Vegetarian Chicks - Need advice please?
09-20-2011, 06:24 PM
Hello all -
I just finished watching a documentary called "Forks Over Knives" which was about changing your diet to an all plant and whole grain diet. I found their research and results very intriguing and have a couple questions?
First, I would love to find a really good cookbook that has great veggie recipes. Years ago I remember seeing one that was broken down by seasons so you could shop frugally. Does anyone have a recommendation?
Also, both my husband and I have tried several times different types of tofu recipes. We just can't stand it.
If there a way to get the nutrients that tofu has without eating it?
09-20-2011, 11:09 PM
If there a way to get the nutrients that tofu has without eating it?
you may like edamame (steamed soy beans - they taste like a cross between peanuts and lima beans).
You may also like "good" tofu. We're super lucky to live in an area in which homemade tofu is available. Tofu absorbs the flavor of whatever it's touching - which means that most commercial tofu tastes like plastic or waxed paper.
But good tofu, and good tofu recipes aren't easy to find. I'm really lucky that my husband worked for years in a four star chinese restaurant.
I actually had no idea he was the "magic tofu chef" until we had vegetarian dinner guests, and my husband made this tofu dish that was amazing. His secret was pressing the water out of the tofu (the day before the dinner, he sandwhiched the tofu between two glass plates set in a large baking dish) and set a heavy weight on the top plate. Then when he cooked the tofu, he cut it into strips, and flash-stir-fried it in peanut oil with garlic, sherry, soy and other seasonings.
WOW, what a difference. The tofu had more of a "meaty" texture than a soft-cheesy texture. And because we'd gotten fresh-made tofu, it had only been in the plastic container a few hours, so it didn't taste like plastic.
Someone here said that freezing tofu and then pressing the water out after it's thawed, removes even more moisture.
Another possibility is tvp (textured vegetable protein). We use the unflavored granules, which is a dehydrated a ground-meat substitute. You add equal parts of hot water or broth to reconstitute. It looks like Grape Nuts cereal or beige gravel. Like tofu, it has almost no flavor of it's own, so you really have to season it up. Hubby can't stand it unless it's been cooked with meat, so I use it to "stretch" ground meats. I'll brown ground meat (any or a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, chorizo, italian sausage) with seasoning veggies like onion, celery, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic with the dry tvp. I wait to add the liquid until after browning, because I think the tvp picks up more of the meat flavor. But when the ground meat is no longer pink I'll add the hot water or broth (about equal in volume to the tvp I used). 1 cup of dry tvp is equal to about a pound of meat.
I try to buy tvp in health food stores that sell it in bulk, because it's usually cheaper, but we don't have a local health store that sells in bulk anymore, so I either buy it in 12 ounce packages from Walmart (in the health food isle) or I stock up when I visit my sister in Illinois (or she brings some up when she visits).
You can also eat it as a hot breakfast cereal. I add a tablespoon or two of tvp to instant oatmeal packets to dilute the sweetness (I buy unflavored, unsweetened instant oatmeal when I can find it).
There are some health concerns with over-eating soy-based foods (plant-estrogens are the main issue, I believe and the problems only arise with unusually high consumption of soy. For example the people studied were eating multiple servings of soy daily).
09-21-2011, 12:44 AM
I'm a little embarrassed because although I've been a vegetarian since I was 14, I am not as well-versed in soy products as I should be.
I say that because I'd recommend you explore seitan and tempeh because they are high in protein, but I can't say definitively if they have the same nutritional value as protein.
Seitan is a product made from wheat gluten. Tempeh is a soy product. I'd bet that if you are looking for something similar to tofu, tempeh would be it. Seitan is a useful compliment as well if you are looking for high protein content.
Have you tried experimenting with different textures of tofu? I find different tofu textures are appropriate for specific recipes. Extra firm tofu (with the water squeezed out- an important step) is delicious barbequed or in Thai-style stir-fries. Firm or soft tofu is great as a substitute for paneer when making Indian food (palak paneer, etc). Silken is ideal for smoothies. However, I wouldn't dare use a soft tofu for stir fries- the consistency is off.
Try also scrambled tofu- take extra firm or firm tofu and mash with a fork until it's crumbly. Sautee with onions, tomatoes, a pinch of salt/cayenne/your seasonings and veggies of choice. A nice mock scrambled egg :)
09-21-2011, 08:28 AM
There are many soy-free vegans, you don't have to eat tofu if you don't like it. We eat a lot of beans and tofu is a rarity. There are two cookbooks that might help you. Vegan on the Cheap and Supermarket Vegan. Both are fairly frugal and Vegan on the Cheap will give a cost break down for the recipes.
One thing to consider is that taste buds change when your diet changes. You can shelve the idea of eating tofu for now and revisit it later.
I also just found this recipe for balsamic roasted tofu:
09-21-2011, 09:56 AM
Not sure if you knew this, but Forks Over Knives has their own companion cookbook. I own it and have tried a few recipes.
By far my favorite recipes come from http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/ or http://www.theppk.com/ The women who runs the ppk (Post Punk Kitchen) has some great cheap recipes in her cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance, and the more recent diet friendly, Appetite for Reduction.
You don't have to eat tofu, although I'd encourage you to try different brands before you give up on it completely (My fav is Wildwood Superfirm). Soy Milk is similar in nutrients (tofu is made from soy milk), but really, tofu is a form of soy bean, so any other whole cooked bean or even lentils is going to be similar for nutrition. Tempeh is fermented soybean and also pretty good and soy based, if you are looking for that specifically.
09-25-2011, 01:05 AM
I agree with kaplods The secret of tofu is in how you cook it.
Personally I won't think about cooking with tofu until I've pressed the water from it and it's been in the freezer for two or three days.
I find that freezing tofu really changes the texture. Once it thaws, I can squeeze even more water from it, making it "super-meaty"
Plus: like squeezing water from a sponge, the tofu will then be more able to absorb the flavors of what you are cooking.
There's a cookbook out there that goes into detail about the many different way to prepare tofu for cooking. and I'm not sure but I believe it's called "I can't believe it's tofu" or something of that nature. look on amazon.com
I was really big on soy beans and tofu until I found out that too much can be very bad for your health (more so for children)...So I limit my soy products and my man will hardly touch it now. Unless I'm making tofu stir fry...he can't resist it. ^.^
Kaplods - thank you for the great description! I totally made tofu just like you described and it was really great.
I just wanted to add something:
On top of pressing the water out of the tofu, it also is really marvelous if you (after pressing water out) bake the tofu on 400 for 25 min. or so.
Just rub a tiny bit of oil on the tofu cubes (or cooking spray), lightly salt, and bake. They take on an extremely satisfying almost crunchy texture - not soft at all.
And then you can simply eat it as is, or add it to your stir fry.
10-20-2011, 10:14 AM
Dr. Fuhrman says that most, if not all, of the soy benefits are found in other beans. I don't eat soy because of my thyroid issues, but eat other beans every day.