As I have written in my diet book and several articles, one way to reduce consumption of saturated fats, and gain other benefits of plant foods, is to replace part of four legged meats with such soy foods as tempeh and tofu. These, like ground beef, can be measured into small portions, wrapped in plastic film, and frozen. For use, let thaw over night in the refrigerator, or let stand one to two hours at room temperature, not long enough for spoilage. Be cautious if using a microwaver for thawing, so as to not incinerate.
I usually try my food experiments on myself before inflicting them on anyone else. When cooking for one person, I have found that lean ground beef in 1/4 cup portions works well for me. For tempeh, I usually cut an 8 ounce package in thirds, or a 12 ounce package into fourths, wrap and freeze. With 12 ounce packages of extra firm tofu, one can slice the block lengthwise into fourths, place the layers in a plastic freezer container with wax paper separators. This way, a bread knife can be used to separate out one or more layers without thawing the whole block. The freezer container is because freezing separates water from the tofu, which becomes very obvious on thawing, such as when using the entire container’s worth.
It is certainly possible to dice tempeh and tofu before freezing, but best if wrapped in pre-measured amounts.
I now describe a recent experiment making lean stew with roughly equal parts of lean ground beef and tofu. To make a pasta dish, omit the potato and carrot, and use angel hair pasta, about 0.7 inch or 1.8 cm circle’s worth, which requires only 3 to 5 minutes boiling.
I sliced a small potato lengthwise in half, then each half in thirds, then crosswise thinly. I also diced a handful of baby carrots. All this was put into a covered glass dish, and microwaved a minute at a time on high. The results were fork tender, not mushy, at a total of 7 minutes in my oven. The chef can do these vegetables slightly ahead of time, or while doing the following.
My “non stick” skillet needs a bit of help, which I provided with a thin coating of cooking spray. At moderate heat, I broke up and browned the meat, then stirred in the tofu, fork mashed. I had a refrigerated jar of diced garlic, otherwise would have used dried, about two teaspoons. For flavor, I added about a tablespoon of mixed green herbs (this time, “Italian Seasoning), and a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper. I NEVER USE GARLIC SALT.
Next I mixed in the carrots and potatoes, and turned off the heat.
I was fortunate to have some vine ripened tomato, which I had sliced into layers, then diced. I probably used about a fourth to third cup. I stirred in the tomato and two tablespoons of a reduced salt Japanese soy sauce. Note that I only warmed the tomato. Less soy sauce also works.
If using pasta instead of potato and carrot, I am more generous with tomato, using all of a fist sized fruit.
I hesitate to use canned tomatoes, because of the heavy handed use of sodium chloride and calcium chloride so common to prepared foods. I no longer use tomato sauce, whose making I consider to be extreme cruelty to vegetables.
If you prefer, add a small amount of water, or enough to turn the stew into a soup.
The only fat came from the lean ground beef, and the residual soy oil in the tofu. This amount of fat, and the food bulk, sufficed to satisfy my hunger until the next day.
Soy oil is the relatively safe non saturated fat.
To completely omit meat, but still have food to chew on, use tempeh instead of tofu, roughly 2 to 6 ounces, to taste. The tempeh should be diced small.
I consider cooking to be an experimental art form. That means I am willing to get ideas from cook books and dining examples, but I am not bashful about changing proportions, playing with herbs and spices, or combining ideas from different sources. All good recipes were results of similar experimentation. Traditional recipes can have more fat and salt than healthful in mechanized societies, but usually are easy to update.
** Diet with FACTS, not MYTHS. **