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    EOL Coverage of Chefs Championships at IHMRS

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    Preparing Lobster for Competition

Let Me Show You How To Really Cook Tofu - 6 Quick Ways To Enjoy Tofu

As a vegetarian, Tofu is my preferred protein.  Now that I am starting to really cook in the kitchen, I can really appreciate the flexibility of flavors and textures that tofu offers.  I like to think of tofu as a blank canvas (just stay with me here) that I am able to shape and mold into my masterpiece dish.  Just ponder upon this notion for a moment.  Tofu is a tasteless food, until you get creative and add your own touch with various spices, and herbs, to produce a scrumptious meal that doesn't come close to the white square substance you took out of the package.  When I became a vegetarian, I did not like the texture of tofu and I had not yet discovered the various ways tofu could be cooked and enjoyed, until one day I started exploring the variety of methods of changing and enhancing the texture and flavor of this perfect protein.

Deep Fry -  Heat oil in a frying pan.  Drain and cut the extra firm tofu in to cubes or triangles.  Lightly season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (you could even season some flour and coat the tofu with the seasoned flour to make a light batter).  Make sure the oil is sizzling hot before adding the seasoned tofu.  Deep fry the tofu until golden brown (usually about 5 - 7 minutes).  You can drizzle the deep fried tofu with teriyaki or soy sauce.  I like to eat deep fried tofu all by itself and I usually let mine fry an extra minute or so because I like mine extra crunchy.

Bake - Yes, you can bake tofu.  One of my favorite baked tofu dishes doesn't take long to cook at all.  Drain and cut 1 lb of extra firm tofu into cutlets or steaks.  Next, season the tofu with salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil.  Lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil and place the seasoned tofu, diced carrots and onion in the pan and bake on 350 degrees for 30 mins.  This healthy and hearty baked tofu dish can be served with vegetarian or vegan based gravy for a flavorful touch.

Saute - If you are in a rush or don't want to spend tons of time preparing a healthy dinner, simply chop some mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, and add to a hot pan.  Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and some minced garlic.  Next, add some cubed tofu to the vegetable mix and sauté for 5-7 minutes.  You can serve this tofu and veggie sauté over brown rice.

- This simple tofu based salad is absolutely delicious.  Prepare this dish the night before for an extra burst of flavor.  In bowl combine some cucumber (remove the seeds), chopped onion, shredded   carrots,  cubed firm tofu, fresh ginger, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive
oil.  Mix well and serve cold.

-   Eggs are not the one and only food that will provide you with an a.m. dose of protein.  Simply add some fresh or frozen fruit, soy milk, agave, and 1/4 cup of silken tofu in a blender and blend until smooth.  This protein packed fresh fruit smoothie will keep you feeling full until lunch time.

Crumbled - When crumbling Tofu, your vegetarian and vegan meal creations are endless.  I enjoy crumbling extra firm tofu and adding some olive oil, garlic and onion to a hot skillet and letting it cook for 5 minutes.  Then I add some cumin, paprika, and chili powder to the mixture and let it cook for 10 minutes.  I have just made a nice protein rich and low fat filling for my burritos, tacos, or taco salad.  Why have ground beef when you can use crumbled tofu?

Tofu, with out a doubt, has evolved in to a diverse plant based protein.  Now, you can purchase smoked tofu, cubed tofu, and other pre-seasoned tofu to make preparing a tofu based dish a little simpler.  But always remember that tofu is what you make of it.  Don't shy away from cooking with the various firmness (silken, soft, firm, and extra firm) textures that tofu has to offer.  So, go to the store, pick up some tofu, and start creating and cooking.

Ebony is the host of Beyond the Garden:  The vegetarian
cooking experience that explores healthy but very tasty vegetarian & vegan cuisines.  Ebony has been a vegetarian for 16 years & is now on a mission to educate, inform, & entertain vegetarians/vegans & those interested in eliminating or reducing their meat intake.  To participate in her online vegetarian & vegan experience visit: http://www.mybeyondthegardentv.com/easyveggiemealplan.php

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