Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Coconut Soup with a Kick of Cayenne

For the longest time I've had this idea that soup is really complicated and a hassle to make... where in the world did I get that idea???? Since pumpkin season is upon us, I decided I would jump in and create a new soup from scratch, with absolutely no recipe to follow. The result? A delicious, extremely healthy, low calorie, and satisfying soup that is sure to warm you up on cold fall evenings.

Pumpkin Coconut Soup With a Cayenne Kick
By Caroline Mac

Makes 7, 1.5 cup servings


1 can pure pumpkin
1 can light coconut milk
1 can no-salt-added diced fire roasted tomatoes
3 c low sodium vegetable broth
11.5 oz Nigari silken tofu
3 sage leaves, whole
2 c frozen veggie medley (mine was peas, carrots, green beans, corn and carrot), thawed
1 c english peas
3 c kale, cleaned and chopped
1 c diced onions, garlic, and shallots (from Trader Joe's)
1 T coconut oil
1-1.5 t cayenne 
2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Step 1: In a large pot, combine pumpkin, sage, coconut, and broth. Heat until mixture starts to bubble, and remove from heat. In a blender, puree tofu and pumpkin mixture (as much as will fit in the blender, including sage) until smooth. Return to large pot and add the canned tomatoes. Stir until thoroughly mixed and set aside.

Step 2: In a separate pan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic and shallots, and peas to the pan and saute until fragrant and onions begin to become translucent. Add kale and saute for approximately two more minutes. Finally, add frozen veggie mixture and saute for 1 more minute, or until heated through. 

Step 3: Add vegetables to the liquid mixture. Add cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Stir, cover, and raise heat to high. Cover, bring soup to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for ten more minutes. 

Serve warm. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lemongrass Coconut Tofu

Since going vegan I've been especially focused on my protein intake and making sure I'm getting enough. Tofu, despite the mixed opinions of it, is a protein source that I eat a few times a week. I'm always looking for new ways to prepare this soy-based food, and I'm delighted to share a new one.

Thai food is easily among my favorite cuisines and I was very excited when I saw that the latest issue of VegNews has a feature on it. I used the magazine's lemongrass tofu recipe and added a few ingredients of my own to create the most delicious tofu I've prepared to date. 

A note on lemongrass: I had never worked with lemongrass until this recipe, and I'll save you the trouble of looking up how in the world you're supposed to prepare it. I
f you try to chop it right off the bat, you will fail. The trick is to peel off the outer layers until you reach the more tender core. Try slicing it now. I promise it'll be a lot easier.

Lemongrass Coconut Tofu
By Caroline Mac, based on VegNews

1 16-oz block extra firm tofu, pressed and drained, and cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 T light agave nectar
1 T low-sodium tamari
1 T finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 t coconut oil
1 T shredded coconut

Step 1: Mix all ingredients except tofu together until thoroughly mixed.

Step 2: Layer tofu and sauce in a medium sized bowl, pouring remaining sauce over  the top. Cover and refrigerate for as much time as possible before baking. A few hours is plenty, but I did mine overnight. The longer you marinate, the more flavorful the tofu will taste.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place tofu in a baking dish in one layer. Brush any remaining sauce over the tofu. Bake for 30 minutes, flip tofu, and bake for another five minutes. Serve warm.