Asian Inspirations · Life · Tofu · Vegetarian

Kung Pao Tofu

So before Meghan freaks out because I’m eating tofu, let me explain…

I have decided to be vegetarian for a month…dun dun dunnnn!!!

Yup, my “meatless month” as I’m calling it began yesterday which means I won’t be eating meat until May 16th at the earliest.  I’m taking the pesco-ovo-vegetarian route, meaning I still eat fish, eggs, and dairy products but not meats such as chicken, pork, or beef.  Honestly, I never buy pork or beef to start with and never eat it unless it’s at work.  I think that’s mostly because I’m convinced the best way to cook those kinds of meats is on a BBQ and I don’t own one…so that kind of eliminates those from my shopping list.

So where did this meatless month idea come from? Well, a few places honestly.

1) My best friend, Kylee, is vegetarian.  She has her BS degree in environmental studies, so her reason is definitely more environmental, but after hearing her explain it I fully support her reasoning.  It’s interesting because sometimes I feel like I live in a nutrition bubble and I could probably list every “nutrition” reason to be vegetarian.  In general, I feel like Kylee keeps me educated on environmental issues and this is no exception.  Also, I asked her about a month ago if she was still vegetarian and she told me she had been for over a year now. I admire that.  It also makes a month seem like a really short time.

2) I want to expand my food horizons.  I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking lately.  I just want to try something new! I always see all these meatless recipes and think I should try them but then I fall back to my safe choice of chicken.  Time to be brave and try new things!

3) I want a challenge and a new goal to work towards.  After getting a dietetic internship and completing my first half marathon I feel like I’m in a rut.  Of course this is no where near the same caliber as those two goals, but it will do for now.  I need to mellow down my life a bit anyways haha…

There are more smaller reasons, but I could blab on forever and that would be boring.  I came across this recipe from PreventionRD and was immediately drawn to it, especially since her comment on it was that it was a great first recipe to try out tofu.  I bought some tofu the last time I was at the store and had no idea how I was going to use it and since I’ve been on a bit of an Asian, stir fry kick lately (and I like anything spicy) I decided to give it a whirl!

Bottom line, it was really simple and easy to make.  After the tofu came out of the oven it all came together really fast and literally within minutes I had a meal.  I would suggest prepping all your ingredients while the tofu is baking  and if you’re going to serve it over rice, quinoa, or noodles, cook them at that time too.

The original recipe called for coconut oil and peanuts…I don’t have coconut oil (yet!) so I used vegetable oil.  Right after I put it in the pan I remembered learning about different oils in Science of Foods and how they have different smoke points and blah blah blah.  I honestly can’t tell you the difference between oils, only that there is one, and that vegetable oil worked okay.  Use coconut if you can, the flavor would probably be good in this recipe.  And as for peanuts, I’m an idiot and spaced while I was at the store.  I had sunflower seeds in my cabinet and used those.  Again, they were fine, but use the peanuts if you can…

Kung Pao Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced and divided
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange tofu on the baking sheet and lightly mist with oil. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the cubes after 15 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sunflower seeds and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tofu and stir.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and cook another 1 -2 minutes.
  4. Add half of the green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Reduce heat and allow sauce to thicken for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve over cooked brown rice,quinoa, or noodles, if desired, and top with remaining green onions.

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Mine turned out fairly, okay really, spicy, so cut back on the pepper flakes if you don’t want so much heat.  I served mine over brown rice and it was delicious!

Servings: 3

  • Calories: 290
  • Total Fat: 19.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 418 mg
  • Total Carbs: 13.6 g
  • Protein: 19.8 g
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