Frozen tofu cutlets, sesame green beans and peppers, garlic-mashed cauliflower: a low carb lunch experiment


As I mentioned in my long French hospital rant, I was diagnosed as having the early stages of diabetes, or pre-diabetes. In other words, my blood glucose level is higher than it should be. Now, my body is still trying to heal the tremendous hole in my back made when the surgeon cut out all of my necrotic tissue, and it's still combatting infection all on its own (I've been taken off antibiotics). So my blood sugar readings are all over the place. Until my wound (I've taken to calling it my zombie bite - credit goes to watcha for that) heals up, I really don't know what my stable blood sugar levels are, and so far the doctors have deemed that I don't need insulin. It also doesn't help that I can't move around much - a slow shuffling walk is about all I can manage - since the zombie bite is right around my waist, and every time I stretch or twist I can feel it kind of gaping open. I didn't realize how every single body movement seems to involve that part of the back somehow. I'm sure that when I can exercise a bit more normally, that's going to help a lot.

In the meantime, I have tried to stabilize my blood sugar just through what I eat as much as possible. From everything that I have read, there seem to be two schools of thought about what someone with diabetes should eat. One school says that they can eat a normal diet, including carbohydrates, as long as they watch their intake of sugar and sugary foods, including fruit. The other school says that diabetics should eat a low-carb diet. I've become rather obsessive about measuring my blood glucose level, and it does seem that it spikes less after a low-carb meal than a high-carb one - though not predictably, which is confusing. That could be due to the zombie bite. But in any case I have been playing around with various low-carb meals that appeal to me. It's a pretty new aspect of food for me, and I hope that I can come up with some more post-worthy results. I'm also going to go through the recipes already posted here and mark the low-carb ones, when I have the time, as well as browsing some great low-carb focused sites like Kalyn's Kitchen.

Traditional low-carb meals tend to be heavy on the meat, cheese, and eggs. I don't mind eating those, but not all the time. So here's a combination that I would have eaten anyway - it's already become my favorite non-salad lunch. It is a vegan combination that tastes quite rich and satisfying, and since it's me, it has some Japanese-Asian overtones. Take that, hospital food!

I've already given the recipe for frozen tofu cutlets over on Just Bento - it's really nice in bentos at room temperature, but just as good when eaten hot. Frozen tofu takes on a more chewy and 'meatier' texture compared to fresh tofu. For the cutlets here I followed the basic recipe, but omitted the dusting of cornstarch and drizzled a bit of soy sauce into the pan while it was cooking. This gave the cutlets a caramelized finish without the starch coating.

And here are the recipes for the green beans and peppers, and the mashed cauliflower. Both are so easy that they barely need recipes.

Recipe: Green beans and peppers with sesame seeds

This works well in a bento too. (I burned mine a bit in the photo by the way. It happens, especially when you are cooking on a wonky electric hotplate!)

1 serving

  • 1 handful (about 1 cup) green beans, tops and tails cut off
  • 1 small or 1/2 large green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce

Put the ginger and oils into a hot frying pan and stir for a couple of minutes until it starts to smell fragrant. Add the green beans and peppers, and stir fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the sesame seeds and soy sauce and toss rapidly.

For a spicy variation, add a pinch of dried ground chili peppers when you add the sesame seeds.

Tip: You can cook the tofu cutlets and the vegetables in the same frying pan.

Recipe: Mashed cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower is nothing new of course, but I think this garlic-infused variation adds a little twist. I don't think this would work too well in a bento, unless you like cold mashed vegetables. You can use butter and real cream instead of the soy milk or cream and olive oil if you prefer. Go easy on the salt, since this is the foil to the well flavored tofu and vegetables.

Incidentally, the key to avoiding water-logged mashed cauliflower is to drain off the cooking water completely, and let any excess evaporate - just like with mashed potatoes.

1 serving

  • 1/3 large cauliflower, or about 3 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup soy milk or soy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Put the soy milk or cream and garlic cloves in a small pan and bring up to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes until the garlic is tender. Mash up the garlic with a fork, or pass it through a sieve if you want the final results to be very smooth. Or you can take out the garlic since the flavor will have infused the soy milk/cream. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add some salt. Put in the cauliflower florets, and cook until tender. Drain, then return the cauliflower to the hot pan. Shake the pan around until any excess moisture has evaporated.

Mash the cauliflower with a potato masher or a stick blender (which is what I used) until it's as smooth as you want it to be. I like it to be just a bit chunky instead of baby-food smooth. Add the garlic-infused soy milk or cream and olive oil, and mix well. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Best when eaten piping hot.

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