Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Stir-Fry Proposition

The tofu, vegetable stir-fry is one of my staple dinners. The great thing about this meal is its versatility. For instance, today I had broccoli, carrots, black and maitake mushrooms. At other times, I’ve used bok choy, bell peppers, and onions. Or, spinach, sweet potatoes and snow peas. Really, whatever you have at hand will be delicious, so get creative! 
The next layer of flexibility comes with the tofu. Tofu is a fabulous replacement for meat in many dishes, and a great source of lean protein. As a bonus, it can be cooked a million different ways: baked, fried, braised, sautéed, you name it. The diverse ways of preparing tofu provide an entirely varied textural and taste experience. For this stir-fry, I pan fried my tofu, which gives it a beautiful, crispy exterior, leaving it soft and smooth inside. Each particular method will allow the tofu to absorb the flavorings in different ways and give you a wider variety of options in your cooking.

One of the most common fears about converting to a plant based diet is a dramatic decrease in variety. The prevailing misconception is that we eat the same thing all the time. Well, hopefully, if you’ve been following my blog for even a short time, you can see that’s not true. According to Jonathan Safran Foer, Americans eat less than one quarter of one percent of all edible foods. Still think an omnivorous diet is varied? In reality, transitioning to a vegan diet forced me to step outside my comfort zone and embrace dozens of foods I had never tried before. For example, in my former life, stir fry would have been served on white or brown rice. Now I play with tons of different grains like bulgur, cracked wheat berries, millet, quinoa, cornmeal, and those are just the grains I eat for breakfast! I now feel more playful toward my food, engaging in a creative experimentation with a wider range of ingredients, instead of substituting a different meat to achieve so-called variety. So, just because a stir-fry always contains tofu, veggies, and whole grains doesn’t mean it will ever taste remotely the same. The possibilities for your meal when you factor in sauce, tofu preparation, and possible vegetables, as well as choice of grains, become truly unlimited.

To that end, I am not providing a recipe for this dish. Instead, I am encouraging all of you to make your own vegan stir-fry. Send me a picture of it and I will put it up on my blog to share!

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