Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Product Review: TofuXpress

At this point, I have been vegan for a little over a month, and vegetarian for about three months. I have been using more tofu than I ever did before, but not as much as I would like to use. Why, you ask? Because if you don't press it, it winds up watery and mushy and pretty flavorless...but pressing it is a real pain in the butt. It requires advanced planning and commitment that I often don't have to that night's dinner, and it uses a ton of paper towels in the process. Plus you have to hunt down something heavy to sit on top of it that won't slide off the plate and counter, and konk one of the dogs on the head. And you have to change the paper towels, sometimes more than once. Suffice to say, it was enough of a pain in the rear to turn me off of doing it.

I've made tofu ricotta using a couple of different recipes, and I enjoyed it because it didn't require pressing. But I wanted to break outside of that box, so I started checking out a product I had heard about called the TofuXpress. It's a small plastic box with a spring-loaded top that presses the water out of the tofu, without worrying about changing the paper towels or finding something heavy to put on top of it. In the spirit of "nothing ventured, nothing gained," I decided to contact the company to see if they would offer any type of discount in exchange for a product review. I was very surprised when they e-mailed me to offer me a free TofuXpress if I was willing to accept one with a damaged box. Of course, I accepted, and a few days later I received my TofuXpress. TofuXpress did not solicit my review.

It came in the box assembled, along with an instruction book that also includes several recipes. It was easy to take apart so it could be washed, and equally simple to put back together. I chose a recipe from the instruction manual that I happened to have all of the ingredients for -- Curry Tofu with Broccoli -- and set about giving the TofuXpress a try. To start, I simply drained the water from the container of tofu and put the tofu in the base of the press, then set the spring-loaded top in place. Within 30 seconds, a visible amount of water had already been pressed out, and within 5 minutes, water was already pooling in the well at the top of the press.

Water removed from the tofu after pressing for about 30 seconds

I pressed the tofu for about an hour, but I think you could potentially press it more quickly if you actively drained the water out every few minutes, as it pools in the top of the press. It pressed a good amount of water out -- there was about 1/2" of water standing in the top of the press ready to be drained out. This makes it easier for your tofu to absorb marinade, which is essential to making tofu taste good, since it has no flavor on its own. You can also use the container to marinate your block of tofu after you press it -- just remove the spring top assembly, remove the base platform which doubles as a marinating lid, add your marinade, and cover with the marinating lid.

The recipe I made was tasty, easy, and cheap to make -- a winner on all counts in my household. I'm looking forward to grilling some tofu this summer now that I can easily prepare it. Overall, I am pleased with the performance of the product -- it definitely makes pressing tofu much easier and makes it easy to keep the tofu in the refrigerator while it's being pressed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

WholeSoy & Co. Yogurt Giveaway Winners

It's time to announce the winners of the WholeSoy & Co. yogurt giveaway! I used the Random Number Generator to choose the winners, and the numbers 6 and 15 were selected. So that means the winners are...Christian and Terje! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered!

Shopping Vegan and Saving Money

I'm a pretty frugal grocery shopper. I have been since college, when I had a limited amount of money to work with and was doing my own grocery shopping for the first time. I quickly discovered that store brands were my friend, and so were the sale flyers. Ten years later, I still try to be as frugal as possible with my grocery money, but I will admit that I have been spending a little bit more on groceries since going vegan than I was before.

This doesn't seem to make sense on many accounts, since meat is expensive and I'm not buying it anymore. But vegan convenience foods like faux meats and cheeses can be very pricey, which seems to be where the majority of my grocery budget is going lately. Since I currently have a rather sizable stock of those convenience foods in my pantry and refrigerator, I'm going to try to go the next few weeks just buying basics to fill in -- mostly fresh produce -- and use up what is in my pantry to get my grocery budget back in control.

I'm thankful that eating vegan is pretty easy at my old standby cheap grocery retailer, Aldi. There are a surprising amount of accidentally vegan items lining their aisles, along with the items that obviously are, like fresh produce, canned beans, and rice. I went there today and came home with one huge bag of produce (including 5 lbs of potatoes, 1 lb of grapes, broccoli, mushrooms, 3 green peppers, eggplant, and kiwi) and another bag crammed full of other basics (including oats, canned beans, white and brown rice, applesauce, bread, and even some sweets), along with two half-gallon cartons of organic soy milk, all for $38. We'll be eating good this week, with lots of fresh foods, and all without having to spend a ton of money.