With the growing popularity of plant-based diets, your participants may be interested in learning how to incorporate tofu - a versatile plant-based protein - into their meals. Below you’ll find some information about this versatile food you can share with your participants (or you can jump right to the recipes).
Tofu is a great source of protein that’s made from soybeans and does not contain any animal products.
Since it is made from soybeans, tofu is a complete protein, providing all the essential amino acids.
Low in fat and high in protein, tofu is also an excellent source of calcium, with 1 serving of firm tofu providing almost half of the RDA for pregnant and lactating women ages 19-50 years.
Tofu is also a good source of B vitamins and iron. Visit the Eye on Nutrition series to learn more about these and other nutrients and checkout the Meals of the Month series to find nutrient-specific recipes. Tofu can be part of any healthy diet but can serve as an important protein source for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, or for those who don’t drink or use milk or other dairy products.
Tips & Ideas to Share
Since tofu takes the flavor of whatever it’s seasoned with the possibilities are vast when it comes to its uses. Tofu can become part of breakfast with a tofu scramble, a yummy stir fry for lunches and dinners, or a refreshing fruit smoothie.
- Depending on the type of tofu, 1 serving contains between 10-17g protein, 70-120 calories, 2-6g fat, and 200-600mg calcium.
- Tofu is a meatless option and can be swapped with meat in many recipes.
- Tofu can be frozen. Drain the liquid it came in and pat it dry. Slice the block into thin pieces and store it in an airtight container. It can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, transfer the tofu to the fridge overnight.
- Different types of tofu can be used in a variety of recipes and prepared with various methods to achieve different textures.
Types of Tofu
- Silken: Silken tofu is the softest form of tofu. It’s best used in creamy and smooth dishes and can be the base of a creamy pasta sauce or a smoothie.
- Medium: Medium tofu is denser than silken tofu but it’s still pretty tender. This type of tofu is great as an egg replacement in scrambles or in recipes where the tofu does not need to hold a specific shape.
- Firm: Firm tofu can be cut and still hold its shape relatively well. This form of tofu is a solid block that can be great in stir fries, as a baked snack, or used in place of meat in recipes.
- Extra Firm: This form is the densest form of tofu and can be used in many ways. From pan-frying, to grilling (prepare with a non-stick cooking spray or oil), air frying, or baking extra firm tofu will retain its shape. Extra firm tofu can be marinated as it absorbs a lot of flavor.
Tips for Cooking and Using
- Pressing: It is common to press tofu to remove any excess water and achieve a heartier, denser texture that does not fall apart. You can press tofu by removing it from the packaging, wrapping it in a paper or dish towel, and placing it between 2 plates with something heavy on top such as a pot or bag of flour. You can also use a tofu press if you have one! Depending on the firmness you want to achieve you can press tofu anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.
- Shape your tofu: If you choose to press your tofu or not you can pretty much cut it into any shape you desire. Cut cubes, triangles, slice it into longer strips or fillets, break it into crumbles or blend it into sauce. You can even use cookie cutters to make fun shapes!
- Eat it raw: Tofu is completely safe to eat raw. Whether you press it or marinate it, you can use raw tofu in salads, smoothies, or have it as a protein-packed snack.
- Marinating: Since tofu has a bland flavor, marinating it is very popular. Marinate tofu by using wet or dry seasonings and letting the tofu soak in the flavor. Similar to pressing tofu, marinating/seasoning can be done just before cooking or using, or you can marinate it in a bowl or bag for several hours.
- Oven: Cooking tofu in the oven is one of the easiest ways to do it. Place your tofu on a baking tray and pop it in the oven. When it comes to heat and time, there is no right or wrong. You can follow a recipe or, once you get familiar with cooking tofu, chose the time and temperature you need to get your desired level of crispiness.
- Stovetop: In a pan with some oil on the stovetop is another great way to cook tofu. This way of cooking can sear the outside of your tofu without drying it out.
- Grill: Grilled tofu gives it a smokey flavor and a crispy outside. If you prefer a grilled flavor and grill lines this method of cooking tofu is for you!
- Storing: When stored in the refrigerator, tofu that is removed from its packaging should be consumed within 1 week of purchasing. If stored in the freezer, it can last up to 5 months. If you chose to freeze your tofu, let it fully thaw before using it.