil in a thin stream. Set aside.

To make the salad, preheat broiler. Place red peppers in an ovenproof dish. Roast bell peppers, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; let steam, covered, for 10 minutes. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel, then halve lengthwise, discarding stems and seeds. Cut peppers lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide strips.

While the peppers roast, season steaks with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in heavy large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Sear steaks until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, adjusting heat to medium if browning too quickly. Transfer steaks to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest 5 minutes.

Return skillet to stove and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add shallots and sauté until golden brown, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan.

Cut steak into 1/2-inch-thick slices across the grain. Divide lettuce among four plates. Top with steak, peppers, and shallots. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving with 1 tablespoon dressing: Calories: 282; Total fat: 18g; Cholesterol: 43mg; Carbohydrate: 10g; Total dietary fiber: 3g; Protein: 21g


Seared Sesame Tuna Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

This main dish salad makes a perfect weeknight dinner. Just pair with some crusty bread and fresh fruit for dessert. Look for miso paste in an Asian or specialty market or find it online. Maîche is a tender green lettuce. If you can’t find it, substitute baby lettuce instead.

Serves 4

For the dressing

2 teaspoons miso paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon (or more) Tabasco

For the salad

4 leeks, white and light green parts only

1 pound albacore tuna steaks


1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 cups maîche

For the dressing, in a small bowl, dissolve miso paste into soy. Whisk in sesame oil, lemon juice and Tabasco. Set aside.

For the salad, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the outer two leaves from leeks and rinse well. Cook leeks in water until soft, about 10 minutes. Place leeks in cold water bath to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into slices.

Season tuna on all sides with salt. Place sesame seeds in a shallow dish and coat all sides of tuna. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add tuna and sear one minute per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and slice across the grain into thin pieces.

In a large bowl, toss together half of dressing with maîche. Divide maîche among four plates. Spoon leeks on top of greens and fan tuna slices over. Drizzle tuna with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 303; Total fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 51mg; Carbohydrate: 18g; Total dietary fiber: 4g; Protein: 31g


Moroccan Chicken Lettuce Cups

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

This fun salad can be eaten with your hands. Just spoon the ingredients into a lettuce leaf and wrap up like a burrito.

Serves 4

For the dressing

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch salt

Pinch pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch strips

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup tomato, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1 cup mint leaves, packed then chopped

3 heads butter lettuce, divided into individual leaves

For the dressing, mix together lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Whisk in oil in the thin stream. Set aside.

For the salad, season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken and sauté until chicken begins to turn golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cumin and half of mint. Sauté until chicken in cooked through, another 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together garbanzo beans, red pepper, tomato, red onion, remaining mint, chicken and dressing. Toss to coat.

Divide lettuce leaves among 4 plates. Pass salad around table and spoon into individual leaves. Roll up and eat with hands.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 390; Total fat: 20g; Cholesterol: 68mg; Carbohydrate: 21g; Total dietary fiber: 5g; Protein: 33g


About Chef Tse

After 12 years in marketing and sales, Tse shed her corporate responsibilities and headed to France. There she studied both cuisine and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, finishing first in both disciplines. After graduation, she turned her sights on Parisian kitchens, completing a grueling internship at Le Restaurant Guy Savoy, a three Michelin-star restaurant. She then studied pastry at the internationally famous Pierre Hermé making macarons, cakes, and composed desserts.

When she returned to the U.S., Tse was a regular guest KATU Channel 2’s AM Northwest cooking seasonal ingredients with the hosts. Tse also became the Healthy Cooking Ambassador for Regence BlueCross BlueShield teaching cooking classes, filming videos, doing demos and creating recipes. She joined the Providence team in 2016, overseeing the operations at three cafes at Saint Vincent Hospital. Tse has also spent seven years teaching students at all three Portland culinary schools: The Art Institute of Portland's International Culinary Program, Le Cordon Bleu and Oregon Culinary Institute. She is now a Culinary Consultant for Sysco Portland where she helps restaurants with menu design, recipe development and staff training.


About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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