Bean Curd Is the Word
Alone in the grocery aisle.
It might sound like I’m referring to the latest breakup song by T. Swift – but no, I’m referring to the one, the only, that off-white loaf of bean curd we call tofu.
For decades, concerns about the suitability and safety of tofu in our diets have plagued the West’s nutrition community and experts. Allegedly, tofu is home to hormone disrupting phytoestrogen plant compounds, not to mention the severity of its genetic modification. There are also the bodybuilding blogs, which scoff at the suggestion that tofu is a bio-available protein source; alongside the meat-centric foodie belief that tofu is akin to eating Styrofoam.
Standing in stark contrast to the West’s reservations about tofu are another set of facts: the East has been eating it for thousands of years, and have done so while remaining in better-than-average health. This might have something to do with tofu’s nutritional highlights, including high levels of complete protein, enough iron to put a steak to shame, plus all eight essential amino acids. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tasted tofu done right, but it has the potential to be an incredibly versatile vehicle of delicious flavour and meal satisfaction.
So how did tofu get lost in translation?
While tofu and other soy products can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, keep in mind that all soy is not created equal. When choosing tofu, opt for the organic brands, given that non-organic tofu is probably genetically modified. Avoid overly processed tofu products, like veggie burgers or soy cheese.
One of the biggest misconceptions about tofu is that it is a bland loaf of non-flavour and unpleasant texture. On the contrary, tofu is a superstar vessel capable of taking many different shapes, textures, and flavours. Check out the Olives for Dinner guide to towel-pressing tofu for marinating, and oh my veggies’ guide to the different types of tofu.
While tofu is typically made of soy, there are alternate options for those among us with a soy allergy, or even for switching things up. My New Roots shows how you can make chickpea tofu at home here. There’s even hemp tofu now being created. This is a relatively new product, so availability may be hit or miss at this point. But we’re super excited to try Tempt Hemp Tofu as soon as it graces our stores’ shelves.
The versatility of tofu is literally off the scale! We grazed the internet and collected a few of some of the best recipes showcasing tofu as the movie star, from dinner party worthy entrees, to breakfast fare, to lunchtime heaven, to snacky snack time.
- Hemp Tofu Paneer Pasanda from Vegan Richa
- Sundried Tomato, Mushroom, Spinach, and Tofu Quiche from Oh She Glows
- Baked Tofu Caesar Sandwich from Clean Food Dirty Girl
- Tofu Egg Curry from Holy Cow Vegan
- Vegan Spanakopita from One Arab Vegan
- Tomato Basil Salad with Seasoned Tofu from I Love Vegan
If you enjoy tofu but are still concerned about whether it’s a healthy option for you, a good rule of thumb to follow is moderation. Eating too much of any food is never a good idea for our bellies, our bodies, and our souls – change things up and keep you’re body guessing!
What are your thoughts on tofu? Share yours in the comments section below, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.