Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu (and a New Direction for the Blog)

Earlier this week, my sister called me because her nearly one year old baby (and my one and only nephew, Sammy), whom she is currently raising vegetarian, has an appointment for a hemoglobin test in a few weeks and she wants to make sure he is consuming enough iron. Reading from my handy resource for vegan nutrition, Get it Ripe by Jae Steele, I told her the following:

sources of iron: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), dried fruit, kidney beans, lentils, blackstrap molasss, navy beans, parsley, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, Swiss chard, thyme, turmeric

(since vitamin C increases absorption of iron) sources of vitamin C: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, collard greens, grapefruit, guava, kale, papaya, parsley and strawberries

My sister also had questions about preparing quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah). I turned to Get it Ripe's handy chart on grains and discovered that quinoa has the highest protein of any grain, contains more calcium than cow's milk and is a source of vitamins B and E and iron. That's a lot of good stuff.

Let's skip to another conversation I had this week with my husband, Dylan. He asked me what we were going to eat for dinner. My response was, "I was going to make cookies." If making cookies for dinner isn't a wake up call, I don't know what is. So, guess what we had for dinner the very next day? You got it -- QUINOA! Not just any quinoa, either. Quinoa with broccoli, raisins and grilled tofu tossed in an orange-sesame dressing. Dylan praised it as the best meal he's had in a long time (although, let's be honest, A PLATE OF COOKIES was the competition).

Before I give you the recipe, I'm going to do a little nutritional PR for each component of the meal, partly for my sister and nephew, partly for myself and partly for the folks who ask, "where do you get your protein?" (to be fair, I haven't been asked that in a long time).

oranges: vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids
quinoa: high in protein and calcium, vitamins B and E, iron
broccoli: calcium, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium
raisins: iron
tofu: iron, protein, calcium

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu:

For the quinoa:
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raisins

For the orange-sesame dressing (recipe from Appetite for Reduction):
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 to 3 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Microplaned or finely minced fresh ginger

For the tofu:
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, pressed (wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel, place 1 or 2 heavy books over wrapped tofu and let sit for at least 1 hour, up to 4)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained**
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Make the quinoa:
In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water is absorbed. Add raisins and remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare tofu:
Using a handheld blender or blender/food processor, puree 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, ginger, tamari, water, cashews and toasted sesame oil. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a square casserole dish. Slice tofu into 1-inch wide rectangles. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry tofu for 7-10 minutes on each side. Transfer tofu to prepared casserole dish and pour marinade over tofu. Place lid on dish or tightly cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

While tofu is baking, prepare dressing and broccoli:
Combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, salt, hot chili sauce and ginger in a bowl or a glass jar with a lid. Set aside. Chop broccoli into large branches. In same oiled skillet used for tofu, saute broccoli over medium heat for 7-10 minutes.

Put everything together:
When tofu is done baking, add broccoli to quinoa and toss with dressing. Serve warm with baked tofu.

*Information from Get it Ripe, my bible for vegan nutrition. Get yourself this book!
**You can skip soaking the cashews if you don't have time.

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