Tag Archives: healthy food

Tofu Simple Sandwich

June 10, 2015 – Rene MacVay, Food Blogger | Healthy Recipe Variations

I was looking for a quick and healthy meal to have post workout. I had about an hour to eat and get ready for an appointment so I worked with what I had. I looked in my refrigerator and found the following items already cooked:

  • Roasted bell peppers
  • Roasted red onion
  • Roasted garlic

I also knew I had available:

  • parmesan cheese and gluten free hamburger buns
  • extra firm tofu as well as gluten free deli turkey … so decided to go with the tofu
  • a head of cauliflower and some low sodium vegetable broth

Therefore, in less than 30 minutes I had dinner on the table. If nothing was prepared, this would have taken an hour.


  • Chop the cauliflower stem and leaves into small pieces. Add the stalks and flowers to a pan with 1/2 cup low salt vegetable broth. Cover and let it simmer. (Check your pan from time to time…add some more broth if broth is almost gone and cauliflower is not at your desired texture. I prefer it to have a bit of a crunch. OPTION: dice a clove of garlic and add to the pan for flavor.
  • Drain the tofu by wrapping it in a kitchen towel and putting it between two dinner plates with a BOOK on top. How long to you drain the tofu? That is a personal choice. You can omit this step or drain it for up to an hour. After the tofu drains, if you decide to drain it (I prefer my tofu dry so I drain it as long as I can), cut the tofu block in half length and width wise…creating 4 evenly sized pieces.
  • Sautee the tofu in a pan with toasted sesame oil and some black pepper.


NOTE: If you wish to add another step and a few minutes to your meal…marinate the tofu in Gluten Free Teriyaki Sauce or Sriracha Sauce. Adding the sauce TO the tofu means you will not need to add the sauce to the sandwich.

  • Defrost (if necessary) and toast the buns (adding a small amount of parmesan cheese) while the tofu and cauliflower cook. I started the buns with about 5 minutes to go. I warmed up the left over roasted items at the same time.
  • The sandwich was great open faced…with stacked vegetables on the bottom and thick tofu wedge on top. (I added gluten free teriyaki sauce on my toasted buns to add flavor. You could add a gluten free sauce of your choice.) A smaller sandwich would have thinner slices of tofu. The crunchy outer shell of the tofu, the softer interior, the vegetables melting in your mouth, and the bread to absorb the flavors was a delight after a long day.
  • I served with a side of roasted vegetables with rosemary (already cooked).


  • OMIT vegetables and add lettuce, spinach, or arugula (or include them as well)
  • Substitute a chicken breast or gluten free deli turkey meat for the tofu
  • Omit cheese if you are trying to avoid dairy
  • Omit bun and use butter lettuce or another green as your mock bun

Enjoy this fast and simple YogaLean meal. Be active and eat healthy to be the best you that you can be. Enjoy this recipe and other gluten free recipes at Healthy Recipe Variations Blog.

Salsa Style Blackbean Pasta

June 1, 2015 – Rene MacVay, Food Blogger | Healthy Recipe Variations

Since I had to become gluten free I have reduced my pasta intake quite a bit. Pasta used to be a great go to for me, as it was a quick meal to fix and great leftovers to take to work the following day. A few Gluten Free pastas have come along that are organic, non-GMO, high in fiber, and cook without getting soggy. I can enjoy pasta again!

Tolerant Black Bean Pasta is a great addition to my pantry as it has great texture and flavor. I was looking for something to make for a quick evening dinner and decided to us up a few ingredients I had from my recent trip to the farmer’s market. I had a little of each ingredient, so pasta was the perfect way to marry the flavors and use the fresh ingredients.

This recipe takes less than a half hour from opening the refrigerator to finishing clean up. Enjoy a healthy meal…or put it in an airtight container and take it with you for a great lunch. Enjoy as a meal on its own or a side dish with a sandwich or salad.

