Whats tofu made of

Contents

An introduction to tofu

Tofu, or bean curd, is a popular food derived from soya. It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it – in much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. The liquid (whey) is discarded, and the curds are pressed to form a cohesive bond. A staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cookery, it can be cooked in different ways to change its texture from smooth and soft to crisp and crunchy.

The origins of tofu

Like many soya foods, tofu originated in China. Legend has it that it was discovered about 2000 years ago by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed. Introduced into Japan in the eighth century, tofu was originally called ‘okabe’. Its modern name did not come into use until 1400. By the 1960s, interest in healthy eating brought tofu to Western nations. Since that time, countless research has demonstrated the many benefits that soya and tofu can provide.

Nutritional highlights

Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorous. In addition to this, it also contains magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.

An excellent food from a nutritional and health perspective, tofu is thought to provide many of the same benefits as soya beans.

A 100g serving contains:

73 kcal 4.2g fat 0.5g sat fat 0.7g carbohydrate 8.1g protein

Research

Soya protein (from which tofu is derived) is believed to help lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Tofu contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones – a group of chemicals found in plant foods. They have a similar structure to the female hormone oestrogen and therefore mimic the action of oestrogen produced by the body. They naturally bind to oestrogen receptor sites in human cells including breast cells – potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Due to the phytoestrogen content of soya, many women decide to include soya-rich foods like tofu in their diet as they enter the menopause. During the menopause, the body’s natural production of oestrogen significantly reduces, and symptoms may arise. As phytoestrogens act as a weak oestrogen, they may help relieve symptoms by boosting levels slightly, reducing hot flushes in some women.

Genetics, your gut microbiota and environmental factors play a huge part in how our bodies react to certain foods, so, as yet, we can’t say whether a diet rich in phytoestrogenic foods is beneficial or not. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, soya-based foods like tofu can be an invaluable part of your diet.

How to select & store

Tofu can be acquired in bulk or individual packages, both of which are refrigerated. It’s sold in sealed containers kept at room temperature, which do not need refrigeration until they are opened. When opened, all tofus needs to be rinsed, covered with water and kept in a refrigerated container. To keep the tofu fresh for up to one week, the water should be changed often. If kept in the original package, you can freeze it for up to five months.

Given its neutral taste and range of consistency, tofu has an amazing ability to work with almost all types of flavours and foods. Extra firm tofus are best for baking, grilling and stir-fries, while soft tofu is suitable for sauces, desserts, shakes and salad dressings. Of course, it is up to you to experiment! Try slicing, marinating and grilling it, or chopping it up into smallish pieces and frying it with garlic until golden. Silken tofu is a creamy, softer product.

Safety

Tofu and all soya products contain large amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of kidney stones containing oxalate should avoid over consuming soya products.

Before changing your diet, it is advisable that you speak to your GP or an alternative health professional.

Recipe suggestions

Firm tofu makes a great addition to a stir-fry:
Tofu, greens & cashew stir-fry
Sesame noodles with tofu

Experiment with tofu in some classic recipes:
Tofu & spinach cannelloni
Spicy tofu kedgeree
Veggie Thai red curry

Or something a little more unusual:
Tofu & vegetable patties
Devilled tofu kebabs

Tofu is also a great addition to salads:
Soba noodle & edamame salad with grilled tofu
Summer vegetable bowl

This page was last reviewed on 4th November 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit OurPath where Jo is a Health Coach or follow her on Twitter at nutri_jo.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Here are 5 major health benefits of tofu you probably didn’t know about

Tofu or soybean curd is a soft, cheese-like product, which is produced by grinding soybeans to form a milk-like substance. Ideal for a vegan, tofu is rich in proteins, minerals and calcium, besides being a great substitute for meat.

It is rich in minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and selenium.

Also read: All that you need to know about soy milk: It’s better than drinking cow’s milk and is great for weight-loss

The health benefits of tofu are numerous. It helps prevent certain chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and also prevents cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. In addition, tofu helps in weight loss and prevents early ageing. Consuming tofu regularly helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduces symptoms associated with menopause.

Also read: Milk is nature’s best wellness drink, here are 4 healthy reasons for you to slurp it

And if you thought that was all–tofu has been found to be a great source of calcium and vitamin E as well. So, let’s list them out for you.

Here are 5 health benefits of eating tofu:

  1. Regular consumption of tofu helps reduce the risk of getting a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, by reducing bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
  2. It prevents obesity and helps lose weight, as it is extremely low in cholesterol and fat content.
  3. The low-fat and low-calorie content makes it an excellent food choice for diabetics. Intake of at least 200 grams of tofu per day can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  4. The proteins present in tofu help improve the elasticity of skin, and tone facial muscles.
  5. Touted as a complete health food, tofu is rich in proteins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants that help improve the functioning of the immune system.

Before we begin there is a lot of confusion around what tofu actually is. Tofu is made up of the bean curd of soybeans. It is made in a similar way to the way dairy cheeses are traditionally made which is why it is often referred to as tofu cheese.

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Cholesterol Sponge

Tofu’s spongy texture isn’t all for show, not only is tofu low in cholesterol but it can help reduce your cholesterol levels. As part of the digestion process it absorbs oil and other foods that can cause disease.

Iron Woman

Yes you are our next superhero and you’ll want to add tofu to your breakfast. In 100g of tofu you will get up to 30% of your daily iron requirements @1.

Veggie delight

It’s time to fall in love tofu is one of the richest vegetarian sources of protein. Tofu and other soy products like tempeh are an essential for any vegetarian or vegan diet.

Bones

Tofu is rich in both potassium and calcium two minerals that are great for bone health and also for preventing osteoporosis.

Snack-a-holics dream

Always on the hunt for a nibbley? Look no further than your new found friend. Tofu is packed with protein so will keep you full for longer but is also low in kilojoules – the ultimate all rounder and perfectly balance snack.

Rapunzel’s necessity

Spoiler alert, we now know the secret to Rapunzel’s those luscious locks… Tofu is packed with protein, and loaded with a specific variety called keratin, which helps promote hair growth.

So next time your looking for recipe inspo don’t shy away from good ol’ tofu or get the pros to season your taste buds. A WH fave at the moment is Mad Mex’s Veggie Rancheros with Organic Tofu.

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Should I Eat Tofu?

4/5 experts say yes.

It’s chewier than chicken! Better than beef! It’s…a big block of bean curd!

And 80% of our experts are wild about tofu.

Made from the curd of crushed-up soybeans, tofu is a meatless master of disguise. A serving packs 9 grams of protein and even more iron, gram for gram, than a lean cut of steak—plus far more calcium, zero cholesterol and a fraction of the fat.

