I have a new appreciation for the black man that can’t dance, and the British boy bored with soccer. When people discover that I am vegan, the first thing they awkwardly offer is tofu.
I am the vegan that doesn’t like tofu.
Slimy. Bland. Mushy. BLAH!
I don’t bring this up at the our secret vegan meetings. It’s don’t ask, don’t tell around this issue. I see other vegans who pick around chunks of tofu, but we don’t make eye contact. It’s just not discussed.
Though tofu is a standard in Vegetarian 101, I’ve only enjoyed it twice in my life. The first was at Blossom, a vegan restaurant in Manhattan, where mouth-watering smells, flavors and textures would convince Kevin to give up Bacon.
The second was a subtle surprise. While on vacation, a girlfriend and I combined our leftover veggies with her block of tofu. I intended to pick around it as I always do. But, as I sit to write this, I have just finished the final bite. I’ve been eating the leftovers all day, and it has only gotten better. We stumbled upon a magical combination and luckily, I was paying attention.
There are four key ingredients.
a handful of freshly chopped cilantro
fresh block of organic tofu
3 tbsp of yeast flakes
The rest of the vegetable medley is whatever you want. We added vidalia onion, sweet yellow pepper, baby spinach leaves, 4 cloves of garlic, a zucchini, radishes, carrots and a can of black beans. Adding green onions, spicy peppers or sweet corn, and serving with a favorite hot sauce would also be wonderful additions. Also, season with cumin, turmeric, garlic powder/salt and any other seasoning of choice.
Prepare a block of tofu by crumbling it in a bowl, and mash in 3 tbsp of yeast flakes. The crumble is so much better than mushy, slimy cubes! Add it to the skillet.
Combine with chopped veggies and fresh garlic. The crumbled tofu and tomatillos are watery, and should provide enough liquid to sauté, so don’t add extra unless it’s necessary. Cook until desired texture is reached (go for crunchy and colorful) Season with black pepper and sea salt. A squirt of lime juice puts the cherry on top.
Tofu is high in protein, low in fat, and can be a good source of iron, calcium and magnesium, which is why it’s “the other white meat” in VeganWorld. But as most soybeans in the US contain GMO’s, it’s critical to look for organic varieties that are fresh. (If it’s in a cardboard package on a canned good shelf, skip it. Look for it instead in a refrigerated produce display.)
Being vegan, it’s easy to overload on soy without even realizing it. Eating a wide variety of foods is always a good idea, and there are great alternatives in rice, coconut, oat, hemp and almond milk products. Too much soy (like every meal, every day) can disrupt estrogen levels. But don’t let this scare you. It’s rare that any food qualifies for unlimited consumption. Salmon contains mercury, eggs contain cholesterol, beef has no fiber and too much cheese will make you fat. Also, there is corn and/or soy (think vegetable oil, thickeners, sweeteners, etc.) in nearly every processed product on the market Yet in a carnivorous diet, these are considered safe and even beneficial in moderation.
Same principle applies to soy. If you are struggling with fertility, early onset of puberty, man-boobs, or looking for an infant formula, talk to a nutritional specialist. Otherwise, organic soy is a healthy part of a plant-based diet.
Try this! Let me know how yours turns out!
Want to know why organic soy is so critical? Read more about GMOs…