Category Archives: Less than 500 calories

Soy Glazed Tofu

This quick and easy Soy Glazed Tofu is one of our favorites! We usually have most of the ingredients on hand so we can have one of our most requested dinners ready to go in minutes. We just introduced our son to this delicious meal too and he approved so it’s sure to stay in our rotation.

Soy Glazed Tofu

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by tofu. I agree that it seems a bit of a challenge as it just comes in a big white block of nothingness in a tub of water. What to do with it? It took me some practice before I was able to cook tofu in a way that I found edible. I’m really not sure why because now I do just fine without difficulty. Maybe it was just a matter of finding the right recipes…this is definitely one of them! Tofu Pad Thai and Crispy Tofu and Vegetables are other popular choices in our home.

I started off with firm (or extra firm) tofu as it stands up to stir frying better. I cut it into 1-inch cubes and laid the cubes on a paper towel-lined plate, covered with another paper towel, then another plate, for at least 15 minutes, pushing down occasionally. This helps to free excess fluid from the tofu, making it crispier when cooked.

In the meantime, I prepared the soy glaze. In a small saucepan, I combined seasoned rice vinegar (you can get this in the vinegar section in most supermarkets, or check the Asian section), freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and some orange zest and brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered until thick, stirring intermittently while cooking the tofu.

Getting back to the tofu, I heated dark toasted sesame oil in a large wok over medium-high heat, then cooked the tofu until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking/burning. Using a nonstick wok or skillet will help prevent the tofu from falling apart (one of my early problems with cooking tofu). Once the tofu was cooked, I removed it from the heat, poured in the soy glaze, and garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Soy Glazed Tofu

The sweetness from the orange juice and brown sugar contrasts nicely with savory soy sauce and vinegar, and the flavor of the toasted sesame oil resulting in a fantastic dish. We usually serve it with white rice. It would pair nicely with freshly steamed broccoli as well. This is a meatless meal that you can have ready for your family within 30 minutes. So challenge yourself…try cooking with tofu!

Soy Glazed Tofu

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Soy Glazed Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2010)

Yield: serves 4

1 12-ounce package firm tofu

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon dark toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (for garnish)

1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds (for garnish)

Directions:

1. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes on a plate lined with a paper towel, cover with another paper towel, then another plate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring intermittently.

3. In a large nonstick wok or skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes to the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add the sauce, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve right away.

Per serving: 130 calories, 5 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Check out these other tofu recipes from The Dinner Pages:

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

Crispy Tofu and Vegetables

Tofu Pad Thai

Check out other recipes submitted to the Cook Your Books link up… cookyourbooks

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Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets are one of those foods that you hear about and often quickly dismiss as unhealthy “kid food.” I know McDonald’s is one of the first places that comes to mind when I think about them and I can’t even tell you the last time I graced the Golden Arches! However, parents, you all know that it can be tough to get your toddler to eat a healthy meal sometimes, especially a well balanced one with protein and veggies, that you will be satisfied to eat as well. My son LOVES fruit and will down a whole orange like nobody’s business then ask for “mo” (more, one of his most used words!) but we are still working on veggies! Generally I’d rather not be sneaky about feeding him veggies but sometimes you do what you have to do, right?

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

So I present to you Healthy Chicken Nuggets, mom and toddler approved. I am part of a wonderful Facebook group of women from around the world who “met” online because our babies were all due at the same time. I’ve been friends with them for nearly two years now and as a group, we are constantly talking and sharing what’s going on in our lives, with our littles, and learning how to be the best moms we can be. Of course feeding our kiddos comes up fairly regularly and one of the ladies shared this recipe as a favorite of her children. As soon as I read it I knew it would be something we’d have to try.

