A Cheese-less Balance

by Holly on April 15, 2012

in Asian,balance,dinner,gluten-free,lunch,recipes,vegan,Wisconsin

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 manfriend and I (<- yes, there’s a manfriend) 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 manfriend 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.┬áBut 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

{ 40 comments }

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I love that there’s a man friend. And I love that you and your man friend have cheese curd eating parties. You rock.

Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas April 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Beautiful work on the post…. and do tell re: le man friend!

I <3 curds :)

Amanda April 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Everything in his post makes me happy–man friend and noodle bowls included :) And only Wisconsin residents would think a cheese curd-off and ample amounts of accompanying beer is a good idea :)

Kim April 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Love it! Congrats on the man friend and on that recipe – I cannot wait to make it!

Lauren @ Lawfully Wedded Wife April 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I’ve never had a fried cheese curd…or even heard of it! But now I want it. I have a feeling it should be something I eat before I die.

Angharad April 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Lovely pictures my friend! Also: I’m so relieved that this was only a cheese overdose and not what I feared: some sort of allergy/intolerance. PHEW. I give it to next weekend.

Andrea@WellnessNotes April 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I’ve never had cheese curds… But since I love cheese, I’m pretty sure I’d like them! :) And I can certainly imagine overdoing it on cheese… Sounds like you and the man friend had a fun evening! :)

Enjoy your little cheese break – I’m sure you two will be back together soon! :)

Lauren April 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

How can anything be wrong with fried cheese? :)
As much as I love hearing about it, these tofu bowls do look so delicious. I might just choose this over the fried cheese curds. :)

Megan April 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I agree with Angharad – so glad it’s not an allergy! There would be no crueler injustice than being a lactose intolerant Wisconsin resident.

Amy B @ Second City Randomness April 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Your cheese overdose is what often happens to me after marathon baking sessions.

It lasts about a week. But it’s a very healthy week…

And man friend? Hmmmmmmm…..

Abby @ Change of Pace April 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Looks like a delicious recipe!
The cheese crud story made me laugh…out loud.
Looking forward to hearing more about le man friend.

Emily April 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I’ve never had cheese curds, I’m certainly intrigued! Oh, and about that man friend…do tell!

Katie April 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

That sounds like the best date, ever.

Dorothy April 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I can completely picture the situation!
Your photos are awesome!

Carolyn @HealthKitten.com April 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Oh dear.

I’m with you on that. Except my “quest” has been “bacon cheese burgers” and “wine.” Ugh times 4.

Time to GTFO with my bad self! :)

Barb April 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

That sounds like about the best date ever!!!
And, I’m curious to know what the results were.

And, I’m hoping the cheese-less-ness is just a temporary thing.

Willow @ My Own Trail April 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm

How awesome that you have a new man friend who loves to eat! That makes date night so much fun. Yes, I might be a bit food obsessed. I love cheese curd, but I have NEVER had it fried. I live right below the Canadian border, so a very popular dish here is poutine. I don’t know if you have ever had it, but it’s absolutely magnificent in all its artery-clogging glory. It’s a plate of hand cut fries, smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Yes, that dish actually exists. Trust me, it’s amazing. Just as you have debates about the best fried cheese curds, we have out favorite poutine spots.

Emily April 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm

BETTER than the Old Fashioned??? Man! I’m actually not that big a fan of cheese curds. I can eat about two and that is enough for me. The ones at the Old Fashioned are good though. So are the MN State Fair cheese curds… just two tho : )

Sarah April 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I am relived there was no long term diagnosis for cheeselessness (you do live in Wisconsin!) and more of a curd hangover. I’m brewing my own kombucha. Get excited.

And this boy better be worth you swearing off food groups.

Danielle April 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Cheese curds from Graze! I’ve had those! And they’re the best! You have no idea how much that well-researched fact thrills me :).

