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Entries in FitMamaEats (165)

Sunday
Jan112015

Quickest Soup Ever

A few years ago I posted Quickest Meal Ever, out of laziness really. It continues to be a mainstay of my weeknight meals, with a few variations of the protein or vegetable. Because it was such a basic boring recipe, I was surprised by the positive reader response, which makes me realize there are others who share my minimalist cooking techniques, at least during the work week.

I've followed up that recipe with a very fast healthful and yummy soup that I've been eating at least 2-3 times a week, especially since the weather has been freezing! It's a tomato tofu bean broccoli soup that is composed entirely of prepared and frozen items. I know it sounds gross with ingredients you've probably never paired together, but somehow it works!

Ready-prepared ingredients for the soup. I didn't use the Brussels sprouts this time but it's a veggie option.

The base is a low sodium creamy tomato soup from Trader Joe's. If you can't get that, try Campbell's Healthy Request Tomato, which isn't as creamy as Trader Joe's but still works. Frozen broccoli is usually chewy and low in flavor, but its texture is perfect here simmered in the tomato broth. Tofu also can be difficult but again it magically enhances this soup. I'd recommend firm or extra firm tofu, plain or flavored. Today I used a baked sesame seasoned tofu (by the way, I love the Nasoya marinated baked tofus...soo delicious even cold out of the package!). The canned beans are optional but will beef up the fiber, iron, protein and extra heartiness. I didn't need to add any salt or seasonings as the tomato and seasoned tofu infused plenty of zestiness.

If you don't have time to press, season and bake tofu, Nasoya's ready-to-eat baked version tastes fantastic. It even makes a great snack right out of the package.

The ingredients sound strange and it doesn't look that appetizing but I promise it tastes GREAT.

Everything is cooked and ready to serve, so simply heat together and eat! You can use this soup as part of a post-holiday "cleanse" or as a filling vegan lunch or dinner. You can add more vegetables or different proteins as desired, or pair with a handful of lentil chips (my review on these Simply 7 Chips is coming next month!) or even a classic grilled cheese sandwich if you need more hearty. This soup is chock full of potassium, protein, fiber and iron while being low in calories and fat. The vitamin C in the tomato soup improves the absorption of iron from the tofu and beans.

Quickest Soup Ever

(Makes one big bowl or 2 smaller servings)

Ingredients 

1 can Campbell's Healthy Request Soup (with 1 can water added) or 2 cups Trader Joe's Low Sodium Creamy Tomato Soup

2 cups frozen broccoli (or other green vegetable)

4-6 ounces baked marinated tofu, chopped into cubes

1/2 cup black, cannellini or red kidney beans (or your favorite), drained and rinsed

Directions

Bring soup and broccoli to boiling on medium-high heat, and then lower to medium heat. Add chopped tofu and beans into pan and heat through. Stir before serving and enjoy. Yummy even after refrigerating and reheating!

Saturday
Nov082014

Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

This fall the temperatures have been pretty mild. Usually I'm in full swing with baking and simmering by the end of October but so far I've used the crock pot only once and baked twice. When I saw a recipe on MyFitnessPal (who knew this site featured some great recipes?) for a Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad, I knew it would fit well for a mellow autumn day. Warm, roasted seasonal vegetables and a fall fruit atop refreshing salad greens. I've never roasted beets beforewow they were so delicious (just a little messy dealing with all the red beet juice when chopping it up). My only changes to the recipe were leaving out the raisins and orange zest, and changing the pecans to walnuts. I also used regular black chia seeds instead of white (the nutritional value is the same by the way).

Honestly, I wasn't expecting the salad to taste as amazing as it was. 

The crunch of the walnuts and chia seeds contrasted the soft roasted rich vegetables, and the maple cinnamon dressing was suprisingly light and not too sweet. The crispy pear complemented the flavors of the entire salad. Yum!

