Guilt Free Spicy Thai “pasta”-yum!

I don’t eat pasta. Don’t hate. I just don’t think it’s all that and I don’t think it’s worth the calories. Quite frankly one serving of pasta for 200 calories doesn’t even fill me up. Give me a 150 calorie dense baked potato any day over pasta (shhh don’t tell my trainer!).

But my zucchini pasta? Bring it on! After spending way too much money buying pre-spiralized packages of yellow and green zucchini at my local vegetable market, I finally invested in my own spiraling machine. I was skeptical, but it works like a charm and has several other blade options for slicing. There are many options on the market, I opted for  this mid priced one and as I said it’s fabulous. And also very easy to clean. #bonusIMG_1064

My kids all love these noodles, sautéed and topped with parmesan or sauce.  (I buy Go Veggie vegan parmesan for myself and my vegan son). But recently I had a craving for some spicy thai curry and thought up this “noodle” recipe. It came out tasting exactly like I imagined and was full of flavor and free of guilt!

The “sauce”

I combined firm tofu, red curry paste, chopped cilantro, crushed chili flakes and coconut milk in my food processor. Instead of using traditional coconut milk for cooking which is laden with calories and fat I use my regular drinking coconut milk-same flavor! Califia Farms has a half almond-half toasted coconut milk that I adore. It’s unsweetened and has no additives. (Their milk is the only brand we drink-the almond milk has 2 ingredients-almonds and water-as it should be.) Blend and salt to taste. Place aside.IMG_1065

Saute the zucchini noodles separately and place in a bowl. Then sauté the veggies you want to top it with-I used mixed greens, edamame, brussel sprouts, broccoli and red cabbage . IMG_1068

Place the sautéed veggies on top of your noodles, add your spicy sauce, some extra chopped cilantro and voila! Dinner (lunch?) is served. IMG_1069

 

Extra protein? A little baked tofu goes a long way.IMG_1070

p.s. Your “noodles” can be a variety of veggies! Carrots, beets, celery root, daikon. Experiment!

 

Tofu is a four letter word: NOT

This scary plant based protein made easy!

Trust me. I know. I’ve been there. I went vegetarian at age 8 and didn’t start eating tofu well into my 20s. It sounds scary. It carries a stigma. And when you open a container of tofu…well it can be mushy and flavorless (and it’s white? What food is that white?!). But I promise, the two recipes I am going to share are absolutely delicious. All 3 of my children love and there are very few foods they all agree on.

You know Bethenny Frankel? Skinny Bitch? I mean…girl…? Before the Real Housewives and all of that, she was the chef at this great midtown lunch place called Blanche’s Organic where I would go pretty much every day. She made the most amazing lemon baked tofu that opened my eyes and my taste buds right up.  This tofu was firm! It had flavor! My two favorite ways to prepare tofu now replicate the firmness of that tofu. So I can hate on her margaritas and her millions, but yeah, she made some damn good tofu. Thanks Bethenny!

My marinated baked tofu cubes are now made weekly and sit in the fridge perfect as a snack for some quick easy protein or easy to add to a plate of veggies for a fast, healthy meal. (Yes I am here to show you that having no time is not a valid excuse any more…#sorrynotsorry!)

I use Nasoya Lite Extra Firm tofu. It has only 45 calories per serving and 8 grams of protein. But any brand of firm or extra firm tofu works.

(stir fry or steam some veggies, add handful of tofu and perhaps some quinoa-voila!)

Lemon Baked Tofu

2 lemons, juiced

1/4 C rice vinegar

1/2 t crushed garlic

black pepper

Tamari Ginger Tofu

1/2 C Tamari soy sauce (I use San-J organic gluten free tamari)

1/2 C rice vinegar

1/2 t crushed garlic

1/2 t crushed ginger

Both recipes are prepared the same way-see? Easy peasy!

