Tofu: Versatile and High in Protein
In honor of National Soyfoods Month, I wanted to write about a favorite ingredient of mine. Tofu can be prepared in so many inventive ways to create different flavors and textures. From sweet to savory and smooth to crispy, it's one of the most versatile and healthful high-protein foods!
Tofu is to soymilk as cheese is to dairy milk. Just like cheese, a coagulant is added to the soymilk to make it curdle. In fact, that's why tofu is also called bean curd. Silken tofu, which has a custardy texture, is by far my favorite ingredient to use for creamy recipes and desserts.
- Tofu is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free and low in calories.
- Tofu is an excellent source of protein, iron and calcium (when a calcium-based coagulant is used).
- Tofu contains isoflavones, which when consumed regularly have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and age-related mental disorders.
- Tofu contains phytoestrogens and may be helpful for women in perimenopause when estrogen production slows down.
- Organic tofu ensures that it is not made with genetically modified soybeans.
Want to try tofu yourself? Try this sauce recipe below. Serve over whole-wheat pasta with sliced cherry tomatoes, or use it as a sauce for risotto, as a dip or as a spread on toast.
Layne's Creamy Green Tofu Pesto Sauce
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1½ cups packed baby spinach
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 chopped clove of garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup silken tofu, firm
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender. Process until the texture is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Note: Eliminate cheese or substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan to make this recipe vegan.
Layne Lieberman, MS, RD, CDN, is an award-winning registered dietitian, Huffington Post blogger, culinary travel leader and entrepreneur. She is author of the book Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets of the Super-Healthy. Read her blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.