A go-to protein source for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters alike, tofu is a nutritious food made from soybeans.
Here’s the dish from Barbara P. Klein, PhD, on how tofu is made and why this food packs such a healthy punch.
Tofu is a nutritious food made from soybeans in a process that starts with the dry beans, which are washed, soaked and ground in water. The mixture is filtered and the resulting soy “milk” is heated and a natural mineral coagulant, such as a calcium or magnesium compound, causes curds to form. The tofu curd is filtered to remove the whey and the solid mass is pressed into a rectangular shape. The firmness of tofu will depend on how much whey is removed and which coagulant is used. Recipes for tofu will usually specify what firmness is recommended: very firm, firm, soft or silken.
Whatever its firmness, tofu is a healthful, high-quality protein source that has all essential amino acids needed for growth. Because tofu is usually made with calcium-based coagulants, such as calcium sulfate, it can be an excellent source of this important mineral. Tofu contains other minerals and vitamins, essential fatty acids, no cholesterol and little saturated fat. Soy foods contain bioactive components that scientists have shown to have positive health benefits, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
Tofu is good for you and is a versatile ingredient in a wide variety of recipes — from Asian stir-fries to vegetarian lasagnas. Enjoy tofu as part of your varied diet!