Tag Archives: low carb

Sesame Tofu

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So I’ve been kind of bummed the past few days. It’s nothing major, but it still has me bummed. Due to class schedules of both REB and my sister-in-law, looks like the Vermont trip won’t be happening this year.

My in-laws have their time share every year during the 14th week of the year, which in normal cases would be April 1-5. That’s what we originally planned for. However, the time share folks consider a week to be a full Sunday-to-Sunday week, which in the case of 2013, was Jan 6-13. So long story short, week 14 of 2013 in their eyes is actually April 8-12. That’s REB’s last week of classes for his first term and my sister-in-law’s professor grades based on attendance and that week is a big one for her, too.

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I think REB and I might go some where else the first week of April though, just he and I, so we can still have time together (although we can’t seem to agree on any destination at this point :\). That part doesn’t have me bummed. What mostly had me kind of sad is that I wouldn’t get to see Vermont in the winter or have a full week with my family-in-law since my parents are overseas until mid-April. I’ve seen the place during peak week in the fall, but I’ve heard winters are just as gorgeous. But the great thing about time shares is we can go any year we want.

So the point of this post? I wanted something delicious to eat for dinner after my workout, and I was bored of wallowing, so I decided to make sesame tofu. REB and I have made variations of Asian dishes before, and we usually replace the meat with tofu. So far we’ve been pretty successful; the General’s tofu being the biggest successor.

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I think the sesame tofu either comes in first or ties for first. I see myself making this recipe more. It was slightly sweet, had a hint of spice and that dark smokey taste of the sesame oil really rounded out the whole dish.

The combination of flavors plus the fact I used a pretty new plate I found at Home Goods instantly made me feel better and stop having first world problems. The hug from REB when he got home from class didn’t hurt either.

Sesame Tofu
 
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Slightly sweet, a hint of spice and a dark smokey taste of sesame oil bring this whole dish together.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish, tofu
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 block 14-oz., extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Lite soy sauce (or you can use tamari)
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda no calorie sweetener (or regular or brown sugar is fine; agave nectar or honey would be good too)
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons whole sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup scallion, chopped (about 2 or 3 stalks)
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons grated ginger (use less if ginger isn’t your thing)
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand or similar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of tofu marinade
Instructions
  1. For the tofu:
  2. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and mirin in a shallow bowl until combined. Add cubed tofu and stir to coat each piece. Set aside and let marinade for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a dry pan, add sesame seeds and heat until toasted and aromatic (about 3-5 minutes). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. When tofu is ready, reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade, drain the rest and lightly pat the tofu to dry.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large deep skillet and wait for it to get hot. Add tofu cubes in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to bowl of sesame seeds and toss to coat, and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the other tablespoon of oil and cook scallion, garlic and ginger until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the broccoli, chili paste and water and cook another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Toss the tofu back into the pan with the reserved marinade and cook everything together for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately over brown rice or quinoa.
  10. Optional garnish: finely chopped scallion, parsley or sesame seeds

 

Cookbook Challenge #2 – Quinoa Pilaf

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I brought Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook to work with me and read through it as I had my morning cup of coffee. I ended up looking at her recipe for cranberry-cashew biryani and knew I needed to make it.

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However, as much as I love her recipes and love that in this cookbook everything is 400 calories or less per serving, I wanted to change the recipe to fit my taste buds better.

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My sister and I were emailing each other all day talking about recipes, our mom’s recipes, cooking and planning my visit to Chicago in March (hooray!). I told her about this recipe and how I wanted to change it to fit my dietary needs. She reminded me that “biryani” is actually all spice. It does not usually have dried fruit in it, and I wanted to use some kind of dried fruit. So we both realized what I wanted to make, was really a pulao or pilaf.

The biggest changes I made were the cooking process in general, using quinoa over Basmati rice to help keep it low-carb for me, and using dried apricots instead of cranberries.

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garam masala made fresh

If you didn’t know, apricots and cumin are two of the most yummy flavors when combined. Next time you make a curry dish with cumin, add a little dried apricot in there – your world will change completely.

