SCTK: Lentil Soup

By Alaina Coffey, Senior Dietetics Student – Sargent College
Students cried tears of joy while dicing onions to make lentil soup! The soup recipe, adapted from Sabrina Pashtan’s, accompanied by graduate student Jasper Zhao’s green tea from China created a comforting hot meal on a fall evening as our weather gets colder. Lentils do not require lengthy soaking time like other dry beans, yet they provide numerous nutrients; they are especially rich in lean protein, dietary fiber, folate, and iron. Additionally, lentils are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin, and vitamin K.

We made a few creative adjustments to the original recipe at the test kitchen. First, we added diced large carrots for sweetness; if you have a favorite vegetable that is not included in the recipe, you can experiment on your own by adding in different vegetables. The soup turned out very thick because the lentils absorbed all of the water in the additional recipe, so next we added extra water and tomato puree.

While the soup tasted hearty and wholesome, the flavor was a little bland (we suspect the lack of salt from the no-added salt tomato puree), so we opened up the spice cabinet and students tried adding in their own combinations of spices. Students enjoyed the soup with cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, and chili powder. Further suggestions from students included lemon and curry.

Lentils are power-packed with important nutrients and provide a great source of protein, I would recommend adding in a whole grain such as brown rice, barley, or whole wheat bread for dipping to make this meal complete. Try out this lentil soup recipe at home and customize it with your own favorite vegetables and spices. You can’t go wrong – lentil soup is quick, comforting, and nutrient dense. Enjoy its benefits!

Sargent Choice
Lentil Soup
(Recipe adapted from
Yield: 6 servings

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 cups dried French green lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 cup tomato puree, no-salt added
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Sautee onion and garlic in a medium to large pot over medium heat until translucent.
2. Add lentils, bay leaves, tomato puree, and water. Stir.
3. Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, adding more water if necessary to keep from sticking.
4. Once the lentils are softened, season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
5. Adjust with more water to thin consistency if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition information Per serving
Calories 230
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Protein 14 g
Carbohydrate 34 g
Fiber 13 g
Sodium 420 mg

SCTK: White Bean Blondies

By Alaina Coffey, Senior Dietetics Student – Sargent College

Despite their many health benefits, beans get a bad reputation – but what if you could receive the health benefits of beans at the same time as enjoying a delicious dessert? With Meal Makeover Mom’s Fudgy Black Bean Brownie and White Bean Blondie recipes, you can do just that. The recipes use black beans and garbanzo beans as base ingredients to create desserts with increased fiber and protein, low in fat and calories (120-130 calories per 2×2” brownie).

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies are a student favorite at the SCTK, while White Bean Blondies were a new addition to this special Test Kitchen. We experimented with using regular natural unsweetened 100% cacao versus Hershey’s “Special Dark” 100% cacao in the brownies, and students enjoyed the extra richness of the dark chocolate type. Important notes to take when making this recipe are to wash the beans thoroughly, and to allow the food processor to blend the beans completely. So long as these are accomplished, no bean flavor will be evident in the brownies.

We experimented with two texture varieties of White Bean Blondies, both types containing exactly the same ingredients. For the first type, the oats and chocolate chips were just slightly pulsed in the food processor, creating a chunky and chewy texture. For the second type, the ingredients (excluding the chocolate chips) were completely blended until smooth, creating an even texture and overall more palatable treat. While students ate both textures of blondies, they preferred the smooth variety, as blending the ingredients completely concealed the dessert’s healthy ingredients. Students could not taste the garbanzo beans in either variety, but the chewy oats in the unblended version caused lasting oat flavor.

Suggestions for the White Bean Blondies included the addition of coconut, raisins, and / or nuts, and perhaps leaving out the cinnamon, as this flavor was quite strong. While many stood by the Black Bean Brownies as their favorite, the White Bean Blondies were well liked. Overall, the recipes have simple ingredients and short preparation time, so try out a batch of Brownies or Blondies for a healthier spin on your favorite treats!

Sargent Choice
White Bean Blondies
Recipe from The Meal Makeover Moms
Yield: 16 2-inch brownies

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup old fashioned oats
¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
2. Place the garbanzo beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and process until smooth. Add the oats and blend again until smooth (important step to achieve even texture). Then and chips and pulse just until combined.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand at least 20 minutes before slicing Cool in the pan before slicing into 16 squares.

