Tofu

Ingredient Spotlight: Lotus Root

One advantage to dating a chef, besides the obvious fact that it’s nice to have a man who can cook, is that exotic ingredients sometimes make their way into my kitchen unannounced. Like the other night when he walked in with these.

They basically look like skinned potatoes with the ends cut off – nothing special.

But then when you glance a little closer…

You can see something special is going on with these things.

Never in my life had I seen or even heard of anything like it before. I had no clue what it was, and after looking at it, all I could tell was that it was pretty.

When Wil told me it was Lotus Root, I immediately googled it and here’s what I found out:

  • Lotus root is popular in southern and eastern Asia
  • It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and lots of other vitamins and nutrients
  • It has a crisp, slightly crunchy texture, like a water chestnut
  • It’s a starchy root veggie, similar to a potato
  • They brown pretty quickly just like a potato after being exposed to air, so soak it in water with lemon juice or vinegar until you’re ready to cook it
  • They are 0 pts+ on Weight Watchers (score!)
  • You can get them at most Asian grocery stores, or if you score a chef for a boyfriend (or girlfriend!) 😉
  • You probably shouldn’t eat it raw

It’s kind of sad how excited I was all day yesterday to go home and experiment with the lotus root. I use the term “kind of” loosely to mean extremely.

I ended up slicing up one of the roots thinly. I seriously could not get over how gorgeous it was.

I prepared the lotus root in the simplest way – by sauteing it in 2 tsp canola oil.

They soaked the oil up right away and I flipped them when they were barely browned and cooked them evenly on the other side.

Then I set them aside off the heat while I chopped up some Asian-esuqe things to go with the lotus root that I had on hand to make a stir fry.

Tofu, carrot, green onion, garlic, and ginger. I cooked that all together plus a little nonstick spray and some soy sauce.

Once that mixture was cooked through, I tossed the lotus root back into the mix, and served the stir fry over some coconut rice (recipe coming soon).

This was seriously the best dinner I’ve made at home in a long, long time (and I’ve made some pretty incredible dinners recently!). The texture of the lotus root was perfect – a little softer than a water chestnut, but still slightly crisp. From cooking them the oil, they took on a caramelized flavor and were edging on sweet. And the coconut rice I served them with? We won’t even go there. Heaven.

I seriously cannot wait for lunch so I can eat the leftovers. Let’s see how long I can make it.

Have you ever heard of or seen lotus root before? What’s the most exotic ingredient you’ve ever experimented with at home or been served at a restaurant?

PS: This is my 500th post!!! Crazy.

Last Night in DC

Hiya! Happy Tuesday (!?) night. I am running around like a crazy lady trying to get my life in order/ready for a business trip tomorrow. I didn’t get a work out in today because I had too much packing and random other things to do before my trip tomorrow morning, but my eating and water consumption has been very on track. Plus, I get to the hotel tomorrow and am by myself until Friday, when my other coworkers arrive, so I plan to try to get a workout in both tomorrow and Thursday.

Afternoon snack today was watermelon chunks (1 pt) leftover from the party yesterday.

I loove watermelon – it completely reminds me of summer and I love that its so juicy and messy. Not the cutest fruit to eat at your desk but as long as no one’s looking, it’s fine. 🙂 I also had 3 Wasa Crackers when I got home (1 pt)

I just ate them plain because I was hungry before dinner was ready, and 3 of these is only 1 pt. They are crunchy but a little on the bland side – but I like them.

Wil made us dinner for my last night – Lemongrass Bok choy soup. It was sooo good and so healthy! First, he chopped up some lemongrass. Have you seen lemongrass before?

I hadn’t! We actually got it a few weeks ago at the Asian Market, but as long as you peel the outside parts of, it has a long shelf life. He put it into a mix of water and veggie broth and cooked it for 20 minutes or so.

While we had a glass of wine on the balcony.

I know I said cutting out unnecessary drinks is one of my goals for the month – but tonight was necessary – its my last night with him until Monday! 🙂 I ended up having 2 glasses of wine, one before and one with dinner (total 4 points). It was actually quite good – Garganegna, a leftover bottle from the party yesterday.

Once the lemongrass had infused in the liquid for 20 minutes or so, he strained it out of the water/broth, and added in chopped bok choy, a fresh ear of corn, 1 package of Nasoya pre-cubed tofu, and 2 servings of rice noodles. It made an awesome, super flavorful soup that was so delicious.

The lemongrass really flavored the broth, but we decided it probably would have been better to leave it a bit longer to let out even more flavor. The entire recipe had 14 points, so half of it (what’s pictured x2) was 7 points. Very worth it and something I will definitely make again – though next time I would probably add even more veggies to bulk it up a bit.