Base Ingredients:

1 ear of corn … corn cut off the cob (yields about 2 cups)

½ Red Onion

½ Red Bell Pepper

1 Tomato (I used vine ripe)

Basil (for garnish)

Pasta – 1 Cup Tolerant Black Bean Rotini

Olive Oil

2 TBSP Butter (unsalted)

¼ Cup Vegetable Broth

Variations in keeping with Salsa theme:Untitled

 Add a few cloves of crushed Garlic

 Substitute Shallots for Red Onion

 Add a Hot pepper like a Jalapeño, Serrano, or Habanero depending on your personal interest in HEAT

 Add a cup of diced Mango if you wish a bit of sweet flavor


1. Cut the corn off the cob

2. Use a mandolin to cut the pepper and onion into small slices (or dice small with a knife)

3. Sautee all three ingredients in a pan with 2 tbsp butter and ¼ cup vegetable broth

4. Once onions are translucent turn off heat.

5. Add 3 cups of water to a pot and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of Tolerant Black

Bean Rotini. Stir from time-to-time. Drain after 5 minutes…reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water.

6. While pasta is cooking dice the tomato.

7. Add pasta water, diced tomato, and pasta to pan with the sautéed vegetables.

8. Cook until water evaporates.

9. Transfer to a plate, bowl, or airtight container. Sprinkle with Olive Oil and/or Basil to garnish.

Enjoy this YogaLean meal and other Gluten Free Recipes on Healthy Recipe Variations.

Sunburst Pasta

Tolerant Red Lentil Pasta has a bit of a peppery flavor when eaten on its own. When I use it in a recipe I look to find flavors that enhance the pasta’s natural flavors. This dish uses sundried tomatoes for a sweet flavor, chickpeas for a meaty texture, onions and garlic as aromatics, and mushrooms for a chewy texture. This creates not only a tasty and satisfying meal that can be a side dish or a main dish depending on the portion you make.

Base Ingredients (Serves 2):

1 Cup Tolerant Red Lentil Pasta (uncooked)

1 Cup Diced Sundried Tomatoes

½ Yellow Onion or Sweet Vidalia Onion

4-6 Cloves of Garlic depending on size

1 Cup Diced Mushrooms of Choice (I used button)

4 TBSP Oil – I use Olive Oil for this dish

1/3 Cup Vegetable Broth – I prefer to use low sodium


Substitute 2 Shallots for Onion and Garlic


1. Dice onions and garlic and place in a pan with the oil. Satuee in oil

until translucent.

Pasta12. Add diced sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and broth to pan and

sautee until broth is almost absorbed.

3. Bring 4 cups of water to a running boil. Add 1 cup of Tolerant Red

Lentil Pasta. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir from time to time and reduce

heat as needed so the water does not boil over.

4. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water and add to the pan with the vegetables.

5. Drain Pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables.

6. Cook until liquid is absorbed.

Serve or place in an airtight container and pack for lunch!

Sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Option: Grate parmesan over the pasta.

Enjoy this low calorie, high fiber Yoga Lean meal; a satisfying meal to keep you fueled as you lead an active lifestyle.

Broccoli Greens Tofu Stir Fry

Not only do I love to eat light and healthy foods, but I also do not like to waste food. When I had an opportunity to try broccoli and cauliflower greens I was elated! This was an opportunity to experience two vegetables I love in an entirely new way. UntitledI have used the greens as a side dish on their own and have enjoyed using them in stir-fry dishes also. The great thing about a stir-fry is that it is a way to use of vegetables that you have in the refrigerator. You do not need to have a large portion of any one vegetable to make a successful stir-fry. Each time you make a stir-fry you can use a different sauce as well. It can be an ever-changing recipe. Of course, when you find a combination you like, you may want to make it time and time again!

1 package EXTRA FIRM TOFU (Azumaya brand is Non-GMO and Gluten Free)

1/2 a box of Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles or 2 Cups cooked rice

Vegetables (aim for 4 -6 cups uncooked):

5 Large Broccoli Stems/Leaves

5 Large Cauliflower Stems/Leaves

4-6 Garlic Cloves (depending on size)

I used 1 cup Tessemae’s Lemon Chesapeake All Natural Dressing/Marinade/Dip

1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth (Unsalted is preferable).

