Understanding Tofu

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It’s been misunderstood, demonized and unnecessarily avoided. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and also fiber, the latter being greatly insufficient in most people’s diets.

what

So what is tofu? Tofu is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. High in iron, calcium, magnesium, and low in calories, it is a food that has been around for thousands of years. It’s a staple in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other southeast Asia country’s cuisine. It also comes in several forms: silken, soft, medium, firm and extra firm texture. Having a very subtle flavour, tofu will take on the flavours of the foods it is cooked with. Also because of the subtle flavour it can be used in desserts such as vegan cheesecake (no cheese needed) and remain undetectable. Just 100 grams of tofu contains 8 grams of protein, 35% of daily requirements for calcium, 30% of daily iron requirements, and has only 76 calories.

Tempeh is another way to get soy into your diet. Where tofu is prepared from soy milk, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. You’ll find tempeh more flavourful then tofu as it has a nutty profile to it.

Tofu can often get a bad wrap in cultures that associate eating meat with masculinity. Who hasn’t heard the term soy boy used to emasculate men who are on the left of political and social views. Tofu is looked at as a ‘hippie’ food while meat, especially beef, will always be used to sell beer in a commercial showing the guys getting together on the weekend. Which is ironic since a number of studies show that the higher consumption of beef can lead to the decline in testosterone levels in men while consuming tofu does not have this effect. It’s not surprising considering that when you are eating meat you are eating not just the meat you can chew but also consuming the hormones that make up the cow it came from; estrogen, and progesterone.

There is also the fear that soy consumption will increase the risk of breast cancer in women because of the levels of phytoestrogen (phyto refers to plants) but studies have shown that consuming soy reduces the risk of breast cancer and also lowers the risk of death from women whom have breast cancer. Let’s look at the following: “Researchers calculated all-cause mortality for those women diagnosed with breast cancer eating soy, or not eating soy. And those eating soy cut their risk of dying by 50%! So, not only does soy prevent breast cancer, but women with breast cancer eating soy live longer.

To get tofu into your diet it can be as easy as adding it to your stir frys, or soup (chunks of tofu in miso soup is very nice). Another option is to marinate it and put it into an air fryer. It’s very versatile. Are you vegan and miss scrambled eggs? Make yourself a tofu scramble using soft tofu while adding red pepper, onions, garlic. Key thing to remember is that tofu is comprised of a fair amount of water and you’ll want to press out that water before cooking with it.

finally

Tofu is a processed food so do not go overboard with it. It’s always a great idea to have variety with the foods we eat so treat it in that manner. And be sure to purchase only non-GMO tofu or tempeh. Embrace it, don’t be scared of it.

Yours in health,

Darryl