You don’t have to eat dairy to get your fill of bone-loving calcium. This vegan dish is packed full of calcium-rich tofu (also high in plant-based protein) and if you want increase the nutritional value, top with toasted sesame seeds.
If you’re anything like us, you grew up being told that you had to drink a glass of milk every morning in order to grow. Now you’re grown, you may be dairy-free, vegan or simply not an avid milk drinker. But the point still stands – we need calcium in order to build and maintain strong bones (which are vital if we want to continue being mobile and independent as we age).
“Women are more susceptible to reduced bone density as they tend to experience a more rapid loss of bone density during the first few years following menopause,” explains nutritionist Sophie Dillion from Fresh Fitness Food. “Reduced bone density can lead to fractures, breaks, or loss of mobility if severe, so it’s essential we are consuming our recommended calcium intake.”
If you’re plant-based, there are plenty of ways to get enough calcium into your diet, including nuts like almonds, green leafy veg, tofu, sesame (or tahini), lentils, beans or fortified cereals and plant-based milks. But, warns Sophie, “since plant-based forms of calcium are less easily absorbed, it may be helpful for those following a plant-based diet to supplement.” In any case, here’s a really delicious and nutritious fakeaway recipe for sweet and sour tofu, packed with calcium, vitamins D, C and B and potassium.
200g aubergine (cut into 1cm cubes)
200g tofu (firm, cut into 3 cm cubes)
1 tbsp Gochujang
1 tsp tamarind
1 tsp maple syrup
40ml black vinegar (substitute with rice vinegar if unavailable)
100g shiitake mushrooms
100g button mushrooms
½ spring onion (finely chopped)
1 red chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp chives
60g baby spinach
80g carrot (spiralised)
80g courgette (spiralised)
100g rice noodles (approx. 200g cooked weight)
Mix the cornflour, tamarind, maple syrup and black vinegar together in a bowl.
Coat the tofu and the aubergine in the mixture.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a low-medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the tofu and aubergine and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the tofu and aubergine start to crisp.
Remove from the heat when crispy.
In a separate pan, heat a little oil over a low-to-medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook these for 10-15 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.
While these are cooking, spiralise your veg.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. When the water is boiling, add rice noodles and cook until soft, for approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on the type you are using (check the back of the packet to be sure). When cooked, drain, rinse with cold water, and leave to the side.
Serve with baby spinach.
Garnish with fresh chilli and spring onion.
Recipe courtesy of Sophie Dillion from Fresh Fitness Food.
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Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.