For one thing, I'm not fully meatless, so I think the preach-factor won't be as high. For another, for the longest time the biggest deterrent to cutting meat out of my diet was not knowing how to replace it. I was scared of tofu.
Matt and I aren't eating red meat, chicken, or (most) dairy at home anymore. We still have fish and eggs, and we frequently eat meat when we go out. I don't necessarily feel any healthier having gone this route. I don't have more or less energy; I haven't lost or gained weight. I do feel a little better about my impact on the environment and animals, and I can finally eat the meals I cook without feeling nauseated, which is the most important thing.
I found the video below really helpful in figuring out what kind of tofu I like best and how to cook it.
Bear in mind, too, that I'm cooking for a two-person household, so one block of tofu is enough for dinner, but if you're feeding more than two people you'd need to adjust.
Cooking Tofu: Prep
I prefer extra firm tofu. Cooked, it has a nice firm texture on the outside but stays soft inside. It doesn't dry out or get crumbly the way I've found super firm can.
|When Publix carries it, I prefer this "tofu plus" variety of Nasoya.|
Cooking Tofu: Stovetop - 10 minutes
Spray a large nonstick pan with cooking spray and preheat it on medium-high heat. (You can probably get away without spray if your nonstick pan is still in good shape but mine is 9 years old and needs a little help.)
Cooking Tofu: Oven - 25 minutes
If I'm feeling lazy and am in less of a rush, I'll bake my tofu. To do this, preheat the oven to 375F. Place your tofu cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet - no need to spray it!
|At the halfway point, the tofu is starting to brown a little bit.|
You can serve pan-fried or baked tofu the way you'd serve any meat, so sometimes we just pair it with baked potatoes or rice and veggies, sometimes we mix it into pasta, or we toss it into a curry (my personal favorite).
|Baked tofu in Indian butter chicken sauce|
|Pan-fried tofu with rice and broccoli.|
Spaghetti Squash Using Beefless Ground
Preheat the oven to 400F. While it preheats, line a baking sheet with foil (shiny side down) and cut a spaghetti squash lengthwise. It's easiest to cut the ends off to create a flat end and then stand it upright to halve it. Remove the seeds with a spoon.
Gardein and Beyond Meat both offer some good options. They're in the freezer section of our normal grocery store. We're enjoying Earth Balance for our butter substitute, Follow Your Heart cheeses, Just foods for mayo (I'm interested in trying their egg substitute!), and almond milk in place of cow's milk.
Like I said earlier, we're not planning to go fully vegetarian or vegan, but it's been really easy to make these small changes at home. I was always daunted by tofu and meatless meals; I thought they'd be labor-intensive and hard to shop for. It turns out the opposite is true. Cooking this way is faster and easier than cooking with meat in many ways. It was just a matter of taking the first step.
I hope this post helps anyone who's interested in trying some meat-free meal options but just hasn't known where to start.