Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mongolian Tofu

I had a hankering for some delicious asian infused food tonight. I had purchased tofu from the grocery store a couple days ago thinking I'd be ambitious and try to make it at home once again. This time, I'm proud to say, it was a huge success. My husband even tried it, with very little bribing and he actually liked it.

I heard from my mother, (who heard from her yoga group) that the secret to making delicious tofu at home, is to first dry it out in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 so it is very dry. Previously, I had always been drying it out with paper towels and that was never very successful for me because I'm too impatient and try to get started before it's completely dry. After that, you can pan fry it, boil it, simmer it in your favorite sauce, or whatever else your heart desires. So, the recipe starts after I had already baked my tofu and let it cool down.

Here's the recipe:

1 package extra firm tofu (cut into small squares and dried in the oven)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I always use more than required)
2-3 cloves of chopped garlic (again, I always use more)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium tastes better I think)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, I always use more)
1 cup broccoli or favorite vegetables
Sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup cooked rice or quinoa

Prepare the tofu:
Make sure tofu is cooled and very dry. Coat it in the corn starch in bowl. Set aside.

Heat half of your oil in a large pan, saute your ginger and garlic over medium heat. Then add your water, soy sauce, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Let it simmer on low for a few minutes, pour into a bowl and set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil, add your coated pieces of corn starch and cook over medium to medium high. Flip once golden brown, so it's nice and toasty. Once both sides are nice and golden, add the sauce from the bowl. It will thicken up a bit with the cornstarch from the tofu. Then add your vegetables and serve over rice.

This is really quite delicious, even for your carnivorous friends!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green Smoothie

Well, it's true confessions of a transplant Texan time... I moved to Texas and had been enjoying meat on occasion. This is after all, one of the BBQ epicenters of the US! I have not been feeling as good as normal. Plus, there's the whole guilt thing that comes along with eating meat for me that has not only been weighing on my conscious, but also on my actual weight on the scale!

Since summer is around the corner and I now have refreshed my memory for why I went vegetarian in the first place, meat is no longer on my palate. In fact, for the next 7 days I'll be eating no animal products at all as a way to cleanse my system.

Yesterday, was day one. Day one included the pictured incredibly delicious and healthy Green Smoothie recipe. It's a great way to energize your morning. I made them the night before in a double batch, froze one and put the other one in the fridge with one ice cube.

Here's what I used, and loved. Obviously, adapt to what you have as long as you keep it green and delicious!

1/2 cup Light Coconut Milk (I bought it canned in the Asian section of grocery store)
1 Banana (not quite ripe)
1/2 cup Kale, fresh, trimmed and without the stem
1/2 cup Spinach
1 Granny Smith Apple, chopped
1 Kiwi, peeled and chopped

Put in a blender or juicer, pour into glass mason jars, and enjoy! It's truly so refreshing and delicious. Don't be put off by the green color, the coconut milk and banana keep it refreshingly sweet!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta

Truly, as I get ready to type up this recipe, I am salivating. I have never been one to try new recipes. Thanks to my mom, who cooked only on special occasions (and quite well I might add, it's too bad she didn't give it a go more often), I had a limited range of foods on my acceptable list. My poor friends, who have much more developed palates than I, would have to suffer going out to dinner with me, watching me order the most common items on the menu. Not only that, but this was pre-Vixen days. I would order items with meat, and unknowingly push all of the meat in the dish off to the side. They give me crap about this every time we go out...it's true. But kudos to my friend Danielle who is always pushing the envelope when it comes to trying and cooking new foods. She is a talented cook and this recipe is one she made for a girl's night outing...I have made it many times since, mixing it up here and there. I am not one for following recipes, (or rules for that matter but that will have to wait for another post) so I often like to mix up ingredients to see how they taste. If you like this recipe, try it with olive tapenade instead of the olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Amazingly salty and sweet at the same time. This salad is delectable when served alone or with a hard roll...enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4 inch diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1 inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 inch diced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and 1 inch diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb orzo pasta
For the dressing
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
To assemble
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3/4 lb good feta or mozzarella cheese, 1/2 inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
  5. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.
  6. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil.
Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How do you get your protein? blah blah blah

One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;" and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle. ~Henry David Thoreau

How many times is it asked of vegetarians, How do you get your protein? Ughhh, blah, blah, blah...The brainwashing that goes on with our food by big business is amazing. Really, you don't think in a day, you can get enough protein in your meals to sustain your body functions? Look at the table below. Listed are just a few of the ways in which a non-meat eater can provide their body with enough protein to build muscles and sustain life. The average woman ages 11-50 needs approximately 45g of protein a day. There are many different types of proteins that work in the body for different functions.