1. Decide if you wish noodles or rice. If you wish rice, start the rice cooking as step one. If you want noodles, wait till the vegetables and tofu are done. Cooking rice is 2 cups of liquid per 1 cup of dry rice. Cook a single batch if you are not interested in leftovers, double (or more) the recipe if you wish leftovers.

2. For crispier TOFU (omit this step if you are not looking for crispy), drain the package and allow some water to be removed. I place the tofu block in a kitchen towel and place it between two dinner plates for about 1 hour. This step can be done the night before, while you are at work, or skipped entirely.

3. Wash and chop the vegetables you are using. Try to make the vegetables into even sized so they cook at the same rate. With the greens and stems, I do put thestems in the pan a few minutes before the “leafy section”.

4. In a sautee pan place 2 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil and the vegetables. Add the marinade and broth. Cook on medium heat. Stir from time to time. If you need additional liquid to soften the vegetables, add ¼ cup of water at a time.

5. After the vegetables have started, cut the tofu and place in a second sauté pan with 2 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil. Sprinkle pepper on the tofu if you wish the additional flavor. Cook on medium heat and rotate the tofu periodically so all sides brown and form a bit of a crust.

6. When vegetables and tofu are done, turn the burners off and let rest for a few minutes. If you are making noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Once a running boil is attained, break the noodles in half and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir once or twice. Drain noodles.

On your plate put a bed of noodles or rice then add the vegetables. The tofu can be sprinkled on top or arranged in a pattern for a finished presentation.

Enjoy and savor the flavors!

Option: Sprinkle nuts or sesame seeds over the top.

Read more Gluten Free recipes at Healthy Recipe Variations Blog. Enjoy being YogaLean as you enjoy an active lifestyle and make healthy eating choices.

Gluten Free Pancakes

I was searching for gluten free pancake recipes and came up with several simple recipes each featuring eggs and bananas. I decided to make a version based upon the several recipes I read.

Base Ingredients:

2 to 3 RIPE bananas (depending on size)

2 Eggs

¼ TSP Baking Powder

1 TSP Cinnamon

Walnut Oil … or Oil of your choice (for the pan)


Variations to add to the batter:

Add ¼ Cup Diced Dried Fruit

Add ¼ Cup Flax Seed Meal

Add ¼ Cup Dried Oats



  1. Whisk together the eggs, cinnamon, and baking powder
  2. Add the bananas and mash with a fork to incorporate
  3. Warm a pan to medium high heat with 2 TBSP Oil
  4. Add a soup ladle full of batter to the pan…3 fit in my pan
  5. Flip when bubbles form in the center (about 3 minutes on each side)
  6. Use spatula to flatten when you flip so center is cooked evenly
  7. Serve and enjoy!



Honey and Powdered Sugar or Coconut Flakes

(Pea)Nut butter and Chia Jam (I used World of Chia Premium Raspberry and Blackberry Fruit Spread today)

Chia Jam, Fruit, and Nuts

NOTHING…eat warm…fresh from the pan to appreciate the banana flavor!

1 TBSP Nutella and chopped dates


A side of fruit

A cup of coffee or tea


This simple breakfast can be made, eaten, and cleaned up in 15 minutes or less! This high protein and high fiber YogaLean breakfast is a great way to start the day! This recipe and more Gluten Free recipes with customizable options are available on my blog HealthyRecipeVariateions.

Pineapple Upside Down “Cake” for Breakfast

I was looking to make a healthy version of pineapple upside down cake, a traditional spring treat, so I decided to turn the flavors of pineapple upside down cake into a bread…making it a breakfast item!

This recipe has MORE ingredients than I usually use, but it’s worth it for this spring dish!


Base Ingredients:

2 Jars (2 oz) of Cherry Man Maraschino Cherries

1 Cup Dried pineapple cut into small pieces


1/2 Cup Butter at ROOM Temperature

2 Eggs

2 TSP Vanilla

3/4 Cup Almond Milk

1/3 Cup Sugar


1/3 Cup Vanilla Gluten Free Protein Powder

1/3 Cup Ground Flax Seed Meal

1 1/4 TSP Baking Powder

1/2 TSP Salt

1 1/2 Cups Almond Flour

1 1/2 Cups Coconut Flour


  1. Combine wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls…use the standing mixer bowl for the wet ingredients.
  2. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
  3. Stir then add the Cherry Man Cherries (including juice) and pineapple.
  4. Spray a loaf pan (or use 12 muffin liners) and transfer dough to pan.
  5. Bake for about an hour at 350 (30 minutes if muffin size). Check half-way through cooking … and then periodically after that. You can cover with foil half way through cooking to keep the top light in color.