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

I love how it contains several vegetables and quinoa, plus chicken. And I know we are getting real chicken in this, because I ground it myself! The nuggets are baked but still crispy thanks to an outer coat of panko breadcrumbs and the flavors are delicious for grown-ups and children alike. The other great thing with this recipe is that it makes a ton of nuggets. I made very generously sized chicken nuggets and still ended up with 5 dozen! It’s so convenient to have my fridge stocked with leftovers for those busy nights after work or a quick lunch on weekends. I’ve been told they freeze well too, just freeze, uncooked, on a baking sheet. Once frozen, put them into plastic freezer bag or storage container and when you’re ready to eat them, take out just what you need and bake them as described below. How convenient is that?

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

My son gives these Healthy Chicken Nuggets his seal of approval! That’s all I need to know! We will definitely be making them again!

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

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Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Yield: 5 dozen large nuggets

1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled

2 small zucchinis

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 of a yellow onion

2 carrots, peeled

3 cloves garlic

1/2 of a green bell pepper

1 egg

1 tablespoon dried basil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3-4 cups panko bread crumbs

nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

1. Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. [Generally will need to combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.] Let cool.

2. In the bowl of your food processor with the grater attachment, grate the zucchinis. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and cook the grated zucchini for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

3. Continuing with the grater attachment, grate the onion and carrots. Then switch to the chopping blade and add the garlic, bell pepper, egg, basil, chicken thighs, Worcestershire sauce, and cooled quinoa. The bowl of the food processor will likely start to get full so remove some of the mixture to a bowl once it’s combined, then process the rest until it is all the same consistency and generally the same composition. If it is too loose add another egg.

4. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Form the chicken mixture into nuggets of desired size. Coat each nugget with breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.

5. The baking time depends on the nugget size, approximately 10-18 minutes. When done, the nuggets will be slightly browned and cooked all the way through.

Per nugget: 61 calories, 2 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

In my soba noodle salad post, I promised a recipe to use up the other half of a napa cabbage so at long last, here it is. It’s still January so it’s still National Soup Month plus in our house we really enjoy using Asian flavors in our cooking. This Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup was derived from a recipe in Parents magazine. The original recipe was a bit bland, probably because it was intended for little kids, but with a few modifications it morphed into a flavorful soup suitable for the whole family–even with the spices it wasn’t too much for my toddler to handle. He slurped it right down. And my husband had thirds. If that’s not a marker of success, I don’t know what is!

Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

We all know that chicken soup is dubbed Jewish penicillin. Aside from being a quick and nutritious weeknight anytime meal, this soup may help you feel a little better if you’re suffering from a mid-winter cold. While it’s not totally clear why chicken soup is such a comfort food during illness (for me, ice cream works well too, haha), the steamy vapors from a hot bowl of soup may improve congestion and the soothing broth provides extra hydration. So it’s worth a shot since it tastes better than cough syrup anyway.

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

The first part of this recipe involves making a gingery broth, flavored with the whites of green onions. I also cooked chicken thighs during this stage. Once the chicken was cooked, I shredded it with two forks and returned it to the pot to make the rest of the soup. At that time I added the thinly sliced napa cabbage, snow peas cut into thirds, and pad Thai rice noodles. When the noodles were tender, I added a little soy sauce then seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, and Thai spice. The original recipe called for just salt and pepper but I tasted the broth at that point and it was too bland. Thai spice, which I got from Spice Sage, one of my favorite places to purchase various spices and herbs (thanks Dad for recommending it!), fixed that problem. Thai spice is a mixture of ginger, basil, cumin, cardamom, garlic, cilantro, pepper, and turmeric. If you don’t have Thai spice, you could try adding some of those seasonings to taste. Alternately, Chinese five spice powder (which includes cinnamon, anise, pepper, cloves, allspice, and fennel) would also work well–and yes, I realize that’s more than 5 spices. Slurp up!

