YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Grilled Tofu & Cucumber Salad

Grilling season—yeah! Here’s something so delicious you’ll probably want to make it even if you aren’t vegan! Of course, if you do want to make something special because your favorite vegan happens to be coming for dinner, then this really yummy recipe is a great choice! And you should plan to make enough for everybody, just in case. The warm and cold; soft and crunchy; sweet, sour and heat all add up to a very pleasing set of contrasts. 

Why avocado oil, you might ask? Avocado oil is a great choice for this recipe because it tolerates high heat beautifully. Buy a small bottle if you don’t have one, and use it whenever you make popcorn or stir fry. And if you don’t happen to have a usable grill, no worries…just pull out your biggest frying pan.

1 pound extra firm tofu
1 medium clove garlic, chopped finely with ¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, thinly chopped (green & white)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
4 tsp. avocado oil
2 tsp. tamari
1 English (10-12 inches long, no seeds) cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Prepare tofu:
Slice the tofu width-wise into 8 slices. Remove the slices to a large cutting board that is raised up on one side to drain to the sink, and cover with a layer of paper towels (or cloth). Place the slices on the toweling, cover with another layer of towels, and press gently to absorb excess water. Leave as is, allowing tofu to drain/dry 5 minutes more.

Prepare marinade for tofu:
Mix together garlic, ginger, scallions, allspice, nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp. avocado oil, and tamari. Transfer the tofu slices in a glass baking dish. Spread half the marinade over the tofu, and set aside remaining marinade for later. Marinate 10-15 minutes.

Prepare cucumber salad:
In a medium bowl, toss cucumber with lemon juice and pepper flakes. Set aside.

Grill tofu:
Heat grill or pan to medium, and add remaining avocado oil. Grill tofu for 7-8 minutes, flip with a thin metal spatula, and repeat on other side.

Plate and serve:
Divide cucumber salad among four salad plates, and cover with two slices of tofu per plate. Mix rice vinegar into remaining marinade, and pour over tofu just prior to serving. Serves 4.

Thank you to Cleveland Clinic and Sara Quessenberry for a prior version of this recipe.

Winner by a Mile

Last year, an article entitled “Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health?” was published in the scientific literature, and James Hamblin wrote a story about it for the Atlantic. He called it “Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner is Real Food.” You know, I would have edited out the word “Real” and then called it, simply, “Food.” The original article was written by David Katz and Stephanie Meller, of Yale School of Public Health. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: End-of-Vacation Salad

This recipe reminds me of a tiny little funky restaurant that I once stopped in on my way home from southern Florida, headed home to the Great Lakes.

It was so refreshing and delicious to feel the different textures and flavors of this inspired salad in my mouth after having taken the trouble to uncurl myself from the back of an SUV where I’d sat, folded and crumpled, in a tiny little corner under an ever-shifting pile of boxes, suitcases and children, all of us trying hard not to think about the fact that we had come to the end of a long and happy vacation.

We had been driving all day. Maybe we were in Tennessee, or it might have been West Virginia. A college town clearly on break. It was almost sundown and the streets were mostly empty. Continue reading