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Tofu Talk

Food Fitness. Nourish your body.

Most of us just pass tofu up in the grocery store - or perhaps don't even know where to find it! If either situation describes you, you have a lot of company! The two most common reasons are "I don't think I'd like tofu!" or, "I have no clue how to cook with that tofu!"


Well, if you're tempted to give it a try; or perhaps if you're feeling adventurous, here are some tips on tofu.

Many people who have tried it, promise tofu is not only delicious but nutritious. As for the taste issue, here is a hint regarding raw tofu: If you enjoy yogurt or cottage cheese, you are a good candidate for tofu.

If you do not enjoy yogurt or cottage cheese, don't try it raw -- you most likely won't like it and will be turned off. But do keep in mind, tofu added to dishes with other flavors (i.e., spices, seasonings, herbs) can add a great nutritional boost without taking away flavor. If you've ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant, chances are the cubes in your stir-fry were not chicken as many assume, but tofu.

It may help you to know that soy is just a bean. Just as cows give us milk, so does the soy bean. When cheese is produced, animal milk is separated into curds and whey -- soy milk is also separated into curds and whey to form tofu.

The Benefits of Tofu

Tofu in a bowl with Chinese Proverb

  • You can use tofu in place of cheese.
  • Tofu is very versatile. You can bake it, boil it, broil it, grill it, fry it, eat it whole, mashed, in cubes, mixed with just about anything. Tofu can be formed into an unlimited number of dishes.
  • Tofu has digestible complete protein.
  • Tofu also has all eight essential amino acids.
  • You can use tofu in place of chicken in stir-fries.
  • Tofu must be refrigerated and does have a short shelf life. Normally, tofu is sold in plastic tubs, immersed in water. Before using, pour off the water, rinse and pat dry the tofu.
  • Have you ever seen the term "Silken Tofu" in a recipe and wondered just what that means? Silken Tofu comes inside foil packages from Japan. It is ultra-pasteurized and has a very long shelf life and is best when used in soups.
  • Firm tofu is more versatile than Silken Tofu.

Quick Hoisin Tofu Stir Fry

Stir fry 3 ounces low fat tofu, diced, in 1 teaspoon oil for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup each sliced mushrooms and grated carrots, stir-fry 3 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce and then toss with 1/2 cup cooked quinoa.

Following is a recipe for an example of how to use tofu as a substitute for Mozzarella -- if you dare!

In addition, I've added a couple appealing tofu recipes for ideas that will make tofu tasty desserts.

Note:  Use 2-cups Mozzarella if you would like to try the recipe but you do not think you will care for using tofu.

Vegetable Lasagna

With the blending of all the flavorful ingredients in this recipe, you most likely won't even taste the tofu.

3 to 4 cups spaghetti sauce
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 pound spinach, washed and chopped, or canned
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable seasoning
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups firm tofu, cut into tiny chunks

Prepare sauce or use sauce from a can or jar if pressed for time.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in water (with 1-teaspoon of oil added) for about ten minutes or until tender. Drain well. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the spaghetti sauce. To assemble, spoon three to four-tablespoons of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or comparable size). Cover the sauce with four to five of the noodles, then a layer of the cheese mix, then the sauce.

Make a second layer of the above, until all you have left is four to five noodles and sauce left. You should have two or three layers.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares. Recipe makes eight to ten servings.

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Dairy-free, Low-fat Pumpkin Pie

1-1/2 package Light Tofu Firm (for extra flavor, look for extra-firm)
2 cups canned or cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice OR Next four ingredients
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 unbaked 9" pastry crust

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Blend light tofu firm in a food processor or blender until creamy smooth. Add pumpkin, honey, vanilla and spices; blend well. Pour into a 9-inch unbaked deep dish pie shell.

Bake approximately one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool and Serve. Recipe makes eight servings.