It’s been a staple in Asian populations for thousands of years. “The traditional Okinawan diet provided among the world’s largest intake of tofu, and Okinawans not only have lived the longest—with the least disability—but have had among the lowest heart disease, breast, prostate and colon cancer and dementia rates in the world,” says Dr. Bradley Willcox, a principal investigator with the Okinawa Centenarian Study and director of research in the department of geriatric medicine at the University of Hawaii.

Soy has a controversial reputation, since it contains phytoestrogen plant compounds that may or may not like the hormone estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. Research on its health benefits is far from conclusive. But Maarten Bosland, a cancer researcher and professor of pathology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine who’s researched soy, says he knows of no evidence showing it’s harmful—and plenty that points in the opposite direction. In fact, several studies have suggest that soy is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, a better survival rate among people with lung cancer, lower levels of inflammation and a smaller risk of hip fractures in women, says Cameron Wells, RD, acting director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Not everyone thinks consuming tofu is a good idea, including Elena Giordano, a biologist and nutritionist in Italy who researches the effects of soy in mice. 93% of soy is genetically modified, she points out. That’s because genetically modified soy is bred to be more resistant to herbicides. (There’s no solid evidence that GMOs cause any real harm, but if you’re worried, you can buy organic soy, which isn’t genetically altered.)

It’s also important how you eat your tofu. Soy products often hide in highly processed foods, from salad dressings to energy bars. And the world’s longest-lived populations aren’t noshing vegan processed soy cheese and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. “The key is consuming your soy in whole food sources,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic.

Think miso, tempeh, edamame—and those blocks of tofu, of course.

Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

Read next: Should I Drink Almond Milk?

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Write to Mandy Oaklander at [email protected]

April is national soyfoods month in America. Seriously. Every month of the year has been snapped up by at least one food group or industry. Why not soy in April?(!) Given that, I wanted to address a couple of common misperceptions about tofu.

First off, I’m an omnivore. My new book, Asian Tofu, isn’t a vegetarian cookbook or one that aims to preach and convert. It’s about showcasing tofu as a delicious food with borderless Asian roots.

Nevertheless, a handful of people have asked me about tofu’s impact on personal health. I’m not a health expert and often end up engaging people in conversations about what tofu is and what it’s not. Below are a couple of recurring topics and a recap of my responses. Feel free to weigh in.

Is tofu a processed food?

The answer depends on how you define a processed food. Most of us think of processed foods as something that’s been altered from its natural/original state, mostly for convenience or safety reasons. It’s been stripped of its essence. It’s a non-food or food-like substance. It’s packaged in cans, frozen, dehydrated, refrigerated and has gone through some kind of aseptic processing so that it can have a longer than freshly made shelf-life.

If you survey the various kinds of tofu sold at an Asian market, you’ll see it as a food that can be:

  • frozen (sponge-like for sucking up seasonings and broth)
  • dried (gossamer and great for dumpling wrappers, soup, sautes)
  • freeze dried (lightweight and terrific for long-term storage)
  • refrigerated (the ubiquitous blocks, fried pieces, noodle-like strips, pressed and baked, etc.)
  • jarred (fermented, preserved, and full of umami)
  • canned (pouches for inari zushi, a supermarket mainstay)
  • boxed (for travel or emergencies only, please!)

In terms of how tofu can be commercially sold, yeah, it’s technically a processed food. Here a few ways that tofu can be packaged:

Aside from being a packaged product, tofu is also a processed food in the sense that it typically involves rendering soy milk from soybeans and water and then coagulating it to separate the curds and whey. Mold and press on the curds to make block tofu.

Indeed, there is a process involved, but the pertinent question is: How removed is tofu from the dried soybeans that it’s based upon?

Not much. The kinds of tofu described in the bulleted list above are minimally processed foods.

Next time you shop for tofu, check out the ingredient label. It’s probably not very complex. Common coagulants include: calcium sulfate (gypsum), magnesium chloride (nigari), and delta glucono lactone (GDL). In the case of tofu skin, there’s often a preservative involved. Then there are soybeans, water, and maybe seasonings depending on the type of tofu. There shouldn’t be too many strange sounding ingredients on the labels. If you’re really into exploring tofu, make some from scratch to understand how it comes together.

Another type of processing that Asian tofu goes through yields mock meats, though Tofurkey and Soyrizo are not among them. During my tofu research time in Taipei, I saw chicken molded from tofu and tasted this darn convincing tofu pork belly:

Looks like pork belly but tofu is part of this mock meat.

Some people enjoy meat analogs fabricated from tofu but I see them as overly tricked out Franken-tofu that are a bit too far removed from tofu. They’re fun to sample but don’t seem like food I’d want to eat often.

On the other hand, Asian cooks do have straightforward ways to use tofu to create interesting mock meats. For example, below is unagi modoki (fake tofu eel) that I craft from mashed tofu:

Unagi modoki — mock eel made from tofu. It’s really good. Trust me.

I start with tofu, mash it up, then sculpt it to look like eel. Finally, I cook and garnish it to replicate the real deal. You could make splendid sushi with this tofu eel. (For the recipe, see the Mock Meats chapter, page 157, of Asian Tofu.)

Can eating too much tofu be bad for you?

I ate a lot of tofu on a regular basis while writing the book. One discovery that I made was this: It’s really hard to eat a lot of tofu in one sitting. Tofu is a very filling, satisfying food. In fact, after we filmed TastingTable.com’s tofu tasting bar video, the crew and I couldn’t finish all of the tofu, despite being famished at the outset. You can only eat so much tofu before you feel full.

Of course, people who suffer soy allergies should definitely stay away from tofu. If that’s not your problem, and you want to have soy in your diet, note that foods containing soy-derived ingredients are not the same as tofu.

For example, eating a soy-laden protein bar is not like eating a block of tofu. Check the protein count on the energy bar and compare that to how much tofu you have to eat to get the same amount of protein. It’s typically a sizable quantity of soy-derived protein that’s been added to the bar. On a tofu label such as this one, the serving size is generally 3 ounces:

This is silken tofu, the softest kind. Super-firm typically has 14+ grams per 3 oz serving.

What’s more, if such kinds of soy-rich products are a major part of your diet, you may overload the body with soy. Extreme eating of anything may cause your body to negatively react.

In 2009, Men’s Health magazine ran a lengthy story on soy’s potentially negative effects. Among the cases featured, a man developed enlarged breasts (“man boobs”) as a result of drinking 3 quarts of soy milk a day. Erectile dysfunction, high estrogen levels, and dementia were also mentioned as perhaps resulting from over consumption of soy. The takeaway was this quote:

For his part, Dr. Lewi believes that soy products in moderation can still be a healthy part of a man’s diet. “The problem,” he says, “is when a thing like soy is touted as this wonderful panacea for health, and people end up going overboard on it.”

