Monday, May 20, 2013

Curried Tofu

This is my adaptation of Mark Bittman's recipe for curried tofu.  The  on-line version of the New York Times has a video playlist of him preparing his recipes, including Curried Tofu.  I modified his recipe by using coconut oil rather than olive oil to caramelize the onions, omitting the walnuts, and using lite coconut milk and reducing the amount of it. With my modifications, it still has 29 grams of fat, but it comes primarily from the coconut milk and coconut oil, which I digest well. With 381 calories, this is the type of meal that I need right now to help me gain back the weight I lost during my protracted illness in November - February.  

Coconut oil

So, this is not really a recipe for a pureed food. But tofu is soft enough for me to eat without difficulty, especially when it is braised in the coconut milk as it is in this recipe. The brand I like particularly well is Wildwood Sprouted Tofu because it has higher protein than most tofu products.  Also, many soy products are filled with pesticides, but this organic tofu is not.

I didn't take a photo of the Curry Tofu when I finished making it because I was too hungry! But I love the illustration of a coconut below that our son, Dan, drew for my blog. That will suffice until I make this another time and take a photo of it.  

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    sprinkle of salt (not even 1/8 tsp.)
    1/4 teaspoon curry powder  (or more for Pzazz)
    1/3 cup lite coconut milk
    4.5 oz Wildwood sprouted tofu, cut into cubes
    Dash of reduced sodium soy sauce (no more than 1/2 teaspoon) 
    Sprinkle of cayenne powder...go easy on it, unless you enjoy spicy food!

Heat oil in pan over low heat. Add onions and the sprinkle of salt and slowly caramelize the onions, stirring often, but not constantly. When the onions are brown and almost blackened, add the curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds more, stirring. Add the coconut milk and stir well. Add the cubed tofu and braise it in the spiced coconut milk for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a dash of soy sauce and just a tiny, tiny bit of cayenne. Delicious!

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: About 1 1/2 cup                      
Total Fat: 29 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 370 mg
Total Carbs: 11 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 23 g

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quick Chilled Pea Soup

Quick Chilled Pea Soup
I found a recipe for Quick Chilled Pea Soup in the April 2013 issue of Cooking Light and the thought of a chilled soup that used peas seemed an appropriate way to celebrate the warm weather that finally arrived in Duluth. The day I made it, the sun was shining and it was 66 degrees. But today, the temperature plummeted to 46 degrees.  So, rather than eating it cold today, I heated it. It warmed my chilly body and soul and was still delicious. It became Quick "For the Chilled" Pea Soup.  

I needed to modify the recipe in several ways to accommodate my needs, such as eliminating the half-n-half and the garnish of sauteed peas.  I retained the olive oil but reduced the amount substantially.  I just wasn't sure how coconut oil would taste with peas.

The original recipe appealed to me because of the addition of the spinach to a traditional combination of mint and peas.  Not only did the spinach enhance the green color, it also increased the nutrient value. Pzazz even on a chilly day.

3 cups frozen petite green peas
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 1/2  teaspoon olive oil                                    
1 minced garlic clove
1 cup ice water
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Plain non-fat yogurt for garnish (not included in nutritional analysis) 

Place the peas and 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl.  (I used my large glass Pyrex container so I could use my immersion blender to puree the soup.)  Cover the container with plastic wrap; pierce once with a knife to vent.  Microwave at high for 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups fresh baby spinach; cover and microwave at high for 2 minutes.  Drain and rinse well with cold water; drain.   Place the spinach mixture, olive oil, garlic clove, ice water, mint, lemon juice and salt into the Pyrex container (or a blender if you used a regular bowl).  Blend until smooth.  Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately, or chill.  Or wait for a cold day and serve it warm.

Ready to puree

Nutrition per serving:                                              
Servings per recipe: 4                                              
Serving Size: About 3/4  cup    
Calories: 101                                                      
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                
Sodium:  19 mg
Total Carbs: 15 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 5 g

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lemon Asparagus Soup

I found this recipe at  Eating The original title was "Garden-Fresh Asparagus Soup", but since our vegetable garden was still covered with snow the day I made it, I couldn't use any "garden fresh" ingredients, so I renamed it Lemon Asparagus Soup. 

The modifications I made to fit my dietary needs were to use 3 Tablespoons coconut oil rather than 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter.  I also used non-fat Greek yogurt rather than sour cream for the garnish. The nutritional analysis reflects the changes I made.  

I was a bit skeptical about adding the juice of one whole lemon to the yogurt for the garnish, but was pleasantly surprised at the lively Pzazz this gave to the soup. 

The smell of the red potatoes simmering in onions and lemon zest with just a bit of curry and ginger was intoxicating.  (It makes me want to create a lemon-potato soup.) Then the addition of coconut milk made it exquisitely creamy.  It was even more appealing because of how simple and quick it was to prepare.  Spring Pzazz without spring!

Simmering soup
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Zest and juice of one lemon, divided
2 cups diced, peeled red potatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup "lite" coconut milk
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces trimmed asparagus (about 1 bunch)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup Greek non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion greens, or chives

1.  Melt oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 5 - 10 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, ginger, lemon zest and potatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, coconut milk and asparagus.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, partially cover, and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
2.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender (in batches) until smooth.  (Use caution when pureeing hot soups.)  Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
3.  Whisk yogurt, lemon juice and scallion greens (or chives) in a small bowl and garnish the soup with a swirl of it.  Or for one serving I just swirled the yogurt/lemon mixture into the soup and garnished with a tip of asparagus.
This soup can be served either warm or chilled.

