Seven-Minute Sides: Pan-Seared Tofu
If you’re craving vegetarian protein for an energy boost at the end of a long day, or you need a protein to round out your vegetable plate, this Pan-Seared Tofu may become your go-to option.
By itself, tofu is the poster-food for “bland,” but it quickly can be transformed into something delicious with a little soy sauce and some of your favorite spices! Happily, a tofu side is very easy to make, and as important, it’s filling. It’s also naturally gluten-free.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, it’s especially important to stay attuned to getting enough protein to support your active life. After a hard workout, you may find that you’re craving protein. Or you may discover — as I did — that you’re not sleeping well because you haven’t gotten enough protein to ground vata, which is essential for restful sleep. And if you’re particularly hungry at night, some tofu along with your vegetables or soup will ensure that you’re well satisfied before bed.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, naked tofu is cooling, which will increase vata. However, when you add warming spices to tofu, it becomes balanced for all doshas, and its density is grounding. The key to balance is to vary your proteins. Eating tofu once or twice a week is fine for most people. During the week you’ll also want to include nuts, nut butters, and seeds in your diet because they’re delicious — and they have lots of heart-healthy fat. Legumes should be a staple food for vegetarians, but since they are heavy in carbs (and often combined with carb-heavy rice) you may want to limit them to a few times a week if you’re trying to lose weight. Eggs, of course, are an excellent vegetarian protein for some, but for others they may become a source of inflammation. Seitan is a good vegetarian protein, but most seitan is not gluten-free. And because seitan is highly fermented and increases pitta, people with pitta problems may want to avoid it or only eat once a week or less.
For all these reasons, tofu takes center stage in many vegetarian diets. It’s also interesting to note that some studies show eating soy may help with weight loss. If you want to add tofu to the mix in your weekly menu planning, try this Quick Pan-Seared Tofu recipe in the Sacred & Delicious Seven-Minute Sides series.