How To Love Tofu

Tofu: Food’s Master of Disguise

I’ve never understood when people have this gut reaction hatred for tofu for a number of reasons.  The first one being that usually the people that say it’s gross have never actually tried tofu because they are too afraid, and the second being that saying you don’t like tofu is like saying you don’t like plain, boiled chicken.  Tofu, like plain chicken, is transformed by the spices, flavours and preparation methods you use.  I don’t like plain tofu and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who does.  I didn’t sand off my taste buds when I went vegan, and I wouldn’t settle for eating tasteless food.  What tofu can be is quite extraordinary.  If you can dream it, it can taste like it!

It’s Good For You
From a nutritional perspective, I won’t refrain from using the buzzword powerhouse*.  Per 100 grams, it has more protein than beef or cheese.  One half-cup serving of raw firm tofu contains 94 calories. By comparison, 4 oz ground beef contains 331 calories, 1/2 cup of 2% milk has 60 calories and 4 oz of cheese packs 320 calories.  It is also a cholesterol-free food (as are all plant-based foods) and has very little fat.  It’s also full of calcium (22% of your RDA in just a 1/2 cup serving) and has a good amount of iron, too.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the effects of soyfoods on health.  I’ve heard people tell me it increases your risk of cancer, it makes men grow boobs (!?) and so on.
This is a good beginner’s article with a comprehensive list of actual scientific-backed studies so you’re getting the whole story, not just what your friend heard from some other friend.

…And it’s versatile
There are essentially two types of tofu – silken and regular.  Silken tofu is wobbly like jello and very creamy when blended.  It is best used hidden in pies, puddings, cakes and sauces.  I make a killer pumpkin pie that uses tofu to provide that firm filling texture – and my meat-and-potatoes-loving Dad devours it, none the wiser.

Regular tofu comes in firm and extra firm.  In our household, we prefer the texture of extra firm – it’s got a nice chewy bite to it.
Tip:  Stick your block of tofu in the freezer until ready to use.  Once it’s thawed, you’ll see that the freezing process has given it an even meatier, chewy texture that lends itself to dishes where the goal is to replicate meat, like tofu jerky.

Grocery stores with a more embellished selection may have varieties such as smoked tofu and what I call “puffy” tofu – marshmallow shaped pieces, full of air holes, delicious fried with a bit of peanut sauce for dipping.

…The possibilities are endless (really)
Like I said previously, tofu can be a number of things and used in a number of ways.
Here is a very, very, very small sampling to give you an idea:

You don’t have to be vegetarian, vegan or a shoeless hippie to enjoy tofu!  It’s worth experimenting with and I think you’ll find that it can be far more tasty and enjoyable than you ever expected.
If after you’ve tried all the ways to eat tofu and you still don’t like it, well, atleast you tried and you’re more well-rounded for it.  And you’re no longer one of those schmucks who hates on things they don’t understand.

* Of course, as with anything, moderation is important and we do not consume soy more than 2-3x a week.  So much food, so little time!

– Crystal


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