As we embrace the holiday season, a favorite carol states “Joy to the World”. I believe there is no other food source that can claim the distinction of feeding the multitudes so cheaply and nutritionally better than the simple and versatile soy bean!
From its humble beginnings back in China around 200 B.C., this bountiful bean has been used to create the wonder foods: tofu, tempeh (a fermented soy-food to be discussed next month), and miso (a cultured soybean paste usually used in soups or spreads). Soy products have been a main staple in Asia and are now popular throughout the world. We will explore three different forms of tofu, how to store it, and how to prepare a delectable breakfast dish to nourish your body and brain.
Tofu can be purchased in at least three different forms. The most popular form is in a sealed package in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, which contains a reference date on it for freshness. I prefer the NASOYA brand of “lite firm tofu”. It contains 57 percent less fat than the regular type and far fewer calories. This form is best used for “scrambled” tofu (today’s recipe) and stir-fried dishes. If you only use part of the package, store the unused portion in a container with fresh water for several days in the refrigerator. Another form of tofu is in an aseptic box which does not need refrigeration until opened. It has a very different “silken” quality and can be purchased under the brand name MORI-NU. This form is best suited for puddings and pies, dips and dressings and is a main ingredient in my tofu French toast. The third form is a marinated flavored tofu, which is already seasoned (teriyaki flavor is my favorite) and can be eaten right out of the wrapper for a protein rich snack or a sandwich filler, both convenient and satisfying.
The joys of tofu are abundant: high quality protein equaling 8 grams or more in a 14 ounce pack, (containing all eight essential amino acids, the building blocks of nutrition); impressively good source of B-vitamins and iron; excellent calcium content; and low in calories. Look for “organic” as well as non-GMO listing on the label. A smart savvy shopper reads all the fine print! Plain tofu is a tremendously versatile Vegan raw ingredient (although highly processed) which is rather bland in its original state and therefore lends itself to taking on the flavors of whatever you want to add to it in the form of spices (dried or fresh), condiments, or seasonings. I prefer to simply marinate tofu in pressed garlic, fresh grated ginger and tamari (a natural form of soy sauce) and grill with a spray of oil in a skillet until crispy. Or drain the liquid well and mash in up with any combination of chopped raw veggies, some egg-free mayo, and turmeric for an outstanding tofu sandwich spread or party dip. Here is my favorite recipe for a fine, filling, and festive breakfast dish.
1 14 oz. “lite” firm tofu
6 strips “Smart Bacon” by Lightlife (optional) adds 12 more grams of protein
¾ cup onion diced
2 scallions chopped
½ cup green pepper
1 cup mushrooms sliced thinly (any variety or comb.)
1 tbsp. Tamari (low-sodium if possible) or more to taste
½ cup non-dairy cheese (Daiya Mozzarella flavor)
1 tsp. turmeric
First rinse the tofu with fresh water and drain well with paper towels or cheesecloth pressing out most of the moisture. Set aside.
Separate the bacon strips, dice and fry in a light spray of oil until just starting to brown. Add the chopped veggies and cook for a few minutes stirring. Now crumble the tofu into small chunks and add to pan. Add the tamari and turmeric (note, the yellow color will emerge as you cook the tofu further) and stir. When heated throughout, add the cheese shreds until melted. Serve with whole grain bread or English muffin. Enough for 2-3 hearty portions.
Carole Baral: MS in Edu./Certified Yoga instructor for 35 years. She has taught vegetarian cooking through Carmel High School’s Adult Education program. The Silo Cooking School (Conn.), and at national conventions as a Board Member of The North American Vegetarian Society for over 20 years. Carole has been Vegetarian for 40 years and Vegan since 2010 and is a retired English teacher as well.