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Why tofu is healthy

Why tofu is healthy

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Maintaining a balanced diet is very important, but equally so is our diet remaining interesting. As a nutritionist, I’m often thinking about different ways of mixing up my sources of fibre, calcium, and especially protein.

Protein is essential for the growth and repair of muscles and foods from the protein group include meat and fish as well as beans and lentils. I aim to eat at least one portion each of oily and white fish each week, and up to two days each week of red (e.g. beef or lamb) and white meat (e.g. chicken). The remaining three days of the week I typically devote to meat-free meals – these must still include other protein sources, however, and for this I look to beans, lentils, eggs, seeds, nuts, and tofu.

Tofu is fantastic stuff – a good protein source whether you’re a meat-eater or not, as it’s primarily made from water and soya beans, and also one of the best blank-slate ingredients out there – meaning it can suck up flavour and take on different textures like nothing else..

Nutritionally, tofu is not only a great source of protein, at 8.5g of protein per 100g, but it’s also low in saturated fat at 0.8g per 100g. To put that into perspective; an average woman between the ages of 19 and 50 requires around 45g of protein per day and no more than 20g of saturated fat each day.

Flavour-wise, tofu isn’t much to speak of on its own, but it’s a behemoth when used in recipes that feature strong herbs or spices. Tofu is available in different grades of texture, from firm to silken. Firm tofu works especially well in stir-fries and curries, as it holds its texture together well. This beautiful bun cha recipe from Jamie magazine uses tofu alongside red chilli, soy sauce and sesame oil to really give the tofu a boost of flavour!

The soft, silken tofu is best used in dips, smoothies and desserts, however, as it can be blitzed in a blender easily to create a creamy texture. This recipe for vegan chocolate pots really makes tofu the centre of attention. They are also quite high in saturated fat, so should be eaten occasionally as a treat!

Silken tofu is also a key ingredient in a proper Japanese miso soup – probably one of the easiest and most restorative comfort foods in the world.In fact, soy bean-based products such as tofu, miso and soy milk are common in Eastern Asian diets and there’s mixed evidence around the benefits and detrimental effects in the diet. Soy contains the chemical isoflavone, and some cancers (e.g. breast) may be linked with high levels of this chemical. However a study of over 49,000 people in the BJOG, an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Japan in 2014 showed that there was no evidence of a risk to endometrial (womb) cancer from consumption of soy food. Further large diverse studies are necessary to confirm these results.

Tofu also provides a selection of micronutrients such as copper, manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Manganese makes and activates some of the enzymes in the body and the B vitamins, B1 and B6 are responsible for the release of energy from carbohydrates and the metabolism of amino acids (building blocks of protein) respectively.

So, whether you’re a meat eater or not, tofu is a great ingredient to include in one’s diet, as it’s such a versatile and nutritious food. Jamie’s old friend Pete has even written about how he fell in love with it, if you’re struggling!

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.

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.

Reduce your risk of heart disease.


If your morning breakfast normally consists of bacon, sausage, and eggs, switching to a seasoned tofu scramble could really do wonders for your cholesterol levels. Why? Unlike animal-based protein, tofu doesn't contain any cholesterol. Processed red meat is often loaded with saturated fat, which can elevate your LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease if left unaddressed over time. Tofu, on the other hand, may do the opposite.

One 2020 study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation examined data from 200,000 people and discovered that consuming just one serving of tofu a week was associated with an 18% reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who didn't eat tofu at all.

Are you weight-conscious? This tofu paratha promises guilt-free indulgence

Yes, you can manage your weight by eating parathas. Sounds too good to be true? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Parathas are one of India’s most-loved foods, and for good reason. The joy of digging into sumptuous stuffed paratha with a dollop of white butter is unparalleled. Although everyone loves it, those who are weight-conscious try to stay away from it as much as possible. But you can now relish parathas without any guilt—yes, you heard it right.

To make your parathas weight loss-friendly, make sure to stuff it with fibre and protein compounds. So, instead of aloo or paneer, go for tofu, because it is both nutritious and tasty.

Here’s how tofu paratha can help you manage weight:

If you want to lose weight, tofu parathas will not get in the way of your goals. Tofu, or bean curd is a popular ingredient in a vegan diet. It is made from soy milk, which is beneficial for weight loss. The most significant advantage of soymilk is that it is low in calories and sugar content. Besides, tofu contains several vitamins and minerals, and serves as a good source of protein. What’s more, it contains all nine amino acids. All in all, tofu is a great option to manage your weight.

Here’s how you can make this healthy and delicious tofu paratha:

1. In a mixing bowl, grate 100 grams tofu and keep it aside.

2. Take another bowl and add two cups of wheat flour and a teaspoon of oil.

3. Gradually, add water to make it into a stiff and firm dough.

4. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

5. Now, chop one onion, green chili, and some fresh coriander leaves. Add all these veggies to grated tofu, and mix them well.

