Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stacy Eats Her Words (and Quinoa)

I have confronted the enemy, and I have lost.

If you harken back to my first post ever on this blog, I asked the following question:

"Do you like to eat healthy in general but despise words like 'tofu' and 'quinoa' and those who use them?"

For me, the answer had always been yes. I grew up in a steak-and-butter household where the world of organic hippy healthfood was scorned. As I have gotten older I have begun to embrace healthier eating, but was never quite able to overcome my fear of scary foods like tofu and quinoa.

Last Wednesday, I faced those fears.

At my apartment complex, two lovely ladies from the Durham Whole Foods came to deliver a vegetarian cooking demo. Many of our residents are woefully unable to cook healthy foods for themselves, so Whole Foods came to the rescue!

I was personally excited to learn about some other meal options that DON'T revolve entirely around meat (I'm pretty sure every single meal I eat involves at least one dead animal), but you can imagine my horror when the menu for the demo included both tofu AND quinoa!!

Amy and Katherine of Whole Foods made it their mission to teach us that these foods were not only easy to make, but surprisingly delicious. They pulled up their bootstraps and got to work!

Skeptical doesn't even begin to describe how I felt, especially as the Whole Foods specialists began to explain the process of pressing tofu. I even got to try a little cube of raw, plain tofu, and it tasted like a squishy, cold packing peanut.

HOWEVER, once things got going, I was taken aback by how delicious these strange foods could be. The Whole Foods specialists showed us how to make baked tofu, how to cook quinoa, and how to whip up a super easy potato leek soup.

For the tofu, we cut it up into little cubes and then my roommate helped toss it with some Whole Foods Cajun Seasoning.

Then we just put it on a baking sheet with some cooking spray and popped it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Super easy, and it tasted SO different when it came out! Tofu is like a flavor sponge: it has no flavor of its own, but it absorbs whatever you cook it with. And if you bake it, it becomes nice and firm, not soggy.

While I don't think this will necessarily replace meat in my diet, it could be a tasty snack to have every once in a while.

After the tofu, it was time for the quinoa (KEEN-wa). Don't say "kwin-oh-a" or you will sound like a fool.

My boyfriend got roped into helping with this, but if anything, that should serve to demonstrate that ANYONE can cook this stuff. I legit have never seen this boy cook before in my life, and he was able to turn this....

....into this!

Okay, so it still looks sorta creepy. But the quinoa ended up being the surprise star of the night. It's a grain that is CRAZY healthy for you (it is a complete protein with all your amino acids, high in fiber, and cooks faster than rice!)

It has a nice texture too...a little crunchy burst sort of like caviar, but minus the fish egg taste, of course. You can mix it into pretty much any food you want (salad, soup, pasta, etc.)

My roommate and I immediately proceeded to buy some quinoa from Whole Foods that night! I was literally eating my words.

Some other things we learned that evening:

The joy of boxed broth:

The joy of spinach:

And, sometimes Whole Foods specialists double as paparazzi:

Over all, it was a fun evening and everyone learned (and ate) a lot.

Stacy's Final Thoughts (Jerry Springer style):

I guess this is the typical case of not judging a book by its cover. For years I judged tofu, quinoa, and other similar foods as gross healthy stuff that couldn't possibly taste good. It just goes to show you that you can't knock a food til you try it!

Thanks to Amy, Katherine, and Whole Foods for converting a non-believer ;)

Have you tried tofu, quinoa, or any other crazy foods? Were they better than you expected? Post and let us know! And if you want more info and recipes involving tofu and quinoa, check out the Whole Foods website!


  1. YES. listen to Whole Foods ppl, but not your best friend...whatevs

  2. Hey, I ate your tempeh that one time....

  3. HAHAHAH this is the most hilarious thing I have ever read...can't wait till we cook together!!!