Tag Archives: tofu

Crazy Cool Costco Coconut Curry

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The title pretty much explains it: tonight I made some crazy cool coconut curry using a sauce from Costco! Who knew Costco had fresh (in the refrigerator section), vegan curry? Even better, it is Costco size, so if you are cooking for a whole crew, you will have enough. Or if you want a good batch of leftovers to last the week, BOOM, you got a pot of curry.

The important part of tonight’s cooking, however, was the prep of the tofu. A while back I discovered the importance of draining tofu as much as possible, but I never went all out. Usually I would just pat the brick dry and press it between my hand and the cutting board for a few 5-second intervals and call it good. But no, being vegan requires the REAL tofu prep techniques, none of this amateur stuff. Tonight I used a technique I saw on A Vegan With A Plan’s blog. All you do is put a colander in a pot, put your bricks of tofu in the colander (I managed to fit 2 at once), put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the tofu (lacking plastic wrap, I cut up a ziploc bag…#college), cover with a plate, and stack something relatively heavy on top. Then you pop the whole thing in the fridge, come back in an hour or so, and tah-dah! Nicely pressed tofu, ready for any cooking endeavor.

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To complete my curry masterpiece, I chopped up some onion and got it sautéing in a pot, then added the tofu and let that brown up for a while. Unfortunately, I made such a massive amount that there wasn’t enough pan space for proper browning, but each piece got a little golden on at least one side, which works for me. Then I chopped up two heads of broccoli, a big carrot, and a big red bell pepper and threw them in, along with the whole tub of curry from Costco and a can of light coconut milk from TJ’s. I find that adding a can of coconut milk to most pre-made curry sauces works really well both in increasing the volume and in taming the strong curry flavor, which can be pretty concentrated. To serve, I put a couple big scoops of curry on top of a bed of a 2:1 quinoa-brown rice mix from the rice cooker. YUM.

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On another note, today is the first day of the Crossfit Open, which is the crossfit competition that is open to anyone who wants to sign up. They even have a new Scaled category this year, so that you can do the Open even if you can’t snatch 5000000lbs or whatever it is the top athletes do these days. I’m not signed up this year, because I didn’t want to dedicate my Saturdays to crossfit when I could be skiing/volunteering/homeworking/sleeping/recreating in some other fashion, which I seem to be prone to do on my weekends. Anyway, in celebration I watched the recent documentary released on the 2014 Games, as well as the first Open event showdown between the 2014 champ and 2nd place finisher at the Games. Those athletes are truly inspirational. But it made me think a lot about what it takes to be at that level, and I decided its mostly a lot of commitment and a very high pain tolerance. No matter how strong and bulky you are, you will have to push through some mental walls that you might not even know are breakable. Both inspiring and frightening to think about, especially since I am so passionate about crossfit and am at the prime starting age for training for competition. Would I ever want to go to those lengths, and spend that much time, for what is essentially a glorified workout? I guess it’s some food for thought.

Although I’m no pro crossfitter, I did get some exciting feedback yesterday and today! My coach, the lovely Taylor, commented on my push-up form and strength yesterday and how much it has improved since my arrival a little over a month ago. And then today, during my now normal 70ish Burpee warm up, my friend Kiersten commented on how big my triceps have gotten! This is encouraging news, since I am still struggling back from my “Freshman 10” during 1st semester where I put on 10lbs within the first month, as well as trying out this whole vegan+fitness thing. While I am still at the same weight (after a small drop in January), I am proud to say I have experienced some body composition changes, and I feel a lot stronger! This just goes to show, once again, that a tiny waist and slim legs and arms don’t have to be the only image of sexy ladies: muscles are healthy and sexy too!

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Mmmm Breakfast!

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This morning, after a night of Valentine’s Day reveling, I got up wanting something hot, hearty, and delicious for breakfast. So while I thought, I naturally munched on my last slice of cold vegan pizza I had from yesterday, and I decided it was time to make myself a tofu scramble. I went down to Shaw and bought a few red bell peppers and a white onion off of them, and then headed back to start the tofu scramble. It turned out to be pretty darn simple.

