Tag Archives: south beach diet

BBQ Tofu “Nuggets” and Okra Fries

This is one of my favorite dishes lately. Seriously, I’m obsessed with it. No exaggeration — I’ve made it twice in the last two weeks, which means I have had it four times for dinner in those two weeks.

No shame.

I’ve already posted about the okra here, but, well, I’ll post it again. It’s been a while.

BBQ Tofu “Nuggets” & Okra Fries

for two servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 servings firm tofu
  • ~ 20 pieces okra
  • 1 tbs EVOO, divided in half
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • BBQ sauce (No sugar added! Try this one by Robbie’s – it’s what I use.)
  • Ketchup (Optional. Aim for no sugar added! I’ve never tried this one from OrganicVille, but I bet it’s good if it’s anything like their mustard)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash okra & toss with 1/2 tbs EVOO, salt & pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Seriously, that’s it for the okra.

As for the tofu, this is my favorite way to prepare it:

Press it for about 10 minutes.

Slice it into thin blocks (about 1/4 inch thick).

Heat a pan (make sure it’s really, really hot!) and then heat the olive oil (this is the other half of your EVOO, so about 1/2 tbs). When you’re sure the pan is hot enough, lay the slices of tofu down individually. You should hear a sizzle! Drizzle the tofu slices with sesame oil and top with salt & pepper. Keep the heat at about medium-high or even high.

Here’s the part where you won’t believe me: leave them be! Leave them for about 8 minutes. This is how they get nice and crispy. After 8 minutes, flip them, then cook for about 6 minutes more.

Seriously, could either of those things be any easier?

(P.S. — I originally learned to make tofu this way through Emily at the Daily Garnish in her tofu tutorial. I’ve just tweaked it a little, so I wanted to post it my way. Mine is a bit crunchier and gave me the consistency that made me realize it reminded me of chicken nuggest — thus the name.)

Once everything’s all cooked, dip the tofu in the BBQ sauce and the okra in the ketchup. It’s fantastic. And hooray for healthy finger foods!

You’ve gotta try this combo. It’s so easy and sooooo good.

Rehab Day 29 (Wednesday)

Physical Therapy (AM)

45 minutes Strength Training Circuit (PM)

Rehab Day 30 (Thursday)

Swimming: 35 laps in 35 minutes (5 of those laps in the middle were speedwork)

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South Beach Diet Phase One Revelations

So, South Beach Diet, Phase One. How did it go?

Well, in short: really, really well. In fact, incredibly.

Why? Well — and be prepared to laugh a little bit — it brought me right back to the original reason I started this blog. Those two weeks made me realize that I really do have some legitimate sensitivities to refined sugar and/ or flour.

Maybe I’m not allergic, maybe I’m not intolerant, maybe I’m not Celiac, and maybe I don’t have anything that can be officially diagnosed. Maybe, in terms of what doctors can tell me, there’s nothing wrong with me. After all, if there’s one thing I learned as we experimented with potential diagnosis after potential diagnosis, it’s that my body acts fairly inconsistently. Cake would sometimes make me feel ill but a beer would often make me feel better (I’m actually telling the truth there, convenient as it may sound).

But, here’s the thing — in those two weeks without flour and sugar, the following things happened:

  • I had more energy
  • I slept better
  • I lost 10 – yes, ten! – pounds (and more since)
  • My skin cleared

But the two really important things:

1. I stopped getting sick all the time.

I know I haven’t written in months and months about being sick on a regular basis from food, but I definitely still was. There just wasn’t any point in writing about it anymore since nothing was changing (I mean, yawn, right?). But I’ll tell you this — in a lot of ways, it controlled my life.

To me, there can be no clearer message from the last two weeks than the absence of feeling sick every day in conjunction with my two weeks without sugar or flour. Diagnosable or not, refined sugar and/or flour simply don’t seem to agree with me.

2. My knee started hurting less.

I’m not even kidding.

Did you know that refined sugar and flour are inflammatory foods? Well, I didn’t. When I started noticing how much less pain I was in, I brought it up to my mom and she filled me in on this little tidbit. So, I did some research, and… she was right! (Aren’t moms always right? It’s so annoying.)

