Evolving Wellness

Holistic, Natural, and Green Approach to Optimal Wellness

Review: Sunrise Stir-fry Tofu n' Sauce

With the rising popularity of vegetarian diets, and the increasingly known benefits of plant-based eating, tofu has become a common food item in North American stores and kitchens. Over the last decade especially, up to today, more people whether omnivore or herbivore are choosing to incorporate tofu into their diets. Some of course have their hesitations when it comes to the role of soy on hormone fluctuations and whether it actually is a healthy food to consume. Rightfully so, as research continues to surface about how soy affects our health, specifically when it is processed forms of soy.

I was recently sent a sample of a new tofu product that became available in Canada as of March 2012. It is the new Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce from Sunrise Soya Foods. In this review I will share with you my experience with it, as well as a thorough nutritional analysis of this food product.

Sunrise Soya Foods is a company based in Vancouver, Canada that was founded in 1956 by Leslie Joe and his wife Susan, who were newly immigrated from China. Realizing that there was a demand for tofu in the Chinese community of Vancouver, they began making small batches of tofu in their grocery store, Sunrise Market. The current Sunrise Soya manufacturing plant was purchased in 1983, and in 1985 the first packaged Sunrise tofu products were available at supermarket chains throughout Western Canada. In 1999, Sunrise became one of the first companies to promise exclusively non-GMO soybeans in its products. A new manufacturing plant opened in Toronto in 2000, to meet the growing demands of the North American market.

To date, I have enjoyed tofu on several occasions from Sunrise Soya. However, as tofu in and of itself is a type of processed food, the tofu I had bought to date was always organic and plain to have the product be the closest it can to its natural form. This product from Sunrise Soya was very different in that it comes with its own sauce. This is of course done to be in line with the level of convenience most people in our society expect today when it comes to meal preparation.

The Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce comes in 3 flavors: Sesame Ginger, Teriyaki and Sweet & Sour. I was sent a sample of each one to try. However, I have to say up front that as soon as I looked at the ingredients, I was reluctant to personally try any of them. I simply do not put into my body today (and have not for years) anything that is not wholesome, natural and free of the ingredients that these products came with. So I did budge and try one of the three, the Sesame Ginger, which I found to be the best of the worst. As expected given the amount of sugar and salt these things contain, it tasted good. I have no doubt the other two flavors do as well.

The problem with food products like this is usually not the taste, but the nutritional aspect and health consequences. This product is an excellent example of how convoluted the word “healthy” has become in our society today and why so much confusing information exists today when it comes to nutrition. We take one aspect of something that is healthy and focus on that, omitting all other properties or characteristics of the product that are undesirable. We know in our daily lives that not telling the whole story about something, may not be lying, but it sure isn’t right either. Here is a detailed look at the ingredients of each of the flavors.

Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce Sesame Ginger

Ingredients

  • Tofu (non-GMO soybeans, water, calcium sulphate)
  • Sesame Ginger Sauce: water, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger (ground ginger, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum), corn starch (non-GMO), xanthan gum, garlic, sesame seeds)

Nutrition Facts (per 125g serving – 2 servings per pouch)

  • Calories 180
  • Fat 8g (Saturated 1.5g, Trans 0g)
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 650mg
  • Carbohydrates 14g (Fiber 1g, Sugar 12g)
  • Protein 12g

Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce Sweet & Sour

Ingredients

  • Tofu (non-GMO soybeans, water, calcium sulphate)
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce (sugar, ketchup (tomato concentrate from red tomatoes), distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, spice, natural flavoring), water, tomato paste, salt, corn starch (non-GMO), lime juice, hydrolysed corn protein, citric acid, garlic, onion powder

Nutrition Facts (per 125g serving – 2 servings per pouch)

  • Calories 220
  • Fat 7g (Saturated 1g, Trans 0g)
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 640mg
  • Carbohydrates 26g (Fiber 1g, Sugar 22g)
  • Protein 14g

Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce Teriyaki

Ingredients

  • Tofu (non-GMO soybeans, water, calcium sulphate)
  • Teriyaki Sauce (sugar, water, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), corn starch (non-GMO), rice wine vinegar, salted mirin (water, rice, dextrose, corn syrup, salt), garlic, natural caramel color, sesame seeds, ginger, xanthan gum)

