If the word tofu sounds foreign to you, that’s because it is. Tofu originated in ancient China over 2,000 years ago and spread among neighboring Asian countries, before it journeyed to the west. And now, tofu has become synonymous with a variety of soy products out in our supermarkets.
From refrigerated blocks to fermented jars, tofu can be a great source of plant-based protein for anyone shying away from too much meat or all meat products. Every 1/2 cup of tofu provides about 10 grams of protein. Tofu is also a great staple for losing weight because it contains zero saturated fat! This low-calorie food also is a good source of calcium and iron.
However, you may have heard that “soy is bad for you.” Studies suggest that high levels of isoflavones, a estrogen-mimicing compound in soy, may “reduce fertility in women, trigger premature puberty and disrupt development of fetuses and children,” as it has done in laboratory mice. However, these studies are still inconclusive and are limited, resulting in widespread fear and rejection of soy products.
Tofu, in fact, if eaten in moderation, can provide many benefits. And isoflavones don’t have to be the bad guys either.
“[Tofu’s] high in plant-based soy isoflavones, which have anti-cancer benefits,” says Megan Tempest, RD, LDN, from the University of Chicago Medical Center, “People in Japan eat tofu almost every day and the country has one of the lowest cancer rates in the world.”
So what can we learn about the soy debacle? Moderation is key.
Here are some ways to transition into eating tofu if you’ve never had it before:
1. Marinate It
Tofu has a very mild and bland flavor by itself. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s flawed, it just means you get to be very creative in cooking with it. A great way to add flavor to tofu is by marinating it overnight or for a few hours with a special marinade so that it could really soak in the flavors you’ve added to your sauce. Try making this Vegan General Tso’s Tofu, with a thick and rich, sweet and spicy sauce that only requires half an hour to marinate! Here’s a Vegan Sesame Tofu recipe that provides the same concept, with a different sauce.
2. Scramble It
Tofu blocks are soft and they easily crumble if you handle them too roughly. This makes them a perfect candidate for tofu scrambles! For a cruelty-free, cholesterol-free breakfast, try making a Tofu Scramble with Spinach and Nutritional Yeast. (And if you haven’t tried nutritional yeast, aka “hippie dust, read up on why it rocks here!) You can also make this healthy Curried Tofu Scramble. And if you want, you can go all out and make a low fat, Vegan Silken Tofu Omelette the whole family can enjoy!
3. Cream It
Another great way to incorporate tofu into your diet is through desserts. Make this low fat, Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream, for a healthy treat. Or an exotic Tofu Malai, a decadent Indian dessert, without the milk and butter!
There you have it! Three easy ways to transition into eating tofu without all the fuss.
Image Source: Tofu Sesame Broccoli Salad
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