Sunday, May 1, 2011

Somethin' sweet n' spicy

Happy May, everyone! For this week’s Meatless Monday recipe I chose a sweet and spicy Chinese dish with juicy tofu and crisp green beans. This is one of my favorites and keeps well for leftovers. Since I’m starting this month with an eastern-style dish, maybe I will make it the theme of this month. I know plenty of Asian-style dishes, including Thai, Indian and Middle Eastern, so I should be able to provide you with lots of tasty, zesty dishes to try out this month that don’t include meat or even dairy. I hope you like!

Szechuan Tofu and Green Bean Stir-Fry

(Adapted from Eating Well magazine)


½ cup water divided
¼ cup soy sauce (low sodium recommended)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp balsamic vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar if you have
2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp agave syrup
¼ tsp crushed red pepper or to taste
1 tsp + 2 tbsp corn starch divided
14 oz package of extra firm tofu, drained
2 tbsp canola oil
4 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger

To drain the tofu, remove from packaging and wrap in two paper towels, then place on shallow plate. Place another plate on top of it and leave it for at least 30 minutes up to an hour. The pressure from the plate will slowly drain the liquid from the tofu without putting too much weight on it.

While tofu is draining, whisk ¼ cup water, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar or syrup and 1 tsp cornstarch together in small bowl and set aside. Once the tofu is drained, cut into small cubes and pat dry if needed. Toss the tofu in a bowl with the remaining 2 tbsps of cornstarch until coated.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat then add the tofu, spread evenly across the pan's surface. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes, then turn and stir gently. Continue cooking while stirring occasionally until light brown and crispy, for about 3-5 minutes, then transfer to plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add the rest of the oil then the green beans, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the remaining ¼ cup of water and cook up to 5 minutes until green beans are crisp yet tender. Stir in the reserved sauce then cook stirring for about 1 minute, then add the tofu and stir cooking for another minute. Once sauce is thickened to the consistency of a thin syrup, remove from heat and serve alone or with brown rice.

For baby:

Approximately 3 tbsp crumbled tofu
Approximately 3 tbsp steamed green beans

Serve as is for baby or tot who eats finger foods, puree for baby who is still spoon-fed. You can add some oil and garlic for the child over 9 months if desired. Canola oil is loaded with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which are important fats for a growing child. Omegas contribute to brain development and also help support the heart. Garlic may not be to some baby and tots’ liking, but you are probably already familiar with the commonly known benefits of garlic for cardiovascular health and lowering cholesterol, and garlic is also a surprisingly rich source of vitamins C and B6.  

Some information on soy and tofu: There is a lot of controversial information going around about tofu, mainly concerning the addition of female hormones and the possible impairment of thyroid function. There is not too much evidence supporting the negative effects, and from doing my own research and possessing the knowledge that in Asian cultures soy is a dietary staple and these findings have not impacted their cultures to a state of trans-gendered people running around with thyroid disease, I think the best thing to do is just eat soy products in moderation, as you should with any food. Don’t eat soy-based products every day, even though fermented soy such as tempeh is considered safe, moderation is still key to any well-balanced diet. Fresh soy beans are totally safe and super healthy though.

Soy-based foods are a well-known staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, and many of the people who do suffer from the impairments brought on from over-consumption of soy and tofu consume non-organic or GMO soy. NOT A GOOD IDEA. Eating anything that is genetically modified triples (if not more) your chances of contracting a disease or impairment. Eat fresh and organic as much as possible, and if you must eat something that’s processed yet considered good for you, such as tofu, don’t eat it everyday! There are plenty of meat and diary-free foods out there to choose from.

If you didn’t catch it last Monday, I posted a pure, unprocessed plant-based recipe for a yummy beet and spinach soup. Great hot or cold!

Thanks for reading!!!!


  1. Yummmmmm...I know Jenn and I will love it; will let you know about Bruce and Liz (he's a carnivore at heart, and she's on the fence about green stuff, but she does do beans). Thanks, Jess!

  2. This looks super yummy. I am so going to have to try making this. BTW the picture of the little girl with the blow dryer is me lol.


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