Lunch


At 17 weeks pregnant I’m trying to be more conscious of choosing foods that have more nutritional bang for your buck. Of course, not everything that goes down my gut is 100% good-for-you food (I like Burger King’s breakfast combo: bacon & egg muffin sammies with those golden hash brown coins…yummm!) but I do try and make the extra effort when it comes to home-prepped meals, particularly with breakfast.

Why Shimmy When You Can Shake?
During my second month of pregnancy I started eating tons of fruit high in Vitamin C (pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi) and drinking lots of ice water, which I never really enjoyed (it had to be hot or room temp with lemon. For some reason, my stomach didn’t like plain/cold water.) Seeing how I needed more water and a lot of nutrients for the growing baby, I figured the best way would be to introduce shakes into my diet. They’re easy to prepare, you can make a big batch to last several days, and the flavors are delicious!

Natural (Ingredient) Selection
First off, I know dairy is not my friend. Milk bloats me up and makes me tired, so I use either soy or almond milk or both  (NOTE: almond milk has no protein, so consider adding a protein boost of some kind when making your breakfast shakes.)

Next, I like the versatility tofu. After doing the “How to Tofu” challenge in October, I learned quite a bit about this food, and learning that it contained plant estrogens that may help with hot flashes was what I needed to combat my night sweats. (waking up at 2 a.m. in a 55 degree bedroom drenched in sweat is no fun, because as soon as that cold air hits you–brrr!)

Of course, shakes have to be nice and thick. Lots of you may have enjoyed Overnight Oats where you soak your oatmeal in milk in the fridge overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning. Adding a bit of oatmeal to your shake will do a nice job of thickening it up, especially if you let it sit for a day or two.

Finally, I needed some flavor. Chocolate? You bet! Orange? Of course! Berries? Fiber- and vitamin-rich, how can you go wrong? But don’t stop there, you got peanut butter, banana, peach, coconut, pineapple, vanilla, apple, passion fruit, pumpkin…just think of those delicious frozen yogurt flavors and you’ll come up with something creative and delicious!

The Results?
Thick, creamy, flavorful, and filled with lots of good stuff for you and your baby (if you got one in there!) These shakes are around 300 calories each and I try to make it so you get 10 grams of protein in per serving.

Basic Tofu Shake Mix
Incredibly easy!

1 box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu
2 tablespoons light agave syrup
3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) oatmeal
12-16 oz light vanilla soy milk
4 oz coconut milk (or use more soy milk)

Directions: Add everything to a blender and mix on medium speed until combined. Use one of the flavor variations below or make your own. Refrigerate unused portion for up to 5 days.

Now this shake says, "Good morning!"

Now this shake says “Good morning!”

Orange Bang Protein Shake
Reminiscent of those whipped fruit drinks served at gas stations and Orange Julius’s everywhere!

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix (recipe above)
2-3 tablespoons frozen concentrated orange juice
½ scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vitacost Soy Protein Powder, vanilla flavor)
zest from 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
Crushed ice
additional water to thin

Directions: Mix everything in blender on medium speed until combined, adding additional water to thin, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

Mixed Berry Shake
Fresh and fruity, but watch out for seeds if you’re using raspberries or blackberries!

Ingredients:
¾ cup frozen mixed berries
Half recipe of Tofu shake mix (recipe above)
additional water or vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: Add frozen strawberries or mixed berries to blender FIRST and blend on medium speed until chopped finely, turning off motor and scraping down sides as necessary. Add tofu shake mix and blend until combined, thinning with water or almond or soy milk. Pour into glass and enjoy.

This shake gets its thickness from tofu and oatmeal!

Orange zest is perfect to brighten up the heavier chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake (my favorite!)
I love letting this sit in the fridge for a day or two because it gets extra thick

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
Zest of 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
additional vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: add tofu shake mix to blender and start on low speed. Open chute and add cocoa powder through zest. Add almond or soy milk to thin out and sweeten with additional agave syrup or stevia, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

So what’s your favorite way to shake up your breakfast and snacks?

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This month’s Recipe Redux theme couldn’t come at a better time. With temperatures dropping to the teens and snow still on the ground, a nice, hot batch of savory homemade soup is perfect to ward off the bitter chill. The challenge is to use a ‘new’ food trend in a soup or one-dish meal, so after looking at a few lists online, I decided to include a couple ingredients from the 2013 food trends from Bon Appetit and Fox News.

Spice is Nice
Soup is good food, but soup with some red hot chili peppers will warm you up a lot quicker! Adding gochujang, a Korean red chili paste to soups not only turns up the heat but adds a rich and savory flavor thanks to fermented soybeans. Use this paste sparingly in place of tabasco or Sriracha, and you’ll find the flavors of your dishes have taken on a whole new level.

