Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tofu Scramble

My apologies for being away for a while. It's taken me some time to get adjusted here in New York and setting up my new place has taken much more time and effort than I thought it would. 

I also haven't been cooking as often as I'd like, and even when I do it's usually something really simple and quick. Both because it feels funny to cook elaborate meals for 1 and also because I haven't had the time to make anything that takes longer than 30 minutes. 

One recipe I have been relying on heavily is my tofu scramble. I prefer to start my mornings with something savory. I've found that when I eat something sweet like pancakes or french toast, I'm hungry an hour or two later. That's not the case with this tofu scramble, which keeps me full for hours
Also fuels me for long runs!

Why tofu? Well, while it's true that I do eat eggs, I like to mix it up with tofu. Tofu is light and really good for you (I don't eat a lot of soy in general, so I think starting my mornings with tofu is okay), as long as you don't eat it everyday, but that's true about most everything, I think. 

The recipe is adapted from this one by Happy Herbivore. If you haven't checked out Lindsay's website you definitely should. What's nice is that most of her recipes are fat-free as well, so if you're trying to watch your weight, you'll find tons of delicious recipes that won't pack on the pounds. 

Changes to the recipe:
1. I didn't use mustard or nutritional yeast, though I do sometimes. 
2. I added frozen spinach and topped it off with some salsa. 

This is a really great and simple way to start your morning, and if you're skeptical about tofu in the morning, I say don't knock it till you try it! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kashi Whole Grain Nuggets vs. Fiber One

Some things are obviously healthy: apples, lettuce, tofu, brown rice. But most everything else we consume on a daily basis can be harder to label 'healthy' or 'unhealthy'Organic mac 'n' cheese, healthy or unhealthy? Wheat bread, healthy or unhealthy? (Depends on if it's 100% whole wheat or not). 

Every so often, I'll take two grocery store products and compare them nutritionally here. 

First up: Kashi Whole Grain Nuggets vs. Fiber One

I originally purchased the Kashi at Whole Foods, then I came home and realized how many calories were in half a cup, and decided to find something better. 

A lot of people don't know what to look out for on a nutrition label. I look at calories per serving, fat, fiber, sodium and sugar. Of course it depends what you are eating. If you are eating cereal, you can expect to want some fiber, but that wouldn't be the case with meat, which doesn't have any fiber. 
Fiber One is on the left. 

Calories: As you'll notice, Fiber One has 60 calories per 1/2 cup, while Kashi has 210 calories per 1/2 cup. Kashi has almost FOUR TIMES the amount of calories as Fiber One. I have no idea why/how this is possible but it might be because Kashi are little nuggets, so more can fit into 1/2 cup. Either way, this is just WAY too much. I had half a cup the first day I bought it and I was starving an hour later. Here, Fiber One is the better choice. 

Fat: Kashi has 1.5g and Fiber One has 1g, so the difference is negligible here. 

Fiber: Kashi has 7g while Fiber One has 14g- twice as much. Fiber is super important because it helps keep you feeling full and helps flush everything out of your system. The fact that Fiber One has twice as much as Kashi is a big deal, and the definite winner here again. 

Sodium: Excess sodium is one of the most ignored dietary problems. Too much salt causes you to bloat, hold onto water and eventually, can cause high blood pressure and other serious ailments. Kashi has 260mg while Fiber One has only 105mg. Keep in mind too that the last place you want to be getting too much sodium is in something that isn't even intrinsically salty! Winner: Fiber One. 

Sugar: Sugar is another big dietary problem our society is facing today. Sugar consumption keeps going up every year and apparently Americans consume over 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day! Kashi has 3g per serving while Fiber One has 0g

Fiber One is the clear winner, and keep in mind that these numbers are for 1/2 cup serving. I ended up having 1 full cup of the Fiber One, which would double all the numbers. It is important to note your serving sizes. 

Hope this helps you make a better choice next time you're shopping for breakfast. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My First 10K Race

Today I have a decidedly non-food related post for you guys. I'm not sure how many of you want to hear about other parts of my life, but a big part of my life is running

I got into running about a year ago. It feels like a lot longer though, because during that time I've ran pretty consistently. I never would have thought I would one day be a runner! It always sounded so hard-core to me. I also couldn't understand the fun in it. Like what part of just running is fun? When do you stop? I couldn't imagine running more than 2 miles. 

Nothing beats the feeling of finishing!
And then about a month into it, something strange happened. I decided to go on a run with a runner's group in my town in California. The run was a Wednesday evening and I was pretty nervous. I had never ran with anyone before, except as a child in school. 

I arrived and signed up for the 2 mile run. There was the 2 mile run and the 4 mile. I hadn't yet run more than 2 miles, but that day I did. That day I actually ran the 4 miles without even realizing it! It was dark out and I ended up running with a few ladies who seemed to know the route well. I was afraid of getting lost in the dark- after all, I had never run outside at night before! Before I knew it, we were done and I had run 4 miles. It was a huge deal for me then and really started my passion for running

Fast forward to today, and I run regularly. I have never found a better work-out. It also helps with stress relief for me. There is a saying, 'if you don't have the answers to your problems after a long run, you probably never will'. I have solved many a problem while out on one of my runs. 

In the past few months, life got in the way and I started running less and less. And my mileage and speed dropped too. I had gotten up to 8 miles back when my man and I were living in California. 

I decided the best way to get back on track would be to sign up for a race! I have participated in one race before, a 5-mile run. It was a lot of fun and since I'm a competitive person it's always fun to run with others. However, it was pouring and muddy on race day, but I still made it through. 

I will be running my first 10K on October 22nd in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It's so exciting to be running my first race in New York as well! 

