Tofu. Just mention the word and sparks will fly. Everyone has an opinion, even if they’ve never eaten it. Some folks love it. Some hate it. Some, like me, associated it with everything wrong about eating healthy. And yes, I have never even eaten the darn thing.
So I bought some. I filled my bag with groceries. It was overflowing with brightly colored bell peppers and tomatoes and bananas and oranges. Crisp green romaine leaves and freshly baked brown bread stuck out of the top. It was like an image from a child’s drawing done only in vibrant crayola colors. And then, at the bottom, sat tofu: white, flavorless, sponge-like. It sat in stark contrast to the joys of healthy eating. Without sorrow, there can be no joy. Without dark, there can be no light. Without tofu, well, you get the picture.
For the well being of humanity I declared this past weekend tofu weekend. I must admit I was worried. Toying with the dark side of healthy food is dangerous business. Much like kale, tofu has a hypnotic power. Some who eat Kale regularly begin to think it actually tastes good. Those who cook with tofu too long soon find themselves professing their love for it’s squishy nothingness. Some get so brainwashed they actively try to convert others to their ways. The worst of them, it’s sad to say, go after the easily manipulated among us–the children.
(Warning: The following recipes were prepared under strict supervision. Eating tofu is not recommended for the weak-minded.)
BAD: I’ve heard that tofu is often used a “fake meat.” The thing I miss most in this world is my daily buffalo chicken salad. Maybe I can make the tofu into some sort of imitation chicken, I thought. I tried to keep it healthy. I cut it into cubes. I coated the tofu with flour. I baked it in the oven with a slight spray of olive oil. I chopped lettuce. I sprinkled pico de gallo and fresh onions on it. I bought some vegan ranch dressing. I tossed the hot tofu in some delicious buffalo sauce. I set my place at the table. It didn’t look that bad! I took one bite, then threw the rest into the trash.
BETTER: So I checked into how how to cook tofu properly. This time I pressed it first to get all the excess water out. I shook the cubes in corn starch and spices then fried them in oil (not so healthy, but I was determined to make it taste good). I made a stir fry and found some store-bought General Tso’s Sauce. I let the tofu get hot and crunchy on all sides before I throwing it in with the veggies. Then I lathered it all in half a bottle of the sauce. It smelled so good. And it actually tasted decent. I had a lot of tofu in the mix though, and I kept thinking the veggies were the best part. So what was the point of the fried tofu really? The tofu actually tasted okay, but the next time I make this dish I’ll probably just use all veggies.
BEST: Then I got a recommendation on this post to try a tofu cheesecake. I was skeptical, but figured I’d give it a try. I modified the recipe slightly and used a mix of organic sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar to sweeten it. I let it sit overnight so the tofu could soak up all the sweetness. Then I covered it with some strawberry filling. Now that was pretty decent! The maple syrup flavor was a bit overpowering though. Next time I may cut out the maple syrup completely and try some Truvia instead.
All in all, I discovered that tofu isn’t that bad. I’m not sure of it’s purpose in creating fake meat, as it seems adding extra veggies is a tastier option anyway. But I bet there’s some pretty good recipes out there considering I’d never cooked with it before, and I pulled off two decent creations. In fact, maybe those of you out there still on the fence should give it a try.
Wait! See, I told you this was dangerous business. Next thing you know I’ll be brainwashed into doing something even dumber, like Kale Smoothie Week.
Now that would be just ridiculous.