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A Cheese-less Balance

Posted Apr 15 2012 8:12pm

I honestly never thought this day would come.

The news I am about to reveal is so tragic…so sad that it’s hard for me to fathom right now.

I, Holly the Healthy Everythingtarian, am officially no longer eating cheese.

And I have only my gluttonous self to blame!

Last night, le man friend and I (<- yes, there’s a man friend) embarked on our most important date night yet: the 2012 Fried Cheese Curd-Off. Over a beer + basket of cheese curds a month ago, my food-loving man friend and I began arguing over which restaurant has the best cheese curds in Madison. To settle the dispute, an official curd-off was called. Three restaurants boasting the best fried cheese curds. Two determined taste testers. One final score to solidify once and for all which curd reigns supreme in the capital of America’s Dairyland.

Fast forward to last night. After THREE baskets of cheese curds, six beers to wash down said curds and a scorecard filled with ratings from 0-5 on cheese, breading, dipping sauce and overall deliciousness; the 2012 Fried Cheese Curd-Off ended with a clear winner and two stomachs in dire need of the Pepto Bismol, Pepcid AC and a jumbo cup of peppermint tea too.

It was a serious case of FCO: fried cheese overdose.

In fact, I didn’t eat breakfast until nearly 11am this morning because I was still full.

The moral of this story is two-fold: (1) the cheese curds at Graze officially take the top spot for the best in Madison (beating the Old Fashioned by a mere 1.25 points) and (2) there’s nothing like a fried cheese curd off to remind you how important balance is in one’s life.

The last couple weeks have been a bit…errr…poor as far as food choices have gone.

Too many carbs. Not enough veggies. Too much eating out at restaurants. Not enough exercise to mitigate the large portion sizes and uncounted for calories. But thanks to the 2012 Fried Cheese Curd-Off, I no longer want to see cheese – fried or unfried – for a very long time.

In fact, all I want is salads…tofu…kombucha… butternut squash pizza (sans cheese)…more salads…fruit smoothies…and water. Lots and lots of water.

I give this two days.

Lemongrass Tofu Noodle Bowls
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 (14-oz) block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 T canola oil
2 t sesame oil
2 bulbs lemongrass, minced
1 t minced garlic
juice 1/2 lemon
1 head romaine or boston bibb lettuce, roughly chopped
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 cup bean sprouts
1 (8.8-oz) box vermicelli rice noodles
1/4 cup mint, julienned
garlic gomasio, red chilies, cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Sesame Soy Vinaigrette
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t minced garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 t sugar

In a tofu press or homemade tofu pressing contraption , press tofu for 2o minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, canola oil, 1 t sesame oil, lemongrass, garlic and lemon into a medium bowl. Once tofu is pressed, cut into 1/4-inch thick squares and toss in marinade for at least 20 minutes. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute tofu (with marinade) in 1 t sesame oil until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a small dish and set aside.

To serve, plate 2 cups of lettuce into each bowl. Top with one serving of rice noodles, 1/2 cup shredded carrot, 1/4 cucumber, 1/4 cup bean sprouts, 1/4 of tofu and 1 T mint. Drizzle 2 T of vinagrette over the top, and enjoy!

Makes 4 noodle bowls

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