Pressing Tofu

Hello, my tofu-loving veg-heads!

First off, I bet none of you reading loves tofu as much as my 18 month old daughter. She seriously goes crazy for it!! …right out of the package! …and this is how I used to go crazy for it too, until I started pressing it!

Truth be told, I got my tofu press (pictured above) as a gift an embarrassingly long time ago, and it had been living in my cupboard until recently. I feel silly that a devoted vegan such as myself has just gotten on the Tofu Express, lol! Get it? 😉

So, why should you press tofu? Well, tofu is packed with water, and then it’s packed in water. So much water will naturally dilute any flavor, and this, my friends, guaranteed, is why many people say they “hate” tofu, or that the flavor is bland or boring. When you press the water out, you allow much more room for FLAVOR!! Many tofu recipes you will find instruct you to drain the tofu, cut it into cubes or slices and then cook it, and they are missing the one crucial step of SEASONING it! You don’t find recipes for beef or chicken without some seasoning instructions, so you have to show the same kind of love to tofu!!

You can marinade it the same way you would anything else, with your favorite herbs, spices and liquid seasonings such as tamari, teriyaki, or your fave veggie broth.

You can press your tofu by using a tofu press (like the one you see pictured) or you can use the “book & plate” method. Take a plate and line it with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Place the tofu block on the paper towels and put another layer on top of the tofu. Put another plate or a cutting board on top of the paper towels and then weigh it down with heavy books or anything else heavy that would do. You’d want to press it for at least 30 minutes, if not overnight.

If you do cook with tofu regularly though, it may be worth it to invest in the tofu press. 😉

How many of you already press your tofu? What’s your favorite way to cook it? Share below, if you feel inclined! Definitely share some yummy recipes, if you have them!

Happy pressing!

 

 

 

Plant-Based Protein Sources

eatmoreplants

The majority of people I come across and work with do not always understand where they can find alternative sources of complete plant protein and some will argue that a plant-based diet is lacking and one cannot survive without eating animal flesh. Hogwash!

Also, in my humble opinion, I think we are truly a bit “protein obsessed” in this country! On average, we only need about 20-30% of our calories to come from protein and our bodies can really only absorb about 20 grams of protein per sitting, so consuming globs of whey powders of pounds or grilled chicken breasts won’t do us any good since the body does not maintain a store of excess amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Once your daily protein needs are met, your body has two options for dealing with any excess protein. Option 1: If your calorie intake is low that day, your cells may convert it into fuel. Option 2: If you’ve had plenty to eat that day (i.e. met your caloric intake), your body will convert the extra protein to fatty acids (a.k.a. FAT).

Many argue that plants are not a source of “complete” protein. The term “complete protein” refers the building blocks of protein: amino acids.  There are 20 different amino acids that form a protein molecule, and there are nine that the body cannot make on its own. These nine are called essential amino acids and since the body does not produce them, we need to get them from food sources. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in mostly equal parts.

So, animals products such as meat and eggs are naturally complete proteins, and plant sources such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are not. But I’ve got news for you; we don’t need every single essential amino acid in every bite of food in every meal we eat; we only need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. So, if you are consuming a diet rich in nutrient dense plant-based foods, and grazing all day, your body in its infinite wisdom, is smart enough to do its own combining and you’ll get what you need! So don’t worry too much about that and get your butt to the farmer’s market!

As you browse the list to follow, you can see there are plenty of healthy, nutrient dense, plant-based protein choices listed (that are not just soy-based—with the exception of organic tempeh, which I like on occasion!). A lot of these things can be thrown into smoothies, which I believe is the tastiest way to consume things like blue-green algae, for instance.

Most supplements can be found at your favorite health food store, or online.

POWER PACKING VEGGIE PROTEIN SOURCES

  • Green-leafy veggies (spinach, kale, bok choy, collards, green cabbage, arugula)
  • Good quality plant-based protein powder (my fave is Sun Warrior)
  • Goji berries
  • Mulberries
  • E3 Live (amazing blue-green algae product-this can be extremely powerful for mental clarity!!)
  • Blue-green algae such as chlorella and spirulina
  • Hemp (raw hemp seeds and hemp protein)
  • Pea protein
  • Rice protein
  • Fresh olives
  • Grass powders (wheatgrass, barley grass, etc. I like Amazing Grass’s products)
  • Maca powder
  • Brewer’s yeast (not recommended for people with candida)
  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Raw almonds
  • Sprouted grains
  • Sprouted wild rice
  • Sprouts of all types
  • Nut butters
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, black, adzuki, etc.)
  • Lentils
  • Organic, non-GMO tempeh

As you can see, there are plenty of foods to choose from! If you need more specific help incorporating them into your diet, contact me! I can help you come up with some very tasty ways to start consuming more plant-based protein, and I promise, you won’t even miss that burger!

Being a Mindful Vegetarian

When you think of vegetarians, do you picture sickly looking folk with dark circles under their eyes and no meat on their bones? Well, sometimes it can be quite the contrary as a good percentage of people who eat a vegetarian diet can be heavily overweight, supplementing animal products with unhealthy processed vegetarian food choices that can sometimes be even worse than eating a cheeseburger! I call these people “chips and salsa” vegetarians. Veggies who eat worse than people who consume meat but think they are doing so well because they are saving animals’ lives. Now, I myself am vegetarian and choose this way of life for several reasons, but I want to send a message to people who may or may not be vegetarian, or some form of veggie (some people consider themselves vegetarian, but eat fish, which would make them “mostly” vegetarian, etc). You can be vegetarian and 1. still enjoy food and 2. don’t have to be stuck eating chips and salsa for dinner or crappy processed Morning Star veggie patties. Continue reading Being a Mindful Vegetarian