1 Blondie
Calories 130
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Protein 3 g
Carbohydrates 20 g
Fiber 2 g

SCTK: Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets

By Alaina Coffey, Senior Dietetics Student – Sargent College

At this week’s test kitchen we served up a nutritious, flavor-packed meal of lentils with roasted carrots and beets. Lentils have numerous health benefits: they are high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and full of minerals such as iron, copper, phosphorus, folate, and manganese. This recipe requires a little extra time and care for peeling beets and chopping vegetables. And we even make use of the greens of beets, which are similar in flavor to collard greens.

We produced one large batch of the mixture of lentils, roasted beets, carrots, and beet greens, and two separate dressings on the side to top the dish. The first dressing was comprised of olive oil, honey, ginger, garlic and salt, following the original recipe; this dressing was slightly dense, and strong in garlic flavor. For the second dressing, we achieved Mediterranean flavor with a mixture of lemon juice and zest, mint leaves, olive oil and salt; this dressing was light, tangy, crisp and refreshing. Suggestions for additions to the Mediterranean dressing included cumin and parsley. The dish was topped with either of the dressings and optional feta cheese.

Overall this recipe was a success! Everyone enjoyed multiple helpings and leftovers were taken home. This crowd-pleaser surprised many as it was something they would not have ordered if given the choice but upon trying immediately liked the flavors and wanted seconds. It was also determined that while both dressing options were delicious, a little can go a long way. Try out this recipe for a great addition to lunch, dinner, or a family meal to share!


Sargent Choice
Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets
Recipe from Community Servings

Yield: 4 servings


1 bunch of beets and beet greens1 bunch of carrots
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons honey
1-inch ginger root, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
1 ½ teaspoons cumin powder
1 cup dried green, brown, or French lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
½ cup chopped fresh herbs
¼ cup feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove leafy tops and stems from beets and carrots and set aside. Rinse beets and carrots well and use a vegetable peeler to remove skins. Chop vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Rinse and thinly slice beet greens and set aside. Do not dry; allow water to cling to leaves.
3. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp. olive oil, honey, grated ginger, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir with a fork or small whisk to combine.
4. Add 1-2 tbsp. of oil mixture to a medium sized bowl with beets and stir to coat. Vegetables should be lightly but completely coated, not dripping, with oil mixture.
5. Place beets in single layer on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat this process with the carrots.
6. Roast vegetables in oven for 30-40 minutes, until tender and starting to brown on edges.
7. Meanwhile, measure the lentils into a strainer or colander, removing any rocks or debris. Rinse.
8. Transfer lentils to a saucepan and pour in 2 cups water. Add bay leaf. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, adding water as needed to make sure the lentils are just covered. Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Strain the lentils and remove bay leaf.
9. Add beet greens to the pan the lentils were in and cover pan. Allow beet greens to steam and wilt for several minutes in covered pan until tender.
10. Stir beet greens into lentils and add 1 tbsp. lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and 1/4 tsp salt to lentils and greens.
11. Place lentils in the bottom of a bowl or platter. Top with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with feta. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Serve warm or cold.

Nutrition information Per serving
Calories 330
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Protein 15 g
Carbohydrate 51 g
Fiber 13 g
Sodium 700 mg

SCTK: Carrot Bread

By Alaina Coffey, Senior Dietetics Student, Sargent College

Baby carrots may be one of your staple grab-and-go snacks but for this fall recipe we put carrots to use in a new, creative way. We shredded bunches of large carrots in a food processor, producing several loaves of delicious carrot bread. The reviews were positive and carrot bread was a success! A perfect treat for the fall that may be enjoyed for breakfast, snack, or dessert.

This recipe was provided for us by, Sabrina Pashtan (BU Dining’s very own Sustainability Coordinator). While Sabrina isn’t busy helping BU Dining to be as ‘green’ as possible she loves to create and test recipes in her own kitchen. Her blog, Sabor-ina (, is actually the inspiration for many SCTK recipes this fall!