Nutrition Facts (per 125g serving – 2 servings per pouch)

  • Calories 190
  • Fat 7g (Saturated 1g, Trans 0g)
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 680mg
  • Carbohydrates 20g (Fiber 1g, Sugar 16g)
  • Protein 12g

So yes, these product have great protein amounts, and are even a source of iron and calcium. But if we break down the above into simple nutritional terms, by consuming these products one is eating tofu with lots of sugar and salt. And there is just no way that we can call that healthy today. Each of the flavors contain multiple sources of sugar and salt. Both of these are highly acidic to the body, and detrimental to every level of our health and weight. And we cannot dismiss these products as “once in a while”, as for most people if it is not this, it will be another processed food product full of sugar and salt.

These products are not suitable for anyone with high blood pressure, or wanting to prevent high blood pressure, for like all processed foods they are very high in sodium. They are not suitable also for anyone who has a soy, gluten, wheat or xanthan gum allergy or sensitivity.

We have to be aware also that soy and corn are two of the top genetically modified crops today. And while it is commendable that Sunrise Soya Foods does not use GMO soybeans and makes distinctions about the corn starch, there may still be hidden GMOs like in the corn syrup. Speaking of corn syrup, having this ingredient alone should be a red flag for the health conscious consumer.

The front of the package focuses on how easy, fast and convenient this product is, which is the main bait for many consumers today. It also shares that it is preservative free, although this is a bit misleading given that salt is a natural preservative and given the amount of salt in these products, other preservatives are not even needed. It also shares that it is cholesterol free, which is normally a given that it is a plant food, and that it contains iron and calcium. As with all processed food, the rule of thumb is never be swayed by the front of the package, no matter what it says. Always, always, always, read the ingredients and the nutritional label to determine if the product is worthy of entering your body.

Conclusion

When it comes to this company therefore, I have no problem buying or recommending their plain, organic tofu from time to time and appreciate that they provide it in various textures. However, they also produce many highly processed forms of tofu, aside from the reviewed product above, so the consumer has to be aware of what they are buying. For myself, there is no way I would ever consider buying or recommending to anyone else the Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce. I know our culture is all about convenience, even at the cost of forsaking health, but it is simply time to wake up unless we want to continue with the current health and weight problems we have.

If one chooses to enjoy tofu in their diet, it only takes a little creativity and a few minutes to whip up a super easy sauce which can marinate tofu, or be added to any tofu dish. It is amazing how far a little Tamari, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, medjool dates and other similar whole food ingredients will go. We just need to take some accountability for our food choices and step out of the robotic patterns we have been used to where meals consist of opening prepared and processed food packages, rather than putting together fresh, wholesome, natural ingredients because we are constantly battling the syndrome of not enough time.

And yes, at just under $3 per package, this product will be an easy sell and will have a lot of people hooked. However, as more people choose better, truly healthy food options and actually start reading their food package ingredients, calling products like this healthy, will become a thing of the past.

Packaging

The Stir-fry Tofu n’ Sauce comes in plastic ziploc-like bags in 250 g sizes.

Price (as of this posting)

  • Around $2 – $3 CAD in local grocery stores

Availability

  • In Canada, widely available in most grocery stores
  • In the US at selected grocery stores
  • To find a store near you, check the store locator

The Good

  • Good taste
  • Convenient
  • Uses non-GMO tofu
  • Vegan/Vegetarian friendly
  • Very affordable

The Bad

  • A processed food
  • A highly acidic food
  • High in salt/sodium
  • High in sugar(s)
  • Not organic ingredients
  • Various health harming characteristics
Published Mar 22nd 2012
Updated Feb 11th 2013
Evita Ochel
Author Evita Ochel
Evita is a consciousness expansion teacher. Her diverse passions and expertise include being a writer, speaker, holistic nutritionist, web TV host, and author of the book Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition. Her health oriented teaching focuses on natural, whole, plant-based and organic nutrition for optimal health and longevity. Her spiritually oriented teaching focuses on consciousness expansion and heart-centered living for optimal joy and inner peace. Evita is also the creator of several online publications: Evolving Beings, Evolving Wellness, Evolving Channels and Evolving Scenes, as well as Healthytarian—a lifestyle for the well-being of the mind, body and spirit.

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