With your food budget tightening and the prices of meat rising, eating more vegetarian meals can be an economical and healthy option. Tofu, made from soybeans, and very high in protein and calcium, can be a great substitution for meats of all kinds and, if you can't live without animal protein, tofu can also be combined with meat in some dishes to stretch your dollar further. Here is information on the different types of tofu, tofu's nutritional benefits and vegetarian recipes featuring tofu.
Types of tofu
There are three types of tofu available in most markets — firm, soft, and silken.
Firm tofu is usually the best for cooking because it holds up better to heat and stirring. It is also the highest in protein, calcium and good for you fat.
Soft tofu, softer than the firm variety, is ideal for soups, stews or dishes in which it is blended.
Silken tofu is the creamiest of the three types, with a custard-like consistency that easily blends in smoothies, dressings, or simply eaten as is.
Nutrition information on tofu
Tofu, no matter what type, is a super source of protein, calcium, vitamin B and iron.
As a rule, the softer the tofu, the lower the fat content. But keep in mind that the highest amount of fat in firm tofu is only six grams per serving — and it's good for you fat, regardless. Tofu is also very low in sodium, saturated fat, and has no cholesterol, unlike beef and other meats.
Vegetarian recipes featuring tofu
Smoked Tofu and Black Eyed Peas
Makes 6 servingsIngredients:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, sliced
1 (16-ounce) package frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (8-ounce) package smoked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cups water
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepperDirections:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add peas, spinach, tofu, water, pepper sauce, salt and pepper.
2. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, for about 25 minutes, or until peas and spinach are tender. Taste mixture and adjust seasoning to taste.
Tofu Salad Sandwich
Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1 pound firm tofu, drained, frozen, then crumbled
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 slices of whole-grain breadDirections:
Combine crumbled tofu with celery, onion, mayonnaise, soy sauce and lemon juice. Gently mix until well combined. Spread mixture onto bread and top with lettuce, tomato, onions, or another combination of vegetables you like.
"Spaghetti and Meatballs"
Makes 6 servingsIngredients:
1 (4-pound) spaghetti squash, sliced in half, seeded
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, cubedDirections:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush squash with butter and top with brown sugar. Arrange squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake 1 hour or until tender.
2. Combine broth, syrup, cider, soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic in a skillet and cook, stirring continually for 5 minutes. Mix in cornstarch and continue cooking until mixture thickens.
3. Heat oil in a skillet and saute tofu until golden. Using a slotted spoon, move tofu to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Scoop squash into a bowl and top with tofu and glaze.
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