Vegged Out
Kale is one of my favorite veggies for its neutral taste, high nutrition and low calories. From smoothies to soups, add kale to your dishes for extra helpings of fiber, vitamins and minerals (see the quick-reference nutrient chart at The World’s Healthiest Foods.) Serve water-sauteed kale with your bacon and eggs, add a handful to your favorite protein smoothie, or massage it with some salt and serve it as a raw side dish. Any way you serve it up, you’ll benefit from this nutritious powerhouse.

Soup’s On!
I have to admit, this soup changed directions as I was making it, and it was mostly influenced by my recent cravings for Vietnamese pho (rice noodle soup.) Fresh parsley and lime help balance the savory saltiness from the gochujang and a little bit of fish sauce. (My husband says it reminds him of Tom Yum Goong, a spicy Thai soup.)

This soup will take less than 30 minutes from prep time to meal time. If you can’t find the Japanese radish daikon, you can use thinly-sliced jicama, which is fairly neutral-tasting. If you don’t have Napa cabbage use all kale.

Spicy Rice Noodle Soup_1

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodle Soup with Fish, serves 2
If you like pho or tom yum goong, you’ll enjoy making this quick soup at home.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (I used Saigon cinnamon—potent stuff!)
1″ ginger, peeled and sliced
6 ounces white fish cut into chunks
32 oz. chicken broth
2 servings (4 oz.) dry rice noodles (feel free to use either thin rice vermicelli or thicker pad thai noodles)
1 cup sliced daikon
1 ½ cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped Napa cabbage
1/3 – 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stems and all
2 teaspoons Gochujang (NOTE: use 1 teaspoon if you’re not into spice, more if you are!)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)

Garnish:

Fresh parsley leaves
Fresh tofu, cut into ½” cubes
Lime wedges

Directions:

Over medium heat in a large stock pot, stir sesame oil, 5 spice and ginger, heat for 1 minute. Add  fish, stirring to help cook evenly, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of chicken broth, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add remaining broth and dry rice noodles. Add daikon, kale, Napa cabbage and parsley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in gochujang and fish sauce, heat for 1 more minute.

Divide soup between two large bowls. Top with thinly sliced onion, parsley, tofu and lime wedge. Serve immediately.

Some of these “new” food trends may already be familiar in your kitchen, but it’s also a good way to learn more about foods you may not have tried before, or even heard of.

Speaking of which, check out what other Reduxers have made with their own food trend choices.

Do you have a favorite trendy (or just popular) food at a restaurant? Have you ever tried making it at home? How’d it turn out?



I’ve been busier with work the past couple weeks, which is good, but it also means more time away from my food blog (and I’m pretty bummed I missed the Recipe Redux for this month!) I usually spend about 2-3 hours creating a post, sometimes more, depending on the topic, photos, and the ease or difficulty of writing it.

Here is a recipe that I recently experimented with, and it’s all thanks to an Apple and Fennel salad I came across at Wegman’s. It was tart, vinegary, and sweetened with a sprinkle of golden raisins. I loved the combination of flavors and thought this would be great to serve alongside the richer Thanksgiving dishes (and it did!) But instead of ordering a couple pounds of this delicious stuff, I thought I’d come up with my own version of this tart n’ tangy palate-cleansing dish.

Simple is Best – All you need is six ingredients, super easy!

Tasty and Tart – Comparing several recipes for apple fennel salad showed me variations with the dressing. There were several recipes that used mainly olive oil and lemon, but I wanted something tarty. Apple cider vinegar was the way to go, and using frozen concentrated apple juice was an easy shortcut. Whole grain mustard was added for flavor as well as texture.

Is Thin Really In? – I came across this easy tip from The Purple Foodie in their version of an Apple Fennel Salad: “Cut everything thinly – the finer the cut, the better the chances of all elements of the salad coming together in a single bite, maximising flavour.” Wegman’s Apple Fennel Salad had thicker slices of apple, about 1/32 of an apple, and it still tasted great with the plump raisins and tart dressing, but I opted for thin slices.

Refreshing and tart. If you ever had pickled green mango, this might taste something like it.

Apple Fennel Salad with Raisins

The apples and fennel can be sliced the night before, just keep them in a ziploc bag–along with the raisins–until you’re ready to pour on the vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3-4)
1 pound fennel bulbs (2 bulbs)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup frozen concentratred apple juice
2 tablespoons stone ground Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice apples into quarters, remove seeds. Slice thinly and place in a large mixing bowl. Thinly slice fennel crosswise and add to apples. Stir in raisins, set aside.

