Saturday, October 3, 2009

apparently tofu can grow legs

I swear I picked up a package of tofu last weekend. I don't know why I wouldn't, since one of the dinners on my menu had the word "tofu" in the title. So, if indeed I did pick it up and bring it home to live in my fridge this week, it must have understood what would happen when I took it out of its dark haven and brought it into the light of the kitchen counter. My tofu sprouted legs and ran away. I looked in every last corner of my fridge and even in the freezer but if I ever had it, it must have run away because it's not here anymore.

So, for dinner we had Five-Spice Vegetables...with Green Tea Rice.
It was fine without the tofu but it didn't make much. The tofu would add the sweet to balance out the savory as well as flesh out the dish a little more. Is it vegan to say "flesh out"? Anyway, I feel like it's been forever since I've shared a recipe with you, but I think it's only been a week. As promised, since I didn't grab the wrong spice this time, I will reveal to you the recipe for tonight's dinner. I think if Mister could have had more than two servings, he would have.

Five-Spice Vegetables & Tofu with Green Tea Rice
serves 4 (when you include the tofu)
2 cups water
2 bags of green tea
1 cup jasmine rice

14 oz extra firm tofu
4-6 oz pineapple juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
large red bell pepper, cut into strips
large carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
1 tsp soy sauce

Bring water to boiling, then turn off heat, add teabags and cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then remove teabags, stir in rice and simmer, covered, on lowest possible heat 20-25 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cube the tofu and let it drain on paper towels while you mix the pineapple juice with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and bring to boiling in a large skillet. Add tofu and lower heat to a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated and reduced. Set aside.

Heat oils in a large wok on high heat. When the surface of the oil shimmers, add the garlic and stirfry for 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and stirfry 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in 5-Spice powder and soy sauce, stir to distribute, then add tofu cubes and any remaining cooking liquid. Stirfry one more minute, then remove from heat. Serve over green tea rice and enjoy with chopsticks!
yours will have happy chunks of browned tofu, too, though.

We'll close out tonight's post with a nod to another Natalie who kindly left me a comment asking why, indeed, Angst is not vegan.
1. Because his mommy and daddy are not vegan and we buy his food.
2. I haven't seen vegan cat food in any stores and I generally do not order things over the internet (call me old-fashioned).
3. Most importantly, because cats are biological carnivores. According to a lot of research, cats must consume meat products. If they do not, they risk all kinds of health complications, such as blocked urinary tracts and progressive blindness. Cats must consume Taurine, which has only been available through meat products until very recently. A few people think that there is nothing inferior about synthetic taurine, but I am hesitant to find out by risking Angst's health.

In fact, there is even an online store through which a vegan pet parent can purchase vegan cat food and in their FAQs, they state that in most cases it is not safe to feed a male cat a 100% vegan diet. Angst, being male, eats a varied diet which does include the small amount of meat in his commercial cat food. He loves spinach, arugula, potato (chips), hummus, doritos, pizza, and a variety of other non-meat foods. Because we're naughty and we share our table food with him, it would be safe to say he probably eats about 25% vegan.

I also agree with this lady, who points out that if vegans are so concerned with the well-being of animals, that concern should be extended to their companion animals (she even uses PETA-approved language!) and include feeding them a diet that meets their nutritional needs and does not risk their health in order to fit them into their human's paradigm.

When I first became a vegetarian, I was exposed to a lot of information about veganism and animal rights and all that good stuff. I will share more about my own journey and personal dabblings in a future post, but I wanted to make this point: When I tried to be vegan (which at that time lasted about a month or two), I struggled with whether to try to feed Angst a vegan diet as well. It was obvious to me that it didn't make any sense to spend my money on food for him that had meat in it when I was using my consumer status to show my disapproval for the meat industry by not buying meat for me. I looked around for vegan cat food and after I couldn't find any in the stores around me, I decided to do some research online. That was how I discovered that a cat's unique nutritional needs make it unsafe to feed a cat a 100% vegan diet.

When Angst was a baby, one of his favorite treats was chicken cheese steak. He has not had this in over 7 years, but I have little doubt that Grampa shares other bits of meat with my little angel when he goes to visit. I have not eaten meat in 7 years, but I have been poisoned by restaurants who advertise a vegetarian soup or noodle dish and fail to recognize the (obvious to me) implications of using chicken broth as a base. My stomach no longer produces the enzymes necessary to digest meat so I would get sick (and have after eating at these establishments). I would hate to see the effect something similar would have if my loving father unknowingly sabotaged my vegan cat by sharing a little piece of chicken with him.

So, Angst loves spinach and Angst is an omnivore.


  1. That happens to me sometimes. I know I have bought something, but when the time comes it has run off. My clothes do it to me too, though thankfully they then reappear at a later date!

    I love the idea of the green tea rice!

    I agree with you completely with feeding cats meat. I am a vegan myself, but as a cat vet I cannot support vegan diets for cats. The are called obligate carnivores for a reason! Cats have such unique nutritional needs - too many specifics for even me to remember! Also the studies that have been done on the vegan cat food available in Australia have only been 6 month trials - no long term studies. Plus anecdotally, male cats fed vegan diets are more likely to present for the life-threatening condition of uretheral blockage! So many good reasons for kitties to eat meat.

  2. Thanks for your supportive comment, Susan! I figured I was on the right track when even an online store that sells vegan cat food advised NOT to feed a cat a 100% vegan diet.

    I actually got the idea for the green tea rice from Clean Eating magazine - I'm a big fan of oatmeal in the colder months, and they suggested cooking oatmeal in herbal teas to get the flavor without added calories (from the pineapple juice and coconut flakes I cooked it with today, for example). So I thought, if you can cook oatmeal in tea, why not couscous or rice, since they both easily absorb flavors?

  3. It's comforting to know that I am not the only vegan who feeds my cats meat. I have read in so many places how bad it is for them. My choices should not jepordize my kitties health.