This week’s Meatless Monday post comes to you courtesy of San-J and Carol Kicinski, renowned chef, food writer and gluten free blogger at Simply…Gluten Free. Carol created a quick and easy weeknight dish that only uses six nutritious ingredients, which you can use as either a main or a side dish.
I always have a bottle of San-J Gluten-Free Tamari in my cupboard, which I substitute for regular soy sauce. San-J also sells an organic version, which I like even better. Both versions have a low sodium variety as well – love how San-J gives us lots of choices!
Tofu and Green Bean Stir Fry
- 1/4 cup San-J Gluten-Free Tamari
- 2 tablespoons gluten free sweet chili garlic sauce
- 1 pound extra firm tofu
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons oil, use divided
- 1 pound green beans, cleaned trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- Combine the San-J Gluten-Free Tamari with the chili garlic sauce, set aside.
- Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes, pat dry with paper towels and put into a mixing bowl with the cornstarch, toss to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until it starts to shimmer, add half the tofu in an even layer in the pan. Cook the tofu undisturbed for 2 minutes. Gently flip and stir the tofu. Continue to cook and stir until the tofu is lightly golden brown on all sides, 3 - 4 minutes. Remove the tofu to a plate and set aside. Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil in the pan and cook the remaining tofu the same way. Remove from pan.
- Reduce heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the green beans. Cook the green beans, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water and continue to cook the beans for 3 minutes or until they are bright green and crisp tender. Increase the heat back up to high, add the reserved sauce mixture and boil for 1 minute or until it reduces slightly.
- Add the tofu and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately.
- Serving size: 1/r4 to 1/6 of recipe
Recipe and photo used with permission.
Disclosure: San-J recently sent me samples of their gluten free products to try out. All experiences and opinions are my own.
As promised in my Healthier Lemon Pasta post for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, here’s my version of Tofu Sour Cream is based on a recipe from the Vegan Epicurean. I made the following changes to her recipe:
Vinegar: I used NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. I find that NAKANO’s rice vinegars have a milder flavor and are less acidic, which I like. You could have a little fun with this recipe and use some of NAKANO’s flavored vinegars, too, like Roasted Garlic or Red Pepper, for a fun flavor twist.
Tofu: I was confused over the type of tofu the Vegan Epicurean used, since I’m not familiar with Mori Nu lite silken tofu (firm). Is it firm or silken? After doing a little research, I found out that all of Mori Nu’s tofus are silken and come in soft, firm or extra firm. However, other brands’ silken tofus are actually soft tofus, which are good for soups, dips and smoothies.
I ended up using Nasoya’s Silken Tofu, so the consistency of my sour cream was very runny. This was fine for my Healthier Lemon Pasta, but next time I want to make something the consistency of sour cream, I’ll use a firm tofu. I also changed the amount of tofu used since I like using the full tub. Having a few ounces left over of tofu means I have to remember it’s in the refrigerator and use it in a recipe before it goes bad. Usually, I forget and find a science experiment waiting for me in the far reaches of the fridge. Hate that!
Lemon zest and lemon juice: I cut back on both ingredients and still could taste the lemon. That was fine since I was using it in a lemon flavored dish. However, next time I may cut back even further. I love lemon, but it doesn’t go with everything.
- 1 (14-16 ounce) package firm tofu, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon agave, stevia or other sugar substitute
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process several minutes, until very creamy and smooth.
- Firms up when chilled. Refrigerate sour cream until it is ready to be used.
- Serving size: varies
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Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of NAKANO, provided compensation for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Whey and pressed tofu
Pressing the tofu
Making tofu is very much like making cheese, except you put soybeans and water in a blender and make milk instead of getting it from a cow, goat or sheep. To learn more about making tofu at home, read “How to make tofu—no fancy equipment required.” from La Fuji Mama.
Also, even though Carol’s directions are to serve it hot, I bet it would make a terrific summer time cold pasta salad dish, too.