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Fresh Fruit Topped With Tofu Strawberry Peach Whip

1 medium bowl of fresh fruit salad
4 large strawberries, stems removed
2 medium ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
1-1/2 pounds tofu-firm
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

Prepare the fruit salad and set aside in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, puree the strawberries and peaches until they reach a thick, liquid consistency. Add the tofu and blend until fully combined. Add the powdered sugar, blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and chill for two hours, or overnight.

Serve in individual dessert dishes, and garnish with whole strawberries. This will keep in the refrigerator for one week. Recipe makes six servings.

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Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Perhaps you grew up on this comforting, rich dessert, which is particularly popular in the southern U.S. This recipe uses the same ingredients as traditional versions, plus tofu, which cuts down on fat, cholesterol and calories.
You may use soymilk in place of the low-fat milk, if you like. Use bananas that are not fully ripe. Cutting them on the diagonal makes long slices that layer nicely. Using a loaf-shaped pan lets you use fewer cookies than a shallower, wider one. You may double this recipe for parties and assemble in a 2-quart dish. Be sure to allow time for the custard, fruit and cookies to meld together before serving.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup low-fat milk or unsweetened soymilk
1 12-ounce package Light Firm tofu, pureed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
24 - 36 reduced fat vanilla wafers
3 medium bananas cut diagonally into 3/8-inch slices
1 1/2-quart (6 cups) oven-proof glass baking dish

Preheat the oven to 450-degrees.

Whisk 3/4 cup of the sugar with the flour in a medium saucepan until well combined. (This is important to avoid lumps in the pudding.) Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Whisk in the milk. Pour half this mixture into the sugar, mixing until completely blended. Mix in the rest of the liquid.

Set the pot over medium high heat. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until steam starts to rise from the liquid. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring until the mixture coats the spoon. Off the heat, mix in the tofu, vanilla and lemon juice until the pudding is well blended.

Arrange cookies to cover the bottom of a one 1/2-quart (6 cup) heat safe baking dish, using 8 or 12 cookies, depending on the shape of the dish. Arrange sliced bananas to cover the cookies. Spread a third of the pudding over the bananas. Repeat, making three layers in all, ending with the pudding.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in the sugar, 1-tablespoon at a time, until the whites are thick and glossy. Spread them evenly over the pudding with a rubber spatula. Swirl the surface decoratively with the tip of the spatula. Bake the pudding until the top of the egg white is lightly brown, about five minutes.

Refrigerate four to eight hours, until the pudding chills through and the cookies are soft. This pudding keeps up to two days in the refrigerator, covered with foil. Recipe makes six servings.

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Tasty Tofu Brownie Snacks

1-1/3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package light tofu, firm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup European processed cocoa powder
Optional garnish:  2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit in bottom of 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

With paper removed, grease bottom and sides of pan with vegetable shortening. Place waxed paper on top of greased pan bottom and grease top of waxed paper.

Process all dry ingredients in food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Empty into small bowl and set aside.

Place all wet ingredients in work bowl and process until smooth, scraping the bowl sides occasionally. Add dry mixture all at once. Pulse to blend until dry ingredients are moist. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 22 minutes or until brownies pull away from sides. Let cool for 15 minutes before turning out. Recipe makes 12 servings.

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Tofu Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1/4 cup white rice, cooked without salt
1 head green cabbage, cored
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Steam cabbage about 5 minutes over boiling water. Cool and carefully remove large outer leaves. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes, add bell pepper and continue cooking about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add tofu and rice to the onion mixture and gently stir. Add 1/2 of the tomato sauce, raisins, paprika, salt and pepper and mix well.

Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each cabbage leaf and roll tightly. Place the stuffed cabbage leaves seam side down in the baking dish. Combine the remaining tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water and mix well and pour over the stuffed cabbage rolls. Bake for 1 hour.

Makes approx. 6 Servings Serving Size: 5 stuffed rolls

Nutrients per serving:
Calories: 136
Total fat: 6 grams
Saturated fat: 1 grams
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 417 mg
Carbohydrate: 15 grams
Protein: 8 grams
Dietary fiber: 3 grams

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