So I’ve gotten this question a lot recently and I thought it was time to shed some light. How do I eat tofu? My first experience with tofu was at a Japanese restaurant when a friend ordered agadashi tofu, which is tofu that is deep fried and generally served with an asian broth. Although I was slightly disappointed to find out that not all tofu comes deep-fried, I was happy to have found a meat alternative as I was slowly on my path to becoming a vegetarian.
So this one is for all of my meat-loving friends, long-time vegetarians AND those who straddle both sides. I have compiled some easy and delicious tofu recipes that will help you include this plant-based protein into your diet on the regular.
But first, what is tofu?
Tofu is made from soy milk, and can be thought of as pressed soy proteins. The degree of pressing determines the type of tofu: ie. soft, firm, pressed. It is an excellent source of calcium and iron. It is also a significant source of manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc and Vitamin B1! You get the point, great from a nutritional standpoint.
I know some people are a bit fearful of soy due to the attention it has gotten over the years in the media. I want to give you the facts. You may have heard people say that tofu has been said to cause an increase in estrogen in the body, causing increased rates of breast cancer for women, or men to grow breasts. The truth is that soy contains phytoestrogens. Now these are really cool because they can have one of two effects on the body. Phytoestrogens bind to your estrogen receptor sites, thereby blocking them. By occupying these receptor sites, they reduce the effects of estrogen. They still however, they have a slightly estrogenic effect, meaning it has a weaker effect than our bodies endogenous (naturally occurring) estrogen. SO, if the levels of estrogen in your body are too high, then soy is actually a great option as it blocks your estrogen from being able to be absorbed by occupying the estrogen receptors.
Alternatively, if you have too little estrogen in the body, the phytoestrogens bind to the receptor site, increasing the amount of total estrogenic effect slightly. COOL RIGHT? So including soy in your diet can be beneficial for women in menopause, hormone balancing, estrogen dominance amongst many other conditions.
Tofu is also one of only two complete plant based proteins. Meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids that our body needs to utilize protein efficiently. (The other is quinoa, FYI). It is an incredibly versatile source of protein and it is also quite affordable. Be sure to always choose an organic tofu as non-organic soy is generally genetically modified. Tofu and soy products are something I generally like to include a few times a week, but not every day. Overall, in your diet, variety is key. More variety means a greater amount of different nutrients, which is the ideal goal.
So now to answer the question of HOW to include tofu into your diet. Many find it to be tasteless and boring, but with tofu it is all about how you season it and what you combine it with. You can marinate it to add flavour, coat it in delicious sauces, or use it in place of many of your favourite ingredients like eggs or ground meats. It is great used in blended recipes such as soups to add some extra creaminess and protein as well.
Below I have included my top 2 most simple ways to get some tofu in your tummy - A tofu scramble (think scrambled eggs) + Simple Crispy Tofu. Both are so incredibly versatile and easy that you reeeeally don't need the recipe, but it's a good starting point. AND I have included links to my TOP 10 FAVE TOFU RECIPES from around the interwebs. I hope that you will try some out and mix in some plant-powered-protein to your life!
- 1/3 package of firm tofu
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- splash unsweetened alternative milk (almond, coconut, soy etc.)
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 clove garlic
- S + P
- sauteed veggies of choice: onions, peppers, mushrooms, greens, tomatoes or WHATEVER your heart desires!
- Sautee your vegetables over medium heat using coconut oil. Add in your chopped garlic.
- Once soft, crumble in your tofu and add in a splash of your alternative milk.
- Add in your hot sauce, dijon, turmeric, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you choose.
- Mix until the liquid has absorbed and the seasonings are dispersed evenly through the scramble.
- Serve on its own, or with avocado, good quality bread or in a wrap for on-the-go.
Simple Crispy Tofu:
- 1/4 package pressed tofu
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Spices or sauces of your choice
- Heat a frying pan with the coconut oil over medium heat.
- Cube the tofu into 1/2 inch pieces (or however big you want them) and add to the skillet once the oil has melted. Allow each side to get crispy and a light brown color then rotate.
- Toss in sauces or spices of choice.
Mix into your favorite salads, stir-frys, and bowls for some extra protein.
These recipes are not my own, but are ones I have tried and LOVED over the years. They may help you get your creative juices flowing as to how you can add some tofu into your life.
Easy Lemon Dill Tofu / by Oh She Glows
Veggie Summer Rolls / by Oh She Glows
Lemongrass Tofu Bowls / by Sprouted Kitchen
Sweet Potato Tofu Thai Curry / by Nutritionist in the Kitch
Roasted Tofu Kale Tacos / by Vegan Yack Attack
Veggie Tofu Stirfry / by Minimalist Baker
Simple Tofu Quiche / by Minimalist Baker
Tofu Ricotta / by Whole Foods
Italian Baked Tofu (and how to press tofu) / by Oh My Veggies
Red Thai Curry Soup / by Oh My Veggies
What are your favorite tofu recipes? Share them in the comments below! And stay tuned for some tasty tofu recipes coming to the blog soon!