In a separate bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, combine apple cider vinegar, frozen apple juice, and stone ground mustard with a wire whisk. Put apple mixture in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, pour in vinaigrette and seal tightly, removing as much air without smashing apple mixture.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning ziploc bag after a half hour or so to ensure vinaigrette gets distributed evenly. (NOTE: as a precaution, lay the ziploc bag flat in a baking dish, just in case it leaks.)

Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with fennel leaves. Guests may season their own serving with salt & pepper. Serves 12-14.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the Soyfoods Council is challenging Recipe Redux to inspire family, friends, and readers to add more soy foods to their diet by creating recipes using one of the most versatile soy foods available–tofu!

If you’ve been following my post for the last week, you’re already familiar with my Creamy Tofu Alfredo and Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding recipes I made in an attempt to add more tofu to my (and my husband’s) diet(s). You also may have checked out other Recipe Reduxers and their tofu-riffic recipes here, but if you haven’t, take a look and you’ll see some soy-licious recipes!

My third experiment: cauliflower pizza crust meets tofu patty

Background: I made a cauliflower pizza crust recipe for dinner and was very happy with the flavor, but not so happy with all the cheese. I came across some recipes that used tofu in place of cheese, which seemed like a very good idea to cut calories and fat. By using some lite tofu I was able to reduce the amount of cheese, but this would give the pizza crust an entirely different texture. Rather than making a limp crust, I decided to make a batch of patties…skinny tofu patties!

The verdict: The success is in the seasoning. Oregano, basil, and a little bit of red pepper flakes made this a very flavorful dish. The tofu and egg create a  chewy, slightly spongy texture, sort of like a thin omelette. I had a few patties left over from dinner and they were great for a light lunch. Matter of fact, I think I prefer them cold.

Skinny tofu patties

Skinny Tofu Patties
They’re great hot or cold, with a salad or by themselves. Perfect for an on-the-go meal.

Ingredients:

1/4 block firm light tofu
1 cup cauliflower florets with stems on, steamed (I used pretty orange cauliflower here)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
2 eggs, beaten

optional toppings:
mushrooms, thinly sliced
chopped tomato
asparagus

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silpat or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, add tofu, oregano, basil, salt, and dried pepper flakes and mash with a fork. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and mushrooms, stir to combine.

grating orange cauliflower (white and purple work equally good!)

Using a box grater, grate steamed cauliflower florets, holding by the stem end. Eat stems! Mix everything together, add eggs and mix well.

Drop heaping tablespoons of mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread until thin and 4″-5″ in diameter. Top with mushrooms, tomatoes or asparagus. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until top starts to brown. Makes about 10 skinny patties.

Disclosure: by posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Be sure to check out the other tofu-riffic recipes at The Recipe Redux: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2012/10/grilled-tofu-blt-sandwich-giveaway/.


Last week I posted a Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding recipe as part of a Recipe Redux Challenge brought on by the National Soyfoods Council in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Soyfoods Council is challenging Recipe Redux to inspire family, friends, and readers to add more soy foods to their diet by creating recipes using one of the most versatile soy foods available–tofu!

Since tofu tasted so good as a dairy substitute in the pudding I made, I decided to experiment with main dish meals that could also benefit from this stand-in without sacrificing taste or texture.

The experiment: alfredo sauce

Alfredo sauce. image source: http://www.buzzle.com

Background: The original alfredo recipe uses cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese cooked and served over noodles, sometimes with additional seasonings like parsley and garlic. My version uses tofu and almond or soy milk for the creamy base, and with the addition of a few seasonings, it tastes luxuriant and flavorful enough to rival the original, fat-filled version.

The verdict: I served the alfredo sauce on Ancient Grains Quinoa Spaghetti and Sea Tangle brand kelp noodles. My husband liked it (though adding some shredded Parmesan cheese on top made it closer to the real thing!) Adding lemon juice helped to sharpen up the flavor of the sauce, adding a much needed acidity to cut through the creaminess.

Creamy tofu alfredo with peas and kelp noodles–sample size!

Creamy Tofu Alfredo, serves 4
This versatile sauce–which comes out to less than 100 calories per serving–can be kept vegan or served with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, cooked chicken, or both! Pairing the sauce with 1 1/2 cups of zucchini noodles adds 45 calories, kelp noodles just 6! Got room for dessert?

Ingredients:

1 box Mori Nu Silken Lite Tofu, firm
1 cup soy milk or almond milk (plus extra if you want sauce less thick)
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
add-ins:
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup broccoli florets
4 mushrooms, sliced
juice from half a lemon

Noodles of your choice (raw zucchini noodles, kelp noodles, cooked pasta noodles, etc.)
fresh spinach

Directions:

In a blender on low speed, combine tofu and milk until smooth, stopping blender and scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add yeast flakes, salt, and red pepper flakes. Blend on low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sautee until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, add garlic to tofu mixture and blend on low for 10-20 seconds or until combined. Pour tofu mixture into sauce pan, bring to simmer over medium heat. Add frozen peas, broccoli florets, and mushroom slices. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer. Turn off heat, stir in lemon juice.

