“It’s great that you’re so healthy: getting up early to run and being Sushi Girl,” my husband said, as I zipped up my neon sweater and strapped the water bottle to my hand.
I used to be the beleaguered Mama who, to save time, figured out the lowest possible setting to toast the waffles without leaving them frozen in the middle. On a good morning, meaning one in which I would have consumed 2 or 3 cups of coffee before the kids awoke, I would secure my Awesome Mama status by carefully filling the waffle squares to make blocky smiley-faces.
Now, I make things like sushi and tofu.
Many people say they don’t have time to cook healthy meals–and I can totally understand that. I remember tossing chicken strips into the microwave, and feeling it was a pain to have to turn them halfway through. What a waste of ten seconds!
Though my kids are now old enough to do things like chop veggies and do dishes, there are days when I’m pressed for time.
But gluten-free vegan cooking takes SO long, doesn’t it?
Last night, I chopped up some peppers, onions, and tomatoes and threw them in the skillet with some crumbled tofu. I added black beans, chipolte spice, cilantro, and lime, and it came out a tasty Tex-Mex tofu, if there is such a thing.
I’ve perused a lot of recipes and have done a lot of playing around with tofu, and my family’s favorite tofu is also the simplest to prepare.
So, without further ado, my Recipe of the Week: Keri’s Classic Tofu
The Mighty Block of Tofu: Organic, Extra-Firm
Step One: Press the tofu.
As usual, I learned this step the hard way; and there were many nights my son had to chisel a brown layer of tofu off my pan, but finally I learned three important things: 1) press the tofu well, 2) buy a REALLY good non-stick pan, and 3) give the clean-up crew a special allowance. My teenage son, who routinely has post-dinner kitchen duty, is thankful I learned these things.
I use two blocks of tofu for my family of 6, and there are no leftovers
Apparently there is a gadget called a ‘tofu press,’ but since I have no idea where to find one in Germany, I simply layer the tofu with wads of paper towels, then put it between two cutting boards with a weight (my mortar & pestle) on top and let it sit for as long as possible. If I have planned correctly, I will do this an hour before I cook. If I am in a rush, I gently press it down myself, and try not to squish it into a pancake.
Step Two: Cut into Cubes
Maybe I’m still a kid at heart, and slicing tofu reminds me of playing with play-dough, but this is one of my favorite parts of tofu-play.
Stand the mighty tofu towers on end
Slice into fifths
Stack the thin slices and cut into bite-sized cubes
Step Three: Adding Flavor
If you are not worried about sodium intake, you can, at this point, toss the tofu cubes with Tamari or Soy Sauce. I ran some ginger through the juicer and then tossed my tofu cubes with the ginger juice, which gave it a bit more flavor. Or, you can just leave the tofu plain. Because we are cutting back on sodium, I prefer to cook the tofu cubes with a green onion.
Chop the green part of 3-4 onions into little O’s and set aside
Step Four: Cook It
After nearly ruining many pans, I invested in a high-quality (meaning, German) non-stick skillet. We do not clean this puppy with soap (as my teen learned from my shrieks as he grabbed the bottle of dish soap while touching my new pan), but we merely use water on it. If parts of it get sticky, I’ll rub a little wok oil in it, to clean it.
Heat the pan on medium, until water sprinkled in it begins to sizzle;
then drain the tofu (if marinating) and add the cubes
When the tofu begins to brown, add green onion
I use a silicone spatula to gently flip the cubes
Cook in skillet, adding a little water if needed (to keep from sticking), over medium-high, until tofu looks golden
Step Five: Eat it
Serve tofu with your veggie of choice
A very simple way to do veggies is to chop mushrooms into quarters and toss into 400 degree oven with green asparagus (woody parts snapped off). Put the veggies in the oven while you cook the tofu–and it should all be done at the same time.
Step Six: Feel Good
At first, cooking tofu may take longer than zapping dinosaur-shaped ‘chicken’ nuggets with invisible rays. But once you try tofu a few times, and use your own creativity and preferences, you will find that not only is it a quick meal, but it tastes good too. And you can dine guilt-free, knowing that your family is consuming something that will help prevent a host of diseases in the future.
Maybe it sounds entirely domestic, but it gives me joy to provide dinners that nourish and heal–and taste GOOD–rather than dinners that simply fill the belly.
The idea that every calorie counts is not accurate: in reality, it is the amount of nutrients in any given morsel that counts towards good health.