Monday, April 5, 2010

Meatless Monday: Chinese Tofu Stir-Fry

Meatless Mondays. And no, this is not yet another excuse to employ alliteration (although just about any excuse will do). Meatless Mondays is a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the John Hopkins (never heard of 'em) school of Public Health to try to reduce Americans' meat consumption by 15%.

One day a week without meat? But why?!

*Sccccrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech* [That's the sound of me dragging my soapbox into place.]

You can reduce your risk of heart disease. Reduce our fossil fuel dependency. Save money, water, energy, and - let's call a spade a spade - cute little animals. I could go on. But why take my word for it? Check out all the details on

I let the 3/4 rule guide my diet: I try to make sure 3/4 of my diet is plant-based. So Meatless Mondays aren't a big stretch for me. I look forward to eating meatless meals, not only for all the reasons Johns Hopkins says I should, but simply because I enjoy plant-based foods (although admittedly, I like them best when smothered in cheese). But as for a certain - ahem - live-in boyfriend, Meatless Mondays might as well be called I'm-Still-Hungry-Where's-The-Meat Mondays. Unlike the fine folks working in public health, Ross didn't exactly jump up and down when I told him I'd like to institute MM's in our household.

In fact, fresh off a trip to the gym, Ross was no doubt fantasizing about animal flesh the entire bus ride home, while I, meanwhile, lovingly drained and pan-fried tofu for our dinner. But he kept a positive attitude and had faith that I could make any meal - even a vegetarian one - pretty tasty. I'd like to think he was right.


1 T. toasted sesame oil
1/2 block extra-firm tofu, cut into thin-ish 1" square slices
1 more T. sesame oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium bell peppers, cut into chunks
1/2 head cabbage. sliced thinly
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces
handful roasted unsalted cashews
splash of wine OR juice of one lime OR 1/4 c. water OR 1/4 c. vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
about 1/3 c. soy sauce
about 3 T. hot sauce (or to taste)
several vigorous shakes of seasoned rice vinegar
a few big drizzles of honey
salt and pepper to taste (season at the end only if needed)
cooked brown rice for serving


On paper towels, press the tofu down, squeezing out the water. Meanwhile, heat 1 T. sesame oil in a large pan. When tofu is dry, cook in the oil over medium heat until crisp and golden brown on one side. Flip each piece individually and cook until the other side is crisp and golden brown.


Add the rest of the sesame oil to the remaining oil in the pan, then add the onion, cabbage, and bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the wine (or alternate acid/liquid). Cook for a few more minutes, until liquid is almost evaporated. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, hot sauce, honey, garlic, broccolini, cashews, and tofu. Cover and cook until broccolini is crisp tender. Uncover and let some liquid evaporate.


Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over brown or white rice. Enjoy!

Ross' Comments:
"It tasted delicious even though it had negative calories. I think I lost weight while eating it."

Ha! Negative calories? If I knew how to make delicious food that actually took away calories as you were eating it, I'd already have a Food Network show (not to mention line of stylish cookware), my friends.

I usually don't espouse the nutritousness - or lack therof - of my recipes, mostly because I'm no dietician, and far be it from to guess how many calories, fat grams, etc., are in my dishes. However, just to make you feel even better about trying this meatless meal: the fat in this dish is mostly good fat, from the cashews and sesame oil (fat helps you feel full even if you're not eating animals). The cashews and tofu have a good amount of protein; the bell peppers are little Vitamin C bombs, and broccolini has calcium and iron. The brown rice has fiber (as do all the veggies), and the soy sauce helps to unlock all of rice's nutrients (yes, rice has lots of nutrients!). And that's just the tip of the delicious stir-fry iceberg.

Happy Meatless Mondays, friends! Eat your veggies and live well :-) More soon...

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