This past March, the Harvard study on eating red meat got a lot of people running for their vegetable and bulk bins. I poked around the Harvard School of Public Health website and found an article on smart approaches to choosing protein for your diet.

The bottom line is that there is no magic bullet, one-size-fits all approach to healthy eating. With regard to soy, all the claims about the health benefits of eating lots of soy – from lowering cholesterol and mitigating hot flashes to preventing breast and prostate cancer, helping weight loss, and preventing osteoporosis – are inconclusive. So are the claims against eating soy. What’s a health-conscious person to do?

This nugget of advice came at the bottom of the ”Straight Talk about Soy” section:

Eat soy in moderation. Soybeans, tofu, and other soy-based foods are an excellent alternative to red meat. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to go overboard: Two to 4 servings a week is a good target; eating more than that likely won’t offer any health benefits and we can’t be sure that there is no harm.

So unless you have a bad reaction to soy, go ahead and enjoy tofu once or twice a week. Fry tofu, if you want; that’s what many Asian cooks do. Have it as a savory or sweet, with meat or without, as part of a varied diet with lots of vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruit.

Finally, if you’re eating tofu because it’s suppose to be healthy but you don’t really like its taste, maybe you should try new ways to prepare it. If that doesn’t work, tofu may not be for you.

Healthy eating should not be about deprivation. If tofu is part of your diet, it should be a delicious food to you, not a denial food. Life is too short.

Got a question about tofu or soy? Let me know and I’ll try to answer it.

Related post: A video guide to tofu textures and sample tofu recipes from Asian Tofu.

Below, Zanini and Kanda explain these two meatless faves and then answer which ultimately wins out in the plant-based protein battle of tempeh vs. tofu.

Photo: Twenty20/ @margueta

What is tempeh, exactly?

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been soaked, hulled, cooked, and then molded into a patty-like shape. Of course, there’s some variation in the shape the cooked soy beans get molded into, like tempeh sold in bacon-like strips.

While fermented soybeans are the main ingredient, tempeh often contains any or all of the following: quinoa, barley millet, flax seed, brown rice, sesame seeds and spices. This means sometimes tempeh is gluten-free, but other times it is notHave you ever been cheated on during the holiday season?; it ultimately comes down to the manufacturer. Most tempeh products wily either “gluten-free” or “contains wheat” on the package, so if you’re Celiac make sure to do your label-reading before adding it to your grocery cart.

The taste of tempeh is often described as “earthy,” “hearty,” or “nutty,” and when cooked, it’s a bit chewy. Tempeh is a little like mushroom lattes— you either love it or hate it.

Photo: Stocksy/ Trinette Reed

And what’s tofu?

“While both tofu and tempeh are high quality sources of plant-based protein and would make a great post-workout meal, they couldn’t be more different in their production process,” says Kanda. Tofu is also a soybean product, but while tempeh is made directly from cooking and fermenting soybeans, tofu is made from condensed, unfermented soy milk that’s been processed into solid white blocks.

It can be a little hard to visualize, so think about it this way: You know the pulp that’s left over when you make almond milk? Tofu is essentially made by combining this “pulp” with a thickening coagulant (and water). That’s why tofu is sometimes considered more processed than tempeh.

You can get tofu in a variety of textures such as “silky,” “firm,” and “soft,” but it usually has a Jell-O-like jiggle. And while tofu can be sold spiced, it’s generally flavorless. “Because tempeh has a heartier taste, some people prefer to use it as meat substitute. Tofu on the other hand has a more neutral flavor and absorbs the taste of the other ingredients or spices it’s combined with. It can be used in smoothies, stir-fries, soups…,” says Kanda, adding that it’s a good replacement for eggs in many dishes.

Tofu vs. tempeh: Which is healthier?

“Nutritionally, tofu and tempeh carry very similar nutrient profiles, and either would make a beneficial addition to a healthy breakfast or meal,” Zanini says, but she adds that they do have differences. Nutritionally, here’s how it all breaks down based on one serving (aka 100 grams) of each protein.

Tofu:

  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Calories: 76

Tempeh:

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 12 grams per 100g of cooked tempeh
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams
  • Calories: 195

Generally, tempeh is higher in protein than tofu. “That’s because legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds may be used to make tempeh,” says Kanda—lending to a richer source of protein. If your goal is to incorporate more protein and healthy fats, tempeh may be the way to go.

Tempeh may have more calories and fat content, but Kanda says comparing two 100 gram servings is slightly misleading because 100 grams of tempeh will be more filling than 100 grams of tofu, thanks to its high protein and fiber. You may have to eat more tofu to feel full because one serving is so low in calories, protein, and fat.

Micronutrients

Even in the nitty gritty nutrient-details, there aren’t a ton of differences between the two soy products. “Tofu contains 1 milligram of iron per serving and is a source of alpha-linolenic acid, the essential omega-3 fatty acid. Some brands of tofu are fortified with vitamin B12 and vitamin D, and extra calcium—of which there’s naturally a lot,” says Kanda.

Tempeh on the other hand, contains about 10 percent of your daily iron and calcium needs. Because tempeh is fermented, it can help your gut health and will keep you regular. Both tofu and tempeh contain magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc.

Other factors, tastes, and uses

Aside from the nutritional information, there’s the whole question about whether or not soy is actually safe to eat. While some wellness practitioners advise their patients not to eat soy due to its “estrogen-like effects” in the body, the American Cancer Society says that consuming moderate amounts of soy foods is safe for everyone. Kanda follows the ACS guideline, and encourages her patients to eat soy in moderation and not every day.

Of course, since both tofu and tempeh can be part of a healthy diet, a lot of the decision comes down to what you’re craving and how you cook them. “Either option would be a great meat-substitute in any meal,” says Zanini. But when your shopping for tempeh aim for one that is as simple as possible. Flavored tempeh often has a lot of added sugar and salt. And of course, if you’re gluten-free check the label.

While tempeh has a heartier taste that makes it optimal as a meat-replacement, tofu is essentially flavorless which means it has more culinary uses. “Either way,” says Kanda, “both offer a great complete protein option for plant-eaters.”

Try this 15-minute sweet potato and tempeh taco recipe from Thug Kitchen. If you’re not a fan of tempeh’s texture or taste and prefer tofu instead, try Chloe Coscarelli’s spicy chipotle mango tofu tacos.

Tofu is perhaps one of the most misunderstood foods ever. For one, many people hate it due to its bland taste and boring appearance. Tofu is often associated with vegans and vegetarians. So, if you are not among those two, this is most likely the last thing you would want to eat.

On a positive note, tofu is slowly getting the attention it deserves. In fact, a lot of food establishments around the world have already included tofu as part of their menu. Given the increased popularity of vegetarianism over the past years, it’s only natural for these restaurants to offer meals for this specific niche.

