Tofu is one of those foods that I didn’t try until I was in my 20’s. I am not even sure I knew what it was but is now it is included in our menu on a frequent basis.

Tofu is made from soybeans and first originated in China almost 2000 years ago. It is made from curdling the milk and pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it. It’s a very similar process to the way traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. It’s soybean-cheese. Here’s a fun video from How it is Made.

Here are 4 reasons we love tofu in the Harris house, along with a round-up of our favorite tofu recipes:

1) It tastes great. Seriously, when it is prepared correctly, tofu tastes great and resembles the flavors that you cook it with. The texture also depends on how it is prepared. There are different types of tofu- extra-firm, firm, and soft and it’s important to use the right one so you get the tastes and texture you want. I highly recommend adding familiar sauces and spices to the tofu and spend some time researching cooking with tofu.

2) It is inexpensive. A block of tofu is typically is usually a pound and costs around $2.00. The average costs for chicken breasts is about $3.50 and boneless pork averages $3.90 per pound. Although, it’s hard to directly compare the costs of tofu to animal products, looking at the average costs per pound gives us a good idea that tofu is a budget friendly protein source.

3) Tofu is protein-rich and is a nutrient-dense food. Since tofu is derived from soybeans and is rich in protein, it often gets referred to as a plant-based protein source. It contains all essential amino acids that your body needs so it is considered a complete-protein and is comparable the protein you get in meat.

One 3.5 oz. serving of tofu contains:

  • Calories: 70 calories
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Manganese: 31% of the RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake)
  • Calcium: 20% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 14% of the RDI
  • Copper: 11% of the RDI
  • Iron: 9% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 6% of the RDI

4) Tofu is linked to reduce risk of some cancers. Some studies have looked at the effects that tofu has on the body and research shows that consuming soy products can reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and digestive system cancers. The protective effect is thought to come from isoflavones, which are a type of phytochemicals that act like estrogen. One common myth is that tofu and other soy products increase the risk of breast cancer. However, research has failed to find an increase risk in those that consume soy products. Here’s an example of post-menopausal women who consumed two servings of soy per day over a two-year study and there was not an increased risk. Other studies have demonstrated the same outcome. I think it’s important to mention that I could not find any high-quality evidence to suggest that soy consumption will negatively affect testosterone levels. I think more research is needed to help solidify the benefits of soy and tofu on cancer risks but I do not believe that it contributes to it.

Favorite Tofu Recipes:

Beer-battered Tofu Tacos

Tofu Pad Thai

Spicy Sofritas Veggie Bowls  

Simple Tofu Scramble

Salsa-Tofu Breakfast Burrito

Veggie Bowl with Grilled Tofu Steaks

Do you have a favorite tofu recipe? Are you a fan of tofu?