Other points I like in this post: man friend, noodle bowl recipe, and the knowledge that a cheese fast will only last so long.

formerly crunchy granola gal April 16, 2012 at 5:34 am

love that the man friend is into unofficial fried cheese-offs. him and BT would be friends. it was definitely worth the effort, but i do think you’ll come back to your good old trusty friend/sometimes cruel lover mr. cheese. he’s just too damn good to give up forever, you know? for know, i’ll follow suit and eat some thai food too… planning to make tom kha gai this week, woop.

formerly crunchy granola gal April 16, 2012 at 5:34 am

for know? for now. good morning to YOU!

Nicole April 16, 2012 at 6:25 am

That’s a brave challenge to tackle. I have a super-sized bag of Rolaids that I may send your way.

Hillary April 16, 2012 at 7:22 am

Confession: I’ve never had a cheese curd. Now you have me intrigued.

Extra calories and fun meals are one of the best parts of getting to know a new man-friend. The fact that a fun date night for you guys is a taste test bodes well for this relationship, me thinks!

Bronwyn April 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

I don’t know that I’ve ever even had fried cheese curds, let along 3 orders of them! Wowzas that’s a lot of cheese. Sounds like the perfect date night though. Hopefully you were both in agreement of the winner?

Emily April 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

The fact that you and your man-friend have cheese eating competitions for date nights makes me so happy!

This recipe looks delicious. I’ve been trying to eat more vegan meals recently and I’ll probably tackle tofu some time soon – this might be my first time trying it :)

Charlotte April 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

BEST. DATE. EVER. I love it so much that I cant even be mad at you for giving up cheese! This makes me want to force Nick into doing a Juicy Lucy showdown in Mpls/St Paul.

Lauren @ The Climbing Chef April 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

You’re adorable! I give it two days too :)

Megan (Braise the Roof) April 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I don’t…I don’t even…know what to say. Sigh. I will say this much- next time we have another reunion in WI you better be past this phase because I’m going to demand some curds from Graze (since now I know you fed me inferior curds last time). Anyway, the noodle bowl looks good.

…Gah, no cheese?? I’m still not over it.

Meg April 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I am not a huge tofu fan but holy mother of god that looks unreal. Good job! I may have to make that and just sub chicken!
Also Cheese Curds are like my kryptonite. so good.

Baking Serendipity April 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm

My friend from Wisconsin is so embarrassed for me because I’ve never eaten a cheese curd. I think this post makes me want to…but I don’t know if I could deal with the ready to give up cheese after effects!

Robyn @ Blueberries and Oats April 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm

I too am ashamed to say I’ve never had a fried cheese curd! Apparently you’ve eaten enough for all of us though. ~.^ If I ever go to Wisconsin though, I know what I’m getting.

Amber @ Chocolate Broccoli April 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

Would it be a completely insane to say that I have never had a cheese curd? I know. Blasphemy. BUT I will say, being from the south I can and will eat my weight in macaroni and CHEESE. But, I do need to branch out to try said cheese curds. :)

I love the recipe- sounds amazing!

Maren April 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Well..It’s been two days. How’s it going?! ha! It’s very hard not eating cheese, but when it makes you feel like bung hole, it’s a lot easier. This looks awesome…the dressing will definitely be made ASAP.

thelittleloaf April 18, 2012 at 7:50 am

Just stumbled across your beautiful blog and am so pleased I did. I’ve been eating a lot of tofu recently and looking for new recipes so this is absolutely perfect!

Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed April 18, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’m not sure I could ever OD on cheese… but then again, I’ve never heard of a cheese curd! My fried cheese of choice is mozz sticks… dipped in ranch & hot sauce… oh my, gotta put my inner fat kid back in the box lol.

Britta April 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I’ve only been once for lunch but ooooh I love Graze. And personally I think the curds at Old Fashioned are overrated :) good luck abstaining from cheese, this Sconnie wouldn’t last a day!

elise April 19, 2012 at 1:18 am

now THATs a mother effin’ date night!

holy shiz my GI tract is in agony just reading about this post.

ps i had no clue what curds were until this post.

Rebecca April 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Please tell me that you included CRAFT in your search? Before eating fried cheese curds at Craft, I would’ve totally believed you that Graze had the best. But since eating the cc at Craft, they’re the hands-down winner. Best of luck to you. And Stephanie’s photos are fantabulous.

Matt @ The Athlete's Plate April 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Haha I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of cheese!

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