For the scramble:

  1. Chop up any veggies in the fridge that sound good. I used two medium red bell peppers and half of a large white onion. Sauté them in some olive oil.
  2. Once the veggies are close to being done, grab a block of tofu, dump out the water, but don’t pat it dry or press out the liquid. Scooch the veggies over to one side of the pan and crumble the tofu into the pan using your hands.
  3. Season the tofu. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and some seasoning mixture I found in the cupboard that said garlic & herb on it. I’ve heard of people using warmer seasonings like paprika and turmeric which sounds pretty yummy. But being a college student, I don’t really have a full array of seasonings at my disposal.
  4. Mix all the tofu up with the veggies, check to make sure it is seasoned right, and enjoy! I served my scramble with an ancient grain tortilla and some salsa (which helped any seasoning issues due to my lack of spices). Delicious! The amount I made today served 3 people.

But because breakfast is by far the best meal of the day, and therefore every breakfast should be something to look forward to, I prepped a special breakfast for myself for tomorrow, too! I made an altered version of the Blueberry Overnight Oats that I found while browsing Plant Based on a Budget‘s website. They have tons and tons of incredible recipes on there, so I recommend you go check them out!

My version of the Blueberry Overnight Oats:

  • 1/2 c blueberries (mine were frozen)
  • 1 scant c almond milk topped off with water to make a full cup
  • dash vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • few shakes of cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (this is up to your preference for sweetness though)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 heaping c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c blueberries (another one)

Blend together all of the ingredients besides the cup of oats and the second half cup of blueberries in a blender. Pour the mixture into a mason jar, then dump in the oats and blueberries. Mix it all up and put in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you should have a quick and simple yet yummy oatmeal breakfast waiting for you.

I should warn you that I haven’t actually tried my creation yet (it is sitting in the fridge), so hopefully this recipe is actually good. The chia seeds were not in the original recipe, I think it called for a tablespoon of flax meal, but I had the chia seeds and not the flax, so I figured I’d try it. By adding the chia, though, the consistency might end up thicker, so I might need to add more liquid in the morning to counteract the goopey chia seeds. Hope it works out!

The First Vegan Shopping Trip

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Going shopping on a new diet for the first time is always a challenge. Today two of my roommates and I piled into my car to go to Costco and Traders Joe’s to stock up on vegan essentials. Well, actually only one of my roommates went vegan with me, so the other got to buy whatever she wanted. The tough part about going shopping is that you walk past isles full of delicious looking morsels that are very much NOT on your diet, or in this case, not vegan. Especially Trader Joe’s, where they have the shelves stocked with tasty looking hippie snacks, as I like to call them, because they actually look healthier than the average snacks at the grocery store, making them even more irresistible. However, on a positive note, Costco and TJ’s really delivered today!

At Costco, we bought:

  • A huge bag of organic brown rice
  • Black beans
  • Organic quinoa
  • Chia seeds
  • Organic apple sauce (no sugar added)
  • Ancient grain tortillas
  • And toilet paper (at last! Oh the woes of having to buy your own TP as an adult…)

These all seem like pretty good vegan staples, including the toilet paper, because vegans do poop too. We have some good complex carbs (with protein) from the rice and quinoa, and we have some good easy and versatile protein from the beans. Also, in baking, chia seeds and apple sauce are key to many recipes as thickening agents since eggs are environment-ruiners. Also, bananas can be used in a similar way, but you automatically end up with a strong banana flavor that way (which honestly is a great thing anyway; bananas are a beautiful fruit).

