Do You Know How to Tofu?

By Laura Andromalos

Do You Know How to Tofu?

What comes to your mind when you think of tofu? If it’s a white blob without flavor or texture, you’re missing out on the potential of tofu. This is a perfect time to experiment with tofu. Many research studies support the benefits of a plant-based diet for managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Plus, tofu is more affordable than meat so it’s a budget-friendly protein food.

What is tofu?

Tofu is made from curdled soybeans that are pressed into blocks, similar to how cheese is made from curdled milk. It’s found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Tofu comes in a range of textures from very soft, or silken, to super firm. Tofu is packed in liquid which you’ll want to drain before using it in recipes.

Is tofu healthy?

Tofu is rich in many vitamins and minerals and it is a complete source of protein. This means it has all of the amino acids, or building blocks of protein, just like meat. Tofu is low in saturated fat and naturally contains healthy unsaturated fats. The exact nutrition facts will vary based on the texture of tofu since softer tofu contains more water than firmer tofu. A 3-ounce serving of extra firm tofu has 90 calories, 9 grams protein, and 3 grams carbohydrate. As a protein-based food that is low in carbohydrate and full of nutrients, tofu easily fits into a diabetes or weight management nutrition plan.

Is soy safe?

Soy is rich in many vitamins and minerals and it is a complete source of protein. Unfortunately, there is a lot of emotion You might have heard rumors that soy can cause health problems, such as breast cancer. Soy naturally contains a plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) which is similar to, but much weaker than, human estrogen. While some types of breast cancer are connected to human estrogen, they aren’t connected to natural plant estrogens. In fact, There are many types of processed foods that contain soy and the research is less clear on these. In general, it’s best to eat foods in their whole or natural form which is also true for meat, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.

How to cook tofu?

Choose the texture based on your recipe. Silken tofu is so soft and smooth it can be made into a pudding. Firm tofu is crumbly and can be used in lasagnas or scrambles. Extra or super firm tofu works best served in chunks or ‘steaks’. Drain the liquid from the tofu and pat off the extra moisture. Some recipes will suggest pressing tofu to get more moisture out but that often isn’t necessary when you start with extra or super firm tofu.

Tofu doesn’t have much flavor so it’s important to add seasonings or sauces. You can marinade tofu, just like you would with meat, or you can add flavor during the cooking process. While tofu originates from Asian cultures and is delicious with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame, it works well with any kind of flavor profile. My 3-year-old nephew just discovered that he likes his tofu dipped in ketchup.

Search online for tofu recipes and you’ll find plenty of inspiration. I’ve included my favorite way to prepare tofu below. I cook tofu at the beginning of each week so I have an easy and healthy source of protein to add to meals for the rest of the week. Let the tofu fun begin!

Tofu with Texture & Flavor

Ingredients:

  • 1 block extra firm or super firm tofu
  • 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Drain liquid from tofu and pat dry. Cut tofu block lengthwise into 4 rectangles (each is about ½-inch thick). Place tofu on prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Flip once. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Remove tofu from oven. If desired, cut into cubes or strips on a cutting board and return to pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and toss to ensure all tofu is coated.
  5. Bake for additional 5 minutes or until soy sauce is evaporated from pan.
  6. Remove from oven. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can be enjoyed cold or hot.

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Orignially published on June 9, 2020, updated on June 09, 2020

Topic: Diabetes Management

Laura Andromalos

About Laura Andromalos

Laura Andromalos, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDE, is a bilingual CDE Coach for Cecelia Health and the Nutrition Program Manager at Northwest Weight & Wellness Center in Everett, WA. She is an internationally recognized expert on metabolic & bariatric surgery nutrition practices. Follow her on Twitter at @LAndromalos.