Gluten Free Spicy Ginger Tofu Noodle Salad
- 1/3 cup San-J Gluten Free Tamari Ginger Dressing
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicier)
- 1 pound gluten free brown rice fettuccini style pasta
- Gluten free non-stick cooking spray
- 1 pound firm tofu
- 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice
- Salt & pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Whisk together the San-J Gluten Free Tamari Ginger Dressing with the garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with hot water. Add the dressing and toss to coat.
- While the pasta is cooking pat the tofu dry with paper towels and cut into 1 inch pieces. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the pay heavily with non-stick cooking spray and add the tofu pieces.
- Let cook for 1 – 2 minutes undisturbed or until they are golden brown. Flip the pieces over and continue cooking until browned on all sides. When the tofu is done, remove from the skillet, add to the pasta and add the mushroom slices to the hot skillet and cook until browned, stirring often, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pasta.
- Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, scrap out the seeds with a spoon, cut into thin slices and add to the pasta. Reserve some of the chopped cilantro for garnish and add the rest to the pasta along with the green onions and bell pepper. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved cilantro leaves and the sesame seeds.
- Serving size: 1/4 to 1/6 of recipe
Recipe and photo used with permission. © 2012 San-J International. All rights reserved.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Meatless Monday post. Frankly, they’re a bit of a challenge since I usually cook around some sort of animal protein I can find in my freezer like venison or fish. Even so, it’s not much of a challenge for anyone to substitute slices of firm tofu instead of chicken, especially since tofu’s perfect for soaking up the flavors of anything you cook it in like Sun-Bird’s Bourbon Chicken Seasoning Mix.
Add some baby bok choy and you have a quick, Asian inspired Meatless Monday dish. You can serve this alone or add some brown rice or quinoa for a heartier dish!
Please note that Sun-Bird’s Boubon Chicken Seasoning Mix does contain wheat, so isn’t gluten free. It also contains soy and milk. Sun-Bird has many seasonings that may work better for your food sensitivities or allergies. Check the ingredient label to make sure!
Baby Bok Choy and Tofu in Bourbon Sauce
- 1 19-20 ounce block extra firm or firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch thick squares.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 6 baby bok choy
- 1 packet Sun-Bird Bourbon Chicken Seasoning Mix
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 1/2 tablespoons powdered stevia, like Stevia in the Raw
- 1 cup water
- Prepare the baby bok choy by filling your clean sink with cold water.
- Slice the baby bok choy lengthwise in half keeping the leaves attached.
- Soak the cut bok choy in the cold water to remove any trapped dirt.
- Combine seasoning from the Sun-Bird packet, soy sauce, stevia and water in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
- Lift the bok choy out of the soaking water and lay it, still wet, into the frying pan in an even layer. Cook each side until the leaves have wilted, but the core and stems remain slightly firm.
- Remove from pan and place in an oven safe dish. Keep cooked bok choy in a warm oven.
- Heat frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
- Add tofu squares and gently saute until slightly golden brown.
- Stir in seasoning mixture and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes until sauce has thickened.
- Add in cooked baby bok choy and gently stir to combine. Serve.
- Calories: 353
- Calories from Fat: 136
- Total Fat: 15.1g
- Saturated fat: 2.0g
- Unsaturated fat: 13.1g
- Sodium: 1353mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 37.2g
- Sugar: 15.8g
- Fiber: 13.9g
- Protein: 30.3g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Disclosure: Guenther, the parent company of Sun-Bird, provided compensation for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own
After my husband, Paul, got laid off last June, we stopped eating out to cut back on expenses. Even going out to our local (and reasonably priced) Asian restaurant was out of the question. I missed having my favorite Chinese, Vietnamese and Tai dishes, especially knowing how hard it was to replicate those dishes at home. I’ve tried to before and was never successful. (Though I do have to admit that Paul’s one hell of a home sushi chef and Pad Thai cook.)
