Tofu Recipes

Introduction to Tofu, the benefits of eating soy and recipes for preparing tofu. Tofu isn't just for vegetarians anymore!

Tofu is one of the healthiest foods on earth. While those refrigerated boxes and tubs of white cakes can be intimidating to those just discovering the benefits of soy, they soon learn that tofu is both a simple and versatile food.

Tofu comes from soybeans, or more specifically soy milk. Soy milk is used to create curds (similar to how cow's milk can create curds) and these curds are called Tofu. Soybeans are a godsend for vegetarians as these beans are one of the richest sources of protein. The protein found in soybeans is a "complete protein", meaning it contains all 8 necessary amino acids. A three oz serving of tofu contains more protein than three ounces of hamburger meat! Soybeans are used to create more than just tofu. They can also be used to make soy milk, tempeh (a soybean cake that goes through a process of fermentation), soy flour (which can be used in cooking), textured vegetable protein, and protein powders that are used in shakes.

With the popularity of tofu and other soy products on the rise, you no longer need to go to a health food store or an Oriental market in order to make your purchase. Most major grocery stores now stock tofu somewhere near their fresh vegetables.

On your first shopping trip for tofu, you will notice that there are two basic kinds: Silken and Firm. Silken tofu is usually in a box or foil, whereas firm tofu is usually in a tub-like container with water. Silken Tofu is more difficult to cook with. It doesn't absorb flavors as well as firm tofu (tofu itself has very little flavor, although some people describe it as slightly nutty). Silken tofu is used in soups and salads, and for shakes and deserts. Firm tofu is easier to work with in stirfry's and grilling.

The first step to preparing firm tofu is to drain the water out of the tub. Next, you will find it most useful to wrap the tofu up in paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu in a colander and put a weight (like a can of soup) on top of the tofu. Let this sit for at least an hour, or until the paper towels are soaked through. This will make the tofu much easier to cut and less watery, and therefore more flavorful.

Most people are initiated into tofu by using it in a stirfry. This is the easiest way to experiment with different flavors and sauces you may like on your tofu. To make a stirfry, simply cube the tofu and use it as you would chicken or beef. Marinate and cook the tofu first, then add the veggies to the stir-fry. Extra firm tofu is less likely to fall apart in a stirfry, but care should be taken when using you spatula. Taking the time to thoroughly drain the tofu ahead of time will minimize crumbling later. You can find more ways to use tofu at the end of this article!



Health Benefits of Soy

Soy has taken off in a big way in the US this last decade! Vegetarians are not the only people who now attempt to make soy a part of their everyday diet.

The National Cancer Institute have found that chemicals called Isoflavones may have anti-carcinogenic qualities. Soy products are one of the few products available to us that contain these chemicals. Women with diets high in soy protein appear to have lower rates of breath cancer compared to women who do not consume soy.

Soy is also commonly 'prescribed' to women going through menopause. Many women find that by including soy in their diet, hotflashes are minimized and estrogen treatment unnecessary.

A diet high in soy protein reduces the risk of heart disease. Tofu contains no cholesterol and is low in saturated fats. Studies have found that patients who switch from animal protein to soy protein lower their LDL cholesterol and suffer from heart disease about 25% less often than their non-soy eating counterparts.

Soy has also been linked to lowered risk of colon cancer, kidney disease and osteoporosis. As researchers, and the general public, are taking more interest in the health benefits of soy, we can expect to hear more and more glowing reports! With all the health benefits, it is no wonder people are making an effort to include soy in their diet.

RECIPES

Tofu-Avocado Spread

I package of Silken Tofu

1 1/2 T Lemon Juice

2 T Olive Oil

1/2 t salt

I smashed, very ripe Avocado

2 T minced onion (or to taste)

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Blend ingredients until smooth. Using a blender is very helpful, but not necessary. For best flavor, allow the spread to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This recipe allows you to add some soy easily to any salad, or cracker, or...use your imagination!

Tofu Potato Topper

2 C water with salt sprinkled in it

12 oz of silken tofu

2 T lemon juice

1/4 t salt

Bring the 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add entire block of tofu, when the water returns to a boil, remove saucepan from heat and it allow to cool for about 2 minutes. Then put the tofu, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in blender and blend until smooth.

Use this in place of your sour cream. It's much lower in calories and higher in protein!

Tofu Souffle'

6 oz tofu (silken or firm), cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 slices of buttered wheat bread

6 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1 T chopped onion

1 1/4 C milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Dash of Pepper

Tear each slice of buttered bread into 4 pieces. Use butter or a non-stick spray to coat a casserole dish. Layer the bread, then tofu, then cheese, and then onion. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used. Mix remaining ingredients in separate bowl, then pour mixture on top of layered ingredients in casserole dish. Bake casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Fried Tofu

12 oz extra firm tofu cut into cubes

4T flour

Oil for deep-frying

Drain tofu ahead of time., then roll cubed tofu in flour. Heat oil to approximately 350 degrees in a wok or skillet. Deep-fry Tofu until is is golden brown. Drain and allow to dry on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce. Sliced leeks and ginger root make great garnishes.

Tofu Cheese Cake

4 oz honey graham crackers

3 T olive oil

1 C pineapple juice

2 T gelatin or agar (reminder: gelatin is not

vegan-friendly)

1 pound soft tofu

6 T honey

6 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 T grated lemon peel

Crumble the graham crackers, add olive oil and mix thoroughly. Press the cracker mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan evenly. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and allow it to cool. Bring pineapple juice to a near-boil. Stir in the gelatin or agar gradually and simmer until it is dissolved. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in blender with the pineapple juice mixture. Pour into the baked crust. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.

© High Speed Ventures 2011