The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Archive for November 2009

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I think I just found a new favourite way to eat my steel cut oats.

During the last month or so, I got totally obsessed with adding kabocha squash puree to my oatmeal, along with a handful of dried cranberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. But after eating that for breakfast for a month straight almost, I must say that the sweet combination hast lost the wow factor. And so I started to crave savory oatmeal now.

So this morning when I opened the fridge and saw a tube of silken tofu, I instantly knew that would be the star ingredient in making savory oatmeal today!

The end result? The melt-in-the mouth tofu made the oatmeal extra creamy and a small handful of chopped scallions added a refreshing Asian touch to the oatmeal. Absolutely delicious!

Oatmeal with Tofu

What you’ll need:

  • 3 oz silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup edamame
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (I’ve written about how to prepare stove-top oatmeal before)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Soy sauce, to taste

What to do:

  • I’ve assuming that you have already cooked up a big patch of steel cut oats and have them in individual servings sizes alright — If not, follow these instructions and make some now!
  • In a small pan, add in all the ingredients, except the egg and the scallions. Break the tofu into chunks and stir the mixture well. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the tofu is heated thoroughly. Add in some water if mixture gets too thick (the longer you cook the oats, the more water it will absorb and thicker it becomes).
  • Once oatmeal is heated well, slowly pour in the egg while slowly but steady stirring the oatmeal (like you’re making egg drop soup). Bring mixture to a boil again (to make sure the egg gets cooked).
  • Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Serve hot with a splash of soy sauce, if desired.

The bowl of tofu oatmeal was surprisinglysatisfying. This simple meal really hit the spot for me! 🙂

If you’re tried Mark Bittman’s Savory Oatmeal with Scallions before and thought that was pleasant, then you’ll definitely fall in love with this recipe!

It’s honestly THAT good.

I’ve been having a crazy busy week so far…so I will probably not be posting any new recipes for this week (hopefully I’ll find energy to explore a new recipe during the weekends! :)) Stay tuned!

And during the next little while, I’ll probably write a short post on how I’m still trying eat healthily despite the many time-consuming commitments that I have chasing me at the moment!

For Technorati: URJBZ3EQ5NEX

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I like eggplant. But I don’t like the fact that it absorbs too much oil when I stir-fry it. So, I decided to find new recipes to cook eggplant in a less greasy manner. On One Hot Stove, I found a recipe for grilling eggplant.

Miso-Marinated Eggplant

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Asian eggplant, sliced into thick rounds (any variety will work, but I find Asian eggplants are naturally sweeter)
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1/2 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (apple cidar vinegar will also work)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • Hot water

What to do:

  • Turn on the broiler. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • While the oven preheats, prepare the marinade. Simply combine all the ingredients and stir well. Add in hot water slowly to thin out marinade to desired consistency (I like the consistency of a thick yogurt).
  • Dip eggplant rounds into marinade, making sure both sides are well coated. Place eggplant slices on a single layer on cookie sheet. Sprinkle sesame seeds on each piece.
  • Broil for 20 minutes, turning once, until eggplant rounds are nicely browned and cooked thoroughly.

My thoughts: This is my first attempt at grilling eggplant, and it sure tasted different from stir-frying eggplants. By marinating eggplant in miso sauce and then broiling it in the oven, eggplant comes out tender, soft (not mushy!) and takes on an unique, completely new flavour that just kept me eating one after another!

What’s so great about eggplant? Eggplant belongs to the nightshade vegetable family (other members include: bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes). It is loaded with different nutrients, especially phytonutrients which have potent antioxidant properties. These compounds have protective effect on the heart and protect our cells from free radical damage. Find out more at WHFoods.

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

Cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts — I love them all!

What’s so great about nuts?

Nuts are not only tasty, they are also a superfood that offers many health benefits:

1. Keeps the heart healthy. They are a great source of heart-healthy fats — unsaturated fats and omega-3 oil. Numerous research have indicated that unsaturated fats can help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol). High LDL is linked to increased risks of heart diseases so keeping LDL level low will have protective effect against heart issues. Omega-3 fatty acids helps to prevent blood clot,  thereby reduces the risk for strokes. Also, Diets rich in omega-3 oils have been shown to improve blood lipid profile by lowering triglycerides levels. Plus, studies have shown that nuts can help to relax blood vessels and aid in keeping blood pressure in check. All in all, the heart-healthy fats in nuts work in multiple ways to protect the heart and reduce the risks of developing heart diseases!

