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Friday, September 28, 2012

Snack or Entree?

I would like to just share a quick recipe that I have fallen in love with recently, and it involves tofu. So many members of my family are repulsed by tofu, and most of them have never tried it before. I don't understand why people are so afraid. I mean, I can understand if you've tried it and didn't like the texture, but tofu can taste like whatever you want it to. Case in point: Roasted Tofu Nuggets. 

This recipe is so simple, and so fast it will make your head spin. Please note, that the spices you put on are totally your prerogative, there are no rules. I prefer mine with some spicy or savory seasonings, but you may prefer breadcrumbs or grated cheese. 

Roasted Tofu Nuggets
Extra-firm tofu, patted dry (any amount works)
Pam/olive oil spray
Garlic powder
Curry powder
Chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes, or whatever size you prefer (bigger pieces will take longer). Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place cubes on top. Sprinkle with seasonings, then flip cubes over and season the other side. 
3. Place in oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how soft/crunchy you want your nuggets. 

I've eaten these nuggets by themselves, on salads, and I've made bigger slices for sandwiches. Every time I make them, my mother always notes how good the kitchen smells, and then she is always shocked to hear that it's tofu. Hopefully one day her curiosity will drive her to give tofu a try. 

Something to think about:
Is there a food your afraid to try because you think it will taste bad?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Don't Even Know What To Call This

If I've never mentioned it before, I'm just going to say it now: I am an unconventional cook. Most meals, I just through whatever I have into a pot, pan, bowl, whatever, and hope that everything turns out well. Usually it does, but trust me, over the years I have encountered many recipe flops due to my nonchalant cooking style. But those experiences never stop me from taking risks in the kitchen and trying new things that sound weird, but at the same time delicious. 

Taken with Instagram

Like the title of this post says, I seriously don't even know what to call this, except maybe some version of a vegetable casserole/bake. Besides that, I got nothing. So instead of naming it, I'll just tell you what's inside my cute little dish (the picture makes it look huge, but it's about the same size as an average bowl): quinoa, chickpeas, asparagus, diced tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and grated parmesan. Yeah, it's kind of a little bit of everything. 

I cooked the quinoa in a separate pot, and while that was cooking I sautéed the chickpeas, asparagus, and tomatoes in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and onions (what my grandmother and I refer to as "The Holy Trinity"). I seasoned everything with some Italian seasoning, fresh pepper, and a few red pepper flakes for some added zing! Then when everything was done, I mixed the quinoa into the pan, added some lemon juice and let it simmer on a low heat. I had already preheated the oven to 450 degrees, so when I was satisfied with the simmering, I emptied the ingredients that were in the pan into my mini casserole dish, topped it with some walnuts (that got toasted in the oven) and some parmesan cheese. 

Since everything was already cooked, and all I wanted to do was let the flavors marry and get my top a little crunchy, I let the dish sit in the oven for 5-10 minutes, and then quickly broiled it for a couple of minutes on a low flame. When I removed it from the oven it was hot, hot, hot! So I let it cool for a minute or two until I dug in. And the verdict...a success! The walnuts toasted to the perfect crunch that I was looking for, and the flavors had blended well, but they were also still distinct. Even my brother, who always sticks his carnivorous nose up at my unusual concoctions, said it smelled and looked good. Double success. 

Something to think about:
What are your cooking fears?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's a Fiesta

There are some healthy goods that are so delicious that sometimes you feel guilty about it. And then you quickly remember how good it is for you and the guilt goes flying out the window. That's how I feel about avocados. Creamy and full of fat- it's like the room temperature version of ice cream, except it's so much better for you than that Blizzard from Dairy Queen (yuck! Trans fats city!). 

When I first started dieting, I made a big mistake. Yes, I too make mistakes even though I may look like the picture of health. During my first few months of dieting, I cut back on my fat in-take way too much to try and save calories. Even the healthy fats, like olive oil, nuts, and avocados took a serious backseat so that I could eat more carbs and protein to fill me up. 

Since then, I have made a complete turn-around and have been eating more fats than ever before. A few months ago I would've been nervous to eat half of an avocado at one meal, but now I can't get enough. Since I've upped my fat intake, I've noticed that my mood is brighter and my personality is starting to remind me more of the person I was before my weight loss. Not that dieting and losing weight changed me into a miserable bitch, but there were definitely a lot of days where I was feeling antisocial, or not as fun-loving as I usually am. So I guess the answer to the meaning of life is fat? 

