Meatless Monday - Making peace with tofu

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

I've been busy on A Life Less Sweet Reviews!  Jump over to find out how to enter to win a Gatorade G2 gift basket, how to get a free sample of tea, and more!

Start to delve into the meatless world and you are bound to run into tofu.  My problem...I don't like all.  I don't like its texture, and I don't like the way it tastes.  I pick it out of my miso soup.  I cringe if I find it in my stir fry.  But, as you may have guessed, I have found ways to use tofu that I do actually enjoy.

My exploration with tofu actually started when my daughter was a baby.  She had a lot of food intolerances and was slightly anemic.  Add in the fact that she really didn't like meat, and I started playing around a bit with tofu.  Tofu, a soy product, is high in protein and other good stuff - like iron, manganese, and calcium.  Tofu is also a complete protein, making it especially attractive if you're going meatless. 

But how to get around the texture.  Even the firmest tofu is on the squishy, slimy side.  I've used a couple of methods to address this.

First, hide it!  Silken tofu, which has a soft, custardy texture, disappears in a smoothie.  In a dessert, it adds to the texture, but you never even know it's there.  The taste?  That texture?  Totally disguised.

To that end, a couple of recipes for you.  This Peanut Butter Power Smoothie is a fantastic smoothie.  It's packed full of protein and is absolutely delicious.  Drink it for breakfast or a liquid lunch, and it will keep you going for a while.  (And yes, I know that peanut butter in a smoothie sounds totally weird.  I didn't think that I'd like it either, but it really is good.)

And from Fix Me A Snack, silken tofu in a pudding - Chocolate Cinnamon Pudding.  This pudding is really tasty, really filling.  Make it in small portions and serve as a protein packed dessert or as an after school (or work) snack. 

Second, transform it.  While firm tofu in miso soup or added at the last minute to a stir fry makes my stomach turn a bit, if I cut it into small squares, marinate it for a while and then saute or bake it, the tofu transforms into tasty little almost-meaty blocks.  The outside of the cubes develops a crust that really changes the texture of the tofu.  The inside retains that tofu texture, but if you make your cubes on the small side, it's just a nice counter for the crust.

For a tutorial on baked tofu, check out this old post on "How to Make Tofu (So It Doesn't Suck)" at May's Machete. 

For sauteed tofu, I drain firm or extra-firm tofu and cut it into small cubes (about 3/4 - 1" cubes) and simply marinate it in soy sauce for a while.  I have no set time for marinating the tofu.  In fact, sometimes I don't marinate it and just add soy sauce at the very end of sauteing - the crust soaks up the soy sauce.  Then simply saute with a little oil over medium-high heat until your tofu blocks are crusty.  Sprinkle with some green onions or garnish of your choice and enjoy!

How do you like your tofu?  Any good recipes or tips for those of us that are tofu-phobic?


CB January 18, 2010 at 6:59 AM  

I don't find peanut butter in a smoothie strange at all -- in fact peanut butter and banana are my favorite. But I think I'll have to try your recipe for one with some extra protein! Thanks!

david January 18, 2010 at 7:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
christine January 18, 2010 at 7:34 AM  

I've just happened across your blog looking at cutting down sugar - but ...tofu!!

I've been eating it for years, and it took some getting used to:)

Have you tried freezing it? I know, it doesn't need it to preserve it, but the texture becomes much firmer and chewy, you lose the squishiness of the unfrozen variety, honest!

Both my husband and daughter cried for more of a curry I made using frozen tofu, and neither of them is vegan, or liked the stuff - so, gotta be worth trying :)

Squeeze out the water well, though, when it's defrosted, or it'll ruin whatever you put it in!!

January 18, 2010

susiep January 18, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

I've used silken tofu as a replacement for ricotta cheese in making lasagna or homemade ravioli. With enough herbs and spices noone will ever notice the difference.

I'm not as big of a fan of firm or extra firm. I find it can be a bit rubbery depending on how it is cooked.

'Drea January 18, 2010 at 12:10 PM  

I have major texture issues so I don't really eat tofu yet.

I do dig the Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Mini Chocolate Sandwiches.

I'll definitely have to experiment because, as you mentioned, tofu is good for you.

Lori January 18, 2010 at 6:20 PM  

I'm not a tofu fan either. I eat very little soy though so I haven't tried to fit it in. Interesting links and uses though. I once came across a recipe for a chocolate silk pie with tofu, but never ended up trying it. It sounded good though.

Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM  

I like tofu well enough but after doing some reading on soy and reasons to avoid it, I don't think I'll be eating any anytime soon.

Check out Kaayla Daniels book The Whole Soy Story and learn some frightening things about soy (especially non-fermented soy.)

J in VA

Loose Fat Stomach January 20, 2010 at 3:06 AM  

I've tried and truly, it is delicious, but most importantly, it's a healthy food.

Thanks for sharing!

Mark January 20, 2010 at 8:17 AM  

I'm not certain I could take the plunge into the "meatless" diet. To be honest I have never been very excited about Tofu...admittedly my experience has been limited. I will have to give it a try again. Thanks!

