Tofu has been a dietary staple in foreign cultures for centuries, and now it’s enjoying increasing popularity on the American dinner table. This soft, cheeselike food made from soybeans is low in saturated fat; contains no cholesterol; and is rich in high-quality protein, B vitamins and iron. Adding tofu and other soy protein foods to your diet can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce your risk for heart disease. Soy protein may also protect against breast cancer, prostate cancer and osteoporosis.
To reap the health benefits of tofu, aim for at least 25 grams of soy protein, or about two 4-ounce servings of tofu, a day. You can substitute tofu for meat, cheese, eggs or cream to make lower-fat versions of your favorite dishes. Tofu’s neutral taste is what makes it so versatile—it absorbs the flavors of other foods and spices when you marinate or cook it. Plus, tofu comes in three different textures: solid, soft and silken.
Here are some easy ways to add tofu to your diet:
- Cube solid tofu and add to stir-fry dishes, casseroles and stews.
- Blend soft tofu into soups or dips.
- Try the silken variety in recipes that call for a creamy, custard-like product.
- Substitute crumbled tofu for some of the ground beef in meatloaf, chili or tacos.
- Marinate tofu in barbecue sauce, char it on the grill and then sandwich it between crusty bread.
- Blend tofu with melted chocolate chips and sweetener for chocolate-cream pie filling.
- Substitute pureed silken tofu for part of the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese or ricotta cheese in dips, dressings, creamed soups and pasta dishes.
- Mix tofu chunks with diced celery, onion, mayonnaise and a bit of mustard for a “no-egg” salad.
- Create burgers with mashed tofu, bread crumbs, a chopped onion and your favorite seasonings.