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!



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.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats
Happy WIAW, and HAPPY HALLOWE’EN! Wish I could share some of my Hallowe’en decorating and planned festivities, but I have none! It’ll be a pretty quiet evening with pizza, wine, and whatever scary flick’s on the tube. ;)

My featured recipe is a side dish that’s great to accompany roasted meats, a main veggie course, and tastes great hot or cold. But before we get to that, here are some dishes from the past few week, in no particular order:

Sunday brunch was a pretty nice spread. Maura at My Healthy ‘Ohana had a great idea for 100 calorie egg cups, which came out fantastic:

Bacon and onion quiche and turkey egg cup with fresh fruit (egg cup recipe from Maura at My Healthy ‘Ohana.)

Lunch on Tuesday was quick and easy. I was baking gluten-free versions of  pumpkin brownies and chocolate brownies in the morning and sampled enough pieces to make me say, “Enough!” For lunch I craved veggies:

I love celery, and I love peanut butter!

No salad, just some celery sticks followed by salty potato chips and an apple. :)

Dinner last Monday was rosemary chicken with red cabbage and apples:

Mix plate: rosemary chicken, apfel rotkohl and steak fries. Where else can you get this eclectic mix of flavors but at home?

I recently experimented with red cabbage to make a German dish called Apfel Rotkohl (red cabbage and apples.) After looking at a few recipes I saw one from epicurious.com that sounded pretty good. I did make a few changes, like increasing the vinegar and sugar and adding apples and currants, and the end result was pretty good! Feel free to start with less sugar or vinegar, depending on whether you like it sweet, vinegary, or nice and mild.

Braised Red Cabbage and Apples, makes 6 servings
modified from original recipe at epicurious.com

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (do NOT substitute cumin, totally different taste!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple juice (or shred 2 med apples with box grater, squeeze juice & save apple pulp for baking)
2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup amber agave nectar or white sugar
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped into 1″ chunks
1/4 – 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I like a strong vinegar taste, so start with 1/4 cup if you prefer it mild)
1/3 cup currants or raisins

Directions;
In a heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for 1 minute. Add allspice, caraway seeds, salt, apple juice, and cabbage. Stir well. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 10 minutes add apples, raisins, and agave or sugar. Stir then cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until apples are tender.

Uncover pot, stir in half of apple cider vinegar. Cook until liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. If you want a definite vinegar taste, add remaining apple cider vinegar, stir. Serves 6.

Are you having a quiet Hallowe’en? What was your favorite Hallowe’en costume? This can be your own costume, or your dog’s, your children’s, something you saw on the street…here’s what I was last year:

For Hallowe’en last year I was super buff!

Have a great Hallowe’en, everybody!

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/.