Our SCTK version differs slightly as the original recipe called for whole-wheat pastry flour, which was unavailable at the local grocery store. Luckily we were able to sub in regular 100% whole-white wheat flour. Due to the substitution our bread took about 55 minutes to bake, slightly longer than proposed.

A few alterations make carrot bread a healthier alternative to other quick breads. Carrots, known for their high vitamin A content, replace much of the flour to begin with providing a low-calorie base. Next, whole-wheat flour replaces white flour, increasing the bread’s fiber and nutrient content. Then, unsweetened applesauce replaces much of the butter, lowering the bread’s saturated fat and overall fat content while acting as a binding agent. At only 160 calories per ¾” thick slice, the bread tasted rich in flavor, indulgent, and satisfying. It is likely carrot bread had filling power that other quick breads miss out on due to fiber from the carrots, whole-wheat flour, and raisins. Just one slice is considered a good source of fiber with 3g.

Students enjoyed the bread’s moist texture and mentioned they could not taste the carrots at all; the pronounced flavors were sweet cinnamon and raisin. Some thought the bread was too sweet, while others thought it was not sweet enough. Perhaps a less sweet version would make a good breakfast or snack, while a sweeter version could be served for dessert. Although making carrot muffins was a last-minute idea to use up leftover carrots, some students even preferred the recipe in muffin form (and they take less time to bake)! Suggestions for additions to the recipe were semi-sweet chocolate chips, walnuts, and nutmeg. Karen noted that the bread’s deep orange color was visually appealing, and the group agreed the bread would be a suitable addition to a holiday meal. For an even more decadent (but also higher calorie) treat, students proposed pairing carrot bread with a cream-cheese frosting or vanilla ice cream.

Overall the recipe was simple, preparation was easy, and the ingredients were economical to purchase. The recipe works best with very finely shredded carrots, so a food processor may be necessary to shred the carrots to their desired size. Try whipping up your own batch of carrot bread to have ready for breakfast and snacking throughout the week, or as a dessert to share!

carrot bread
Sargent Choice Carrot Bread
Recipe from
Yield: 1 loaf/12 slices (3/4” thick slice)

1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded carrots
½ cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil 9”x5” loaf pan with butter or oil and set aside.
  2. Using a whisk, cream together softened butter, applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. Add the shredded carrot and all the remaining dry ingredients and stir together until combined. Mix in raisins.
  4. Transfer to loaf pan and cook for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per serving:

Calories 160
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Protein 3 g
Carbohydrate 27 g
Fiber 3 g
Sodium 170 mg


SCTK: Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

Good ol’ fashioned oats are always on a shelf in my pantry—right next to thepeanut butter. Oats and peanut butter are a classic combination that I never tire of, throw in a banana and I’m done for. At Wednesday’s Test Kitchen, we mixed things up and made breakfast as a late night snack.  If you want to taste just how wonderful these were, whip up a batch yourself! They were a breeze to prepare.

With midterms and assignments on our minds we’re often in a tizzy to get to class on time in the mornings (at least I am) and sometimes we skip out on breakfast. But these breakfast bars are the perfect solution. You can make a batch and wrap individual bars to take with you—grab and go style.

Better yet, they’ll keep you full until lunchtime. The oatmeal’s fiber in combination with the peanut butter’s protein and healthy fats will make sure of it. This recipe called for just 3 tablespoons of honey, making this a low sugar breakfast item—perfect for the new proposed dietary guidelines that recommend a maximum of 10% of our daily calories come from added sugars. Applesauce also lends some sweetness, but its real role was to act as a binder of the ingredients. That’s why we only needed one egg for the whole dish.

Just half a banana was put into the batter, but I know I would’ve liked to have a little more. In fact, if you have the option, I would consider mixing in the entire banana or adding some fresh slices on top because when the bars had no banana they tasted a bit bland.



Happy baking, stay energized, and remember your brain needs nutritious foods to ace those mid-terms!

Sargent Choice
Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Recipe from Well Plated by Erin

Yield: 8 bars

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups non-fat milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
3 tablespoons honey or agave
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ large banana quartered and diced (taste testers recommend a whole banana)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, combine the milk, honey, peanut butter, applesauce, egg and vanilla.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be very wet. Fold in the diced banana, then pour into the prepared baking pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until thickened and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan, cut into bars, and serve.

