First of all, really Atlanta, really? Ninety-EIGHT frappin’ degrees tomorrow? NINETY-EIGHT?!?! Sigh.

I have a confession to make: I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with swimming. I have swum four days in a row this week and assuming all goes well tomorrow, the week will tally up to five, FIVE, swims in just as many days. Back in mid-January when I made my New Year’s Ideas and put down “learn how to swim” I never would have guessed that it would become a lifestyle-changing experience. But the best changes you never expect. Like I would have never expected myself to sell my car in 2006 and live car-free for three years in Atlanta. Wish I still were, but that lifestyle ain’t so easy in Roanoke. But when the bike became too stressful and a detrimental thing in my life, I went without a major form of exercise for almost one year. Then I decided to swim. My last semester of undergrad I audited a PE swimming class, learned some strokes, got used to going to the pool three times a week, and ever since I’ve been working on going longer, faster, and harder in the water. This week, with my “extra” time I decided to push myself and you know what? I think it’s paying off. Sure, yesterday kinda sucked–it was way too hot in the afternoon when I went and I got overheated–and today I didn’t get a full workout in (thanks lightning), but I can feel my stamina increasing and I just feel great overall. Achy, tired great. It feels good to have my body back.

But you know what tastes good? Dreena Burton’s Orange Sesame Tofu. I still don’t own Eat, Drink & Be Vegan (although I want it), but thankfully the internet’s got this recipe going. Served with a side of brown rice and garlicky green chard, it’s definitely one of the lighter meals I enjoy making on a semi-regular basis. You can totally switch it up with other veggies & whatnot, but I love the simplicity of a nice leafy green vegetable, crunchy brown rice, and orange spicy tofu. And one of these days I’ll actually get around to ordering this book!

Orange Sesame Tofu & Garlicky Swiss Chard

from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

2 tsp arrowroot powder
1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice (zest orange first, see below)
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp tamari/Bragg’s Amino Acids
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced 1/4-1/2 inch (5-10 mm.) thick squares, and patted to remove excess 1/4 cup green spring onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
1-2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (for garnish)

1 bunch of swiss chard, cleaned & chopped roughly (stems included)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil

1 cup brown rice, cooked

Preheat oven to 400˚F (205˚C). In an 8×12 inch (20×30 cm) baking dish, combine arrowroot with 2 Tbsp. orange juice and stir until fully dissolved. Add remaining juice and ingredients, except tofu, green onions and sesame seeds, and stir to combine. Add tofu and turn to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for 1 hour or more, or bake it immediately.

To bake, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn over tofu, gently stir to cover tofu with sauce, and bake again, uncovered, for another 6-9 minutes, or until sauce thickens and is bubbling at edges (sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).

Meanwhile, sauté the swiss chard with the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the swiss chard is tender. Remove from heat.

Remove the tofu from the oven, sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve over brown rice with the swiss chard.

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