So overall today’s eating was really good, though it does feel a bit weird to be counting points! My daily target is 24, and the break down is like this:

Breakfast – Oats w/Vitatop – 5

Lunch – Huge Salad + Grapes 5

Afternoon Snacks – Watermelon + Wasa Crackers – 2

Wine – 2 Glasses – 4

Dinner – Lemongrass Bok Choy Soup – 7

I still have one left so I’ll probably have a snack in a little bit. I still have a bunch of random things to do before tomorrow – finish packing toiletries and other random things I need (phone charger, camera charger…) so I have to get back to it!

What are your best tips for staying on track during business travel?

Unwrapped Lettuce Wraps

Hey! Those Chia Seeds seriously kept me full until after 1pm.. unheard of. I’m excited to experiment with them in different ways because there are a ton of ideas all over the place!

For lunch today, I used leftovers from last night’s lettuce wraps to make a salad.

Onto my plate went:

  • torn organic green leaf lettuce
  • bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup rice noodles
  • mango chunks
  • marinated tofu
  • pickled red onions for garnish

There was so much going on in this salad and the flavors were awesome. It was easier to eat than the wraps last night because the lettuce didn’t work well to hold everything together.. so throwing it all together and diving in with a fork worked well. With the salad, I had some red grapes (on sale at Whole Foods!)

And a serving of Dr. Krackers Seedlander Snackers.

I had commented on Kath’s blog about how I had never tried these crackers before but they look so good, so someone from Dr. Kracker reached out to me and asked if I’d like to sample some. They sent me a box with all the flavors, so I’m really excited to make my way through them. According to the Dr. Kracker website, “Millet-crunchy and molasses-sweet, our Seedlander Kracker is baked with our specially milled, 100% whole grain organic spelt flour, combined with organic pumpkin seeds, millet, sesame, flax, and poppy seeds. Its sturdy texture and nutty, slightly sweet flavor make it the perfect cracker for cheese and fruit plates and creamy dips and spreads.”

As you can see from looking at these up close, they are LOADED with different kinds of seeds. They are very crunchy – in fact, I was a little taken aback by how hard they were at first – but once I got used to them, I was in love! They taste so good, and have just a hint of sweetness. They went great with my sandwich and I’m looking forward to figuring out new ways to use them and try the other flavors!

As I was eating my lunch, I noticed that I ate my whole salad first, then moved onto the crackers, and then finished with the grapes. I never really noticed before that I finish one thing before moving onto the next.. strange!

Question for today: Do you eat a little bit of everything in your meal and finish it all together, or do you finish one item at a time (like I do apparently!) when you’re eating?

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Anyone have any fun plans?

Lettuce Wraps

Hey! Today was one of the busiest days at work that I’ve had in a loooong time. I decided against taking a picture of my lunch because it was a business lunch. Not gonna lie though, it felt a little weird not to take a picture. When I first started the blog, I felt weird taking pictures and kept forgetting, and now it feels like somethings missing if I don’t! We ended up going to Old Ebbitt Grill and there were 5 of us total. We got an order of fried calamari to share to start and I had one piece of sourdough bread with real butter. So good! For my main course, I ordered the Salmon Nicoise Salad (no dressing). It was a piece of seared salmon on top of a bed of greens with kalamata olives, boiled potatoes, a hard boiled egg, green beens, chopped tomatoes, and red onions. So good, and I ate the entire thing.

For an afternoon snack, a bunch of coworkers and I headed over to Yogen Fruz. Today I changed it up and got the nonfat plain mixed with frozen cherries. I had it topped with dark chocolate shavings…

It was sooo good. I love how this place will stir in whatever frozen fruit or flavor you want to make the yogurt actually change flavors. Mmmm.

The greatest part of being so busy at work is that the days have been FLYING by. When 5 o’clock came I could honestly barely believe it. Once I stepped outside, it was still SO nice out. I think it was still around 80 degrees and sunny, but not humid at all. That’s rare for DC! I decided to take the night off completely from working out just to give my body a break. Three days of Bikram in a row plus an 8 mile bike ride thrown in there called for a day off.

My boyfriend had the night off too, so we ran to heaven Whole Foods to pick up a few things and got ingredients for Lettuce Wraps! The perfect warm weather dinner in my opinion. 🙂

I marinated some tofu right in the container with fish sauce, soy sauce, and sweet chili sauce for about 30  minutes while I put the rest of the groceries away and unloaded the dishwasher.

I also boiled the rice noodles, which only took 2 minutes and then ran them under cold water to get them cold. The boyfriend was in charge of everything else, including cooking the tofu in the wok after it had marinated. Here was the spread:

The tofu, chicken thighs in a similar marinade (for him), mango, rice noodles, bean sprouts, pickled kale and red onions (!!!), sliced red onions and cilantro, and organic green leaf lettuce. I put together 4 lettuce wraps and piled them high with bean sprouts, rice noodles, pickled onions, mango, and the marinated tofu.