Nutrition Per Serving:                                        

Servings per recipe: 6

Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 138                                  
Total Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 489 mg
Total Carbs: 12 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein:  3 g

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cheers Green Drink

Cheers indeed!  It is the first day that there is no snow on our vegetable garden, and the second day I enjoyed lunch on the deck this year.   And the first day I was in the mood for a cold greens drink made with the VitaMix.  So many reasons to declare Cheers!

The taste of a fresh green drink was astounding today!  This particular one is from Dr. Oz, or at least some version of it.  It is kind of a mix between a smoothie and a juice, so I labeled it as both on this blog.  What I love most about a green drink is how fresh and invigorating it is! And it consistently dissuades me from indulging in lousy food choices.  Processed food suddenly tastes incredibly artificial and unappealing in contrast.  So I took the VitaMix out of the closet and put it on my counter top, making it readily accessible for daily use.

This delightful glass is from the wedding of the daughter of my good friend, Julie.  Julie has developed an extraordinary site, Jules of Nature. Each day she pairs a quote with her exquisite photography. It is my morning ritual to look at that site for reflection and inspiration.  I encourage you to do the same.  Cheers!

1 cup baby spinach
3 medium stalks celery, cut into chunks
1/2 cup diced, seeded cucumber                                      
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small Braeburn apple, cored
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon lime zest 

Put the celery, cucumber, apple, and lemon and lime juices first into a VitaMix. (Putting the ingredients that have the most water content in the bottom will get the mixing stated easier.)  Put the other ingredients on top.  Start on low speed, but then quickly move it up to high speed.  Pour into a fun glass and sip or gulp.  Whatever way you do it, savor it with Pzazz!

Nutrition per servings:                                           
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 3 cups
Calories: 110
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 138 mg
Total Carbs: 27 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 3 g

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring Green Soup by Anna Thomas

Spring Green Soup by Anna Thomas

I am still waiting for spring to arrive in Duluth.   This morning greeted me with freezing rain and a dusting of snow on the deck. But those of us in Duluth were glad that we didn't get the 17" of snow that southern parts of Minnesota received yesterday. And the forecast is for 70 degrees by Monday.  Drama Duluth.

So last night as I was glancing through Anna Thomas' cookbook, Love Soup, and read her description of this soup as a good transitional one from winter to spring, I was intrigued.  She describes it this way:  "Asparagus and the first baby zucchini are layered on a foundation of spinach and leeks and enlivened with some lemon and mint.  When the soup is blended, it becomes mysterious.  No one can identify everything in it,  but it perfectly captures spring." Capturing spring!  Ah.....such a blissful notion!

I can't wait for my mint to poke through the soil in my herb garden, as well as the asparagus in Tom's vegetable garden. (First, all of the snow needs to melt!) And he has nearly 100 leeks as a part of his transplants ready to put into the soil when it is warm enough. But for today, the grocery store provided everything I needed.

As I stated in an earlier post, I had contacted Anna Thomas to tell her the great benefit her pureed soups have been to me. She responded by graciously giving me permission to post a few of her recipes from time to time.  This one, like all of her other recipes, is superb! It might be the only way to capture spring in Duluth.

If I had to choose just one soup cookbook to keep, Love Soup would be the definite winner! I have never regretted purchasing this exquisite cookbook!  Love Soup Pzazz!


8 oz. (225 g)  leeks, white and light green parts  (about 2 1/2 cups chopped)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil  (original recipe used olive oil)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
7 oz. (200 g) Yukon Gold potatoes
8 oz. (225 g) asparagus (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
12 oz. (350 g) small green zucchini  (about 3 cups chopped)
8 oz. (225 g) baby spinach leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves or 1 Tbs. dried mint
about 3 cups light vegetable broth
2 -3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Wash the leeks thoroughly*; drain them well, and chop or slice them; you should have about 2 1/2 cups.  In a large nonstick skillet, cook the leeks in the oil with a sprinkle of salt, over medium heat, until they are soft and tender, 8 - 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, scrub and dice the potatoes and put them in a large soup pot with 4 cups water and a teaspoon of sea salt. Simmer the potatoes, covered, for about ten minutes as you slice the asparagus and zucchini and wash the spinach leaves. Add the green vegetables to the pot, along with the cooked leeks. Simmer the soup for about 15 more minutes.  Add the mint leaves during the last few minutes.

Simmering Spring Green Soup
Remove the soup from the heat, add the vegetable broth, ( I used only 2 cups of vegetable broth) and allow the soup to cool slightly, then puree it until it is smooth, either in a blender, in batches, or in a VitaMix, or with an immersion blender.  Return the soup to a clean pot, stir in a little lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne, and taste.  Correct the seasoning if needed. If the soup seems too thick add a little more water or vegetable broth.

Anna Thomas recommends putting a swirl of fruity olive oil over the top of each serving and I would certainly do that if I could digest it well.  She also recommends garnishing it with crumbled goat cheese or croutons.  On one serving I used a couple of croutons, and for another serving I sprinkled a tiny bit of low-fat feta cheese on it.  Spring Pzazz!

*Be sure to get all of the sand out of the leeks, by pulling them apart and rinsing thoroughly.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe:  9                              
Serving Size:  Generous 1 cup                
Calories: 82
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 248 mg
Total Carbs:  12 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 4 g