How to Add Tofu to Your Menu Plan
If you're not a vegetarian or vegan, your experience with tofu might be limited. For someone looking to lose weight or keep the weight off, however, tofu can add considerable variety to the menu plan. The key is to choose the right kind of tofu, store and prepare it properly and look beyond the typical Asian dishes.
Soybean Tofu Basics
Tofu is made from the "milk" of ground soybeans, mixed with a coagulant that helps it solidify, and then pressed into blocks. The process is similar to making cheese. High in protein and calcium, it has a mild flavor. Fresh tofu is sold submerged in liquid and should be stored in the refrigerator. Always choose the freshest tofu (based on the "sell by" date). When you're ready to use, drain and discard the liquid. Slice and press tofu between paper towels to soak up the water and improve texture.
Texture Matters the Most
Tofu can be silken, firm or extra firm. Each is used differently. Extra firm is often used as a meat substitute — thick sliced and pan fried, for example. Firm tofu is easier to crumble for a ground beef texture, although it can also be pan-fried. Silken tofu is semi-solid to creamy and can be used as a dairy alternative in something like a dip or spread.
Be Creative: Go Beyond the Usual
Tofu's versatility is amazing. Use silken tofu to make frozen desserts. Substitute tofu for cheese in cannelloni or for ground beef in spaghetti. Marinate tofu and grill it. Blend tofu with yogurt and fresh fruit for a breakfast smoothie. Create tofu kabobs, veggie patties and — of course — classic Asian dishes like Pad Thai or Singapore Noodles. You might also explore options like pickled tofu or tofu skin (thin dried sheets).
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