Is Tofu Plant Based?

IS TOFU PLANT BASED:

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Are you on a plant based diet or planning to start one?

Have you heard the benefits of tofu and want to try it out?

Do you want to know if tofu is a plant based food item and whether or not you can safely incorporate it in your plant based diet?

No matter what type of diet you are on, there are always some delicious and healthy ingredients that will suit your needs. Today, we will focus on tofu, which happens to be a favourite with the health conscious crowd, as well as those who are on a specific type of diet, such as a plant diet.

So, if you want to know whether you get tofu from a plant source, how it is made, what ingredients go in its making, and what different ways you can eat it, then do read on. Also, as you keep reading, you will also find out whether it is similar or different to tempeh, which is another plant based food, and whether or not eating tofu is actually good for you. 

IS *TOFU* PLANT-BASED?

Yes, tofu is a plant-based food that is mostly used as a meat substitute.

Tofu vs Tempeh

Tempeh is another soy-based plant protein source. Here’s how it is different or similar to tofu:

  1. Tofu has a soft and creamy texture while tempeh is crunchier and nuttier.
  2. Tempeh contains more protein, dietary fibre and vitamins as compared to tofu.
  3. Tofu is milder in flavour while tempeh has a stronger flavour. 
  4. Tempeh is less processed than tofu. 

5 *WAYS* To Eat Tofu On A Plant Based Diet

1. Tofu burgers

  • Press down and season the tofu with Asian sauces.
  • Lightly fry and add in burger.

2. Veggie stir fry with tofu

  • Bake tofu and marinate in Asian sauces.
  • Stir fry with veggies of choice. 

3. Baked tofu: 

  • Bake extra-firm tofu into puffy and golden. 
  • Add in salads or rice dish. 

4. Veggie tofu scramble

  • Break up firm tofu. Add rock salt, black pepper, tomatoes, peppers, spinach.
  • Toss and eat.

5. Tofu with noodles

  • Cut and marinate extra-firm tofu in soy sauce, chilli sauce and sesame oil.
  • Fry and add to ready noodles.

What is tofu? 

Tofu is a type of food that is made out of coagulated soy. 

  • It is one of the most popular types of traditional soy protein products. The name tofu is actually a traditional Japanese name for bean curd products. 
  • Tofu is made out of condensed soy milk. 
  • It has been a traditional food item in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines for more than 2,000 years. 
  • In the USA, tofu has been made from the start of the century as a type of ethnic food. 
  • Tofu is most popularly used as a substitute or alternative to meats, cheese or other food items. 

Tofu is also known as soybean curd. 

How does tofu look, feel, smell and taste?

If you have never tried out tofu yet, here is a quick rundown on what to expect when you try it out for the first time.

  • Tofu is very soft in texture.
  • It looks and tastes more like a type of cheese.
  • Tofu can be found in various types of format, such as soft, which will be sold in a ‘silken’ or ‘soft’ category, as well as hard, which will be sold in a ‘firm’ or ‘extra firm’ category. 
  • The difference between the soft and hard varieties of tofu is not just in the texture, but also in the fact that the soft or silken tofu has much less fat and calories as compared to the firm or the extra firm ones. 
  • However, this is only because the soft and silken forms of tofu have a higher amount of water content. 
  • Most of the fat that may be present in tofu is usually unsaturated.

Basic tofu: How does it taste?

The basic and regular tofu is white in colour and is mainly bland in taste. It is soft and creamy in texture and looks more like a pressed white milk curd.   

Is tofu really good for you? 

If you’re concerned whether eating tofu is safe, keep the following in mind:

  • While buying, read the labels to check for non-GMO. This means that it will be not be made in a way that the tofu is genetically modified.
  • Go for brands that sell organic tofu, as you will have lesser chances of any side effects. 
  • Yet another thing that you need to keep in mind is that tofu does contain a lot of anti-nutrients, which means that it reduces your body’s ability to properly absorb the nutrients that you could otherwise get from tofu.
  • To reduce the effect of anti-nutrients, you can soak the tofu before preparing, or cook it thoroughly instead of eating it raw. This can eliminate some of the effects. 

It is best to make tofu a part of your meal plan if you have a healthy and balanced diet on a regular basis. In case you are suffering from thyroid disorders, are prone to it or have had it in the past, please consult a doctor before having tofu, as it contains goitrogen, which may not make it ideal for someone prone to thyroid disorders.

How do you make tofu? 

Take a look at how tofu is made in the traditional way:

Ingredients

  • Soybeans 
  • Hot water 
  • Coagulant or gypsum powder 
  • Cold running water 

How is tofu made? 

The basic tofu is made in the following way:

  • First, the soybean is boiled and is cooled to about 75 degree C
  • While cooling, a thin protein-lipid film forms on the surface of the milk, which has to be removed. 
  • Next, a coagulant is added to the milk. This coagulant has a solution of magnesium salts known as nigari, or a slurry of gypsum powder
  • Once the coagulant is added to the milk, it will curdle the milk.
  • At this point, the free supernatant whey will be removed to get the curd.
  • The curd will be transferred to perforated boxes and pressed down till it turns into a sturdy block. 
  • The sturdy curd will be immersed for many hours in cold running water to cool it down and remove any excess coagulant or entrapped whey solids.
  • Once done, the block will be cut into smaller portions

Silken tofu is made in the industrial way using the following steps:

Ingredients

  • Soymilk that has a high content of solids (has to have 10 percent of solid content instead of the usual 5 to 6 percent)
  • GDL
  • Water 

How tofu is made in industrial quantity

  • The soybean is first heated to up to 100 degree C.
  • It is then cooled down to room temperature
  • Glucono-delta-lactone, or GDL, is added to this milk and is then poured into retail containers. 
  • Once the containers are sealed, they are heated in bath water for about 40 to 60 minutes at a temperature of 80 to 90 degree C. 
  • The GDL turns into gluconic acid and coagulates the protein into a homogenous gel
  • The final result is a silken tofu.  

Additional Reference

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/14_9/special-reports/The-Power-of-Plant-Based-Proteins_2455-1.html
http://www.fao.org/3/t0532e/t0532e10.htm
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/confused-about-eating-soy

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