Recipe: Creamy Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

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Ever since I went to college three years ago, the biggest obstacle to being 100% vegan was an Indian restaurant called Biryani house. My college town is teeming with vegan options, but this place had the absolute best food I’d ever tasted in my life. And that’s a big deal for me, because I’ve had the good fortune of eating at a lot of great restaurants.

I used to go there with friends a couple of times a month to gorge myself on their freshly baked aloo naan, perfectly spiced vegetable biryani, and most importantly, their decadent paneer tikka masala. Unfortunately, my vegan aspirations were dashed due to the fact that their tikka masala not only sported paneer (cubes of Indian cottage cheese), but was also likely drowned in heavy cream.

(Fun fact: my weight seemed to fluctuate along with how often I went there.)

When I finally got more serious about being 100% vegan last year, I had to stop going there. And as if to enforce my self-discipline, it actually closed a few weeks after my decision, for unknown reasons. A bittersweet moment.

Anyways, getting to the point: I’ve been trying to recreate that tikka masala for quite awhile now. After a few tries–all of which were delicious, but not decadent like theirs–I finally came up with a recipe that tasted almost the same. It’s creamy, spicy, much healthier than its restaurant counterpart, and most importantly, vegan. And I’m pretty darn excited about it.

Now to work on aloo naan recipes!

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Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g super firm tofu (the kind that is vacuum sealed instead of water packed, and has the density of a block of cheese–I use Tofu Yu. If you can’t find that, try freezing an extra firm block then thawing it out and using it as you would super firm.)
  • 80g cashews (a little less than 3/4 cup), soaked overnight or for a few hours
  • 15oz can of plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 + cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk (as needed)
  • Handful cilantro
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (more as desired)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika (more as desired)
  • 2 pinches of amchur powder

Directions:

1. Cut up the onion and garlic, and combine them with the tomato sauce in a large pan over medium heat. Add in the cumin, cardamom, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, paprika, and amchur powder, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

2. While the sauce is simmering, cut your tofu into cubes, and fry until golden (I used a teaspoon of coconut oil, but you could also do it dry). Remove from heat once golden.

3. After 15 minutes, remove the sauce from heat. Allow to cool (if necessary; I didn’t have to for my vitamix) and blend with the drained cashews until smooth and creamy. Add unsweetened almond or cashew milk as needed to get it to your desired consistency.

4. Combine tofu with sauce in a serving bowl, and serve it with jasmine rice, naan, your preferred grain, or enjoy it solo!

Nutrition info: 

  • Calories per 1/5 of recipe: 230 calories
  • Carbs: 17g (3g fiber)| Protein: 15g | Fat: 13g

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Thanks for reading!

Miche

(Cross-posted from my recipe-only blog)

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April Check-in

Hello friends! So my 50 day plan was going pretty well, until… I got sick. It’s the first time I’ve gotten sick since summer, so I can’t be too upset. My plans did end up completely derailed, though, as my boyfriend visited me during his spring break, I visited him during mine, and so on, leaving me no gym time.

Because of all that, I had to stop lifting/exercising for a month besides my usual 3-5 miles of walking. I kept my diet on point though, sticking to salads and oatmeal when I wasn’t having huge restaurant meals with my boyfriend (I kept those moderate too, though!). So overall, I maintained my weight–a big accomplishment for me when I’m with him 24/7, since he can eat about 3000 calories a day and I’m a social eater.

And perhaps best of all: I didn’t see any muscle loss! I’ve been back to lifting for a week, and am already back where I left off despite the fact that I’m also back on a cut.

This was after only 2 months total of lifting, with 2 one month breaks! Looking forward to more gains 😀 (This is flexing vs unflexed in February, but my pre-lifting “flexing” before photo looked the same as the left photo!)

Current goals/plan: 

I also have a new overall plan, because I have some new goals: I want to be able to run. I’ve been doing HIIT for awhile, but have no endurance to speak of. I want to run miles on the beautiful trails around both San Diego and Berkeley without feeling winded. So I’m doing the popular couch to 5k (C25K) program, modified to be a little bit harder because I do have some foundation.

Because I’m now weight training and running, I’m working out 5-7 days a week, so my new strategy has been to eat more–especially protein–along with my huge exercise increase. And it’s working better than my lower calorie attempts ever did: I lost 1.5lbs the first week, and that was after a few days of maintaining my weight (so very little water weight involved!). I’m doing a moderately high carb diet, with about 60% carbs, 18% fats and 22% protein in general. And it’s working amazingly for me–I feel full of energy and get way fewer cravings than when I was doing 30% fat!

I think I’ll get back into weekly as opposed to daily check-ins, since I’m focusing less on calories and trying to make eating more of a routine rather than coming up with new recipes every day.