Add coconut flakes

Omit Protein Powder and increase flax seed meal

Use All-purpose gluten free flour in place of almond and coconut flour

Add a 1/2 a 15 oz. can of diced/drained pineapple instead of dried pineapple


Enjoy a slice of this YogaLean bread (or muffin) with fruit and/or Greek Yogurt to start your day!

Find more Gluten Free recipes with variations on my blog HealthyRecipeVariations – Rene’ MacVay.

Seven Foods You Can Compulsively Overeat without Getting Fat


Earlier this week, we talked about compulsive and emotional eating in recognition of Emotional Overeating Awareness Month.

Even if you are not struggling with a regular pattern of emotional overeating, it’s still common to sporadically run into moments where you find yourself compelled to eat out of stress, nervousness, or boredom. Whether you’re feeling distressed or battling with oral fixation, and you just need something to snack on, the trick is finding a middle ground by surrounding yourself with foods that you can eat in abundance without adding to your waist line or damaging your mood and health.

Here are seven foods you can eat, and keep eating, without an ounce of guilt or remorse:


Broccoli is a low-calorie powerhouse of nutrients, and for a non-starchy vegetable, it has a decent amount of protein. Broccoli is both filling and delicious, eaten raw for a satisfying crunch, or steamed for warm, comforting nourishment.

Hearts of Palm

Hearts of palm are incredibly flavorful and healthy, delivering a rich concentration of potassium, B6, and fiber in its velvety, tender texture. Hearts of palm are delicious to snack on right out of the jar and also taste wonderful sliced up in tossed salads.


Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are nature’s candy! These shiny red globes of flavor are sweet and savory at once, providing a high quantity of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the skin and lowers your risk of diseases caused by cellular damage. For a summery and vitamin-packed snack, eat a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes—whole for a refreshing burst, or halved and mixed into your salad.

cherry tomatoes

Water Chestnuts

Water chestnuts are especially satisfying because they taste richer than they are. Their crunchy yet smooth texture says ‘potato’ to the taste buds while packing a relatively tiny caloric value and zero fat and cholesterol. Munch on these for a filling snack that feels more indulgent than it is.

water chestnuts

If you’re staying away from sugar but wresting with a sweet tooth, reach for an apple, or two, or three! Apples will relieve your sugar craving with their sweet juiciness while delivering plenty of fiber, a host of vitamins, and most importantly, pectin, which aids in digestion and prevents the build up of bad cholesterol.



Have you every heard someone say that celery burns more calories than is contains? Well it’s true. Celery, comprised of about 75% water and 25% plant fiber, takes more energy to digest than to eat and nourishes you with extra vitamin A, C, and K to boot. You can really go to town on this veggie—the more you eat, the better!



The flavorful, delicate flesh of artichokes supports digestive health and liver function and provides tons of cancer-fighting antioxidants. High-flavor, low-calorie artichokes can be eaten in a variety of ways: hot or cold, grilled or steamed. Artichoke hearts make a perfect appetizer or addition to a salad, and the meat at the base of steamed artichoke leaves makes really fun finger food.


If you’re feeling a compulsive need to eat, you can go to town on each of these foods without a trace of worry about the consequences. It’s difficult to stop depending on food as an emotional soother, and, in the process of breaking habits of emotional overeating, it’s normal to experience setbacks. The most important thing is to have compassion for yourself in this process, and to support yourself by planning ahead and making healthy options available and plentiful.

For further information on methods and supplements to curb your cravings, read 7 Ways to Reduce Sugar Cravings and 7 Supplements to Cut Sugar Cravings.

7 Signs of Emotional Overeating


April 1st marks the beginning of Emotional Overeating Awareness Month, giving us an excellent opportunity to explore our relationship to food and the emotions that tend to belie our eating habits.

