Tofu is made from soybeans that are ground in water, heated, and coagulated with minerals like calcium or magnesium salt. The curds are then pressed into a block, which is then sold as tofu. You can buy several different types of tofu, from extra-soft silken tofu to extra-firm tofu.
The type you buy depends on how you’re using it. Silken tofu may be ideal for desserts (such as cheesecake), while extra-firm tofu may be cut into cubes and cooked in oil in a pan until crispy, or roasted in an oven. The benefit of cooking with tofu is that tofu is a very mild protein, and it takes on whatever flavors it’s paired with, making it a versatile ingredient and it’s good for your health.
You can find raw tofu in the refrigerated section at your grocery store. It’s also available pre-baked and seasoned. Here’s a look at the several different types available.
Types of Tofu:
- Silken Tofu – This is the smoothest, softest tofu. It’s best when you need creaminess, as in desserts, smoothies, or dips. Silken tofu can be either firm or extra firm.
- Firm Regular Tofu – Firm tofu is a bit of a misnomer — it’s still pretty soft. Firm tofu makes a great stand-in for scrambles, faux taco meat, and sandwiches (for instance, “egg salad” made with tofu).
- Extra-firm Regular Tofu – This one is the easiest to cut into cubes, strips, or slices. It’s great when baked, thrown on salads, and for kebabs, stir-fries, and curries. You can also find this precubed in a package, making food prep easier.
- Prepared Tofu – Use this type of tofu when you’re in a pinch and need to create a savory dish quickly. Choose the flavor that best suits your needs. You can find this prepackaged or in the deli/prepared foods section at the grocery store.
There’s no reason to fear this mineral-rich vegetarian protein source — tofu is good for you. Given that tofu is made from soybeans, it’s a rich source of powerful anticancer plant compounds called isoflavones and phenolic acids, heart-protecting saponins, and alpha-linolenic omega-3 fatty acid, as well as minerals like calcium. It’s also a good source of iron, which is particularly important for people following a vegetarian diet or vegan diet, or pregnant women who may be running low in this nutrient.
- Regular consumption of tofu helps reduce the risk of getting a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, by reducing bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
- It prevents obesity and helps lose weight, as it is extremely low in cholesterol and fat content that good for your health.
- The low-fat and low-calorie content makes it an excellent food choice for diabetics. Intake of at least 200 grams of tofu per day can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- The proteins present in tofu help improve the elasticity of skin, and tone facial muscles.
- Touted as a complete health food, tofu is rich in proteins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants that help improve the functioning of the immune system