Tag Archives: tofu

Veggie Soup Day

I don’t know if I mentioned it or not…. but my Mama is one wonderful lady.  When I moved into my apartment she came up with me, spent the night, and stayed until 7 the next night with a 90 minute drive back home and early morning wake up call for work.  She kicked butt at building shelving units for my closet, moving shelves in the kitchen cabinets, and hanging wall items.  But my Mama’s amazingness has been going on long before I moved.  Throughout the years as she has gotten new items for her house she put aside the old items for my brother and I when we moved out.  I used some of them when I got an apartment my junior year of college, but had kind of forgotten about them since then.  Moving reminded me just how much stuff she had for me.  Allow me to list a few:

–          A complete dish set including serving bowls, tea cups and saucers, coffee cups, dinner plates, small plats, big and small bowls, and a serving plate.

–          Little glass bowls for pudding and the such

–          A full set of glasses including tall and short glasses, Christmas mugs and glasses (my favorite!), and plastic tumblers

–          A full set of silverware although a little mishmashed

–          Wooden spoons, spatula, serving spoons, and other odds and ends

After my Mom went through her cabinets

Needless to say, I didn’t need to buy one thing for my kitchen.  Although I couldn’t resist and bought purple cookware spoons and spatula!

Not my finest picture day

And I was lucky enough to get a Christmas present early… my avocado green Martha Stewart pots and pans set.  Every time I pull one out to cook with I get so giddy.

Another item my mom gave me is an item I cannot wait to replace.  My knives.  They are the worst.  You don’t realize just how important a good knife is until you start chopping with bad ones.  Don’t worry, I’m not offending her.  She knows they are bad.  She admitted it to me!  When she set up her first kitchen she bought the cheapest of everything, knives included.  She, like me, didn’t know the quality made much of a difference.  When she could afford nicer knives she bought them and set aside the old ones for her kids to have.  Well, I have them.  And I can’t wait to get rid of them.  Making tonight’s veggie soup showed me once again how difficult a bad knife makes things.  I wanted to cut my veggies into tiny lady-like pieces but quickly gave up and went for big chunks.  My knife simply can’t handle tiny cuts!  Fortunately for me I know that Santa is bringing me a brand new professional knife for Christmas because I was there and picked it out!  I will soon be the proud owner of this bad boy.

Even though I can’t wait for my new knife, enough can’t be said for the generosity of my Mama when she thought twenty years into the future and saved all of her kitchen items for her kids.  A bad knife is better than no knife!

I first made this soup as a way to give back to my Mom.  This past spring she was freakishly sick with upper respiratory issues and couldn’t shake it for a few months.  I say freakishly because this woman never gets sick.  And here she was laid up in bed and on the couch for weeks.  I took pity on her and downloaded the Netflix app onto her iPad, showed her how to use it, and let her use my Netflix account (since cancelled because of their crazy price changes!) to pass the time while she laid around the house.  I also made her this veggie soup to give her the nutrients she desperately needed.  The first time I made it I followed the directions exactly except for the corn (because I don’t eat corn) and the pearled barley.  I searched and searched the grocery store for the pearled barley but couldn’t find it anywhere.  The soup calls for chicken and when we ate it we thought there was just too much chicken.  She and I both prefer more veggie and broth and less meat.  So this time around I made it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and tofu instead of chicken.  Deeeelicious.  I also found pearled barley in the grocery store (I found it in the bean aisle at Giant) and threw some kale in because I love kale.  I love this soup.  Love it.  I’m not a big soup fan and normally don’t eat it as a leftover but this one I’ll eat all the time.  I was thinking about my Mom as I made it and was about to text her when she called.  I told her I was making the soup and she said “Mmm that soup was so yummy.”  I love my Mama.

The recipe comes from my Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks.  I adapted it slightly.

