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What is Tofu?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 16, 2024
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Tofu is an easy to digest, somewhat bland food with a texture similar to cheese. It is made from soybean curd and is often substituted for meats, cheeses, and certain dairy products because of its healthful properties. Tofu is also a popular food choice among people who don't eat animal products, and it is used in many different diets, including vegan and vegetarian eating plans. It's also a staple in many low fat, low cholesterol diets, and is regarded as a healthy part of high protein low-carb lifestyles.

This food offers many valuable nutritional benefits, including high concentrations of B-vitamins, easily digestible proteins, isoflavones, and unlike most soymilk products, calcium. B-vitamins and isoflavones are said to be helpful in diminishing menstrual and menopausal symptoms, including discomfort and irritability. They may also protect against certain types of cancer. Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and other bone diseases and helps make teeth strong.

There are three different kinds of tofu: silken, soft, and firm. The silken variety is perfect for blending with other foods because of its creamy consistency. It is frequently used to replace higher fat options such as cream cheese, and it works great for a healthier version of cheesecake. Soft tofu has a texture more like al dente pasta. It is an excellent choice for dishes such as lasagna, where pasta is replaced to create a lower carbohydrate option. The firm variety is thicker and not as soft as the other types and can be diced up as an alternative to meats in dishes like salads, soups, and casseroles.

Many healthy, delicious recipes use tofu as an alternative to meat, because it takes on the flavors of other foods with which it is combined. It is quite bland and has very little distinctive flavor of its own, which makes it the preferred choice in food substitutes as compared to other low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium, and even low-carb options. These other options generally have distinctive tastes or aftertastes that change the flavor of the dishes in which they are used.

This soy product is available in most supermarkets. It must be refrigerated and is usually located near other meat substitute products or in or near the produce section. Once a shopper brings it home, he or she should be sure to refrigerate it or freeze it immediately. It is generally safe to keep it for about one week in the refrigerator and at least one month in the freezer.

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Discussion Comments
By anon284419 — On Aug 10, 2012

I bought soybeans from Laura Soybeans online, 20 pounds for 30 dollars. I make the soy milk - boil them like 5 minutes, then blend in a blender with hot water. Place in boiling water pot for 20 minutes. Cool down, then drain soy milk with a net strainer, and your okara or tofu is found in the strainer and at the bottom of the pot.

By medicchristy — On Nov 12, 2010

@purplespark: This is a version of chocolate cake made with tofu. You actually buy regular cake mix but instead of using oil and eggs, the tofu is substituted.

You need 1 box moist chocolate cake mix, 1-300gram block of soft/dessert tofu, and ¼ cup water. With a blender or a food processor, mix the cake mix and the tofu together. Once mixed, add the water and blend again. Do not add any of the other ingredients that are on the cake mix box.

Pour into a baking dish and then cook according to directions on the box. Delicious!

By PurpleSpark — On Nov 12, 2010

Are there any desserts made with tofu?

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