By Julia Howard MPH, RHN, Run Coach

Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry

Me: I wish I could eat more plant-based.

Also me: I hate tofu. There must be a way around this tofu thing. 

……………………………….

When I wanted to incorporate more plant-based proteins into my diet, I started easy with cans of beans. I liked the texture of beans and the slight starchy sweetness that melds well with other flavours.

But, I couldn’t get my head around tofu. The gelatinous texture, the watery bland taste. Ewww.

Still, I wanted more protein in my diet. And more variety. There’s gotta be a way around this besides vegan protein smoothies. I like to chew my food.

Then I discovered that marinades and crusts are keys for me to like tofu. Squeezing out excess water from the tofu once chopped into cubes is also key during the prep stage.

How Fast Can You Make Supper?

Here’s an example of a weeknight meal that takes 45 minutes to make and incorporates tofu in a way that will make you say “Hurray! Weeknight suppers!”

Wow, yeah, I know.

Just make sure to start cooking the brown rice first as it usually takes a full 45 minutes. Prep the tofu first as well. 

This meal uses a jar of San-J Thai Peanut Sauce, a thick sauce with concentrated flavours that’s a little high in salt so I added 2 cups of water to it when I stir fried the veggies. You may even be able to add more water as it was still pretty flavourful.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1 jar San-J Thai Peanut Sauce (gluten-free) 
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 package (350g) extra firm tofu (e.g., Sunrise)
  • 4 purple shallots, chopped (or 1 regular yellow onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups water for stir frying veggies
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 1 bunch bok choy, cored and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced

Directions

Start by cooking the brown rice in water in a large pot. 

Next, open the tofu package, drain the water from the block of tofu and chop tofu into bite sized cubes. Place cubes on a large plate and squeeze excess liquid from tofu by covering cubes with a layer of paper towel and laying another large plate on top. Leave the plate on top for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Squeeze excess water out of tofu pieces by laying paper towel and a plate on top.

Next, preheat a large wok or pan on medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. While the stove is preheating, peel and slice the onions and garlic. Stir fry garlic and onions in oil until fragrant.

Add tofu to the pan and stir fry along with the garlic and onion until the tofu has just a hint of golden brown.

Next, add 2 tablespoons of sauce and continue to stir fry until a slight crust forms on tofu. Remove tofu, onions, and garlic from pan/wok and place on a plate before moving on to the veggies.

Tofu getting a nice little crust.

Place empty pan/wok back on stove on medium-high heat. Chop the remaining veggies.

Look! Someone already made you a sauce. Nice. Make sure to add water.

Add 2 cups of water, cabbage, bok choy, and peppers along with remaining sauce to the wok/pan. Stir fry the veggies until cooked but still a bit crunchy. 

Whoa. Pretty.

Remove the rice from heat. Spoon rice, veggies, and tofu onto a bowl or plate. 

Enjoy!

~Julia

If you’re interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into your meals, get in touch!

Julia Howard - Nutritionist

After my children were born, I was completely out of shape. I had been active before my first pregnancy in 2008. I saw a post on social media about a charity event that was hosted at the gym. It prompted me to check out the JKC website. I was immediately impressed by the professional content and decided to give it a try. The professionally crafted and uniquely tailored work outs, as well as the sense of accountability and commitment that they foster. I have not missed a workout since joining – contrary to other experiences I have had when purchasing gym memberships. The flexibility of booking and rescheduling workouts, made easy by an online app, also contributed to my success in meeting my fitness goals.

I enjoy every session, working out with Jon, Thomas and Craig, as well as the “JKC Community”. Anytime someone achieves a personal best, I enjoy the celebration and support everyone gives each other. For me, I fondly remember achieving personal bests on bench press, chin ups and the sled push, in particular.

Tara Rector-Whelan

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I started at JKC after a good friend recommended it to me. She had been coming for about a year and I was envious of her great results. I felt sluggish after failing to motivate myself with various home workout routines. I love the fun and relaxed atmosphere at JKC. It’s such a comfortable gym space and I enjoy knowing so many of the people I work out with. Jon and Thomas make an effort to introduce everyone to each other and with all the joking around,  it starts to feel like a family. Not to mention the awesome results. I’ve always liked to run on a treadmill but I’ve never had the drive to lift weights on my own. Going to JKC makes me accountable which was what I really needed. I feel so much stronger and healthier than I did 4 years ago when I started.

I saw an article in Men’s Journal that quoted Jon in about 2018 while traveling and was impressed that someone in St. John’s made that international magazine.  Jon spoke about an exercise called the Farmer’s Walk and I started working that into my routine at the YMCA. I tore that article out of the magazine and kept it, meaning to make contact, but got busy. Then I had lunch with an old friend Bruce Dyke. I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while and I remarked that he looked super healthy and fit. He told me about his, and his son Cas’, experience at JKC and then I remembered the Men’s Journal article! No coincidences!

The experience is unique on many levels – great people, camaraderie, passion, purpose, and dedication. Jon and Thomas are attentive, precise and understanding.  Their teaching has unlocked a new perspective for me with what our bodies are capable of. I still appreciate the YMCA, wonderful place, but I can’t imagine working out without Jon and Thomas now.

Astrid Billfalk-Kelly

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I wanted to add strength training to my cardio, but have always felt gyms to be a bit intimidating, and was worried I would hurt myself without some supervision and help. JKC was highly recommended by several work colleagues. Thomas and Jon are both fantastic, making sure that everyone gets a highly personalized work out in a very supportive environment. The attention to detail and professionalism are second to none. The groups are very small, but very supportive and make the workouts even more fun. Since getting pregnant (36 weeks as I write this) I’m so happy that they continue to help me get stronger while always being safe.

I heard really good things about it from my sister, and I could see the positive results she was getting.  I needed to do something.  I was overweight, depressed, and recovering from a back injury.  I had reached a point where simply getting up out of a chair was becoming difficult.  I knew that if I didn’t do something about it my senior years would be very burdensome to the people close to me.  I’m so glad I did!  After just a few weeks my day-to-day pain was drastically reduced, and my mobility increased. I had the confidence to try sea kayaking, and I now play ice hockey twice a week!

The key difference is the expertise.  The trainers know the gym equipment and the exercises, but they also have degrees in kinesiology, and can apply what they know to your workout.  As someone who was in poor physical condition starting out, I was worried about hurting myself.  Previously I tried an outdoor weekly bootcamp and injured my knee by pushing too hard.  The trainers at JKC constructed a program that started at the right level for me, evolving it as I grew stronger and more fit.  I feel well looked after.

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