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How to Cook with Tofu

Tofu used to scare me, but now we’re quite comfortable with each other. I pick up a package once a month or so to add as a nice meat-free protein source to my favorite recipes. I find it works best in dishes with very high flavor profiles, such as sweet and spicy pad thai, since tofu lacks much taste on its own but absorbs seasonings well.

Though tofu can be tricky to master at first, once you get the hang of it it can prove quite useful as an alternative and cost-friendly meat alternative in your diet.

Health benefits: Tofu is a bean curd that’s made by adding mineral salt, such as calcium sulfate, and water to a soybean “mash.” The salt makes the protein and fiber in the soy turn thick and smooth, and it’s then pressed in to a block for packaging. Tofu is a great and cheap source of calcium and vitamin E and is very rich in protein. One half-cup serving contains nearly 10 grams.

Tofu also boasts such benefits as lowering bad cholesterol, alleviating symptoms of menopause, and even lowering risk of cancer when eaten regularly. 

Nutritional statistics: One-half cup of firm tofu contains approximately 88 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar and 10 grams of protein.

Cooking methods: There are an abundance of ways to prepare tofu, some more simple than others. Check out this great guide that includes several preparation methods, as well as a few healthy recipe ideas.

For a good starting place, know that tofu comes in water and if you don’t drain it, it turns out rather soggy. You can either invest in a tofu press or you simply place the tofu between several layers of paper towels or kitchen towels and apply pressure to the top with either a heavy skillet or a stack of books. Just make sure you have a protective layer between the two – such as a cookie sheet – to avoid dampening or ruining your weight source.

It’s also helpful to know that tofu comes in hard and soft varieties. Soft tofu has a thick and creamy texture that makes it great for salad dressings, desserts, smoothies and puddings. And hard tofu has a firmer consistency, making it better suited for dishes where it will retain its shape, such as pastas and stir fries.

Once you’ve properly prepped your hard or soft tofu, you can season and grill it, turn it into a tofu ‘scramble,’ bake it, roast it, add it to a smoothie, or even turn it into a dessert such as a chilled pie or tart. Check out these recipes below for a good place to start. Then, dream up your own concoctions with this delicious and healthy ingredient.

Recipes:

Sun-Dried Tomato Tofu Dip

Stir Fry with Tofu 

Mini Peanut Butter Cups in a Jar from Oh She Glows

Red Velvet Pudding 

Mint Chocolate Fudge Pie from Chocolate Covered Katie

Also Read:

Easy Ways to Incorporate Soy’s Benefits Into Your Diet

14 Ways to Cook with Shallots

How to Cook with Lemongrass

September 30th, 2012

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