Monday, February 28, 2011


My current task with regard to health and eating is to increase my protein intake and reduce my sugar intake. My naturopath recommended eliminating sugar almost entirely,including natural sugars such as honey and fruit juice. I'm eating apples and pears but no other fruits as they are very high in natural sugars (such as dates, bananas, figs). I've cut out honey from my green tea and from my toast and pb and of course I have had to cut out chocolate too. My naturopath did say I could have a small piece occasionally but we all know that it requires gargantuan willpower to stop at one piece so I've opted to avoid it completely which also requires a similar amount of willpower at times. The only sugar I've eaten for the past week is an apple a day and 2 chunks of crystallised ginger after dinner. I just need that sweet little hit to round out a meal. The other sugar I've also had to eliminate is alcohol. That proved difficult in January and Feb as I had a trip to LA for a friends birthday, my own birthday, Valentines day and a mini break to Whistler. No alcohol during all that was just not gonna happen. So I elected to reduce food sugars during that time and then take out the alcohol once the festivities were over. That started on Feb 20th. I planned all my meals for the week in advance and had a busy schedule too which helped with the cravings. Sitting at home in the evening on the couch exponentially increases snacking likelihood and cravings. I went all out and also decided I would go to bed earlier at night to see how that helped things. For breakfasts, I've been on a mission to build them around proteins rather than carbs and that had required some new recipes as eggs and dairy are out for me. So the past week I enjoyed smoked salmon bagels, sausage and vegetable hash and a new recipe, scrambled tofu.
I generally enjoy tofu, in curries and when I eat Japanese food, but have not really used it as an egg substitute to date as i thought it would be a poor imitation and would leave me disappointed. However, I can't eat sausages or salmon for breakfast 7 days a week. It's costly for one and after 4 days of eating what seemed like a tonne of meat and fish, I felt like I needed a break from animal protein.
I searched online for recipes and found this one. The blogger wrote a very detailed account of how to prepare the tofu in advance so the texture was good. Thank you for saving me the time and frustration. The recipe called for some soy sauce and turmeric to give the tofu an egg-y colour and consistency. This actually really worked and I enjoyed it a lot. I added onion, cooked mushrooms and spinach to balance it out and voila! a protein rich, balance brekkie for 2 days. I will make this again this week. Here is the recipe for the basic tofu scramble and then you can add whatever else you like. I think this week I will try it in a wrap with salsa and avocado or guacamole. for those of you who eat egg, this probably won't do it for you but I'm 100% sure that the vegans out there and fellow allergy sufferers will be happy with this alternative.

BASIC TOFU SCRAMBLE Click here for link to website and other variations of recipe)


You may use firm or extra-firm cake-style, or regular, tofu. Firm tofu makes a slightly moister scramble, which is closer in consistency to scrambled eggs. Depending on the size of each portion, this recipe may make enough for three.

16 ounces extra-firm or firm regular tofu
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 scallions, white part only, finely
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
Salt and ground black pepper

1. With your hands, break cake of tofu into 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, place tofu at base of fingers in one hand. Then place other hand over tofu as if you were clapping. Gently but firmly press tofu. (It helps to curl your thumbs and fingers, clasping your hands together.) Squeeze until tofu is about half its original thickness. About half its moisture should have been removed. Loosely crumble tofu with fingers into bowl; it should look slightly like curds. Repeat pressing and crumbling process with other pieces.

2. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until slightly translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in scallions, turmeric, and soy sauce and cook until combined, about 20 seconds. Add tofu and stir-cook until evenly colored and still slightly moist, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. (Do not let tofu dry out or overcook.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn scramble out onto plates and serve immediately

So I'm guessing you might like to know how I feel with all these changes. Well, I have felt probably my best ever! I've been going to bed between 10-11pm (usually It's 11:30ish) and amazingly I've woken up before my alarm for 7 days straight, yes that includes weekends. I even went to the gym before work on Friday. I've gotten up earlier and had time to prepare my main course sized breakfasts, I've had more productive days with high energy all day and I've had awesome workouts ( it also helps I've got some new tunes on my MP3). I did have occasional cravings and this weekend I had 1 glass of wine on Saturday and a champagne cocktail ("Oscar Buzz") at a party on Sunday but otherwise, pretty clean. I did eat some smarties at about 9pm on Weds night I was working 'til 10pm so that's how I justified it) and as a result had a terrible sleep and woke up 3 time in the night. hmmmmm co-incidence? I'm not saying I will be able to or plan to sustain the low sugar thing but the contrast was pretty amazing. Not sure how much of it I can attribute to going to bed earlier or eating less sugar but I'm going to try and keep it up for another week at least, if I can keep the cravings is calling my name and it had a friend called chocolate hiding behind it. A deadly (and delicious) combination.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buddha Bowl