However, you can always keep up with my daily food on instagram!

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins (Vegan and Low Cal)

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Hello friends! Sorry about yet another hiatus. Sometimes life just gets a bit crazy: between classes and research internships and my boyfriend visiting during his spring break, I just haven’t had much computer time. But I think that can finally change during the last 6 weeks of the semester and through the summer! 🙂 Despite the blogging break, I have been uploading daily to my instagram, so feel free to keep up with my food/fitness adventures over there! (Linked in sidebar)

And now, one of my goals for this blog is recipe sharing: I have another dedicated recipe blog I post on, but I thought I’d share the more fitness-friendly ones here in case they’re useful to anyone. I’ll also post about my current fitness routine and goals soon, since I’ve been making a lot of progress in the last few weeks!

So to kick things off, I wanted to share one of my favorite new recipes, from last week: chocolate chip sweet potato muffins. They’re a tad addictive, and my omni friends were shocked that they were vegan (always my test of good vegan food). They were even more surprised when I told them they’re incredibly low cal, too! They’re my new favorite snack when I’m out and about: I’ve been bringing them to class straight from the freezer and they’re perfectly moist and thawed an hour later.

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Makes one dozen small muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour (for gluten free, try buckwheat flour)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 250g sweet potato, baked
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (I used unsweetened soymilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp splenda, or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 -1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Ingredient prep: Use pre-baked sweet potato, or bake your own in the oven at 375 degrees F for around 45 minutes, or until soft. If you don’t have oat flour, make your own by grinding 1 cup of oats in a food processor–I like mine slightly course. Remove from food processor to a bowl, and set aside.

1. Combine baked sweet potato with banana, soymilk, and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Add maple syrup and sweetener, and set aside.

2. Combine the flours, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices in a medium sized bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, then add in wet ingredients and stir. If the batter is too dry, add non dairy milk until it’s at muffin-batter consistency.

3. Spoon batter into a standard sized muffin pan–it should fill one dozen cups about 2/3 full.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove muffins to a cooling rack.

Nutrition info:

  • Calories per muffin: 90
  • Carbs: 16.5g (2g fiber)| Protein: 2.5g | Fat: 1.8g
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One with cashew butter, the other with coconut butter–both are delicious!

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Enjoy!

(This is cross-posted from my recipe only blog)

Day 6 Food Diary (6/14)

Ooohh boy. Yesterday did not go so well. It all started when my mom brought home a dark chocolate Toblerone with two squares eaten, and told me to finish it off. I just couldn’t resist gorging myself, of course.

And then came the big pizza dinner followed by me baking a chocolate chip cookie cake for my boyfriend and his friends. I ordered a pesto pizza with tons of veggies and no cheese and was looking forward to my one restaurant meal of the week, when…

the waiter dropped it on his way to my table.

He apologized profusely and kept offering me a free soup or salad to eat while waiting for them to remake my pizza, which I politely declined–I didn’t want to add anything to my already calorific dinner, after all. Then the manager showed up with a salad anyway and said “I made it just for you.” So of course I had to eat some of it, but was able to split it with one of my friends.

The funny part is, I would have felt fine if I’d only had the salad–I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all, and didn’t feel hungry. It’s as if the restaurant was subliminally telling me to stop sabotaging my weightloss attempts when they did away with my pizza and replaced it with the salad.

Then the pizza came, so since my boyfriend had already kindly paid for it for me, I ate part of it. Then went home and made them the promised pazookie. And of course ate some… sadly it was a nonvegan day.

Thankfully I ended up right around maintenance, but still. I didn’t need that much food!

 

Breakfast:

  • Strawberry rhubarb smoothie: 195

Lunch:

  • Coffee: 30
  • Cashew cheese on rice cake: 80

Dinner:

  • 3 small pizza slices: 695
  • 2/3 of a side salad: 130

Snacks:

  • Pazookie + ice cream: 370
  • Toblerone squares: 160

Total: 1655   –   Burned 100 (3500 steps)

Net: 1555

  • Protein: 45g
  • Carbs: 190g
  • Water: 3.3L

 

My (in)famous chocolate chip cookie cake (essentially a pazookie). So delicious, but so bad for the ol' waistline...

My (in)famous chocolate chip cookie cake (essentially a pazookie). So delicious, but so bad for the ol’ waistline…

Day 5 Food Diary (6/13)

Tried a down day again: 400 calorie goal. Ended up at 700. Things were going great until my boyfriend brought me some surprise chips (my favorite baked jalapeno kind!), plus biscotti, and it just went downhill from there. I keep getting that “well, I messed up my day already so I might as well keep eating” mentality, and it really puts me off track with completely unnecessary snacking that always makes me uncomfortably full.