Serve over your choice of noodles and fresh spinach.

Creamy tofu alfredo with quinoa pasta.

Creamy tofu alfredo on kelp noodles.

Disclosure: by posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Be sure to check out the other tofu-riffic recipes at The Recipe Redux: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2012/10/grilled-tofu-blt-sandwich-giveaway/.



I’m a day late and a dollar short with the flavor of the week but here it is…zucchini! Granted it’s not really a flavor and not used to describe anything except actual zucchini, but our late-blooming zucchini plants have been producing and I thought I’d share some recipes this week to help get rid of any extra harvests from your garden.

It all starts here: the male flowers grow on skinny stems (left, yellow flower) while the female flower grows on a shorter mini-zucchini (right of male yellow flower.)

A couple of developing zucchini with their flowers closed.

Zucchini has never been my favorite, especially when served as enormous, unappetizing chunks in stir-frys or pasta primavera (it’s like cutting half a cabbage and asking everyone to dig in!) One way I did enjoy it was when my mother would make panko-crusted sticks of zucchini, deep fry it and serve it up with a mayo-shoyu dipping sauce on the side…delicious! But what am I doing with these zucchini plants if I don’t like to eat zucchini? Well, the initial idea was to mainly eat the flowers tempura-style, but I’ve been on a healthier-kick lately so no deep frying in the kitchen, at least for now. But there’s another way to enjoy zucchini on a healthier level, and that’s by making them into noodles!

Zucchini noodles are a great way to use up any extras you have lying around and, like any vegetable, is an extremely healthy addition to your diet. One large zucchini (about 3/4 pounds) has only 52 calories and is packed with fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, and B6, to name a few. Imagine replacing your regular pasta with nutritious zucchini noodles. Not only do you get more nutrients, but you save over 200 calories per meal!!!

Ready for a step-by-step on making zucchini noodles?

If you don’t have a vegetable spiral slicer, you can achieve similar results with a sharp vegetable peeler and a good knife. First, remove the skin from the zucchini. Use the vegetable peeler to peel of wide slices of zucchini, rotating after every two “peels”:

Rotate and slice until you reach the seeds. Stack two or three zucchini slices and carefully slice them into thinner noodle-like strands.

Use these zucchini noodles in place of regular pasta, just add them to your sauce and cook them gently for about 3 minutes to heat through. Enjoy an almost raw Zucchini Salad with Peanut Satay Sauce, or add a handful to your favorite chicken soup.

What’s your favorite healthy way to enjoy zucchini?

Recipe ReDux

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “Beat the summer heat with no-cook meals!” Two weeks of hot and humid weather made it easy to be creative with cold foods, and using fresh, raw ingredients only made it better. I was already planning on making a watermelon soup for this month’s recipe redux. But it needed more than just the refreshing watermelon. I needed it to hit your taste buds in all the right ways, and I think I found just the way to do it.

This cold soup is incredibly refreshing on a hot day. The tartness of lime, the bit of heat from cayenne, and the fresh greens make this a delicious and nutritious soup or on-the-go drink. To serve it up with a color on each side, I used a piece of foil to make a ‘divider’ and poured the chilled soups on either side, then carefully removed the foil. It won’t be a perfect pattern, but have fun with it!

Refreshing and colorful, this Green Watermelon Soup is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Green Watermelon Soup

Watermelon puree:
3 cups chopped watermelon
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons agave (if your watermelon is super sweet, you may not need any)
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt
1 tablespoon vodka (keeps it from getting too icy)

Add everything to blender and combine on low speed. Transfer to shallow bowl. Chill for 1 hour or until slushy with ice forming around the edges.

Green puree:

2 cups kale, baby spinach, or combination of both, loosely packed (note: you could also use wheat grass if you like, just omit/reduce agave)
1/2 cup slushy watermelon puree
1/4  large apple, finely chopped or grated
1/2 lime, membrane removed & chopped
1 teaspoon agave
pinch salt
3 ice cubes, crushed

Add everything to blender, combine on medium speed to crush ice, about 10 seconds, then combine on low for another 20 seconds or well-combined.

Assembly: transfer watermelon slush to a measuring cup and stir to break up icy chunks so you can pour easily. Tear a small sheet of foil to use as a ‘divider’ to be placed in the middle of your soup bowl. Simultaneously pour red and green mixtures into bowl on either side of foil. Enjoy immediately.



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