Sweet Chili & Soy Tofu Vegetable Bowl

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This is a great recipe for anyone who is also following a low carb regime. I started the keto diet for Lent, in hopes of being able to fast myself from drinking alcohol, and eating sweets. Two things that make up a large part of what I consume on a daily basis (so much for a healthy lifestyle, huh?)  I just did a weigh in last week and have lost 5 pounds in 1 month! That’s pretty exciting to me considering I haven’t been to the gym since early December. An unfortunate injury to my tailbone from slipping on ice a few weeks ago has kept me from being able to work out. I’m hoping the bruising will heal soon so I can get back into my fitness routine. 2018 has been off to a rocky start with my health. I started it sick with bronchitis  for all of January into early February and then right when my strength had come back, during an early morning walk with the dog, I slipped very hard on the ice and slammed flat on my tailbone causing severe bruising which is still healing 3 weeks later. I heard rumors that the keto diet is an easy way to lose weight without having to workout. So I figured, if I cant go to the gym to lose weight, I’ll have to sacrifice some of my favorite things for 40 days to see if this diet actually works, and we’ll go from there. 

As you may have read, I recently adopted the pescatarian diet (Vegetarian including the source of fish or other seafood as protein) I will however still eat small bites of meat on the rare occasions like a tasting menu at work or my husband and I are at a restaurant known for their food. I’m not super strict or hardcore about this change, I just chose to eat less animal fats and focus more on healthier alternatives for personal reasons. During this change, I have been eating more vegan “meat alternatives”, a ton of seafood, lots of vegetables, berries, whole grains and soy products such as tofu. You may see a lot of tofu recipes on here but that’s because I happen to enjoy cooking and eating it.

This recipe takes my favorite Asian flavors of soy, and sweet chili sauce to coat the tofu and lay on top a bed of sauteed vegetables with garlic and sesame oil. If you enjoy Asian cuisine, I’m sure you’ll love this recipe. Feel free to substitute Chicken or another protein of your choice if Tofu isn’t your cup of tea 😉

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Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu (Pressed to remove liquid, cut into bite size chunks)
  • 1 bag of Frozen vegetable Medley of choice (you may use fresh vegetables if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Cup Raw Spinach
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • S&P, TT

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce ( I used Mae Ploy)
  • 1/3 Cup Honey

Method of Prep:

  • In a saute pan over medium high heat, generously oil pan with vegetable oil. Add in tofu cubes and sear on each side 4 minutes or until golden brown all around.
  • As tofu is cooking, in a small sauce pot, whisk together all ingredients for sauce over medium heat until well combined. Bring to a boil and adjust heat to low. Allow liquid to simmer and reduce for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once tofu is browned on all sides, remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the oil.
  • Using the same saute pan, over medium heat, oil the pan again then add frozen veggies and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until hot and vegetables are cooked through. Finish with sesame oil.
  • Dump vegetables into serving bowl. Top with spinach, allowing the steam from hot vegetables to lightly cook the spinach. Stir to combine.
  • Place saute pan back over medium heat, add in tofu and half the sweet chili sauce. Toss together until tofu is well coated and hot again. Pour onto bed of vegetables and spinach. Serve immediately. (Add extra sauce if you choose)
  • Enjoy! *Can Also be served with rice

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Marblehead Lighthouse

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I may have specified somewhere along the way that I wanted to expand this blog to more than just food. I do a lot crafting with wine bottles, corks, etc and I also have a passion for nature photography. I’ve done a post or two in the past on Lake Erie and other destinations I’ve visited not pertaining to food. I would like to continue doing that in this blog for more diversity. Some people may find my photography and crafting skills to be tremendous vs my food skills haha.  

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The Marblehead Lighthouse rests on the Marlehead peninsula, a rocky headland of Columbus Limestone that juts into Lake Erie. The oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes, has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead  since 1822. The Columbus Limestone on the peninsula has been dug for years and used around the country as a building stone, including the state capitol building in Columbus. Columbus Limestone is extremely durable; one of its uses is to armor vulnerable sections of shoreline against wave attack. This durability is why the Marblehead Peninsula exists and why the lighthouse has been in continuous operation since its construction. Source: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/marbleheadlighthouse#activities

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It’s still technically winter here in N.E OH, even though the sun made an appearance today, it was still frigid. The cold didn’t stop me from taking my camera and getting out of the car 1 hour shy of sunset to capture some great photos of the light house and the area that surrounds it. My Grandparents live 10 minutes west of the Lighthouse, so when I am visiting, I like to escape for a minute to this little peninsula and have a moment of R&R. Today I took my dad with me because him and I haven’t had the opportunity to go together yet. If only it wasn’t so windy, I would’ve tried to catch more photos of the area. The wind chill had my hands feeling like they were going to fall off so I snapped what I could then made it quickly back to the car to warm back up. 

