Monday, 28 April 2008

Hey hey, it's superfoods day: smoked tofu burgers

Eco Sis has noted a couple of times in the comments to various posts that the concept of superfoods as something which assists the body in fighting off specific disease is both spurious and dodgy in the way that it’s presented as working (she said, for example, that the nutrients from the cacao nibs I wrote about would need to be injected directly into your brain to have the required effect, which seems to negate the fun of eating chocolate and feeling smug to me). She pointed out this post on the Cancer Research UK website in support of the point, and I’ve also read similar statements on the Food Doctor’s blog, and at the BBC.

I take her point entirely, and use the word superfoods just to indicate a food type which has a particularly high level of any type of good nutrient. I like the concept used in this loose form as it makes trying new things fun as well as making sure we eat a variety of foods (which is, after all, what all the nutritionists and doctors say we need). I didn’t want Eco Sis to have to grit her teeth every time she read the word superfood bandied about here, so thought it was worth clarifying!

Today’s ‘superfood’ [provisos apply] is tofu. Soy has been cited as a goodie because it contains high levels of isoflavones which act like the hormone oestrogen in the body and are linked with lower levels of breast cancer, and improved bone density, although those links are yet to be definitely proven. We usually cook tofu in stir-fries, but we have another favourite which I have to admit (after my earlier rant about her) is from a Gillian McKeith book. It's one of the few that doesn't call for sea vegetables, wheatgrass powder or endless radishes. It's for smoked tofu and bean burgers, which are also a good compromise between our tastes for hearty food (The Scientist) and lighter ingredients with a yen for things that come from beans (me). We serve them with sweet potato chips or veggies, with the burgers in buns with relish. Today we had grainy pitas, some new tomato relish we bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday (I finished the last jar of my beloved home-made banana chutney, so was allowed a new jar under my own one-in-one-out relish rule), and some steamed purple sprouting broccoli, also from the market.

I like these burgers because they have quite a light texture and weight in your stomach, and because the smoked tofu gives them a nice flavour. I also like the crunch of the sunflower seeds, while The Scientist likes it that they get bulk from seeds rather than oats, which he thinks give burgers a strange taste/texture combination. They’re also very quick to whiz up in my lunchbreak, and leave for The Scientist to bake while I’m at the gym. And they taste great – all the fun of a burger in a bun with added generalised and no specific implications for magical disease warding off properties superfoodiness. There, I hope that passes the Dr Eco test!

Smoked tofu and bean burgers (from Gillian McKeith, You are what you eat cookbook)

Makes 6-8 [I halved it and it still made 5]

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, trimmed, peeled and grated
410g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
220g smoked tofu, cut in 2-cm cubes
75g sunflower seeds
1 small bunch fresh parsley [I used dried]
2 tsp wheat-free vegetable bouillon powder [I used regular]

Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 7/400 F. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for 6-8 mins until the mixture is roughly chopped but not smooth

Remove the blade from the processor, take handfuls of the mixture and shape into medium-sized balls. Place on the baking tray and press down gently with the back of a spoon to form burger shapes.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 mins or until golden brown in colour. Serve with a crispy green salad and some tangy relish.


Johanna said...

These look great - I was in the supermarket the other day swithering over some smoked tofu and couldn't think what I would do with it so I left it - but I think I will head back and grab some for these soon!

LisaRene said...

I have yet to make a proper veggie burger, primarily because most of them do call for oats and I would think the oats would make them "soggy". Apparently I am in tune with the Scientist on this one :) Smoked tofu is a great addition as is the sunflower seeds, very healthy.

Lysy said...

The smoked tofu does give them a really nice flavour. I've made others which have oats in them and they're ok, but I'm also not so keen on ones with an oaty coating. These ones stay together without oats or eggs which is a bonus