Does your kitchen need spring cleaning? Try this simple and versatile recipe for Dukkah! Move over fairy dust! Dukkah, a delicious Egyptian blend of nuts and spices is pure magic! This versatile topping combines a sweet, savory, and nutty taste all in one. Use it as a crust on […]
Want to get more balance in your diet? This simple 3-step Mediterranean buddha bowl is bursting with colorful vegetables, healthy proteins and fats, and filling whole grains! The name is catchy, but really what is a buddha bowl? This dish got its name because it is overstuffed with […]
A new takeout alternative is here! Try this healthy and delicious Crispy Baked Cara Cara Orange Tofu for your next restaurant craving!
Are you a fan of Chinese food takeout on the weekend? Join the club! Making your own favorite recipe with healthy modifications saves you money and calories! Instead of deep frying, these crispy textured tofu cubes are baked! I know we all love a weekend splurge, but this orange tofu recipe will make you want to eat in instead of ordering out! Can we all say Fri-yay?
Citrus Fruits that Brighten Winter
When it comes to citrus fruits many of us think of delicate cocktails or smoothies in the summer. Citrus fruits are actually in season during the winter! What better time to get a boost of vitamins and minerals to get us through the cold and snowy season! Citrus, such as the Cara Cara orange in the recipe, is loaded with Vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and aids in building collagen to keep our skin glowing.
Besides having a cute name, Cara Cara oranges give a beautiful pink hue and tangy taste. Some say the taste reminds them of cranberries! These gorgeous, seedless citrus favorites are in season during the winter to early spring. Try them in a smoothie, a winter salad, or as a marinade!
What’s the Deal with Soy?
In today’s food industry, soy has come a long way from the previous fears and misleading health claims. This plant-based, complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids our body needs) comes from the soybean. There are numerous forms of soy out there besides the soybean, edamame. Tofu is the beancurd from soy milk. It works great in stir fries, soups, and desserts! If you want another option for sneaking soy in your diet, try tempeh, soy sauce, or miso. Or, if you want to try an alternative to cow’s milk, try a fulfilling glass of soy milk.
As we know, soy is an excellent source of protein, but it also provides calcium, iron, unsaturated fats, and fiber. Soy also contains isoflavones; mostly recognized is the estrogen-like compound, phytoestrogen. Because these compounds function like hormones, many feared an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Current research mentioned in the Harvard School of Public Health newsletter has found that soy consumption as early as in adolescence may reduce risk for breast cancer occurence and recurrence.
Further research is ongoing for cardiovascular disease risk and blood pressure. However, replacing meats high in saturated fats, such as red meat, with soy foods suggests a beneficial outcome for the heart. This is because soy contains unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals.
In this Recipe…
In thirty minutes, you will have a tasty restaurant-style tofu with better nutrients and less saturated fat! Compared to the deep fried method, the tofu is coated with corn starch and seasonings, and then baked for a delicately crispy texture. For this crispy tofu method I was inspired by Cookie and Kate’s Crispy Tofu recipe (see here). Prior to coating the tofu, make sure to press the tofu with clean towels (or paper towels) to soak up the extra water and moisture. While the tofu bakes, make the sauce to save time. You will even have enough time to cook a side vegetable and whole grain to make this a complete meal. I added broccoli and kale with brown rice as a foundation for the orange tofu.
Corn starch is naturally gluten free, but for those gluten sensitive I recommend a certified gluten free corn starch product. In addition to gluten free corn starch, you will also need to substitute Tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauce. For those that prefer a vegan option, substitute maple syrup for the honey to give sweetness to the sauce. Any meat lovers that are still not convinced to try tofu? Feel free to bake a lean protein like pork or chicken; the coating will still work great for any protein source. For cooking with meat, make sure the internal temperature is within the recommended range. Also note that cooking times for different protein sources will vary.
I would like to also take the time to give a very special thank you to our dear friend, Jordan Edwards. He has been a best (and loyal) friend of my husband’s since early college days and living abroad in Ireland. With his amazing culinary skills, especially in Asian cooking, he helped me create this delicious recipe. I still can’t believe we created an amazingly crispy textured tofu with half the calories! In addition to feeding my husband and I often with his cooking talents, he has also welcomed us into our new city of beautiful Boulder, Colorado. This recipe would not be as tasty without his help!
