Going Plant-Based: Tofu

Going Plant-Based: Tofu | Food & Nutrition | Stone Soup
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Tofu is a bean curd made from soybeans used mainly in Asian and vegetarian cuisines. I was about 10 years old the first time I tried tofu and I HATED it… I didn’t like the texture, consistency or taste.

Fast forward about 14 years and it is one of my favorite protein sources ⁠— and I truly believe it is all in how you prepare it. My favorite kind of tofu is extra firm which is found in most grocery stores. The key is straining the liquid out as much as possible. My most used method is placing the tofu block in a clean dish towel (or paper towels) and wedging between two small plates. For time effectiveness, I add a heavy canned food item on top to really squeeze out the excess moisture. I let this sit for at least 30 minutes to get as much water out as possible.

Once the moisture is out of the tofu, I cut it up and place it in my marinade. Adding a tablespoon of cornstarch really makes a difference in cooking tofu as well–it gives it a crunchier texture after its been baked.

What’s good about tofu?

According to the USDA nutrition database, ½ cup raw tofu prepared with calcium sulfate contains 94 calories, 10 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrate and numerous minerals including calcium and iron. While animal protein is a fine choice, tofu is lower in calories, saturated fat and contains fiber (which no animal protein source contains). A 2017 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition concluded that consuming about 3 percent less animal protein and replacing it with plant protein potentially results in 19 percent lower risk of death from a chronic illness. Incorporating more plant based proteins (and foods) into your diet may help decrease development of chronic diseases resulting in longevity.

On to the recipe! This Ginger Tofu Stir fry can be whipped up in no time as long as you have your ingredients prepped. Biggest tip: cut up all your veggies ahead of time so you can just throw it all into the wok.

Ginger Tofu Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought ginger dressing
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Stir-Fry

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or oil of choice)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups chopped asparagus
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Squeeze out excess moisture from tofu. Let sit for 30 minutes. Cut tofu block into cubes.
  2. Put tofu in mixing bowl and add cornstarch, ginger dressing, soy sauce and black pepper. Stir and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F and bake for 15 minutes on each side.
  4. In the meantime, stir-fry veggies using a wok. Add butter and garlic to wok. Add asparagus first then add broccoli and water, cover and allow to steam until tender. Add zucchini last, uncover to let moisture evaporate.
  5. Add low sodium soy sauce and let simmer.
  6. Add baked ginger tofu to veggies. Serve over brown rice and cauliflower rice, or your favorite starch.

You can truly make this meal versatile by adding different veggies to it. Some other suggestions: bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, water chestnuts, baby corn, squash, cauliflower, bamboo shoots, cabbage, carrots and bok choy. This meal is 100 percent husband-approved, so try it for your family the next time you wanna incorporate some plant based proteins! This recipe makes great left overs, too!

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Katrina Detter
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian in Morganton, NC by day and enjoys spreading nutrition, fitness and wellness related information through her website and social media. She blogs at livebetterwithkatdetter.com where you will find many nutritious recipes, nutrition articles and fitness videos.