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Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, October 26 and 27, 2013
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Entries in gluten-free (7)


Dukkah-Encrusted Tofu

Dried tofu. Photo credit: Vegan Good EatsI grew up eating tofu since I come from an Asian family but it was never served to me plain and white, like you see in the supermarket. Some of my clients who aren't familiar with tofu don't realize that you're not supposed to eat fresh tofu straight out of the carton! It is meant to be seasoned and cooked. My favorite ways to eat it are pan-fried or dried (you can find this in Asian grocery stores near the fresh tofu), which are more flavorful. I don't prefer to fry foods because of the mess afterwards, so I usually enjoy this type of tofu from a Chinese restaurant (or at my parent's house, if they'll cook it for me!). For my meals, I add plain, diced extra firm tofu to salads and soups, where it picks up the flavor of the salad dressing or broth. This week I noticed a jar of dukkah, given to me by a friend, sitting in my cabinet and thought why not try it on tofu? Dukkah, originally from Egypt but now becoming popular here, is a spice blend incorporating toasted nuts, seeds, herbs and a little salt. You can sprinkle it on meats, fish, pasta, and even salads.

I used Nasoya's Extra Firm Tofu Plus that is high in protein, calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins. I pressed the tofu to drain out extra water and make it even firmer (place the whole block of tofu between two paper towels on a plate and rest a heavy book or pan on top for about 10 minutes), and then cut the tofu into triangles and squares. I brushed all sides of the tofu with a sauce mixture of 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. I sprinkled the dukkah over the top and baked in a 350 F oven for 35 minutes.

The result was a flavorful tofu with a nice crunch from the dukkah's almonds and various seeds. It went well on top of a salad, though I equally enjoyed the leftover tofu the next day warmed with brown rice and vegetables. Actually I preferred the flavor of the tofu after it had been refrigerated and reheated, as the seeds had softened and the sauce had soaked deeper into the tofu.

 It's an easy recipe and a great way to get more whole soy into your diet!


Fiesta Bean Salad with Quinoa (Ensalada Fiesta con Frijoles y Quínoa)

I'm getting ready to teach my first bilingual diabetes cooking class with Latino recipes. In the past six months I've counseled a growing number of Latino patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. The challenge is that beans and rice is such an important staple of their diets, often eaten 2-3 times a day. Some have made the change to using brown rice instead of white and adding less oil, but they admit it does not taste quite right. I understand this because growing up my family's meals always included a bowl of steamed white rice along with whatever else was served. There are certain dishes where you just can't substitute brown rice for soft fragrant white rice! So my strategy is to offer a different dish entirely but with familiar ingredients. I found this Fiesta Bean Salad recipe on skinnytaste.com, a fantastic blog for healthful and flavorful recipes. It contains beans, vegetables and cilantro, all rich in fiber and phytonutrients, along with the healthful fat of avocados and olive oil to improve absorption of some of the nutrients. There is no rice but I added a small amount of quinoa, a soft-textured whole grain rich in fiber and protein, to offer more nutrients and help mimic the idea of rice and beans.

This quick and easy recipe is perfect as is but I made a few minor changes. I added ~1 cup of cooked quinoa. For the dressing I increased the olive oil to 2 tablespoons to account for the additional grain and added a tablespoon of honey (or you could use Stevia) because the dressing was a tad tart for me. I also used 2 teaspoons of garlic powder instead of the fresh garlic that I forgot to buy. One serving (a little over one cup) provides about 3 1/2 carbohydrate servings, and the inclusion of fiber, protein and healthful fat slows digestion to keep one's blood sugars from spiking.

The result was an incredibly flavorful and yummy vegetarian dish that tastes fantastic warm or at room temperature. Even though it seems like a summer dish, I definitely plan on making this year-round. Hoping and praying that my diabetes class loves it, and that you do too!


Drink Your Veggies

Click on the pic for Spinach Fruit Smoothie recipeSure you could have had a V-8, but now there are endless fruit and vegetable drinks to help you get your recommended 5-9 servings of produce a day. Maybe it's the popularity of "cleanses" and juice fasts that these drinks have secured so much shelf space in supermarkets. I don't buy these drinks because of the cost and high calories, but I can see the appeal of drinking produce because it's less intimidating to gulp down than to chew through 5-9 servings! A downside is that you lose out on the fiber you'd get from the whole food, but you'll still benefit from their phytochemicals and antioxidants. Over the summer I'd started blending up my own shakes with whole fruits and greens like kale or spinach. 

But now that the weather is cold, I don't crave those frosty frappes. So I searched for pureed vegetable soup recipes that allow me to enjoy a nice warm drink of veggies. I make a large pot to keep in the fridge and drink a reheated cup a day. To be honest, you could probably use any vegetable soup recipe and blend it up. Adding at least one starchy vegetable like sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin squash will help to thicken it. 

This week I chose a carrot peanut soup inspired by a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook (Clarkson Potter Pub, 1999). The original recipe includes chili paste, which I omitted, but still produces a flavorful satisfying soup with richness from the peanut butter. It makes a great evening snack and will give you that last boost of antioxidants before bed!

Carrot Peanut Soup


1 T canola oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

1 t salt

6 cups water

2 T peanut butter

3 T lite soy sauce

2 T lime juice


  1. In a soup pot on medium heat, warm the oil and add the onions, carrots, celery and salt. Saute on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice. In a blender, puree the soup in batches (or use an immersion blender).  

There are some great online resources to get you excited about fruits and veggies, such as Fruits and Veggies More Matters and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. I like CDC's handy calculator that estimates how many servings of fruits and veggies you need daily based on your age and activity level.