Open one or two packages of extra firm or firm tofu, drain.  Blot the tofu with paper towels (or be green! use a dish towel!) until the excess water is absorbed. Cube into bite size pieces. In a bowl combine all the ingredients and add the cubed tofu, carefully using a spatula to make sure all the cubes get into the liquid (tofu breaks pretty easily). Let the tofu marinate 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer the better but 20 minutes is sufficient to get the flavor. On a tray covered in tinfoil and sprayed with non stick olive oil, arrange the tofu in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

Recently I have been making the tofu in my Breville Smartoven convection toaster because it cooks food in less time. Seriously, this toaster has changed my life. It roasts veggies in literally half the time as my regular oven. The tofu can easily be done in 40 minutes (and must be baked at a lower temp of 380). It has a pizza setting for fresh or frozen (my kids eat a lot of pizza, hey it’s better than hot dogs!). If you’re looking for a new kitchen appliance I cannot say enough. I haven’t turned my oven on in a long time.  See it here!

Enjoy!

Baby it’s cold outside winter chili!

My favorite winter recipe…

I know my carnivore friends tell me they know they are low on iron when they suddenly crave a burger or a steak. After 37 years of being meat free, my body craves my homemade chili! Packed full of antioxidants and protein, iron and fiber….it’s delicious and  healthy. I don’t stick to the exact same recipe every time, which is a great way to use up extra veggies before they go bad.  I usually make this at least once a month-and yesterday was one of those days. While my kids had heart shaped pancakes for breakfast today, I had a small mug of chili! When it’s 0 degrees outside, anything goes!

I used to stick with staples of carrots and some greens, but recently I’ve become obsessed with parsnips-peeled, sliced and roasted. They add such a nice warm winter flavor and pair nicely when you add white Cannellini beans to the chili! And I always add roasted and cubed Kabocha squash. If you’ve never had Kabocha (also known as Japanese pumpkin), trust me on this. Not only is it a super food packing tons of Vitamins A and C, but it has HALF the carbs of a butternut squash (and 20 fewer calories) with a much richer flavor and denser flesh. It makes a terrific replacement when making “butternut squash” soup and it is very sweet and can literally be eaten just roasted. I even eat the skin (hey, more fiber!). And…some people say it’s an aphrodisiac! Happy Valentine’s Day! Check it out here!

Staples:

Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes

Knudsen organic low sodium veggie juice

celery sliced

1 large onion diced

Kabocha squash, roasted and cubed

3 cans of Eden organic beans: kidney, black, cannellini, pinto…you choose! (Yesterday I did kidney, cannellini and black beans.)

cayenne

chili seasoning

cumin

cinnamon

salt

Veggies:

parsnips, peeled and sliced

kale

baby spinach

cilantro

Other veggies I have used:

Food is very personal so of course use what you love! In the past I have used zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower. Most people use red peppers, I’m just not a pepper fan, but if you are they are absolutely perfect in this recipe. And for a nice texture, shredded carrots are perfect.

Prior to starting, halve Kabocha squash and remove the seeds. Roast at 375 for about 45 minutes, until tender (if you overcook it, the skin will automatically fall off. No biggie, just use the squash!). Also peel and slice the parsnips. Same cooking temp, less time. Start checking at 25 minutes. Place the cooked veggies to the side.

In a large pot (I love my Le Creuset) add 1-2 T olive oil, the chopped celery and diced onions. Saute 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes and beans (I do not drain them). Add chili, cayenne and cumin to taste. Add a dash of cinnamon (again trust me on this!). Stir well and add the whole bottle of veggie juice. Using the veggie juice as the base adds so many more vitamins to this chili! (I keep an extra bottle on hand to water the chili down throughout the week as it tends to thicken up)

Add the squash and parsnip and stir well. Add baby spinach and kale…It cooks down so I usually add the whole bag of baby spinach and maybe half of the kale or a small bunch.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes. add salt to taste and add chopped cilantro before serving.

This can be served with rice, quinoa or on it’s own. It really doesn’t need a side dish as it is packed with vegetables. Want to spice it up? Shredded Daiya cheese on top and Vegan Gourmet sour cream are both delicious additions! (I try to eat a whole food plant based diet with limited processed foods but sometimes you’ve got to splurge.)