I think most of the time you either love tofu or you hate it. I hope to change your mind just a bit with this vegan salad bowl with crispy baked Tofu. When it comes to whether or not tofu is healthy, there are some pretty strong opinions on both sides. Some say it’s bad because it messes with your hormones or your thyroid and others think it is a complete health food. I’ll get to what I think later, but I like to always consider different sides no matter what before making any opinion. Plus, I really don’t believe in demonizing any one food or food group, so you won’t find me doing that here either.
By the title of this post, I am sure you guessed that I do obviously eat tofu, so I must consider it healthy. The truth is, I don’t have tofu very often, probably only a few times a year, so when I do, I make sure I enjoy it. And this vegan salad bowl with crispy baked tofu recipe is perfect for one of these occasions. I also used to be vegan (you can read about that here) and would eat tofu quite frequently, probably about 1-2 times a week. When it is prepared and cooked right (like in this vegan salad bowl with crispy baked tofu) it is actually really delicious. So if you are avoiding it simply due to having bad tasting tofu in the past, I hope this recipe can help you reconsider that.
Whats Up with Soy?
It seems that tofu is one of the most controversial foods out there when it comes to whether or not its healthy or not. There are many things to consider and I am going to do my best to show all sides of the debate and I leave it to you to make a decision on whether or not you want to eat tofu or other soy products.
This is kind of a loaded question when it comes to soy and tofu to be honest because contrary to what ANYONE tries to tell you their is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. I am not paid by any one party to endorse soy or tofu one way or the other. My only reason for doing this is to show you that when it comes to nutrition research there is no right answer. When I came across a nutritionist linking to a very questionable nutrition article bashing tofu I was kind of surprised. The “research” cited in the study was questionable at best and yet it was being presented as facts. This is what I have a problem with. Demonizing a food (or food group) as not healthy especially when it is based on research that is shaky at best, what is the point?
So I did come across a very well researched pubmed article on soy and its affects on health, I knew I had to share. It’s important because it doesn’t say one side is right or wrong, plus it means I can eat this vegan salad bowl with crispy baked tofu more often. Instead, it argues that more research needs to be done and much of the research out there has conflicting results.
This is important. This is what matters.
– Soy does not appear to offer protection against osteoporosis.
– The evidence on male fertility and reproductive hormones was conflicting; some studies demonstrated a harmful impact caused by soy consumption and others showed no effect.
– Soy supplementation also appears to affect thyroid function in an inconsistent manner, as studies have shown both increases and decreases in the same parameters of thyroid activity. Note that this is referring to soy supplementation which is completely different that the occasional amount of soy or tofu in your diet. Most people I have seen that cite problems with soy or tofu state that it interferes with thyroid function when in fact the research states this is inconsistent.
– Soaking, fermentation, and heating may reduce problematic anti-nutrients contained in soy.
– The authors found that consuming moderate amounts of traditionally prepared and minimally processed soy foods may offer modest health benefits while minimizing potential for adverse health effects. However, additional studies are necessary to elucidate the variable thyroid response to soy supplementation, and more rigorous studies are required to assess dose-response relationships, the relationship between intestinal-flora composition and the response to soy, potential fertility issues among males, and the unknown long-term health effects of consuming highly processed modern soy foods.
What are my thoughts on all of this:
Buy Organic: Most soy out there is genetically modified which has numerous implications for our health and for the health of our environment. The studies that have been done on GMO’s have not been able to determine that they are not bad for our health and because it is such a new thing, it is hard to know for sure what the long term effects on our health will be. Because of this and so many other reasons, I do only buy organic tofu. The other issue with GMO’s is the residue of glyphosate that can remain on the food. Glyphosate is one of the main ingredients in Round-Up, a chemical that is sprayed on many crops. It has been linked to numerous health problems. You can read about these issues here.
Try and Eat More Fermented Variations: Although tofu is not fermented, every once and a while, I think it is ok to consume. However, when you include fermented soy products like tempeh, this has more health benefits. Because it is fermented it is much easier to digest and also contains probiotics which are essential for our gut health and overall health. Other sources of fermented soy include: miso, tamari and natto. Swap the tofu for tempeh if you want in this vegan salad bowl with crispy baked tofu recipe.
Don’t overdo it: Like most things in life, don’t overdo it! Soy is hiding in many processed food items which is why it can add up quickly in our diet and that could lead to health problems. My suggestion is to watch the amount of processed foods you are consuming and look for hidden sources of soy that are processed and probably GMO. Soybean oil is EVERYWHERE! If you are having soy in its whole form and eating fermented forms of soy, I don’t see a problem in including it in your diet. We want a variety of foods in our diet and soy and tofu is one of them that can be included in our diets in my opinion so long as you are cognizant of the above points I made.
Enter This Vegan Salad Bowl with Crispy Baked Tofu…
There are a lot of misleading claims being made about tofu and soy. Some are true, some are not and some need more research to be done. Always be wary of anyone who says to never have something EVER. And with that being said, always be wary of the research that does exist out there. Look at who funded the study and see if a conflict of interest exists there.
My goal is to provide a balanced approach to nutrition and I always encourage you to listen to your body and see how something makes you feel.
Ok, now onto the fun stuff! This vegan salad bowl with crispy baked tofu is just delicious and I highly encourage you to try it in some way. Change up the tofu if you want to tempeh or another source of protein, like chickpeas! Make it your own in a way that suits your life and your needs.
The key thing here when it comes to making crispy baked tofu taste amazing, is all in the prep! I highly encourage you to get out as much water as possible by pressing it so that it is better able to soak up the flavours you add to it.
For the tofu, I used Cookie and Kate’s method!
For the dressing, check out Michelle’s Raw Foodz Dressing, it is one of my favourites!
- 1 block sprouted organic tofu, cut into cubes and then pressed
- 1 tbsp. low sodium tamari
- 1 tbsp. avocado oil
- 1 ½ tbsp. arrowroot starch
- Pinch of chili flakes and sea salt
- 2 big handfuls of mixed greens, I used arugula (feel free to use any greens you want)
- 1 scoop of kimchi
- 1 small handful of shredded carrots
- ½ watermelon radish, sliced thin (use any kind of radish)
- ½ avocado
- Sprinkle of sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400, line a baking sheet with parchment paper so the tofu doesn’t stick.
- Slice the tofu into even slabs and then into cubes.
- Place the tofu cubes on a plate with a clean towel or paper towel below and on top, place a cutting board on top of the plate. Place something heavy on top of the plate, I used my cast iron pan. Let that sit for about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the tofu and add to a medium sized mixing bowl and add in the tamari, avocado oil and mix well. Then add the arrowroot powder and make sure all the tofu is covered and no white powder remains.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes, then flip them around and bake for 12-13 minutes more.
- Remove and let cool slightly.
- Prepare the bowl by placing the greens at the bottom, followed by your toppings and then add the tofu on top with a pinch of sea salt, chili flakes and sesame seeds.
- Top with Michelle’s Raw Foodz Japanese Joy dressing.