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/.




Happy WIAW! Jenn at Peas and Crayons is over the moon now that her husband, Paul, is back form deployment (hooray!) But she still had time to serve up gorgeous food photos, and even one of her ferret! Check out her blog to see the happy couple, happy food, and a bunch of happy bloggers sharing their midweek treats!

Summer staples from last week included some zucchini that have been producing nicely in my garden, and this week I’d like to include yet another prolific producer–cucumber!

I love the taste and crunch of a fresh cucumber, and if you also like yogurt then yesterday’s Easy Tzatziki recipe is right up your alley. Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie might sound like some kind of body cream, but it’s a real, drinkable smoothie that has the clean, refreshing taste of cucumbers and the smooth sweetness of vanilla. I had one for breakfast, and it was a delicious and light post-workout snack:

Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie

Refreshing, packed with nutrients, and low in fat, carbs, and calories–just around 250 for 30 ounces of deliciousness (this glass is only 12 oz…refills!)

Lunch was another fruit & veggie yogurt bowl:

Cucumber, apple, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder & cinnamon. Celestial Seasonings Imperial White Peach tea.

Dinner was leftovers from the previous night, chicken tikka with biriyani:

Another good source of low-fat protein: chicken, yogurt marinade, brown rice and split yellow peas.

Dessert was an assortment of sweets, including some Dutch cookies sent by my husband’s grandma from the Netherlands (thank you, Omi!) We couldn’t eat everything, but it’s just nice to look at a bunch of assorted cookies:

Clockwise, top, L-R: spekulaas (traditional Dutch cookie, tastes like Xmas,) stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”,) roomboter bitterkoekjespencee (thick cookies filled with buttery, pasty filling,) Riesen chocolates, vanilla oreos, roomboter Fondantsprits (butter shortbreads,) fudge coconut oreos, Amarettini koekjes (tastes like almond cookies,) and gezouten drop (salted licorice.) Served with rooibos thee!

This smoothie recipe can be adjusted to your taste, and is yet another great way to use up all those extra cucumbers and zucchini piling up in your fridge. The mild flavors of the veggies add freshness, plus they provide fiber for bulk. The banana also helps thicken it up and gives it some sweetness. The vanilla protein powder gives it the creamy, vanilla flavor.

Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie
A thick layer of foam forms at the top, just stir gently to incorporate all the yummy goodness!

Ingredients:

12 ounces cold water
4 ounces almond milk (or milk, soy moo, more water)
1 1/3 scoops vanilla protein powder, or your favorite flavor protein powder
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, rinsed and squeezed out
4″ cucumber, sliced thin
4″ zucchini, sliced thin (more cucumber is okay, too)
1/3 ripe banana, sliced
ice cubes (optional)

Directions:

In a blender, add water, milk, protein powder. Blend on low until combined, about 10 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients except ice. Blend on medium to medium-high until veggies are chopped up, 15-30 seconds. Add ice cubes and blend on high for 10 seconds until crushed. Makes about 30 ounces.

Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie-2

The bulk from the veggies makes this shake thick enough for a straw to stand up

Any favorite post-workout smoothies? What’s the greenest smoothie you ever tried? :D

Today’s WIAW will be quick and dirty, as it’s been a busy week and an even busier Wednesday (hence the evening post!)  thank you again to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting this weekly round-up for us to share our recipes, a few laughs, and maybe some interesting stories to close out the summer.

In addition to my summer staples of fresh fruits and veggies, I came across an easy protein bar recipe that could be a great staple to take along on hikes, bike trips, road trips, or even as an on-the-go breakfast while running errands (like I did this morning) or a nighttime snack when you need a little something to satisfy your peanut butter and banana cravings (like I did five minutes ago!) I’ll share this recipe in a moment, but here’s a quick rundown of the day’s eats:

Breakfast: I wasn’t that hungry after this morning’s workout so I had peanut butter jelly toast and coffee (no picture, but it’s the same as last week’s recycled photo!) My stomach was ready for more after a couple hours, but coffee and tea was enough to keep me satisfied until lunchtime.

Lunch: fruit and veggie salad with protein powder-infused yogurt! Fruits: apple, pear, grapes, strawberries, blueberries. Veggies: celery, cucumber, shredded zucchini. This is a good way to add more veggies into your day, just slice them thin/small so you won’t be overwhelmed by a mouthful of zucchini…unless you like zucchini a lot!

Fruit and veggie yogurt bowl and a cup of Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze green tea for lunch.

Snack: half a Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bar! It was so chewy and gooey, and half was just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth (picture and recipe below.)

Dinner: quick and easy chicken, broccoli and quinoa:

No dessert if I have wine…and I did have wine!

Protein bars are great, and I used to have them for lunch along with an apple on the days I had back-to-back classes in college. I haven’t bought one in a while and when I do feel like trying one out, it’s usually the price that convinces me not to buy one.  I got this super easy protein bar recipe from http://fatlossschool.com/how-to-make-your-own-whey-protein-bars/. You can make these bars whatever flavor you want with different protein powders and some of your favorite baking spices. I made this version using some powdered peanut butter to help cut down on the fat and it still has a great taste.

