It’s been a really long time since I have created a recipe for you using tofu. I shared my tempeh wraps quite a few weeks ago, but tofu-wise I don’t think I’ve given you anything since my scrambled tofu recipe. To be honest, I think this has mainly been influenced by some personal food intolerance testing I did a year or two ago showing soy reactivity, though now I find I can thankfully (thanks to a nice strong and robust gut) enjoy soy again.
Tofu is one of those ingredients that so many people avoid due to fear surrounding soy. I’ve written about this before so I won’t go into great detail here, however if you’d like to get more of a breakdown on this you can check out the blog post here. I find that when I ask clients in clinic about eating tofu as a protein source they often reply “no I don’t eat tofu, it’s bad for you… isn’t it?” The funny thing is so many people are avoiding tofu yet they are not even sure why.
What I will quickly reiterate here is that dietary soy is a modulator of the oestrogen within our bodies, and a weak one at that. If we were to be concerned about something affecting our oestrogen levels exogenously it should be our use of plastics, especially heating food in plastics. These types of xenoestrogens can have quite a profound negative effect on our hormones.
Soy conversely encourages oestrogen to be metabolised down more beneficial metabolic pathways and in fact discourages oestrogen from being converted to metabolites associated with oestrogen driven health conditions. It’s ironic to me that people are avoiding food like tofu and tempeh because of fears related to oestrogen excess when in fact these wholefood soy based foods can help by down regulating dysfunctional oestrogen.
On the other side of the coin I do see soy being problematic occasionally from a food intolerance point of view and also in relation to poor gut function (both of these issues have nothing to do with soy affecting oestrogen levels). Soy provides an abundance of fermentable carbohydrates that can be problematic in a poorly functioning gut, especially in the presence of SIBO and dysbiosis (inbalanced gut flora in the lower bowel). Of course when we correct our gut imbalances, remove inflammation and build a strong, robust gut lining we can often tolerate, if not thrive with these types of foods in our diet.
Well there you go, I still managed to have a little bit of a rant about soy even though I’d said I wouldn’t. I think I’m just particularly passionate about this currently as it seems to be a topic that comes up a lot. My hope is this recipe and blog post makes you think more fondly of ingredients like tofu and tempeh and find room for them within your diet, as they truly are delicious and nourishing ingredients.
sticky ginger tamari tofu & eggplant
- serves 3 with a side of grain of liking
- preparation time
- 20 minutes
- cooking time
- 60 – 70 minutes
- 1 medium sized eggplant (350g)
- 375g organic non gmo hard tofu
- 4 tablespoons tamari
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2.5 tablespoons pure honey (maple for vegans)
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
- 1/4 cup sliced spring onions, green ends
Pre-heat oven to 200c fan forced.
Chop eggplant and tofu into cubes around 2 to 3 cm in size. Place in a baking dish and toss with tamari, honey, ginger and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with pepper and place in the oven to bake for 50-60 minutes removing every 20 minutes to toss.
Add sesame seeds and the cashews at the 60 minute mark and toss through coating them in the marinade. Increase the temperature to 220° and place back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Once everything is lovely and sticky and golden remove from the oven. To serve, top with sliced shallots with a side of brown rice and some easy greens.
- Biochemically, isofavones can bind to two different forms of oestrogen receptors in the body. The have more affinity however to bind to one receptor over the other. These two different terminals if you will have different roles in regulating gene expression and physiological functions. The receptor associated with human breast cell cancer proliferation is the receptor of less affinity, where as the receptor with high affinity is actually associated with reducing proliferation. A 2010 study from the Journal of Nutrition on Is Soy Consumption Good or Bad for the Breast? concluded “In summary, human studies that have investigated changes in circulating hormone levels or mammographic density in pre- or postmenopausal women by diets high in isoflavones from dietary supplements or soy foods have found no significant effects, suggesting that they do not alter breast cancer risk. However, these studies have used moderate doses of isoflavones, reflective of Asian soy food consumption, and it is possible that higher doses could yield different results”. (J Nutr. 2010, L. HilakiviClarke et al)
- This sticky ginger tamari tofu & eggplant is a sound protein source for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Combined with the recommended brown rice and greens this meal is a delicious vego way to get your macronutrient balance. Tofu also provides great levels of calcium and manganese.