In addition, several studies have also found that tofu has high source of protein, making it a great meat alternative. Likewise, this food item also offers several health benefits that can improve our overall health. So if you want to change into a healthier lifestyle, you can consider tofu on your next meal recipe.

But have you ever wondered how tofu was made? Here are some interesting facts about this soy-based product.

All about tofu

As you might already know, tofu is a soy-based product that is popular especially in many Asian countries. However, tofu is slowly getting its way onto Western food establishments and even at family dinner tables. You can enjoy it stir-fried, baked, deep fried, or incorporated into soups.

There are actually different tofu types, of which the most common ones are silken or extra-soft, and extra-firm tofu. The former can be used for desserts due to its soft texture and consistency.

The latter, on the other hand, can be used for frying, baking, and cut into different shapes. Nonetheless, tofu is one of the most versatile ingredients around because it can be used in different dishes.

How tofu is made

Tofu is usually made up of three major ingredients. These are soybeans, water, and coagulant of choice. Among common coagulants used in making tofu include magnesium salt and calcium sulfate.

Soy milk is extracted from the beans, and then added with coagulant to form a curd. The curd is then pressed to form into a white, creamy substance that will eventually be tofu. It may either have a custard-like consistency or resemble a block of cheese depending on the tofu type.

Making home style tofu

You, too, can make your own tofu at home. As mentioned, it only requires a few ingredients. But you need to prepare several kitchen tools to produce your own tofu. You should also carefully consider the type of coagulant you will use, as it can affect the taste of your tofu.

For example, magnesium salt provides a slightly bitter aftertaste to tofu. However, a lot of people somehow love its taste, and is actually the commonly-used coagulant in making tofu. On the other hand, some use calcium sulfate or “gypsum” which provides less bitter taste.

Here’s what you are going to need to make your own tofu:

• 3 cups soybeans (preferably non-GMO)
• 1 tablespoon coagulant of choice (nigari, gypsum, or Epsom salt)
• ½ cup water
• Medium-sized mixing bowl
• Cheesecloth for draining
• Wooden spoon for mixing
• Tofu mold
• Blender

Instructions:
1. First, soak the soybeans in the water in the mixing bowl. Let it sit overnight. Drain the soybeans the next day.

2. Pour soaked soybeans into the blender together with around 8 cups of water, and blend until it looks frothy enough.

3. After blending, pour the soy concoction into a cooking pot over medium heat. Stir often and remove foam and froths forming into the mixture. Continue this until the mixture starts to steam, but make sure not to boil it. Also make sure to continue stirring to prevent burning, or it will affect the tofu’s taste.

4. After the soy milk mixture becomes foamy, remove the pot from the stove. Put a mesh strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the soymilk into the strainer and leave to cool for about an hour.

5. After cooling down the mixture, form a sack using the cheesecloth sides and squeeze the remaining soymilk from it. Set aside the soy solids, while pour the drained soymilk into the pot.

6. Reheat the drained milk over medium heat, and make sure to stir frequently to prevent burning in the bottom. Turn down the heat once steam starts to appear, and let it simmer for about five minutes. You are about to make some tofu!

7. Turn off the heat and remove any solids that formed on the mixture. Next, dissolve coagulant in water. Using the same pot, stir the soymilk for about 10 seconds then slowly pour about ¼ of the coagulant concoction and stir the soymilk some more.

8. Add ¼ more coagulant, cover the pot and let it sit for around three minutes. Stir the pot and add more coagulant. Repeat the procedure until the coagulant mixture has been used up. You will notice that your soymilk has already become curds.

9. Using tofu mold lined with cheesecloth and the mesh strainer, separate the curds and the whey. Do this until there is no longer whey to be drained.

10. Move the curds into the tofu mold, cover with cheesecloth and add some weights to press the curds. You can buy a “tofu press” online and make this operation easier for you. Let it sit for about 15 to 25 minutes for a firmer tofu, then store in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to be cut. You can now fry, bake, or steam it for your next recipe.

What’s in your tofu?

As mentioned, tofu contains essential nutrients that are good for the body. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium and protein it contains. Aside from these, tofu also contains fat, carbs, fiber, and sugars, although in minimal contents. It is also low in calories, which makes it an ideal food for those on a special diet.

It is also rich in isoflavones that is good for the heart, as well as a great source of iron. It lessens the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lowers cholesterol, and even prolongs your life. Just ask the residents of Okinawa, a Japanese island known to have residents with long lifespan.

There is no need to be scared to eat tofu. Better yet, you can make your own if you want to make sure what goes into your body. More so, it has essential nutrients that can make you live longer and stronger.

10 Flavor-Packed Tofu Recipes for Weight Loss

Think tofu is bland and flavorless? These mouthwatering recipes will change your mind about the soft, creamy blocks of bean curd forever! Not only is tofu great for low-cal diets, it brims with good-for-you soy protein, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Tofu is also one of the most versatile foods, making it a great base for both savory entrées and sweet desserts. Check out these 10 delicious dishes that are anything but bland!

Pistachio-Crusted Tofu

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243 calories, 15 grams fat, 19 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 570 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber

In this unique recipe, slabs of tofu are immersed in a nutty mixture of pistachio and breadcrumbs for a flavor-packed dish with an interesting texture.

Ingredients:

14 oz. tofu

2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 slices whole-wheat bread

1/2 c. pistachio nuts

Ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp. spicy mustard

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp. tofu mayonnaise

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; prepare a baking sheet by either oiling it lightly or lining it with a silicone liner. Cut the tofu into 8 1/2-in. slices and dry them lightly with paper towels. Brush both sides of the tofu with the 2 tbsp. soy sauce and set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes. While the tofu is marinating, place the bread into the food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Measure out 1 cup of crumbs into a wide, shallow bowl (save any remaining crumbs for another use.) Pulse the pistachios in the processor until they are reduced to fine crumbs. Add them to the breadcrumbs along with a generous grating of black pepper, and mix well. In another shallow bowl, combine the mustard, syrup, soy sauce, and mayo. Dip a slice of tofu into the mustard mixture, lightly coating all sides; then place it into the breadcrumbs, sprinkle crumbs over the top and sides, and lightly press them into the tofu. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all slices of tofu. Put the tofu into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve with the sauce of your choice.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe provided by FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Chocolate Tofu Pudding Cups

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112 calories, 10.3 grams sugar, 6.5 grams fat, 11.8 grams carbohydrates, 1.7 grams protein

Craving something sweet? Tofu actually makes a healthy base for low-cal desserts like this silky smooth pudding. Whip up this tasty treat using chocolate and, of course, lots of tofu, and then spoon the pudding into edible chocolate cups.