They were sooooo good, but definitely a little messy.

Everything was so fresh and the textures, flavors, and colors worked perfectly together. The tofu was so flavorful from sitting in the marinade for longer than I usually let it – I have to work on my patience and give the tofu time to soak up the marinade more often! I love lettuce wraps and these were perfect.

I’m off to watch a movie and relax – be back tomorrow!

Massaged Kale Salad

Unfortunately breakfast didn’t hold me over for too long and my stomach started grumbling around 10:30am. 🙁 Though I really loved the way the granola tasted, I think I’m going to use it as a topping on my oats instead because it didn’t last long over yogurt. It gives a nice crunch but apparently doesn’t have much staying power. I held off for a little bit, but then had an orange around 11:30am, cut up in my new favorite style.

I swear cutting it up into 16 pieces instead of 8 makes the biggest difference… it feels like more and it takes me a lot longer to eat. This held me over until it was an appropriate time to dive into my lunch (after 12 or else I get too hungry by 5!)

The star today was a Massaged Kale Salad. I’ve seen this mentioned several places and never knew what it meant exactly, but its quite literal. You massage olive oil and salt into the kale with your hands, ideally for 2 minutes or so. The olive oil makes it more tender and the salt takes away the natural bitterness of the kale. Plus, it’s a perfect excuse to play with your food! I’ve been using baby kale so its naturally pretty tender, but if you use mature kale you want to just tear away the stems. Kale is such a nutritional powerhouse so I love to find new (to me) ways to use it.

On top of the massaged kale, I put a serving of cubed tofu, 1/2 a roasted red pepper chopped up, and 1 oz crumbled light feta (from Trader Joe’s). Kind of a random combination but it really worked! The kale got super tender and the salt really took away from the bitterness. This is definitely going to be my new go-to way to eat kale in salads. So good! With the salad, I had a toasted whole wheat Thomas Bagel Thin with a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese.

And a sliced raw red bell pepper.

It was unplanned having peppers two ways in this lunch but it worked well! I love red bell peppers – they are so sweet and crunchy and I actually don’t even like to use dip or anything on them because I love the flavor so much.

Just a few more hours until 5pm and I’ve been thinking of a challenging workout to do for tonight and I think I’ve found one! I’ll be back later to tell you how it goes!

Yogen Fruz

I’m still dreaming about the Oats in a Jar from this morning… so, so good! They held me over until after 1pm and I wasn’t even that hungry by then, it was just time to eat. I had two yummy things for lunch today. First, I took some of the leftover soba noodles (not with the egg) and added in the marinated tofu and a little extra sauce.

I actually accidentally spilled a lot of it out over my desk, and luckily I had just cleaned my desk this morning so I knew it was safe to eat, but very close call. I ate it cold and it was so good. This sauce is something I’m going to have to try to re-create at home because it adds so much delicious flavor and has next to nothing in terms of calories. With my soba noodles, I had a salad with a base of fresh arugula from the Farmer’s Market.

The arugula is so fresh and peppery… I’m so glad I made this purchase! On top of the arugula, I cut up three radishes (also from the Farmer’s Market), added some spicy banana pepper rings, and fresh shaved Parmesan. Though you can’t see it, I also added the rest of the Kiwi Salsa to this salad which tied everything together. I brought in all my salad ingredients packaged separately today and it makes a HUGE difference in the freshness of the salad.

For an afternoon snack, I had a real treat today. I went to my favorite frozen yogurt place, Yogen Fruz, which I’ve written about a few times on here. I was in touch with the people over at Yogen Fruz and they asked me to come in and try one of their NuMixes to see what I thought. They have Pina Colada, Chocolate Almond, Lychee Green Tea, Chai Latte, Key Lime Pie, and Mint Chocolate Chip flavors of the mixes. Basically, they take their regular frozen yogurt, mix a flavor into it, and then add the toppings that go with it. Today I tried the Key Lime Pie kind, where they took the nonfat yogurt, added key lime flavor, and then top it with graham cracker crumbles.

It really tasted like key lime pie! I love how Yogen Fruz mixes the flavors into the frozen yogurt so the yogurt itself gets flavored rather than just the toppings (which they have plenty of, too).  The only thing I would change is that the graham crackers themselves were ground really fine, almost to a powder, and I would have preferred them a little chunkier. Flavor-wise though, this was spot-on, and definitely something I’d try again.

I think I’m going to go on another bike ride tonight since its so gorgeous out and is supposed to rain all weekend (boo!). Other than that, not sure where tonight will take me, but my first day off in a while is so close, I can taste it!