Since most of us have to prepare dinner for ourselves that means spending some time in the kitchen before dinner is on the table. While shortcuts to cooking are nice, what we really want is to come home after work to a meal that takes little prep time. Did you know that most of our meals in the meal plan take no longer than 30 minutes to cook? That means you have more time to do the things you love!
Try this crispy baked tofu and veggie stir-fry for a colorful low prep meal packed with flavour from the fiery ginger, chili sauce and fresh lime.
Eastern View: Tofu is made by curdling soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks. It is availability in a variety of textures from soft or silken to hard. Tofu may be fermented, sweetened, or flavored in some instances.
Soy can be a very hard protein to digest and sometimes promotes a heavy and dull feeling in the mind. Soy acts more like a nut than a bean, and is therefore pacifying and grounding. Still, because of its difficulty to digest and somewhat rajasic or stimulating nature, soy is only used occasionally and with lots of digestive spices. However, tofu contains beneficial phytoestrogens helpful for peri-menopausal women.
When we add spices like ginger and chili which are moist and dry at the same time; we add a universal medicine benefitting everybody and all diseases. Especially good for Vata disorders, these are Ayurveda’s best go-to spices. When using ginger, and chili, think digestion, lungs and circulation.
Ginger with its pungent and sweet taste warms the digestive system, increases digestive fire (agni) and helps in the secretion of digestive enzymes. Also useful in nausea, especially travel-sickness, gas bloating and stomach gripping – it has a specific action against E. Coli and Shigella bacteria. Ginger is great when used in menstrual cramps as it regulates Vata in the lower abdomen. Despite its warm energy, it also is an anti-inflammatory. It has the properties of being able to warm and cool and is really beneficial for nourishing the reproductive system.
Ginger has a unique effect (prabhava). Its post-digestive quality is sweet which means its long-term effect is anti-inflammatory and nourishing while its initial effect is warm and stimulating for the digestion. That’s good news for anyone that has digestive and inflammatory problems.
Western View: Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorus. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B12.
Soy protein (from which tofu is derived) is believed to help lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Tofu contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones – a group of chemicals found in plant foods. They have a similar structure to the female hormone estrogen and therefore mimic the action of estrogen produced by the body. They naturally bind to estrogen receptor sites in human cells including breast cells – potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Due to the phytoestrogen content of soy, many women decide to include soya rich foods like tofu in their diet as they enter menopause. During menopause, the body’s natural production of estrogen stops and symptoms may arise. As phytoestrogens act as a weak estrogen, they may help relieve symptoms by boosting levels slightly, reducing hot flushes in some women.
Ginger contains Gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.
Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea. relieving nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. But it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain. In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises. Osteoarthritis is a common health problem too that involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.
Interestingly in a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain medication. Another study found that a combination of ginger, cinnamon and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.
Baked Tofu with Ginger Rice
1 pound (396g) pack tofu
1 cup (250g) brown rice
1/4 cup (40g) breadcrumbs
4 tsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inches (5 cm) piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 cups (320g) pack pepper stir-fry mix
2 tsp soy sauce
⅓ cup (10g) fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
chili sauce, to serve
1 lime, cut into wedges to serve
Drain the tofu and pat with kitchen paper to remove excess moisture. Wrap in a clean tea towel, put a heavy pan on top and leave to dry out until needed.
Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F, gas 7, or 220°C. Cook the rice according to package instructions, then drain well.
Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with 2 tsp oil. Beat the egg in a separate shallow bowl. Cut the tofu into 16 even pieces and dip in the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a nonstick baking tray and bake for 20 mins.
Heat the remaining oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and vegetable mix and stir-fry for 2 mins. Add the rice and stir-fry for 3 mins more until piping hot. Stir in the soy sauce and half the cilantro (if using), then serve topped with the tofu, a drizzle of chili sauce, the remaining cilantro and lime wedges for squeezing over.
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