Not Just Tofu

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Article: Rice is Exciting

In Cooking Tips, Editorial, Recipe, sides on January 27, 2011 at 1:11 am

Coming from a West Indian family, rice is served almost everyday.  We eat white rice, but we also eat “Rice and Peas” which could be made with small red beans, pigeon peas, coconut milk and thyme.  If you get the right cook making your West Indian “Rice and Peas”, you can eat it all on its own.  Now as an adult, I see that rice is not just something you put on the side; Rice can make or break a meal, especially if you are a vegetarian.

So are you eating rice?  How often?  Are you eating the same rice with every dish.  Here are just a few tips on how to use rice to enhance your meal.

Jasmine Rice: This is the rice you get when you eat Asian food, be it Chinese, Thai or Japanese.  It has a floral fragrance with light grains and slightly sticky texture.  Don’t cook it like you would regular long grain rice because you will over cook it.  Instead of 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice, use 1 1/2 cups of rice for 1 cup of rice.  It taste great with anything containing soy or Asian-style curries which have coconut milk. Next time you make rice pudding, try using Jasmine rice instead of long grain, you won’t believe the difference.

Basmati Rice: This is the rice you get when you eat at Indian restaurants.  It has earthy fragrance, firm grain and nutty taste which some people like or don’t; I personally love this rice.  Cook it as you would cook long grain rice but over a lower flame.  Basmati rice comes in both white and brown.  This rice goes well with all things Indian and curried.

Wild Rice: This form of rice is high in protein.  It is nutty and earthy in fragrance and taste.  It is also the most costly of  the rice family because of where it grows and how it is harvested.  Like brown rice, it can take 2 to 3 times the amount of time to cook it verses long grain white rice.  If you have the patience, you can serve it wherever you would serve long grain rice.  I like to call this an entertaining rice because it looks so sophisticated on the plate.  If you want to add another note of flavor, cook the rice in vegetable broth instead of water.

Brown Rice:  This rice is the new popular favorite in rice (still not one of mine). Brown rice is nutty and has a different texture from white rice all together.  When making the change to brown rice, be ready to for the change.  Unfortunately, it takes an average of 30-40 minutes to cook.  Thankfully companies have created instant brown rice, which can get from the stove to the table in 12 minutes.  I prefer “Uncle Ben” because the grains are not mushy.  High in protein, sturdy in texture, it is a great way to add protein to your meal. With a few vegetables you can create a great rice salad.

Long Grain Rice: This is the rice you grew up with.  It can be easily converted into fried rice, rice and peas and Spanish rice because of its neutral flavor.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have protein like its sibling.  The best way to give this rice a nutritional kick is by combining  it with vegetables and broth. 

Rice Mixes: DO NOT USE!  I know you want to change-up dinner but it is a health no-no.  First, they are high in sodium which is no good for your blood pressure.  Secondly, most of them contain MSG which has been linked to cancer.  Lastly, they are laced with chicken fat or chicken byproduct which is not what you want to do.  When you want to change-up rice, the easiest way is to boil the rice in vegetable stock or season with spices like paprika and Mrs. Dash. 

So the next time you are going to cook dinner, think about which rice should you use to take your meal to the next level.  You could use the rice you grew up with or you could use one that is being used on the other side of the world. 

Recipe: Rice Pilaf

  • 1/4 cup of Orzo (rice shaped pasta)
  • 1 cup of rice (brown or white)
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  1. Melt butter in medium sauce pan
  2. Quickly stir in Orzo and cook till lightly brown
  3. Mix in Rice
  4. Add vegetable stock, salt and pepper
  5. Cook rice according to package (15 for white, 30 for brown)

Restaurant: Panera Bread

In Restaurant Experience on January 27, 2011 at 12:19 am

You know why I really like eating at Panera Bread?  I like Panera Bread because it is a vegetarian friendly, cafe style, eatery that provides quality goods and great service.  Really people?  I love Panera because it taste so good.  From the freshly made pastries to a great panini, if I could eat there everyday I probably would.  Unfortunately that quality comes with a price that only allows me to treat myself on pay-day. 