Ingredients:

For chocolate tofu pudding:

1 box tofu, drained

2 tbsp. agave nectar

1/2 c. chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 c. chocolate sauce (the kind you use for chocolate milk)

For pudding cups:

2 c. chocolate chips

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 recipe chocolate tofu pudding

Raspberries

Whipped cream

Directions:

For chocolate tofu pudding:

Put all the ingredients in a Vitamix (or blender) and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to fill the chocolate cups (about 30 minutes). Once ready to fill the cups, scoop the pudding into a large zip-lock bag. Cut a small hole in the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze the pudding into the cups.

For pudding cups:

Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners. Melt the chips and vegetable oil in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir every 30 seconds and heat until chips are fully melted. Spoon about 1 heaping tsp. melted chocolate into each muffin liner and spread up the sides with the back of a spoon. Put the tin in the freezer to get the chocolate firm. Add a second layer of chocolate to the cups, freeze again. Keep frozen until your ready to remove the paper. Refrigerate the filled pudding cups for about 4 hours, so the pudding sets and gets a little firmer. Top with whipped cream and raspberries.

Makes 24 cups.

Recipe provided by Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body

Spicy Smoked Tofu

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84 calories, 4.6 grams sugar, 6.1 grams fat, 5.6 grams carbohydrates, 1.9 grams protein

These slightly crispy bean curd strips get a smoky sweet flavor boost with a low-cal blend of sauces and spices. While you can serve them with kale and rice (as pictured), feel free to combine the tofu with other ingredients to round out a healthy, satisfying meal.

Ingredients:

1 package extra-firm tofu

1 1/2 tbsp. safflower oil

1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

Drain your tofu and cut into 8 equal slices. Lay the slices out flat on a doubled over kitchen towel with another doubled over towel on top. Lay a large cutting board on top and place a few heavy books on top. Press for 25 – 35 min. Preheat oven to broil with a rack on the top slats. Whisk all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Slice tofu into 1/4 in. wide strips or small squares. Place tofu in the large bowl with the wet ingredients and stir very gently until well coated. Lay tofu out on a parchment-lined pan and broil for four to eight minutes, until golden brown with slightly darker edges. Time varies depending on your oven. Flip and broil for another four to eight minutes until golden brown. Typically, the second side browns a bit faster. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Recipe provided by The Edible Perspective

Hoisin Glazed Grilled Tofu and Asparagus

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138 calories, 8.2 grams sugar, 5.2 grams fat, 14.6 grams carbohydrates, 12.4 grams protein

Crunchy asparagus spears offer a tasty (and nourishing) counterpoint to soft blocks of bean curd, while a drizzle of spicy hoisin sauce lends this dish a surprising kick of flavor. Not only is this meal a surefire way to impress dinner guests, it’s also low in calories and fat.

Ingredients:

7 oz. firm tofu

1/2 tsp. sesame seeds

2 tbsp. hoisin sauce

2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. Sriracha sauce

1 tsp. white sugar (optional)

10 spears asparagus

1/2 tsp. five spice

Directions:

Turn the grill or a grill pan to high. In a small, dry skillet over medium heat toast the sesame seeds until golden. Pour onto a plate and save for garnish. Cut the tofu block in half, then turn one half on its side and cut it in half so that you have two pieces that are about 1 inch thick. Save the bigger half for another use or double the recipe. Set the cut pieces on a clean paper towel and blot dry.

To make the sauce:

In a small bowl mix together the hoisin, soy, Sriracha, and sugar. Set aside. Place the asparagus on the grill (optional: rub spears with a touch of oil) and grill for five minutes rotating the spears until evenly grilled. Divide between two plates. Set the dry tofu on a plate and sprinkle both sides with the five spice. Rub the grill with a touch of vegetable oil on a towel so the tofu doesn’t stick. Place the tofu on the grill and don’t touch for one minute so that it can sear without sticking. Turn the tofu 45 degrees to create the “X” pattern grill marks. Cook 30 seconds. Using a spatula carefully flip the tofu over and grill for one more minute. While it is grilling, brush or spoon some of the sauce onto the tofu. Remove tofu from grill and place on top of the asparagus spears. Drizzle the remaining sauce over each plate (you will have some extra). Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe provided by Jeffrey Saad, Cooking Channel host of United Tastes of America, restauranteur, chef, and author of Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders (available March 20th)

Crunchy Tofu Nuggets

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80 calories, 0.7 grams sugar, 1.7 grams fat, 11.8 grams carbohydrates, 3.5 grams protein

Who needs chicken nuggets when you can munch on nutritious tofu nuggets instead? These mealtime treats are easy to make and perfect for dipping into a variety of sauces. Our suggestion? A simply delicious vegan honey mustard spread made from 1 tsp. agave, 2 tbsp. mustard, and 1 tbsp. vegan mayo.

Ingredients:

1 pckg. firm tofu (frozen, thawed, and pressed)

1 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp. vegetable bouillon

3 tbsp. mustard

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1 c. whole-wheat flour

Salt and pepper (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take your firm tofu (frozen, thawed, and pressed for better texture), and slice it into 1 in. cubes. Mix vegan “milk”, vegetable bouillon, and mustard together. Dip cubed tofu into the “milk” mixture. Roll it into whole-wheat flour. Dip into the milk mixture again. Roll in panko crumbs. Place onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy with your hot sauce, vegan ranch dressing, ketchup, mustard, etc.

Makes 16 nuggets.

Recipe provided by Veg Obsession

Sweet and Sour Honey Lemon Tofu

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47 calories, 8.4 grams sugar, 0.2 grams fat, 11.8 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 grams protein

Whether you need a hearty dinner entrée or just want a wholesome snack, these sweet and sour tofu slices make a great option. A mix of sweet jam (like mango chutney) and lemon juice infuse the tofu with an irresistible tangy flavor that won’t interfere with your healthy diet.

Ingredients:

1 block extra-firm tofu

1/2 c. sweet jam/jelly/preserves

1/3 c. honey (if you don’t eat honey, use agave, maple, or yacon syrup)

1/4 c. lemon juice (in a pinch, you can use apple cider vinegar)

Optional but recommended:

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. ginger powder

2 tbsp. EVOO (or coconut, flax, hemp, grapeseed oil)

Directions:

Mix marinade in a bowl and allow tofu to marinate for at least 15 minutes up to overnight. Bake on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 20 minutes on the first side (tip: the honey is going to caramelize, so use foil for an easy cleanup). Then, flip and bake for approximately 10 more minutes. Watch the honey because the sugars can burn. Put extras in a container and store in fridge for up to four to five days.

Makes 18 long, thin slices.

Recipe provided by Love Veggies and Yoga

Blackened Tofu

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24 calories, 1.3 grams fat, 1.8 grams carbohydrates, 2.2 grams protein

Sometimes all it takes is a handful of great seasonings to make a mouthwatering tofu dish. In this easy recipe, just coat each piece in assorted spices like chili powder, cumin, and cayenne for a spicy dish that won’t even come close to breaking the calorie bank!

