SU Food Services lemongrass tofuEach month, SU Food Services features fresh, new ingredients at the Try Me dinner.  This program introduces students to fruits, vegetables, grains or spices that they may have never tried before.  Students can sample the featured food item in the dining center on the third Monday of each month during the academic year.  This month’s featured recipe is a vegan lemongrass tofu and SU graduate nutrition student, Catherine Stephan gives us an overview of the healthy ingredients featured in the dish.

Lemongrass is a common perennial plant known for its distinct citrus aroma and flavor. It is commonly used throughout the world in tea, as well as aromatherapy and traditional medicine. The oil extracted from lemongrass is known as citronella, and is most commonly recognized for its use as a natural insect repellent. Lemongrass has been used to help aid digestion, counter blood pressure and reduce anxiety due to its calming properties.

This month’s featured “Try Me” recipe, Lemongrass Tofu, is full of fresh and natural health-promoting ingredients that will treat your taste buds to a unique flavor profile that combines the slight bitterness of lemongrass with sweet, salty and spicy flavors that won’t disappoint.

Tofu is produced from the soybean, a legume high in protein and several essential minerals including iron, calcium and magnesium. Tofu delivers 21.76 g of quality protein per half-cup portion. It is considered a complete plant protein, providing all eight essential amino acids required for muscle, bone and skin growth, development and repair.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat with an optimal fatty acid profile high in omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 is not synthesized by the human body and therefore is considered an essential fat that must be obtained through dietary sources. The healthy fat found in olive oil helps increase the “good” cholesterol known as HDL cholesterol, while lowering “bad” cholesterol known as LDL cholesterol. Maintaining a healthy cholesterol ratio can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Garlic & Onion belong to the plant genus allium. Allium vegetables get their pungent flavor and aroma from the sulfur-rich compounds known as organosulfur. These compounds are largely responsible for the antifungal and antiviral properties of garlic and onion.

Turmeric is often identified by its bold, bright yellow color in culinary cuisine. This widely used herb boasts a myriad of health benefits due to its high concentration of the compound curcumin. Curcumin has been extensively studied because of its suggested anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant properties.

Sriracha gets its spicy flavor from chili peppers. Capsaicin is the chemical compound responsible for the heat profile of chili peppers and various other hot peppers including cayenne and jalapeno. Potential health benefits include increased metabolism and reduced inflammation.

Carrot & Red Bell Pepper contain carotenoids, a plant pigment that gives red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their bright color. Carotenoids are a rich source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and is beneficial for vision, cell-growth and proper neurologic and immune function.