Going Plant Based: Tofu

If you’re looking for another #meatlessmonday meal idea, look no further! This Ginger Tofu Stir Fry is SO good that you won’t miss that meat!

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Tofu is a bean curd made from soybeans used mainly in Asian and vegetarian cuisines. I was about 10 years old the first time I tried tofu and I HATED it…I didn’t like the texture, consistency, or taste…

Fast forward ~14 years and it is one of my favorite protein sources–and I truly believe it is all in how you prepare it. My favorite kind of tofu is extra firm which is found in most grocery stores. The key is straining the liquid out as much as possible. My most used method is placing the tofu block in a clean dish towel (or paper towels) and wedging between 2 small plates. For time effectiveness, I add a heavy canned food item on top to really squeeze out the excess moisture. I let this sit for at least 30 minutes to get as much water out as possible.

Once the moisture is out of the tofu, I cut it up and place it in my marinade. Adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch really makes a difference in cooking tofu as well–it gives it a crunchier texture after its  been baked.

What’s good about tofu?

According to the USDA nutrition database, a 1/2 cup serving of tofu contains 94 calories, ~10 grams of protein, ~6 grams of fat, 2.32 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 grams of fiber and numerous minerals including calcium and iron. While animal protein is a fine choice, tofu is lower in calories, saturated fat and contains fiber (which no animal protein source contains). A 2017 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition concluded that consuming ~3% less animal protein and replacing it with plant protein potentially results in 19% lower risk of death from a chronic illness. Incorporating more plant based proteins (and foods) into your diet may help decrease development of chronic diseases resulting in longevity.

 

On to the meal recipe! This Ginger Tofu Stir fry can be whipped up in no time as long as you have your ingredients prepped! Biggest tip: cut up all your veggies ahead of time so you can just throw it all into the wok.

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Ginger Tofu Stir Fry

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

Marinade:

  • 1 block of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoon Ginger Dressing (I used Makoto’s brand-only 1 gram sugar per 2 T)
  • 1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper

Stir Fry:

  • 1.5 cups of Asparagus (washed and chopped)
  • 1 cup of Broccoli florets (washed)
  • 2 medium Zucchini (washed and chopped into half moons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (or oil of choice)
  • 1/4 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Directions:

  1. Squeeze out excess moisture from tofu (directions found above in blog post). Let sit for 30 minutes. Cut tofu block into cubes.
  2. Put tofu in mixing bowl and add cornstarch, ginger dressing, low sodium soy sauce and black pepper. Stir and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes on each side.
  4. In the meantime, stir fry your veggies using a wok. Add butter and garlic to wok. Add asparagus in first (as it takes longest to cook). Then add broccoli and water, cover and allow to steam until tender. Add zucchini last, uncover to let moisture evaporate.
  5. Add low sodium soy sauce and let simmer.
  6. Add baked ginger tofu to stir fry. Serve over brown rice + cauliflower rice, or your favorite starch.
  7. Enjoy!

You can truly make this meal versatile by adding different veggies to it.

Some other suggestions:

  • bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • water chestnuts
  • baby corn
  • squash
  • cauliflower
  • bamboo shoots
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • bok choy

This meal is 100% hubs approved, so try it for your family the next time you wanna incorporate some plant based proteins! This recipe makes great left overs, too! 🙂

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

follow me on social media!

@livebetterwithkatdetter

 

 

References:
  1. Ndb.nal.usda.gov. (2019). Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Tofu, raw, regular, prepared with calcium sulfate. [online] Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=16427 [Accessed 3 Jun. 2019].
  2. Monique Tello, M. (2019). Eat more plants, fewer animals – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eat-more-plants-fewer-animals-2018112915198 [Accessed 3 Jun. 2019].
  3. Micha, R., Peñalvo, J., Cudhea, F., Imamura, F., Rehm, C. and Mozaffarian, D. (2019). Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States.

 

Building Nutritious Meals

Happy 2020! Regardless on whether you chose to make a bunch of unrealistic resolutions or a few attainable changes, I think we can all agree that incorporating more nutritious foods to our diet is a win/win.

***If you missed my last post on “Ditching New Years Resolutions”, go take a look so you can set healthy, measurable, and attainable goals this year.

In 2018, I became more of  “meal planner” but not so much a “meal prepper”….mainly because I did not want to get stuck eating the same thing 3 days in a row. A goal of mine is to prep a bit more so I have foods easily accessible on the go or when I am in a bind.

So, how do you build a good, nutrient-dense meal??

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First, you must plan the meal.

  • In building a meal, you want to make sure there is a balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Below are some good ideas of each category (note: this is just a brief list of items I use most often but there are many more options!)

Lean Protein

Complex Carb

Healthy Fat

Boneless, skinless chicken Quinoa/Brown Rice Avocado
Turkey (breast, tenderloin, ground) Banza Pasta (made from chickpeas) or 100% Whole Grain Pasta Salad dressings with olive oil base (pay attention to added sugars)
Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Mahi Mahi, etc.) 100% Whole Grain Bread or tortilla (I love Dave’s or Ezekiel brand) Cheese (feta, cheddar, blue cheese, etc.)
Tofu Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash/Pumpkin Flax seeds/Nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds)
Eggs Red Skin/Golden Potato with skin Peanut Butter
Beef (tenderloin, ground [85/15% fat]) Oatmeal Oils: Canola, olive, avocado
Beans, Legumes Beans/Lentils *note: fish is considered a healthy fat as well
Plain Greek Yogurt Beets
Peanut Butter Corn
  • Start by choosing 1 item in each category.

