Not Just Tofu

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Recipe: Hash Brown Stacks

In Cooking Tips, Recipe on October 16, 2014 at 10:42 pm

So what does a gluten free breakfast look like?  It looks like this!


This is one of the yummiest breakfast recipe I can cook without any gluten.   It can be made in 15 minutes. It was I make when I want to feel fancy but on a budget.  Would you believe that it was made with frozen hash brown patties?  Next time you are gonna have brunch with the girls , this is the recipe to try.


  • 2 hash brown patties
  • 1 egg with 1 tsp of water
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 slices of ripe tomato
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado slices
  1. Toast hash brown patties in the toaster oven while you prep the other ingredients
  2. Spray non-stick frying pan with cooking spray
  3. Beat your egg with 1 tsp of water and pour into frying pan
  4. Season with salt and pepper in the pan and let fry on one side before flipping


  1. 1 hash brown patty
  2. 1/2 the fried egg
  3. slices of avocado
  4. slice of tomato
  5. season with salt and pepper


So Good!! No gluten, good proteins, good fat, good flavor.  Enjoy



Almost Converted

In Cooking Tips, Editorial, Publications and Blogs on April 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

MP900402511 Desperately in need of a garlic bagel with egg and turkey bacon, I gave into my cravings. I, Sandra Lee Smith Calderon, will never eat another bagel in my life. I felt so uncomfortable, I thought my stomach was going to explode. I’ve had bouts with Candida before but nothing like this. I was so bloated; my stomach didn’t ache but it wasn’t happy with the bagel.On another day, I gave into another craving for pistachio gelato. I love and I mean this in a literal sense, love pistachio gelato. Then my stomach started up again with bloating and this time with the gas. This gas was no ordinary gas. I’m sorry if this is too much for you but these are the real signs that you should listen to your body and not your appetite. Tempted every now again, I take a few spoonfuls of gelato only to have it cause havoc on my digestive system.

So what I have I almost converted too? I think I am going to live Gluten-Free /Dairy Free Diet. Early last year, I got tested for food allergies. It was determined that I was allergic to wheat, barley and rye.  It resulted in a cut back of how much gluten I ate. I don’t have Celiac disease; I classify it as a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.  Trust me this decision didn’t happen overnight, I have been contemplating this for a while. I wondered if I could give up bread, pizza and pasta. After my incident with the bagel and the after effects of my carb loaded breakfast, I don’t think I have a choice.

wheatAfter researching alternate diets which included vegan and Paleo, I decided that gluten-free would be best for me.  Having an autoimmune disease really sealed the deal because wheat causes inflammation.  With Lupus, the last thing I want are for my joints and muscles to be inflamed.  The dairy may be more of a challenge because of my love for cheese but over time I think I will get used to it.  It is important that when making a dietary change that you (1) don’t give yourself a hard time if you do give into temptation (2) for success you will need to find alternatives for the things you love so that you can make a permanent change.

A speaker I heard weeks ago said that if you could control your appetite you could control a lot more in your life. It was at that moment that I realized that I needed to make a change. So after countless hours of Youtube videos, cookbooks and blog reading, I am leaning more to gluten-free lifestyle. Sorry Paleo, more meat and less grain doesn’t sit well with me. On the bright side I still have french fries!



For those of you interested in becoming gluten-free, check these out:

Homemade Ravioli Challenge, Check

In Cooking Tips, pasta, Recipe on November 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm

IMG-20131101-00366I finally did it! I made homemade ravioli. Like many of you, I have seen chef after chef make ravioli on TV. Some chefs make them with homemade pasta dough and others used wonton wrappers. For the last four weeks I have been teaching an after-school cooking class to students in grades 4-6 and this was one of their favorite recipes. Not being able to cook the ravioli, the students assembled the ravioli easily and quickly. I figured if they can do it, so can you. I adapted my spinach filling from my stuff shells recipe to create this recipe. I also made triangles instead of traditional squares because Alvin ate them too quickly the first time I made them; I didn’t even get a chance to try the first batch. These ravioli are so good that at my Sabbath lunch everyone ate them without batting an eye. So don’t think you can’t do it because you can. Homemade Ravioli, check!

12 ounces, Part Skim Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese
1/2 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 Whole Egg
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 box of frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
24 whole Wonton Wrappers
Small bowl of Water

1. Put large bowl of water to boil with salt
2. all ingredients together in large bowl
3. Lay out at least 4 or 5 wonton wrappers (it saves times)
4. Put a teaspoon of the filling on half of the wrappers
5. Wet the edges of the wrappers and fold in half
6. When all the ravioli are assembled, drop them gently into the pot
7. Let the ravioli cook for 3-4 minutes, remove with slotted spoon

If preparing in an advance, do not cook instead lay them flat, drizzle with olive oil and refrigerate.

