I recently made Vegan Sesame Tofu to prove a point. You see, some people have this notion that being vegan is an expensive way to eat. I’m out to prove otherwise.
My sister recently went to a conference by financial guru Dave Ramsey and one of her favorite take-aways was the idea of saving money by eating out less. I’m sure Mr. Ramsey pointed to the obvious, eating out costs a lot of money. The same money could go toward a week’s worth of meals at home with multiple leftovers to boot (Note, I don’t actually recommend eating the boot).
It’s like most things in life, eating out is better done in moderation.
Vegans typically eat out less because restaurants can be particularly problematic. What are the usual downfalls? Many Mexican restaurants fry their tortillas or beans in lard. Italian restaurants may have eggs in their pasta or bread. Asian restaurants sometimes have fish in their sauce.
Even when we call ahead, we’re usually left with a nagging, unsettled feeling that either 1) the person we talked to didn’t know what in the world they were saying or 2) they may have just said what they thought I wanted to hear to get more people in the door. It’s not a completely unreasonable worry. Look at McDonald’s. They told customers that their french fries were fried in vegetable oil and flavored with “natural” ingredients. It was years before they confessed that those “natural ingredients” included beef extract.
We do enjoy eating out occasionally, but mostly, we “eat out” at home. I say “eat out at home” because we think the food we have at home is actually better than what we find in most restaurants. My latest “eating out at home” venture? Asian food. We love Chinese food and have been impressed with restaurants that accommodate us by substituting tofu in most sauces.
And that leads me to another thing I love about eating out at home. I’m picky. I want to feel good and I’m learning, more often than not, what I eat has a big impact on that. And sometimes after eating Chinese takeout, I just don’t feel that great. It could be the oil, MSG, salt, or sugar or all of them combined. Who knows!
I will use these same offending ingredients (except for the MSG) when cooking at home, but I can control how much of it I use. And I took this theory to task by making my own Vegan Sesame Tofu. Mama Mia, was it delicious! I thought it was better than what we get at restaurants and the entire meal provided more than four servings and cost about the same as what we would pay for one entree at a restaurant. The tofu was around $2.50 and the broccoli cost about $2.25. The rest of the ingredients were things we had in our cupboards, like brown rice, cornstarch, garlic and sugar.
If saving money is on your list of resolutions for 2011, think vegan. Not only is it healthy and delicious, I bet even Dave Ramsey would agree it can also be a financially rewarding way to eat!
Vegan Sesame Tofu
(Adapted from a recipe found in Food.com)
- 1 block extra firm tofu, drained
- 2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Amino (see link below)
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine or dry sherry
- 3 drops sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons flour (use brown rice flour to make this recipe gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ⅛ cup white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Amino (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, steamed broccoli and rice
- Press the tofu to drain out extra moisture and then cut it tofu into 1-inch cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients (the first 9 ingredients listed) and marinate the tofu for around 20 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing together all of the sauce ingredients (the LAST 9 ingredients beginning with water). Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and keep warm while you are frying the tofu.
- “Fry” the tofu pieces in a until golden brown. I used only a thin layer of oil to keep it to a minimum.
- Just before you are finished frying, raise the temperature on the sauce back so it’s ready to be served.
- Place the tofu on a large platter and pour the sauce over.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with steamed broccoli and rice.