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Posts Tagged ‘tofu’

Reflect, Renew, Revive – Part III

Revelation #3: Hypocrisy 

I am a hypocrite. I spend 6 hours a day encouraging children to face challenges, take risks, persevere through struggles… oh and most importantly keep a smile on their face and positive attitude while they do it. Anyone who has any recollection of how difficult and disheartening it was to learn how to read or to conquer the ridiculously inane rules of the English language can sympathize with my first graders. Add to these uphill battles the weight of developmental differences and you now have the kid struggling to remember what letter makes what sound sitting across the table from the kid writing a captivating ten page realistic fiction story. Every day mantras such as “Mistakes are proof that you are trying” and “Each person’s “best” is different” and “With practice comes progress” are lovingly and honestly bestowed upon my students. And yet, I will avoid writing a post because I don’t have a riveting story to tell or will make the choice not to share a recipe because I couldn’t capture a single photograph that met my self-imposed blog-worthy criteria. I will likely never be the kind of blogger who earns a profit, offers cool giveaways, and is sent complimentary items from major brands. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t hone my culinary skills, refine my writing, and learn how to capture a breathtaking photograph. It is time to practice what I preach, put my ego aside, and compromise with perfection.

Recipe #3: Spicy Smoked Maple Tofu

tofu

Not long after my ode to breakfast post, I dedicated a subsequent post to lunches. In particular, the obstacles that get in my way of eating (and enjoying!) “exciting”, healthful  lunches while at school. In that post I featured a recipe for a Tofu-Edamame Salad that was my obsession at the time. I am back to the reality of lunchtime as a first grade teacher, but haven’t ventured far from my favorite summertime lunch. My newest “go to” lunch is Spicy Smoked Maple Tofu bites. The maple syrup and rice vinegar create an irresistible flavor combination while the nutritional profile of the tofu satisfies my mid-day meal needs. I like to take a few of these delectable little nuggets along with some bite-size raw veggies and rice crackers for a well-balanced meal that satisfies my hunger along with my “no utensil” clause.

The recipe can be found at Edible Perspective. Even more impressive than the tofu is the photography on this site! Prepare for mouth-watering.

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*Disclaimer* This post along with my previous one are intended to be celebrations of summer vacation. By no means am I complaining about my “real life” the other 10 months out of the year…. I am simply stating the facts. I LOVE my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. And for that I am most grateful. Now on to more important things like this ridiculously tasty salad.     

I know I promised not to harp on the many reasons why I love summer vacation… but I’m recanting on my promise (tsk, tsk) because there is one more thing that I have been relishing extra this summer. Lunch…. that crucial mid-day elixir that gets us through the work day. “But… you’re not working. So why is lunch so remarkable these days?” you may ask. Let me explain…

Unlike my qualms with a typical breakfast spread I am actually quite fond of traditional lunchtime foods. Salads, soups, sandwiches, spreads… now those are my kinda foods. Rather my lunchtime woes are once again rooted in the circumstances surrounding my meals on a typical school day:

  1. Timing – Hungry or not here it comes! My lunchtime coincides with that of my students so it is reliably from 11:25 a.m.-12:20 p.m. (this is a very loose interpretation… see below). Therefore, I eat when the clock tells me to rather than when my body says it’s time. Sure, I could dig into my lunchbox at 1:30 if I wanted to (I am the teacher after all!) but I would have to brace myself for a 6 year old inquisition. What are you eating? … That looks/smells funny!… Ewww! I hate that!… I’m hungry too. I want a snack. Hence, I choose Option 1.
  2. Lunch “Break?” – By the time I walk my kids to the cafeteria and use my super teacher powers to squelch the inevitable tears over lost lunch cards/seating arrangement gripes/what mom packed in Johnny’s lunchbox it is 11:35 a.m. By the time I go to the office and check my physical mailbox followed by getting back to my classroom to check my virtual mailbox it is 11:45 a.m. By the time I respond to said mail (and voicemails and handwritten notes) it is 12:00 p.m. By the time I set up the excessive amount of materials required for our hands-on math workshop it is 12:15 p.m. and time to sprint to the bathroom (even my bathroom breaks are time restricted… not even nature trumps the rigidity of a teacher’s schedule) and make it back to the front doors just in time to greet the rosy-cheeked children coming in from recess. The aforementioned schedule is actually the description of a highly desired “free” lunch period. On the other days I’m committed to meetings with my colleagues/administration/parents which means all those other tasks get nixed and/or completed in a condensed tornado like fashion. So there is no actual “lunch time”. Consuming my meal is entwined in all of my other mid-day duties… it is multi-tasking at its best.
  3. Menu – As I mentioned above I have a propensity for most foods deemed lunch worthy. The complicating matter is not what I want to eat, but rather what I can eat at school. Anything that needs to be eaten warm is out of the question because of the precious time that it would take to walk to the teachers’ lounge (which is on the other side of the building), stand in front of the microwave (which I avoid at all costs to begin with), and then walk back to my classroom. Meals that require more than one utensil are also off the acceptable foods list because they entail actually sitting down and using both hands which does not bode well with my multi-tasking ways. Garlic, ginger, parmesan cheese… not in my lunch! Why? Because have you ever walked into someone’s office after they devoured an over-stuffed tuna sandwich?! Yea… we all have and we all remember it because it’s scarring. Hence why foods with pungent smells are off the menu as well. I’d like for my students not to forever associate me with an undesirable aroma (plus there is also no better way to lose the focus of a 6 year old then to invade their nostrils with a “stinky” smell). Lastly, given the skyrocketing percentage of young children with food allergies I have inevitably had a child with nut allergies in my class every year. This means no nuts or nut products in the classroom for risk of cross-contamination. So much for that un-picky palate.

