by Jodi Humphrey
I am not Catholic, but am a Christian (albeit a liberal one) who enjoys participating in Lent. Removing something from your life, especially something you may tend to cling to or rely on, can often offer reflection. Why do I need this? What does it do for me? For those who don’t have this, how is their life different from mine? Will I notice any change in my life because I removed whatever it was from my life and daily routine?
For the last 19 months I have been eating more meat that I can remember largely due to my recent pregnancy and subsequent breastfeed of my now 10 month old son, Sam. I have eaten vegetarian and vegan off and on since I was a teenager. Early on it was due to my youthful idealist rant against animal cruelty. (Sidebar: I recently heard Crispin Glover speak about his veganism for health reasons and personal belief that plants have feelings; therefore, “animal-conscious” vegans are doing it for the wrong reasons. Interesting- really, and made me chuckle as the youthful version of myself.) As I grew older and became more conscious of aging and long-term concern for my physical health I routinely eliminated meat from my diet or limited how much I consumed.
When I found out I was pregnant my OB/GYN was concerned about my diet because of my history of anemia, lack of dairy and wheat/gluten due to food allergies, and limited amounts of meat (and for that matter calories) I regularly consumed. She advised I increase my overall caloric intake, especially meat (i.e. mostly white meat with a smattering of red) for the next several months. Early on my pregnancy, primarily the first trimester, this was a challenge because I was sick all day and the smell of any food made me ill. However, during the second and third trimester I felt like I became a “meat-o-saurus” eating steak, hamburger, or both once a week. This was more from cravings, and I still ended up with iron-poor blood.
Since giving birth to Sam I have continued to eat a fair amount of meat because of breastfeed. However, unlike when I was pregnant, I often felt grow and bloated after I ate meat, especially red meat. I have wanted to cut back, but also felt like it was necessary to keep up my protein and calorie intake. We recently began weaning Sam from breast milk; therefore, I feel less obligated and inclined to eat meat of any kind. As Lent approached I felt this was an opportune time to cut meat out of my diet. To appease my husband, who is also going on this journey, I accepted the one caveat of one serving of bacon per week for one of our weekend breakfast meals. He loves me, but he also loves his “salted pig parts.”
To start off the week and Ash Wednesday I decided to bake up some tofu slices. It’s an easy recipe, and is great as a main course, afternoon snack, or on a sandwich. (I recommend French baguette [gluten free or otherwise] if you are a lover of Vietnamese sandwiches like I am. This recipe is also quite adaptable for other flavors. San-J makes a couple of delicious gluten free sauces, like their Teriyaki. The tofu can also be grilled or fried depending on your craving. It’s still a little chilly outside so I opted to bake this batch. The tofu once it’s cooked is also really good thrown into stir-fry or soup. Matter of fact I am planning on tossing some in with my curry this afternoon for lunch!
Get to makin’ people! Eat up and enjoy!
Ingredients: (makes about 8 or so slices depending on thickness of the slice)
1 package firm or extra firm tofu (gluten free is available)
2 tbsp San-J gluten free Szechuan sauce
2 tbsp San-J gluten free, low sodium tamari sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar (also available gluten free and optional if you don’t like the flavor)
- Slice tofu- I did about ½ inch thickness
- On a plate or plastic cutting board lay out a couple of sheets of paper towel or a clean kitchen towel and place tofu slices on top; then sandwich tofu slices with clean kitchen or a layer of paper towel and press out the additional moisture (I like to put another plate on top of the slices and wait a about 10 minutes for the absorb)
- Combine all liquids into a bowl and whisk together.
- Place tofu in a glass container and pour marinade into container. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (I usually wait at least an hour or refrigerate overnight to really let the flavor of the marinade set into the tofu.)
- Preheat over to 350 degrees.
- Bake tofu in glass container uncovered until the edges are golden brown