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Why tofu is good for you

Tofu is a terrific source of healthy, plant-based protein. It’s also low in saturated fat, and depending on the variety, it can provide a good source of iron and calcium.

But the greatest interest in tofu comes from research showing that it and other soy foods, if consumed regularly and from an early age, can provide significant protection against many killer diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and osteoporosis, and it can even help in dealing with menopausal symptoms.

Tofu also takes on the flavor of any seasoning, and, best of all, it’s inexpensive!

Different types

All types of tofu are made from soybeans, water, and a setting agent. The difference has to do with the amount of water in the final product, which determines its texture and nutritional content.

  • Classic, or regular, is the most common type. It has the consistency of firmly set custard.
  • Silken is smooth and delicate, has a texture similar to pudding, and contains the highest moisture content.
  • Firm is pressed for a longer period to remove more water, making it firmer, chewier, and meatier in texture.

How to use it

Which tofu you choose depends on your purpose.

  • Classic is ideal to steam and enjoy drizzled with soy sauce, mashed to make a scrambled egg alternative, or crumbled and used in chili dishes and tacos.
  • Silken is perfect cubed and added to soups, to replace eggs and/or cream in baking, or pureed as a base for sauces, dressings, or mousse.
  • Firm, being the most robust, can be cut into various shapes, then pan-fried, stir-fried, skewered, marinated, grilled, or made into a dairy-free version of ricotta.

The best way to store leftover tofu is to cover it with water in an airtight container and refrigerate it. It will store for up to a week if the water is changed daily.

Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat to Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve well-being. See for more nutrition information.

Food Matters: Demystifying Tofu

by Sue Radd
From the August 2014 Signs