IMG-20131101-00370 (1)

Pesto Cream
1/2 – 1 cup of basil leaves
3 tbsp of grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cups of light cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree basil leaves, garlic, cheese and oil in the food processor
2. simmer the light cream until reduced and thickened
3. Add pesto to thickened cream and season with salt and pepper

Recipe: Vegetarian Coconut Curry

In Cooking Tips, Entrees, Recipe on September 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm

001Being of West Indian descent, I am prone to love curry.  Since tasting Thai food, I have realized that not all curries are created equally.  Even among the West Indian islands there are different strengths of curry.  I have found that curry from the Trinidad is stronger than the curry that comes from Jamaica and Asian curry is more floral. Don’t get me wrong because all are delicious and I love them dearly but every now and again I crave Thai curry which is usually cooked with coconut milk. Something about coconut milk and curry that warms my soul.  This curry can be used with all proteins but this one includes a seitan product that Alvin buys from Veggie Heaven in Teaneck, NJ. I have made this with blue fish and whole porgies which is so yummy.  I also think that using TVP Chunks would be great, my doctor friend does it that way.  Please try this recipe and if you can, let me know how it comes out.


  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 stalk of scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 package of setian or 1 cup of TVP Chunks
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot, julienne
  • 1/2 cup of sliced red pepper (bell or Cubanelle)
  • 2 dried hot chilies
  • zest of a lime


  1. Warm oil in frying pan over medium/high heat
  2. Brown and remove protein
  3. Saute shallots, garlic, ginger and scallions until fragrant (add oil if needed)
  4. Mix in curry, turn down fire and cook for 1 minute
  5. Add water and stir until because it becomes a thick paste
  6. Pour in coconut milk and soy sauce and add dried chilies
  7. Return the browned protein to the curry sauce and simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Mix in vegetables (carrots and broccoli) and cook until tender.
  9. Finish with zest of lime

Hint: Serve over Jasmine rice garnished with cilantro


Recipe: Simple Swiss Chard Saute

In Cooking Tips, Food, Recipe, sides on June 14, 2013 at 12:37 am

Are you tired of eating spinach? Have you had your fill of kale? I know I was in search of another green fix.  I use leafy greens as a source of protein, antioxidants, calcium and iron since I am known not to eat enough of any group.  If you are a vegetarian, leafy greens are your best friend because they provide a great amount of protein along with beans.  In my research, I also found out that Swiss Chard is full of vitamin K. Vitamin K is good for muscle and bone growth which concerns me especially because of my Lupus.  Vitamin K is also essential for maintaining cell growth.  You can have a vitamin K deficiency but you can turn that around by adding vitamin k dense foods such as Swiss Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale.

So my question is, how many of you have tried Swiss Chard?  At the farmer’s market, I would pass this colorful stemmed bouquet because I never tasted it.  Finally at Trader Joe’s, they had a bag of washed and chopped rainbow Swiss Chard that look manageable. I thought “how hard can it be?”  Come to find out, it’s pretty simple.  A few cloves of garlic, lemon juice and you got a pretty tasty side. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid of new produce.


  • 1 Bag of Swiss Chard, chopped and watched
  • Juice of 1/2 of  lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan
  2. Saute garlic until fragrant (make sure not to burn)
  3. Add Swiss Chard and saute
  4. Squeeze lemon juice over hot greens
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Cook till tender to the bite

Turkey-Less Roasting

In Cooking Tips, Editorial, Food, Products, Recipe, sides on December 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

It’s almost Christmas which means another celebratory meal is around the corner.  I realize that a lot of 1st time vegetarians will be out there wondering what to cook.  I guess it depends on how good a cook you are.  You can make your own seitan turkey if your really good.  Most purchase a retail version of a turkey roast.  I was in Whole Foods the other day and found that Gardein makes a Turkey Roast.  I like Quorn’s roast for those of you like me who can’t eat soy.  There is of course the mother of the movement – Tofurky.  Before these readily available versions, there was Worthington Dinner Roast which  doesn’t look like a roast but taste good.  In my West Indian Family and community, we are not big turkey eaters but if we do eat turkey it better have good gravy.  I give credit to the beautiful and simple gravy to help turkey and mock turkey taste good.  So I am re-posting the recipe for the “Full Proof Gravy” as a gift from Not Just Tofu to you.


  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning salt (Lawry’s preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth


  1. Melt margarine or butter in sauce pan
  2. Add celery, garlic and onion to melted butter
  3. Cook till soft
  4. Dust vegetables with flour and cook for 1 minute
  5. Slowly whisk in vegetable broth
  6. Season broth with seasoning salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, onion and garlic powder.
  7. Let simmer until slightly thickened (if too thick, slowly add more broth)

quorn roast tofurky worthington dinner roast

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Soup Revisted

In Cooking Tips, Entrees, Recipe, Sandwiches, soup on November 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Fall is here!  The leaves are starting to change in New Jersey even though it was 75 degrees today.  With two out of three men in my life loving tomato soup, I can’t keep serving the same style.  I have revisited the original creamy tomato soup recipe and tweaked it with even more flavorful ingredients.