Ingredients:

1 block tofu

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. granulated onion

1/4 tsp. granulated garlic

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cumin, ground

1/4 tsp. coriander, ground

1/4 tsp. black peppercorns, ground

1 tbsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. thyme

Directions:

Coat tofu in spice. In a hot skillet, brown tofu with no oil or water. When edges brown, flip and cover cook until cooked though. Time depends on the thickness of the tofu.

Makes 4 4 oz. servings.

Recipe provided by Chef Anthony Stewart of the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida

Pumpkin Honey Tofu

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29 calories, 6.5 grams sugar, 0.2 grams fat, 6.9 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 grams protein

Who knew that pumpkin butter and honey would make such great accompaniments to tofu? These sweet-tasting slices have a spongy texture and leave you perfectly satisfied.

Ingredients:

1 block extra-firm tofu

1/4 c. pumpkin butter

1/3 c. honey (or agave or maple)

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

Optional:

Dash of tamari or soy sauce

Pinch of nutmeg/cayenne/chili powder/cumin/pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon

Drizzle of EVOO/coconut/hemp oil

Directions:

Whisk to combine all ingredients. Marinate the sliced tofu for 15 minutes to 24 hours. Bake on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 20 minutes and flip and cook another five minutes or so. Note: I used tofu that had previously been frozen, thawed, and pressed.

Makes 18 long, thin slices.

Recipe provided by Love Veggies and Yoga

Creamy Triple Green Pesto

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436 calories, 3.1 grams sugar, 42 grams fat, 12.4 grams carbohydrates, 5.6 grams protein

If you love pesto but find it too fattening (thanks to loads of olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese), try this creative concoction made with silken tofu and veggies. Find ways to adorn your favorite dishes, such as whole-wheat pasta or pizza, with this delicious sauce, which clocks in at approximately 436 calories per cup.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. peas

50 g. spinach

30 fresh basil leaves

1/4 c. unsalted cashews

1 clove garlic

5 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. silken tofu

A grind of black pepper

Directions:

Blanch the peas for a couple of minutes to soften slightly. Wilt the spinach by placing in a colander and pouring over a kettleful of boiling water. When wilted, rinse with cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Whizz all the ingredients together and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Makes 2 cups.

Recipe provided by Tinned Tomatoes

Marinated Tofu

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39 calories, 1.2 grams fat, 4.2 grams carbohydrates, 2.5 grams protein

This healthy recipe takes only a few minutes of prep time, but the results are tantalizing! Soaking slices of tofu in balsamic vinegar, garlic, and oregano gives the dish some extra bite. Serve with your favorite veggies to round out your meal.

Ingredients:

1 block extra-firm tofu

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. chopped garlic

2 tbsp. dried oregano

Directions:

Cut tofu into slices. Mix balsamic vinegar, garlic, and oregano together, and marinate tofu for 30 minutes. Grill, bake, or pan-sear.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe provided by Chef Anthony Stewart of the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida

  • By Tiffany Tse

We have all heard about the greatness of tofu when it comes to weight loss.

However, is tofu really that great?

How can we maximize the use of tofu to support us in our weight loss journey?

Will too much tofu harm my diet plan?

Find out more about the benefits and dangers of tofu for weight loss in this article.

How Fattening is Tofu and why is it great for My Diet?

In general, tofu isn’t really fattening. This is because tofu is low in calories, fat, gluten-free, and in carbohydrates. A block of tofu that weighs 100 grams would contain 76 calories. If you are on a diet that makes you count your calories, this would certainly fit the bill.

Tofu also contains minimal carbohydrates, which makes it great for people that are on a Keto diet. Apart from the keto diet, tofu can also be consumed by vegans and vegetarians alike since it is a plant-based source of protein.

Since tofu is rich in protein, it is able to make one feel fuller without consuming too many calories. Tofu is also a great base for several types of dishes as it is able to absorb the flavors easily. When cooked tight, tofu can certainly be a yummy addition to any diet plan.

Is tofu really great for your diet? It certainly is. One of the benefits of tofu is that it is able to aid in weight management. However, it isn’t just a weight loss food, tofu is considered to be a health food as it aids in diabetes management and it also helps improve one’s heart health.

Can Too Much Tofu Harm My Diet?

Have you heard about hypothyroidism? It is a condition in which our thyroid glands do not produce enough thyroid hormones. When one has an underactive thyroid, the normal bodily functions are slowed down. One common symptom of hypothyroidism is an unexplainable weight gain.

So, why am I telling you all this? The daily consumption of tofu may lead to hypothyroidism. Consequentially, this may result in an unexplainable weight gain despite living a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise. Apart from the weight gain, people with hypothyroidism also have to deal with constipation and fatigue.

Consuming too much tofu may also lead to digestive problems. This is why it is important to manage the consumption of tofu without going overboard. It is important not to rely on tofu along for weight loss. Tofu is definitely beneficial for one’s weight loss journey, but it should be consumed with precaution.

Tofu Recipes for Weight Loss

  • Protein Smoothies

If you plan on going for a smoothie diet, you may be worried about your protein source. However, if you are also not the type to rely on protein powders, you can use raw tofu for your smoothies. First, tofu doesn’t have a lot of flavors, which is why it wouldn’t interfere with the flavor of the smoothie. Moreover, the tofu can also enhance the consistency of the smoothie.

  • Baked Tofu

When I am in the mood for fried tofu, I get the next best thing: Baked Tofu! I try to squeeze out all the water in the tofu to ensure that it is cooked better and it will become crispier. I also pre-heat the oven to 350◦ Fahrenheit. Once I have laid out the tofu on the baking sheet, I would sprinkle some oil on the tofu and season the tofu with seasonings before popping it in the oven.

  • Grilled Tofu

I love tofu in whatever form even as barbeque or kebab. Similar to baked tofu, I begin by squeezing out water from the tofu. This allows me to make sure that the tofu will be grilled to a crisp. I marinate the tofu in some soy sauce and lemon before putting the tofu in a stick with some vegetables in between. Afterward, I pour in some oil on the tofu to make sure that this will result in some nice grilled marks.

  • Steamed Tofu

Steamed tofu is similar to boiled tofu without using water. This is one of my favorite methods of cooking tofu since I love soft tofu. It keeps the tofu soft and silky and it virtually requires no preparation. I just drizzle a bit of sesame oil over the tofu along with a bit of salt.

Added Notes

It is vital to avoid adding fattening marinades to tofu as the marinade can counteract the weight loss effect of tofu. You can use alternatives to the typical marinades, which are also low in calories and fat.

You should also try to avoid frying the tofu as it will absorb the oil used for frying. The oil used for frying bears a similar effect of fatty marinades or dressing on tofu.

With all this in mind, we hope that you are able to enjoy tofu even during your diet.

