Dieter’s Tomato-Tofu Sauce

Everything But the Kitchen Sink!

Everything But the Kitchen Sink!

Ubiquitous (being found everywhere) is not a word I get to use very often, although I really like the way it sounds: the tart, hard consonants b, q, t and the soft vowels.  The word reminds me of a crunchy, well-textured salad…but I digress. Ubiquitous is the perfect descriptor for tomato sauce, which is used in almost every North American kitchen.

In fact, prior to being a food refashionista, I always had jars of tomato sauce on hand. I used to make my own sauce back in the olden days when stores only stocked lousy-tasting canned sauces, but I had stopped because there was now such a good choice on the grocery shelves. Unfortunately, as we know, these choices are full of sugar, oils, and additives; healthy eating meant getting off the fast-food track and going back to basics.

So what makes this a dieter’s sauce? No meat, no oil, no sugar, no tomato paste—just tofu and loads of vegetables. And this is one of those recipes that invites variations, so have fun! 

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Dieter’s Potato and Broccoli Slaw Salad

This delicious, crunchy, and easy-to-make potato salad happened because of two things.

One: I was seduced into buying a large bag of small potatoes (no peeling, hurray!) at Costco—the place where you always buy more than you actually need. So…lots of potatoes in the fridge.

Two: I had a lightbulb moment that involved broccoli slaw. To date, potato salad has been out of my caloric reach, and I hadn’t been able to think of a vegetable to add that would be easy to prepare in a large quantity. Broccoli slaw to the rescue!

This salad is wide open to imaginative variation in quantity and type—from vegetables to spices. The basic issue is to have, at the very least, as much vegetable as potato. In this version, I had 4 cups of cooked potatoes and, after adding my vegetables, I ended up with 8 cups total.

Okay? Here’s how it goes…

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Plum Variations: Pudding ‘n’ Pie

Ah….the plums overfloweth the bins at food markets. I buy bags of fresh plums. I grab bags of discounted plums that are going to rack and ruin. I buy plums whether they’re black, red, blue, or yellow. And what do I do with all these plums?

One favourite recipe is a plum compote that I call Cinnamony Stewed Plums. No fuss and no peeling…just get rid of the pit and cook in some water for 10 minutes. This is delicious over yogurt or in a smoothie. It’s also a great dish to make with plums that aren’t as fresh as they could be.

I also want to tell you about two new plum variations of dishes that I’ve made in the past: Plum Quinoa Pudding and Crustless Plum Chia Pie.

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Check It Out! (2)

I love sharing information that I find helpful, funny, ironic, thought-provoking, etc. so I’m really pleased that many of you enjoyed my first “Check It Out!” post.

I don’t have any schedule for these posts, but I’ve accumulated some more interesting articles for you to “chew on,” if you wish. (Gotta keep those food metaphors going!)

Do you trust cookbook authors? You won’t after reading this Slate exposé about the misinformation and downright lies food writers make when giving instructions on caramelizing onions. Shocking indeed!

Are you a food blogger? Then you’ll find the Food Blog Alliance a very useful site for information on writing about and photographing food with contributions from a number of hands-on bloggers.

Say adios to good cholesterol. Honestly, the longer you live, the more you realize that health information is only as valid as the last scientific experiment. (Take, for example, the poor, yoyo-ing egg: once upon a time, it was good for you, then it was bad for you, now it is once again a beneficial food.) Today, the scientists have put HDL in the spotlight, and...oops…there goes one path to heart health!

Keep up with the grains-es! Just when I think I’ve got the alternative flour/seed world under control, it takes off again. “17 Healthy Grains You’ve Never Heard Of” includes some that I do know about, but also quite a few that I didn’t. This helpful article also summarizes health information about each grain.

Happy reading!

No Weight Loss? Have You Had Your Thyroid Checked Lately?

This is a cautionary tale. It’s about the thyroid, a gland that controls your metabolism and can cause your weight-loss program to seemingly self-destruct.

I tell this story because it happened to me, and I should have known better because I’ve had thyroid disease for almost 20 years.

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Top 5 Posts: What You Liked Best in 2011

A VERY BIG THANK YOU to all those readers who visited this blog.  Some of you came and went; others have revisited time and again.  Sometimes you let me know you liked a post and other times you left comments—all of which brightened my days.

Your five favourite posts were not the same as mine, a fact that I found very interesting.  Here they are:

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27 Substitutes for Gluten-Free Eating

This article (slightly retitled here), written by Kate Morin and on the The Greatist web site, caught my eye.  While some of the tips were old hat to me, others were new and welcome.  I decided to share it with you and have added my own edits, comments, and links in italics.

1. Corn tortillas for sandwich bread
Cold cuts and deli cheese just aren’t the same unless they’re sandwiched between something starchy. When gluten-free bread isn’t an option (or if trying to watch the carbs and calories), corn tortillas are a great stand-in. Corn tortilla sandwiches are great. My fave is turkey/chicken with lettuce, a dill pickle slice, a thin slice of Manchego (sheep cheese), lettuce, and a little bit of mustard.  Caveat: the tortillas are best when fresh; otherwise they have a tendency to rip and crumble.

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Broccoli Slaw Salad with Chicken, Apple, and Pickle

Looking for a quick, easy-to-make, low-cal lunch?  When we were in Tucson (where we vacationed for a month), I discovered that Safeway carried broccoli slaw which we also have in Canada and which I’ve been using as the basis for a lunch salad.  This salad is as healthy as all get out, covers all the food groups except grains, and has a great, crunchy texture.

I’ll add a photo when I’m a little more settled.  (The photo is now added.  In this version, I didn’t have any chicken or turkey so I threw in a hard-boiled egg instead.  It’s okay, but I prefer the meats.) When we got home from Arizona three days ago, I discovered that my computer wasn’t working and that my hard drive was fried.    I’m sure you can envision the ensuing rigamarole.   In the meantime, get out the broccoli slaw… Continue reading

Baking Gluten-Free “Quick Breads”: FAQs

I wrote a version of this article for GlutenFreeWorks.com and decided to post it here as well.  By “quick bread,” I mean a bread made without yeast that can be shaped into a loaf, muffins, or squares. 

This information in the form of a Q&A is the result of a 10-month learning curve that started about three months after I discovered I was gluten-sensitive.  By then, I’d become so screamingly bored with rice cakes, I decided I had to change my life.  I bought a batch of alternative flours, starches, and gums. and began my journey into non-gluten baking.

Q: Why would I bake gluten-free when I can now buy a variety of gluten-free products at a grocery store?

A: You may enjoy baking and want to continue.  Or you may want to save money and not buy packaged foods.  Perhaps, you’re not happy with the quality or taste of what’s available. Continue reading

Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs

As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups.  This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself.  Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.

This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice.  If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count.  Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.

I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks.  To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe.  Feel free to cut back if you prefer.

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