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The views surrounding the area are beautiful. There is a lovely picnic area to pack a lunch and sit while looking across at Cedar Point , Kelly’s Island, South Bass Island, Sandusky Bay and of course Lake Erie. It’s worth a trip if you’re in the area! I of course recommend stopping closer to sunset because the views are fascinating! For more information on the Lighthouse or directions to the State Park:

Location

110 Lighthouse Drive
Marblehead, Ohio 43440

Contact & Mailing:
East Harbor State Park
1169 North Buck Road
Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio 43440

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I hope you enjoyed this post on one of the most appealing structures in an Ohio State Park. I look forward to collecting more outdoor icons to share. Enjoy!

Buffalo Tofu

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Hot sauce is one of my beloved addition to food. I like the added heat it gives the meal furthermore, the acidity from the vinegar based condiment gives the flavor an extra pop.

My love for Buffalo sauce has expanded beyond the chicken wing. Now that I have cut meat from my diet, I have begun experimenting more with vegetarian and vegan friendly alternatives for protein. I’ve always enjoyed Tofu, yet for some folks, these bean curd blocks can be an acquired taste.

I’ve tossed buffalo in vegetables such as cauliflower and the outcome was still delicious! I wasn’t sure what to expect when using Tofu, but the conclusion showed fine results. This recipe combines my love for both blue cheese and hot sauce. Only change from the classic buffalo wing is I am using vegetarian friendly proteins 🙂 Omnivores, please feel free to still use this recipe with the protein of your choice 😉

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Mise En Place:

  • (1) Package Firm Tofu
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • (1) Cup Broccoli, Roasted
  • (2) Tablespoons Blue Cheese Dressing
  • (1) Tablespoon Almond Milk
  • S&P, TT
  • Evoo

Method Of Prep:

  • Drain liquid from the Tofu package and press for 30 minutes or until moisture has been released (Place block in between 2 kitchen towels to soak up excess liquid. Place a bowl or something heavy on top to “press” the moisture out of the tofu.)
  • Cut up broccoli into bite size florets. Toss in 1 Tablespoon of EVOO and season with salt and pepper until well coated. Place in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until broccoli is well roasted. (You’re looking for lightly blackened edges)
  • Cut Tofu into size & shapes of your choice (cubes or planks). Season both sides with Salt & Pepper.
  • Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of EVOO to pan. Place enough Tofu to cover the skillet. Sear for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over and sear an additional 4 minutes. Continue for all sides of the Tofu (4 total, no including the front & back edges)
  • Allow tofu to rest on top of (2) paper towels to soak up oil.
  • Once broccoli is roasted, toss in blue cheese sauce.
  • Once Tofu is all roasted, toss in Buffalo sauce to coat.
  • Serve & enjoy!

Buffalo Sauce:

  • (5) Tablespoons Butter
  • (3) Ounces Hot Sauce

 

  • Melt butter in a sauce pot over medium low heat. Whisk in hot sauce until well incorporated. (If sauce begins to break, pull off of the heat, continue whisking until blended)

Blue Cheese Sauce:

  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. (Add more milk for a thinner sauce, more dressing for thicker)

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Roasted Beets

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You can’t beat beets. One of my favorite root veggies the sweet, earthy and colorful beet. They’re not only a chock-full of everyday nutrients like B Vitamins, Iron, Copper, Magnesium & Potassium, these ruby gems also are a gold mine of health boosting nutrients. 

Beets are rich in nitrates—a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels. That means better circulation, and possibly lower blood pressure.  Beets are good for lowering inflammation and blood pressure. They also help to detoxify the body, boost immunity, and prevent respiratory issues. They also help lower your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and stroke. I think you get the idea when I say, nothing beats a beet. 

I don’t know too many folks who dislike beets, but I’m thinking the ones that do, have never had a freshly roasted beet. They are probably used to something from a can & ya’ll don’t want to know my feelings on canned vegetables! Beets can be prepared numerous ways but roasted is the way to go. The beets in this recipe are rich and firm bursting with juicy flavor. They take a bit to cook but absolutely worth the wait. You be the judge of how you want to drop the beet..If you know what I mean! 

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Mise en Place:

  • 4 Medium Red Beets
  • Olive Oil
  • S&P
  • Tin Foil
  • Latex Gloves
  • Kitchen Towl

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 300 degrees farenheit
  • Trim beets off the green and rinse under cold water cleaning away any dirt from skin
  • Pull a long sheet of tin foil, about the length of a sheet pan
  • Place the beets on the foil, drizzle enough oil to lightly glaze each beet. Use your hands to massage the oil around each beet. Sprinkle with S&P
  • Close the foil around the beets, creating a pouch. Place on a sheet tray and set in oven for 50 Minutes
  • Check to see if the beets are cooked through by taking a pairing knife and inserting it through the center of a beet. If the knife slides through softly, beets are ready to pull. if beet still feels firm in the center, place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Open up foil to remove the steam and allow the beets to cool down to room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.

