Tofu, the queen of the vegetarian diet
Tofu is a soy bean curd made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into white blocks. Does that sound appetizing or what? Stay with me. That plain-looking curd is a nutritional superstar. Just a half cup serving provides 10 grams of very high quality protein, 11% of the daily need for iron and if packed in calcium sulfate, 25% of the daily calcium requirement. All that in just 90 calories and 5 grams of fat. Since tofu has a very neutral taste, it becomes delicious when marinated, sautéed in a spicy Asian sauce or curry as it nicely absorbs the flavour. It comes in textures from silken smooth to extra firm. Smooth tofu – available in plain, almond, banana and other flavours, blends well into smoothies. Firm tofu cubes are great in savoury dishes or it can be crumbled and browned like ground meat for use in chili, pasta sauces, tacos and much more.
Tofu is a rich source of healthy plant isoflavones. Isoflavones are compounds that are reputed to act like estrogen in the body. In reality, the quantity needed for a hormone-like effect is far beyond what most people, even those following a vegetarian diet, would consume. Sometimes men shy away from tofu for this reason, but they shouldn’t. Tofu’s health benefits far outweigh any risk. Tofu is an affordable, quick protein option. If you’re an experienced tofu user, I’d love to hear your tips for adding it to meals. If you’re a novice, but curious enough to try tofu, start with a little in a smoothie, a few cubes in an Asian soup or stir fry. Aim to make it a regular menu option and a way to eat a little less meat.