Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tofu Shirataki Primavera

The bandwagon of House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles is pretty big. Are you on it? With a Weight Watchers points plus value of just 1 point for a 12 oz. package of springy, yummy noodles, I never get a craving for pasta that derails my diet. I just keep a stash of noodles in the fridge for those times, and I can adapt any recipe (marinara, alfredo, or primavera) to suit my needs.

The national availability of Tofu Shirataki noodles seems a little patchy, but they are carried at Ralphs in California and are similar to Miracle Noodles (but healthier in that they have nutritional value). I questioned someone from Miracle Noodles about what they were made of when I was at Kosherfest, and they couldn't or wouldn't tell me what was actually in them. I decided not to buy them as I am not interested in eating something that is nothing more than, say, edible styrofoam.

I get Tofu Shirataki at Glatt Express in Teaneck. They are housed in the refrigerated tofu section, and are a combination of tofu and an asian yam. I find them filling and I enjoy their springy texture, which does take a little getting used to. I'm not gonna lie; The mouth feel is a little different from regular pasta, but I really like it. Possibly even more than regular pasta!

To prepare the noodles, drain the pasta and rinse off the stinky tofu smell in a colander. Then heat it for a couple of minutes. Three minutes in a microwave or a quick parboil works fine. Don't forget to redrain the pasta very well after heating, even in a microwave. Patting the pasta dry with a paper towel helps sauce adhere to it a little better.

To make primavera, I add roasted vegetables (a winter melange of brussel sprouts, asparagus, carmelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes are pictured), and I often add leftover cubed chicken and wilted red cabbage or kale to up the protein and/or fiber content. To sauce it, I combine 2 tsp olive oil with 1 tsp minced garlic, fresh herbs, salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of rice vinegar or fresh lemon juice.

To make a low-fat alfredo-like sauce, I combine 2 tbsp of plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I heart Chobani), with 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, pepper to taste, one tbsp of granulated parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp of shredded mozzarella.

Fiber-Rich, Low-Fat Pancakes!

I know, I know... the only pancakes us Jews are famous for are fried in oil and stuffed with potatoes, onions and salt. But that's got to change, at least just for everyday eating; After a 25 pound weight loss over the past four months (yay!!), I am absolutely thrilled to be lightening up recipe after recipe. We have our comfort classics for the holidays and every Shabbos, but I feel strongly that we have to eat healthier on a daily basis so we can enjoy special meals and times together for many years to come.

I got a breakfast pancake idea from someone at my Weight Watchers group, and I adapted it for a family meal of breakfast for dinner (my favorite time for breakfast!). This recipe makes 8 medium-sized, heart-healthy, low-fat pancakes.

1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup water
1 and 1/3 cup refrigerated egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp pure maple syrup (or more, if desired)
2 tsp brown sugar (or more, if desired)
cooking spray and a non-stick skillet or frying pan

Add the oats to a mixing bowl and moisten the oats with the water, mixing with a fork until all the oats are moistened. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. Heat a cooking sprayed skillet to medium high heat, and add 1/3 cup of the mixture. If the oats pool in the middle of the pancake, press them gently toward the outer corners with a fork. Flip after approximately 1-2 minutes or as you start to see the sides curl up and brown. Add cooking spray after each pancake as necessary, and Keep warm in an 220 degree oven for up to one hour. (WW: Yields 8 pancakes, 2 points per pancake). The recipe easily doubles for a larger family or a husband with a strong interest in pancakes.

Serve hot with fruit on the side (berries and winter melons are perfect!) and, if you have it in your budget, a little dash of maple syrup (1 WW point per tbsp).

Note: With many egg whites-based pancakes on the Internet, a tsp of baking powder is recommended to add to the batter right before frying. I haven't tried this, but it purports to help the pancakes rise a bit and feel a more pillow-like. Let me know if you try it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spicy and Healthier Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins

So moving on from the applesauce cupcakes I made for the girls' first birthday, I am experimenting with the same general recipe to try to make it spicier, chewier and more healthy and low-fat overall. Obviously we won't be doing that ridiculously sweet vanilla frosting either on a regular basis (but it's good to have on hand for emergencies/birthdays).

I started with replacing the flour with white whole wheat, with a half cup of wheat germ thrown in instead of that last half cup of flour. I also replaced one of the two cups of sugar with honey. Here goes. For Weight Watchers adherents, we're looking at a WW Points Plus value of 4 per muffin, if you're making 36 regular-sized muffins. Not bad and not bad tasting either!

2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
1 scant tsp salt
1 cup egg whites egg substitute)
2 and 1/3 cups applesauce
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients, mix and set aside. Combine wet ingredients except for the applesauce in a mixer and mix well. Add half the dry ingredients, then half the applesauce. Repeat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Mix only until just combined. Pour batter into muffin tins or loaf pans that you have sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until firm on top. Yields 36 regular-sized muffins.