Saturday, July 4, 2009

3-Way Sesame Tofu, Spicy Broccoli & Rice



I should know better than to test the karma gods by making meals in an effort to tease someone.

Paul has mentioned a few times how he is concerned about calcium and not knowing if he is getting enough. Which is fair, I mean, how well does anyone (vegan or not) know about the actual nutrients that are being absorbed by their bodies? Obviously, we can guess...we can assume, but the vast majority of us have no clue. And it doesn't help that the dairy industry has been running a monopoly on calcium, convincing us that dairy products are the only way to get adequate amounts of the stuff.

The truth is that there are many excellent means of getting calcium that have nothing to do with yanking on a cow's udder. Most basically, a lot of vegan products are fortified (i.e. a cup of our rice milk provides 30% of the daily recommended calcium intake) but there are even more natural ways to get calcium. For example, a cup of broccoli approximately equals a cup of milk with regard to calcium content. All of this information is further complicated by discussions on animal protein and Vitamin D and how these all impact calcium absorption by the body (because really, who cares how much is in the food, how the body responds to it is more important) and the millions of dollars invested in the dairy industry. All of this is way above this little picture blog, but fascinating to those ambitious enough to look into it.

I will leave you with one final tidbit - isn't it ironic how countries with the highest reports of dairy intake are also countries with the highest rates of osteoperosis? Correlations are interesting. Especially when advertisers threaten vegans with osteoperosis based on the calcium factor, but avoid acknowleding how calcium absorbotion by the body is hindered by the animal proteins found in milk. Click here for an interesting article and a quick google will bring up rebuttles from non-vegan sources. Put your thinking caps on and get ready for a great debate!

Anyway.

Broccoli, tofu, okra, spinach, arugla (basically any veggie dark green in colour) provide an excellent source of calcium to a vegan diet.

Anyway, flipping through Vegan Planet I saw this recipe and decided to try it out in an effort to please the calcium gods. As I've mentioned, broccoli and tofu are excellent sources of calcium. Sesame seeds are also high in calcium and this recipe uses both whole seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste), although be advised that some argue that the calcium present in sesame seeds is jeopardized when pulvarized. Regardless, that is a lot of calcium on that plate up there.

But it was just..meh. I don't know. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great. I've found that to be my overall experience with Vegan Planet...the recipes are okay (and for $20 you get a ton of them), but none of them have really blown us out of the water just yet. And this one is really messy to make, and it also involves pan frying the tofu which I am not all that keen on either. It's frustrating, because I don't want to knock this cookbook. Again, it's not bad and everything we've made from it is decent enough; it just doesn't have that Wow Factor that makes you want to make it again. Everything we've tried is just kind of..boring? And there are so many foods and so little time that I find myself not wanting to waste an evening on something that is just "meh".

So, the moral of the story is, don't do things as a means of teasing someone because karma is a bugger, and you'll find yourself making a mess of your kitchen for no good reason.

P.S. I again want to stress that I don't want to knock this cookbook and I don't at all regret the purchase. I would further like to note that I recommend this book to new vegans, or those looking to transition, as the recipes are explicit and involve easily accessible ingredients.
I am about as far from a seasoned chef as I could possibly be. Quite honestly, a year ago I could barely make toast without rendering it inedible and I think it is well above my pay grade (which is $0 - lol) to criticize authors of ANY cookbooks as it is so evident that I would not be capable of doing such a thing. In fact, a quick search on Amazon shows many sparkling reviews for this book. Perhaps it is just not the right fit for me...perhaps I haven't managed to find what I'm looking for. So, dear readers, please don't take my opinion to be anything other than the ramblings of a humble vegan that will forever be learning the ropes and making messes and burning the bottoms of her pans - and in the meantime I will continue to explore Vegan Planet and will hopefully find something that I can rave to you all about.

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