- Coating for Tofu:
- 1 15 ounce package extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (or more to coat)
- Salt and pepper, garlic powder to taste
- Orange Glaze:
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Juice and Zest of one Cara Cara Orange (or another type of orange), approximately 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium (or tamari for Gluten Free option)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Additional toppings: chopped scallions, sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the coating and toss the tofu to coat.
- Spread the coated tofu on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- While the tofu bakes, make the sauce (below).
- For the Sauce:
- Combine in a small bowl, the juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and broth.
- Heat the sesame oil on medium heat and saute the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5-7 minutes. To thicken the sauce, mix the cornstarch and a small amount of water to make a paste prior to stirring or whisking in the sauce. Once the sauce reaches the desired consistency turn off the heat and set aside.
- Once the tofu is baked to desired level of crispiness, remove from the oven. Toss the tofu and sauce in a medium bowl and serve. Top with scallions and sesame seeds, optional.
“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Potatoes USA and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.” A potato soup recipe that includes three kinds of potatoes topped with protein-packed ricotta to provide you […]
The holiday season can keep us busy with endless shopping and cooking in the kitchen. Try this easy recipe for a healthy winter vegetable frittata with heart healthy salmon, Delicata squash, and kale! I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love having breakfast for […]
Winter is coming and so is soup season! Try this Creamy Tomato Lentil soup recipe to keep you warm and satisfied!
This recipe for a creamy tomato lentil soup uses low fat coconut milk and lentils to keep you feeling fulfilled with energy-boosting MCT fats, plant-based proteins, and fiber! With all of the packed nutrients, the soup still contains way less calories than its creamy counterparts!
As the temperatures drop, the cravings for these comforting and hearty soups start to rise! Cream-based or cheesy soups, such as Clam Chowder and Baked Potato, might look delicious this time of year. The empty calories and sodium might not be so pretty. Thanks to heavy amounts of fats and excess salt, these soups can serve up to 300 calories and 800mg sodium in just one 8oz serving. Yeah, I’m all set thanks!
Wait, isn’t saturated fat trendy again?
Since the release of conflicting reports on the link between saturated fat intake and heart disease risk, the mention of fat consumption in the media have skyrocketed. Research and health professionals, such as myself, still advise consumers to eat saturated fats in moderation. The current guideline is an aim of 10% or less of your total calories. Even the American Heart Association suggests to aim at 5-6% of your calories from saturated fats found in foods such as butter, meats, and dairy. Saturated fat is not our enemy. It even helps raise our HDL (good) cholesterol. Overall, keeping saturated fats in moderation and replacing the majority of our total fat intake (25-30% of our daily calories) with plant-based unsaturated fats gives the greater benefit for heart health. There is even research discussing the type and size of fat particles and not so much the cholesterol numbers, but that is a whole other topic.
Coconut milk and coconut oil are another craze thanks to their source of MCT’s. Again, there is not enough research to back up the claims of MCT (medium chain triglyceride) fats for heart health and other preventions for disease risk. Currently, MCT oil is used for people with GI issues as it is easily absorbed. It is used more rapidly as energy instead of being stored which could be great for athletes and fitness buffs. Besides the discussed benefit of MCT’s in coconut milk, also be aware that it includes high amounts of saturated fat. Just because these products are a trend doesn’t mean to go and replace it with all of your food products. Consuming everything in moderation remains the motto.
In this recipe…
The flavors in this delicious and hearty soup are slightly spicy and smoky. If spicy isn’t your thing, cut out the red chili pepper flakes. The smoked paprika and cumin enhance smokiness to the lentil soup, but if you like a sweeter or more savory taste, try basil or oregano for an Italian style dish.
The tomato lentil soup is vegan and gluten-free friendly. For those strictly vegan, I would recommend sprinkling nutritional yeast as a topping to sneak in more B12 as this vitamin is mainly available in animal sources. Feel free to try the Braggs nutritional yeast seasoning blend (I also top it on popcorn for a different taste).
This recipe also includes a handheld immersion blender to puree the chunky soup. If you do not have one, no worries! You can pour the soup in batches into a blender and then return to the pot.