2. Help reduce saturated fat intake. Nuts and nut butter serve as a great meat alternative. By swapping out some of the meats in our diet with nuts, you can decrease your consumption of unhealthy saturated fats and increase the intake of heart-healthy fats at the same time (sounds like a 2 bird in 1 stone deal to me!).

3. Help to lower blood cholesterol level. Nuts contain fiber and plant sterols. Fiber may reduce blood cholesterol level. Having similar function to fiber, plant sterols, a  naturally occurring component in plants, is a potent substance that has been clinically proven to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels.

4. Protective effects against Type 2 Diabetes. The latest studies suggest that eating nuts on a regular basis can improve insulin sensitivity, which will have a positive impact on Type 2 diabetes risk. Scientists propose that the many nutrients in nuts (fiber, healthy fats and magnesium) work in a synergistic manner to regulate and improve blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

5. Keep you full and satisfied. Packed with many nutrients and fiber, nuts will keep you full longer so you will be less likely to nibble on unhealthy snacks. Nuts make a great snack choice since it is packed with many nutrients, easy to carry around, and costs comparatively cheaper than other snack items. In addition, research has shown that including a small amount of nuts as a daily snack in a energy-restrictive diet can actually enhance weight loss. Stop loading empty calories into your body, grab a handful of nuts and nourish your body!

How to eat it?

Nuts are so versatile, you can practically add it to anything. To help you get creative as to how to enjoy nuts, here are a few of my favourite ways:

How much to enjoy?

Nuts offer a wide array of health benefits, but keep in mind that it is a high-calorie food. The key to eating nuts is to choose them instead of, not in addition to, other foods. Try to stick to a serving of nuts per day. A serving of nuts is a quarter (1/4) cup , or about an ounce (30g). Be sure to choose no-salt added variations and avoid candied nuts so you don’t get extra calories that you don’t need. When choosing nut butter, try to keep the limit to two tablespoons. Make sure to find a brand without added sugar, salt or vegetable oils (look for these keywords: “no added salt”, “natural”, “100% peanuts”). Nuts and nut butter are an excellent source of protein and according to the Canada’s Food Guide, they are considered a meat alternative — use them as a substitute for meats!

More Resources:

Do you have a favourite to enjoy nuts? Share it here!



The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

A few weeks ago when I tried roasting cauliflower for the first, I thought it was already the best way to enjoy cauliflower. But now I have found an even more delicious way to cook it. When I came across Cookin’ Canuck‘s blog, I got immediately attracted to the delicious photo of the cauliflower side dish. Right away, I put it at the top of my to-make list and made it for dinner on the next day!

I followed the recipe for the most part, with a few minor amendments. I used 1 whole jalapeno pepper (I like it spicy!) and instead of stirring in brown rice, I just served it as a saucy side dish.

This side dish turned out amazing. It was rich and creamy… so filling and satisfying!!

Ginger, Jalapeño & Coconut Cauliflower

Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck’s Ginger, Jalapeño, & Coconut Brown Rice with Cauliflower

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil (I used my oil mister)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, finely diced (use less if you don’t like it as spicy)
  • 1 pound cauliflower (about 2 cups), cut into tiny florets (smaller florets will hold the sauce better)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, stirred well
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish

What to do:

  • In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium heat (I gave it a good 2 to 3 sprays with my mister).
  • Add onion and sauté on medium-heat until it turns brown (takes quite a few minutes). Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno pepper, stir well and sauté until fragrant.
  • Add cauliflower and continue to sauté until it starts to soften, about 7 – 8 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to low and let it simmer until cauliflower is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened.
  • Transfer to serving plate, stir in cilantro leaves and serve hot.

Serves 2 (original recipe serves 4, but at my house we serve gigantic vegetable portions :))

Cauliflower may not be very popular, but it can be made into a very tasty dish! Plus it offers a wide array of health benefits. I’ve praised the goodness of cauliflower before, but just in case you’ve missed it, here’s my little blurb on what’s so great about cauliflower…

“…belongs to the cruciferous family which includes broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and kale. Different studies have indicated that consumption of cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risks of developing cancer. Sulphur-containing compounds, in particular sulforaphane, have been suggested to have a potent ability to trigger liver to produce detoxifying substances. These substances inhibit enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body and enhance the activities of other enzymes involved in disabling and eliminating carcinogens. “

This vegetarian side dish is a scrumptious (and healthy!) way to enjoy cauliflower. If you have never been a cauliflower fan, now’s the time to give it another chance! Try roasting it to bring out its nutty flavour, or try making this spicy, coconut-y cauliflower dish.

