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?

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is all about those necessary tools that keep us happy and efficient in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s fun to be MacGyver-ish and make do with whatever tools you may have in the kitchen (chef’s knife, cheese grater, rolling pin) but having a gadget that eases the hassle of grinding, chopping, blending and slicing can feel as if you have a new assistant to help you prep (but not help you clean up!)

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? This one might be a good one to chip in with your siblings or another friend or two and give it to that favorite home chef in your life.

This is my favorite tool in the kitchen, mostly because it was given as a wedding gift (gifted items are always the most treasured!) I was more than elated when I saw this wonderful Kitchen Aid food processor because 1) I would have NEVER purchased one for myself,  2) it was a beautiful, candy-apple red, 3) this thing is powerful, and 4) I knew I wouldn’t have to make my graham cracker crumbs with a rolling pin and Ziploc bag, anymore! Making basil pesto was faster, easier, and the consistency was much better than using a blender. I also love using it for chopping toasted nuts, which is great if you use a lot of it in your baking and cooking because you can conveniently scoop out whatever you need and keep the rest in an airtight jar.

Here is a recipe that’s quick to make with a food processor. The original recipe can be found at WholeFoodsMarket.com, but I made a few changes to lighten it up a bit and make it dairy-free.

Pasta_WalnutCream1

Add anything you want: mushroom, peas, even some grated Parmesan cheese!

Creamy Savory Walnut Sauce, Dairy-Free
don’t let the tofu scare you off, the nutritional yeast and garlic makes it incredibly flavorful, you won’t miss the dairy! You can also use this as a savory dip for veggies or a spread for crackers–just add more tofu to thicken it up.

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (can substitute grated Parmesan cheese)
1/2 cup firm Silken Lite Tofu
1/4 cup soy or almond milk

KitchenAidMixer

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse toasted walnuts until chopped, about 5-7 times. Add salt through nutritional yeast flakes Pulse 2-3 times until combined. Add Silken Lite tofu, put cover back on. Run the processor and pour soy milk through the chute, blend for 5 seconds or until combined. If too thin, add more tofu. If too thick, add more soy or almond milk.

Walnut Cream Sauce_1

Creamy, savory walnut sauce–no cream, no cheese!

Heat and serve over pasta with your favorite toppings (mushrooms, chicken, bacon, etc.) Serves 4.

What is your favorite kitchen tool(s)? Where did you get it? What makes it your favorite out of all the other gadgets in your kitchen?

Don’t forget to check out the other favorite Kitchen Gadgets of other Recipe Redux members!



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/.



To celebrate October as 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!

It’s easy to find tofu at almost any grocery store these days, and not all brands will taste the same. But one thing that’s good about tofu is that it can easily take on the flavor of sauces and spices, making it a versatile ingredient for almost any dish you wish to make.

Today I’m going to share a pudding recipe that uses not one, but three healthy ingredients: tofu, pumpkin, and coconut. Here’s a little background information so you know this dessert not only tastes good, but is good for you, too!

A Little Tofu Goes a Long Way. A 4-ounce serving is a good source of calcium (40% of your daily needs), protein (9 grams along with that calcium), and iron (nearly 34% of your daily requirements taken care of). As a cancer-preventing food, tofu contains selenium, an important mineral necessary in helping to create your body’s own cancer-fighting antioxidants.

It’s the Great Pumpkin! Sure pumpkin pie is great, but did you know you can eat pumpkin raw, too? Reap the most of the nutritional benefits by using a vegetable peeler and slicing it thin. Enjoy it in a crunchy salad with a spicy Thai peanut sauce or use in place of cooked noodles with your favorite pasta sauce. It’s a great source of Vitamin A and other powerful anti-oxidants. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and even if you use the canned stuff or roast a whole gourd, cooked pumpkin will still be a good source of nutrition.

I’m Coo Coo for Coconut! Coconut is often thought to be a cholesterol-laden food that’s bad for your health. Although high in fat (about 50 calories per tablespoon), coconut cream and coconut oil contains saturated fats with a different composition from that of animal fats, which are difficult for your body to metabolize. The medium-chain fatty acids of coconut are metabolized much more easily and can also help your immune system by staving of viruses, plus its anti-carcinogenic properties help fight cancer. Be sure you use a VIRGIN coconut product, as these contain the healthy fats. Unhealthy coconut oil has been chemically treated and loaded with artificial hydrogenated oils.

Why tofu in pudding? Puddings are usually made with milk, sugar, eggs, and cooked until it’s nice and thick. Using tofu instead of milk is great for people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy (like me!) or would prefer to cook vegan-style. This recipe is not only dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free, but there is absolutely NO cooking involved! The boxed silken tofu blends easily, especially with the canned pumpkin. But instead of just making a holiday pumpkin pie-flavored pudding, I wanted something else to compliment the warm spices. Blending in coconut cream brought out a fresh, creamy flavor. Making a separate chocolate pudding made it more indulgent, and went perfectly with the warm pumpkin pie spices. Topping it with toasted coconut deepened the flavor and gave a nice crunch to the smooth, creamy texture.

The verdict: I gave my husband a big cup of chocolate and pumpkin-coconut pudding, waiting to see how he liked it. After a few spoonfuls and a “mm, good!” I asked him what he thought of it. He said it reminded him of a Christmas dessert (he’s originally from Germany, where they have lots of delicious spiced cookies around the holidays.) I told him it must be the pumpkin pie spice, and ginger, and Chinese five spice. I told him it was made of pumpkin and tofu, and he said “mm…s’good,” and ate the rest. Good enough for me!

Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding

Chocolate and Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding

This dessert takes less than ten minutes to prepare. Though it tastes good as soon as you’re done, give it a couple of hours in the fridge before you dish out this heart-healthy dessert to your guests.

Serves 6, appx. 3/4 cup serving each

Ingredients:

1 12.3 oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu, Firm
1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling (no sugar added)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light agave syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice (optional)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut cream (Put a can of coconut milk in refrigerator for 1-2 days. Open, scoop out coconut cream from top of can. Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk is an EXCELLENT tasting brand!)
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Toppings:

1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 ripe banana (optional)
gluten-free semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

In a blender, combine tofu and pumpkin pie filling on medium speed until well-blended, stopping and scraping down sides with spatula as needed. Add 1/3 cup agave syrup (reserve the 1 tablespoon for later),  spices, and coconut flour. Blend until well combined. If too thick, pour into a mixing bowl and stir vigorously with a wire whisk for a minute or two until thoroughly combined.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING: Scoop half of mixture into a small mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir in cocoa powder and agave syrup, mixing well.
PUMPKIN COCONUT PUDDING: To the other half of mixture, add 1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut cream and beat with a whisk until incorporated. Add more if you want a stronger coconut flavor. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.

PREPARE TOPPINGS: Before serving, toast unsweetened flaked coconut in a skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring every so often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool. Thinly slice bananas, and have about 1/4 cup chocolate chips handy for decorating. Remove puddings from refrigerator.

Set out six serving dishes. Starting with chocolate or pumpkin-coconut pudding, layer pudding alternately with toppings, finishing with a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Have it your way: chocolate chips, bananas, toasted coconut–or all three!

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/.