It was such a refreshing, satisfying salad with so many memorable flavors that I actually closed my eyes to better focus on them. Try out this salad if you're practicing mindful eating strategies: chewing slowly and thoroughly, noticing how the flavors blend and evolve the more you chew each bite, and feeling gratitude for such a wonderful meal.

Saturday
Oct042014

Thank God for Crock Pots and Trader Joe's

I'm embarrassed to say that's pretty much the summary of my first experience with a 10-week CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that was offered through my workplace. As a member, you purchase upfront a whole season of fresh produce from a local farm, which helps the farmers pay for costs related to running the farm. I love eating all vegetables, so I couldn't think of anything better than to receive a weekly box of colorful seasonal local produce. I'd just skip that section of the supermarket and plan my recipes on whatever was in the box. I'm a nutritionist and blogger after allI should have done this a long time ago!

Photo courtesy Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital. Onsite farmers market selections.

I didn't want to shell out the $440 upfront and neither did my coworker Eileen, so we decided to pay half and divvy up the weekly box. Week 1 was a delight. Opening that box and seeing vibrant strawberries, delicate carrots, butter lettuce, ears of corn. There was real dirt on everything! The slug in the lettuce affirmed this was farm-fresh. Wow I hadn't tasted real carrots like that since I was a child. Carrots nowadays have a bitter chemical taste. These were crisp and sweet. Same with the lettuce, which I devoured in one sitting. Week 2 offered strawberries again, though quite tart this time. Herbs that I didn't recognize. And more lettuce and carrots. But the carrots weren't sweet like last week's. We ate through most of the produce except the herbs, which wilted and turned yellow in two days, so they got thrown out. Weeks 3-6 I looked forward to seeing the box but became discouraged when I saw greens and herbs that were already droopy. I couldn't eat it fast enough. There was a lot of washing of dirt, chopping the greens, and peeling the beans.

Weeks 7-9 I actually started dreading the box. Hot peppers that I couldn't eat, unfamiliar herbs that looked like grass, purple-spotted beans. One week I forgot to take out of the box some beets that my husband enjoyed. He blamed me when he saw they'd molded. I'd been throwing out half the produce in the past few weeks. Oy vay, so much guilt.

Last week was our final box and Eileen and I silently rejoiced (she'd had the same problem as me). She was ready for it to end; there were just too many things that we would never purchase otherwise and didn’t end up eating.

The valuable lesson I learned is that my lifestyle is not CSA-friendly. Some crazy days I'm at the hospital 12-14 hours. Even if I work my usual 10 hours, I have to rush out to pick up my son from aftercare, then head home with 3 hours for us to eat dinner, do homework and wind down for bed. The CSA box arrived on Wednesdays, mid-week when I couldn't manage a cooking fest. 

Week 10 had lots of plum tomatoes and potatoes to add to my mountain of tomatoes and potatoes from the previous weeks. To celebrate the end, I attacked it all with a knife, chopping and throwing everything in my crock pot. I added my favorite soup, Trader Joe's Low Sodium Creamy Tomato, spices, and olive oil, simmering everything down and then serving it with Trader Joe's turkey meatballs. Not bad at all. I've been eating that stew for the past five days for lunch and dinner and I do feel good about it. 

My parents enjoyed some items I begged them to take. But overall I'm a failure because of all the waste I created. I couldn't handle even half a box. So humbling. The reason I'm sharing my failure is to give any readers who haven't tried a CSA to think seriously before jumping in. The downsides are that you will likely receive a lot of stuff you'd never buy in the supermarket, in large quantities. You need to be adventurous, find recipes, and be determined to use all the produce within a week (you can't stuff them into the produce drawer because guaranteed you'll forget they're there). Also I was disappointed that the CSA produce didn't always taste better than supermarket stuff. If your lifestyle is like mine but you want to support farmers and eat local produce, find supermarkets that purchase from your community's farms, or frequent farmers markets where you can choose items you know you'll use. Or else dig out your crockpot ๐Ÿ˜€.

I found some comfort in reading a similar perspective on CSAs in the Boston Globe, with a few interesting solutions described at the end.