All of this eating our feelings is starting to catch up to me. The past few weeks we have embarked on an effort we’re calling #makepantsfitagain to improve our general health. It includes more regular exercise, eating much less sugar and more vegetables. Don’t worry, we’re not going Whole 30 on you or anything, but we’re trying to get used to not eating dessert every single night. I’m not going to lie, the first several days after cutting out our sugar fix entirely were pretty rough. It was like going through withdrawal. Fruit consumption skyrocketed. Now, almost two weeks in, things are kind of evening out. I’ve noticed I don’t get desperately hangry like I used to. My energy is more even and I’d even go so far to say that my pants are fitting a bit better…maybe.
A big challenge with eating healthier is changing the patterns of what you cook and eat as well as what you have available. Meal planning is critical. Having a plan and the ingredients on hand for a fast, proper meal makes it the path of least resistance. Which brings me to stir fry. It is the quintessential go-to healthy weeknight meal. It’s fast, tasty, cheap, and flexible. This particular recipe is loosely based on this one from Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times from a few years ago. Really you can just take whatever you find in the crisper (within reason) and go with it. That’s how today’s recipe came into existence. I didn’t start out thinking, I’m going to make a recipe for the food blog we haven’t updated in months. I just went with what we had and it turned out pretty well, so a few cell phone pictures later, here we are.
Wait, don’t run away. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, this recipe is vegan and is made with tofu as the primary protein. We’re omnivores and we like it. The kids even ate it. Preparing it this way gives it a nice crispy texture and a good flavor.
Garlic and Ginger Crispy Tofu Stir Fry
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil peanut (best), canola (okay), etc
- 2 tbsp minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger or a good sprinkling of ginger powder
- 2 bell peppers red, yellow, orange, and or green
- 2 carrots
- 2 zucchini (not baseball bat sized ones, small ones)
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional, but worth putting on your shopping list)
- Get the tofu out and gently squeeze some water out of it using paper towels or cheesecloth. Set it on a plate to dry out a bit. Chop the zucchini into pieces and put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. (This draws some water out and make them brown more nicely.) Slice the bell peppers, and cut the carrots into matchsticks. Mince your garlic and ginger if you're not being lazy (like me) and using the inferior powdered variety.
- Cut your tofu into 1 inch cubes. Put in a bowl with the corn starch and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir to coat. Set aside.
- Set a large, deep skillet or wok on just a notch or two below high heat. When it's hot add half of the oil, swirl it around, and then half the garlic and ginger (unless you're using powdered, then add after the veggies). Wait a few seconds, turn the heat all the way up, and then toss all those veggies you chopped up into the skillet and cook, stirring, until they brown nicely, a few minutes.
- Try a carrot piece. If it's crunchier than you'd like, add about half a cup of water and wait until it boils off. Transfer everything to a plate.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the remainder of the oil. Wait until it's hot and then add the garlic and ginger (again, if you're using powdered, just sprinkle on top after adding the tofu). Turn the heat back up and add the tofu. Cook, stirring, until browned nicely on all sides.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the veggies and any juices back to the skillet. Add soy sauce and roasted sesame oil if you've got it. Add a little water if it's dry and cook for a minute or two until the liquid is reduced and all the tofu has dislodged from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on rice.