In the clinical sphere, emotional overeating is defined as a “maladaptive coping strategy” involving an increase in food intake in response to negative emotions. In other words, emotional overeating is a behavior people resort to as a way of avoiding or alleviating states of distress.

Overeating is not uncommon: a Pew survey finds that 6 in 10 Americans say they eat more than they feel they should either often (17%) or sometimes (42%), but it’s important to be aware of your reasons for overeating, because if they are regularly related to stress, sadness, or other troubled emotional states, you could be experiencing a disordered pattern, using food to deal with psychological stressors, and putting yourself at risk of developing binge-eating disorder, from which 2.8% of Americans currently suffer.

The impulse to soothe yourself when you run into stressful or emotionally difficult moments is a good one, but its extremely important to make sure you aren’t using methods of self-soothing that harm you, adding to or worsening preexisting struggles in your life.

In the interest of spreading improved self-awareness and self-care surrounding food this month, I’ve provided a few questions below to help you check in with yourself about your eating habits, and piece apart whether you may be using excess food to face emotional challenges. As you answer these questions for yourself, try to be honest with yourself while withholding judgment.


Does stress lead you to eat more?

Do you find that when you’re anxious or under lots of pressure, you need to eat more in order to calm down? This is a sign that you could be using food as a way of tolerating negative feelings.

Do you eat when you’re not hungry or already full?

Eating without an appetite could be a sign that consuming food has become a conditioned or mindless response to difficult feelings or conditions in your life. When you eat, is food what you really want, or is it acting as a placeholder for a different kind of need?

reward eat

Do you eat to reward yourself?

Of course, it’s ok to reward yourself with a treat as a fun exception to your usual eating habits, or for a special occasion, but it’s another thing to feel you’re are only allowed to eat after achieving something specific in your daily or weekly routine. Feeling like you only deserve to eat at certain times can be part of a self-critical pattern that distances you from listening and responding to your needs.

Do you only eat certain foods alone?

Are there some foods you only feel secure eating when no one’s looking? Emotional overeating is often linked to feelings of shame that can lead you to hide from others and from yourself out of embarrassment about what or how much you are eating.

eating alone

Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?

Are you often eating not only past the point of needing more, but also of wanting more? If you’re continuing to eat beyond feeling full and into feeling uncomfortable or sick, this is a real sign that food is playing a role for you other than satisfying hunger.

Do you depend on food to feel safe?

Do you feel anxious when you don’t have certain kinds of food or extra food at your disposal? This is a sign you may be depending on food for a sense of comfort you feel you can’t otherwise access. What else could you do to achieve the same sense of comfort and tranquility?


Do you feel out of control around food?

Feeling powerless about what or how much you eat or like you can’t stop when it comes to certain foods or situations is a signal that you may be experiencing a sense of powerlessness or lack of control surrounding other issues. Check in with yourself about the foods and circumstances that may trigger you to overeat.

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, then you may be struggling with habits of emotional overeating. The good news is that if you think that you are an emotional overeater, there are a variety of treatments available, many that you can administer to yourself. Many of us have resorted to various forms of self-medication as an attempt at tolerating or solving life problems. The most important thing to remember if emotional overeating is a struggle for you is to forgive yourself. Our instinct to care for ourselves can sometimes get out of hand, but it’s worth celebrating the fact that there are many growthful solutions to this that will allow you to serve your needs without contributing to your struggles.

For further inspiration on how to curb patterns related to overeating, check out 7 Ways to Reduce Sugar Cravings.

Peas and Asparagus Your Way


I make a concerted effort to eat fruits and vegetables when they are in season, when they are at their peak. Asparagus is in season in March and April in California which means not only is the vegetable fresh but also reasonable in price. This vegetable is low in calories but high in fiber, folates, vitamins, and antioxidants. I was excited to see the nutritious asparagus on sale! I love roasted asparagus and steamed asparagus, but wished to try something new! Therefore, I purchased peas to cook along with the asparagus to make a satisfying side dish. I purchased organic frozen peas to supplement what I was able to purchase in the store.