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Peeling the Beets:

All beets purchased from the produce section of the grocery store, need to be peeled before eating. How to do this is simple but I highly recommend you wear latex or rubber gloves to keep your hands from turning purple from the beets bleeding as the skin is removed. I start with placing a kitchen towel in both hands. Placing the beet in my left hand, on top of the towel (because i’m right handed), take the towel in your right hand and begin to push downwards  on skin. If the beets have been cooked all the way the skin will peel off very easily. If the skin is harder to peel, your beets need to be cooked a little longer. Continue to do this around the whole beet until all the of the skin is removed. Cut into quarters, or slice into rounds and add to any meal of your choice!

Enjoy, Cheers!

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Tofu Rice Bowls

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Everyone is familiar with memes, I’m sure. One of my favorite memes pertains to a tofu one that reads: “How to prepare tofu: Step one: Throw it in the trash. Step two: Grill some meat.” I loved that meme when I first saw it many years ago because I agreed, nothing could be better than a fresh grilled steak. Although tofu doesn’t have much flavor to it, I never disliked. Could just be a texture thing as to why some people dislike this protein. Meal prep has become popular among many Americans looking to live a healthier lifestyle and help in a grab and go for work lunch or a quick dinner. With the addition of Asian flavors in this recipe, it’s a meal you’ll want to prep often. First I want to give you a little bit of a background on why I’m working with Tofu.

Since July, I have made the decision to slowly decrease my consumption of meat. I’m not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian but a Pescatarian. Food has been such a huge role in my life, I mean I went to Culinary school for Pete’s sake! Did I mention I’m also married to a Chef? So yeah, avoiding meat is by no means easy for me. I have a few reasons why I’ve made the decision to not eat (Processed) meat but the number one reason is health. I want to diminish my chances of heart disease, I want to lose weight and avoid any and all cancers, many of which are formed due to meat & dairy consumption. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of reading on this before I made the choice to switch my diet. I still continue to eat eggs (in a small amount), I drink Almond Milk over Milk (however if I am stuck drinking milk, it’s going to be whole milk) & maybe once a week I’ll sneak in a bite of pork or chicken off my husbands plate.

With the cutback on meat protein, I hadn’t noticed any bodily changes until recently. Pros: My energy levels are the same, If anything I have a little more energy.

I find my thoughts & memory have increased a bit.

I don’t feel like a pile of shit after I eat a meal. I’m happily satisfied. I’m able to eat less and get full faster. I’ve discovered that eating small healthy snacks (granola bar, nuts, fresh fruit & vegetables) through out the day helps keep me full so I’m not overeating later.

My clothes have definitely become baggy on my body. So something is working!

Cons:  My digestion is getting used to the new protein intake finally, so I’ve been very gassy and bloated for a couple of weeks.

My taste buds seem to be a little off (might be lacking zinc) luckily that’s an easy fix with supplements.

Depending on where I’m eating, my choices can be very limited. Good thing I don’t do fast food!

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that what I’m doing with not eating meat isn’t healthy and that I’m not getting the correct proteins and vitamins needed to stay healthy. I’m sorry to break it to ya’ll but yes I am! The meat you eat has the protein you need because of what it eats (plants!). The only difference is my food doesn’t have crazy hormones injected into it, and is not only good for Humans but for the planet too. I am aware that a plant based diet may decrease the risk of cancer & disease, I know nothing is certain it will work. So I ask everyone that thinks I’m crazy and wrong for doing what I’m doing to take the time to do the research on the food you eat vs what I’m eating now and then tell me how my diet is gross. With all this said, any posts I put up from now on will be focused more on plant protein based meals. I would love to work on avoiding processed foods next, but one step at a time!

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Cup Brown Rice
  • 1 Piece Fresh Ginger, sliced
  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cucumber, sliced 1″ cuts then cut in half
  • 1 Carrot, peeled then julienne
  • 2 Radish’s, sliced thin
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, julienne thin
  • 1 Scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 1 Garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • S&P, TT
  • 2 T Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Oyster Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Rice Vinegar
  • 2 T Sambal
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 3 T Butter
  • Canola Oil

Method of Prep:

  • Cook Rice according to directions on the bag. Add fresh ginger into pot as it cooks. Once rice is finished, spread on a sheet tray and place in the refrigerator to cool (I find this prevents overcooking).
  • Mix together in a bowl, sauces for the tofu Marinade: fish sauce, soy, oyster sauce, sambal, brown sugar. Slice tofu to preferred cuts, I chose thick matchstick shapes. Add marinade to tofu and let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
  • In a bowl add cucumber, carrot, radish and onion. Mix together with rice vinegar and sesame oil. Season with S&P, TT, set aside.
  • Saute spinach in a little bit of oil & garlic, set aside.
  • Over medium heat, add a small amount of oil to a pan and begin cooking Tofu. About 4 minutes on all sides until lightly browned. Save the leftover marinade in bowl to be used as a sauce.
  • Once all the tofu is cooked, using the same pan, add reserved Tofu marinade. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and scramble the eggs.

How to Assemble:

  • First add rice, next eggs, then tofu. Pour a little bit of marinade over entire bowl. Garnish with pickled vegetables and sliced scallion.
  • Enjoy!

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