Ummm it seems I've been MIA in foodie land for a while ( that's an understatement, it's been a month....yes I am a bad blogger) since my last is a summary of my honorable mentions in foodie adventures since my last post:
-Went to LA for a weekend and over-ate at the biggest, most eye popping (and belt popping) seafood and prime rib buffet I have EVER seen. Literally you could have anything you wanted, in completely unnecessary portion sizes. God Bless America. Of course I over-ate as I wanted to taste it all. It was worth it, even though I needed 24 hours to recover. Here is a photo of the chocolate fountain and also one, yes one, of the dessert tables.

I actually didn't eat much dessert. No, I do not have superhuman self control, I was too full from the 4th round of main courses I pigged out on. Plus most desserts are off limits for me so that makes resistance a little (not a lot) easier at times.

-sampled some delicious gourmet bison burgers, cooked perfectly on the BBQ by PB, my personal BBQ expert. Served on toasted buns with my caramelised onions,homemade guacamole, greens, tomato and, of course, the obligatory pickle.

-spent a snowy weekend in Whistler and did some zip trekking which was rounded off with some hearty Irish stew and a pint in the pub afterwards. Best tasting stew and pint I've had in a long time. Really helped defrost my toes and frozen bum.

I have been trying to reduce my sugar intake over the past couple of weeks too. Not easy for a foodie and one who lists chocolate as one of my top 3 foods. So I'm basically on a 95% savory veg and protein kick and minimizing added sugar, such as honey, chocolate, sweet fruits like figs, dates etc. I pretty much ate most of those things most days. I've actually not had that much of a problem losing the chocolate from the daily food roster. The same cannot be said for alcohol but I did have 2 mini vacations and a birthday in the mix so I was fighting a losing battle before I even started. The whole task of reducing my sugar makes it even more important that everything I eat is satisfying, filling and yummy. I'm on a mission this week to try some new dishes as a result and have been diversifying my breakfasts. Breakfast is always hard for me with the no eggs/no dairy obstacle so I've been having smoked salmon, sausages, peanut butter on toast. My next experiment is a tofu scramble. I really need to up my protein intake and make sure I get some at every meal. Anyone got any good tofu scramble recipes? PUHLEASE send them my way....

I do have a delicious new dish to report though, that is very simple and ultra healthy but tasty at the same time. One of the patrons from the gym told me about it so I looked it up online and there it was. It's called a Buddha Bowl and he said it was from a restaurant called Fresh in Toronto. I couldn't see it on the menu but it looks like a fab place to eat anyway!

Here is my version which i based loosely on one I found online at TasteBook:

Buddha Bowl

4 cups cooked soba noodles
2 cups fresh beansprouts
16 marinated tofu cubes, cooked (or other protein such as cooked chicken or shrimp)
1 1/2 cups peanut sauce (I used San-J Thai Style Peanut Sauce. I's gluten free and tastes awesome but it's REALLY high in sodium. I will have to find a homemade recipe)
1 tomato cut into wedges
8 slices cucumber, halved
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 lemon wedges
1 bunch scallions (chopped)
1-2 tsp black sesame seeds

Cook your noodles as directed on the package and divide between 2 bowls.
top with cooked marinated tofu. I actually used some cooked turkey and it was delicious.
mix in bean sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions and cilantro. Mix well to combine.
pour over peanut sauce and stir to coat.
Top with sesame seeds and lemon slices for garnish.

I do have a recipe for marinated tofu but it's quite involved as you have to cut the tofu and then dry it as much as possible by placing in in clean dishcloth and then putting a weight on top of it to draw out the moisture for an hour. THEN you put it in a marinade for a few hours or overnight. Hence, if you are in a hurry, use pre-marinated tofu (check for additives, high salt and sugar) or another source of protein if you need it. Or just omit the protein all together and eat it as is. sorry no pics, I ate it all. But I will be making it again soon so will post pics then. It's really tasty and filling. I actually made it without the noodles and found it filling enough.