At Trader Joe’s I got:

  • 4 different cooking sauces (curry, peanut sauce, soy-saucey-stir-fry stuff, etc.)
  • Vegan cereal with relatively good protein and very low sugar
  • Light coconut milk (for cooking, not the kind you put in your coffee)
  • Vegan butter
  • Chicken-less mandarin orange chicken
  • Chicken-less chicken tenders

These last two items are especially fabulous because they are frozen (a college kid’s favorite), and I happen to know they are delicious because they were part of the first vegan meal I ever had during Vegan Night when this whole thing started! Even if you are a complete dairy and meat indulger, you should try the mandarin orange “chicken” because it is quite nice. Also, if you are ever in need of a snack, TJ’s has tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce in the refrigerator section which served as my dinner this evening.

On another note, I had a divine vegan meal at Shaw for lunch today, and it wasn’t even Meatless Wednesday! Audrey (vegan roommate) and I have recently taken up filling out a comment card in Shaw upon most visits asking for more vegan meal options, so maybe they are already starting to listen. Today’s dish was tofu in an almond mole sauce with rice and corn-bean salsa. The almond mole wasn’t actually very mole-y tasting to me, but it was a delectable Mexican-like sauce that really jazzed up the tofu bricks quite well. Unfortunately, I ate this large meal of three tofu bricks and a good scoop of rice at 2:15ish and then proceeded to work out at 4. Rowing with intense effort and doing snatches and hang-cleans doesn’t mix well with recent Mexican food ingestion, vegan or not. No I didn’t throw up, but it was a close call. You have been warned.

Lastly, I just want to put out there that I got a great package from my parents today containing a brand spankin new set of 8 quick draws, a guide-ATC belay device, and a cleaning tool (all of these are climbing gear pieces). The goal is to climb Cathedral Peak in Yosemite this June with mom and dad, so it is time (or maybe even a little past time) for me to learn to lead climb! Hurray!! I am so lucky to have such rad parental units, and I cannot wait to get these quick draws into some bolts!!!!

Bozeman!

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This weekend, two of my pals, Seamus and Charlie, and I all piled a bunch of stuff into my car and headed on up to Bozeman, MT. Seamus is from Bozeman and has been dying to give Charlie and I a taste of Bridger Bowl, his home ski area, so we thought a fun little road trip would be a good break from campus life for a few days. Unfortunately, high winds on Thursday resulted in power outages and even downed trees at Bridger, so they didn’t even open the area for skiing today! Sad, but I got to see the charming downtown of Bozeman as well as the MSU campus, and we got in a nice hike as well. Montana is really a lovely place. Hopefully skiing will be a go tomorrow (or actually later today since it’s a bit past midnight now).

On the vegan aspect of the trip, I have to say things are not quite meeting vegan standards. So far I’ve successfully maintained a vegetarian diet, but some cheese slipped in there tonight on Seamus’ dad’s homemade pizza. But I figured, why make a big deal and inconvenience my gracious hosts after only very recently starting a vegan diet? At this point, I’d much rather make it easier for my hosts than demand they feed me strict vegan food.

However, this morning Seamus’ mom cooked up a fantastic tofu scramble! I mentioned in an earlier post that I would need to learn to do this soon, and it just so happened that she offered to make one for everyone this morning. The secret, for all of you eager tofu people, is to not squeeze out the liquid in the tofu before cooking it. Normally this is done to keep the tofu in good chunks while cooking, but since this is a scramble, you want a nice, moist, crumbled consistency. All you have to do besides crumbling some tofu into a skillet is to add maybe some onion and bell pepper (or whatever veggies you like) and seasonings to taste. I’m pretty sure Laura used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and maybe a dash of cayenne this morning. Boy it was super YUUUMMM.

As a last little side note, I also wanted to share that on Wednesday at CrossFit I managed my first strict pull up!!!! Actually, I managed to do about three in total, although not all together. And I began learning how to do kipping pull ups, which is where you do a bit of a swing with pull ups to make them easier so you can do more at one time. I think it will be interesting to watch my athletic growth along with this vegan diet change. There are many notable athletes who excel at their sport while also eating vegan, such as Carl Lewis, a well decorated track sprinter. Hopefully I will continue to grow and get stronger in CrossFit while also eating in a planet-friendly way.