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from Parents Magazine, January 2014 issue)

Yield: serves 6

3 green onions
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 ounces brown rice pad Thai noodles
8 ounces snow peas, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Salt, pepper, and spices such as Thai spice to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Thai spice)

Directions:
1. Separate the white part of the the green onions from the green part. Place the white part into a large Dutch oven and thinly slice the green parts for topping the soup later.
2. To the Dutch oven, add the chicken thighs, broth, and ginger, along with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
3. Remove the onions from the broth. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks, then return the shredded chicken to the pot and bring back to a boil.
4. Add the cabbage, noodles, and snow peas to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the noodles are tender. Stir in the soy sauce and seasonings. Taste the broth and adjust the flavors as needed. Top with the sliced green onions and serve.

Per serving: 280 calories, 7 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Moroccan Chicken and Couscous

One thing that’s not so much fun about cooking is the clean up part, you know, washing a sinkful of dishes after enjoying a great dinner. Meals that you can pretty much make in one pot (or pan) are always a timesaver and they’re awesome for weeknights. This meal is so quick and easy, not to mention healthy too, so you can feel really good about what you’re eating. Heck, with the speed of prepping and cleaning this one, you might have some time to get some crunches and lunges in too, if that’s your thing.

Moroccan Chicken & Couscous

So why is this Moroccan? Couscous is probably the best known component of Moroccan cuisine, though my understanding is that citrus like lemons, as well as olive oil, and lots of yummy spices including cumin and curry (which is a combination of spices such as coriander and cinnamon) are also highlights.

The garlic and spices in this recipe add a unique flavor to the couscous, which becomes a filling and delicious entree with the addition of chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, and green peas. Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a bright citrusy flavor to the dish.

Moroccan Chicken & Couscous

This weeknight dinner won’t take up your whole evening to prep, nor your calorie budget for the day. The couscous and chickpeas have a tangy lemon flavor, which is enhanced by the garlic and tomatoes.

This is definitely a meal that both tastes good AND feels good. Enjoy!

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous

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Moroccan Chicken and Couscous (adapted from Weekdays are Quick Meals)

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces

4 plum or Roma tomatoes

3 garlic cloves

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup couscous, uncooked

1 cup frozen green peas (thawed in microwave for a minute)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Mince the garlic, then roughly chop the tomatoes. Once the chicken is cooked, add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and sauté for another minute. Then add the chicken broth, cumin, and curry powder and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

3. Remove the skillet from the burner and stir in the couscous. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

4. Add the lemon juice, salt, and peas and fluff the couscous with a fork.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 493 calories, 7 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Potato Soup

With this cold spell we’re having all across the U.S., warm soups just feel right. They help take the chill away and paired with some fresh bread, they can be a wonderful comfort food. This potato soup is one that my family has enjoyed for years. I’m sure the recipe originally came from a cookbook, but over time it has evolved and now I just consider it my mom’s recipe.

Potato Soup

The great thing about this hearty soup is that it seems really creamy, thanks to cooking down starchy potatoes and mixing them with milk, but it’s actually not all that bad for you because instead of using heavy cream like a lot of potato soups do, you use skim milk as the base. It’s also great for vegetarians as this is a rare potato soup recipe without associated bacon bits or other attempts to make it into a baked potato soup. Of course baked potatoes have their place, I just prefer them not to be in my soup bowl.

Soups can take a while to cook sometimes too, so they can be tricky for weeknight meals. Not this one. It’ll easily be ready to serve in well under an hour from start to finish. Not too many dishes to wash and a meal your whole family can enjoy.

After browning onions in butter in a large saucepan or soup pot, potatoes and carrots are added along with caraway seeds for an extra unique flavor and are boiled in water until tender. The soup is thickened with a little bit of flour and after simmering for a short while, skim milk is stirred in for that creamy effect. Enjoy…and stay warm!