I hope you enjoy the rich and tasty soup during the cold winter months ahead. Most importantly, remember it is the quality of foods that matters most!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch of sea salt (optional)
- 2 cups vegetarian broth (or substitute with chicken broth)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes, No Salt Added
- 1 14oz can Lite Coconut Milk
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- In a large pot heat olive oil on medium high. Add the onions and garlic; saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the remaining ingredients and reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are tender.
- Remove from heat and take out the bay leaf.
- Using an immersion blender, pulse and puree the soup to your liking. If you don't have a handheld immersion blender, pour the soup in batches into a blender and pulse until pureed soup.
- Top with additional parsley and red pepper flakes (optional).
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and recent transplant to Boulder, CO. After working as an inpatient dietitian in Boston, she is expanding her expertise in the health and wellness industry. Katie is passionate about cooking and food photography, sharing her culinary adventures on her food blog, One Hungry Bunny, and exploring her new Rocky Mountain surroundings. Follow Katie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Vegetarian meatballs packed with legumes and iron-rich spinach that still give the meaty taste without the meat! Vegetarian meatballs even for meat lovers? After researching many different recipes and powering through three cooking trials, I finally created my “meatiest” meatless meatball! Meatballs, either turkey or beef, were […]
Pumpkin addicts unite! This adorable plant is actually worth obsessing over not only because of its delicious taste, but also due to its many health benefits. Exploring Pumpkin Smoothie Recipes and Beyond Pumpkin, considered a fruit (the stem and leaves are categorized as a vegetable) is […]
Those silly chia pets ranging from Looney Tunes characters to U.S. presidents were onto something. Chia seeds are well loved by most health enthusiasts for its role as a superfood. They are loaded with omega-3 fats (such as alpha-linolenic acid, ALA) and fiber which can promote satiety and benefit heart health, but also pack in a little protein (four grams for one ounce serving) and antioxidants.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA, DHA, and ALA are truly essential, not only because of their reported health benefits, but really because our body cannot make them. EPA and DHA are the “marine” omega-3’s as we get most of them from fatty fish and plankton that fish feed on. ALA is converted to EPA and DHA to function as a health benefit; you can find ALA in flaxseed, nuts, and yes, chia. While we see omega fats (omega-3 and omega-6) promoted in food stores, one thing to keep in mind is the actual ratio of these fatty acids we consume (the reported benefit is a ratio of 1:1).
In the typical american diet, we are consuming too much omega-6, found in canola and corn oil, and too little omega-3 which may attribute to inflammation or cardiovascular risk, however there is not enough strong evidence in research literature yet to make this claim. Omega-3 supplementation of EPA and DHA has been recommended by many health professionals since many lack the fish consumption in our diet and there is question of ALA conversion to these fats being limited in the body.
One important factor to consider while making chia pudding is the chia seed-to-liquid ratio. One of my favorite blogs, Minimalist Baker, recommended 1/3 cup chia seeds for every 1 1/2 cups liquid, and while on their site I also came across a beautiful chocolate chia pudding treat.
I divided this recipe into four serving sizes. Chia seeds can pack up to 60 calories or more per tablespoon, so I would suggest to keep the pudding size in moderation. The smaller serving is still very filling with the fiber and protein in the chia, and the thick consistency created as the seeds absorbed the liquid. For breakfast, I added in the nut or seed butter and fresh fruit (can try with frozen fruits too).
This recipe was fun to make and could not have been easier; if I could do it my first time trying, so can you!
Crave: Tapioca pudding Behave: Chia pudding
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk (may substitute with other milk versions)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon nut or seed butter, optional
- 1/4 cup each of raspberries and peaches (or other fruit of your choice), optional
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweeted coconut, optional
- Simply mix the chia seeds and milk thoroughly in a mixing bowl.
- Add in the vanilla extract and maple syrup.
- Transfer the mixture into an airtight container and cover. Place the container in the refrigerator and keep for at least three hours, or until thickened to the consistency of your liking.
- Once it is pudding ready, add in the toppings of your choice.
Protein-packed pasta sauce? Yes, please! Getting just a little bored with the usual (very healthy choice) lentil soup? Same here. I came across a lentil bolognese recipe via the Simple Vegan Blog as inspiration for an alternative lentil recipe. Leftover in my organic veggie bin, […]