Sources of protein (single servings)
Chick peas ( 7oz) 16.0g
Brown rice ( 7oz) 4.4g
1 Carrot 0.4g
Baked beans ( 8oz) 11.5g
Broccoli ( 3½oz) 3.1g
1 Apple 0.3g
Tofu ( 5oz) 10.3g
Potatoes ( 7oz) 2.8g
Cow's milk (½ pint) 9.2g
Lentils ( 4¼oz) 9.1g
Soya milk (½ pint) 8.2g
Muesli ( 2¼oz) 7.7g
Egg, boiled 7.5g
Peanuts ( 1oz) 7.3g
Bread, (2 slices) 7.0g
Hard cheese ( 1oz) 6.8g

Being vegetarian does not mean your diet will be lacking in protein. Most plant foods contain protein and in fact it would be very difficult to design a vegetarian diet that is short on protein. Excess dietary protein may lead to health problems. It is now thought that one of the benefits of a vegetarian diet is that it contains adequate but not excessive protein.

Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids, eight of which must be present in the diet. These are the essential amino acids. Unlike animal proteins, plant proteins may not contain all the essential amino acids in the necessary proportions. However, a varied vegetarian diet means a mixture of proteins are consumed, the amino acids in one protein compensating for the deficiencies of another.

Contrary to popular belief, athletes and those who engage in a lot of exercise do not necessarily need extra protein as the extra energy required for strenuous activity is best supplied by carbohydrates. The extra protein needs of a body builder can usually be supplied by an increased energy intake from more food.

Whilst vegetarian diets usually meet or exceed protein requirements, they are typically lower in total intake of protein than non-vegetarian diets. This lower protein intake may well be beneficial as high protein intake has been associated with osteoporosis and aggravating poor or failing kidney functioning. So the next time someone asks you, "If you're a vegetarian, how do you get your protein?"ask them, "Really?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Revealing Read...Eat to Live

As a person who has struggled back and forth with weight (yes, currently struggling) I was intrigued to learn more about Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book Eat to Live. The following book review is information I found when researching his book. I have always HATED the word diet, and in fact shun anything having to do with dieting. I believe you have to change habits, and figure out the root of the bad ones, before finding long term success. Now, maybe my thinking is off, and justifies my bad habits, but I think I may be onto something. Having since read the book, I can say that I am inspired not only to change some bad eating habits (dairy in particular), but to get rid of some of the poundage that is hanging on around my middle, sides and back...eekkkk...I'll keep y'all updated on the progress! But in the meantime, if you're like me and want to drop some lb's, and want to continue with a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, read on!

Give Dr. Joel Fuhrman six weeks, and he'll show you how to achieve dramatic weight loss. He may even save your life. In those six weeks you will focus on a nutrient dense, low-calorie diet that will not include any dairy products, animal products, between meal-snacks, fruit juices, or dried fruit.

So, what's left to eat? Plenty, especially if you're a vegan. Essentially the program is a low-calorie vegan diet with an emphasis on vegetables. In fact, the goal is to eat one pound of raw and one pound of cooked vegetables every day. Under Fuhrman's program you can eat an unlimited amount of raw vegetables (including carrots), cooked green vegetables, beans, legumes, sprouts, fresh fruit, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Limits are placed on the consumption of cooked starchy vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, tofu, and ground flaxseed. Cooked starchy vegetables or whole grains are restricted to one cup each day. In this category he includes butternut or acorn squash, corn, potatoes, rice, cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, breads, and cereals.

Most of the fat in this six-week plan comes from raw nuts and seeds, avocado, and ground flaxseed. Fuhrman's prescribed daily maximum amounts are 1 oz. nuts and seeds, 2 oz avocado, and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed.

Under this program a patient can lose weight and not be hungry all the time. Eating this nutrient dense diet means you will be satisfied with fewer calories and will be able to shed weight effortlessly. Dr. Fuhrman has had over 10,000 patients who have been successful in losing pounds and improving their overall health. He even presents an entire page listing the names of his patients and how many pounds they have shed.

The essence of the book is summed up in his statement, "Eating large quantities of high nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. In fact, eating much larger portions of food is one of the beauties of the Eat to Live diet. You eat more, which effectively blunts your appetite, and you lose weight, permanently."

With the weight loss comes health benefits. Fuhrman says that 90% of his diabetic patients are able get off insulin in the first month. Other patients are able to discard medications for allergies, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other ailments.
The first four chapters present research-supported information on nutrition showing how Americans are digging their graves with knives and forks. One illustration to support his view is the USDA Food Guide Pyramid that Fuhrman labels, "A Food Pyramid that Will Turn You into a Mummy." He objects to the pyramid because it includes 4 to 6 servings of animal foods that cause heart disease and cancer. (I have always been dissatisfied with the food pyramid and thought it creates more health issues for people who are sticklers to that pyramid...)

