Since joining the Pritikin team in 2022, I have been much more conscious of the food I’m eating and how I’m preparing it. In the spirit of our motto, progress not perfection, I’ve made an effort to Pritikin-ize staple dishes we enjoy by adapting cooking methods and getting creative with substitutions. I may not be Pritikin-perfect but I’m certainly making progress as I re-create favorites typically high in sodium and fat into more Pritikin-friendly versions!

While I enjoy trying new foods and flavors, when I cook, I tend to stick to familiar recipes. Inspired by a recent craving for Vietnamese Pho noodle soup, I thought I’d challenge myself to make a more Pritikin-friendly version of the comforting dish. My goal was to make a rendition of Pho that was still as satisfying as the original dish without added sodium and fat. It was a tall order but in the spirit of our recent Pritikin Kitchen series, I thought I’d give it a try. My hope is that this might encourage you to get creative in the kitchen as you re-work some of your favorite dishes with heart-healthy methods and ingredients.  With a bit of creativity, adjustments, and trial and error, we can still enjoy some of our favorite foods!

Pritikin Pho: Ingredients and Instructions


If you’ve ever had a bowl of Pho, you know that it’s all about the broth! My challenge in reinventing the dish was to make a vegetable-based broth as close as possible to the traditional beef or chicken-based centerpiece of the soup. I achieved that by mixing the following ingredients into 8 cups of boiling water:

Vegetable Base

  • 2 ribs of celery – cut into thirds
  • 2 Carrots – cut into thirds
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 1 Onion – cut into fourths
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tablespoon of cardamom pods
  • 4 stars of anise
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cloves
  • Fresh Thyme

After adding the vegetables, I let the broth simmer for 45 minutes. Once the aromatic broth was ready, I strained it from the vegetables, added a tablespoon of Stevia, and set it aside.

Pot of broth simmering on the stove with ingredients listed above floating around.


Instead of using animal protein in my soup, the natural substitution was firm tofu. To prepare the tofu for the soup, I cubed 9 oz of firm tofu. While my broth was simmering, I lightly misted a pan with canola oil and over medium heat, browned the tofu cubes until golden.


I used zucchini noodles in place of rice noodles in my version. You can either spiralize the zucchini yourself or find them pre-spiralized in the freezer section of the grocery store. You’ll want to boil them separately from the broth in water.


An assortment of garnishes completes the dish. Don’t skimp on them! Here is a list of traditional garnishes you can use to add to both elevate the presentation of the dish as well as heighten the overall flavor.

  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Green onion
  • Fresh mint
  • Thai Basil
  • Red Chilis
  • White onion
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Low sodium Sriracha sauce to taste
Garnishes on a blue plate. Garnishes appear to be basil, cilantro, sliced red chili and sliced jalapeno, basil, white onion and green onion.

Assembly and Final Thoughts

To make yourself a bowl, I’d suggest assembling in the following order: add some zoodles to a bowl, ladle broth overtop, a handful of tofu cubes, and then top with the garnishes of your choosing.

Overall, I am very happy with how this recipe turned out. The broth had a great flavor and had an even better aroma. The zucchini noodles were extremely light and provided a nice crisp texture. If you appreciate heat, load up on the red chilis and jalapeno!

I hope you give it a try!


Serves 8 – 1 cup servings

8 cups water
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon cardamom seed
2 teaspoons granulated Stevia®
9 oz block firm tofu, cubed
1 lime, rind, and juice (2 tablespoons juice)
4 garlic cloves cut or mashed
2 cinnamon sticks
Fresh basil
Fresh mint
Fresh cilantro
8 oz zucchini noodles
Pinch of black pepper, as desired
Bean sprouts


1. Wash vegetables (2 unpeeled carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 white onion, garlic) and place at the bottom of a large stock pot and cover with 8 cups of water.

2. Lower heat to medium, and add cardamom seeds, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, Stevia, and star anise into the broth and let simmer for about 45 minutes.

3. While broth is simmering, lightly mist a small frying pan with canola oil and grill cubed tofu until golden brown.

4. Once broth is done simmering, strain vegetables, and spices out with a fine mesh strainer and set broth into 8 serving bowls.

5. Prepare zucchini noodles and cubed tofu separately and introduce them into the final broth bowls.

6. Garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro leaves, fresh mint, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and white onions. Add jalapenos and red chilis to taste.

Sodium-free sriracha can be added for more heat

Zucchini noodles can be substituted with whole-wheat rice noodles

Nutrition Facts Traditional Beef
Pho Recipe
Pritikin Friendly
Pho Recipe
Calories/Svg. 705 61
Total Fat (grams) 24 1
Saturated Fat (grams) 7.1 0
Cholesterol (mg) 108 0
Sodium (mg) 3222 41
Potassium (mg) 1190.4 319
Carbohydrates (grams) 78 10
Dietary Fiber (grams) 5.4 3
Protein (grams) 43 4
Added Sugars (grams) 14 0