6. Add some salt, according to your taste and a pinch of amchur .

7. Make balls from the dough, flatten them out, and stuff them into the tofu-veggie mixture. Roll into a boll again.

You should add tofu to your diet to promote weight loss. Here’s why. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Flatten the ball and dust it with flour, and roll it out to make parathas. Similarly, repeat the process with other balls.

9. Gently put the paratha on a heated pan on medium flame. After a minute, flip the paratha.

10. Add some oil or ghee to give it a nice crunch. The paratha is ready, when it looks golden on both sides.

Remove the paratha and serve it.

Here are some other health benefits of tofu:
  • Tofu may lower your bad cholesterol, which means it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • It can also decrease the risk of high blood pressure.
  • It aids in controlling blood sugar levels in those who are suffering from type 2 diabetes.
  • Tofu is rich in protein, nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, thereby helping to improve the functioning of the immune system.
  • It can enhance your skin health by slowing down the ageing process.
  • Because tofu is packed with calcium and has a good amount of magnesium, it is good to strengthen the bones.

So ladies, no more avoiding parathas to manage your weight. All you really need is tofu!

/> Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.

Tofu and tempeh are both fairly blank slates, but don't mistake that for boring or bland. Tofu is great at soaking up all the flavors of marinades and sauces. And, as long as that tasty sauce doesn't pile on the sugar and salt, your plant-based protein dish remains healthy. "They are both easy to cook with and very versatile," says Angelone. "They absorb the flavors they are cooked with so can be used in most any type of cuisine."

Pro tip: Before starting any delish recipe with tofu, press out the excess water

Not all forms of tofu and tempeh get a big nutritionist stamp of approval, though. Angelone suggests steering clear of fried tofu dishes or sodium-packed and processed variations, "think: tofu jerky, tofu-less chicken, or tofu dogs."

Bottom line: Both tofu and tempeh are packed with nutrients and a good source of protein, but fermented tempeh is the preferred plant-based protein.

5 Recipes For Enjoying Tofu the Crispy Way

Tofu lasts for months, is affordable, and is so versatile — especially when it comes to crisping it up.

Related To:


Food Network Kitchen’s The Best Crispy Tofu, as seen on Food Network.

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Until recently, tofu wasn’t part of my weekly diet. That changed when I was recently loading up my grocery cart with cans of beans and grains, and I noticed a well-stocked section of tofu.

I turned over a container and noticed two key pieces of information. First, the 14 ounce package was just $2. Talk about budget-friendly. Second, the sell-by date was three whole months in the future. There were also freezing instructions on the back (I had no idea you could freeze tofu). After doing a little research about freezing tofu, I learned that frozen, thawed tofu changes texture in a good way: it absorbs more sauce (i.e. flavor) and takes on a chewier, meatier texture.

A healthy, long-lasting. inexpensive (plant-based!) protein is something that belongs in my household right now — and I think it deserves a spot in yours, too, if it isn’t there already.

As a tofu newbie, I was drawn to all the recipes for crispy tofu — and totally fell in love. I’ve noticed that many recipes start with firm or extra-firm tofu, which you can sear like a big slab of meat, then toss in a sauce so flavorful that all your taste buds sing and dance. The greatest part? The tofu remains crispy, despite the fact that it’s soaked up so much sauce. Below, some of my favorite recipes to whet your appetite.

The first tenant of crispy tofu? Eliminate as much water as possible by wrapping it in a dish towel and pressing it under something heavy like a cast iron skillet. The second? Don’t move it around while it cooks in the pan. This recipe incorporates both of those techniques, plus a coating of panko bread crumbs for extremely crispy results. Right before serving, drizzle over a sticky sauce made from soy sauce, lime juice, agave syrup, scallion whites and sriracha.

The soy protein in tofu and other soy products may be responsible for curbing the risk of heart disease through the reduction of low-density lipoprotein, or bad, cholesterol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that at least 25 g of soy protein per day may have beneficial heart benefits. Refer to the food label on tofu packaging to determine a serving size to meet this 25 g recommendation.

Tofu also contains substances called isoflavones, in particular an isoflavone called phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogen is a plant-based compound which mimics the human hormone, estrogen. Due to this connection, soy is believed to help prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast and endometrial cancer. The isoflavones in soy are also believed to help reverse the bone loss that causes osteoporosis and the hot flashes experienced by menopausal women. More research is needed, however, to determine the true health effects of soy on all of these conditions, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Tips for Irresistibly Crispy Tofu

1) Choose the right kind of tofu.

Extra-firm tofu is the only way to go, and I’ve found that the Trader Joe’s brand is the most firm of them all (plus, it’s only two dollars). It’s organic, too, which is important when you’re buying tofu because soy is conventionally treated with fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Look for tofu in the refrigerated section by the produce.

2) Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Water-logged tofu never gets super crispy. The key here is to slice the tofu into pieces before pressing it. Have you ever tried pressing a whole block, or even two halves? They just sit in soggy puddles. Slice them into smaller pieces to maximize the surface area. Press those, and you’ll extract more moisture—faster, too.

3) Toss your tofu in oil, soy sauce and starch.

