A Wise Steward's Tofufaq

TOFUFAQ is health-wise!

Plus 20 Free Tofu Recipes Even a Five Year Old Will Eat!

TOFU. New research on nutrition indicates eating tofu can improve your health. What is tofu? Why should I eat it? What do I do with it? In this Tofufaq, we will briefly cover these and other questions, plus share tofu recipes that even a five year old will eat.

Q1. Tofu...What Is it?

A1. Tofu is simply soybean curd. It is made with dried soybeans, water, and a solidifier (calcium sulfate, lemon juice, or cider vinegar. ) A 10.5 OZ cake of tofu contains three and a half servings, which means about a family of two adults and two kids. A serving contains 13% of your daily protein quota, with only 3% of your daily fat. It has no cholesterol, and 55 calories. So it's not good if you want to gain extra weight.

Q2. Yuck! I always thought tofu sounded disgusting! I'd rather die!

A2. Yes, this is a common reaction from people who have never eaten properly prepared tofu. You may not know it, but you are probably already eating foods containing soybeans, the main ingredient in tofu. Actually, although tofu looks a lot like soft white cheese, plain tofu has no taste at all. That's why people that have tried it, say, plain on top of a salad, are less than enthusiastic. You can't really compare tofu to yogurt, either, because plain yogurt has a taste--sour! Tofu, by itself, tastes neither bad nor good. It's what you do with it that counts. Think of tofu as your canvas, and the spices as your palette. You design your tofu to fit your taste buds.

Q3. Why Should I Eat It?

A3. As I've said, recent research shows tofu is good for you. Yes, I know many other factors can help us live healthier lives. American soil has become dangerously low in mineral content. Magnesium content is (coincidentally?) lower in the soils of the west, where heart disease is highest. We can use supplements to help offset this fact. And we can't neglect the emotional and spiritual factors involved in good health.

We need to eat anyway, so it makes sense to try and eat healing foods. In Asia, where soy-based diets have traditionally been the norm, rates of cancer and cardiovascular diseases are lower than in the Western world.

Patricia Hausman and Judith Benn Hurley, in The Healing Foods: The Ultimate Authority On the Curative Power of Nutrition, put it this way: "We're most impressed, though, with the role tofu can play in controlling cholesterol.

Research by Michael Liebman, Phd., and Carolyn Dunn, of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, serves as a perfect example. Dr. Liebman and Dunn recruited volunteers who followed two special diets. on one diet, the subjects ate their normal fare with the addition of about 2 ounces of cheese a day. In the other phase, they replaced the cheese with tofu--enough to supply the same calorie content as the cheese.

The result After switching from cheese to tofu, their average blood cholesterol levels dropped 16 points. "

According to the September 1996 edition of Let's Live magazine, "soy products contain a special group of phytochemicals (plant-based substances) called isoflavones with mild estrogenic properties that have been demonstrated to reduce both breast and prostate cancer risk. Isoflavones work by acting as enzyme inhibitors, thereby decreasing cancer cell growth. In addition, the soy protein itself is known to reduce serum cholesterol levels and also contribute to a lower risk of heart disease." Whew! What did I just say? Well, I'm no Doctor, but if we can learn to like tofu, and make it socially acceptable, maybe we can all be a little healthier.

Q4. Where Can I Get It?

A4. You don't need to travel to Japan, although some tofu is manufactured in Asia. You buy tofu in the salad section of your supermarket, usually near the oriental vegetables. You can also make it yourself, if you enjoy doing that sort of thing.. You can find a good recipe for making tofu in The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Unfortunately, they don't tell you what to do with it; we'll get to that in a minute.

Q5. What Do I Do With It?

A5. That depends. You've probably heard it makes a great topping for salad. Yeah, if you feed that to your family or guests, they'll probably hate tofu forever. Tofu is tasteless, and as such, makes a great nutritional supplement, when added to flavorful dishes.

Often you can save money as well as improve your health by lowering your intake of meats. Tofu averages about $1.50 per cake, and can provide protein. However, the quality of vegetable protein is incomplete. It pays to use a little meat with your tofu dish (even just a few ounces), or be careful to add another source of protein, such as grains, cheese or eggs.

If you want to completely remove all meat, eggs, and cheese from your diet, you may want to research the subject thoroughly first. Strict vegetarian diets may prove harmful, especially for children, unless careful attention is paid to combining the correct vegetable protein types to create complete protein. I think I'll leave that topic to vegetarians; it's controversial, anyway, it goes beyond the scope and intent of Tofufaq.

