The Edgy Veggie

Sesame granola, crackers and cookies worth opening


Main dish

Sesame Lacquered Bok Choy and Tofu

Roasting intensifies the rich sesame, soy and ginger flavors. Feel free to substitute broccoli or cauliflower for the bok choy, and serve with brown rice.

1 pound firm tofu

2 heads bok choy

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup mirin (rice wine)

4 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce

2 teaspoons agave or honey

4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 or 2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drain tofu by squeezing gently between your hands or pressing with a plate. Rinse bok choy, blot dry with towels, and place in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, whisk ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sriracha, agave and sesame oil to emulsify.

Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Scatter the tofu cubes around the bok choy, and pour ginger mixture over all.

Roast for 10 minutes. Turn bok choy and tofu and baste with pan liquid. Continue roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until bok choy is tender, tofu turns dark and slightly crisp at the edges, and the liquid has thickened and become syrupy. sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 262 calories (41 percent from fat), 12 g fat (1.7 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 17.8 g protein, 24.8 g carbohydrate, 6.6 g fiber, 1,235 mg sodium.

Assyrian legend maintains the gods drank sesame seed wine, then created the earth. In the story Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, the password “Open sesame” reveals hidden gold and jewels.

So what’s with sesame? Magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and Omega-6 essential fatty acids and an incredible buttery taste.

Best kept in small batches and stored in a dry, airtight container to ensure freshness, tiny sesame seeds are not only delicious, but contain oil that is antibacterial, antifungal and has a pedigree — it’s called the Queen of Oil. Like olive oil, it’s nutrient-dense and mostly monounsaturated, but has a bolder, almost smoky flavor.

Sesame features in some of our favorite foods, from Asian sesame noodles to hummus, which gets its creaminess from that luscious sesame seed paste, tahini. Alas, no one seems to be making sesame seed wine, but other sesame products are showing up on supermarket shelves.

Mary’s Gone Crackers (6.5 ounces, $4.79) teams sesame with flax seeds and whole grains including brown rice and quinoa, then bakes them into addictively crispy discs (tasters happily chomped through a whole box). A handful of crackers (about a dozen) contains 140 calories, 5 fat grams, 190 milligrams sodium, and 3 grams each fiber and protein.

Sesame shows its sweet side with chomp-worthy Go Raw Super Cookies (3 ounces, $4.99). With flavors including chocolate, lemon and chai, these cookies contain organic coconut, sprouted sesame seeds for extra nutrition and dates for sweetness. An 18-cookie serving contains 160 calories, 8 fat grams, 5 scant sodium grams, 4 grams of fiber and 2 protein grams. The fine print: These cookies are very, very small. Enjoy atop fruit salad or yogurt for crunchy fun rather than as a stand-alone treat. Like Mary’s, they’re organic, vegan, kosher and gluten-free, as well raw.

Sesame’s turning up at the breakfast table with Bakery on Main’s gluten-free granola (12 ounces, $5.99). Corn is the main ingredient in this GMO-free mix, along with evaporated cane juice for sweetness and sesame, sunflower and flax seeds for added fiber, nutrition and a crunch that stands up to milk. A 1/3-cup serving contains 140 calories, 6 fat grams, 15 milligrams sodium, and 2 grams each of fiber and protein.

Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”

Read more The Edgy Veggie stories from the Miami Herald

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