Thursday, January 7, 2016

Healthy Recipes of the Week

Tofu cacciatore (pictured above), from "101 Things To Do With Tofu," by Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier. We halved the recipe, though, and made a few other changes, for better, worse, or just out of laziness or thriftiness... We keep a jar of minced garlic on hand in the refrigerator. On the jar, it tells how many teaspoons equal how many cloves of garlic. This has been a total time-saver. Also, I cut the tofu into chunks instead of strips. Since I already had both apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar (from a mediocre attempt at Vegetarian Pad Thai), and my grocery list had distilled white vinegar (for cleaning) on it, I was too cheap to buy yet another form of vinegar. My husband questioned the apple cider vinegar I used and I reasoned that apples are red, and wine and cider are both made from fruit and sort of similar-ish. Also, the diced tomatoes we used were the canned fire-roasted kind. I actually had typed out the recipe here, and while I was at the end of the blog, typing out my sources in an APA-style bibliography, I started panicking about copyright laws and whether even a properly-cited recipe could be used in a blog. So, I deleted the recipe, but hopefully you can find the book in a library if you are interested in cooking it (I originally purchased the book when Borders was going out of business in 2011).

Other notes about this recipe: We were out of nonstick spray, so we just rubbed more olive oil in the bottom of the casserole dish. Also, instead of seasoning with salt and pepper, my husband seasoned his portion with additional Parmesan cheese. Also, I accidentally made it a little bit too runny by failing to drain the canned/jarred mushrooms I used (not a problem if you use fresh ones instead).

I enjoyed this dish. It was one of the 2 best tofu dishes I have tried at home, and my husband even gave it his seal of approval for me to cook it again sometime. Not sure if it was the Italian seasoning, the Parmesan cheese, the way most of the ingredients were first sauteed and later baked, or what, but the tofu had a good flavor, and with all the Italian flavors, we could pretend the chunks of tofu were chunks of cheese.

My other healthy recipe of the week comes from my old 4-H book, "Tasty Tidbits," the 1993 edition, from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. The book is for ages 12 to 13 years old, so you know it is pretty easy if it was meant for middle schoolers to be able to cook. It was from an activity entitled, "It's So Easy," and was intended to teach young people how to make a one-dish meal for their families on the stove top. I nicknamed it, "Veggie Chili Mac," although in the recent incarnation we made of it, my husband suggested egg noodles instead of the whole grain macaroni I had previously used (even though a serving of egg noodles has 3 g fat and a serving of whole grain macaroni has 1.5 g fat). I almost went ahead and included the recipe, since I'm sure the book series has since been redone, and I don't even know if blogs existed back in 1993 (we sure didn't have Internet). But, the back cover of the book warns that permission must be granted before reproducing the material in processes, "now known or later developed," which I guess blogging would fall under.

If you do stumble across this recipe, here are some notes: We use olive oil as our oil of choice. We used the canned, diced, fire-roasted tomatoes in this one as well. We always include the green pepper, but I have been leaving out the celery. I am currently anti-celery after the last time we got it. My husband talked me out of getting the pre-cut kind, in order to save money, but the celery was so dirty, it took a LONG time to clean and slice it. We left out the optional mushrooms as well (I heart mushrooms, while my husband thought it would be weird in chili). When serving the dish, we serve it with whatever shredded cheese we have on hand, whether it is mozzarella, cheddar, or a blend of cheeses. There is no cheese featured in the photo below, as I had the (leftover) cup of chili with a peanut butter sandwich...a comfort meal that reminds me of chili day when I was a kid, but with the peanut butter adding extra fat, I left off the cheese. 

This is a basic recipe, and if you want to jazz it up more, you could add more chili powder or cheese. The pros are that it is simple, healthy, easy, and uses ingredients we typically have on hand.

Tonight I will be trying a ravioli lasagna recipe that I got out of a magazine or newspaper. With its estimated 24 g of fat per serving, it will not be included as a "healthy" recipe, even if it does feature spinach. But hey, I gotta splurge sometime :)

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