to tofu, with love

I once marched around the house with a picketing sign that read “I. Hate. Tofu.” in big, bold letters, while my sister who was making a tofu lasagna, pretended not to notice. 

I took one bite of the dreaded sauce & cheese imposter.  And then I declared it the best lasagna that I had ever tasted, while my brother went off to contemplate how he might disown me.

Let it never be said that I’m afraid to speak my mind.  Or afraid to change my mind as needed, for that matter. 

 

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Tofu is no light topic of discussion.  In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend discussing soy or tofu at the family dinner table, unless of course you’re looking for a good debate.  Everyone feels something about the little white blocks of soy.  Everyone has something to say about it.

“Ugh, it makes me gag.”

“Oh my word, I practically live on the stuff!”

“Well.  It’s kind of complicated.”

 

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The lasagna was my very first delightful encounter with tofu.  And then I decided to experiment—just a little.  Gradually crossing the boundaries from being a McDonalds loving, cheeseball consuming, soda addicted kid to *gasp* a tofu eater.  I blame that on discovering good sauces and smart preparation techniques. 

And the rest is history.

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(p.s. The best part of this story is when my brother—the one who was planning on how he could disown me for going to the “dark side”—became the vegetarian of the family.  Go figure!)

 

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The moral of the story is (a) don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others.  Tastebuds change.  And so do we as individuals.  If you love a juicy hamburger now and then, admit it, and don’t feel shame or guilt.  If you’d much rather not eat meat at all, and stick mostly to vegetarian fare, that’s great too.  Be yourself.  Be you!  And find what works best for your own individual needs.  A healthy diet can be formed around either of the aforementioned.  Really!

(b) Try something new!  If you’re feeling like you’re somewhere in the “it’s complicated” category of tofu, then branch out and try a new recipe.  Different techniques yield different flavors and textures.

(c) This isn’t really a moral, but—as your friend—I feel I should offer the advice of always making enough of this BBQ tofu for seconds.  It is *fabulous* as a sandwich filler. 😀 

 

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BBQ’d Tofu

Both of these recipes stem from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I made just a few subtle changes to make the cooking process a tad bit easier, while also basing the ingredients on what I happened to have on hand (I didn’t have the called for smoke seasoning!)  The BBQ sauce makes quite a bit—about 4 cups worth.  It is incredibly easy to make, and it’s nice having the extra sauce for future sandwiches or tofu/chicken creations. 

Serve this tangy sweet tofu with rice or mashed, garlic potatoes and your favorite roasted veggie.  Enjoy! 😀

BBQ sauce:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  1. Saute onions in oil in medium pan over medium heat, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic through sugar and cook for 1 hr. over low heat.  Add mustard and adjust flavors as needed. 
  2. Puree in a food processor and store in refrigerator.

Baked Tofu with BBQ sauce:

  • 1 lb. tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (I recommend freezing the tofu ahead of time and dethawing/pressing before using…this produces a much “meatier” texture)
  • 1/2 of above recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a 9×18 inch pan, place 1/4 of the above recipe on bottom of pan.  Place tofu on top.  Cover in 1/4 more of the above recipe. 
  2. Bake for 20 minutes.  Flip.  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Question: Tofu Feelings?  Love?  Hate?  It’s kind of complicated?

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the return of the boxed lunch

Vacation sure was nice while it lasted. 

Honestly—aside from writing an abstract on hypertension—I didn’t accomplish a whole lot during vacation, and that is just fine by me.  My brain feels well rested.  Ready to think and be used once again.

That being said, the first day back always feels a little rough.  Especially since I was starting my clinical rotation at the hospital for the first time today.  Obviously, I needed a fun lunch to feel excited about.  Something to  make getting up at 5:00am just a little bit easier. 😉

Last night, I made chef salads for the family and topped each one off with a few scoops of roasted veggies that had been drizzled and deeply caramelized with a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Sweet onions, peppers, carrots, and baby portobello mushrooms. 

I forgot how much I love this simple flavor combination.

One of the (many) things that I love about roasting vegetables, is that any extras can be incorporated into the following day’s lunches and dinners.  Breakfast, even! 

And so, roasted vegetables became my very special lunch for today.  I reheated the veggies in the cafe’s microwave, scooped them onto a whole wheat wrap from home, and finished it all off with a salty bite of feta cheese.

(p.s. As much as I love roasted veggies, the feta definitely made this meal! )

The first day back can be terribly unsettling.

What time will I eat?  Will I have the time to eat?

Where do I go?  What was that persons’ name again?  And the worst: I think I’m lost.

 But…

Yes, I had time to eat.  I’ll learn peoples’ names eventually.  And it’s impossible to get completely lost, even in an unknown hospital, because there’s always somebody around to redirect me if I look worried enough…ha! 😉 

A fun group of snacks and a tasty lunch didn’t hurt either.

Snacks included:

  • Chocolate Chip Z-Bar
  • Apple
  • Almonds mixed with fancy raisins
  • Sliced papaya

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Roasted Veggie Wrap
Serves 1-2

Roasted veggies make for a fine lunch-to-go.  Make extra during the weekend to carry you through at least the beginning of the week.  For easy lunch options, you could easily mix the veggies with brown rice and baked tofu or chicken for a complete meal.  Or serve them alongside a piece of grilled fish.  Or simple eat as-is, with roasted garbanzo beans and a dollop of gaucamole.  

Or, roll the veggies into a whole wheat wrap and top with feta cheese. 

Whichever way you serve them, roasted veggies offer you a whole lot of nutrition and a whole lot of flavor.  Enjoy! 😀

  • Mixture of your favorite vegetables, sliced to desired thickness (the thicker pieces will require longer cooking time)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • whole wheat wrap
  • feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. On a rimmed cookie sheet, toss vegetables with oil, salt and pepper.  Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Stir around.  Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked as desired (browning is recommended! 😀 ).
  3. Place on a whole wheat wrap, top with feta cheese and enjoy! 😀

Question: What do you do for work (or as a student)?  Do you enjoy it?