In my first timid tofu recipe, a tofu stirfry, I kept the tofu ingredient secret. I wasn't intentionally trying to deceive. I simply put it on the table, and let my husband and kids come to their own conclusions. My family ate it in their usual ravenous manner, even my (then) five year old. She poked a tofu chunk into her mouth and said, "I like this soft stuff, Mommy."

My son gobbled two platefuls, and then exclaimed, "Good chicken, Mommy!"

20 Free Tofu Recipes

All the recipes will feed about four people, so adjust the ingredients according to your appetites and the number of your place settings. These recipes are just to get you started; be creative! Most tofu recipes can be enhanced with the addition of toasted brown rice flour and/or corn meal, as well as dehydrated vegetables and soy sauce. Try it, and see if you like it. All recipes are easy, and preparation time is about ten minutes in most cases.

Recipe Number One: Mock Chicken (Tofu) Stir-Fry

Ingredients: 1 1/2 Tbsps. Canola Oil (this oil is actually good for you!), Soy sauce, 16 oz. Frozen oriental vegetables, 10.527 oz. pkg. of tofu (firm or extra firm) --don't worry if you don't have the exact amount!, Small leftover chicken pieces (optional), chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions: Heat a wok or skillet, add oil, stir-fry vegetables.

Drain the water from the tofu (you always do that, unless you want watery tofu--it's up to you.) Slice tofu into squares resembling chicken, and shake soy sauce over the top. Heat (but don't overcook) in the oil with vegetables. Add leftover chicken and/or chicken bouillon if you wish. Serve immediately. It's good with rice or Chinese noodles.

Variation: Use canned chicken chow mien in place of frozen vegetables and leftover chicken.

Recipe Number Two: Macaroni and Tofu

Ingredients: 6-8 oz. macaroni, water to cover up the macaroni, 4-6 oz. of cheese (optional), 10 - 16 oz. tofu grated cheese, peas and carrots

Directions: Heat water in a saucepan (where else would one heat it?) and cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain the macaroni and pour into a large casserole dish. Slice tofu into small chunks and distribute evenly among the macaroni. If you wish, intermingle cheese. Add frozen peas and carrots around the outer edge of the pan. It can be quite pretty. sprinkle grated cheese on top. Some people also enjoy seasoned breadcrumbs.

Alternate: You may even prepare boxed cheese and macaroni, and add tofu. Or use broccoli or green beans. As a famous chef once said, "Use a little of this, a little of that, whatever you have!"

Recipe Number Three: Tofu Omelet

If you want tofu incognito, this is one of the best!

Ingredients: However many eggs you feel comfortable with, cholesterol-wise, package of tofu (the way we see it, the tofu cancels out the eggs--guilt free!), about 4 oz. of cheese (optional), oriental vegetables, canola oil, seasoned salt (Salt is not bad, according to current studies, if you supplement with magnesium. Or use Life Plus' Corrected Salt.).

Directions: Whip the eggs, mixed with a little milk, using a fork or beater. Lightly coat a pan with oil, and pour in the eggs. Add diced tofu. Sprinkle in the cheese (if desired) and salt, and add the vegetables. As my mother always said, "cook it until it's done!"

Recipe Number Four: Tuna and Tofu

Ingredients: Small can of tuna, Cake of tofu--the softest kind is best, 8 oz. of noodles, Mushroom soup

Directions: Heat water to a boil, and add noodles. In a separate pan, heat tuna, tofu pieces, and mushroom soup. Serve tuna and tofu over noodles.

Recipe Number Five: Tofu Chili

Ingredients: Firm tofu, sprinkle of chili powder, kidney beans, chili beans, small amount of leftover ground beef (optional), canned tomatoes, onions and green peppers if you like them, beef bouillon (optional)

Directions: Crumble tofu into all of the above ingredients and simmer until you can't wait any longer.

Recipe Number Six: "Pasghetti and Tofu "Bulbs"

Ingredients: 8 oz. of "pasghetti" noodles, cooked hamburger (optional), beef bouillon and toasted brown rice flour (if you don't use hamburger) usual size package of tofu, your favorite sauce, dry breadcrumbs

Directions: In a large bowl, mix together tofu, breadcrumbs and hamburger or bouillon/rice flour mix. Form into "bulbs." Fry your meat "bulbs". Meanwhile, boil water, and cook spaghetti according to package directions. When bulbs are done all the way through, pour in sauce and simmer until spaghetti is your favorite consistency.