That being said, everything should be practiced in moderation. I would never just eat fats all day long, it's all about a balanced diet. I've come to discover that that balance is different for everyone. I may need more fats and protein than carbs, but the next person may need a lot more carbs for their optimal diet. My motto is eat everything. Have your fats (mostly healthy!), lean proteins, whole-grains, vegetables, and fruits everyday. Learn to listen to your body and see what kind of balance it functions best on. Everyone's body is uniquely different, so why would we all follow the same diet? I may be a vegetarian, but that may not be the best lifestyle for a lot of people. What it comes down to is trusting your gut. 

Now on to the fat attack!

Taken with Instagram

Open-Faced Fiesta Veggie Burger
Boca Grilled Vegetable Burger
1 Slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Baby sweet pepper, sliced
Romaine leaf
2 Tbsp. Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
Hot sauce
Lime juice

Everything is pretty self-explanatory, except the spicy faux-sour cream that I made from Greek yogurt. All it is is the greek yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste, and the juice of half a lime. Then once everything is assembled, pour the sauce on top and dig in! A fork and knife is a must with this...and maybe even an empty room because it does get a little messy, but there's nothing wrong with a little mess in the kitchen. 

This meal really is a great balance for the average diet. Who knew the face of nutrition could fit on one slice of bread? Even if that nutrition had to be scooped up with a fork during consumption. 

Something to think about:
Do you have a balanced diet?
Are the fats you're eating healthy?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Mighty Return Of An Old Friend

Broccoli rabe, where have you been all my life?! Okay, not all my life, but seriously, broccoli rabe, where have you been the past few months? As my favorite vegetable, you think that you would at least stop by every once in a while to say hello, or text me to tell me that you miss me. Because Lord knows I have missed you, and thanks to Costco's giant bag of rapini for, like, four bucks, you have returned to my plate.

Taken with Instagram

For dinner the other night, I was way too excited to finally have broccoli rabe in the house again. I opened the bag and my nostrils were immediately flooded with the most incredibly fresh smell. I was actually very surprised by this since it was from Costco. It's great when you can get quality with a great quantity. 

I sautéd the rapini with olive oil and garlic (I mean, is there any other way?), then added chickpeas, mushrooms, and tomatoes to complete the meal. Obviously the star, and best part, of the meal was the broccoli rate, and I was not disappointed. Just the right amount of bitterness, it was exactly what I was looking for. 

What's on the dinner for tonight? Broccoli rate, of course! I mean, it would be a shame to let that big bag go to waste... Honestly, I'm trying my best to not eat it at every meal so I can enjoy it for as long as I possibly can. 

Something to think about:
What's your favorite vegetable?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Overhaul

Boy, have I been a busy little bee lately! I know I've neglected blogging, but lately whenever I seem to have a free second, there is always something else that needs crossing-off on my to-do list. 

So, here I am, with a free moment to finally blog again!

I should probably start by saying that I am so thrilled that Fall has arrived. Because Fall means pumpkins and I am obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored. 

In the mornings, I make sure I wake up early enough to make myself a filling breakfast that will stay with me throughout my classes. And this past week, with my trusty can of pumpkin by my side, I've been whipping up some interesting creations. 

To start, there was the Pumpkin Pie-Cake Oatmeal:

Taken with Instagram
1/2 c. Rolled oats
1/2 c. Canned pure pumpkin 
1/2 c. Water or milk
2 Egg whites
1 Tbs. Chia or flax seeds (optional-will need more water if using)
Pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon
Pecans for topping (optional

1. Mix oats, pumpkin, water, chia seeds, and spices into a bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes.
2. While the oatmeal is cooking, separate two egg whites and whisk them so they get frothy.
3. Let the oats cool for a minute and then slowly pour in the egg white, stirring constantly and quickly until everything is incorporated. Then return your oats to the microwave and heat for another minute, watching to see if the "cake" rises. Continue to microwave until oats seem firm. 
4. Be careful because it will be very hot. And just a warning, you will not be able to stir the oats because the steam from the "cake" will cause then to get a little watery at the bottom. Just eat it like you would a piece of cake-one section at a time. 

This bowl of oats was super delicious and truly filling. I think I ate it around 7am and wasn't hungry until 12! That's a new record for my new metabolism. 

But if this seems like a lot of work and you just want pumpkin in your oatmeal, just make your oats how your normally would and add in 1/4-1/2 c. of pumpkin, depending on your taste. 

