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Lighten up for Spring


Last updated 3/27/2008 at Noon

While millions may make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight starting January 1st, “the diet” may really being in earnest now as people look ahead to the more revealing clothing of summer….specifically the swim suit.

Then, there are the family things: graduations and weddings in particular that may cause one to gasp at the thought of “what will I look like and what can I fit into.”

Last in today’s list would be the once-in-a-lifetime get together: high school reunions when the pressure to look good is sometimes horrific.

The truth of what inspires the decision to get rid of excess weight doesn’t matter except to the person who makes the decision. After that, it is one eating decision after another.

Do you need a weight loss program? Maybe the “in it together” will help and there are several proven programs available.

Yet, it will be up to you. Bite by bite, meal by meal, you will be the only one who can make the choice to eat well….or not.

From a health perspective, I hope you choose to eat well. More and more documentation is coming to light about how being overweight…even as little as 20 pounds… can compromise your long-term health. Getting rid of 20 pounds may be the most loving gift you can give to yourself. And, you really don’t need a season or a reason. You can just decide to do it.

With that in mind, here are a few recipes and ideas that may assist you in your decision to lighten up….for the rest of your life.

When the subject of tofu comes up, it is often scoffed at and put down as “not for me, thanks.” Until I discovered what I believe to be the “secret” of tofu, I didn’t care for it that much either. Then one day I stumbled upon a “The Art of Tofu” by Akasha Richmond. Her little cookbook published by Morinaga Publications, the manufacturer of Mori-Nu Tofu gave me the tools to know how to make tofu have flavor and texture (the two major complaints of people who say they don’t like tofu). The company is based in Torrance (1-800-669-8638 ) if you want to inquire about where to buy the little book. For me, this cookbook “education”, turned tofu from a take-it-or-leave-it product to one I usually have ready in my pantry (Mori-Nu is “aseptic” shelf stable packaging) for lots of uses. For those watching their weight, the ration of calories to protein is great!

Thai Tofu Satay

2 pkgs. Extra Firm tofu, cut crosswise

2 tbsp. light soy sauce

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

6-inch bamboo skewers

Cucumber slices, fresh tomato slices, lime wedges, cilantro leaves, optional garnishes

Peanut Sauce for dipping (recipe follows)

Prepare tofu in the manner above (freeze and thaw). Pat dry. Lightly coat a heavy heavy-skillet or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Grill tofu squares on each side for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the tofu is browned and crispy.

Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cool. Skewer on bamboo sticks and serve with Peanut Sauce.

Peanut Sauce:

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

½ cup Lite firm tofu, pureed

1 clove garlic

¼-1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes, optional

2 tsp. tararind paste

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. light soy sauce

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. Thai chili paste, optional

2 tbsp. white miso

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until creamy. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Vegetables and Pasta with Creamy Tofu Sauce

1 lb. Swiss chard, spinach or beet greens

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

½ onion, coarsely chopped

3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cob

6 Roma-style tomatoes, chopped

1 cup soft tofu

½ cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese

½ lb. pasta, cooked

Fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper

Wash chard, spinach or beet greens (or combination). Trim stem ends. Cut greens roughly. Heat oil in large skillet. Add greens, garlic, onion and corn. Cook about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir in tofu, cheese, cooked pasta. Season with fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Louisiana Tofu Cakes

1 pkg. Extra Firm Tofu

1 tbsp. onion, minced

¾ cup unflavored bread crumbs

¼ cup minced celery

Few drops hot chili sauce

¼ tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. sugar

½ tsp. paprika

2 tbsp.light vegan mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise)

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp. toasted wheat germ

Olive oil cooking spray

Additional bread crumbs

Prepare tofu into cubes, freeze and thaw as described in the “Tofu Magic” box. Pat tofu

Cubes dry with paper toweling. Mince tofu and mix well with remaining ingredients.

Form into small cakes about 2 inches across.

Roll in additional bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place cakes side by side on the cookie sheet. Let sit for 15 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven. Or, pan sauté in a heavy skillet sprayed with non-stick, cooking on each side for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with Tartar Sauce

Or, make cakes 3 inches across, cook as above and serve in buns with Tartar sauce, shredded lettuce and pickled ginger.

Tartar Sauce

½ cup light vegan mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise)

2 tsp. honey

2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish

1 tsp. minced shallots

1 tsp. minced drained capers

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


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