How do I make tomato soup a complete meal?  I serve it with a not so classic grill cheese. Instead of using your regular loaf of bread I use a crusty Italian loaf. You won’t find American cheese here, instead I will be using fresh mozzarella cheese then toast on my trusty panini press.  Trust me, this is the better way.  For even more flavor coat your bread with pesto…can you say yum?

         Creamy Tomato Soup Revisted              

  • 1 can of fire roasted tomato puree (32 oz.)
  • 1 box of vegetable broth (1 qt)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp of pesto
  1. Warm oil and saute onions and garlic (2-minutes)
  2. Pour in tomatoes and vegetable broth
  3. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes
  4. Stir in the heavy cream and heat for another 5 minutes
  5. Finish the soup by stirring in the soup and cook for another 5 minutes

Creamy Tomato Soup

Try these other variation and let me know what you think.

  • Add roasted peppers = Creamy Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Soup
  • Add a slice of bread and mozzarella cheese, melt under boiler = Pizza Topped Tomato Soup
  • Add cheese tortellini and garnish with basil oil = Sophisticated Creamy Tomato Soup

The list is endless.  What is your favorite way to eat Tomato Soup?

Gnocchi Anyone?

In Cooking Tips, Entrees, Food, pasta, Recipe on August 31, 2012 at 6:24 pm

What is Gnocchi? It is defined as an Italian dumpling made of potato, semolina, or flour, usually boiled and served with soup or a sauce.  The first time I had this dish was at Maggiano’s, an Italian food franchise on the east coast.  I had seen these little dumplings made on multiple cooking shows, but never had the opportunity to taste them myself.  As soon as I saw the dish on the menu, I had to have it.

I was not disappointed by the dish at all. The dumplings are tender; their texture can not really be compared to basic pasta.  They don’t have a lot of bite but they stand up well to sauce without getting soft.  I had mine in a Arriabata sauce, a spicy tomato sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese. I let Alvin taste it but he thinks they are too soft.  I had no complaints; in fact this dish makes me crave them all the time.  The truth is they are a quick and healthy dish.

As usual, whatever I eat out I have to try to recreate at home.  I am not so adventurous as to make the gnocchi from scratch but I do buy them frozen and they work well.  I bought the “fresh” ones from the grocery store where you find the other fresh pasta but they were horrible.  I don’t know if I overcooked them but they were gummy and tough….yuk.  Below you will find a quick and tasty recipe for making Gnocchi ala Not Just Tofu.  So good, so quick and so easy.Image

Gnocchi ala Not Just Tofu

  • 1 bag of frozen Gnocchi
  • 1 15oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup of frozen green peas, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup of Italian parsley, chopped and divided equally
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil (extra virgin if fine too)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook gnocchi according to package and drain
  2. Heat olive oil in medium fry pan with a lid
  3. Saute onion and garlic till aromatic
  4. Add tomatoes and cook till broken down ( 3-4 minutes)
  5. Mix in crushed tomatoes and 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
  6. Cook covered until heated through (3-4 minutes)
  7. Mix in green peas
  8. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Stir in 1/2 of the parsley and then the gnocchi
  10. Plate and garnish with the remaining parsley

Recipe: Tex Mex Beans and Sausage

In Cooking Tips, Recipe on June 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

After looking through the June edition of Vegetarian Times, I was inspired to try one of their recipes.  Their recipe was Charro Beans with Chipotle Sausage but after visiting my local grocery story I realized that I couldn’t make this recipe ingredient for ingredient.  I took their basic recipe and made it grocery store and time friendly.  I swapped dry pinto beans for canned small red beans because I didn’t have the time to cook dry beans.  Instead of using their suggestion of Field Roast Chipotle Sausage, I found Lightlife Smart Sausage chipotle flavor which had less sodium and budget friendly.  The last substitute was the parsley for cilantro since Alvin is not a big cilantro fan.

My Version: Tex Mex Sausage and Beans

 I think that I was successful in creating my version.  My husband said that the dish was very savory, maybe too savory and needed something to offset it.  I served the dish with plain boil potatoes but I imagine that it would go well with rice too.  If Alvin liked cornbread, I would have served it that instead.  I hope you enjoy my version but I encourage you to try the original recipe…if you have the time.

 Recipe: Tex Mex Beans and Sausage
  • 1 can of small red beans, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 package of chipotle flavored sausage
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  •  1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Warm oil in a medium saucepan
  2. Fry the sausage links whole, cooking on all sides
  3. Once the sausage are cooked, put to the side for cooling
  4. Cook the onion, garlic and green pepper in the same pan until softened
  5. Season the vegetable mixture with chili powder, ground black pepper and a pinch of salt
  6. Add the can of beans and tomatoes
  7. Bring to a slight simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes
  8. Cut sausage into 1 inch rounds and add to the bean mixture
  9. Cook for another 10 minutes
  10. Mix in most of the parsley and garnish with the remaining.



Their Version: Charro Beans with Chipotle Sausage

For the Vegetarian Times version, visit and type in the recipe Charro Beans with Chipotle Sausage

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)
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