Tag Archives: soy

Easy Baked Tofu

30 Jul

Over the past few weeks, several people have come to me with concerns about eating soy. In light of this, I thought I would attempt to clear the air with a post on the great soy debate.

Soy products, including tofu, soy beans, tempeh, and edamame, naturally contain compounds called isoflavones that are similar to the female hormone estrogen. Those who worry about eating soy are usually concerned that consumption of these foods will lead to hormonal disruptions in the body.

DSC_0148 (2)

There is limited research on fertility. One study showed that men who ate soy had lower sperm concentrations than those who didn’t – however, in most cases the sperm levels were still normal. It was a small study of only 99 men.

Women with breast cancer and survivors of breast cancer tend to shy away from soy. This is because the estrogen-like compounds in soy are thought to promote the growth of hormone-sensitive tumours. Research in this area is inconclusive, so prudent recommendations exist: moderate amounts of soy (several servings a day) are probably okay if you’ve previously had breast cancer, but don’t consume large amounts if you have early-stage breast cancer.

DSC_0155 (2)

If these theoretical concerns exist, why even bother eating soy? The amount of meat our society consumes is putting serious stress on the environment. Plant-based proteins like soy can displace meat from the diet, leading to a happier, healthier earth.

Nutritionally, soy is a good source of high-quality protein. Like meat, it contains all of the essential amino acids that our body needs to function, build muscle, and repair itself. Soy is low in saturated fat, and has been shown to protect against heart disease by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol when 3 servings or more are consumed daily. If consumed regularly in childhood and adolescence, soy products may play a role in preventing some hormone-related cancers. Unlike meat, soy is a good source of calcium, which many people do not get enough of.

Have I convinced you to try adding a little soy into your diet? If so, an easy place to start is edamame (those little green beans served at Japanese restaurants). Almost as simple is this recipe for easy baked tofu. A basic marinade of soy sauce, ketchup, and sesame oil gives the tofu a salty-sweet taste, and roasting it until it’s firm and caramelized builds extra flavour. I’ve been making this dish for years and it’s become a regular protein in my weekday salads. Asian-inspired ingredients like mandarin orange segments, rice, and sesame dressing pair nicely with the tofu, but the marinade is neutral enough that it would work with almost any salad ingredients.

DSC_0158 (2)

Easy Baked Tofu
(adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health)

If you’ve never tried tofu before, you may need to give it a chance on several separate occasions – it’s an acquired taste! 

1 cake of extra-firm or firm tofu (16 ounces)
1 tablespoon sesame oil (the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp, but I find this a bit oily)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup

Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and place in a baking dish large enough to hold a single layer. For easier clean up, line with foil. Stir together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and ketchup and drizzle over the tofu. With a rubber spatula, gently turn to coat thoroughly. In a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven, bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice. until tofu is browned, firm and chewy. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 104 kcal, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 9 g protein,  360 mg sodium

Advertisements

Jicama and Orange Spinach Salad with Ginger Dressing

17 Sep

Contain your excitement, please.  This week I bring you not one but TWO recipes that use a relatively uncommon vegetable.  Jicama, pronounced ‘heek-ah-mah’ (also known as yam bean), is a starchy sweet root vegetable native to Mexico.  With a crispy texture resembling a cross between a potato and a pear, jicama is commonly eaten raw in salads and slaws or dipped into salsas.

Jicama keeps a low profile. An addictively crunchy texture is revealed once its unassuming fibrous exterior is peeled away.

 

While living in London, I tried to get my hands on jicama for what felt like forever.  Coincidentally, every time it was on my grocery list jicama was nowhere to be found.  I did spot it the odd time (London is not that small) but never had the confidence to pick it up without a recipe in mind.

Now that I’m in Toronto, jicama is readily available at some of the larger grocery stores.  I’ve fallen in love with its crispiness and subtle sweet taste.  It’s the perfect snack straight up: no dips or dressing necessary.  For my first jicama attempt, I followed a recipe for an orange, jicama, and red pepper spinach salad with a soy-based vinaigrette.  The salad wasn’t particularly fancy but the flavours worked really well together.

My next jicama attempt?  Stay tuned…

Spinach salad with Jicama, Orange, Red Pepper, and Red Onion.

 

Jicama and Orange Salad with Ginger Dressing
(from Rose Reisman)

2 cups peeled jicama, sliced into strips 1/2 inch wide by 3 inches long
6 cups baby spinach
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 large orange, peeled, membranes removed and cut into thin strips

Dressing:
4 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp sesame oil
2-1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 tsp water
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Garnish (Optional):
1-1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

  1. Place the jicama, spinach, red pepper, onion, and orange in a large serving bowl
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, water, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro, if using.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 137 kcal, 3.9 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 24 g CHO, 5.3 g fibre, 2.9 g protein, ~100 mg sodium.