When I signed up as a Sun-Bird Seasonings blogger, I hoped that I’d be able to make healthy, inexpensive and authentic tasting dishes at home with their seasoning mixes. So far I’ve tried two that I’ve loved: Stir Fry Seasoning Mix and Mongolian Beef Seasoning Mix. Both Sun-Bird Seasonings mixes were easy to make, especially with things I had on hand, like frozen vegetables. Best of all, they were delicious and just as good as any thing I had out at Chinese restaurants by my home – and without the pricy bill and tip!
Healthing up Sun-Bird Seasoning Mixes
Now I’ll be honest. The mixes aren’t perfect. They contain things like sugar, whey (which I have a food sensitivity to), corn syrup, and even MSG. Some of their mixes are better than others, so read the labels.
Luckily, there are ways to health things up. For example, if the label directions have you add sugar, you could use powdered stevia instead. Or if you’re supposed to add soy sauce, you could use a low-sodium or gluten free soy sauce.
I’ve also noticed that the packets create a lot of very thick sauce. To thin it, add more water. This way you can add more food, especially healthy stir fry vegetables. Believe me, a little sauce goes a long way, especially with the spicy mixes.
Finally, serve your dishes with whole grain brown rice.
When I made Mongolian Beef for my family, there wasn’t quite enough to go around as I knew my husband and son would want more than the usual serving. So I decided to cook up some tofu for myself. Here’s how:
- Cook up the beef as directed on the back of the packet. (I added 1/2 a onion to the beef when I browned it.)
- After dishing up the beef, deglaze the skillet with water, broth or maybe a little white wine. (I used water.) Add just enough liquid (1/2 to 1 cup) to thin out the sauce and get the cooked bits off the skillet. Don’t cook to reduce the sauce. (You’ll do that later with the tofu.) Instead, pour the resulting broth into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the skillet over medium to medium high heat. While it’s heating, slice a block of very firm tofu into 1/2 inch slices.
- Add a little cooking oil or cooking spray to the pan and lay the tofu slices in the pan.
- Cook each side of the tofu until medium brown. Remove from skillet and place in a dish or plate, if necessary, to make room for more slices. Keep warm.
- Cook all slices of the tofu and return them all to the skillet, loosely layered.
- Add deglazing broth back to pan to cover tofu. Heat until broth thickens.
- Remove skillet from heat and serve with stir fry vegetables.
I used another packet of Mongolian Beef mix to stir fry a huge portion of frozen stir fry vegetables – enough for the beef AND the tofu. I then served the Mongolian Beef with vegetables and rice, but just had vegetables with the Mongolian Tofu.
Just a note of warning, this is a spicy dish. My spice-loving husband and son thought it was too spicy! This shocked me, because I loved it – and I’m not into spicy food. Well, I do like spicy Asian food that is sweet, and Mongolian Tofu at home with Sun-Bird Seasoning Mix fit the bill.
What’s your favorite Asian dish to eat out or make at home?
Disclosure: Guenther, the parent company of Sun-Bird, provided compensation for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Now that things are cooling down, I’m hankering for some chili. Believe it or not, you can do a chili for Meatless Monday – just use tofu and chili beans for a big serving of non-meat protein. If you need it to be a bit “meaty” looking throw in some soy crumbles. Or you can dress it up with canned diced tomatoes (with or without jalapenos).
What I love about this dish is that it’s ready quickly and doesn’t need to sit on the stove top (or in the slow cooker) for hours. Perfect for quickly fixing just before Monday Night Football starts!
- 1/2 package (7 ounces) House Premium or House Organic Tofu Med Firm or Soft, drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup chopped green onions
- 1/3 cup grated fat-free or low-fat cheddar cheese (optional)
- Coat pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Over medium high heat, stir-fry crumbled tofu with beans, garlic and chili powder.
- Cook uncovered for 7 to 9 minutes so liquids evaporate and flavors blend.
- Sprinkle with green onions before serving and shredded cheese, if desired.
