On Tuesday this week I was inspired to have a healthy lunch with beans and tofu. Packed full of protein and fibre and guaranteed to satisfy even the most rampant of appetites, tofu is a food that will both surprise and delight you.

Two years ago I thought tofu was slimy and tasteless, like someone had forgotten to add the fun to a marshmallow. All light and fluffy, but no enjoyment to eat. A few months after going vegan I knew I could no longer ignore this vegetarian and vegan diet staple.

Tofu – what is it and where did it come from?

It’s made by coagulating (clever science stuff) soy milk and then pressing  the curds into soft blocks.  There are a multitude of varieties and levels of firmness, which is generally achieved by pressing more and more liquid out.  Tofu dates back around 2000 years ago to China, from where it spread throughout Asia.  It’s said that it was discovered by a Chinese gentleman who curdled soy milk using seaweed by accident.  It’s generally low in calories, but high in protein and iron, so if you’re a newbie vegan and worried about nutrition, and if tofu was a destination, it’s where you’d go to feel better.  Depending on the method by which it’s made it can also have added calcium or magnesium, but as always it’s best to check the ingredients.

Varieties

There are so many to choose from, and while I’m a budding connoisseur at best, I’ve got a few firm favourites.  In the past couple of years my adventures with tofu have extended to trying soft or silken, fresh, dehydrated, firm, fermented and fried. There are countless new flavours coming onto the market as well and I feel like I come across a new one every few months. I haven’t found any frozen tofu yet, but I’ve heard it’s out there and I’ll go on an adventure to find it at some point.

Cooking Ideas

Hazel Tofu

  • Stir-fries are a great simple choice.  We regularly use the marinated tofu easily available from grocery stores and cook together with a Sainsburies or Ocado stir-fry pack (vegetables, rice noodles, black bean sauce).  Yum!
  • Scrambled firm tofu.  Cut into small, mishapen pieces, and fried up with a sliced red onion.  Add a dash of Nutritional Yeast and a sprinkling of fresh basil – so simple.  Recently we’ve upped our game and have been adding cut-up pieces of Sgaia’s Streaky Rashers.  So delicious!
  • Tofu slices or fillets on a toasted bread open sandwich.  Layer the bread with vegan mayo, a few rocket leaves, some sliced tomato or red peppers.  Then add the tofu slices to the top.  For added texture, sprinkle on a few chia, pumpkin or sesame seeds.  Warning – do not add the seeds on top of the tofu as I did at first, only to have them roll onto the floor with every bite!  Sprinkle them onto the mayo, and they’ll hold in place like a dream.
Tofu recipe idea

Bean and Tofu Stir-Fry

  • Leeks, red onion, garlic – all sliced or diced and cooked in a wok in chilli oil (we are loving Mr Hugh’s at the moment)
  • Cubed smoked herb tofu (we used Taifun), thrown in after the vegetables are golden
  • Black badger beans, pre-soaked and boiled for an hour, warmed in the wok after the tofu has been in for 3-5 minutes (Hodmedod’s are superb quality, and British grown!)
  • Add 1/4 cup of filtered water and allow the whole mixture to “cook off” for 5 minutes
  • Served either on a bed of or next to some “express” rice and quinoa (my favourite is Mothergrain)
  • Took us roughly 20 minutes from prep to plate, simple!

 

 

Tofu infographicInteresting Historical Information and Facts

  • The first English reference to tofu was in 1704 and manufacture started in Europe as early as 1880
  • Firm tofu generally has the highest amount of protein
  • Tofu contains all 8 of the essential amino acids which makes it unique as a plant protein
  • Tofu is low in fat – a meat-like substance that’s also low in fat, hooray!
  • Careful, if you’re allergic to soy then you’ll be allergic to tofu
  • Tofu can be a dessert – the silken variety can blend well for things like pie fillings, mousse and cheesecake (I have yet to brave the world of dessert tofu, but as soon as I do you’ll be the first to see the result!)
  • Silken tofu can also be used as an egg substitute
  • You can freeze cut-up chunks of toffee for up to 3 months

 

The Future…

The more I research the topic, the more excited I’m feeling at discovering things I’d never heard of before.  Before the month is out I’m making it a personal mission to find a frozen delicacy called “Thousand Layer Tofu”.  We’ll also have a bash at making a “Dark Chocolate Silk Pie” which gives me goosebumps just thinking about it…

Make every Tuesday a “Tofu Tuesday”

Simplifying Happy Choices

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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!