But in the mystical land of summer vacation there are no time restraints, meetings, tasks to tend to, or children to care for. Lunch = eating whatever I want whenever I want.  And I love it. This summer I’ve eaten hot meals, meals with stinky cheeses and nuts galore, meals that I prepared minutes (rather than hours) before consuming, and meals that required sitting and actually chewing. I’ve experimented with new recipes that are school-friendly and those that will have to be reserved for summers, holidays,and snow days (we’ll broach the topic of these little gems come winter!) Come 11:25 a.m. on September 5th nostalgia may be tugging on the hems of my first day of school clothes, but come 12:20 p.m. when I get my first “I missed you at lunch!” hug it will all be worth it!

This salad has been one of my favorite creations of the summer. It’s cool and crisp and the sweet agave and rice vinegar, savory soy sauce, and rich sesame oil meld together perfectly. The combination of tofu, edamame, sunflower seeds, brown rice, and colorful veggies will satisfy your taste buds as well as all of your nutritional needs (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals… it’s got it all!) And with the school year just around the corner the fact that it can be made the night before and eaten cold with just one utensil makes it a winner!

Tofu-Edamame Salad

Serves 1

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 3 oz. baked tofu (I bake a whole block of tofu at a time using this recipe http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/easy-baked-tofu and use it in different dishes throughout the week)
  • 1/4 cup cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I have also used quinoa in this recipe with equally as good results)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 TBSP chopped scallions
  • 1TBSP roasted sunflower seeds

Dressing:

  • 1tsp agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp natural rice vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine salad ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for lunch on the go.

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Remember me?! No?! Don’t fret… after the whirlwind that was the past couple of weeks it took me almost a full week of vacation to get reacquainted with my self! Let me peel back a layer of the onion here and reveal a bit more about myself…

swiss chard

You see I have this innate tendency to overachieve in every aspect of my life. Whether it’s developing a new curriculum unit, training for a running event, or making a meal for friends and family if I can’t give 110% of myself to the process and produce an outcome that is better than the dreaded ‘g’ word (good) than I better not even try. Once I have committed myself to something, even if on the most informal level of a mental agreement with myself, I know that I will not renege in the least. While this character trait may seem desirable (and trust me… I know I owe many of my accomplishments and proudest moments to it) it is also one of my greatest flaws. My unwillingness to say “No,” to slow down, to settle for “good enough” every once in a while has pushed me over the line from tenacious and driven to stubborn and foolish more than once.

the reliable pepper and onion duo

And so, when faced with what seemed like an insurmountable workload coupled with the peak of my half marathon training I sensed that I had to put my Martha hat aside for a couple of weeks. I knew that the instant I opened that alluring WordPress page I would not back away until I had composed a post that met my standards. Though I would like to think that I could sit and spew out a “quickie” I know better than to believe that “quick” and “writing” will ever walk hand in hand in my world. So, I forged on, using the same self-talk strategies I force upon my first graders when teaching them how to avoid distractions (though their distractions fall more in the realm of nasal cavities and fraying shoelaces). Two weeks later I emerged on the other side with a bout of sinusitis and under eye bags that dwarfed some luggage at JFK, but no pitfalls into the blogging abyss. And after a week of recovery at the Mid-Winter Recess Center (a.ka. the confines of my cozy home)…. I’mmmm baaaaaack!

the other dynamic duo... black beans and cilantro

There is more to this story, but I’m saving it for tomorrow. That’s right… two post in two days…. mine as well let you reap the benefits of my overachieving gene!

put it all together and what do you got...

Until then I leave you with a souvenir from my sabbatical (although I wasn’t blogging, you can rest assured I was cooking!) What better recipe to epitomize a chaotic couple weeks than a “scramble!” But this mess is filled with only the good stuff…swiss chard, red peppers, sweet onions, black beans, cilantro, and tofu! A mishmash of yum!

tofu scramble!

Tofu Scramble 

adapted from Natural Noshing

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped swiss chard (could substitute spinach)
  • 2 medium red peppers, sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chipped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional toppings (shredded or crumbled cheese, nutritional yeast, salsa, sour cream, guacamole)

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high. Add onions and saute until transculent 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add chard, red pepper, and crumbled tofu and saute for 3-5 minutes until veggies begin to soften.
  3. Add beans, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cook 5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until veggies are cooked and beans are heated through.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to dishes, garnish with cilantro, and top with desired additional toppings.

Serves 4

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