Recipe: My Favorite Tofu Scramble

In honor of the launch of  The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, I thought I’d do something novel. I’m sharing a recipe for my best tofu scramble. I’ve been so busy working full time and prepping for the launch (and freelancing and training for a half last fall and teaching yoga again and… you know… life…) that I’ve only shared quick recipes on Instagram. I want to thank you for continuing to read — and for your support with the cookbook. (And, I’m freelancing full time these days, so expect more posts — and reach out if you’re interested in health coaching sessions!) With that, I’m sharing one of our family favorites. I hope you love it as much as Sam and I do!   

Tofu scramble is a vegan breakfast classic, so common you’ll sometimes find it on brunch menus at non-vegan restaurants. I love making it for non-vegan house guests. It’s savory and packed with protein, and it looks somewhat like eggs to those who aren’t familiar with it. It’s always a hit. That said, I have a few requirements for my tofu scramble:

  1. It must contain nutritional yeast, to give it a richer flavor.
  2. It needs to be heavily spiced — I don’t just want sautéed tofu.
  3. It can’t be too salty. Salt is the cheater’s way of adding flavor to any dish. (It also can’t be greasy. Oil is another cheat.)
  4. It needs to be packed with vegetables. I want to see a little of everything: greens, root veg and aromatics. If there are mushrooms, even better.
  5. It must be yellow — this is purely for aesthetics, but it also means you get a dose of the anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, on its own or in curry powder (I use both).

My beloved Park + Vine (RIP) had a delightful tofu scramble that met all of those criteria, but few other places make tofu scram the way I like it, so I often find myself drowning it in hot sauce.

I used to consider tofu scramble to be a weekends-only dish, but then I started making it in larger batches and omitting the greens (see #4 — greens are a crucial part of the dish for me) so it lasted longer. Now, we eat this every other week or so, usually with avocado toast or stuffed into a whole-grain wrap and toasted. Less than an hour of work on the weekends means several weekday breakfasts are ready in minutes. Now that we get up at the crack of dawn (5ish), every minute counts!

My secret is to load up on the herbs and spices. Thyme (and I sometimes swap in rosemary or use both) lends a savory note, while curry adds depth and heat. Smoked paprika is rich in umami, and its smokiness, along with the cumin, taste somewhat bacon-y (while I was never a bacon fan, I do associate smoky flavors with savory breakfasts). Tamari (instead of salt) adds more umami, as does nutritional yeast. Yes, there are a lot of herbs and spices, but that’s what makes it so delicious!

My Go-To Tofu Scramble 

Serves 6-8

15 minutes to prep (or less, depending on how fast you chop vegetables)

30 minutes to cook

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon grapeseed or avocado oil (optional)

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, finely chopped

1 pint cremini or white button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced

1 cup diced tomatoes or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons yellow curry powder

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth, divided

1 large sweet potato, chopped

2 (1-pound) packages firm or extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled into bite-size pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

To serve:

Scallions or chives

Sauteed greens or fresh baby greens

Directions

  • Place a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, if using.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers. Cook for two minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften.
  • Stir in the mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add the herbs and spices. Stir to combine, and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add half of the vegetable broth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add the sweet potato, tofu and garlic. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid. Some of the tofu and veggies should be brown and crispy, and some will be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add broth as needed to deglaze the pan again (this means “loosen the stuck-on bits” — this is another secret to getting more flavor from this dish with little to no added oil).
  • Add the tamari and nutritional yeast, and cook another 10 minutes, covered.
  • Remove from heat and serve, with greens and garnished with scallions or chives.
  • Or, if you’re batch cooking, allow to cool then pack into single-serve portions. Add the greens and scallions or chives before reheating.

Last Week’s Workouts: Power Outages and Schedule Changes

Last week didn’t go as planned, but I’m proud of myself for staying focused and not letting it get me down. It was one week, and in the long run, it doesn’t matter much. I spent Sunday morning in yoga teacher training, then ran errands and planned for the week ahead. I missed my window to run, then dealt with my old friend, insomnia on Sunday night. Monday it poured all day with strong winds (so strong it blew my front door open!), and we returned home to find our road closed to through traffic, a tree blocking the road just after our driveway and no power. We didn’t have power until Tuesday afternoon, so that thwarted our Monday night workout plans. It was still too wet and soggy to run or ride the dirt/gravel roads or the paths in the park, so we ran errands and went out for Korean instead.

Later in the week I got my groove back, then received some unexpected news on Thursday that spurred another weeknight out. I’ll share more about that soon, but I can say that I officially have no excuses for fitting in my workouts!

Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday: Yoga in the morning.

Monday: Rain and no power.

Tuesday: Morning yoga. Run 4. I ran the hills around my house while listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Big Magic. I find her, and especially this podcast, incredibly inspiring.

Wednesday: Morning yoga, brief, after another night with less-than-stellar sleep. (Not even valerian helped!)

Thursday: Morning yoga.

Friday: Run 3.5 — I let myself get too hungry, and I couldn’t go any further. Oops.

Saturday: Short hike with my mother-in-law.

Today: Sam and I drove to South Carolina to hike, only to find a line to park with an estimated 30-minute wait. Fail! So we came home, he hit the road and I did a bit of gardening. As soon as I publish this, I’ll head out for a run and do yoga after.

How was your week? 

I’m really excited for this week. I have some fun workouts planned, and it’s my first full week with my new schedule.

I’m Back, with Last Week’s Workouts

After nearly three years of work, I’m thrilled to say that The No Meat Athlete Cookbook is here, almost. The book arrived at the warehouse last Monday, and my personal copies will arrive Tuesday. (Recipe testers, yours will be in the mail by next weekend!) The “official” launch is May 16, but copies could be showing up at your local bookstore this week!

Now that the hard work is over and a few more things in my life have settled down, I’m resuming writing here. I intend to use this space for my personal posts, recipes and my real-life eats and workouts.

That’s something else I have more time for these days: working out! I’ve started lifting at the Y with Sam a couple of times a week, and now that it stays lighter much later, I’m running more, too. With my psoas issues (mine cause low back pain for me, as they do for so many of us), my physical therapist has forbidden me from running on the treadmill. Darn — ha! That means that when it’s too cold, dark or rainy to run, I don’t. I do something else instead, usually the elliptical or stair stepper. Since that’s cross-training, it’s even more beneficial for me than the treadmill.

Part of my rehab for my back pain (and an elbow issue caused by an overzealous Ashtanga teacher I no longer practice with) is weight lifting. I struggle with hypermobility, so I need so strengthen and stabilize my joints to force my muscles to do the work, instead of dumping into the joints and letting my ligaments stretch out.

Lifting with Sam is a win-win: I feel more comfortable in the weight room when we’re together, and I get to spend time with him being active. Having him next to me puts me at ease, and he watches my form, which is, admittedly, not great. I am graceful on a yoga mat but am completely uncoordinated when lifting heavy objects. I have a tendency to let the ends of my kinetic chain (read: my long, not-very-strong limbs) do the work instead of the bigger muscle groups like my shoulders, back and glutes. My super bendy hamstrings mean that I have a bad habit of bending over instead of squatting, which I’m trying to break. Three months in, I look and feel leaner and stronger, and I feel comfortable enough to do some lifting workouts alone. (I still have mustered the courage to use the squat rack or load up the trap bar on my own.) I’m enjoying my weight sessions more than I did at the outset, and it’s a good reminder to always keep a beginner’s mind.

In past years, I’ve had a word that defined my year. 2014 was change. 2015 was abundance. 2016 was more of a theme: eye on the prize. 2017? The word is balance. I’m finding more time for stillness, rest and reflection. It feels good. Part of that balance is ensuring that I always make time for my workouts. Here’s what I made time for last week:

Sunday:

Lifting: upper body

Yoga: half primary

Monday:

45 minutes yoga

hips and core work

Tuesday:

Yoga: 2nd series to kapotasana (three times & I caught my toes once!)

Run: 4 miles of hills

Wednesday:

I normally do yoga in the morning, but I was fasting for a physical and felt pretty lousy. I was starving when I woke up so opted to sleep in.

Walk: 1 hour

Some restorative yoga at night

Thursday:

Yoga: 30 minutes, with pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) drills at the end. I nailed this pose six times, so I think it’s time to start pulling away from the wall.

Lifting: mostly lower body but some upper body and core. I have awful deadlift form, so Sam has me using the trap bar. It’s helping, and I feel myself getting stronger. My PT likes to say: Grow a booty, change you’re life. She’s right! Stronger glutes are helping me so much.

Friday:

Run 4.5 miles

PM: Yoga practice during teacher training module

Saturday:

Yoga practices (2) during teacher training module. I’m working on my 500-hour teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center. I started it a couple of years ago and recently decided to get serious about it. I will have al my modules finished by year’s end! This weekend I did a session on yoga and anatomy, with my PT, Libby.

This week, the weather looks beautiful for running. I am going to aim for three runs, two lifting sessions and five to six days of yoga, plus walks on rest days. How are you moving your body this week?