Another reason for rejecting the pyramid is its emphasis on consuming large quantities of low nutrient density foods like refined cereals, white bread, and pasta. "In spite of all the scientific data available, the USDA's recommendations are a disgrace," he writes.
Because the Atkins program is high in saturated fat and low in fiber and fruit consumption, the diet results in a higher cancer risk for anyone following it.

Furhrman provides "Ten Easy Tips for Living with the Six-Week Plan"
*Remember, the salad is the main dish; eat it first at lunch and dinner.
*Eat as much fruit as you want, but at least four fresh fruits daily.
*Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens.
*Beware of the starchy vegetable.
*Eat beans or legumes every day.
*Eliminate animal and dairy products.
*Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day.
*Consume nuts and seeds in limited amounts, not more than one ounce per day.
*Eat lots of mushrooms all the time.
*Keep it simple.

For doubters who feel the diet may be too drastic, Fuhrman offers suggestions for those transitioning to this program. A weekly shopping list, menus, and recipes are included. The book concludes with a chapter of answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary, notes, and an index.

Eat to Live must be taken very seriously by anyone who wants to lose weight and not endanger his/her health. Dr, Fuhrman's diet does not involve any complex calculations or calorie counting. What you eat and don't eat are spelled out very simply. The author is careful to support his plan with scientific studies to bolster his position. The book does not rely on scientific jargon but instead is a very readable work because of Fuhrman's sense of humor and his conversational writing style. Sprinkled throughout are charts and sidebars that make the information more accessible.

In a society where so many are overfed, overweight, or just plain obese, people need to be aware of Dr. Fuhrman's message and focus on how to Eat to Live. Those desiring more information about Dr. Fuhrman or wish to consult with him should visit his website http://www.drfuhrman.com/

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Open Faced Avocado Sandwich

YUM! There is little I enjoy more than a perfectly ripe avocado. Sometimes I eat them right out of their skins with a little salt and pepper and a spoon. An easy and delicious breakfast, lunch or snack is my simple Open Faced Avocado Sandwich. Before you try it, read a bit about the health benefits of this amazing fruit!

Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, specifically oleic acid, an omega-9 fat that is also found in olive and macadamia nut oils as well as many nuts. This type of fat LOWERS overall cholesterol, while raising HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL and triglycerides which are both associated with heart disease. Monounsaturated fat has also been linked to reduced risk of cancer and diabetes.

Lutein is a valuable member of the carotenoid family that is a natural antioxidant and helps your eyes and skin stay healthy. Avocados are a great source of lutein! Avocados boast folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and finally, between 11 and 17 grams of fiber each! So eat 'em up!!

Open Faced Avocado Sandwich
Whole Grain Bread (I like La Brea)
Oil - I usually use good olive oil, but have used walnut oil for a lighter taste
Salt and pepper

**Slice avocado. Toast the bread and top with a drizzle of oil, sliced avocado, salt and pepper.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spicy Peanut Stew with Cool Cucumber Sauce

This is an extremely addictive recipe. EXTREMELY! As winter is (hopefully) winding down, you may want to make this warm comfort stew before spring is fully upon us. With the weather around here sure to remain chilly or bitter cold for a few more weeks, you must try this recipe. You will NOT be disappointed. Even my meat-eating boyfriend has enjoyed this. It quickly became a family staple for my parents, and it is said to have been enjoyed by several small children! Note, it is not very spicy at all, just very flavorful, healthy and extremely delicious!

Stew Ingredients
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium white onion (diced, about 1 cup)
1 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 TBS)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about 2 cups)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 lb butternut or acorn squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 lb cauliflower florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 - 1 cup peanut butter (depending on how thick and peanuty you want it)
6 cups brown rice
1 head watercress, steams removed (optional as garnish)
Crushed peanuts (optional garnish)

Cucumber Sauce Ingredients

1 cucumber peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
2 TBS lime juice
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

(I often double this because I love the sauce so much and I tend to load it on the stew).

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium low heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and ginger. Cook until soft.
  2. Add sweet potato and can of tomatoes. Increase heat to medium and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 cups water, season with salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.
  4. Add squash and cauliflower and cook 15 minutes more or until veggies are tender.
  5. Whisk together peanut butter and 1 cup warm water in small bowl, add to stew and cook until thickened.
  6. Serve over rice and add watercress, crushed roasted peanuts and cool cucumber sauce.
  7. For cucumber sauce: combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Serves 6 and has just 210 calories per serving!