This dish can be adapted in several ways. I’ll give you suggestions after the base recipe. Enjoy this YogaLean recipe that is low in calorie, high in flavor, and satiates you for a long time. Have fun playing with your food! Read more recipes on my blog, http://healthyrecipevariations.blogspot.com/.


Base Recipe:

I package of Asparagus (usually about a pound)

1 pound peas or 1 (one) 16 ounce bag frozen (organic if possible) peas

Half a Vidalia Sweet Onion or 4 cloves of garlic

Olive or Walnut Oil

Vegetable broth


  • Chop the onion or garlic into small pieces and add to a pan with 2 TBSP oil
  • Prepare the asparagus. Hold the spear in both hands. Snap the base off the rest of the stem. The brittle and fibrous end will break off leaving the tender portion of the spear. Chop the spear into dime size pieces. Leave the “decorative tip” as it is. It is tender and will cook swiftly. (Also, it is attractive to look at and will end up being a great garnish for the dish!)
  • If using frozen peas, no broth will need to be added. If using fresh peas and asparagus, add ½ cup of low sodium vegetable broth to the pan.
  • Sautée until the vegetables are tender.

OPTION 1: Stop here and serve in a bowl. You can garnish with sesame seeds or cheese (I suggest Feta or Parmesan) if you wish the decoration and crunch.

HINT: This is a great side dish for a sandwich or lean protein. Baby red skinned potatoes would be a good pairing.


OPTION 2: At this point, add 1 cup of cooked quinoa to the pan JUST BEFORE the liquid is absorbed. Stir to combine the ingredients. Serve.

HINT: Add fried tofu, chicken, or beef to this dish for additional protein.


OPTION 3: Dice walnuts or pecans and place in a pan with ½ TBSP butter, 1-2 TBSP brown sugar (substitute honey or agave), and ¼ cup of water or vegetable broth. Reduce until the mixture caramelizes. Pour over vegetables or vegetable and quinoa mixture.


Three Vegetable Lentil Pasta

pasta 1

I decided to try a new Gluten Free Lentil Pasta made by Tolerant (http://www.tolerantfoods.com/). As someone with an Art History background, I like to find ways to make my food look good. Since it has been proven that we first eat with our eyes, I try to choose colors that go together, balance nutrients, and find an appealing flavor profile. The first look entices us to try the food. The taste and texture get us to continue eating!

Base Ingredients:

Black-eyed Peas


Red Onion




Vegetable broth

Unsalted butter

Lemon juice

Black-eyed peas are low in calories and high in fiber. They are a source of protein for vegetarians and contain potassium, zinc, and iron.

Kohlrabi is low in calories and high in dietary fiber like black-eyed peas. It is a rich source of vitamin C and B complex vitamins. It is a good source of calcium, potassium, and iron.

pasta 2


Shallots for onion and garlic

Vidalia onion for sweet flavor

Black beans or chickpeas for black-eyed peas

Chicken or beef broth for vegetable broth


Cut ½ a red onion into small pieces

Dice 4-6 cloves of garlic (depending on size)

Trim the leaves off the kohlrabi and save for another recipe. Remove the outer skin of the kohlrabi and dice into small pieces (just a bit larger than your pieces of onion).

Cut a cup of cauliflower florets into small pieces

Sautee vegetables in 1 tbsp of oil (I used walnut oil) and 1 cup of vegetable broth until tender.

Add 1 cup of black-eyed peas (drain and rinse beans from a can OR use beans you have rehydrated already).

In a separate pot bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of uncooked pasta and stir from time to time to check for doneness. Cook about 5 minutes, removing the pasta when it is just a bit al dente.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables. Add 1 TBSP unsalted butter, 2 TBSP lemon juice (fresh squeezed is ideal), and some of the reserved pasta water. Add the pasta water ¼ cup at a time. Use it only to integrate the dish. You may not need to use it all! You are coating the pasta, not creating a sauce.

pasta 3

Serve: As a side dish to accompany a sandwich or animal protein. Sprinkle with feta or parmesan if you wish to add a salty/creamy taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish for a bit of a crunch.

Cooking Time: From set up to clean up 30-45 minutes

Read more recipes on my blog, Healthy Recipe Variations!

Rene’ MacVay