This morning I had this lovely bowl of Peanut Butter Pumpkin Oatmeal:

Taken with Instagram

It's no secret that I love the creamy, nutty goodness of a spoonful of peanut butter, and the combination with the pumpkin sent my tastebuds into overdrive. 

1/3 c. Rolled oats
1/3 c. Canned pure pumpkin (estimated, it was all I hd left of my first can of pumpkin ): )
1/2 c. Water
2 Tbsp. Natural creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. Chia seeds (optional)
Pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon

Just made the normal way! The melty peanut butter was so good I didn't want the bowl to end, but alas, it did, and I had a full belly to start my day. 

I can't believe it's almost October, but I'm definitely looking forward to wearing big comfy sweaters, drinking hot tea, and eating pumpkin until I burst in celebration of Fall and the oncoming holiday season!

Something to think about:
What are you most looking forward to in Fall?

I'm gonna queue up some more blog posts to help keep the food coming while I'm so busy, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A day off from work, at long last! I enjoyed waking up early this morning to head out to the gym. Call me crazy, but I love mornings. I use to hate waking up early, but ever since I lost weight and got active,  my every has picked up significantly, especially in the early hours of the day. It's a good thing I enjoy mornings now because tomorrow I start classes for the Fall semester and every weekday I will have class at 8am. I'm strangely excited to begin classes, probably because it will give me something else to do besides work and cook. It will be interesting to see how I balance classes, school work, regular work, and staying healthy all at the same time. When I was losing weight I didn't have a job to commit time to, so it was easy for me to get my work done and still have time for the gym. This will just force me to plan a little more so my days go smoothly. 

Speaking of planning, it was nice to not have to pack meals or snacks to take to work today. But I have gotten into the habit of repeating recipes that I'm really into lately.

It's no secret that I love oatmeal in the morning (or any time of day!), but yesterday I tried something new and I fell madly in love with this new bowl of oatmeal. 

I wanted some extra protein in my oatmeal, and instead of adding yogurt or cottage cheese, I wanted something that would pack a bigger punch for less calories. Solution: egg whites!

Taken with Instagram

Introducing, Fluffy Whipped Oatmeal. I couldn't believe how fluffy and dense the oatmeal had gotten after I added the egg whites. Definitely one of the best decisions I've made for breakfast in a very long time. This bowl included 1/2 c. of oats, 1 1/3 c. water, 1 T. chia seeds, 3 egg whites, 1 banana, 0.5 oz. pecans, and cinnamon. So filling, I can't even begin to describe how perfect this was. You can add less egg whites, different fruit, or substitute milk for water for whatever you're in the mood for. 

If you want to add egg whites to your oatmeal, the best way to do so is buy cooking everything stovetop. Add your water and oats and bring to a boil. Continue to stir and turn down the heat, this is when I added the chia seeds and a little more water. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pot from the flame. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they have become a little frothy, then slowly pour them into your oats, stirring quickly and constantly. You will be able to see the egg whites turning white, but keep stirring so they mix in with the oats and don't scramble. After that, I added my mashed banana, and instead of waiting for the oatmeal to heat on the stove again, I pour the mix into a bowl and microwaved it for about a minute. Finally, I topped it with my pecans and cinnamon and chowed down. 

The egg whites make the oatmeal fluffy, and slightly doughy. If you love oatmeal and have a little extra time in the morning (cooking them stove top only took me about 5 minutes), I highly recommend adding some egg whites. The protein will keep you satisfied for hours, I promise. 

For lunches, my go-to meal has become salads. They're easy to make before work, and I can easily throw on top a huge bowl of greens whatever is in my fridge for a filling meal. 

Taken with Instagram

Taco Salads are a staple in my diet because I love Mexican food and I love salad! A typical taco salad includes romaine lettuce, black beans, red onion, bell pepper, salsa, guacamole, cilantro and lime juice. Occasionally I will add brown rice, Boca Crumbles, reduced fat cheddar cheese, or tomatoes, depending on my mood. 

This summer I have really gotten into using eggplant in a lot of my meals, usually as the star ingredient. Lately, I have been turning back to the same recipe because I just can't seem to get enough of it!

Taken with Instagram 

Balsamic-Lemon Eggplant with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Mushroom. This picture was actually taken before work because I made this for my dinner, hours in advance. The recipe includes cubed eggplant, 1 whole tomato, 1 portobello mushroom cap, 1/2 c. chick peas, garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Everything is cooked in one sauté pan and it is delicious. I think I had it three times in one week!

Well, I've shared some of my new favorites, do you have any favorite recipes that you never get tired of eating?