Tofu is a solid white block made from coagulated soy milk and is a favored meat substitute by vegans and vegetarians. It's a nutrient-dense food that is high in protein, iron, calcium and contains all amino acids while remaining low in calories.

Types Of Tofu

There are a few different types of tofu available:

  • Extra soft tofu
  • Soft (or "silken") tofu
  • Firm tofu
  • Extra firm tofu

Each type has different densities and amounts of moisture -- extra soft tofu is the least dense and most moist, while extra firm is the most dense and least moist. Each type is used for can be used in different recipes and provides different characteristics to the finished dish.

bowl of stir fry tofu cubes on blue background

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How Do You Use Tofu?

One of the reasons tofu is so popular is because of its versatility. It can be a key ingredient to all kinds of dishes, such as burgers, soups, salads, tacos, stir fries and stews. Tofu has a mild flavor that can easily be manipulated and take on other flavors depending on how you cook it, and each type of tofu is used differently.

Extra soft has loose curds that remain soft and can be added to stews and soups, while soft tofu keeps its form a bit more and can be incorporated into recipes such as vegan lasagne or puréed into sauces, smoothies and dressings. Firm and extra firm tofu are commonly used as meat replacements and can be baked, fried, grilled and roasted much more easily than the softer varieties. With these firm tofus, you can cube them and use them in stir fries or serve them as the main component of burgers or tacos.

tofu and vegetables on taco tortillas

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Is Tofu Healthy?

In short, yes. Tofu contains an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats while remaining low in calories. A diet consisting of a regular tofu intake can keep your heart healthy, improve blood flow from high iron levels, reduce some side effects of menopause and can aid in preventing excessive weight gain. Regularly eating soy products such as tofu has even been linked to lowering the risks of gastric cancer and breast cancer. Throughout history, tofu has also been commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cooling agent and way to remove toxins from one's body. So if you're a vegetarian or vegan, or just prefer the mild taste of soy, tofu is a food you can't go wrong with eating.

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