southern lunch of sorts

It was Grits that made me really appreciate Southern food. But they aren’t exactly the kind of food you want to eat on a regular basis so in order to get my Southern fix, I needed to come up with something that isn’t based on butter and cheese. As good as butter and cheese sound, I don’t need them everyday for lunch. ;)

BBQ tofu may not be winning over die-hard pork fans yet, but this meal can certainly hold its own for classic, and delicious Southern fare.  “Vegan” and “Southern” aren’t typically things I think of in the same meal but this trio makes it very possible. You see, Southern food can be healthy!

BBQ Tofu, Kale & Brown Rice - 2 servings

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 4 Tbsp BBQ Sauce + extra for drizzling (my current favorite is Maurice’s Southern Gold)
  • 1 large bunch kale, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 servings prepared brown rice

Prepare Kale: Heat large pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add kale to pan. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Set aside and save pan for tofu.

Prepare Tofu: Press and marinate with BBQ sauce. Heat large pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook tofu, flipping after about 3 minutes per side. Set aside.

Serve 1 serving brown rice with half of the kale and tofu. Drizzle with additional BBQ sauce if desired.

review: annie chun’s pho

At times I find myself with the skepticism of my Father and Annie Chun’s packaged Pho was the most recent to fall prey to my budding skepticism. As in, I really didn’t have high hopes. My favorite soup out of a plastic cornstarch bowl? My favorite soup that I couldn’t even get right after hours and hours over the stove? But, I’ll try anything once for the sake of my readers. ;) And my curiosity.

Well, I’m here to say that I was wrong on my early skepticism. This was surprisingly good. Sure, it didn’t have wierd meatballs, fresh bean sprouts or herbs, but the flavor was so close to the Pho I love and I slurped with content.

Fan of:

  • the surprisingly, savory pho flavor
  • requires only boiling water
  • packaging is made of corn starch instead of plastic


  • there wasn’t so much sodium – it is 80% of the daily value!
  • there was more protein (I think I’ll try adding some tofu next time)
  • it was a bit more filling (I need to balance the meal better and add a little fat – I had it with a salad which just wasn’t enough – hummus and veggies next time!)


Here’s the issue that I have – the nutrition stats are ok – for an entire lunch but I still questioned how this would leave me feeling after I ate it.  Hungry 5 minutes after eating it? Hungry in an hour? My recent trip to Haiti however makes me think twice about my “hunger” so I decided to slow down, have a cup of tea and then decide how I felt. Partially because I think there are times when I think I’m hungry but it isn’t really hunger that I’m feeling and partially because I was really crossing my fingers that this would keep me full enough to add into the lunch rotation.

It wasn’t as filling as I would like my lunches to be, but next time I’ll try adding some protein or pairing it with something more filling. I think this Pho can have its place – every once in a while.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/2 Bowl (85g)
Servings Per Container About 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 220  Calories from Fat 10
%Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 970mg 40%
Total Carbohydrates 45g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g  
Protein 6g  
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 2% Iron 4%
*Percentage Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


What do you think of the nutrition stats? Would this be an acceptable lunch for you?

apple cinnamon oatmeal

Apple Cinnamon was always my favorite flavor growing up. Those two packets kept me warm enough to play in the snow and gave me a good start to the day so that I could excel in school. (I think my parents would especially agree with the excel part)

After a disappointing bowl from Caribou – I didn’t realize they squirted some sort of cinnamon syrup into the oatmeal – I came to the realization that an apple cinnamon home made version would probably be amazing. An earth-shattering flavor combonation? Not by any means, just a down-to-earth, warming bowl of oatmeal. Just what I need to get me through those Minnesota winters. And excelling at work never hurts either. ;)

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal - 2 servings

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 small apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter or butter alternative (I used earth balance)
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Prepare oatmeal as directed with water and almond milk mix. (I think the almond milk makes it extra creamy)

Add apples, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to small saucepan.

Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes.

Divide oatmeal in two bowls and top with apple mixture.

ask the nutritionist: holiday coffee drinks


Starbucks always lets us know that the holidays have officially arrived with their holiday cups and FaLa Lattes. But in addition to Christmas spirit and holiday cheer, these delicious drinks bring extra sugar, whipped cream and far more calories than your morning coffee should have. But instead of being the Nutrition Grinch and telling you to skip them all together, I’ve got some suggestions to lighten them up.

  • Save them for special occasions – they should definitely not be a weekly drink
  • Order with skim milk instead of 2% or whole – this can save 50-80 calories
  • Skip the whipped cream – this can save 70 calories, and isn’t it already sweet enough?
  • Request “less pumps” – for example, if a grande pumpkin spice latte has 3 pumps, I’ll get 1 1/2
  • Request sugar-free syrups
  • Order a small!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Venti (20 oz):

510 calories, 20 grams fat, 61 grams sugar

Skim Pumpkin Spice Latte Tall -No Whip (12 oz):

200 calories, 0 grams fat, 37 grams sugar


What are your holiday drinks tips?