Packed with plant-based protein, calcium, and iron, tofu adds a nutritional punch to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. According to the FDA, 25 g of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce heart disease risk. One 3-oz serving of tofu provides 5 to 8 g soy protein. Patients and clients rely on us as RDs to share recipes and meal ideas, especially when faced with unfamiliar foods. Tofu is an incredibly versatile ingredient many vegans and vegetarians embrace, yet meat eaters often overlook it. Here are five “out-of-the-box” options to incorporate tofu into meals and snacks for even the greatest tofu skeptics among clients.
- Make a salad dressing. In a mini blender or food processor, blend 2 T silken/soft tofu, 2 T olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 1/2 tsp honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Whip up vegan ice cream. Blend 3 oz firm tofu, 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter, 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder, and a frozen, presliced banana. You may have to scrape down the sides during blending. Serve topped with chopped peanuts and cacao nibs or vegan chocolate chips.
- Bake some tofu Parmesan. Slice a 14-oz block of extra firm tofu into four even rectangles and blot dry with paper towels. Dip each slice into a beaten egg, then into seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Spray a baking pan and the tops of tofu slices with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400° F for 10 to 12 mins. Top each piece with 2 to 3 T marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional five minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, oregano, and fresh basil.
- Blend a smoothie bowl. Blend 5 oz (about 1/3 package) soft or firm tofu; 1/4 cup unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk; 1 packet stevia or preferred sweetener; 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter; 1 cup frozen wild blueberries; and 1/2 cup ice until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with sliced fruit, chopped nuts, and chia, hemp, or pumpkin seeds.
- Mix up some overnight oats. Whip 1/3 cup soft or silken tofu and 1/3 cup milk of your choice in a small blender or food processor. Transfer tofu mixture to a Mason jar or container with a lid. Add 1/3 cup old fashioned oats, 2 packed T chocolate whey or vegan protein powder, 1 packet stevia or preferred sweetener, 1 tsp chia seeds, and 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix well and let sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, stir and add the fruit of your choice such as pomegranate, strawberries, or raspberries, and garnish with chocolate chips or cacao nibs.
Do you have any unique tofu recipe ideas? Please share them in the comments below.
— Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist, speaker, spokesperson, dietitian in private practice, and author of the forthcoming cookbook The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. Lauren blogs at www.NutritionStarringYOU.com where she focuses on weight management and prediabetes.