Why is this recipe called "Pasghetti and Tofu Bulbs?" Ask any five year old to say "spaghetti and tofu balls," and see what you get!

Recipe Number Seven: Tofu Loaf

Ingredients: Tofu, breadcrumbs, bouillon, rice flour or corn meal, catsup, hamburger or sausage (optional)

Directions: Mix ingredients together until the consistency resembles your favorite meat loaf. Pour a thin layer of additional catsup on top. Bake at a medium temperature (about 350 degrees) for appproximately half an hour. If you like a crisp loaf, uncover for the last five minutes..

Recipe Number Eight: Tofu Potatoes "Au Gratin"

Ingredients: Tofu (preferably soft, not firm), seasoned salt, four to six medium sized potatoes peeled and sliced, peeled and sliced onion (optional), soft, melt able cheese (optional), grated cheese

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish. If desired, sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake.

Recipe Number Nine: Tofu and Yogurt (Mock Cheese) Cake

Ingredients: Equal amounts of soft tofu (6 oz.) and yogurt (6 oz.), one cup of sugar two egg whites, 1 tsp. vanilla (or use vanilla yogurt, and only half the sugar), graham cracker crust

Directions: Beat all ingredients together until creamy. Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 until top is slightly golden.

Recipe Number Ten: Scrambled Tofu

Ingredients: Tofu, Half a dozen eggs, a few tablespoons of milk, seasoning salt or herbs, grated cheese, canola oil

Directions: Scramble mixture in hot oil. Serve with salad.

Recipe Number Eleven: Angeled Tofu Eggs

Ingredients: Half a dozen eggs or so, boiled, half a block of soft tofu (keep the other half covered in water, and use it in a few days) mustard, vinegar, parsley flakes and oregano (if desired)

Directions: Make as you would devilled eggs, only use tofu instead of mayo.

Recipe Number Twelve: Tofu Hors D'Oeuvre

Ingredients: Equal amounts soft or melted cheese and tofu (soft), garlic powder, Italian bread, cut into squares

Directions: Mix together tofu/cheese mixture and garlic, and spread on bread squares. Toast in oven.

Recipe Number Thirteen: Tofu Goulosh

Ingredients: Leftover hamburgers, shredded and mixed with tofu macaroni, cooked and drained peas and carrots half a cup of milk a few tablespoons of flour

Directions: Cream flour and milk together in a bowl, add remaining ingredients, and pour mixture into casserole. Cook for about twenty minutes at 350. Alternate: Heat up in a frypan with oil, stirring frequently.

Recipe Number Fourteen: Tofu Cucumber Salad Dressing

Ingredients: One peeled cucumber, 1/2 a block of tofu, salad seasoning or salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions: Mix together in a blender, and use within two days.

Recipe Number Fifteen: Tofu Pot Pie

Ingredients: Tofu, soft cream of chicken soup mixed vegetables, pie crust

Directions: Mix tofu, chicken soup and vegetables; pour into pie crust. Bake until the edges of the pie crust turn brown and the mixture inside bubbles.

Recipe Number Sixteen: Tofu Patties

Ingredients: Equal amounts of ground beef and tofu, (or skip the ground beef and substitute toasted brown rice flour and beef bouillon), one egg, bread crumbs

Directions: Mix all ingredients and fry in oil until brown.

Recipe Number Seventeen: Tofu Stew

Ingredients: Canned or frozen stew meat, vegetables, tofu

Directions: Cut tofu into stew meat sized chunks; add other ingredients and simmer.

Recipe Number Eighteen: Tofu Soup

Ingredients: Tofu, barley, mixed vegetables, chicken broth, or bouillon

Directions: Cook barley (more protein than rice!) according to package directions. Add small chunks of tofu, mixed vegetables, and broth. Simmer.

Recipe Number Nineteen: Tofu Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients: Two cans green beans, half of block of tofu, can of dried onions

Directions: Mix ingredients in casserole dish, and bake at 350 for about 19.999 minutes. (What? Your oven isn't the same as mine? Take it out when the onions get brown!)

Recipe Number Twenty: Easy Chocolate Tofu Pie

Ingredients: Tofu block, soft, chocolate syrup, graham cracker crust

Directions: Mix tofu with enough syrup to turn tofu a creamy brown. Pour into crust. Chill and serve at your next pot luck.


Tofufaq and Recipes (copyright ) 1996 Melissa L. Morgan

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