Storage: Once cooled, bars can be wrapped individually in plastic and kept in the refrigerator for 5 days or frozen in a zip-top bag for up to 4 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before serving. For a larger yield, increase the ingredient quantities by 1.5 and bakes in a 9×13 inch pan for 25-30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts per serving:

Calories 220
Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Protein 9 g
Carbohydrate 38 g
Fiber 4 g
Sodium 170 g

SCTK: Indian Chickpea and Sweet Potato Kaftas

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

We heralded in the Chinese New Year last week with a cross-cultural inspired feast. Indian koftas, sugar cookies, spicy rice noodles, and dumplings were all in abundance. We settled in, drinking tea and munching on Karen’s adorable and delicious whale-shaped sugar cookies, and learned about the traditions of the Chinese New Year from a native Chinese student, Jasper Zhao. In China, this is the mecca of all holidays. Businesses and restaurants shut down while millions of people travel to their hometowns to celebrate with their families. It’s a 3-day event filled with family, food, and fireworks. Different areas of China celebrate with different foods, and Jasper said his family goes all out on the dumplings (so we did too!).

Along with the dumplings, our kaftas recipe was an absolute hit with everybody. Typically koftas are prepared somewhat like meatballs with lamb, beef, pork, or chicken with some added spices. However, in India, they are generally vegetarian given that many people abstain from meat for religious reasons. In place of meat, we used chickpeas and subsequently, they resembled falafels, but were more moist and robust in flavor. Once rolled into balls or patties, they are often fried and put into a rich and creamy sauce. To lighten ours up, we took our koftas on a Mediterranean vacation and whipped up some spruced up Tzatiki sauce that was to die for. Fresh herbs mixed in with dried fruits and nuts made a luscious combination. Our kaftas just couldn’t resist this nutritious dip.

We all groaned when 11 o’clock rolled around and saw it was snowing again. Although, Karen’s apartment located on the 23rd floor of StuVi2 has floor to ceiling windows that overlook the city and Charles River, making the site quite stunning. Before we left, Jasper had one more treat left for us—White Rabbit candies. They are a traditional Chinese milk-candy often eaten during the Chinese New Year. It was just great, almost like a vanilla flavored tootsie roll. According to the Chinese zodiac it is the year of the sheep, goat, or ram (I guess it depends on who you ask), and I wish you all good fortune, health, and longevity.



Sargent Choice Chickpea and Sweet Potato Koftas

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven

Yield: About 16 2 ½-inch patties


1 medium-sized sweet potato or yam (3/4 lb)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large clove garlic
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoon lightly toasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing

Mediterranean Yogurt:
1 medium clove garlic
1/3 cup parsley
1/3 cup cilantro
1/3 cup fresh dill
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 or 4 dried apricots (a soft, tart variety)
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups non-fat yogurt (regular or Greek)
½ teaspoon salt
Directions for Sweet Potato Koftas:

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato or yam, and cook it in boiling water until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain well. You should have about 1 ½ cups of cooked sweet potato. Transfer to a food processor.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, except the flour, peas, and oil. Puree until fairly smooth. The mixture will be very thick. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Stir in the flour until thoroughly incorporated, then gently stir in the peas. Form into patties. To make them really uniform and professional looking, use a ¼-cup-capacity ice cream scoop or a ¼-cup measure to scoop up portions of the mixture, then pat each one down until is about ½-inch think and 2 ½-inches in diameter.
  4. Place a skillet over medium heat and add a little bit of oil. When the oil is hot, add the patties, and saute for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and heated through.

Directions for Mediterranean Yogurt:

  1. Place the garlic, all the herbs, the dried fruit, and the walnuts in a food processor, and pulse until it forms a paste.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and yogurt.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Koftas (each)

Calories 60
Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrate 9 g
Fiber 2 g
Sodium 160 mg

Mediterranean Yogurt (2 tablespoons)

Calories 45
Fat 1.5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Protein 3 g
Carbohydrate 5 g
Fiber 1 g
Sodium 85 g


SCTK: Brown Rice Bowl with Lemongrass, Tofu, and Cashews

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

Another cold night and another warm meal with excellent company. At this week’s Test Kitchen, we made a delicious rice bowl filled with the cutest baby bok choy. The finished dish was so green and vibrant in stark contrast to the white and 50 shades of grey color scheme we’ve seen so much lately. Why couldn’t Phil have seen his shadow on the 2nd?! I was ready for spring weeks ago.

Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, is part of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. Can you imagine what fun family reunions the Brassicaceae’s must have? Everyone would be there—broccoli, radishes, cauliflower—I mean come on, pass the dip! Bok choy is a hearty cabbage that prefers cooler temperatures, making them the perfect mid-winter veggie to turn to (lucky for us with this unyielding cold).

Tackling the tofu is the first step to this one-bowl-meal. Be sure to squeeze as much liquid out of it as possible so that it can soak up more soy-sauce and cook faster. It will be ready for the bok choy mix when the edges are browned. Instead of mixing the rice in with everything else, we just piled the veggie-tofu mixture on top of some rice. The bok choy paired beautifully with the ginger, lemongrass, and lime juice, and the toasted cashews added the perfect crunch. It was delecta-bowl.

Sargent Choice
Brown Rice Bowl with Lemongrass, Tofu, and Cashews

Recipe modified from the kitchn

Yield: 4 servings


8 ounces extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons grated lemongrass (white part only)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 cups Bok Choy, chopped, approximately 2-inch pieces
3 cups cooked brown rice (Basmati preferred)
¼ cup cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves


  1. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and drain tofu. Place between paper towels (or clean kitchen towels) and press out liquid.
  3. Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce.
  4. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the tofu cubes evenly on the sheet. Bake tofu for 15 minutes and flip over. Continue baking for about 10-15 minutes more until tofu is toasted and chewy. Remove from the oven.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to soften and turn translucent. Add Bok Choy and cook until stalks are tender-crisp and leaves are wilted (~3 minutes).
  6. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce and lime juice and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add rice and tofu and stir to combine and heat through. Remove from heat, stir in cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Nutrition Facts per serving

Calories 350
Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Protein 11g
Carbohydrate 43g
Fiber 4g
Sodium 480mg

Test Kitchen: Honey Ginger Tofu Stir-Fry

By Caroline Booth, Graduate Nutrition Student

Last night’s Test Kitchen was a wonder. Karen Jacobs generously held her open ours in spite of BU’s closure for an amazing night of bones and food. Dr. Jonathan Bethard, a BU professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology gave us an enthralling talk about his career and current endeavors in the world of biological anthropology (he’s doing research near Dracula’s home in Romania). We didn’t even start cooking until half way through the night because we were too busy asking questions and examining real human bones from a Romanian medieval church’s excavation site!

Dr. Bethard explained how a skeleton’s teeth reveal many secrets about that person’s diet and where he or she grew up. Even more telling are the tartar pieces that can be found between the teeth and, in his skeleton’s case, remained intact from sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries—talk about needing a check up with the dentist. However, in today’s world of forensic anthropology it becomes much more difficult to identify where a person lived because people consume foods from all over the world. For instance, our honey ginger tofu and vegetable stir-fry was comprised of ingredients that came from all over, not just the Boston area.

When we got around to making this dish, it was ready in a breeze. The colors of the carrots and broccoli were so vibrant and inviting, along with the honey ginger sauce that smelled incredibly appetizing. All of us were overjoyed to warm up with such a comforting meal in the midst of a blizzard outside (that we soon had to combat on our journeys home). At the end of the night we had no leftovers to spare, but had many stories to tell. If you’re looking for a hearty pick-me-up in this cold, snowy winter I would suggest giving this recipe a chance. Share it with good company, and you’ll feel instantly satisfied.
Sargent Choice
Honey Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Recipe modified from Pinch of Yum

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients for the Stir Fry:
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil
14 ounces extra firm tofu
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
2 cups shredded carrots
3 green onions, minced

Ingredients for the Stir Fry Sauce:
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil

Rice:  Cook the rice according to package directions.

Sauce: Puree all of the sauce ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. Tofu:  Cut the tofu into ½-inch slices and press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.  Wait a few moments and press again. Cut the tofu slices into small cubes, approximately ½-inch.  Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is shiny, add the tofu and about ¼ cup of the stir fry sauce (CAREFUL – the oil and sauce will spatter a bit). Pan-fry the tofu until golden brown.  Remove the tofu from the pan and drain on paper towel lined plate.