Everything you need to know about tofu

Share on PinterestTofu can be served instead of meat or incorporated into a variety of dishes.

A diet that contains a variety of plant-based foods appears to contribute to overall health and wellbeing, and a lower risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

It can enhance the skin and hair, boost energy, and help maintain a healthy weight.

Research has linked tofu, with its high levels of isoflavones, to a lower risk of several age- and lifestyle-related diseases.

1. Cardiovascular disease

Soy isoflavines have been found to help reduce levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, although it does not seem to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.

Studies have indicated that daily consumption of soy may decrease markers for cardiovascular disease risk, including weight, body mass index (BMI), and total cholesterol. The FDA has set 25 g a day of soy protein as the minimum intake needed to impact cholesterol levels.

Consuming tofu as an alternative to animal protein can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol. This, in turn, decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

2. Breast and prostate cancer

Several clinical and experimental investigations have suggested that genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soy, has antioxidant properties that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

In the past, confusion has arisen about the safety of consuming soy after a breast cancer diagnosis. This is because isoflavones have a chemical structure similar to that of estrogen, and high levels of estrogen can increase the risk of breast cancer.

However, consuming moderate amounts, or less than two servings a day, of whole soy foods, does not appear to affect tumor growth or the risk of developing breast cancer.

Instead, there is growing evidence that regular soy intake may decrease breast cancer recurrence. However, the evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend soy to all breast cancer survivors.

Researchers call for more studies to confirm how genistein works, how it could be used therapeutically, and its bioavailability, or how well the body can absorb it.

3. Type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes often experience kidney disease, causing the body to excrete an excessive amount of protein in the urine.

Evidence from one study has indicated that those who consumed only soy protein in their diet excreted less protein than those who only consumed animal protein.

The researchers propose that this could benefit patients with type 2 diabetes.

4. Kidney function

Protein, and particularly soy protein, may enhance renal function, and it could have benefits for people who are undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.

One meta analysis of nine trials showed a positive effect of soy on some biomarkers of those with chronic kidney disease.

This may be due to its protein content, but also because of its impact on lipid levels in the blood.

5. Osteoporosis

Soy isoflavones may help reduce bone loss and increase bone mineral density, especially after menopause. They have also been reported to reduce some other symptoms of menopause.

6. Symptoms of menopause

Some research has suggested that consuming soy products may help relieve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, because of the phytoestrogens they contain.

While symptoms may differ between women, hot flashes appear to be far less common in Asian countries, where people consume more soy.

Conflicting results have been produced, but there is evidence that consuming soy products that are rich in genistein may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

However, more studies are needed to establish exactly what happens and why.

7. Liver damage

One study in rats has suggested that any type of tofu that has been curdled with various coagulants may help prevent liver damage caused by free radicals.

8. Age-related brain diseases

Population studies have indicated that, in regions where people consume more soy, there is a lower incidence of age-related mental disorders.

However, results have been mixed.

One research group found that treatment with soy isoflavones was linked to better performance in nonverbal memory, verbal fluency and other functions.

When the same group carried out a further small study, involving 65 people over the age of 60 years with Alzheimer’s, they did not find that soy isoflavines offered any cognitive benefits.

However, findings published in 2017 suggested that soy products may help people with Alzheimer’s due to their lecithin content, which helps the body produce the phospholipids phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylserine (PS). PA and PS play an important role in the functioning of neurones.

What Is Tofu, and Is it Healthy?

Tofu has been getting some serious spotlight as plant-based eating becomes more mainstream. While it may look intimidating (or worse, bland), this plant protein is easy to work with and versatile enough to take on the flavors of whatever you’re cooking—whether it’s a tofu scramble or stir-fry.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about tofu, plus some delicious ways to use it in a variety of dishes, from fast weeknight dinners to lazy Sunday brunches.

Struggling to cook healthy? We’ll help you prep.

Sign up for our new weekly newsletter, ThePrep, for inspiration and support for all your meal plan struggles.

What Is Tofu?

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Tofu is made of soybeans that are curdled and pressed into blocks, kind of like making cheese! Tofu also contains nigari, which is the liquid left over after extracting salt from sea water, which is what you will find tofu lounging in upon opening. Nigari helps give tofu its iconic shape and texture, and is also rich in minerals.

Depending on which type you buy, tofu may also be fortified with vitamins or minerals, such as calcium or Vitamin B12—nutrients vegetarians and vegans often don’t get enough of. We suggest buying organic tofu—as soybean crops are often contaminated with chemicals and fertilizers, and most crops are genetically modified. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both make their own organic tofu at great price points.

Tofu Nutrition

Below you will find the nutrition information for a three-ounce serving of Nasoya Organic Firm Tofu:

  • Calories: 70
  • Total Fat: 3.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Poly Fat: 2g
  • Mono Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 15 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Calcium: 10% DV

Tofu is a pretty low-calorie protein source, but nutritional information will differ slightly based on how pressed your tofu is. Silken tofu will have slightly lower caloric values, while super-firm tofu will be slightly higher.

Is Tofu Healthy?

Not only is tofu a great source of protein, it is also packed with calcium, selenium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. What it lacks in fiber it makes up for in mineral content.

Unlike many animal sources of protein, tofu is low in saturated fat and is a good source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. It’s also a great low-carb protein option for vegetarians or vegans wanting to watch their intake.

But Isn’t Soy Bad for You?

Soy often gets a bad rap for containing phytoestrogens—the plant form of estrogen—which some believe can negatively impact hormone function and increase risk for certain types of cancer. However, many studies show the opposite to be true.

Consuming unprocessed forms of soy—plus the minimally processed tofu—is actually linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer. It can even alleviate symptoms of menopause and help lower cholesterol levels!

Soy is also void of saturated fat, which is linked to an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions when consumed in excess. Replacing some animal proteins with plant versions like tofu and other soy products could do wonders for your overall health!

RELATED: Why You Should Be Eating More Soy—Yes, Really

How to Cook With Tofu

Tofu is pretty flavorless on its own, which makes it extremely versatile for whatever flavors you are also cooking with. Tofu is delicious steamed, grilled, baked, pan-cooked, and of course, fried—it’s amazing in the air fryer!

Before cooking, you’ll want to press the excess liquid out of your tofu to give it a sturdier, less slimy bite. You can use a handy-dandy tofu pressing tool or just employ some dish towels and cookbooks to press and expel water.

Simply wrap your tofu in a dish towel, put it on a plate, and place a few cookbooks on top, pressing down for a few seconds and waiting at least 10 minutes before cooking. Nowadays, you can actually find pre-pressed tofu in some grocery stores to help you skip that first step.