- Calories: 138
- Calories from Fat: 24
- Total Fat: 3g
- Saturated fat: 0g
- Unsaturated fat: 3g
- Sodium: 517mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 22g
- Fiber: 6g
- Protein: 10g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Meatless Monday has become the new norm in many schools and homes. After all, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their veggies. However, like many moms, I’m concerned that if I cook up a meatless dish my kids won’t get enough protein to keep them full and satisfied. One way around that is to use tofu.
Tofu is cholesterol free, high in protein, low in carbohydrates and has been directly linked to heart health benefits. According to the FDA, consuming just 25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce your risk of heart disease.
I’m a big fan of tofu, especially the tofu shirataki noodles made by House Foods. Their recipe for tofu and veggie stir fry is a great way to convince your family that tofu isn’t icky and tastes pretty good when mixed with yummy vegetables and a stir fry sauce. This is also an easy dish to prepare if Meatless Mondays are new to you or you don't have a lot of time to cook up dinner.
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 (12 oouce) package House Premium Extra Firm Tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" strips
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 3-4 tablespoons, soy sauce or stir fry sauce of your choice
- 1 (14-16 ounce) package frozen stir-fry vegetables
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, rice starch or arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 3 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
- Coat frying pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Lightly brown tofu and garlic in oil.
- Add soy sauce or stir fry sauce and vegetables.
- Cover and “steam” your stir fry for 7 to 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
- Add cornstarch mixture, stirring 1 to 2 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Serve over rice.
- Calories: 269
- Calories from Fat: 51
- Total Fat: 5.3g
- Saturated fat: 0g
- Unsaturated fat: 0g
- Sodium: 665mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 42g
- Sugar: N/A
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 13g
- Cholesterol: omg
In my previous salad dressing post, I shared recipes for Creamy Italian and Dill and Lime salad dressings. Today recipes are for Sundried Tomato, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar salad dressing and Spicy Ginger Sesame salad dressing. While inspired by the recipes in Tofu Cookery, they’re based on tastes I love – dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, ginger and brown sugar.
Sundried Tomato, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar salad dressing
I love sundried tomatoes, but preferred the dried over the ones packed in oil. Luckily, I was able to find a big bag of them at either Sam’s Club or Costco (I can’t remember) that don’t need to be soaked in hot water, as they’re already soft. If you can only find ones packed in oil, cut back or eliminate the olive oil in this salad dressing recipe.
Makes 3/4 cup of dressing
- 1/4 pound soft tofu
- 1 tablespoon high quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor.
- Blend until ingredients are combined and the dressing is creamy. If there are chunks of tomatoes in the dressing, that’s OK.
Spicy Ginger Sesame Salad Dressing
I love the ginger salad dressing that’s served at Japanese restaurants. This one comes close, though it’s creamier and spicier.
Makes 3/4 cup of dressing
- 1/4 pound soft tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon Spectrum Organic Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
- 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
- 5 drops of sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Big Tree Farms SweetTree Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Blond
- 2 pinches of roasted black sesame seeds
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor.
- Blend until ingredients are combined and the dressing is creamy.
This Mama’s Tips
- When cooking with tofu, buy organic and non-GMO tofu if at all possible. At my grocery store, sometimes the organic stuff is cheaper than the tofu made from conventionally grown soybeans.
- You want to use a high quality, somewhat light olive oil, because you’ll be able to really taste it in these homemade salad dressing recipes.
- Big Tree Farms claims that their SweetTree Palm Sugars are one of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market. To me, it’s a great alternative to brown sugar. If you’re diabetic or concerned about calories, substitute it with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Stevia Extract in the Raw or add liquid stevia to taste.
- If you want, use sushi rice vinegar – which is sweetened with sugar – instead of rice vinegar. Then adjust your sweetener accordingly.
- You can buy roasted black sesame seeds at many Asian grocery stores.
- Both sauces would make terrific dips for vegetables, for meat cooked in oil fondues, or for grilled meats and seafood.
- Most quantities are to taste. If you want to add more basil or sriracha, go for it! Experiment and have fun.
- If the dressing is too thick, add a little water or unsweetened soy milk.
- Put leftover in a container and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.