What is it?
Tofu is made from the curds of soybean milk (and water and a curdling agent) and is associated with Asian cooking/cuisine. To a vegetarian, tofu is likely a staple in the diet. However, this no-taste, mushy food, that you have no idea what to do with, is likely to be the last thing on your mind when you are looking for a high protein and high calcium food. Tofu is also a good source of iron, copper, selenium and omega 3-fatty acids.
There are several different types of tofu, all with around 60-90 calories per serving. Depending on the purpose for using the tofu, you can choose from Firm, Extra firm, silken or soft. I usually use Firm or Extra Firm (depending on which one is on sale) for cooking.
Here's the nutritional breakdown of Firm Tofu:
Serving size 2.8 oz (14 ounces in a package)
Calories per serving: 60
Fat per serving - 3.5g
Sat fat - .5g
Polyunsaturated fat (healthy fat) - 2g
Monounsaturated fat (healthy fat) - 1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0mg
Total carbs - 1g
Dietary fiber <1g
Sugars - 0g
Protein - 7g
Compared to a glass of organic milk (I compared to Stonyfield Farm Organic fat free milk) which is:
1 cup serving
Total fat - 0g
Cholesterol - less than 5mg
Sodium - 125mg
Carbs - 13g
Fiber - 0g
Sugars - 12g
Protein - 8g
Now there is nothing wrong with milk (skim, soy or organic) I just wanted to show a similarity of two types of protein sources in the diet.
Types of Tofu
Silken tofu (soft) - softer consistency than regular and will fall apart easily. Silken may be found in aseptic boxes that do not require refrigeration, whereas regular tofu requires refrigeration and is packed in water.Silken tofu has a shelf life for up to a year, whereas regular tofu (in water) should be used in less than a week. Silken tofu is similar to regular (same ingredients) but processed differently and can't be interchanged in recipes.
Most recipes with silken tofu will be used for dressings, sauces, deserts or smoothies.
Regular tofu - comes in a plastic container. Once you open the tofu package, you should empty out the water, cut out your portion and fill the package up with 1/2-3/4ths clean water. Cover and refrigerate for no more than a week. Continue this every time you use it for the next few days (empty water, fill with clean water). You can also put the tofu in a Tupperware container and follow the same instructions.
Regular tofu (firm, extra firm) is great in stir fries, tofu dishes and anything that requires tofu holding its shape. Firm and extra firm tofu can be used in dishes when the meal calls for crumbled or mashed tofu.
Tofu can be frozen for up to 5 months in its original package.
How to use it?
-Add spices and bake or cook it until golden brown will a little olive oil.
-Marinate it with low sodium sauces or hot sauce.
-Add tofu chunks to soups and stir fries.
-Crumble tofu into egg mixtures or deserts.
-Add tofu to smoothies.
-Add tofu to salads or pasta.
-Crumble or chop tofu on pizza.
-Blend tofu with salsa and garlic for a creamy dip with pita chips or on a wrap/sandwich.
Why should you eat it?
-Soy has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides which are major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
-Protein will aid in tissue repair and rejuvenation.
-Because of the bland taste (without spices or dressings) you can add it to any recipe and not even know you are eating it.
-Tofu is quick and easy to prepare. You may not acquire a taste for it right away but if you experiment with different recipes, you will learn to appreciate its wonderful nutritional value.
-Tofu's protein quality is similar to milk, eggs or meat. Tofu is low in fat, has no cholesterol and sodium and is high in healthy fats (poly and monounsaturated) and high in protein.
-Good source of calcium, iron, b vitamins, copper and zinc.
-You can reduce your intake of fatty meats, without missing out on protein, by substituting tofu for meat dishes such as lasagna, sloppy joes or stir fries.
-Tofu has only 1g of carbs. For people looking to reduce calories without sacrificing flavor and taste, have you favorite piece of bread with a thick slice of marinated tofu.
*I'll be honest, I would take scrambled eggs over tofu anyday. However, the more I eat tofu and find different ways to prepare it, the more I really enjoy having it in my daily diet. I usually add it to my egg+veggie mixtures in cubes or I top homemade pizza with thin tofu slices. I absolutely LOVE putting it in the oven on 400-degrees with garlic, a little olive oil and a little balsamic until it is golden. Then I chop it into pieces and add it to my salad.
*I've never made this recipe but found it on http://www.savvyvegetarian.com
Check out the site for many more vegetarian recipes.
* 1 lb extra firm tofu
* 1/4 c each whole wheat flour, corn flour, & rolled oats
* 1/2 c parsley tops or fresh basil leaves, washed & dried
* 1 tsp each paprika, coriander, cumin
* 1/2 tsp dried basil or thyme
* 1/4 tsp ginger
* pinch cayenne
* 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium with 1 tbsp. olive oil, or your favorite cooking oil. *You can add garlic to the oil for extra flavor.
2. Cut tofu into 1 inch chunks, and add to food processor. If you don't have one, mash by hand or with a potato masher, and finely chop the parsley or basil first.
3. Throw in everything else and mix well by hand, or on low in the food processor just until it all clumps up.
4. Form into thin patties, and fry in small amount of oil, on medium heat, 5-7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
If you need more ideas...