Tofu: It’s A Lot Better Than You Think

Tofu: It’s A Lot Better Than You Think

Tofu gets a bad rap. Most people turn their nose up at it citing its bland taste and lack of satiety particular coming from carnivores who are used to the ‘rip and tear’ texture of meat. The truth is that most people have no idea how to prepare tofu let alone what it is made of. Add in the different varieties, levels of firmness and natural flavoring and that once block of blandness could open up a whole new world of eating protein.

If you are a tofu naysayer or a fan but could use more info on the subject, be prepared to learn why this global plant-based nutritious food is a lot better than you may think.

Inside the Tofu Block

Packed in water, the tofu block is a simple recipe derived during the second century B.C. consisting of pressed soy beans and sea salt. Those unfamiliar with soy beans can find them in their original state, often sold in Japanese restaurants and some supermarkets under the name edamame. Once soy beans are boiled, pressed and solidified, similarly to the cheese making process, the end product is vacuum packed in water and distributed.

According to MadeHow,

“A coagulating agent is mixed in, such as calcium sulfate, magnesium chloride, or nigari [a mineral rich compound derived from salt]. The coagulant alters the pH and curds the milk much like the process for making cottage cheese.”

There are various levels of firmness that tofu is available in depending on how you want to use it in a recipe. The extra firm variety is often the best to start with when trying tofu for the first time as it is easier to handle and maintains a good consistency for rivaling a meat dish.

Don’t Run Scared 

Tofu has been a popular meat replacement for most of the globe but many Americans are only now accepting this ancient food. In fact, the meat industry has growing concerns of this plant-based meat replacement that some feel it is manipulating studies of tofu’s effect on humans.

One old study (April 2000) by the National Institute of Aging, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition which many anti-tofu factions cite, claimed that,

“higher midlife tofu consumption was independently associated with indicators of cognitive impairment and brain atrophy in late life.”

Other studies report the dangers of too much soy potentially causing cancer, particularly breast cancer. Although valid sources are linked to these studies, it is important to note that the consumption tested was out of bounds with what a tofu eater might consume not to mention other studies that refuted the data.

One recent study concluded how tofu did not cause breast cancer.

As reported by CNN Health, Dr. Omer Kucuk, a medical oncologist at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute commented on the study,

“I would say this study is probably the strongest one that we have right now in North American women, showing that soy consumption in breast cancer patients is not only safe but also beneficial,”

So, don’t always believe the hype as tofu continues to be a safe source of protein easily surpassing the continued negative associations of animal products.

Benefits of Tofu

When choosing a plant-based food it often comes with a long list of health benefits as most are less taxing on your system when compared to processed foods and animal products. The nutritive benefits of tofu make it a top plant-based food choice that just may enhance your health.

Tofu contains:

  • Low fat
  • Minimal calories
  • Low sodium
  • Minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorous and selenium
  • Trace amounts of zinc and potassium
  • Vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate
  • High protein
  • Low cholesterol
  • Weight reduction properties

Preparation and Meals

When you open your pack of tofu, drain the liquid. You can use it right away and it will cook just fine but for optimal results, place the block on a plate and cover it with paper towels. Then place a heavy object on top of it and let sit for about an hour. This will drain all the tofu liquid making it firm and easier to absorb ingredients while cooking.

Some tofu recipe choices include:

  • Cut into cubes and add to a stir fry
  • Cut into thick slices, marinate in any favorite sauce and bake into ‘tofu steaks’ which are great in-between your favorite bread
  • Add to salads or soups (especially firm, pre-seasoned tofu)
  • Crumble into a skillet, add olive oil, garlic, onions and turmeric for a tasty tofu breakfast scramble

Tofu offers endless recipes and health benefits. Give it a try by really seasoning it up for a healthy, high protein meal that will leave you feeling light and full of energy.