I need to learn to operate by the fact that every calorie over my goals puts me further from the weight I want to be, regardless of when I eat them!

I went to the gym late at night to try to make up for the chips and biscotti I had at my boyfriend’s house. Then I came home and ate it all back. I’m a snacking mess.

Tonight we’re having a dinner date (meaning giant dinner I won’t be able to stop myself from eating all of), so I’m going to try my best to keep it all down to 1000 or below. I might end up baking for him and his friends, though, so I have a feeling it might be my “cheat-day” of the week.

Wish me luck!

Breakfast:

  • Dried mango, yesterday’s sweet potato bread: 110
  • Apple: 70

Lunch:

  • Soup with mushrooms, kale: 35
  • Coffee & matcha latte: 60

Dinner:

  • Big smoothie: 380
  • Jalapeno chips (!!): 185

Snacks:

  • Cheese and crackers: 120
  • Almond bark: 60
  • Biscotti: 160

Total: 1265   –   Burned 565 (11k steps)

Net: 700

  • Protein: 44g
  • Carbs: 100g
  • Water: 5.4L
My big smoothie in the making: so far it's mango, berries, and avocado!

My big smoothie in the making: so far it’s mango, berries, and avocado!

Day 4 Food Diary (6/12)

I turned this down day into an up day thanks to more snacking and bad planning. I had a bit of fiasco with making a new paleo/vegan sweet potato bread idea I had, because by the time it was out of the oven around 2, it wasn’t anywhere near set enough to eat. It was my planned breakfast so at this point I was both hungry, and desperate for my pre-allotted portion of health bread.

So I ended up making a quick microwave paleo bread recipe to make up for it… which ended up being higher calorie. I ate some of that, and then after the original bread had set, realized that one wasn’t such a disaster and had some of that too.

Then I had snack attacks with my dad and boyfriend.

Shhaammee.

Breakfast:

  • Microwave bread + hazelnut butter: 430

Lunch:

  • Paleo sweet potato bread and cherries: 250
  • Coffee: 30

Dinner:

  • Black bean patty on a salad: 180

Snacks:

  • Cheese and crackers: 240
  • Chocolate biscuit: 65

Total: 1190  –   Burned 110

Net: 1080

  • Protein: 51g
  • Carbs: 70g
  • Water: 3.75L

If you find yourself mysteriously gaining, or failing to lose…

…you probably aren’t estimating your calories correctly. I know this seems obvious, but the amount of damage that can be caused by one little calorie underestimation is just shocking. I’ve discovered this the hard way.

I think I may have inadvertently cracked the case today on why I had so much trouble losing weight this last year despite my good calorie counts. I was so meticulous with recording everything I put in my face, but it was all thwarted by one little tuber: the sweet potato.

(Or, yam. The whole distinction confuses me despite my frequent attempts to research the matter.)

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Whoever thought a potato could be so cruel?

During the school year, I had a sweet potato about 5 days a week for breakfast. I thought I was being so healthy–just mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of maple syrup and walnuts. I used the Myfitnesspal estimations on how calorific they were, with a “small” one being about 120 calories. I thought the sweet potatoes I had been getting counted as “small” because they were the smallest I’d seen while shopping. Plus, I figured that since they’re vegetables, how much damage could they really do to my waistline? I counted them as 120 calories and went on with my merry, potato-filled days. (Can you tell I’m Irish?)

I finally got a food scale the other day, and I was excited to be able to use it to weigh out exact quantities to make sweet potato bread this morning. I was measuring the potato I had just bought, and was delighted to find it was exactly 300 grams–exactly what the recipe I was using as a base called for.

I was also calculating the calories of the bread, and that’s when I made the horrifying discovery: the 300 gram glob that I had originally classified as a small-medium potato was actually 260 calories.

That’s more than twice as much as I was recording throughout an entire year of potato-eating. That’s 140 extra calories five days a week, or 700 calories a week, all completely unaccounted for.

That was a sneaky .8 of a pound a month. Also known as .1 BMI point a month for my height. Or 10 pounds a year.

All because of a potato.

So, thanks to that slap in the face, I’m giving out this public service announcement: buy a food scale–you won’t regret it!

Except you might feel really silly and/or ashamed about how badly you estimated things beforehand if you’re like me, but it’ll do you so much good over time. I got mine for 10 bucks on amazon, and it’s pocket sized so I can bring it anywhere I need to. All you snackers out there: you need one of these. It’s so hard to know just how much you’re eating!

Here are the demon potatoes that I loved so much:

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The potato behind the bowl was probably about 220 calories. I feel cheated and lied to.

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..aanndd here’s the onion-y, vegan cheesy lunch version. The amount of potato on the plate is about 280 calories, as is the half potato behind it.

I hope this might help anyone else stumped by mysterious pounds!

-Luna