Veggies:  Return the pan to the heat and add the broccoli florets with ¼ cup stir fry sauce.  When the broccoli is bright green and almost tender crisp, add the carrots and cook for an addition minute or two. Return the tofu to the pan.  Arrange the veggies and tofu over the cooked rice, and cover with more sauce to taste. Sprinkle with the green onions.

Nutrition Facts
(⅓ cup rice with 1 cup tofu and veggies in sauce)

Calories 330
Fat 13 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Protein 11 g
Carbohydrate 40 g
Fiber 5 g
Sodium 610 mg





Healthy Cooking on a Budget: Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf

By Emma Balek, Sargent Choice Nutrition Center Practicum Student & Senior Dietetics Student
and Sarah Butler Mazerall, MBA, MS, RD, LDN, SCNC Registered Dietitian

Recently in the SCNC’s Healthy Cooking on a Budget Class we took on the challenge of making a one dish wonder that gives us all the grains and vegetables we need in a meal all from one pan. To boot, this recipe contains several different veggies giving us a nutrition boost from all those different colors. Pair it with a serving of lean meat, beans or tofu and you’ve got a balanced meal! If you’re looking for a way to add more flavor to grains, this recipe is a great way to do so!

To make the recipe we started with the quinoa, since it takes the longest time to cook. First, you should rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter residue on the grain. Next, we added the quinoa, vegetable broth and thyme to a covered saucepan on high heat (the vegetable broth and thyme are the flavor powerhouses!) Once the water was boiling, the heat was reduced to a simmer and left to cook for about 20 minutes. Make sure you still have a lid covering your pot during this time.

rinsed quinoa

While waiting for the quinoa to cook, we began preparing the veggies.  First, we chopped the onion and minced the garlic.  Garlic can be minced with a knife, but owning a garlic press is helpful, especially if you plan to cook with garlic a lot.  During our class the instructor, Sarah Mazerall, showed a great resource on the that walks you through the differences between mincing and chopping. Here at the SCNC we love the folks behind the Kitchn because their blog is filled with incredibly helpful resources for beginner chefs.

As we learned in class, onion, garlic, and herbs are often referred to as “flavor enhancers” because they add complexity to the dish without relying sodium. Once the onion and garlic were prepared Sarah turned began to heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Sarah added only a small amount of onion and garlic to the pan at first so she could test the temperature of the oil in the pan. You will know the oil is at the right temperature for sautéing onions and garlic when you hear the onion and garlic start to sizzle. At that point you can add the rest of the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently until the onion softens, about 3-4 minutes.

Next, add the carrots and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally and covering the skillet, if necessary, to prevent sticking. We added the carrots before the bell peppers and peas because carrots take longer to cook. Next we stirred in the tomato and black pepper, covered the pan, and removed from the heat.


Once the quinoa was finished cooking we added the vegetable mixture to the quinoa. The final result was pleasing not only to the eye, but to the palate as well!

Sargent Choice Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf
Serves: 4


1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 tomato, diced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Grated Parmesan, low-fat Cheddar, or low-fat Feta Cheese (optional)


  1. Thoroughly rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (rinsing removes the residue of the grain’s bitter coating).  In a covered saucepan on high heat, bring the quinoa, broth, and thyme to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Cover and set aside.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until softened.  Add the carrots and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally and covering the skillet, if necessary, to prevent sticking.  Add the bell pepper and peas and sauté just until they are hot, a couple of minutes.  Stir in the tomato and black pepper, cover, and remove from the heat.
  3. When both the quinoa and vegetables are done, combine them.  Add salt to taste.  Serve topped with cheese if you would like.

