Cooking with Tofu-Tips & Tricks

By Kelsie White

Cooking with Tofu-Tips & Tricks

Nutrition Bites | Week 14

Welcome back to Nutrition Bites! Over the past few weeks, we have had a few recipes that involve tofu, so now seems like a great time to talk all about cooking with tofu. We will review some takeaways on soy foods and health and look at the nutrient profile of tofu, as well as the various types. I will also share some tips for cooking with tofu, as well as share some of my favorite recipes. Let’s dig in!

Straight Talk About Soy 

Before we learn more about tofu, I want to share a quote from an article from Harvard. This quote summarizes some of the health benefits and reasons to include soy in your diet. Check out the full article here.

“Soy is a unique food that is widely studied for its estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects on the body. Studies may seem to present conflicting conclusions about soy, but this is largely due to the wide variation in how soy is studied. Results of recent population studies suggest that soy has either beneficial or neutral effects on various health conditions. Soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week, and probably more often, and is likely to provide health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat.”

The take-home here is that soy isn’t something to be afraid up, but rather a powerful food to add to your nutrition toolbox. Check out one of our previous articles where I looked at some of the common nutrition myths.

Nutritional Profile of Tofu 

There are many reasons to make friends with tofu, especially when it comes to the nutrition it can provide. Tofu and soy foods are a source of complete protein. This means that it contains all of the essential amino acids. It is also a great source of healthy fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals. A 3-ounce serving (1/5 block) of firm tofu provides:

  • 80 calories
  • 4 grams fat
  • 2 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 5 mg sodium
  • 8 grams protein
  • 6% DRI iron
  • 10% DRI calcium

To give you an idea, let’s compare these numbers to the nutrition facts of some chicken. A similar sized portion of baked chicken without sauce or seasoning provides (data from FoodData Central):

  • 175 calories
  • 7 grams fat
  • 0 grams carbohydrates
  • 0 grams fiber
  • 98 mg cholesterol
  • 283 mg sodium
  • 16 g protein
  • 581 mg iron
  • 6 mg calcium

Comparing the two, it is easy to see that tofu provides more of the nutrients we want, and less of the nutrients that we want to limit or avoid all together. In my opinion, it is one of the best plant-based swaps you can make!

Types of Tofu 

There are several different types of tofu that you can choose from, and it often depends on what you are wanting to make. Tofu differs in firmness, with the softest option being silken tofu. This is a very soft, smooth tofu that is best for sauces, dips, or making your own yogurt (check out our recipe here). Next are the standard types of tofu that also range from soft to medium firm to extra firm. These are best for making scrambles or baking/air-frying/sautéing. There are also super firm options, and these will usually have the highest protein content.

Cooking Tips 

The first and most important step for flavorful tofu is to press the tofu. This helps to remove excess liquid so that the tofu can soak up whatever you choose to flavor it with. There are affordable tofu presses available online, or you can also wrap the tofu in paper towel and set a heavy cutting board on top of it. If you have the time, leave the tofu to press for at least 30 minutes. Next is to marinate the tofu in a sauce for a few hours if possible. Again, this is another important step if you want your tofu to have lots of flavor. Once you have completed these two steps, there are many different ways that you can cook your tofu. I prefer to use an air-fryer, as it is much faster and easier to cook without oil, but you can also bake, sauté, or scramble as well as blend into sauces, smoothies, or yogurt. Alternatively, you can also switch it up and use tempeh instead, which can be prepared in a similar fashion. For more info on tempeh, check out our article from last week.

Favorite Tofu Recipes

Because tofu is such a nutritionally dense food, I am always looking for new ways to include it in my diet. A few of my favorite tofu recipes are Tofu Egg Salad, Air-Fryer Tofu, and Baked Tofu Slices. Each of these recipes uses a different method of preparation to help add variety. They are also great for meal prepping ahead of time and storing in the fridge for a quick meal. Give it a try and see what you think!

Weekly Challenge

It is my hope that you feel inspired to experiment with tofu this week, whether you are trying it for the first time or trying a new way of preparing it. I want to challenge you to try making tofu two new ways this week, or if you are new to the world of tofu, try eating it once or twice throughout your week!




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