Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tofu Veggie Stir-fry

Yes, you read that right. Tofu. 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I know! I never thought I would be eating tofu, let alone cooking with it and creating recipes with it.

But, here is what I am discovering: 
  • Tofu is misunderstood. 
  • Soy is misunderstood. 
  • Unfermented processed and genetically modified soy which often contains MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is not real food and can be dangerous/toxic. 
  • Unfermented processed soy is the most common form of soy sold in the Western part of the world. 
  • Organic, fermented and non-GMO soy is food and can be very beneficial in moderation. 
  • Fermented and properly sourced soy is the most common form of sold in the Eastern part of the world. 



There a couple of caveats to the benefits of fermented (properly sourced) soy:

Soy contains plant hormones, isoflavones, that have been proven to mimic estrogen in the human body. The isolated isoflavon (phytoestrogen), in some studies have shown to contribute to the the growth of tumors, specifically in the breast, endometrium and uterus. Keep in mind that this is specifically studying the isoflavon in isolated form - not soy in its complete form. Other research has shown that these phytoestrogens when consumed with the whole soy food, actually protect estrogen receptors. It should also be noted that in Japan, women eat properly sourced forms of soy (like tofu, miso, edamame and tempeh) and they actually have 1/5 of the breast cancer rate that Western women have. 

Mark Sisson's wrote in his write-up on soy, "It essentially comes back to the whole foods question. The research has focused on the isolated isoflavones, particularly genistein, the most active of the soy isoflavones that activates cellular estrogen receptors, including those in breast tumors. Noted experts in the field have cautioned that research with isolated soy compounds does not necessarily carry over well to the effect of the whole food...In other words, soy is healthier than the sum of its parts."

There is also some concern with soy having a goitrogenic effect - that is, suppressing thyroid function. This is an area that is not well understood. In fact, there are numerous foods that fall into this category such as cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, cabbage and kale), flaxseeds, spinach, strawberries and sweet potatoes to name a few. So, I take this one with a grain of salt.

Bottom line?

Proceed with caution with soy (especially women who have elevated estrogen levels, endometriosis or who had/have breast and/or gynecological cancer(s) ), scrutinize the label of packaged soy, choose soy that is organic, non-GMO and fermented - and use moderation.

Properly sourced fermented soy does have many health benefits such as: 
  • Complete protein (meaning it contains an adequate proportion of all nine essential amino acids we need that is derived from food sources to meet our dietary needs) 
  • Excellent source of calcium, potassium and magnesium 
  • Studies have shown that soy may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Studies have shown that soy  may reduce the risk of diabetes 
  • Studies have shown that soy may help to lower cholesterol 

"Finally, it’s vital to go organic when it comes to soy. Not only is it nearly all genetically modified, it has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop." 
- Mark Sisson

Alright, now that I have explained my new inclusion of soy... here is the recipe ;)

Tofu Veggie Stir-fry 

For the Veggies

1 T Coconut Oil
1 cup broccoli chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/2 bunch of bok choy, chopped
Dash of ground pepper
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1/3 yellow pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Method

Heat the coconut oil on medium and then add in the broccoli and carrots. Sauté for a few minutes and then add in the bok choy and ground pepper. Turn the heat down a bit and sauté for a few minutes and then ad in the zucchini and yellow pepper. Sauté all veggies a bit longer until they are done to your liking. Turn the heat down to low and add in the garlic. 

For the Tofu

1/2 T Coconut oil
8oz Organic, non-GMO tofu, sliced into small strips and then chopped

Method

At the same time as you start the veggies, heat another pan with coconut oil on medium and add in the tofu. Cook the tofu until it turns a golden-brown, gently flipping the pieces so that it is cooked evenly. This will take about 15 minutes. Lower the heat down to low-medium about half way through.

For the stir-fry 

1/2 T raw honey
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t freshly shaved ginger

Method

To finish off this stir-fry, add the tofu to the veggies, drizzle the honey overtop and then add in the lemon juice and ginger.

Toss and serve.

Serves 3-4



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