When you hear the word tofu, do you envision something tasteless, chewy and bland looking? Well, first impressions can be deceiving especially if you’ve experience tofu that isn’t cooked well, so it may be time to give tofu a second chance…

What exactly is tofu?

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It kind of reminds me of cheese making! Tofu is a component in many Asian dishes but is becoming popular in Western society, especially with a growing number of people choosing to eat more plant-based diets.

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Tofu makes a great substitute for meat, poultry or fish, providing a vegan source of protein, iron and calcium. Plain tofu doesn’t taste like much so it does need to be marinated or flavoured (a very important step if you want to enjoy it!). Tofu acts like a sponge absorbing surrounding flavours. Tofu comes in many varieties including silken, soft, extra firm, firm and flavoured or marinated.

Cooking with Tofu

Tofu is very versatile and you can use in a variety of both sweet and savoury recipes. Yes, I did say ‘sweet’ recipes – it’s not just a stir-fry ingredient! So it may be worth experimenting with the different types of tofu and different recipes. Lucky for you I’ve done the hard yards and provided some healthy recipes for you to try below. Enjoy!

Mango Tofu Smoothie

(Serves 1)

Silken tofu is great in a smoothie!

Ingredients:

¾ cup milk of choice | 100g silken tofu | 1 tablespoon chia seeds | 1 tablespoon flaxseeds | 1 cup frozen mango cubes (can use frozen berries instead) | 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut (optional) | 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (if required) | ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional milk or water if too thick.

Vegan Cheesecake topped with Berries

(Serves 6-8)

This is a great cheesecake option that everyone will love and it is also suitable for those on a vegan and gluten & dairy-free diet.

Ingredients:

Crust:

½ cup raw almonds | ¼ cup rolled oats | ¼ cup desiccated coconut | ¾ cup dates | ½ tsp cinnamon | 2 tablespoons water

Cheesecake:

450g silken tofu | 250g tofu cream cheese e.g. Tofutti | ⅔ cup sugar substitute e.g. stevia powder (can use sugar, honey or maple syrup if preferred) | 1 teaspoon vanilla extract | 2 tbsp cornstarch (gluten-free)

Berry sauce:

1 cup fresh or frozen berries | ½ cup of water | 1 tbsp sweetener of choice | 1 tsp lemon zest | 2 tsp lemon juice

Method:

Preheat oven to 160°C or 350°F.

1. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined. It should all stick together when you squeeze between your fingers. If too dry, add a little more water. Line and grease a 20cm diameter round cake tin and spread the crust evenly on the bottom of the tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minute and remove.

2. Place all cheesecake ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, periodically scraping the sides. Pour into pre-cooked crust and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place in the fridge and chill overnight.

3. For the berry topping, place all berry sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low medium and allow sauce to thicken, stirring regularly. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate. Pour over cheesecake once both chilled. Enjoy!

Tofu cooking tips for novices

Scrambled Tofu & Vegetables:

(Serves 2)

Eating tofu doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your scramble! This is a great vegan alternative.

Ingredients:

300-400g silken tofu | 1 medium red onion, finely chopped | 1 small zucchini, grated | 1 cup baby spinach leaves | ½ cup mushrooms, finely sliced | 2 garlic cloves, crushed |2 tbsp tomato paste | ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half | 2 tbsp fresh oregano or basil leaves, finely chopped | Salt and cracked pepper to taste | 1 teaspoon rice bran oil

Method:

1. Heat oil in pan on medium heat then add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini, and cook until slightly golden. Add the spinach, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, combine well and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the tofu.

2. Gently stir the tofu with the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes then remove from heat and serve.

Tofu Patties

(Serves 3-4)

Tofu makes great patties too! Note: vegans can exclude egg.

Ingredients:

500g firm tofu, drained, patted dry with paper towel | ¼ cup chickpeas, mashed with a fork | 2 large carrots, grated | 2 celery sticks, finely chopped | 2 tbsp psyllium husks | 1 egg | 1 x 3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, grated |  2 tbsp finely chopped basil | 2 tablespoon soy sauce | Cracked pepper and salt to taste | 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

1. Coarsely grate the tofu and using your hands, squeeze out any excess moisture. Place in a large bowl. Add the carrots, celery, psyllium, ginger, soy sauce, egg, basil, chickpeas, salt and pepper and combine well using your hands. Shape evenly into 8 patties.

2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden and heated through. Remove from heat and serve with a side of salad or in a grain roll with salad and avocado spread.

Miso Soup with Tofu & Mushrooms

(Serves 4)

Make a traditional Japanese soup with tofu.

Ingredients:

4 cups (1 litre) dash or vegetable stock | 30g dried seaweed | ¼ cup (75g) red miso paste | 150g silken tofu, cut into 2cm cubes | 3 spring onions, trimmed, thinly sliced | 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

Method:

1. Place the stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low. Add the seaweed and mushrooms then cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

2. Place the miso paste in a small bowl. Add a little the stock, stirring until miso dissolves. Add the miso mixture to the saucepan and gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.

3. Serve miso soup immediately with spring onions.

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