Posted in Battle of the Bulge: Cooking and Lifestyle

Battle of the Bulge: Tofu Edition

Through my research over the past few months, I have ventured into the world of Tofu as a meat replacement in meals to add protein. I have learned that there are usually three different types of commonly found Tofu that can be purchased at local grocery stores.

  1. Soft tofu (which has a high water content and is best used to scramble up like eggs or put into smoothies)
  2. Medium firm tofu (which can be fried or baked, best used in soups)
  3. Firm or Extra firm tofu (which has the lowest water content and therefore is the best to pan fry or oven bake and it becomes crispy. Can be used as a meat replacement in stir fry, sandwiches, etc)

For beginners, it is best to use firm or extra firm Tofu as it is the easiest to cook and work with a meat replacement. Tofu can be seasoned with any spices or sauces and tofu will take on the taste of those sauces used so it is very versatile. When pan fried or cooked in the oven, it will brown up and take on a cripsy texture.

I chose to experiment with extra firm tofu, pan fried for about 5 minutes and soaked in Teriyaki sauce. Then added sesame seeds.

The recipe I played around with was using the teriyaki soaked tofu, quinoa, and spinach in vegan roll wraps. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Absolutely delicious! I used only half of the tofu package and freezed the other half for later use.

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Posted in Battle of the Bulge: Cooking and Lifestyle

The Battle of the Bulge: Dairy Edition

For most of my teenage and young adult years, I have struggled with controlling my weight and have poorly managed stomach issues. I have gone to see specialist after specialist, with little to no relief. Yo-yo fad diets, quick fixes, and easy fast meals have led to my health declining in a very major way. After a visit to the E.R., another specialist, and further testing, I am beginning to see just how important proper nutrition plays a role in how I feel.

My GI specialist gave me a list of certain foods to try my best to eliminate or cut way back on from my diet. Top of the list was dairy products, fruits high in sugar, and gluten. So I set out on a mission on my next grocery trip to really take the time to inspect the nutrition labels of common foods I had been mindlessly buying and consuming. I was shocked by how many things contain unnecessary added sugars, dairy, and dyes. It took me a while to find healthier alternatives and I cannot say I did perfectly. There are some things that I could not easily find an alternative for but I did the best I could this time around.

A couple things I figured I would give a try include but are not limited to:

-Almond “milk” creamer

-Lactose free milk

-Almond milk cream “cheese” spread

-Just Egg (Plant Based Egg Replacement)

-Lactose free vanilla Activia Yogurt

-Gluten free pasta

-Veggie pasta

-Dairy free edible cookie dough dessert

-Strawberry Poppyseed dressing

Just Egg plant based, after being scrambled. Looks pretty close to real eggs. Added pepper and garlic powder for taste, and really could not taste a difference.

Now of course, moderation is key here. I am learning to retrain my brain and my body that less is really more. I am retraining my taste buds to foods that only have naturally occurring sugars or very small quantities of processed sugars instead of the normal heaps of processed sugars I am used to. I am taking small steps to learn the correct portion size for things (pasta has been the hardest!). I have also learned that using smaller plates and bowls makes the portion size look bigger and I am left more satisfied. A lot of it is in the mind.

For me, I still do not have a lot of answers for what is going on in my stomach. I am by no means an expert. I still consume meat and dairy and processed sugar when I know I should not be consuming as much as I do. I am still struggling with my body weight. But I know that every little bit counts and the more I work on making small changes every day, I will see improvements. I can already tell that my stomach pain has lessened removing regular dairy milk and creamer from my diet.

**Before starting any major diet/food change be sure to consult your doctor and research what is best for you and your health needs. The goal is not perfection here. The goal is just looking and feeling better.**