If you’re trying to eat a more plant-based diet, kudos to you! It’s a great way to protect and improve your health. Eating a diet primarily focused on fruits and vegetables increases the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients you eat — all good ways to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and some types of cancer. One way to incorporate more plant-foods is to go meat-free one day a week. You may have heard of Meatless Monday, an effort to raise awareness about vegetarian eating and to encourage people to try going meat-free just one day per week.
You don’t have to eat tofu to go meatless, but it’s a great time to try it! I’m a big fan of the flexibility of this traditional Asian food. High in protein, serving up 10g per 1/2 cup, tofu is incredibly versatile since it doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own and is a great canvas for strong sauces. You can use silken or soft tofu in smoothies, as a replacement for eggs as a scramble, or instead of ricotta in baked pasta dishes and add tons of protein. Or you can use firm or extra firm tofu to make “steaks” that you marinate in flavorful sauce, or you can cube it up, fry it and turn it into an amazing stir fry. I’ll leave you to your imagination with the stir fry, but want to provide you with some tips for cooking tofu.
I like to use extra-firm tofu. Remove it from the package and drain the water. Then, put the tofu cake between a couple of paper towels inside a colander and place something heavy on top — a pot with a few canned goods, a small plate piled with packages of dried beans, or a big bottle of something. After about 15 minutes, cut the tofu cake in half lengthwise, then cube into 1-1 1/2″ pieces. If you want, you can marinate it at this point to add extra flavor, but remember that may also add sodium. Add about 1 Tbs of peanut oil to your non-stick wok or large saute pan and heat on medium high. Once the pan is good and hot, add the tofu and toss until golden brown. Don’t rush the tofu, you want it to get nicely browned.
Drain the tofu on paper towels while you cook the vegetables that you’ll be serving tofu with, adding the tofu and sauce at the end of the cooking time just to reheat.
What do you think? Are you a tofu eater? Into Meatless Monday?