Updated: Sep 2
An amazing plant-based, vegan-friendly, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free Chinese Sesame Pumfu recipe that makes approximately 3 servings, and takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare, with an additional 20-30 minutes for cook time.
As someone from New York, where Chinese food is on every corner and as delicious as ever, of course, I needed a plant-based option.
Chinese food is a pretty unhealthy delicacy that people like myself can't enjoy most of the time. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a ubiquitous yet quite toxic food additive usually used to enhance the flavor of foods. Monosodium Glutamate table salt from the common amino acid glutamic acid is one of the main ingredients; hence sodium is in the name. Monosodium Glutamate is made by fermenting starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, and molasses, meaning it is filled with salt and sugar, both things we should be limiting. Unfortunately, despite plenty of reports to the FDA of adverse events following consuming MSG, the FDA still considers it safe despite the various forms of toxicity it has been linked to and thoroughly discussed in scientific journals. According to the Mayo Clinic:
MSG is also a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognized as safe," but its use remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label (1).
To learn more regarding The Truth About Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), click here.
Then, of course, Chinese food is typically made with animal products, and meat consumption is consistently associated with diabetes risk and other animal by-products such as dairy consumption. Meat consumption is a risk factor for diabetes and isn't just limited to red meat consumption, as most think (2). According to U.S. News & World Report, the worst cancer-causing foods are red meats such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, and goat and processed meats such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, ham, and bacon (3). Processed meats have been linked to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (4). Research also suggests that highly processed foods are tied to higher cancer risks. Breast cancer, in particular, was associated with greater consumption of mass-produced, ultra-processed foods because these foods may often be loaded with sugar, salt, and fat while lacking vitamins, fiber, and other nutritional value (5).
So typically, when someone plant-based makes a dish similar to this, they use tofu. Tofu is a common way for vegan or plant-based people to get their daily protein with 20 grams per cup of tofu. Although soybeans do have some health benefits, we must remember that most non-organic soy products are brimming with GMOs, causing less nutritional value and more toxic effects due to the chemicals involved in the genetic modification process. Soybeans contain compounds like phytate, which may interfere with the body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals crucial for vegan and plant-based dietary demands. These same anti-nutrient compounds may also cause digestive issues due to a reduction in the gut's barrier functions resulting in inflammation that causes these digestive problems. To learn more regarding The Truth About Soy Products, click here.
I used to love Chinese food, but it wasn't usually a safe idea with a soy allergy, and now, being plant-based, it's a definite no-go. So when I was craving sesame chicken, I figured I'd make the dish myself, but of course, a plant-based version made with either Foodie's Pumfu or homemade Pumpkin Seed Tofu Alternative. This recipe is vegan-friendly, plant-based, soy-free, and dairy-free. I love this recipe and so do many non-plant-based eaters in my life, so I think it's safe to say that you'll enjoy it, too.