sprout for joy

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buffalo tofu bites

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It’s raining in Texas today, pouring rain in fact. And everyone says the same thing, “Good, we need it!” Our lakes are only one-third full, according to the news. We had the drought from hell a couple years ago, as in 90 straight days of 100+ degree heat… Austin turned into a desert and is still recovering I guess. I didn’t live here then, but the people who did are still obviously scarred. What does this have to do with tofu, you ask? Nothing! So allow me to attempt a segue…

Something about this wet, soggy day made me want something warm, satisfying, and well… fried. There, I said it. But, I try very hard to avoid sacrificing feeling clean and healthy for a momentary taste craving… like when I had a recent craving for cookies and cream ice cream and overdid it by downing almost a whole pint (ok the whole pint)… and ended up feeling dis-gus-ting. Never worth it, is it? Nope.

So, no fried food today, no way! To the kitchen I went, and out came the tofu, nutritional yeast, and buffalo hot sauce. It just didn’t seem like enough though… too boring. What else could I add to make this extra crispy with golden brown flakes? What in my kitchen is yellow and will stick to tofu… and there it was, ahhh yellow corn grits! Sounded odd to me at first too (not really, I love grits). But in fact, we had a winner.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 block of organic, extra firm tofu, drained and *pressed for about 1 hour
  • 6 Tb nutritional yeast (feel free to use more as you go)
  • 6 Tb grits, uncooked
  • hot sauce, use liberally
  • 3 tsp. avocado oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
  • salt to taste, optional

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Steps:

1. *do ahead of time: cut tofu into smaller even blocks and place on layered paper towels, layer paper towels on top as well and cover with something heavy, such as a book, to press out moisture. Let sit this way in fridge the night before or for about an hour before using.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray.

3. Cut tofu into 1-2″ cubes. Combine nutritional yeast and uncooked grits in a bowl.

4. In batches (about 1/3 of cubes at a time), add to bowl and mix in 1 tsp. oil, hot sauce to taste, salt, 2 Tb nutritional yeast, 2 Tb grits and stir to coat tofu.

5. Spread evenly over baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes (turn tofu once after 15 minutes).

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I drizzled some extra hot sauce on top because I’m a junkie, but it doesn’t need it. You know how the wonderful fragrance of hot sauce tickles your nose and clears your head? My kitchen smells like this right now. In fact, I couldn’t help myself. I had to make roasted buffalo chick peas too… (just rinse and drain them, let dry on a paper towel, mix with a little oil and hot sauce and bake at 400 about 15 minutes).

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These are perfect to add to salads, or eat with your fingers like I’m doing right now. 🙂

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sun dried tomato cheesy pasta, guilt free

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This is a pasta lover’s dream come true. I’m not kidding. As a life long, die hard pasta fanatic, I’ve been tormented by the fact that if I allowed myself to eat as much of it and whenever I wanted, I would absolutely explode …and die a happy girl. I’m almost too excited to type at the moment. This one is a homerun: quick, easy, healthy, delicious. Somehow I still managed to uncomfortably stuff myself, sigh… some things never change. But at least it’s not carbs I’m absorbing late at night, oh no… it’s allllll veggie!!! I remember feeling this way upon discovering the perfection that is the spaghetti squash, and for this same reason: guilt-free pasta. I’m just sayin’, one cup of regular noodles is about 220 calories, while one cup of spaghetti squash is a puny 40 calories. Go to town!

I kind of think of nutritional yeast as my best friend, in food form that is. And that is definitely the nerdiest foodie thing I’ve ever said. I’m still not taking it back. I make sure I never run out, I use it in everything, it completely makes up for ever missing cheesy flavor. And, it ensures I get a ton of good ole B12. Who knew it could make a perfectly cheesy pasta sauce?

First thing’s first… I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of posts out there about how to cook spaghetti squash, so I’ll throw in my two cents and keep it short and sweet. When deciding how best to bake it, the question arises: to slice, or not to slice? Slice it in half!!! I used to bake it whole, which takes forrrrevvvver to cool enough to cut it, and when you do it’s like a heat bomb explosion, plus a lot of the “noodles” aren’t cooked well enough and you yield less pasta- never cool. Slicing it length ways ensures it bakes evenly, for a shorter time and faster cooling. I think I just used to be intimidated to slice such a large, rock-hard vegetable, but with the right knife (aka super sharp), it’s no biggie. One it’s sliced, scrape out the insides with a spoon.

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Look what I found inside… a little sprout for joy. 🙂

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Place the two sides face down on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, remove from oven and let cool. (I suck at that part, my impatience always leads to burned fingers- sigh). Then use a fork to gently scrape down the sides releasing TONS of noodles!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ large red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 4 Tb nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tb jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli, thawed
  • 2 cups raw baby spinach

Steps:

1. Heat non-stick skillet over medium heat, add mushroom and onion, sauté about 5 minutes

2. Add broth and reduce heat to simmer, let cook about 3 minutes more

3. Stir in sun dried tomatoes, jalapeno, and garlic

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4. Gradually add in 4 Tb of nutritional yeast, stir in as sauce begins to thicken

5. Add broccoli and spinach

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6. Cover and reduce heat to low, let simmer 5 minutes

7. When squash is done, let cool, scrape out noodles and mix into sauce mixture

Served over baby spinach… this is the ultimate pasta fix for me, stuffed tummy and all.

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