Veggie Soup!!
(flat belly calls it Chicken-Barley Soup with Vegetables and Pesto)

4 c. low-sodium vegetable broth (FB calls for chicken broth)
2 c. water
1/2 c. pearled barley
1 block extra firm tofu (FB calls for 12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves) ** tofu how-to below
1 can (14.5 oz) no-salt added stewed tomatoes
1 large leek (white and tender portion of green), halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 1/2″ slices (I would definitely use more than 1)
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped (I did 3)

2 ribs celery, chopped (I did 4)
a few leaves of kale (this is not in the FB recipe)
Pesto (FB calls for 1tbsp per bowl)
(FB calls for 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels but I don’t eat corn so I don’t add this part)

1. Bring the broth and water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat.  Add the barley (this is also where you would add the chicken if you were having chicken), reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, stirring several times.  (If you added chicken, remove the chicken after 30 minutes and place on a cutting board.  When it’s cooked, shred it.)

2. Add the tomatoes (with juice), leek, onion, carrots, celery, and kale and raise the heat to high.  Reduce the heat to low when the mixture comes to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetable is tender.

3. (If you are using corn and chicken, add it now).  Add tofu.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until warmed through.

4. Ladle into bowls and top each with 1 tbsp of the pesto.

5. Enjoy!

Tofu How-To

Tofu can be scary to cook with when you don’t know how!  To keep your tofu from falling apart when cooking, follow these simple steps.

1. Place 2 paper towels on a dinner plate.
2. Place the tofu on top of the paper towels.

3. Place 2 more paper towels on top of the tofu.
4. Place another dinner plate on top of the paper towels.
5. Top the plate with a few heavy items.  I like to use cans.

6. Let it squish for about 20 minutes.

7. Transfer to a cutting board and cut as needed!


Check this out!

Check out this great post from one of my favorite bloggers, Cara’s Cravings.  You’ve seen me share her recipes before and here is another!  Perfect Protein Pancakes.

Recently, Cara had to majorly change her diet and one of the things out the window was dairy.  But that didn’t stop her!  She revamped her favorite protein pancakes to use tofu!  Crazy, I know!!  But I haven’t been led in the wrong direction by her yet so I think I’ll add this recipe to me list.
Bonus!  There is a giveaway on this post so be sure to check it out!!

Cashew, Tofu, and Broccoli Stir-Fry

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.  The idea behind it is healthy, delicious, easy-to-prepare meals, that follow their flat belly diet plan.  While I don’t follow the FBD plan I do like that every meal includes a MUFA.  What is a MUFA you ask?

MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah) are monounsaturated fatty acids, plant-based fats found in some of the world’s most delicious foods–avocado, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate! Studies show that these good-for-you fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease. And now the latest research shows that these dietary superstars may even target fat where it’s hardest to lose–in your belly! (source)

The MUFA’s are also what helps us feel full after eating which is awesome for me because I am always hungry an hour after eating.  If I eat a MUFA meal, the hunger isn’t there as much.  Most of the meals I make come from the FBDCookbook and now they came out with a new cookbook, the Flat Bell Diet Family Cookbook.  I love that there are new recipes for me to try and they are geared towards getting everyone in your family to eat healthy.  Although I don’t have a family of my own, it is hard to cook for my parents when my dad needs meat with every meal and I try not to eat meat.  The first meal I made from the new cookbook is the Cashew, Tofu, and Broccoli Stir-Fry.  DELICIOUS!  It was approved by my Mom (but she approves anything that anyone makes for her) and would have been approved by my dad had it been made with chicken instead of tofu.  The recipe can be found here and below.

  • 1 container (14 ounces) firm light tofu
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch add to shopping list
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

I like to chop all of my vegetables for cooking so that everything is prepared and ready to go!

  1. Drain your tofu by placing the tofu on a paper towel on a dinner plate, then put another paper towel or two on top, another dinner plate on top of that, and stack heavy objects on the very top.  I like to use giant tomato sauce cans.  Leave it to press for 20 minute.
  2. In the meantime, start your brown rice cooking.  Start a pot of boiling water for the broccoli. Combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  3. Add the broccoli to the boiling water, return to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, or until bright green. Drain and set aside.
  4. Transfer the tofu to a cutting board and cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes. Heat 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer the tofu to a plate and set aside.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the skillet. Add the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the broccoli and tofu, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until hot. Stir the soy sauce mixture to recombine and add to the skillet along with the cashews. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions. Serve over the rice.