Tofu absorbs whatever sauce, marinade, and spices you add, so you don’t need to worry about letting your tofu sit for too long while cooking. An easy way to cook tofu while still maintaining a firm texture is to cut it into bite-size pieces, toss in some soy sauce and cornstarch and then bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes before tossing it in with the rest of your meal.

Interested in learning more about plant-based proteins?

  • What Is Tempeh—And How Do You Use It?
  • Are Lentils Healthy, and Can You Eat Them Raw?
  • We Tried 3 “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers—Here’s What We Thought

Our 10 Best Tofu Recipes

Now that we know tofu is healthy, versatile, and easy to cook, it’s time to start adding it to our weekly menus! From savory breakfasts to creamy desserts, we have plenty of tofu-packed recipes to boost your plant protein intake.

Szechuan Tofu With Cauliflower

Image zoom Photo: Jennifer Causey

This 25-minute meal features golden, crisp tofu in a seriously delicious sweet, savory, and spicy sauce.

Veggie Bowl With Tofu Scramble

Image zoom Jennifer Causey

This hearty breakfast is a meal prepper’s dream. Paired with last night’s lentil soup, your morning will be 10 times easier and tastier with this recipe.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi With Crispy Tofu

Image zoom Caitlin Bensel

Vegetarians don’t have to miss out on the amazing flavors of this popular Vietnamese sandwich, thanks to some crispy tofu.

Greek Eggplant Skillet Dinner

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Tofu has a place in all types of cuisine, and we absolutely love pairing tofu with meaty eggplant in this hearty Mediterranean-inspired dish.

Coconut-Curry Soup With Cauliflower and Tofu

Image zoom Caitlin Bensel

This gorgeous meal comes together in 15 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights and lazy weekends.

“Huevos” Soy-Cheros

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These breakfast tacos could make any omnivore a tofu lover. This 350-calorie dish is packed with flavor to where you won’t miss the eggs at all.

Raspberry-Date Smoothie

Image zoom Jennifer Causey

Yes, tofu does have a rightful place in your morning smoothie! It adds the perfect amount of creaminess and a nice protein boost, too.

Gluten-Free Vegan Lasagna

Image zoom Jennifer Causey

Tofu is one of the stars of this dish, and acts as the foundation for a rich and creamy vegan ricotta. So good!

Sheet Pan Curried Tofu With Vegetables

Image zoom Greg Dupree

Who doesn’t love a delicious sheet-pan dinner? Roasted tofu is the perfect protein boost to this delicious 25-minute dish.

Orange, Tofu, and Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

Image zoom Greg DuPree

Chewy tofu is perfectly accented with crisp, crunchy veggies in this stir-fry. Orange juice also gives it a nice hint of acidity.

Pickle-Brined Tofu

Image zoom Photo: Jamie Vespa

This delicious main dish is the perfect replacement for chicken tenders in a vegetarian diet. But don’t get us wrong—omnivores will love this recipe, too.

If the word tofu brings to mind hippies and tasteless health food, you’re not alone—but you are missing out on one of the most versatile, good-for-you ingredients. Made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, tofu is high in protein and calcium, and is an all-star at absorbing spices and marinades. Its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value has made tofu a staple in Asian cuisine for hundreds of years, and popular in vegetarian cooking the world over. Still thinking tofu isn’t for you? We’ve enlisted the help of experts and nutritionists to convince you otherwise.

Myth #1: Tofu is bland.
“Probably the biggest misconception about tofu is that it’s bland,” says Megan Tempest, RD, LDN, from the University of Chicago Medical Center. “You can do anything with it; it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with.” The key to getting the most flavor, Tempest advises, “is to get out most of the water before you cook it.” Today shownutrition expert Joy Bauer, RD, says that tofu wouldn’t be tasty only “if you didn’t cook it well. It has an odd consistency for those used to meats like pork and chicken, but everyone should give it a shot.”

Myth #2: Tofu doesn’t provide enough nutrients.
Don’t worry about losing protein when you leave out the meat. Vegetarians turn to tofu because it’s packed with 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving. Tofu is also a great source of calcium and iron (especially important for women). On average, every 4 ounces offers 35 percent of your daily recommended dose of iron and 10 percent of calcium. Aside from the nutritional benefits, tofu can be a major boost to your weight-loss plan. A half-cup of tofu contains only 94 calories—the same amount of ground beef contains 331 calories; cheese, 320 calories. “Tofu contains no saturated fat and is very low in fat overall,” Tempest says. “It’s high in plant-based soy isoflavones, which have anti-cancer benefits. People in Japan eat tofu almost every day and the country has one of the lowest cancer rates in the world.”

Myth #3: Tofu isn’t good for women.
Until recently, soy wasn’t recommended for women with breast cancer or those at high risk of the disease, because of the estrogen-like effect of isoflavones. But Bauer points to the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, which found that soy food consumption significantly decreased the risk of death and cancer recurrence among women with breast cancer. Bauer stresses that it’s important to eat whole soy foods (such as tofu and soy milk) rather than isolated soy foods, like soy snack bars.

Myth #4: Tofu is all the same.
There are two main kinds of tofu: silken (soft tofu) and regular (which comes in soft, firm and extra-firm varieties). They are made from the same ingredients, but processed slightly differently, and are not interchangeable in a recipe. Tempest says silken tofu has slightly less nutritional value compared to regular tofu, but it’s still good for you. In general, silken tofu has a softer consistency than regular tofu and falls apart more easily. Regular tofu, also called Chinese-style tofu or bean curd, is the most common type; it’s best to cook with the firm or extra-firm varieties. To drain it before cooking, set the tofu in a bowl between paper towels. Press it gently to squeeze out the excess water, or place a lightweight plate on top, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes.

Myth # 5: There aren’t a lot of recipe options.
Tofu is one of the most versatile foods you can cook with. Firm tofu can substitute for meats and poultry in most recipes, or can be the star of the meal with the right seasoning and preparation. Here are 10 quick ideas for using both kinds of tofu:

Regular Tofu
1. Stir-fry with veggies and soy sauce and serve over brown rice.
2. Crumble it for a tofu scramble (with or without eggs).
3. Bread it and panfry with oil like a chicken cutlet.
4. Panfry crumbled tofu with taco seasoning to substitute for beef in tacos.
5. For a summer BBQ, marinate extra-firm tofu with barbecue sauce or soy sauce and grill it along with bell peppers, red onion and pineapple.

Silken Tofu
1. Blend dried onion soup mix into it for a healthier version of onion dip.
2. Use it to replace all or part of the cream in cream-based soups.
3. Purée it and substitute for part of the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese or ricotta cheese in any recipe.
4. Mix it with other ingredients in a food processor to make a salad dressing.
5. Use it to substitute for milk or yogurt in a smoothie.

Recipes to Try:
1. Orange-Soy Tofu Stir-Fry
2. Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes and Tofu
3. Summer Chili
4. Curried Tofu

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