This dish turned out amazing. How do I know that? When REB got home from class and had it for dinner, he said, and I quote, “Whole Foods should have this in their hot bar.”

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This is how I know this recipe is a keeper. And how I know he’s a keeper too ;)

Quinoa Pilaf
 
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A low-carb twist on classic Vegetable Pulao that uses Indian spices, mixed vegetables and dried fruit. Adapted from Isa Chandra (and my mom)!
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Indian, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetable blend (my blend has carrots, peas, green beans and corn kernels)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (I make mine fresh, but you can use store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted whole cashews, toasted
  • Cilantro (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a rice cooker or medium pot, cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. I used ¾ cup quinoa, with 1½ cups water in my rice cooker.
  2. Add the chopped dried apricots directly to the quinoa so they cook together — the quinoa took about 20-25 minutes to cook in the cooker. May take longer on stovetop.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
  4. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.
  5. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, cover the pot with a lid and let the seeds start to pop.
  6. Next add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for one minute.
  7. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, garam masala, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes and stir well for one minute.
  8. Add the tomato paste and water and stir.
  9. Cover the dish and let it come to a boil and reduce so the curry is slightly thickened and most of the water is gone- about 3-5 minutes.
  10. While the curry is boiling away, toast the cashews in a small, dry pan until golden
  11. When the curry has reduced, add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir well to combine all the flavors. Give it a taste and adjust your spices if needed.
  12. Toss in the toasted cashews.
  13. Serve immediately with pickle, chutney or additional curry dish.
  14. Optional garnish: chopped cilantro

 

After doing the math, I found that this recipe was only 229 calories per serving, almost 5g of fiber and almost 8g of protein. I think next time I might add some garbanzo beans or mushrooms to up the ante on the protein.

What are some of your favorite cookbook recipes?

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps

When I stop to think about how I have something going on every single weekend between now and then end of October, the old me would have freaked out. However the new, positive, hip (yes, hip!) me is looking forward to having things going on during the weekends and people I will get to see!

Of course being busy on the weekends, just means I’m even busier during the week.
Knowing how busy the weeks to come are going to be, I’ve been trying to get grocery shopping done at the beginning of each week so we aren’t scrambling to get certain items each night for dinner. Menu planning is a simple concept, but you know what? It really works!

One of the items on the list was extra firm tofu. Sure, it’s a normal thing in our fridge all the time, but I was in the mood to make something delicious.

Enter tofu lettuce wraps a la PF Changs. …Minus the calories, fat, MSG and sodium.
Making ‘em homemade was ridiculously easy, healthy, spicy (duh), low-carb and full of protein!

The basic recipe is from Isa Chandra (the vegan queen of cooking!) and her cookbook: Appetite for Reduction – a must own! All the recipes in there are healthy, delicious and nothing over 400 calories per serving. Total win. And it just so happens that one of the things I’ve been wanting to do is try to cook from each cookbook I have. Challenge accepted.

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
 
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Recipe adapted by Isa Chandra
Author:
Recipe type: Low-carb, vegetarian, protein
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 15-oz block firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 teaspoons lite soy sauce
  • Cooking spray (optional)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (rice vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 12 Romaine lettuce leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat a large, deep skillet or pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the tofu (you can spray some cooking spray if needed) and cook until starting to brown. Add the soy sauce, stir and continue to cook another 8-10 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, cook red pepper and red onion over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and Sriracha and stir.
  4. Add the mirin (rice vinegar) and cook 3-5 minutes. If you don’t have mirin, use sherry wine or white wine vinegar.
  5. Lastly, add in the hoisin and mustard and stir well.
  6. Toss the tofu back in and coat well with the sauce.
  7. Serve it up in lettuce leaves and enjoy!

These were so easy to make and so delicious and could be made vegan or gluten-free! You could easily substitute in your favorite protein like beef or chicken or whatever, too. Give it a try, I know you will love them.

Do you do weekly menu plans?