Made for centuries, tofu is a type of vegetarian cheese made from soy milk curdled with magnesium chloride or calcium sulfate, then pressed. The result is a white, slightly soft, and rather bland paste. It is commonly found in Asian cuisines, and comes smoked, flavored with herbs, and dried. It can be eaten in many ways. Among its many benefits are its high protein content, which allows vegetarians and vegans to have a protein intake similar to, or greater than, that provided by meat or fish.

There are a number of different kinds of tofu: firm, extra-firm, silken, flavored, smoked. It all depends on the use given to it. For vacuum-packed extra-firm tofu, head for the health food section of supermarkets where it is easily found. It is mainly cooked, whether pan-fried or used in soup. Smoked tofu can be used in place of meat in omelets and salads. Silken tofu is softer and crumbly. It can be used to make desserts as a substitute for cream or yogurt for vegans. Whatever the case, choose fresh, non-GMO, and even organic tofu.

When using fresh tofu, squeeze out the water.

Tofu withstands cooking very well. It can be pan-fried, grilled or broiled, cooked in the oven, steamed, or deep-fried.

Vacuum-packed tofu can be stored longer than the fresh product. Fresh tofu needs careful attention and should always be kept in water (for example in an airtight plastic container or in a bowl). The water must be changed daily if it is to be stored for at least a week.

Tofu is all goodness. It can be used as a low-fat alternative to meat and dairy, because it is high in protein. There is more protein (40 percent) in tofu that in meat. Tofu contains vitamins A, E, D, and B, minerals, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and calcium.

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