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The one thing I have enjoyed about learning to cook vegan styled dishes are creating many great food combinations. When I think about the many types of ingredients, there is one that is so versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways, add value to our diet, and benefit our bodies. You may have already guessed what ingredient that is by the title of this blog and that super ingredient is none other than Tofu! I know that you have heard about it from a friend, classmate, or co-worker. You listen to them talk about tofu, or mention that they put it in a salad, or even used it for a sandwich, but what exactly is tofu? Where does it come from? And more importantly, “What are its benefits?” Let’s dive into this further so we can answer these important questions.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is a pale white food that primarily made up by the use of soybeans. It is a popular choice by both vegans and vegetarians because it does not contain any type of meats or animal products. So let’s look further into how tofu is made.
- Of course you start with the star of the show, soybeans, and let them soak in a vat of water for around 10 hours.
- Second step will be to then mix the soybeans, in some type of blender or mixer (You must allow the soybeans to mix until it is in the form of a paste).
- Third put the soybean paste in a pot, or large cooking pan, and boil it. After it is boiled, allow it to sit for around 15 minutes with the fire on low, bringing it to a simmer. It does tend to overflow when boiling, so to prevent this, you will occasionally (every 3 minutes or so) need to stir it so that the foam doesn’t run over, out of the pot or pan.
- Fourth step is to use an available sieve by wrapping the sieve around a water drainer (the kind that is usually used to drain the water off/out of spaghetti), and then pour the soybean mixture onto it. What you will be left with is a fiber residue from the soybeans. You can set this to the side.
- Next, you will put the soymilk that you drained from the mixture, into a pan, back onto the fire, and heat it until it boils. You will then add salt or a food (or organic) acid to the boiling soymilk. It will be a personal preference with which of the these you decide to add at this stage in the making of the tofu. Once you notice that the boiling has turned the soymilk and acid, into curds, pour it into a cheesecloth (or a cloth that is very similar).
- Your final step will be to lightly press down on the material until you get a substance that is in the form of a soft cake. For this compression stage, you can use something as simple as books. Or, if you own a traditional food presser, you can use that as well. Allow it to stay pressed for at least 10 minutes, and then, the magical moment is here – “Your tofu is ready.”
Types Of Tofu
Tofu has two specific or main categories, in which it is first made, they are;
- Through the process of how most processed foods are created
- Through the way fresh foods are created
So, therefore, the two types of tofu, are processed and fresh. Fresh tofu can be broken down into a few subcategories. The three subcategories are:
- Soft tofu (which some people refer to as silken tofu)
- There is tofu that goes by the term “firm tofu,”
- There is tofu that goes by the term “extra firm tofu.”
Just like fresh tofu, processed tofu has three subcategories as well. The three subcategories, of processed tofu are:
- Fermented tofu
- Dried tofu
- Deep-fried tofu.
Benefits Of Tofu
One of the main reasons why tofu can assist you with healthy eating is the benefits that tofu has on your body in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It does this by being a substantial source of “isoflavones” (don’t worry, you’re not alone, I found this word tough to pronounce as well). Isoflavones is an organic substance that is thought by some health professionals, to be a strong fighter against cancer.
Another benefit of tofu is that it helps with the battle against anemia. It accomplishes this by having being high source of iron. Iron is the mineral in blood cells that help carry oxygen from your lungs and efficiently sends it to the rest of your body.
One of the benefits that long-time eaters of tofu have praised it for is its ability to slow down the aging process. How you may wonder? Well, it does this by helping you keep the elasticity in your skin, while also assisting you with maintaining strong facial muscles.
Nutritional Values Of Tofu
Tofu has some amazing nutritional values that add to healthy lifestyle, that a lot of other foods simply do not have. First, tofu has a very high source of complete protein (which means that tofu supplies your body with all 9 important amino acids). To put this in better perspective that’s around two times as much as fish or beef. Second, unlike foods that come from cows, chicken, or pigs, tofu does not contain any cholesterol, which means that it can be eaten in abundance, without the worry of cholesterol clogging your arteries. Third, tofu is low in calories, which is of key importance to all those individuals who have calories specific diet.
By the end of grade school, the important role that cows milk plays in our body’s health is locked into our head’s. One of the reasons for this is that cows milk is “packed” with calcium, which plays a significant part in keeping our bones strong, and repairing them when they become/get damaged. The reason why this is important to state here is that tofu has almost “twice as much” calcium as cows milk. Which only adds to its nutritional value.
Example Use Of Tofu
Tofu is known as a “wonder food” that many people use for healthy eating. Lovers of tofu rave about its ability to be used with a lot of different foods, and cooked, and served in a variety of ways. To give you a clearer picture, for example, we’re going to show you how tofu is cooked and served in different dishes from around the world.
- In Japan, they make a very delicious “deep-fried” tofu, which they call Agedashi Dofu. They usually cut the tofu into cubes before deep-frying it, with a potato crust.
- In the Philippines, they create a very sweet tasty dish, where they use soft tofu, saga, brown sugar, and syrup.
- In America, tofu is commonly used in many ways, but the two most frequent ways that eaters of the delicate food tend to have high on their list are; 1. Putting pieces of soft tofu in their salads, and 2. Cutting slices of firm (or extra firm) tofu, to be used for their sandwiches.
What are tips and tricks you use for cooking with tofu? Share the wealth and share some recipes in the comments!