Tofu: A Nutritional Powerhouse


It’s one of the richest vegetarian sources of protein, and a complete one. This nutritional powerhouse is not only delicious, but so versatile that it can stand in for a post workout snack or star in a stir-fry supper. Below, simple ways to incorporate tofu into everyday meals.

Want to eat more soy, Think tofu. don’t be scared away; tofu (or soybean curd/cheese) changes textures and readily absorbs the flavors of the ingredients with which it’s cooked. On its own, tofu is quite bland, but this Asian all-star can easily blend into a palak- peas curry, paella, lasagna-just about any flavor profile and cooking style imaginable. But first, let’s dispel a few of the most common tofu myths


Tofu has a weird texture

Actually, tofu has a dozen or more textures, depending on what kind you buy and how you prepare it. It can be meaty, like a grilled chicken breast, or it can resemble scrambled eggs. It can form the foundation of a smooth, rich soup or shake, or make a perfect stand-in for custard.


MYTH # 2

Tofu is complicated

Nothing could be further from the truth! You can have a complete, healthful tofu-based meal on the table in just 15 minutes. Of course, it can also be an ingredient in an incredibly elaborate meal, if that’s your cup of tea.

MYTH # 3

Tofu is low in fat

Nope, about 40% of the calories in tofu come from fat good, heath-promoting fat. Despite the fat Tofu is actually very low in calories and is a good source of protein. Gram for gram, few foods provide as many proteins, carbohydrate and fat benefits in as few calories.


In a process somewhat similar to the way some cheeses are made, tofu is made by curding hot soymilk with a coagulant. Natural minerals, such as nigari (a compound derived from ocean water) and calcium sulfate, are added to the soymilk, which is then heated, strained and pressed. You can try your hand at making tofu at home, too.


Make Tofu at Home

1. Soak 250 grams of soybean for 12-14 hours.

2. Grind to a fine paste and extract milk by adding sufficient water and passing it through a fine muslin cloth.

3. Heat the milk obtained in a large vessel, stirring off and on to prevent burning.

4. Bring to a boil, add 1 cup yoghurt and juice of 1 lemon, and stir until completely curdled. Remove from heart.

5. Allow the curdled milk to settle and pass it through a muslin cloth to remove the whey.

6. The resultant mass is tofu. To obtain extra firm or hard tofu, place the muslin wrapped tofu under a heavy object to remove all moisture. This tofu can be used like paneer in many dishes.

* P.S. Don’t throws away the paste left over in the muslin cloth after extracting soy milk in step 2. Combine the soy paste with 1 cup of Bengal gram flour, finely chopped onions, chilies, garlic, and coriander leaves; form lime-sized balls, flatten and shallow fry. Voila! You get vegetarian kebabs.


Types of Tofu

Tofu is sold in a number of ways: Your supermarket (or health food store) may carry sealed plastic tubs of tofu in a refrigerated section. The block of tofu sits in water in these tubs, and will be labeled “extra firm,” “firm” or “soft” and stamped with a sell-by date. Water-packed tofu should be kept refrigerated, and once opened, the water should be changed daily and the tofu used within 2-3 days. This type of tofu can also be frozen; the color will deepen and the texture becomes chewy. Some recipes specifically call for freezing the tofu to achieve this spongier quality.

With or without freezing, this is the tofu to marinate, stir-fry, stew, grill or sear.

Silken tofu is also sold at many grocery and health food stores, usually in vacuum-packed or aseptic tetra packs, it has a much longer shelf life, and some can even be stored at room temperature. The texture is creamy, custard like and silken—but surprisingly, that’s not how it got its name. This very smooth tofu used to get its fine texture from being strained through silk, though now only specialty producers make it that way. Silken tofu may be soft, firm or extra firm, depending on how much liquid is pressed or drained out of it.

Silk tofu is used to make creamy sauces and dressings, as well as cheese-cakes-and other smooth fillings. It makes a good protein base for smoothies (blend with any fruit combination) and is ideally suited for dishes like quinche or dessert custards. Silken tofu, whether soft or firm, will not hold up to stir-frying or other vigorous handing.

Tofu Tips

If you haven’t already eaten tofu or you’re hesitant to try it, combine it with other foods you like.