While sick with Bell’s Palsy, I introduced my mom to Panera for the first time.  My mom is a picky eater. Hardly is any restaurant up to her standards but she was willing to take my recommendation, especially because I was paying for it. My sister had always raved about their ice green tea, which I agree is very refreshing.  When she tasted her fresh sandwich with real meat and the creamy tomato soup, she realized why we love this place.  It is now a place where we can eat worry free. 

Remember I am not a vegetarian so finding a place for both Alvin and I to eat is always tricky. At Panera,  their vegetarian friendly menu offers a variety of dishes that allow me to eat meat while he eats what he likes.  He particularly enjoys the”Pick Two” option which let’s you pick  1/2 portions of 2 of their items which include soup, salad and any sandwich on the menu.  The sandwich option may not have much variety for a vegetarian but you can pick from 3 of the vegetarians soup which include the Creamy Tomato Soup, Black Bean Soup and the Garden Vegetable soup with Pesto.  You can pretty much have every salad, just tell them to hold the meat.  If you get the soup in a bowl, you will be filled by the end of the meal.

Trying to lose a few pounds?  Panera has adopted the public calorie count system which post how many calories are in each item on their menu and in their bakery.  Having this information made me change my choice from the Creamy Tomato soup to the Garden Vegetable soup which has 1/2 the calories.  I opted to have the dressing on the side of my Greek salad as another way to control my calorie intake.  Weight Watchers would be proud of my newly adopted conscious eating habits, definitely better than going to McDonalds.  A typical meal averages out at $7.50 but isn’t your health worth it? 

Don’t forget that Panera is open for breakfast too.  Unfortunately, it is too far from my house for me to enjoy but the bagels are great.  While you are there for your meal don’t forget to pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread.  We especially love the Honey Wheat loaf which I toast and top with Nutella. For more information, please visit Panera at

Recipe: Comfort Food

In meat substitutes, pasta, Recipe, salad on January 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm

On a cold, snowy night, we crave food that will stick to our bones.  For a carnivore, comfort foods range from baked macaroni-n-cheese to chicken soup.  As a new herbivore, you want to refrain from going to what you use to eat and try to find a new range of comfort foods.  How about some chili?  When you think of chili, don’t you think warmth, cozy and yum : ).  I have created a vegetarian chili that both herbivores and carnivores love.  I have tried this recipe at church, with kids and at my job; they all agree it’s delicious. 

The great thing about chili is that it can be customized.  I love my chili on a bake potato with jalepeno peppers and a little melted cheese.  My grandfather ate it over spaghetti.  My friends ate it over corn chips with sour cream and cheese.  Whichever you like to eat chili, you can still try with this vegetarian version.  It’s not just beans, it is peppers, onions, TVP and much more.  Trust me, this is an easy recipe to satisfy your craving for something good.



  • 28oz. can of Petite Diced Tomato
  • 28oz. can of Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of low sodium or homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
  • ½ of a Red Onion, diced
  • ½ of a Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 roasted Poblano pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks of Scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp of Parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp of Cumin
  • 1 tbsp of Oregano
  • 1 tbsp of Seasoning Salt ( less if you are watching your salt)
  • 1 tbsp of Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp of Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp of Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp of Olive Oil


  1. Large Pot
  2. Wooden Spoon
  3. Measuring Spoon & Cup



  1. Warm oil in large pot
  2. Add red onion, garlic and scallion and cook for 2 minutes
  3. Mix in Bell and Poblano peppers and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Pour in diced Tomatoes, Kidney Beans and Vegetable Broth, bring to a boil
  5. Stir TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein) into the mixture until well combined
  6. Season mixture with all of the dry seasoning: seasoning salt, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes
  8. Stir in parsley and let sit for 15 minutes.

Article: NJT is Connected

In Editorial on January 24, 2011 at 6:12 am

This past Christmas, my husband bought me a blackberry.  I now understand why people are so addicted to this gadget; you are always connected.  I want to stay connected with my readers, I really want to hear from you.   What is your biggest challenge?  I am curious to learn about your vegetarian experience. 

It has been over 9 months since my first posting, and since then I have had over 2,000 visits.  The numbers prove to me that you are curious about the ways and habits of vegetarians.  What I don’t know is what information are you benefiting from.  If you can, send me a comment or email me at

Did you know that Not Just Tofu is on Facebook?  I launched the Facebook page over 2 months ago but have had little to no traffic or friend request.  If you just want a sneak peak at what’s on the blog, check out the Facebook page where snipets of the articles or posted.  You can also track me on Twitter where I will let you know what I am cooking or where I am eating.  Lastly, you can suscribe to the blog which will alert you of  new post on the site.  Between my Blackberry, Facebook and Twitter we should be able to communicate all the time.  Let’s keep in touch.