Hal Higdon is THE man for marathon and race training plans. I heard about him from Runner's World  and immediately looked up his 10K training plan once I had signed up for the race. It's nice because you don't actually have to run every day while training, as one might expect. Instead there is a lot of cross-training involved as well as strength-training, which I normally never do! 

I'm super excited for this race and I'll keep you guys updated with my progress! 

Note: Because I only have 6 weeks left till the race, I started the training plan from the 3rd week, which is no big deal for me, because I'm already fairly in shape. But I'd recommend allotting the full 8 weeks for training if you haven't run a race before or don't regularly exercise. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

I can't believe it's been SO long since I last checked in! I really love running this blog but sometimes life gets in the way

What's my excuse this time? Well, I just moved to New York. Moving here was something I've wanted to do for a long time, so this is an incredibly exciting time in my life. Daunting and kinda scary, but exciting as well. Aren't all big life changes a combination of fear and fun? 

Anyway, it's been quite toasty here as of late, but when I first got here last week it was pouring. It literally poured every day for a week but I couldn't complain. I quite like rain, except when I have lots of errands to run. Schlepping your luggage across town in the rain is no fun. 
Topped with blue tortilla chips. 

One night I was alone at my friend's apartment and wanted to make something cozy but light. Filling, but appropriate for the weather. Being that Mexican food is my favorite, I immediately thought of a hearty vegetarian tortilla soup

I used this recipe, which came together quickly and was absolutely delicious. I will probably omit the tofu the next time I make this, or use silken tofu because the firm tofu chunks distracted from the perfection of the broth. 
Pan-fried tofu. Let it brown a bit. 

Changes to the recipe:
1. I couldn't find ancho chiles so I used 1 Serrano chile instead that I found at Whole Foods (yes, I can now go to Whole Foods regularly! and I couldn't be happier!). Keep in mind that you don't want to touch the chile with your hands bare or you might run the risk of touching your eye or nose and totally burning yourself. It's happened to me; it's not fun. 
2. I didn't have epazote so I just left it out. 
3. I used spinach instead of swiss chard. 
4. I used a vegan no-chickn' bouillon cube, which added a nice vegan chicken flavor. 

This soup is really yummy and like most soups, only gets better the next day. It can also easily be made vegan if you omit the cheese

Note: As you can see in the photo, there is a rim of oil around the soup. Being that I put only 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot to sauté the onions, I think the culprit is the bouillon cube. Either way, it didn't taste oily. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Potato and Artichoke Gratin with Spinach

My tummy has been seriously finicky recently. About a month ago I got a serious bout of food poisoning and ever since then, it hasn't been the same. It's not a big deal but it's frustrating because I used to have an iron stomach. I could eat anything (vegetarian) and be fine. No matter the quantity or richness of the dish. 

But maybe that's not such a good thing. Maybe that allows you to be unnecessarily reckless with your diet (I'm looking at you, medium cheese pizza!) Now I have to take care to choose the right foods for my stomach and feed myself right. For me, that means lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of grains and limited dairy. Dairy definitely seems to be the culprit whenever I'm feeling queasier than normal. 

Thus, I am going to be making an effort to cook more vegan dishes around here. Having said that, I always run the risk of becoming too strict with myself, so I don't want to rule out dairy and in particular cheese for good. I just want to only enjoy the best and smelliest cheese out there and not waste my time with less than stellar crappy cheeses. And please continue stopping by even if you're afraid of vegan food. I'd like to show that it doesn't have to be so gross and tasteless. 
Slice as thinly as possible. 
This is where Robin Robertson's '1000 Vegan Recipes' has really come in handy. As I've mentioned before, her book is pretty awesome and yes, it's vegan. But don't write it off right away. Seriously, almost all of the dishes look delicious and it doesn't call for lots of weird ingredients. Not a fan of fake meat? Stay away from the tempeh and seitan section. Plus, I have actually un-veganized some of her recipes (which is probably blasphemous) and still enjoyed them immensely. 

So back to the recipe at hand. A few days ago my stomach was acting up again, so I wanted to make something simple and carb-y to soothe my stomach. I was attracted to this gratin recipe because it doesn't have cheese in it and utilizes two of my favorite vegetables, artichokes and spinach. In fact, even better, artichoke hearts
Layering the potatoes. 
The recipe is super simple and would be even more so if you have a mandoline. I didn't and had to slice the potatoes by hand. This dish reheats well and was just what the doctor ordered. It was filling without being so wild that it upset my stomach. I would definitely recommend it. And for those of you who can't imagine a non-cheesy gratin, I simply added some shredded gruyere for my roommate and she loved it as well. 

Potato and Artichoke Gratin with Spinach
Adapted from Robin Robertson's '1000 Vegan Recipes' 
1 (10 ounce) package artichoke hearts 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fresh spinach
6 small Kennebec potatoes*
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

*For the record, I used the potatoes I found at the market that looked good and then looked up what they were called online later. I used 6 small Kennebec potatoes in place of the 2 large Russet potatoes Robin calls for, but I'm sure you could be fairly creative here. 

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Oil a casserole dish and slice up the artichoke hearts. 
2. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and spinach until wilted. 
3. Layer the sliced potatoes in the dish, add a layer of artichoke hearts and then the spinach. I drained the spinach a bit, FYI. Continue doing so and end with a layer of potatoes. 
4. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  
5. Combine the broth and nutritional yeast in a bowl and pour over the gratin. Bake for 40 
minutes or until the potatoes are baked through and browned. 

Sprinkle some Parma for added flavor. 
This dish goes great with a side salad and can even be enjoyed cold. Or maybe that's just me- I prefer everything cold. 

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