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 260
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Protein: 9 g
Carbohydrates: 43 g
Fiber: 7 g

Now all we need is a protein to make this dish complete. Looking for inspiration? Check out a few of our recipes here:

  1. Simple Pan Seared Salmon
  2. Garlic Chicken
  3. Lemon Herb Tofu

Inspired to Cook Quinoa More Often? Check out our other recipes featuring Quinoa on our blog:

  1. Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
  2. Quinoa Cakes with Black Bean Salad
  3. Quinoa Risotto with Arugula and Parmesan
  4. Kale & Quinoa Salad


  • Recipe modified from Moosewood Restaurant’s cookbook, Simple Suppers, Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table. Sarah Mazerall consistently raves to her classes about the Moosewood Restaurant’s cookbook series. Sarah discovered her mother’s copies of Moosewood Restaurant’s cookbooks while she was in college and gives credit to the authors of these cookbooks for teaching her the fundamentals of cooking through their detailed recipe procedure explanations. Note that all of their cookbooks feature Pesco-Vegetarian recipes (featuring fish, egg and dairy containing recipes but no poultry, pork or beef recipes.)
  • Recipe analysis was preformed assuming that no cheese is added to the recipe
  • Don’t like quinoa? Try substituting whole wheat couscous or brown rice in place of the quinoa. Just be sure to modify the broth in the recipe according to the amount of liquid you need to add to the uncooked grain. Additionally, you will need to modify the cooking time of the grain.
  • To make this gluten free make sure to choose a gluten free vegetable broth.

Test Kitchen: Brown Rice Sushi

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

At the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen we’re all about pampering our food.  During our last Test Kitchen, goers were massaging the well-deserving kale, and this week we were fanning brown rice like royalty.  I could nearly hear the granules singing, “I’m so fancy.” What exactly were we doing fawning over our beloved rice, you wonder? Well, we were prepping it for its fabulous, sticky role in sushi! Warm rice doesn’t stick to its partners very well (we all need some personal space when we get a little heated). But once the white rice vinegar is mixed in, I dare you to try and pick out one granule—you’ll come back with your fingers covered in a sticky mess.

Rolling the sushi was a lot of fun. We had a Japanese native show us exactly how it’s done. Here are a couple of her tips: take the nori (that’s the sheet of seaweed) and place the shiny side down so that you will be putting the contents on the rough side. The lines ingrained on the surface of the nori should be perpendicular to your body to facilitate the rolling.  This sea vegetable is a great source of iron, which is the most common nutrient deficiency seen around the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  So stop igNORIng it and get some on your plate!

Cutting the rolls and seeing the cross-sectioned pieces felt like such an accomplishment. We included a spectrum of bright colors from avocados, cucumbers, carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, and even pickled daikon radishes, which provided some yellow and were fantastic as a component in this sushi. Dip the pieces in low-sodium soy sauce, a touch of wasabi, and yum! A delicious circle of fun filled with oodles of good-for-you nutrients. sushi_3

Sargent Choice Vegetarian Brown Rice Sushi
Yield 2 servings, 6 rolls each

2/3 cup dry short-grain brown rice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
2 (8 ¼ by 7 ¼ – inch) sheets roasted nori (dried layer)
½ Kirby cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/16-inch-thick matchsticks
½ medium carrot, cut into 1/16-inch-thick matchsticks
½ small California avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices
¾ ounces radish sprouts, roots trimmed
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into several long pieces


  1. Prepare brown rice as directed with 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
  2. While rice is standing, stir together vinegar and remaining teaspoon soy sauce.
  3. Transfer rice to a wide, nonmetal bowl and sprinkle with vinegar mixture. Toss gently with a large spoon to combine. Cool rice, tossing occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir together wasabi and teaspoon of water to form a stiff paste. Let stand for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  5. Arrange 1 sheet of nori shiny side down on a sushi mat lengthwise. With damp fingers, gently press half the rice onto the nori with a 1 ¾–inch border on the farthest edge.
  6. Starting 1-inch from the side nearest you, arrange half the cucumber matchsticks, carrot matchsticks, avocado slices, and tofu pieces in an even strip horizontally across the rice (You may need to cut pieces to fit). Repeat with half the radish sprouts, letting some sprout tops to extend beyond the edge.
  7. Roll the bottom edge of mat toward the top edge while holding the filling in place and pressing firmly. Continue rolling to the top and press firmly to seal roll. Let stand for 5 minutes with the seam down and cut crosswise into 6 pieces with a wet knife.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 with the second sheet of nori.
1 Serving
Calories 250
Fat 10 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Protein 12 g
Carbohydrates 28 g
Fiber 6 g