New-to-tofu ideas:

  • Puree silken tofu and combine it with cheese to make healthier lasagna.
  • Add pureed silken tofu to lowfat sour cream (hung curd) or mayonnaise and onion soup mix for a dip or a topping.
  • Substitute part of the mince meat with tofu in Kebabs for a healthier “enlightened” version.
  • Use pureed tofu to add substance to a “creamy” veggie soup.

Try these ideas:

  • Mash tofu with breadcrumbs, finely chopped vegetables and seasoning to make a veggie burger.
  • Add small cubes of tofu to your favorite stew or in place of paneer to make spinach-tofu or matter-tofu.
  • Freeze and crumble tofu, and use it in omelelltes, scrambled eggs or in place of meat in curries.
  • Marinate tofu “cutlets” in a favorite meat marinade or barbecue sauce, then cook and serve as you would meat.
  • Crumble and brown tofu, and combine with pasta sauce. Serve over macaroni.
  • Make a stir-fry using tofu in place of chicken, prawns or meat.


Facts & Figures

Tofu is a low-calorie, easily digested source of protein. The nutritional breakdown below compares a half-cup (100gms) of water-packed silken tofu with the same amount of roasted, skinless chicken breast. Tofu is a calorie bargain: 100 grams have roughly half the calories of 100 grams of chicken. Gram for gram, tofu is slightly higher in fat, but it packs a whopping 20% of your daily calcium needs.



Water-packed firm tofu Silken Firm Tofu Cooked chicken breast

Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Carbs (g)

Fibre (g)

Calcium (mg)

Iron (mg)

Folate (mcg)
























Recipes For Success

Classic stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetables




  • 1 cup chicken broth (sdefatted)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2  tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame (til) oil


  • 4 cups broccoli /cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup green/red/yellow capsicum strips
  • 2 tbsp any vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 package (about 300 gm) reduced-fat-
  • extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes 3/4 cup diagonally sliced celery
  • 3 cups 1 –inch slices bok Choy (Chinese cabbage) 1 cup  sliced mushrooms 1/3 cup sliced green onions 2cloves garlic, minced 1 cup canned whole baby corm, cut into 1-inch pieces 1/3 cup sliced water chestnuts (shingada) 4cups hot cooked rice


  • To prepare sauce, combine ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
  • To prepare stir-fry, steam cauliflower/ broccoli and capsicum, covered for 3 minutes; drain and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add tofu; cook 9 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Heat rest of the oil in pan.
  • Add celery; stir-fry 2 minutes.
  • Add bok Choy, mushrooms, onions, and garlic; stir-fry for one minute.
  • Add cauliflower/ broccoli, capsicum, tofu, baby corn, and water chestnuts; stir in sauce.
  • Stir-try for 3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Serve over rice.

No. of servings:4

Per serving: Calories 456 (18% from fat); fat 9 gm (2 gm saturated); protein 17 gm; carbohydrate 79 gm.

Pad Thai with Tofu and Prawns



  • 100 gm rice noodles
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 3 tbsp chopped green onions
  • 2 tbsp unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 to 1 tsp garlic chili paste
  • 4 tsp any vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1package (about 300 gm)
  • reduced-fat extra-firm tofu,
  • drained and diced 25 medium-size
  •  prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cusp fresh bean sprouts 3/4 cup thinly sliced leek (green onion)
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot


  • Combine rice noodles and boiling water; let stand 10 minutes.
  • Drain, chop, and set aside.
  • Combine onions, coriander, and peanuts in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Combine 1/3 cup water and next 4 ingredients (through chili paste) in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet one medium-high heat. Add egg; scramble 30 seconds. Remove egg from pan and set aside.
  • Add 1 tsp oil to pan. Add tofu; stir-fry 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove tofu from pan and reserve with egg.
  • Add 1 tsp oil to pan. Add bean sprouts, leek, and carrot, stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in rice noodles and fish sauce mixture cook for 2 minutes.
  • Return egg, tofu, and shrimp to pan; cook for 30 seconds or until heated through. Spoon
  • 1 1/2 cups onto each of 4 plates; top each with 2 tbsp peanut mixture.

No. of servings: 4

Per serving: Calories334 (26% from fat); fat 10 gm (2 gm saturated); protein 23 gm; carbohydrate 40 gm.

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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