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
lisa jumping onto a box

JKC was recommended to me by a fellow runner. I was experiencing injuries, and feeling weak and fragile. When I started with JKC, Jon asked me about my goals and my focus. I wanted to concentrate specifically on running, and preventing injury. Jon developed a program for me that has enabled me to focus on my form and strength and has been flexible enough to enable me to train for many different races. I have been training with JKC for six years, and during that time I have enjoyed Jon and Thomas’s expertise in a very warm and supportive atmosphere.

I’m 35 and I started at JKC in November of 2019. I was coming off the win of the Royal St. John’s Regatta in 2019, and our crew was chomping at the bit to be stronger and faster for 2020. The reputation of JKC leached into our group and away we went! Unfortunately the regatta was cancelled due to COVID-19, but I just loved JKC so much I stuck around. JKC is different from other gyms because the level of experience the team has is unparalleled. Jon, Thomas and Craig all mesh well together and mentor me in a way that I know they love what they do and are genuinely excited to guide me towards my goals (and beyond). I really enjoy the atmosphere, the sense of community and all the positive vibes that I experience in every session. There’s never a time I don’t want to go because I’m motivated by the team’s coaching style and I get results.

I chose JKC because I row/coach teams in the St. John’s Regatta and was looking to add strength training to our program. My wife is also running friends with Julia, so I got to meet Jon a few times and heard lots of good things. I like JKC over other gyms because of the level coaching I receive and the gym atmosphere. The energy in the gym helps me through the tough workouts.

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.

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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.

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