Archive for August, 2011

Easy Baked Tofu

A year ago, I wouldn’t touch tofu with a ten twenty-foot pole. My palate has changed quite a bit in the past several years and foods I didn’t care for such as red bell pepper, pecans, tofu and avocado are now some of my all-time favorites. I’m not sure what exactly turned me on to tofu but the hot bar at Whole Foods certainly helped me along :) When I topped my random lunch container off with cubes of baked tofu awhile back, I couldn’t stop eating it…ok, where had tofu been all my life?!?

If you know how to cook it properly, tofu definitely tastes delicious! Before, I’d always thought it was a bland, strange meat replacement but I actually crave tofu these days…and I have to limit myself as I keep reading that too much soy (or anything in excessive for that matter) is never a good thing. Plus, it’s an easy and inexpensive meat-free option when I feel like a light meal or a protein-filled snack.

Give this recipe a try, it’s good serve both hot and cold! I love it when dishes are good out of the oven and straight from the fridge. The marinade bakes into the tofu so it’s not a saucy dish. Add cubes to stir-fried veggies and serve over rice, toss on a salad, as a sandwich filling, with cooked quinoa, in a rice paper wrapper or just pop them in your mouth like you would bites of chicken or cheese :)

Confession: you know I love tofu when I can’t stop eating it straight off from the pan, and before I get to snap photos…

Easy Baked Tofu (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

1 16 oz package organic, non-GMO extra firm tofu
3 Tbsp gluten free low sodium soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos
2 Tbsp honey (agave or maple syrup can be subbed for vegan)
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
couple dashes of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper

olive oil spray
chopped green onions/scallions for serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly spray a non-stick baking sheet with oil or use a silicone mat.
2. Slice tofu into 1/2-inch slices, and gently press excess water out of tofu (use tofu press or place between paper towels and put heavy weight on top for 10 minutes). Cut sliced tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
3. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, honey, vinegar and oil. Stir in ginger, garlic powder and red pepper. Gently stir tofu cubes into sauce. Cover, and marinate at least 5 minutes.
4. Place the tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray tops with olive oil (I use the Misto) and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn tofu, and bake until the tofu turns golden brown, about 20 minutes more or until develops a nice crisp crust. Enjoy!

August 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm 27 comments

Kheema: Indian Ground Beef with Peas

For a long time, I was afraid of Indian food. I’m not sure why I was intimidated by a particular cuisine, except that maybe I wasn’t exposed to it growing up in Texas. Don’t get me wrong, we did eat ethnic food but Indian wasn’t one on the radar.

When sweet and bubbly Aarti Sequeira of Aarti’s Party won “The Next Food Network Star” last year, I couldn’t wait for her show and to try some of her recipes. She makes Indian food accessible and makes me want to try most of what she cooks!

I knew this recipe was a homerun when Chris told me about six times that “dinner was SO good” and “Oh, we can have this for leftovers!”. He is typically not a fan of ethnic meals (except for Mexican) OR leftovers but this one he was quite ethused about, which of course made me extremely excited and put a huge grin on my face.

If you haven’t cooked Indian food before, give this one a go as a introductory meal. It’s easy and relatively quick, about 20 minutes or so to cook once you’ve chopped the onion and minced the garlic and ginger. The only two spices you may not have on hand are the ground coriander and the garam masala (a mix of ground warm, toasted spices) but if you have a bulk store like Whole Foods, Sprouts or Sunflower Market that sells spices in bulk, this is a great way to test out the waters with new flavors.

I changed a few of the ingredients, increased the peas and omitted the water that Aarti called for but it’s a slight adaptation of her original. This meal was one of her favorites as a child, so if you cut down or eliminated the cayenne, maybe a younger crowd would enjoy this too?

The tradition way of eating Kheema is to bite off a piece of Indian chapatis or pita bread and pick up bits of the beef mixture at a time. I chose to serve this over leftover rice but cooked quinoa would be delicious or even in a lettuce wrap for a low-carb meal.

Kheema: Indian Ground Beef with Peas (adapted from Aarti Party)

2 Tbsp refined (flavorless) coconut oil (canola oil, ghee, butter or other neutral is fine)
1 medium onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch thumb) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne, optional (it sounds like a lot but provides a gentle heat)
1 lb ground beef (I used ground elk that was on sale but any ground meat would work here)*
1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes (or could use 2 medium tomatoes chopped + 1/3 cup water)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (do not omit!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few extra leaves for garnish (parsley could be subbed)

Choice of cooked rice, quinoa, gluten free tortillas or pitas, warmed or lettuce wrap leaves for serving

Directions

1. In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for another minute. Stir in the coriander, paprika, garam masala, cumin and cayenne, if using and cook for 1 minute.
2. Add the ground meat, breaking up lumps with a spoon, and saute until the meat is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes with juice from can and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and simmer, partially covered, about 5 minutes.
3. Add peas and cook another 5 minutes, partially covered.
4. Stir in the vinegar and chopped cilantro. Taste and season with additional salt and/or pepper if needed. Garnish with torn cilantro leaves and serve with cooked warm rice, quinoa, gluten free tortillas, bread or pitas or fresh lettuce leaves for a Indian-style lettuce wrap. Enjoy!

