Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Misconception About Tofu, and Where to Get the Good Stuff!

There is, in my opinion, I terrible misconception about tofu. When I was little, the other kids would always ask me what I ate for protein. For a while, I wouldn't TELL them I ate tofu, because... well... it was seriously looked down upon and embarrassing for me.Whenever I would say that I did eat tofu, I would get various faces of disgust and rejection. I recently asked my sister if she had the same problems, and she told me she did... which is really unfortunate.

Thinking back on this time of my life recently, I began to wonder... why DO people dislike tofu? The two most common answers I get are because of the taste and because of the texture.

I have some news. Tofu... doesn't have a taste. Not really, anyway. It's literally how you cook it. My suggestion: Marinate it to death. I'm actually currently marinating some tofu in some teriyaki sauce in the fridge. Tonight (so like... 5 hours from now?), I'm going to throw it in a stir-fry with some broccoli, green and red peppers, and an onion. It's literally that easy. If you give it enough time, it absorbs whatever flavor you want. And, you don't have to marinate it in Chinese sauces, either. It's great in curries, BBQ, and one of my family's favorites...

Gazebo Room dressing. It is the God of dressings. And it works FANTASTICALLY to marinate tofu and veggies for the grill!

As for the texture...

Here's my theory:

1. Most people that eat meat, because they view it as a meat substitute, think that it should have the same texture as meat. Just do me a favor, the next time you go to try it, and think of it as something completely different. The texture is DIFFERENT because you're comparing it to something else. I have the exact same problem with actual meat, which is my biggest problem with it.

2. You're using the wrong types of tofu. Yes. There are different types.

Silken Tofu:

This stuff is fine and dandy for EXACTLY what it says on the package: dips, sauces, and smoothies. If you use it for other things, such as... stir fry, you're going to be really disappointed. it's going to fall apart and be just a giant hot mess in the end. Just don't do it. Later, I'll post what I've been recently doing with my silken tofu... I can make some mean protein shakes!

Firm Tofu:

<=If you're going to use boxed tofu, this works pretty well for stir-fries and stuff. Just marinate it similar to what I said up top, fry it in a little bit of oil, and then go to town!!

Fresh Tofu:
^ This is the best stuff, in my opinion, but the hardest of the three to get. To get it, you have to go to an oriental store. When you ask for the fresh tofu, they will lead you to the fridge section, and ask you how many you want from a bucket. While this is hands-down the best tofu, you have to do some investigating of this tofu before you purchase it. CHECK to make sure the water is clean. I know this sounds a little unconventional if you've never done it before, but this really is the best firm tofu you can get. I have never regretted it. You just have to make sure, like produce, that it's properly kept before you purchase it.


I really actually wanted to wait to write this entry, so I could go home and make a Silken Tofu Chocolate Peanut Butter pie... but I was making a stir-fry today, and I really wanted to talk about it.


Look for a pie recipe this weekend. ;)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why I'm Making a Blog...

Sometime in 1990, my parents decided that, due to what they viewed as a healthier eating style, that they should become vegetarians. At the time, I was 2 years old. Vegetarianism wasn't too popular, and because my parents were very young, most people around them just thought it was a fad, and therefore didn't give it much thought. 

According to them, they didn't just stop "cold turkey" with their meat intake. They started with beef, then pork, then chicken, and by the time I was about 5, had taken fish out of their diets as well.

My grandparents pretty much thought my siblings and I were going to die. There are several stories from that time which include me, my grandparents babysitting me, and a variety of lunch meats. My parents were not that thrilled. My family has grown and changed since then. There are now 4 of us kids, all of which are vegetarian (my sister is actually a vegan now), and we all seem maintain a healthy diet. I definitely award the success to my parents for such a wonderful job.

This is why I wanted to start a blog. I want to create a guideline for young families, so they can view the changes it has made in my life, and the lives of my family. This way they can really start on their vegetarian journey.

This is what I want to accomplish through my blog:

  • I want to let you know what  DIDN'T work for us, and what really did make a difference.
  • I'm going to focus on posting stories, recipes, how to actually cook as a vegetarian and make it easier for you, how to get the veggies and proteins that you need.
  • I didn't realize until recently while talking to my roommates and such how many stereotypes they have against tofu in general, and how it "tastes like nothing".
  • Also, I want to use this blog to discuss packed lunch ideas, especially for kids. Being a kid that's a vegetarian in elementary school is actually pretty tough from what I remember, but there's some really fun things that can be done with their lunches that won't be "embarrassing" for them!
  • I'm also going to mix it up and tell you what it's like for me, as I'm just about to finish college, and how I maintained the diet.
  • I'll get inputs from my family members on recipes, their stories, and vegetarian failures of the past. 
Overall Goal of Growin' Up Veggie:

To help people with recipe ideas, let them know the pros and cons to certain ideas, show them how my family progressed over 19 years, as well as focus on the things that worked and didn't for us.