When I crawled into my bed last Thursday, the elastic of my pajama bottoms pressing into my distended stomach, I knew I'd gone and done it again. The pain in my belly and sensation that I was one step away from a food coma were telling signs that I'd overeaten. I didn't really need to eat the entire chicken enchilada plus half a steak fajita during my dad's famous New Year's Day Mexican feast. And I really really didn't need the bowl of black beans and salt pork that I felt compelled to decorate with shreds of Cheddar cheese.
"Tomorrow will be different," I promised my overextended digestive system and immediately fell into a deep carbohydrate-induced sleep with visions of oatmeal, carrot sticks and tofu stir fry dancing in my head.
Up until I met my tofu-loving friend Ali in college (who is coincidentally visiting me this coming Thursday), I didn't know much about the jiggly soy-based product. I knew that Dawn, the vegetarian in the Babysitter's Club books, used to eat it, but I never much desired to include the questionable substance in my diet. Somewhere during those early months of my friendship with Ali, I changed my carnivorous tune and decided to try my friend's favorite form of health food. While it was not love at first bite, over time I came to appreciate the firmer preparations, and even found it preferable to meat in dishes like peanut noodles and Pad Thai.
Today, I regularly cook with baked tofu -- especially when making stir fries. It's cheap, filling and provides ample amounts of both protein and calcium, and is never guilty of sending me into a food coma. Whenever I start feeling like I did on Thursday night -- bloated and gross and a little bit like the Pillsbury Doughboy -- I know that it's time to give my body some tofu TLC.
This past Friday, tired of my usual teriyaki + peanut butter concoction, I decided to perk up my tofu stir fry with the orange sesame sauce recipe from one of my roommate's favorite cookbooks, The Best 30-Minute Recipes. The sauce was a snap to make, and because it uses household ingredients that most cooks already have in the cupboard or fridge, it didn't require me to scour any specialty markets for Mirin wine or obscure chili sauces. While I wasn't completely smitten with the taste (I think my addition of orange zest made the orange flavor a bit overpowering and that the sauce would work better with chicken than tofu), it was light and fresh and gave my body the TLC it needed. Plus, it left me plenty of stomach space for one of my mom's marshmallow cookies.
Don't judge - dessert is a form of TLC too!
Orange Sesame Sauce
Adapted from The Best 30-Minute Recipes
3 tablespoons of orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
Splash of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 teaspoon orange zest
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl, and apply sauce as needed when cooking veggies and tofu.
Tofu Veggie Stir Fry Ingredients
1 portion Trader Joe's teriyaki baked tofu
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Toasted slivered almonds (optional)