Example:

Protein Complex Carb Healthy Fat
Boneless, skinless chicken Brown Rice Avocado
  • Now that you’ve decided on what protein, carb, and fat you want, pick your veggies! For me, the more veggies the merrier–and if you are feeling even more spunky, you could forgo the complex carb and just have extra veggies. The list below are ideas of non-starchy vegetables, again, not limited to these veggies–there are so many to choose from!

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Asparagus

Mushrooms

Onion

Carrots

Leafy Greens (spinach, arugula, romaine, kale)

Collards/Swiss Chard

Cabbage

Brussels Sprouts

Bamboo Shoots

Green/Wax Beans

Bell Peppers

Sprouts

Zucchini/Yellow Squash

Cucumber

  • The next order of business is deciding your cooking method. There are many options here, but my favorites include steamed, baked, stir fried, grilled and sauteed. You can even use a variety of cooking methods at one meal. Let’s say you want to have baked chicken and sweet potatoes…all of that takes time in the oven, so while that is baking, you can saute some broccoli and green beans for some fiber and veggie action.
  • Make a grocery list and head to the store! I do my grocery shopping typically on Friday’s–but I only like to make 1 trip per week, so make sure you make a list! See my blog on The Grocery Haul  for more grocery shopping tips.
  • The best part about planning your meals is that you can make some extra for your lunches the next day! Get your spouse involved, too! We all can benefit from home cooked healthful meals.

Below are some sample meal ideas.

  1. Grilled lightly seasoned tuna, roasted red potatoes, and sauteed asparagus-veggies sauteed in canola oil or oil/fat of choice.
  2. Baked Tofu nuggets, quinoa, and sauteed mixed veggies (broccoli, mushrooms and zucchini go well together)-veggies sauteed in canola oil or oil/fat of choice.
  3. Smoked salmon, whole grain bread, avocado and spinach–open faced or as a full sandwich depending on hunger ques.
  4. Black beans, corn, sauteed zucchini, onions, spinach with avocado.
  5. Peanut butter, cooked oatmeal, walnuts, mashed banana with blueberries
  6. Greek yogurt, slivered almonds, and berries.
  7. Eggs or egg whites veggie omelette with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and asparagus with avocado on the side.
  8. Browned, seasoned ground turkey, banza pasta, feta cheese, sauteed bell peppers, onions, and zucchini. You could add some pesto or no sugar added pasta sauce of choice.
  9. Grilled steak, baked sweet potato, and mixed greens salad with shredded carrots, raw onions, diced cucumber and 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing of choice.
  10. Shredded chicken, brown rice, avocado and baked Brussels sprouts and steamed broccoli.
  11. Shredded chicken, avocado, BIG mixed greens salad with spinach, romaine, feta cheese, cucumbers, olives, onions, and shredded carrots.

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Tip #1: Make half of your plate veggies.

Vegetables are full of fiber that promote satiety (feeling full) so you won’t be tempted to take in more calories that you need at one meal. More fiber will also likely improve digestion, too–just make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Vegetables also contain vital vitamins and minerals needed for physiological processes in the body, so make sure you’re eating those veggies!

Tip #2: When choosing a fat, you do not have to only choose one.

You can choose multiple fats–just be mindful of serving sizes. For example, if I want avocado and cheese on my salad, I will only use about 1/4 of the avocado and maybe 1 ounce of cheese to satisfy.

Tip #3: In prepping for the week, you do not need to cook everything on Sunday and pack it in cutesy little containers…

That can promote meal boredom and frankly may not taste as good 3 days later…my tip is to use the weekend as a food prep day instead-chop up your veggies and store them properly so they stay as fresh as possible until you’re ready to cook them. You could even place chicken breasts in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours so you have easily accessible shredded chicken to throw on salads or sandwiches for the week.

Tip #4: When cooking in bulk, make your food plain.

Let’s say you do decide to cook in bulk on Sunday for the week…cook your food plain initially, and when you add your food to your lunch containers, add in flavor of choice. For example, if I have chicken, quinoa, and broccoli for 3 lunches this week, I will cook it all at once and add different sauces to each container. Some of my favorites include coconut aminos teriyaki sauce, buffalo sauce, and pesto. This will help me fight meal boredom.

Tip #5: I already touched on this a little, but be sure to cook extra food for easy lunches for the next day.

You’re already cooking, so may as well make enough for you and your significant other to have lunch covered for the next day. Not only will it likely be a more nutrient dense option, but you will also save money by not going out to eat.

***

Hopefully you are feeling inspired and have some new ideas on meal planning and food prepping. I am going to challenge myself to do better in that department–and I challenge you too!

Do you have any meal planning or food prepping tips? Feel free to share!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

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