Recipe: Cooking Class Recipe II

In Editorial, Recipe on January 24, 2011 at 5:45 am

The 2nd recipe I shared with the cooking class was the Broccoli and Soy Stir Fry.  This recipe has is a people pleaser, I think it’s because of the sauce.  Once you smell the sauce, you will want to bathe in it.  The combination of ginger and citrus just makes people happy. The soy in this recipe depends on what you like.  Sometimes I use fried tofu or seitan but this time I used the mock turkey roll (Mock turkey roll is made by Worthington). 


  • Broccoli and Soy Stir Fry

    1 ½ pounds of broccoli florets

  • 1 package of tofu or meat substitute pieces
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp of ginger
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • 2 stalks of scallion, thinly sliced
  • Pepper flakes (optional)



  1. Heat oil in large frying pan
  2. Fry tofu or soy substitute pieces until brown on both sides and remove from pan
  3. Meanwhile Cook broccoli (stalks and florets) in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, 2 minutes. Drain; set aside
  4. To make sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, red-pepper flakes, orange juice, cornstarch, and 3/4 cup water; set aside
  5. Add garlic, ginger and orange zest to frying pan, stirring quickly
  6. Add broccoli to skillet; cook over high heat, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes
  7. Add tofu or soy substitute to broccoli
  8. Whisk reserved sauce to combine; pour into pan
  9. Finish with sliced scallions and sesame oil, remove from heat

I have not decide what recipes I will teach on Sunday, February 20, 2010 but I know I want to see you there.  Some of you inquired last year about attending my cooking class, I hope you guys can make it.  Currently NJT is partnering with the Community SDA Church of Englewood, NJ to teach vegetarian cooking.  The classes are fun and affordable, only $5.  To register early, email me at

Article: Cooking Class Recipes I

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 5:17 am

The last time I posted, I informed you of the cooking class that I was teaching.  I have to apologize to for giving you  such late notice.  This time around you have 5 weeks to prepare for the next cooking class to be held on Sunday, February 20th.  I love teaching these classes because it is a good opportunity for an exchange of information;  I am sharing what I know and those attending do the same.  On the 16th, I taught Asian-based dishes that were healthy and quick to make.  I believe that these may be some of my best recipes and I hope you enjoy.



Vegetable Lo Mein     

Healthy Lo Mein


  • 1lb of whole wheat thin spaghetti, cooked
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 yellow squash, julienned
  • ½ cup of edamame (soy beans)
  • 2 stalks of scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable stock, plus 2 tbsp for cornstarch
  • 1tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • Pinch of Red Chile flakes (optional)


  1. Heat large frying pan and oil
  2. Add garlic and ginger, heat till fragrant
  3. Add vegetables and stir fry (3 minutes)
  4. Mix soy sauce and 3tbsp of vegetable stock, add to vegetables
  5. Blend cornstarch and the remaining vegetable broth
  6. Quickly stir in the cornstarch mixture into the vegetable
  7. Once the sauce has thickened, add sesame oil and scallion, stirring constantly
  8. Combine noodles with vegetables and stir till coated and heated through


Vegetarian Cooking Class TODAY (1/16/11)

In Event, Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Hello NJT readers. I am glad to say that I am starting the new year with something fresh. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to tell you until this morning. Time managment is one of my resolutions for 2011. What can I say, change is hard. Nevertheless, if you are lounging home wondering what to do with your day, I will be teaching a VEGETARIAN COOKING CLASS for beginners today. If you follow me on FACEBOOK, you would have seen my add inviting you to attend this class. It is only $5 and a hour-and-half long.

Why not come? You will meet other vegetarians and me. The best thing is that you get to taste the recipes today. I will teach be teaching Broccoli and Soy Stir Fry, Vegetable Lo Mein and Caramelized Pineapple.

If you have an hour in half to enjoy a great opportunity, come on out! I will be waiting

Address: Community SDA Church
245 Tenafly Road
Englewood, NJ 07631

Time: 1:30pm – 3:00pm

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