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Feel Better Food: Terrified of Tofu?

Last updated on April 30, 2021

I was!

I’ll have been vegan for 4 years in July and on Sunday, FINALLY garnered enough courage to attempt to cook some tofu.

And it was delicious.

My culinary life is now transformed and I’m sharing here because while I’m not a nutritionist, I’ve written about nutrition for national and specialist titles in the past.

AND, in terms of my own self care, it’s becoming the final piece of the puzzle (I’ve gone a full lunar cycle without crisps now and have massively reduced my sugar intake and processed foods – Denny’s vegan sausages just 3 times a week now rather than at least once a day! – so am finally learning to cook.

All those times I’d buy healthy foods and end up giving them away because I was:

a) scared of trying and

b) filling up on crisps so not really hungry. Hunger (as in, am fortunate to have enough food to eat, not actual hunger which, in 2021 is an atrocity) is a great motivation!

In case you’re wondering about tofu and feeling overwhelmed at the idea, I hope that this super simple recipe will encourage you to experiment with it yourself.

Tofu with garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onions

It’s an amalgam from having asked for tofu advice on social media, reading all the suggestions, reading a bunch of vegan cook books with the intention to actually COOK from them (a radical approach here at Rainbow’s Residence), feeling completely overwhelmed, looking at some more online and adapting.

Here’s a simple garlic and onion approach with added ginger and chilli – and substituting self raising (ie the flour I had already open) for the suggested cornstarch.

Tofu with Garlic, Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onions Recipe

Feel free to improvise!

Ingredients:

  • 225g of firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp of flour/cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • some grated garlic (I used 4 cloves because I love garlic)
  • some grated ginger (to taste)
  • some chilli (I used 1/4 teaspoon from the freezer – it packs a potent punch)
  • some chopped spring onions

How to make it

I pressed a packet of firm Tofoo (no press needed, they say, but I drained a fair bit of water) by opening it, draining the water in the packet (ewwww), placing it in a Pyrex roasting dish, popping a plate on it and weighting it down with tins of beans. I left it for about an hour. I hadn’t had anxiety dreams about tofu presses (from the videos where human seeming people make things look way simpler than I find them) but they wouldn’t have surprised me.

Once ‘pressed’ (this is the bit that had been putting me off. As well as the idea of hating the result and wasting food), preheat oven to 200 degrees, cut the block lengthways into four slices then cut into bite sized chunks. Pop the flour / cornstarch over it and fold it all together so each bite is coated and lay it all flat in roasting dish etc.

Pop in oven for 20 minutes then turn (I’d intended to delicately use tongs but ran out of patience so used a spoon and it was fine) before popping back into oven for 15/20 minutes until lightly golden.

At this stage, the tofu world is your lobster.

I’ll be experimenting with all sorts of sauces but for this one, fry the sesame oil and once hot, add the garlic (avoid burning it), soy sauce, chilli, spring onions and ginger.

Add the tofu bites to the sauce and coat it all.

Optional: Enjoy the smell and do a little dance around the kitchen in gratitude for all the hours you spent watching Ching-He Huang however many years ago, HOPING some of her skill might rub off by osmosis.

Add noodles or rice etc to serve! [I had some on its own after cooking it initially then 2 portions of leftovers with wholewheat noodles and peas (cooked then lightly fried in tiny bit of garlic oil and soy sauce].

Making life easier for myself

I keep chilli (already chopped and frozen, stored in a jar) and ginger (in its original packet, I take it out and grate it as needed from frozen) in the freezer. I also cut spring onions and freeze the excess in jars so it lasts much longer.

This is basically an ‘I managed it so YOU can do way better’ post which I hope will encourage you to take better care of yourself in terms of what you eat.

Health benefits

And in case some extra motivation might help, tofu is a healthier meat substitute than all the processed deliciousness I’ve been feasting on, exacerbating symptoms and overloading my system.

Whether you’re vegan or simply cutting back on meat etc, tofu’s a great source of protein and contains amino acids, magnesium as well as other vitamins and minerals

In terms of perimenopause and menopause, it can be helpful in replacing the lost oestrogen and has links with a possible reduction re risk of breast cancer

Chilli could reduce the risk of death by heart attack or stroke and garlic has long been known to help fight viruses, bacteria, fungi and infections thanks to allicin

Ginger is wonderful for inflammation (so a huge range of conditions) as well as helping to fight colds

Also reiterating that I’m NOT a nutritionist. Even if I were, I’d be recommending that you seek appropriate medical advice.

My herbalist has been amazing for me and I’ve been seeing my GP and am being referred for more specialist medical support too.

You can read more about my appreciation for the best of both worlds HERE

What’s YOUR tofu equivalent?

Something you KNOW is good for you and which would transform your life but which feels a bit (or a lot) scary?

For me, the aura migraines and other symptoms were my motivation to improve my diet. What about YOU?

What foods or drinks exacerbate any health issues you might have?

I outlined the importance of being clear on why you’re making changes in this previous blog post and hope it helps motivate you

4 weeks on, a part of me still misses crisps but am ENJOYING the out of comfort zone cooking, too.

And I’m REALLY enjoying food without it feeling compulsive. By having a petit four approach to desert, I still indulge (in a more mindful – I know, I’m irritating myself here but it’s also so amazing that I’ve managed it, so am sharing in CASE it’s beneficial for you – gratitude filled, appreciative way) daily but it’s not so much that my blood sugars spike and I’m back in Cravings Central again.

You know what’s right for YOU

Even if there’s a part of you nodding along and thinking, ‘Yes, am going to eat more nourishing food!’ I hope you honour the part of you that benefits from whatever less healthy habits you’re working with.

Personally speaking, the more ANYONE tries to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be eating (or doing. Or ANYTHING), the more I dig my heals in.

By taking an accepting, compassionate approach to the eating habits that have helped you through tough times (hello, global pandemic), there’s less resistance to change. It’s one of the reasons EFT (tapping) can be so effective.

So whatever you cook or eat, ENJOY it.

And if my misadventures in the kitchen turned actual SUCCESS (with this tofu recipe at least) help you, that’s wonderful.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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