*Recipes Notes: I stretched the amount of leftovers I had with 2 cups of cooked garbanzos beans. I assume you could make this a vegetarian dish by subbing the 2 cups of cooked chickpeas for the meat and adding with tomatoes.

August 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm 13 comments

3-Ingredient Elvis Ice Cream (Soft-Serve)

My home office is south-facing on the third floor of our townhouse, meaning that every afternoon it is incredibly hot during the summer…so I typically reach for something chilled when I am craving an afternoon snack. Plus, my sugar and carb cravings usually hit in the afternoon so a sweet snack has quite the appeal. What’s better than a cool bowl of ice cream without the guilt? Not much in my book :)

As I was searching for inspiration for a healthy ice cream snack, I spotted one lone leftover slice of bacon in the fridge. I’m one of those that can’t let food go to waste so I pulled out the bacon and immediately thought of Elvis – let’s just say the man knew what he was doing when mixing peanut butter, banana and bacon together…what a fabulous flavor combination!

I’m not sure if it really constitutes as a recipe with only three base ingredients, but this soft-serve ice cream is the perfect blend of salty and sweet. There’s no ice cream maker required here, all you need is frozen bananas, crunchy or creamy peanut butter and a slice of cooked bacon, which makes for a quick and easy snack or dessert when your cravings hit.

For a lighter option, I used nitrate-free turkey bacon instead of the pork variety but feel free to use your favorite type. If you prefer to make a larger batch, you can double or triple the ingredients with ease.

3-Ingredient Elvis Ice Cream (Soft-serve)

Ingredients

4 large or 5 medium bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
2 1/2 to 3 tbsp peanut butter (creamy, crunchy or honey-roasted)*
1 slice of nitrate-free turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled (or favorite slice of bacon)
sprinkle of sea salt, optional (I used unsalted peanut butter so the salt helped the flavors pop)

Optional for serving and garnish

Chopped peanuts
Light drizzle of honey

Directions

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add frozen bananas and peanut butter. Pulse together until bananas bind and a ball forms. (If the mixture isn’t coming together in a ball, let sit for a minute or so until the bananas slightly defrost).
2. Add ice cream to serving bowl and stir in 1/2 of the chopped bacon. Sprinkle with remaining bacon and enjoy immediately!

*If you are allergic to peanuts, you can substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter for a similar taste.

You know you wanna a bite :)

August 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm 7 comments

Tropical Smoothie

Happy Pre-Friday everyone!

Ok, so I was going to try and be clever by titling this post “Tropical Man-apple Smoothie” or “Tropical Pine-go Smoothie” since I used both mango and pineapple, but I thought twice and decided a more generic approach might work best :) After all, I kept laughing at the first option…

Any way, I noticed it has been a while since I posted a smoothie recipe – sorry if I am little overdue! We make smoothies all the time at our house, but I either forget to write down the recipes and/or take pictures….maybe it has something to do with me taking too long to snap photos so Chris snatches his up before I have a chance to photograph them both. Here’s one of those instances…I was only able to take a picture of mine but I tried!

This tropical smoothie is the perfect chilled treat – the blend of sweet mango, creamy banana, slightly tart pineapple and cool coconut milk will transport you to the beach! Maybe that’s a stretch but at least you’ll be wanting to sip this poolside or on the beach :) I like to add a scoop of protein powder and drink it as a recovery shake after a workout or a run, yummy!

Tropical Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from carton, not can), I like my smoothie thick but depends on what consistency you prefer
1 frozen banana, chopped (fresh works too but frozen gives the smoothie a creamier texture)
1 mango, peeled, seeded and chopped (frozen works too, about 1 cup or so)
1 small can of sliced or chopped pineapple, reserve a couple tablespoons of juice (fresh or frozen could be used, about 1/2 cup, but you may need to adjust the amount of milk or use a few tablespoons of orange juice to your liking)
5-6 ice cubes, if you aren’t using frozen fruit

1 scoop of protein powder, optional (I prefer unsweetened so it’s not overly sweet)

Directions

1. In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth. (I used my Vitamix when I use frozen fruit) Enjoy!

Serves 2 (or more if you prefer smaller portions)

August 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm 3 comments

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