Sagan January 20, 2010 at 9:08 AM  


Trust me. It's amazing. I love it.

And I agree with you, tofu is eeehhhh unless you have a really good recipe for it! After all, it just takes on the flavours of whatever it's cooked with :)

But really. Try the tofu scramble. It's easy to make. You can thank me later ;)

cathy January 20, 2010 at 10:19 AM  

Sagan - Really? That scrambled tofu looks like stuff from my tofu nightmares, but if you say it's that good, I'll give it a try. Except for the tofu, I love all of the ingredients in it!

Amy (super Healthy Kids) January 25, 2010 at 5:13 AM  

I just saw a recipe for silken tofu, just with berries mixed in and it looked like yogurt! I think I'll try that.

オテモヤン January 26, 2010 at 7:01 AM  


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Teaching Money to Kids January 31, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

I have been vegetarian for about 30 years, and even I cast a wary eye at tofu.
I have started a new carnival "Meatless Mondays." I would love for you to join in. You can post something new, or dig up a favorite blast from the past. I have enjoyed reading many of your recipes, and I am sure there are others that would love to have you share.
Thanks Staci

Melinda February 8, 2010 at 9:14 AM  

I even got my six year old to eat tofu by sauteing it in lime juice, olive oil and mild taco seasonings. I saved some for him to eat, then used the rest in taco enchiladas. Though I'm not an expert tofu chef, I want to learn more. Here's a post I wrote about making/eating tofu.

Anonymous February 14, 2010 at 10:56 PM  

Quick comment... as a nurse, please be aware that if you are feeding your baby BOY tofu... you are feeding "him" a pure form of estrogen, the "female" hormone (aka: what makes girls, in fact, girls).

Too much soy even for little girls is not good, but for boys, it can be devastating!

tpayne May 26, 2010 at 11:59 PM  

Tofu makes for 'smoother' smoothies.

Cynthia September 7, 2010 at 2:08 PM  

I understand. Firm or even extra firm tofu does not seem firm enough. I live in California, though, and I shop once a month at New Frontiers Grocery Store, and they have the most awesome firm tofu that you don't have to freeze in order to get it to be super firm. It sits in water too just like all the pre packaged brands. It's in the aisle closest to their produce next to their eggs and vegan mayonaise sitting in a fresh food grade water bin. The first time I tried tofu was at their store deli and I was sold instantly. It had the firmness of firm chicken. And I used to be someone who gawked at the word tofu because it just sounded so strange. Little did I know, my future husband would be vegan and my horizens would be vastly expanded. I'm not vegan and I love the stuff. One way New Frontiers Grocery prepares it is to marinade it in tamari (white soy sauce) sprinkle blackening spice onto it and grill it for less than 7 min. That is my favorite. Also, I believe this tofu is made in San Francicso, California and shipped to New Frontiers Grocery Store. Yesterday at their deli, I had an amazing tofu olive salad, with their amazing in store (from san francicso) tofu they use. I also recieve packaged tofu from WIC (a government program for parents with kids under 4 years old). I go to the store such as Vons, and select organic extra firm tofu, and use my Wic voucher, and even the extra firm has a "soft" firmness about it that is squishy. My recomendation is New Frontiers or contact the company in San Francisco. Oh, it's that good. By the way, a new restaurant opened 20 miles from my town, that is awesome. Though they don't have the awesome firm tofu that I've found in the same town, they are called Vegan Spices in San Luis Obispo, Ca, and they have awesome food. I've thus far had shrimp in fried rice,soup, pad thai, egg rolls, won tons and it is all vegan for those who have a vegan family member. It is thai food and I was amazed that their shrimp was the same exact color shape consistency a 10 for 10 in my book. If your in slo, give it a try! Their spring rolls and sweet n sour is awesome. Their soup is broth based and good. Their fried bananas with coconut ice cream is awesome. Their fried wontons with tofuti creme cheese and scalions inside is delectable! I 100% reccomend them. My husband vouches for their curry and I have tasted it though I do not care for curry that much it was good. Next time I will tell the restaurant about the local tofu I found, and it would be awesome as well!

Cynthia September 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM  

TRy fresh tofu in a food grade water bin by the produce section at New Frontiers Grocery Store.
I am not vegan but my husband is and I reluctantly tried it, and I loooove it. It differs greatly from the extra firm tofu brands out in the grocery stores today.
I am from San Luis Obispo, California.
Try Vegan Spices restaurant as well. It is a thai restaurant. They do not have extraordinary tofu but they are in the same town and I can reccomend it to them. But they have awesome everything else. Curry, deep fried wontons, fried bananas, mushroom broth soup, coconut ice cream, spring rolls, vegan shrimp, vegan chicken, salmon, gish, etc.

Elisa October 22, 2010 at 8:52 PM  

With so many vegetables to choose from, why tofu?

Jeffrey March 24, 2011 at 9:30 PM  

Since I was diagnosed with diabetes, I got so conscious of the food that I eat every day. Tofu's definitely one of my favorites. Eating these kinds of foods will not only make me stabilize my blood sugar, but it will make my teeth healthier as well, just like my dentists here in Greenville, SC would often tell me.

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