Here are a few links for you, if you’re interested in learning more:

Inflammation and Diet: Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Top 10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid Like the Plague

List of Anti-Inflammatory Food

Isn’t that interesting? Anyway, my knee is hardly healed, but it’s been remarkably better for the past few weeks and I have no interest in consuming anything that will undo that improvement.

So, for the rest of the summer, I’m conducting an experiment. I am (for the most part) cutting refined sugar and white/ wheat flour.

Fortunately, other things often related to Celiac disease — like soy sauce and bulgur, for instance — haven’t bothered me. So, for now, I’m just experimenting with flour. And I’m fortunate not to have to be crazy about it. Small amounts don’t seem to bug me much. So, while I’m carefully reading menus and labels, I’m also not forced to quiz waiters or read every single ingredient in everything I eat.

Meanwhile, I’m gradually adding other things that were cut on the South Beach Diet back in one at a time to see how my body reacts. Something of an elimination diet, if you will. I’ve already added all fruit and any vegetables that were excluded on the SBD back into my diet (in phase one, corn, carrots, potatoes and beets were off limits).

In the next few weeks, I’m thinking I’ll try the following (in no particular order):

  • honey (how appropriate)
  • pure maple syrup
  • agave (I’ll try it. The jury’s still out.)
  • brown rice syrup (I just bought some. I’ve never tried it! I’m interested.)
  • Sucanat (Ditto to brown rice syrup on both counts.)
  • almond flour
  • oats/ oat flour
  • garbanzo flour
  • coconut flour
  • other whole grains (quinoa, millet, brown rice, etc.)

Anyway, I just bought a few of books to help me through this process.

1) The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

(source)

2) Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes From My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson

(source)

Ironically, both of the above are by fellow bloggers. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook is by the blogger behind Elana’s Pantry and Super Natural Every Day is by the blogger behind 101 Cookbooks.

Well, maybe not so ironically. I wanted cookbooks full of simple recipes that called for the whole foods that I believe in (so, for instance, I didn’t bother with books that called for artificial sweeteners). I follow both of their blogs, so obviously I believe in the stuff they make, eat and write about!

In fact, Super Natural Every Day is not a gluten- or sugar-free cookbook — it just has lots of great recipes that fit the bill.

And finally…

3) Get The Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman

(source)

This book is helpful simply in terms of learning more about sugar. The tips are kind of common sense, but the first few chapters, which explain why sugar isn’t good for us, are interesting.

Anyway, I think this is going to be fun, healthy, and exciting. I’m mostly excited about eating whole foods and whole foods only. I am so not planning on doing the whole gluten-free thing, in which I try to bake using lots of flour combinations. I’d rather just live naturally flour and sugar-free by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, soy, lean meat (you know, when I randomly do that), and dairy.

I’m reading into a lot of food lifestyles to follow, too. The South Beach Diet was a good starting point and I’m now intrigued by the Primal Blueprint (except I’ll never cut dairy), which I know Monica really likes.

Kind of funny how this blog came full circle, no?

Lots of Rehab to catch up on…

Rehab Day 22, Part 2 (Thursday)

45 minutes strength training (core, arms, back and some legs)

Rehab Day 23 (Friday)

Swimming: 30 laps in 30 minutes

Rehab Day 24 (Saturday)

All that walking at Disneyland!

Rehab Day 25 (Sunday)

Rest Day — it was needed, for sure, after the previous day’s activities.

Rehab Day 26 (Monday)

Swimming: 35 laps in 35 minutes

Rehab Day 27 (Tuesday)

45 minutes elliptical

What do you guys think? Any other cookbooks/ eating lifestyles you think I should look into?

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South Beach Diet Lunches

As you all may have realized (if you’ve been keeping track in terms of timing), I just completed phase one South Beach Diet. I have a big update about that to come, but until then, I want to fill you in on some of the stuff I’ve been eating.

Phase one, which lasted two weeks, took out a bunch of food but the general idea, for me, was that it took out most carbs — no grains, no fruit, no sugar and no alcohol (amongst other things).

Breakfast was the hardest for me — no fruit in the morning?! — but lunches and dinners weren’t that different at all. I mostly just kept eating as I was eating anyway.

Nonetheless, I think I ate a nice variety of South Beach Diet lunches, so I figured I’d share a few. They’re also just nice, light, summery dishes, even if you’re not on the SBD (which I assume most of you are not).

