Friday, July 25, 2008

Tofu, how I missed you

So I meant to write about this a while back but I totally forgot. It's really great news: I can eat soy again! As you may remember, I got allergic to it while I was pregnant -- crazy hives all over. It took weeks to figure out what the heck was causing it.

When Zadie was 6 weeks old, the dermatologist gave me the goahead. I dove in head first with a delicious Tofishy sandwich from Zenith while we were at the I Made It! Market in Pittsburgh's South Side.

I haven't had any adverse reactions and Zadie seems fine with it as it comes through the boob. Soy and dairy are common allergens for breastfed babies so I paid a lot of attention to her behavior that day and the next.

The whole ordeal, however, really got me to wondering. When I was pregnant, I had to read labels with a vengeance. Soy is in almost everything and the tiniest little molecule of the stuff would send me to scratchland. I also read a lot on the dangers of soy and the benefits of soy. I came to the decision that moderation really is the best scenario for all of us.

We stopped drinking soy milk a long time ago and opted for the more benign rice version. Lately we're trying to alternate some other soy- and dairy-free versions like almond milk. In our lives, we avoid processed foods as much as possible. It wasn't making sense anymore for us to eat all this stuff that's tauted as being "healthy" simply because it wasn't a meat product (or by-product). Now we only eat things like soy burgers, soy dogs, and my favorite chik nuggets and patties if it's a last resort (for example, we are at someone's bbq or out to eat with my parents). And perhaps last resort isn't the best term. Basically, we've stopped buying it but will definitely support businesses and restaurants that offer vegetarian options.

At home, we eat tofu that's locally made. We've been eating a lot of bean dishes and even hiding beans in other foods. My favorite is potato soup with a can of Great Northern beans blended and poured in. But I'm proud of us for downsizing our processed vegetarian stock. It's been a challenge because the modern vegetarian diet consists so much of these meat replacers and that doesn't make sense either. I stopped eating meat in the early '90s because it was started making me feel gross. I wasn't an animal rights activist (although I married one) and I certainly am not a health nut. I don't know why or how all these fake meats became such a staple of our diet. But now that they're gone, I just feel so much better -- and I'm eating for two of us now.

Oh, that fabulous tofu man up there is by Etsy seller ButtonArcade.


MamaBird said...

Congrats on the return of soy - I had to avoid a loooot of foods while nursing (dairy, eggs, top 8 allergens at one point)...and I know how great it is to have the foods return! Agreed on processed soy, even as a non-veggie (and props to you cause as a veggie it must be tough). I regret feeding lots of it to my kiddo when she was a toddler... So maybe you are the person to ask for a great black bean burger recipe?!

LemonCadet said...

Good question! I don't think we've found a black bean burger recipe that's not really dry. We've been eating a lot of chic pea cutlets from the new Veganomicon. They are really good.

Mommy Relcuk said...

I agree - meat replacements are high in sodium and other badness.
But -- the exception -- a couple of times a year I do love a fake bacon BLT. The fake bacon here is Canadia is nasty.

We are also working on getting back to eating more "real" food in our house. We've been relying a lot on prepackaged and restaurant food and cold cereal for the last two months or so. But we're trying to transition back to eating more homemade meals.

Mommy Relcuk said...

Here is our usual black bean burger recipe. It is from "Cooking Light" many years ago. I was actually planning to make some this weekend and freeze them to see how that works out

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained
1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
2/3 cup salsa

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 8 ingredients (onion through garlic); sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beans; sauté 1 minute. Combine bean mixture, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl; stir well.
Place 1 cup bean mixture in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add puréed bean mixture and cheese to remaining bean mixture; stir well. Divide mixture into 10 equal portions, shaping each into a 3-inch patty.

Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Coat skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add 5 patties, and cook 3 minutes or until browned, turning patties carefully after 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining patties. Serve with salsa.

LemonCadet said...

I forgot about all the sodium. When I was pregnant I was really into canned asparagus. Danger to the ankles!

And I know what you mean about the quick stuff. We ate so much takeout right after Zadie was born -- and so much cereal. It's a wonder she grew at all with all the crap I was eating.

I don't know how you do it at all with 3.

MamaBird said...

Thank you SO much, Mommy Relcuk - you rock. I can't wait to try them (I am a former Cooking Light addict).

Yasoda & said...

I am trying to eat simply as well. I have stopped buying most of the over processed soy. I am a huge fan of tofu for breakfast lunch or diner. Three Cheers for the yummy soy bean. I also love curd aka paneer. It is just not as friendly to the waist line.