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Potato Soup

Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup diced onions

3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

1 carrot, grated (or 1 cup of matchstick carrots)

3 cups of water

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups skim milk

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Brown the onions in the melted butter.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, water, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil then stir in the flour.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil again.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 282 calories, 9 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl

Every time it gets cold out, my husband asks for this noodle bowl for dinner. We’ve been making it for 6 years now and it is still a favorite of his (and mine too). Because it’s one of his preferred meals, he usually ends up cooking it too. When I walked in the door and this was almost ready for dinner the other night, I nearly swooned with how good the house smelled. The Chinese five spice powder with the cumin emits the most wonderful fragrance and makes this dish even more appetizing.

GInger Chicken Noodle Bowl

It’s a quick meal to make too, originally derived from one of the Rachael Ray 30 minute meal varieties so it’s a great choice for dinner, and a one pot meal to boot, so clean up is also fast. After browning chicken thighs in a large dutch oven, garlic, ginger, carrots, and the spices including the cumin and five spice powder are added. Chicken stock joins in followed by some vermicelli or spaghetti. Once the noodles are cooked, scallions and bean sprouts are stirred in and dinner is ready. Its distinctive flavor is just so delicious and is a soup we make again and again.

Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl______________________________

Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl (adapted from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats)

Yield: serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 cup matchstick carrots

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 pound vermicelli or spaghetti

4 green onions, cut into 2 1/2 inch matchsticks

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

Directions:

1. Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and after it is heated, add the chicken and brown it lightly, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in the garlic, ginger, carrots, cumin, and five spice powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add the vermicelli then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes. Add the green onions and bean sprouts. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 460 calories, 14 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Curried Lentil Soup

Welcome 2014! Hope everyone had fun ringing in the new year. I was happy to have a quiet night at home and thankfully my little guy was asleep in his crib at midnight for once.

Like soba noodles, lentils are another traditional New Year’s food. In Brazil they are eaten to represent the hope for prosperity in the new year, just like black eyed peas are eaten for the same reason in parts of the USA.

In addition, January is national soup month. Soups are nice and filling and often lower in calories for those people eating light after holiday decadence. Also they’re really comforting on a cold winter day. We tend to eat a lot of soup this time of year.

Despite my quiet New Year’s Eve, I was still pretty tired on New Year’s Day (thanks to a toddler and a full time job and actually making it until midnight without falling asleep) and wanted to spend a relaxing family day mostly outside of the kitchen. A slow cooker soup allowed that to happen!

Curried Lentil Soup

Prior to putting everything in the slow cooker, I microwaved chopped onions, grated ginger, curry powder, some vegetable oil, and tomato paste for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. This let the onions soften and the flavors come together.

After that, I added the onion mixture to the slow cooker along with 8 cups of chicken broth (could definitely use vegetable broth if you prefer), chopped carrots, and a cup of lentils. I cooked the soup on low for about 6 hours which allowed me plenty of time to take my son to the playground to work up an appetite for dinner and bake some bread. By then the lentils were tender. Before serving I added chopped tomatoes, more ginger, and fresh cilantro to the soup and seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper.

Curried Lentil Soup

The taste was fantastic! The house smelled amazing from the start when microwaving the onions. It wasn’t spicy but the merger of onions, ginger, and curry was delicious. Curry powder is a combination of multiple ground spices including cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. For this recipe I used a homemade curry powder that I had made a batch of last month, but whatever type of curry powder you enjoy and have on hand will work great. My husband requested to have this soup again and my 15 month old wanted more and more of it (though he’s still working on using a spoon so he wore quite a bit too) so I’m calling it a success. Here’s to a year of prosperity and longevity!

Curried Lentil Soup

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Curried Lentil Soup (adapted with minimal modifications from Slow Cooker Revolution volume 2)

Yield: serves 6

2 cups chopped onions (2 small/medium onions)

2 tablespoons grated ginger, divided

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons curry powder

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds

1 cup lentils, rinsed

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the onions, 1 tablespoon of ginger, tomato paste, oil, and curry powder. Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently, until the onions are softened.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker, along with the broth, carrots, and lentils. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

3. Once the lentils are tender, after about 6 hours on low, add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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