Tofu Paneer Saag

My name is Kelly, and I’m an Indian-food-aholic.  Pre-Advocare cleanse (update on that later in the post), my friend Lauren and I had these coupons for our local Indian buffet that basically made it $5, which basically forced us to eat there every Thursday for lunch.  After weeks of eating piles of delicious pakoras, navartan korma, saag, paneer tikka masala, and whatever-those-delicious-little-dessert-balls-floating-in-syrup-that-taste-like-pancakes-are-called, I shocked my system by not going for several weeks in a row.  My body refused to accept this, and I dreamed about Indian food.  I wish I was joking, but I straight-up had a dream I was eating pakoras soaked in some sort of delicious sauce that came off an orange-colored veggie dish while the aforementioned syrup drenched thingies danced on a nearby table.  Danced. I know they don’t have arms or hands, but that doesn’t stop them from dancing, now does it?

Tofu Paneer Saag

Needless to say, I needed a massive dose of everything Indian food and I needed it immediately.  Oddly enough, when I started looking up recipes most of them were *almost* healthy.  I say almost, because they usually started with a lot of butter and oil and were topped off with heavy cream.  Luckily, canned coconut milk is a perfect swap for heavy cream (and probably more authentic?) and oil and butter can be greatly reduced, if not skipped entirely.  This made for an incredibly tasty meal, whether you like spinach or not.  It honestly has so many other flavors going on, then if it wasn’t green, I wouldn’t be entirely positive that’s what it was.  Perfect way to get some extra veggie nomage in.

Tofu Paneer Saag

Tofu Paneer Saag
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

  • ½ lb extra firm tofu (or approximately half of a package)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 16 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or 1 lb of steamed and chopped fresh spinach)
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 square inch of ginger, peeled and minced (approximately 1 tbsp.)
  • Optional: ½ tsp cayenne or ½ jalapeno (adjust to desired spice tolerance)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ⅓ – ½ c canned light coconut milk (if swapping for other milk, start with ¼ c so as to not thin out the spinach too much)

  1. Cut tofu into thin squares, approximately 1 inch by 1 inch, and less than half an inch thick. Place in a single layer on paper towel, cover in more paper towel, and put something flat and heavy on top to press. Check after 15 minutes and replace the paper towel if necessary. Allow to press an additional 15 minutes, up to 1 hour. After pressing, toss with turmeric, a little salt, olive oil, and nutritional yeast. Let sit until ready to use, at least 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, line a nonstick pan with water or nonstick spray. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, and pepper (if using). Sauté until it is evently light/medium brown (approximately 15 minutes). If the mixture gets too dry or starts to burn, add additional water.
  3. Add the garam masala, coriander, and cumin to the onion mixture. Stir and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Squeeze your thawed spinach to remove excess moisture (a little is okay). Place in the blender or food processor and add the onion/spice mixture. Blend until smooth.
  5. Wipe out the nonstick pan and heat over medium/high heat. Spritz with nonstick spray and layer the tofu in the pan so that each piece as one side touching the pan. Cook without stirring/shaking for a few minutes, so that one side is brown. Then flip tofu pieces and cook until lightly colored on the other side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Return spinach to pan (no need to clean unless there is burnt tofu bits) add salt to taste and a little water (enough so you can easily stir but it is not at all liquidy, for me that was ¼ c). Stir and cook until warm. Stir in the coconut milk, tasting and adding more as desired. Add the tofu and stir to incorporate.

Recipe based on the Saag Panner from Aarti Party (Aarti Sequeira)
If you aren’t a fan of tofu, you can add canned or sautéed mushrooms, chickpeas, cooked fake chicken (or real chicken), or any other favorite mix ins (am I weird if I thought “Broccoli”?) after the coconut milk.
If you swap out the coconut milk for any dairy milk, turn the heat off before hand otherwise the dairy may curdle.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 175 Fat: 12 Carbohydrates: 12 Fiber: 5 Protein: 10