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I was getting tired of serving pasta with tomato sauce and so I went on Google to find new recipes to try. My mission was to find a recipe that makes a rich and creamy, yet healthy pasta sauce.

I stumbled upon Poor Girl Eats Well‘s blog and her recipe for Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham really caught my attention. I had never thought about using sweet potatoes to make a pasta sauce…this seemed like the perfect solution to my dilemma!

Unfortunately, I had no any orange flesh sweet potatoes on hand, but I did have a Kabocha squash lying around in the corner. So, instead of going out to buy sweet potatoes, I ended up using Kabocha squash as the star ingredient for my pasta sauce.

The end result? Creamy, sweet Kabocha squash sauce exploding with flavour. Delicious!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

Inspired by Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham

  • 1 small Kabocha squash (about 1 pound), scrubbed clean
  • 2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut lengthwise into four pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Milk (I used 1% milk, but any type is fine)
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Roast Kabocha squash whole. Spread bell peppers onto a baking sheet. Roast at 425°F for about 45 minutes, or until squash skin is easily pierced with fork and bell peppers nicely blackened. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet, about 15 minutes. Cut open squash and scoop out flesh. Mash with fork or potato masher until smooth and creamy (add a little milk if too dry). [You can also puree it using a food processor.]
  • Heat olive oil in nonstick pan on medium-high heat, sauté onions until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, sauté until fragrant, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add in celery and carrots, sauté for an additional 1 minute. Add in half cup water and bay leaves, let simmer on medium-low heat until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add in mashed squash and roasted pepper. Remove bay leaves.
  • Transfer 2/3 of the batch into a blender and blend until smooth. Add puree back into pan and heat to boil again. If sauce is too thick, add in water or milk to thin to desired consistency.
  • Let cool and separate into individual portions. Makes about 3.5 cups (about 7 – 8 servings).
  • Note: Sauce will thicken over time – add in milk / water / broth to thin it out before using

Bonus: Although this sauce was made to be a pasts sauce, it can easily be served as a chunky, creamy vegetable soup on a cold winter day. This would taste equally good served over rice too. The possibilities are endless — just play with the consistency!

What’s so great about this recipe?

Healthy and savory sauce disguised as a rich and creamy sauce! It’s meatless – all the flavour comes from the vegetables. Plus, most of the vegetables are pureed – creating a thick and creamy texture and helping to boost your daily vegetable intake at the same time!

Do you like Kabocha squash? What’s your favourite way to enjoy it?

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

Grilled cheese sandwiches is the ultimate comfort food.

Yet, it isn’t the best option for an everyday lunch because a typical grilled cheese sandwich (2 slices of white bread + 3oz Cheddar Cheese + butter) will contain 27 grams of fat (18g saturated) and nearly 550 calories (enough to fuel a 60kg person to jog for 60 min).

To enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich in a healthier way, try these 3 simple modifications:

Choose cheese with lower fat content, or stronger flavour.
Choose cheese that are naturally lower in fat (ex. Mozzarella or American). You can also substitute reduced-fat cheese for regular-fat cheese. By doing so, you instantly reduce the fat content of the sandwich, and thereby cut out a big chunk of the calories. Another option is to use sharp cheeses; you will need less amount since they have a strong flavour.

Choose whole-grain bread.
Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as potassium, selenium and magnesium. The chewy texture of whole-grains will also encourage you to eat slower, allowing you to savour every bite. Whole grain breads have a lower Glycemic Index (GI) value, which makes it better option for preventing blood sugar spikes and crushes. The higher fiber content will help you stay full longer. For more nutrition information on whole grains, check out Mayo Clinic’s post on Whole Grains vs Refined Grains.

Use cooking oil spray.
Instead of generously buttering your toast before putting it on the grill, try spraying it with cooking oil and then grilling it on a dry skillet. You will still get a nicely brown, crispy toast with gooey, melted cheese centre.

These tips are just a few easy ways to lighten up your grilled cheese sandwich. To take it one step further, try making Sweet-and-Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches — by adding caramelized onions and beefsteak tomatoes, Ellie cooks up a delicious, sweet and spicy variation of the traditional grilled cheese sandwich — a 5-star recipe!

Love grilled cheese but doesn’t have the equipment or the time to make it? Try making grilled cheese sandwich this way — Grilled Cheese! With an Iron!

Do you have a favourite grilled cheese sandwich recipe? Share it here!