Now, you just need to toss your tofu in a little oil (just 1 tablespoon for the full batch), tamari or soy sauce (for some flavor) and cornstarch or arrowroot starch. The starch makes the edges extra crispy and irresistible (I got this idea from The Kitchn).

Cornstarch vs. arrowroot: You might be wondering which starch is better. Cornstarch is a more processed ingredient, but it yields the crispiest results. Arrowroot is less processed and works well, but the outer covering can turn a little slippery and strange if you’re adding the tofu to a dish containing a lot of moisture (like curry).

4) Bake it.

Spread your prepared tofu in an even layer across a sheet pan. Don’t worry if your tofu fell apart a bit as you tossed it. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Boom! Perfect tofu.

Less-Than-10-Ingredient Tofu Marinades

This citrus-ginger marinated tofu is just what your salads have been missing.

Warning: Have a glass of water ready when you take your first bite of this spicy marinated tofu.

This herby tofu is great on salads, mixed in with pasta or thrown between two slices of bread with some sliced tomatoes and Vegenaise.

This tofu marinade recipe is super simple, and totally delicious. Tofu burritos, anyone?

This Korean Barbecue tofu marinade pairs perfectly with a stir fry or a heaping bowl of quinoa.

This yogurt-marinated tofu can be served on skewers, over rice, mixed with veggies—the world is your oyster.

Stir-fry heaven, here you come.

Pair this marinated tofu with some corn tortillas and guacamole, and you’ve got yourself a great meal that even carne asada devotees will drool over.

How to Press Tofu & Why You Need to Do It

So, you’ve been dabbling in the world of meat alternatives and you’ve given tofu a try, but maybe it didn’t work out so well. You sautéed and sautéed, and it never got crispy. You poured in sauces and spices, but the cubes of tofu somehow dodged every drop of flavor you threw at them. You were left with something that looked and tasted like it came straight out of the package, despite your best efforts!

The reality is, tofu needs a bit of T.L.C. to crisp up (and flavor up)—tofu needs to be pressed! Packaged tofu contains a lot of water, and this water makes it difficult to change its texture and to infuse any flavorings. The good news is that you just need a few household items to get started on pressing your tofu, and the better news is that there are way more convenient kitchen tools available to make the process easier and cleaner. Once you’ve got a good system for pressing, all you need are a few go-to marinade recipes to masterfully prepare this meatless protein.

Note: This rule does not apply to silken tofu.

Pressing Tofu Manually

You likely already own a combination of kitchen and household items that will help you MacGyver your way into ready-to-cook tofu—as long as you’ve got the tofu. You’ll want extra firm, or at least firm tofu—anything softer is better-suited for adding creamy texture to desserts or for egg substitute recipes.

Buh-Bye, Tofu: 10 Seitan Recipes That Blow Tofu Out Of the Water

My boyfriend calls seitan, pronounced say-tan, “Satan.” This is both hilarious and misleading, because as I’ve recently discovered, seitan is not the vegan “meat” from hell. The meat substitute, made from wheat gluten (sorry gluten-free folks) and often called “wheat meat,” is actually incredibly delicious, super easy to prepare, and really (really!) tastes like meat.

But I don’t blame you if you didn’t already know this. For years, I too, was a seitan hater. My hate was unfounded: I’d never really eaten it, but it just looked so weird that I passed every time I was given the opportunity. This all changed when, last week, my boyfriend and I sat down at Cantina Dos Segundos, ravenously hungry, and ordered the tofu and seitan fajitas. We usually ask for only tofu—because, again, we were always under the impression that seitan was, well, gross—but this time we were too deliriously hungry to remember. When our plate came and we loaded up our tortillas and bit in, I looked up at him and said, somewhat confused, “Wait—seitan is amazing.”

The next morning, the first thing I said when I opened my eyes was, “Man, those seitan fajitas were good.” He responded, still half asleep, “I was seriously just thinking that.” That’s how good seitan is, guys: So good that it will be the first thing you think about when you wake up.

In the past week since I made this discovery, I’ve been on a seitan cooking spree, whipping up everything from seitan tacos to seitan fried rice. Everything that I’ve made has made me wonder, Why did I ever use tofu? Store-bought seitan is incredibly easy to prepare: You just dice it up, throw it in a pan with a dash of oil, cook it on medium heat for a few minutes and voila! You don’t have to press it like tofu, and it soaks up flavor much faster than tofu, so no crazy-long marinating times are involved. Plus, the texture is truly meat-like. Truly. And it’s low-calorie, ringing in at about 100 calories per serving, low-carb, low-fat and high in protein, to boot. The only thing is, it really does look weird. But after one bite, you’ll get over that—promise.

Now, tofu will always hold a special place in my heart, but I am officially in love with seitan And soon you will be, too. To help you kickstart your love affair with wheat meat, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most delicious recipes the Internet has to offer (there’s even a vegan Philly cheesesteak in the mix!). Prepare to fall head over heels—or fork—for seitan.

Note: A few of these recipes call for homemade seitan, but the store-bought variety will do just fine.


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