Now for the AdvoCare update! I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was staring the 10 day cleanse and Josh was doing 24 days (10 day cleanse + 14 days max phase, unfortunately I couldn’t make the 14 days vegetarian friendly enough as many of the pills contain gelatin).  We’re on day 17 now and it’s going pretty well!  For the 10 day cleanse portion, we were incredibly strict.  No dairy, no sugar (except for fruit) including artificial sweeteners, no caffeine outside of the Spark, no alcohol and stuck very closely to the recommend meals (which were along the lines of keep it simple, lots of veggies, lean protein, complex carb sometimes).  After day 10, we loosened the reins a little (I’m still following the dietary plan so I don’t make Josh jealous when I have a big latte and he’s crying into a glass of water) — we’ve occasionally had a small amount of dairy, we’ve splurged on coffee with soy milk a few times, and we’ve had a few alcohol drinks (Whiskey neat for Josh, vodka soda for the lady).  After the 10 day cleanse, we had lost TEN POUNDS! A little weight has trickled off the last few days, but it’s definitely tapered off (maybe because we’re low level cheaters, but probably because the first came off so quickly).  Because we were still eating a normal amount of calories and pretty much normal food, I don’t feel like those pounds will come right back the minute I have a slice of pizza (but if they do, I’ll be sure to come back and delete this sentence so I’m not a fool for all eternity ;-)). The cleanse drastically altered our eating schedule in that we’re snacking more and our meals are more spaced out — our dinner is sooooo late compared to what it used to be.

This post is already getting pretty lengthy and I plan on Josh doing a full review after day 24, so I’ll wrap it up.  After 10 days I would say the pros are: reinforce better eating habits (both when you eat and what you eat), rapid weight loss, Josh’s skin has cleared up fantastically, drinking lots of water and less bad-for-me drinks, general feeling of wellness and energy, and unlike a regular diet, the cheats we’ve made have been incredibly small and I feel no guilt for them — I honestly feel pretty in touch with what my body needs (like a million eggs) and the cleanse reinforced that.  The cons would be: the vast amount of crappy and conflicting information out there, having to really plan ahead (both meals and when to take pills), the disgusting taste/mouth feel of the fiber drink.  Even talking about that fiber drink now makes me want to vomit.  I’m glad to have gotten through it, but I’m not sure I could drink that again.  My friend even said to me, “Uhhh didn’t someone give you that for free? Should you really be saying it makes you want to vomit?” Yeah, well, I’m honest.  But you should know that already.   I want to end on a positive note though, so I’ll just say that how delicious the Fruit Punch and Mango Strawberry Spark are definitely almost make up for the fiber drink — we’ll be continuing drinking that in lieu of shady energy drinks.  Or at least I will and will “strongly encourage” Josh to do the same.

P.S. Check out my first post on Advocare for more info on getting in contact with Becky (if I didn’t scare you off with my fiber drink talk).  Please know that I received the cleanse portion for free, but obviously my opinions are 100% my own.  I also want to point out that even though Josh and I lost 10 pounds, that doesn’t mean you will.  We definitely could afford to lose the 10 pounds each (and then some), so take our loss with a grain of salt.

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    Jessica Apr 15, 2014

    Your tofu paneer saag has me salivating over here. So much flavor. I really like how you reduced fat with coconut milk. I find that it is just as good! Nice site. Have a great day.

    ATasteOfMadness Apr 11, 2014

    I also love Indian food, but I’m always thrown off of making it at home because it requires SO many ingredients. This looks pretty simple (as in, an Indian food recipe with less than 15 ingredients 😉 ), I think that even I can make it 🙂

    Joanne Apr 11, 2014

    You know I”m saag paneer obsessed, right? I swear I can’t go more than a few weeks without it! Can’t wait to try this healthier version as home for when my next craving hits!

      Kelly Apr 11, 2014

      Joanne, I didn’t know that but I’m glad I’m not alone in my addiction! We should start a saag eaters annonymous club, but instead of stale donuts we’ll have big big bowls of this and just feed that addiction.

    cheri Apr 09, 2014

    Just pinned, I love these kind of meals. Gorgeous pics!

    Maria J. Bullis Apr 09, 2014

    I love how Indian food taste but i have to say that when you see some Indian dishes for the first time you don’t know at all how it is going to taste 😉

    Em @ Love A Latte Apr 09, 2014

    I just about never eat Indian food for no good reason. I don’t know any good restaurants by me and I don’t really know what to order, but this looks super delicious and I’m sure I’d love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Kelly Apr 09, 2014

      Em – go venture out and try some! In my experience, a lot of the vegetarian dishes are also vegan at a good Indian restaurant and make up a large portion of the menu (like at least half!)