Summer Chopped Chickpea Salad

I pretty much just used this recipe, except I used diced heirloom tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, no scallions, and no basil (it had gone bad, to my surprise — otherwise, I definitely would have used it.).

Chicken Salad

Into the mix went:

  • baby romaine mix
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • diced bell peppers (one of those two times I made it, anyway)
  • low fat feta cheese
  • dressing made of balsamic vinegar, EVOO, salt & pepper

Simple and delicious.

Hummus-Mustard Tuna Salad

I used to make this with honey, but I had to cut it out for the SBD. Honestly, I didn’t miss it. It’s good with honey and it’s good without!

Into the mix went:

  • 1 can white tuna (in water)
  • 1/3 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • heaping tbs hummus
  • a few squirts of mustard (No sugar added! Try this one from OrganicVille. It’s fantastic.)
  • salt & pepper to taste

So much better and so much healthier than mayonnaise.

Roasted Veggies & Chicken


You all know the deal with this one by now, right?

Into the mix went:

  • brussels sprouts
  • snap peas
  • asparagus
  • red & yellow bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • EVOO
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • garlic gold nuggets to taste

Roasted for 45 min at 375 degrees.

After the veggies were roasted, I added:

  • parmesan & romano (duh)
  • grilled chicken

All healthy, all easy, all yummy, and all South Beach Diet friendly. 🙂

By the way…

Rehab Day 20 (Tuesday)

Elliptical for 45 min at level 3, on Random, in Aerobic Mode

Rehab Day 21 (Wednesday)

Physical Therapy

Rehab Day 22 (Thursday)

Elliptical for 45 min at level 5, on Random

Today, per my PT’s instructions, I really focused on leaning forward on the elliptical in order to activate my gluts, since that has been a big problem for me. My quads naturally want to take over for my gluts, and that is a significant reason for which I ended up in so much trouble with my knees when running.

The bottom line here is that you just want all of your muscles to work evenly and together, not in place of each other.

Oh, and… I’ll (hopefully!) have an interesting update soon about the elliptical and suggestions that my PT has made in light of my recent improvement… 🙂

What are some of your favorite light, summery lunches?

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Summer Weekend

This weekend was packed full of events, many of which had to do with Independence Day. Before I get to a post entirely about the fourth, though, I’m going to share a little bit about my lovely long summer weekend.

On Saturday night, a group of us went to see Mark perform in King Lear, which was a production in the Shakespeare by the Sea program.

It truly was right by the sea, which was beautiful.

View of the stage from the same location:

The event itself was fun even before the show began, as it was another picnicking affair. People filed in throughout the hours before the show, while the actors were still rehearsing, to sit with friends and family and enjoy meals in the cool sea breeze.

We had originally planned on sitting on blankets, but we couldn’t help but to take advantage of the benches.

From our seats, we could see Mark “backstage!” Can you spot him?

Actually, you probably can’t. It’s kind of dark. Lame.

Anyway, Mark was phenomenal in the show and it was so fun to watch him perform.

Actually, a lot of the actors were really incredible. The show is full of a lot of talent. I’m  not a huge Shakespeare fan (I know, I know) and I thought I wouldn’t really enjoy the actual show, but I found that the actors were dynamic enough to make it fun even for a non-Shakespeare loving audience member like myself.

Back in college, when Mark and I met (actually, this is how we met), he was in four things that I directed during my senior year — three plays and one sitcom pilot. Kind of cool, right?

Hopefully this will be just the first of many things we get to see him in now that he’s professionally acting in Los Angeles!

I surprised/ embarrassed Mark with flowers after the show.

I’m telling myself he liked it.

Anyway, bright and early the next morning, Mark and I went to the Studio City Farmer’s Market for the first time.

It was such a great Farmer’s Market, and so big, too! There was lots of entertainment, which gave it a community event feel.

Oh, and we saw Jason Bateman, so… that was awesome.

The best part of the Farmer’s Market though, for me, was the FRUIT! I ended up finishing phase one of the SBD a day early because I needed to pick fruit out for the sangria I was making for the fourth and didn’t want to pick blindly.

And so I tasted, and tasted, and tasted, and tasted.

I was like a kid in a candy store. At least it was nature’s candy, right?

The blood oranges and country sweet yellow peaches were my favorite. A-mazing. Seriously. I’m drooling just thinking about them.

