David and I have been dancing around the idea of trying out a vegetarian diet for some time now. A while back David watched a documentary called “Vegucated”. You can read about the movie here. While we “knew” on some level that the environmental impact of the world’s love affair with meat was negatively impactful, after David watched this movie we had a bit of discussion about the way our meat-based diet was contributing to the problem. I refused to watch the movie at the time, probably because I knew I might have to rethink not only our diet but that evening’s dinner, which I believe was ribeye steak.
In truth, we have really cleaned up our diets quite a bit. We eat almost entirely organic food and only a small amount of animal protein. Admittedly our reason for doing this has been more health-based. Neither of us wants to eat genetically engineered or processed food if we can help it. Beyond that though, we believe that good physical health has more to do with mind-body awareness than any one specific diet. So our reason for finally deciding to give a vegetarian diet a try is really driven by a commitment to walking the walk about the environment.
Our plan (for now) is to eat a vegetarian diet with no animal-based protein for one month. I’m still a little on the fence about fish, especially when we travel, visit friends or go out to dinner. I don’t want to compromise my social life or fun times with my friends and kids because of an overly restrictive diet. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
So, it was time to do what I always do…read, read and plan. I know that a vegetarian diet can be delicious, but I also believe that learning how to cook these dishes well will help me stay enthusiastic and satisfied. And that brings me to tonight’s dinner:
I know. You want to be a vegetarian too!
This is a tofu and veggie stir-fry and the recipe is here. This dish will make you (ok, me) forget meat. It is that good. I like tofu (especially sesame tofu from Whole Foods) but I’ve never been able to figure out how to create the firm edges and chewy texture at home. This recipe explains how to do it. The key is to first extract all the liquid from the block of tofu by applying some pressure for a while, and then slice and bake it for 30-35 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Here’s ours just out of the oven:
That looks more appealing already, no? The green beans, diced red pepper and tofu get a good stir-fry in some toasted sesame oil:
The sauce is a combination of soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, honey, brown sugar and corn starch to thicken things up. Once the veggies were softened I added the sauce which instantly stuck to the bottom of the pan and virtually dissolved. Oops. Not sure what happened there but I just added a bit of water to loosen things up and that seemed to do the trick. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a little kick. Yes, I can improvise!
We served it up over some fluffy brown basmati rice (which I got right for a change) and settled in front of the TV to watch football. The dish was more successful than the Giants. Oh well.
Next up, the Arizona Cardinals and some falafel. I am optimistic about both.