Did you know that soy is the only natural, plant-based source of all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein. Tofu is also a great source of iron and, when fortified, calcium. However, there are certain concerns that give soy a bad name. To begin, nutritionist Jo Lewin explains that soy (and therefore tofu) “contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones—a group of chemicals found in plant foods” with “a similar structure to the female hormone estrogen.” Consequently, the isoflavones are capable of mimicking the functions of estrogen in the body, and so women with estrogen-sensitive tumors should moderate their consumption of any soy products. Another common concern is that soybeans grown in the US are commonly genetically modified. Due to the lack of scientific and medical understanding of GMOs, it’s best to purchase non-GMO Project certified or organic tofu from the store.
Tofu is made from soy milk curds and is a staple that originated in China 2000 years ago. While it is most often associated with Asian cuisine, tofu has become increasingly popular worldwide due to its suitability for vegetarians and vegans. It’s a versatile ingredient, due to its bland taste and wide range of textures. Some tofu undergoes more aging and contains less water content, while other types contain a higher water content and are creamier; manufacturers will label tofu texture from extra firm to silken.
Aside from these minor concerns, remember that soy products and tofu have been consumed for thousands of years—do not be afraid to eat tofu in moderation! Try these eight unique recipes to incorporate tofu into your diet.
Baked Tofu Sandwich Recipe
Firm tofu will work best for this recipe, but if you have tofu with a higher water content then you can gently press moisture out of it with paper towels. Marinate your tofu for about 30 minutes before baking at 400 degrees (F) for 25 minutes; consider adding some liquid smoke or smoked sea salt for a barbecue flavor. Your tofu will add substance and protein to your sandwich, making it a nice substitute for the common high carb vegetarian sandwich.
Tofu Cheesecake Idea
Creamy, silken tofu is necessary for cheesecake. Vegetarian Times’ recipe calls for silken tofu, sugar, a creamy nut butter, salt, lemon zest, almond extract, and cornstarch to make a filling: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/lemon-tofu-quot-cheesecake-quot/. The cooking time (30 minutes) is also shorter than that of a traditional cheesecake! See the full recipe here:
Quick and Easy Tofu Quiche
The base of OhSheGlow’s quiche calls for a block of silken tofu, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and black pepper. Add in any additional fillings, from mushrooms to sun-dried tomatoes, to customize your quiche to suit your taste! Get the full recipe here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/27/sun-dried-tomato-mushroom-and-spinach-tofu-quiche/
Tasty Tofu Stew
Tofu stew, also known as “soondubu”, is a popular traditional Korean dish. While the traditional stew incorporates meat, you can make a vegan-friendly tofu stew. Simply combine mushroom or vegetable stock with bok choy, scallions, chili peppers, and a blend of mushrooms. Add in diced tofu during the last 5 minutes of cooking before serving with rice.
Asian Glazed Tofu
Extra-firm tofu can even disguise itself as meat with its chewy texture. Combine sweet and sour sauce, General Tso’s, or Domestic Superhero’s honey-sesame glaze to make an Asian-style vegetarian dish! http://domesticsuperhero.com/2015/04/22/honey-sesame-tofu/
Scrambled Tofu Recipe
If you assumed that scrambled eggs were only for non-vegans, think again! A pinch of turmeric will easily transform the creamy white, extra-firm block of tofu into vegan “scrambled eggs.” Press the moisture out of the tofu before crumbling it with a fork, tossing it in spices and turmeric, and sautéing until browned. Follow Minimalist Baker’s recipe for a Southwest-inspired scramble: http://minimalistbaker.com/southwest-tofu-scramble/
Waffle-Iron Tofu Idea
Your waffle iron isn’t just limited to waffles and hash browns! Slice a block of tofu into 1-inch slices before pressing the moisture out of it. Follow with a 30 minute marinade if you desire, and cook your tofu in a well-greased waffle iron until golden and crisp.
Vegetarian Tofu Chili
Sure, you can easily make a traditional vegetarian chili with a variety of beans, but tofu adds a great twist and can mimic the texture of ground meat. Simply add 1 block of crumbled, extra firm tofu with your go-to chili ingredients before simmering until thickened.
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