When I go through a carb counting book with patients at the hospital I always get the same response when I get to the plant-based protein section. It goes like this:
ME: “Some plant-based proteins contain carbohydrates while others will not count towards your daily carbohydrate choices. These can be great additions to your diet so you stay within your carbohydrate range and get adequate protein. Tofu is one that does not have enough carbohydrates to count as a carbohydrate choice. Have you ever tried tofu?”
PATIENT (with a disgusted face) “Yuck, no. I don’t eat that stuff and I never will.”
ME: “I would encourage you to try it sometime. It has no taste at all, so you can put it in dishes and make it takes the way you want. The consistency can be like ricotta cheese or like cream cheese, depending which type you get, so you can use it in many dishes.”
PATIENT (looking unconvinced): “No, that is gross. I’m not going to eat that stuff. Plus, it’s expensive isn’t it?”
ME: “Actually it pretty cheap. Just a dollar or two for 12 ounces – A pound of ground sirloin is usually $4.”
The conversation re: plant-based proteins is usually done there. I wonder what it is about tofu that scares everyone so much. I really tastes like nothing and has a creamy texture, which most people like. However, I too am occasionally scared of tofu and need mor practice at preparing dishes with it. I have made tofu cheesecake before, which my roommates thought was real cheesecake until I told them otherwise. I frequently made spinach lasagna with tofu in the place of cottage cheese when I was in college, but have not made it recently. After a few more patient interactions like the one above I decided I needed to get back into using tofu (lucky Jason…). Not only because it is a great protein, but because I want to perfect some great-tasting recipes that I could try to convince some patients to try. This weekend I made the lasagna again. It turned out just like I remember and Jason loved it. I added ground sirloin for Jason (90% lean…so a healthy choice), so this is protein-packed meal.
His and Hers Spinach Lasagna
- Crock Pot (4-6 qt works the best)
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce (whatever kind you like – we just used traditional)
- 6-8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
- 1 packaged of frozen spinach
- 3/4 pound ground sirloin
- 1/2 red onion
- 12 oz soft tofu
- Italian seasoning
- 4 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz fresh parmesan cheese
- Brown the sirloin with onion in a pan. No oil is needed. Drain off extra fat.
- Thaw out the spinach and drain the water.
- Place the tofu in a container. With a fork mash it up until it looks like ricotta cheese. Add 1-2 tsp of italian seasoning and some pepper. Add more or less seasoning depending on your preference.
- Pour 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of the crock pot. Break 1/4 to 1/3 of the noodles to cover the bottom.
- Add some ground turkey, spinach and tofu mixture. Top with a layer of noodles. Top noodles with 1/3 of the cheese.
- Repeat this until all of the ingredients are gone. Be sure that cheese is the very top layer.
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours, on until the edges of the cheese begin to lightly brown.