Rehab updates…

Rehab Day 17 (Saturday)

45 minutes strength training (arms & back)

Rehab Day 18 (Sunday)

Lots of walking (around the FM, around town, etc.)

Rehab Day 19 (Monday)

Rest Day

Anybody else go to any farmer’s markets this weekend? Was the fruit just as amazing everywhere? I swear, the fruit I tasted on Sunday was pure perfection.

Oh, and I really encourage any fellow Los Angelites to go see Mark in King Lear. They’re about to go on tour throughout LA County and I know Mark would love to meet any of you if you end up going to see the show!

Ask for his autograph. He’ll feel totally famous.

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Eggplant Tofu

I wasn’t actually planning on sharing this recipe with you today — I still have to share my afternoon at the zoo with Mark and the Sunday dinner party I had! — but this day has come and gone and I still haven’t had a moment to sit down and write a post. So, I’m giving you a recipe I was planning on saving for later.

Last week, when I was trying to be creative with my allowances on the South Beach Diet, I tried getting a little creative. I don’t even know where the inspiration came from, but I decided to make an Eggplant Tofu dish. I think it’s just because I got an eggplant and some tofu and saw them next to each other.

I decided to add some zucchini and mushrooms to bulk up the veggie content a bit.

It was pretty good, though I’d lower the garlic next time (I used a full teaspoon and am lowering it in the recipe below).

Eggplant Tofu

makes 3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (5 servings)
  • 1/2 tbs EVOO
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • I might suggest adding a little honey to the mix, if you’re not avoiding sugar like I am at the moment. Unconventional, sure, but I think it would make it really good.

Directions:

Press the tofu for about 30 minutes, then slice into twelve pieces (cook it four ways on the long side and 3 ways on the short side).

Slice & chop the eggplant, dice the zucchini and slice the mushrooms.

Heat EVOO in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the eggplant first for about 10 minutes and set aside. Saute the zucchini and mushrooms for about 5 minutes and set aside with the eggplant.

Add 1/2 tbs of sesame oil to the pan (which should still be greased from the previous addition of EVOO) and spread the tofu out in the pan. Salt lightly. Leave for about 8 minutes, flip, and cook for about 5 minutes more.

While the tofu is cooking, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, remaining tbs of sesame oil, water, ginger and garlic powder.

Add all of the veggies back into the pan and pour the liquid mixture over the tofu & veggies. Stir to evenly combine and cover to cook for about three minutes more.

Try it out if you’re cutting sugar! (Or add honey!)

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Veggie Frittata

Heyyy youuu guys!

I made frittata!

But, in case you can’t tell, I burned my frittata. Badly.

Don’t worry about it.

Other than that, though, it was pretty good.

In my endeavor to successfully and actually (AKA no modifications) follow the South Beach Diet (which, yes, I started yesterday), I made frittata for breakfasts throughout the week. Because lord knows I don’t have time to make omelets in the morning.

Anyway, this frittata is pretty good, keeps well in tupperware, heats up evenly in the microwave, and is totally transportable. I’d know. I brought it to work this morning.

Most importantly, it’s helping me stick to my diet and it’s a good option for breakfast, even for a girl that is addicted to fond of yogurt bowls.

Veggie Frittata

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan & romano
  • 1/2 tbs EVOO
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • handful mini tomatoes, halved
Directions
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a cast-iron skillet or an oven-safe frying pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, salt & pepper.

Heat the EVOO in a large skillet. Add onions and saute, allowing them to brown slightly. Add broccoli and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes — just enough to soften.

Toss the sauteed veggies into the cast-iron skillet (or oven-safe frying pan). Allow to cool for a few minutes. Pour in egg mixture and stir. Top with tomato halves.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes, then set oven to broil and let cook for three minutes.

… And then actually take it out after three minutes, rather than about ten, like I did.

The inside, at least, wasn’t burned to a crisp.

 


Now, go make some healthy frittata! But don’t burn it. 🙂

Updates…

Rehab Day 5

Swimming: 30 laps in 30 minutes

Rehab Day 6

Biking at level 1 for 40 minutes

Not so sure about the biking. My knee hurt directly afterward (so I iced) and my sciatica has been bugging me more today than it has recently. I think exercising while sitting may not be in the cards for me.

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