The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘meatless

[This picture isn’t the best quality, but considering I was in a rush to enjoy it, this was my best shot! Next time I eat it, I’ll take better photos…]

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Oatmeal, hands down, is the ultimate healthy breakfast option for me, the perfect wake-up call to a busy weekday morning.

Today is the start of the school week, and it is also the finish-the-leftovers day. So, combining the goal of pumping myself up with fuel for a busy day at school and the objective of getting rid of last week’s leftover produce, I came up with a crazy oatmeal  flavour. It is a meatless dish that includes bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage as the key ingredients, infused with Sichuan flavour (inspired by one of my favourite Sichuan dish, Dan Dan noodles).

Quite frankly, if I didn’t need to finish the not-so-fresh product, I would never have thought about putting bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage in oatmeal. And I would definitely would never consider extracting the flavours of Dan Dan noodles and working it into my oatmeal. Even as I was cooking the dish, I knew this was a risky attempt and I prepared myself that it might not taste as good as it sounds in my head. But somehow, in the end, my oatmeal turned out creamy, spicy, peanutty, and overall, very flavourful. I enjoyed every bite.

So far, my adventure to discover new ways to enjoy oatmeal has taken me in all directions; I’ve tried many new food combinations and played with the sweet and savory flavours. But this episode has really got beyond my imagination, and I must say, from the looks of it, this adventure will only get more crazy, more exciting and more dangerous. Can’t wait until a new crazy oatmeal idea pops into my head!

Oatmeal, Sichuan flavour

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (regular / quick oats work as well, just not instant oatmeal)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
  • A drizzle of sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Taiwanese cabbage, shredded (Taiwanese cabbage is a different variety from Green Leaf cabbage; it has a sweeter flavour and a more tender texture.)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, low sodium preferably
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped

What to do:

  • I’m 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!
  • Boil a pot of water, put in bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage, simmer on medium heat until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pot, pour in chicken stock and stir in the oatmeal and the veggies. Heat mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together chili sauce, peanut butter and sesame paste. If mixture is too thick to stir well, add in a splash of hot water to help the paste blend together better. Set aside.
  • When oatmeal is heated thoroughly, add the sauce and scallions. Stir well. (At this point, you can adjust the seasoning to taste – if you want a more prominent sweet, nutty flavour, stir in more peanut butter, or if you are looking for more heat, add in chili sauce or chili oil for an extra kick.)
  • Remove from heat, cover pot and let sit for 2 – 3 minutes (let the flavour of the scallion infuse into the oatmeal). Drizzle on sesame oil before serving.

This is really a delicious way to start the day. I can savour the flavours of my favourite lunch dish while treating my body to a bowl of whole grain goodness.

If you’re the type of person who prefers savory breakfasts over sweet ones (and if you enjoy hot and spicy food), then you’ve got to try this recipe, it won’t disappoint you. I promise!

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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.

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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.



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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

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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?

Photoby FotoosVanRobin

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

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Meat tastes good and I’m definitely not saying eating meat is a bad thing!

Meat provides various essential nutrients, including iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. However, I will say that consuming meat can significant increases our health risks, especially chronic health problems such as coronary heart diseases if we continue to eat meat the way we do right now.

What’s wrong with the way we eat meat? Here’s two big issues:

Outrageous portion sizes. Over the years, our perception of portion sizes has dramatically inflated. We tend to think a 8oz steak is a normal serving of meat, but that amount of meat is actually 2 -3 servings of meat, according to the Canada’s Food Guide. Try comparing portion sizes 20 years ago to portion sizes now, you will most likely be surprised at how much smaller sizes are back then.

Choose meat too often. We seem to view meat as being an integral part of our diet, and so we rarely consider choosing meat alternatives (we seem to forget about their existence unless we have certain dietary concerns). A common misunderstanding is that these food options are inferior to meat, in terms of their nutritional value. This statement is partly true in that meat does provide us with complete protein, but what we do not realize that these options can provide additional health benefits that are absent from meat.

So how can we deal with these two problems? One simple solution to cut back our meat consumption. It can be a very difficult challenge, but one small step you can take today is try to substitute meat with meat alternatives.

Here are my top three favourite meat alternatives:

Tofu

Why is it good?

Tofu is a high-protein, low-fat and low-calorie product, perfect for those who are weight-conscious. Certain types of tofu, especially the firm ones, are also a good source of calcium. Because tofu is made from soybeans, it does not contain cholesterol by nature, which may be preferable for those who are concerned about cholesterol.

How to use it?

It’s a super versatile ingredient. Soft or silken tofu can be a star ingredient in different appetizers and desserts. Try making an Edamame “Hummus” Dip or a Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. Firm tofu is a great addition to any stir-fry. To make things fancy, you can also try to make Caramelized Tofu as a main dish, or how about try making Grilled Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce? Here’s another must try vegetarian recipe featuring tofu — Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu.

Beans

Why is it good?

Not only do they provide protein, beans are also an excellent source of fiber (half a cup of cooked beans will fulfill nearly 25% of your daily fiber needs). Getting enough fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Like tofu, beans come from plant sources, and so theynaturally do not contain cholesterol.

How to use it?

Chili is a great way to introduce more beans into your diet. Make your own hummus using dried or canned chickpeas and serve it as a dip for vegetables or pita chips for a delicious, healthy and fulfilling snack or side dish. In this Creamy Broccoli and White Bean Soup, beans are added in to create a creamy texture without needing to add cream. Beans can also be a star ingredient in pasta dishes!

Nuts and Nut Butter

Why is it good?

Nuts and nut butter have similar nutrition profile as meats, but without the saturated fats. Instead, they contain heart-healthy oils which have protective effects against heart diseases. These oils will help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and boost HDL (good cholesterol) and ultimately improving your overall blood cholesterol and lipid profile.

How to use it?

Instead of reaching for jam or butter, try spreading nut butter onto your toast in the morning. Or, throw in a handful of nuts into your salad instead of topping it with a big chunk of meat. Nuts also make the perfect, fuss-free snack when you’re on the run. Another way to enjoy nuts is making your own granola — here’s my favourite recipe by Alton Brown (absolutely heavenly!).

Meat has become less dominant in my food world, and it can come true for you too! Just dive in and try these recipes today!

More Resources:

Tofu @ World’s Healthiest Foods

Tofu Recipes and Cooking Tips @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Beans and Lentils @ HealthCastle.com

Beans: Protein-Rich Superfoods @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Nuts @ HealthCastle.com