L-R: powdered peanut butter, oat flour, nut butter, protein powder & banana.

Thick and sticky, just like cookie dough.

I use tofu containers to mold them, but any small container will do.

Put the plastic wrapped protein mix in the freezer to firm up before slicing.

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars, also can be made into bite-sized nuggets (left).

Chewy Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars (vegan)  recipe from http://www.fatlossschool.com
Give them a light coating of oats and chopped nuts. These protein snacks can also be baked.

1 cup oat flour
1 cup dairy-free vanilla protein powder (or protein powder of your choice)
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter (like PB2)
1 large ripe banana
1/4 cup nut butter
1/4 cup water (I used water that had soaked dates in it to make it a little more sweet)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, protein powder and powdered peanut butter (if using) with a whisk. With a fork or pastry cutter, mash in banana and peanut butter, adding a little water at a time until cookie dough consistency. Blend well.

Line a small loaf pan or container with plastic wrap, leaving half hanging over the side. Spray the inside with cooking spray. Add mixture to loaf pan, or if using a small plastic container, add half of mixture. Flatten with spatula, cover mixture with plastic wrap and press firmly. Repeat with remaining dough. Freeze for 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 10-12 servings.

Baking option: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bars into thirds, place on silpat, ungreased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 10 minutes, cool before storing in airtight container in fridge for a week or wrap in foil and freeze for up to two months.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the nutritional info (oat and nut coating nutrition info not included):

Total 1/12th serving 1/10th serving
Calories 1360 113.5g 136
Protein 101.5g 8.5g 10.2g
Fat 61.4g 43.4g 5.2g 3.6g 6.2g 4.4g
Carbs 158.6g 13.3g 16g

(NOTE: I made a mistake on the fat! I counted 20 grams instead of 2, yikes!!! Luckily my recalculations brought it down, sorry about the scare, folks!)

Options (extra calories apply!):

– omit PB2 and increase nut butter to 1/2 cup, use less water
– substitute Nutella for half of nut butter
– substitute 1/4 – 1/3 cup apple sauce, pureed sweet potato or canned pumpkin for banana
– add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

What’s your favorite protein bar flavor? Are there any protein bars that are worth shelling our a couple bucks for or do you enjoy making them yourself?

Happy Monday! Busy weekend again with more home improvements.  But before I start showing those pictures, I want to share a recipe featuring our Flavor of the Week: basil!

This is one of those herbs that’s supposed to be really easy to grow, but I’ve always had trouble growing them in pots. Either the soil was filled with bugs, slugs destroyed them, or it was just too hot for their roots. I used to always buy huge bunches for $2 in Chinatown and they had both Thai and sweet basil varieties. The Thai basil has darker, thicker leaves and a more “peppery” taste. I made pesto with both varieties, and couldn’t taste much of a difference.

Here is a quick n’ easy no-cook topping for your pasta that can be kept in the fridge for a few days. If you don’t have enough basil, cut it with some baby spinach (they’re milder than the grown-up kind!) Add some cream and warm up before adding cooked pasta, or serve over chicken. Any way you slice it, it’s delicious!


Add more or less basil, if you like (less here.) The lemony creaminess of the pine nuts can shine on its own.

Lemony Pine Nut Pesto
The lemon combines perfectly with pine nuts, but feel free to use pecans, walnuts or cashews. Inspired by Pine Nut Cream recipe from Going Raw by Judita Wignall.

3/4 cups raw soaked pine nuts or other raw soaked nuts
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, mashed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup baby spinach leaves, torn

Add nuts to a food processor or blender and pulse or blend on medium-low until pasty but coarsely chopped. Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, and oil. Blend for a few seconds until combined. Blend in basil and spinach, turning off machine and scraping down sides when necessary. Enjoy on pasta, as a veggie dip, or sandwich spread.

On to home renovations!

KITCHEN: I primed more of the kitchen, as well as the cat’s litter box:

Primed cabinets on the right and wall on the left. And there’s our new fridge!

The cabinet doors went from red to white on the cats’ litter box, Trixie was the first to try it out.

Put a new pattern on the display cabinet:

The original burlap looked dull against a white wall so I replaced it with some fun polka-dots!

Primed the formerly red plant stand and covered the glass top with the same fabric used in the cabinet.

YARD WORK:

The other morning Trixie and I noticed this beautiful purple hibiscus in the back yard:

Looks healthy, but I think it would like more sun.

I’ve seen tons of these plants in red, white, and yellow at Lowe’s but didn’t think anyone would buy one to plant outside…won’t the freezing temperatures kill it? Apparently not!

Purple hibiscus

There were some other trees crowding it out and blocking the sun so I asked my husband to clear the area around it. Now there’s plenty of sunlight to reach the hibiscus, and looking at the newly cleared space is giving me some outdoor ideas…

The whole area behind the hibiscus is now cleared. It would make a lovely sitting area.

I am not much of a flower-planting person but after seeing this hibiscus, I think I’d want to add more color to this part of the back yard…and maybe add an herb garden!

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.