|The dangers of cute vegan girls|
Jun 7th, 2006
Looking at my eating habits these days you wouldn't necessarily guess that I was once a vegetarian. Yet vestiges of those five years remain, one being my fondness for tofu. I very much dislike tofu when it's being used to imitate things it's not, but when it's allowed to be itself tofu really shines. I haven't eaten much of the stuff lately, probably because a few years back I got concerned at the amount of soy in my diet and decided to cut back. Seriously, if you eat processed foods, soy is in everything!
I was randomly searching around to make sure I wasn't totally making that up and stumbled across this interesting quote from John Robbins' site foodrevolution.org:
We are eating soy products today at levels never before seen in history. Advances in food technology have made it possible to isolate soy proteins, isoflavones, and other substances found in the bean, and add them to all kinds of foods where they've never been before. The number of processed and manufactured foods that contain soy ingredients today is astounding. It can be hard to find foods that don't contain soy flour, soy oil, lecithin (extracted from soy oil and used as an emulsifier in high-fat products), soy protein isolates and concentrates, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (usually made from soy) or unidentified vegetable oils. Most of what is labeled "vegetable oil" in the U.S. is actually soy oil, as are most margarines. Soy oil is the most widely used oil in the U.S., accounting for more than 75 percent of our total vegetable fats and oils intake. And most of our soy products are now genetically engineered. (source)So I decided to cut down, but in retrospect I think I cut out the wrong things. I'd much rather satisfy my tofu cravings and reduce instead the processed foods that hide soy deep in their ingredient lists. Frankly I don't eat many processed foods these days, so I think I'm okay frying up some delicious tofu cutlets or preparing miso soup now and again. Plus I've been reading Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, and her tofu recipes were making me really hungry. (Full book review coming soon). So last night I made up some wraps stuffed with tofu, rice, and a red cabbage slaw with a soy tahini dressing. They were delicious and really took me back to those veggie days of my youth.
I had prepared a batch of the Tangy Tahini Dressing earlier in the week. I have to be honest and say that I'm not wild about this dressing on a green salad, but I really liked it on the cabbage. To make the cabbage slaw I just finely chopped about a quarter of a head of red cabbage, added some shredded carrot, salted cashew pieces, and chopped scallion, and tossed it all with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing. Since I had them out for the tofu marinade I sprinkled on a little dark sesame oil and soy sauce and that really complemented the flavors of the tofu.
Last week I purchased some whole wheat tortillas from Trader Joe's (the house brand). These are the first whole wheat tortillas I've found that don't have hydrogenated oils in them and actually taste good. So I felt quite virtuous wrapping up my browned tofu triangles with the cabbage slaw and some leftover rice. (My rice was white jasmine, but brown rice would have increased my feelings of virtuousness to stratospheric levels, and probably tasted good too.) After finishing my wrap at dinner last night I promptly wanted another, but I saved the leftovers for lunch today. That didn't really help though as I have now finished my lunch and still want more. I definitely see more of these wraps in our future. Oh, and in case you're wondering how the whole tofu thing went over with the kids? Yeah, not so well. That's alright, I'll wear 'em down eventually. Actually, writing that just now I realized that the following scenario is much more likely than me convincing the boys to enjoy tofu. After years of rejecting my occasional healthy and delicious vegetarian entrees, one of the boys will meet some tofu-loving girl with bright blue eyes and a cute smile, and said boy will immediately march home and announce he has become a vegan.
Teriyaki Tofu TrianglesOne 16-ounce tub extra-firm tofu
1 or 2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp light olive oil
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (or 3/4 tbsp agave nectar)
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp hoisin sauce, optional
Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices and blot well with paper towels. My tofu was pretty wet so I laid all the slices between two layers of dish towels and put a plate on top to press out the excess water while I prepared the marinade.
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
Cut each slice of tofu into two squares (mine were more like rectangles) and then in half again to form triangles. Lay the slices in one layer in a shallow pan and drizzle with the marinade. Turn the pieces over so they're coated on both sides and let sit for ten minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot pour the tofu and marinade into the skillet. Let brown on the first side and then turn each piece over to brown the other side. Stir the pieces around a bit, scatter the scallions over the top and serve.
-The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, Nava Atlas