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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Often used as a protein-rich alternative to meat, tofu (or soya bean curd) absorbs whatever flavours you team it with – which makes it a magic ingredient in desserts, too

 

1. Breakfast scramble

Fry sliced mushrooms in a non-stick pan with a little olive or rapeseed oil until tender. Add tomato wedges, then crumble over firm tofu and cook until the tomatoes start to soften. Scatter with chopped fresh parsley, then pile on to wholemeal toast.

2. Heart-healthy salad

Mix together lightly steamed broccoli florets and peas, small cubes of firm tofu, chopped avocado, baby spinach and a scattering of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Lightly toss in a dressing of grated fresh ginger, lemon juice and a little olive oil.

3. Spicy Thai soup

Heat a tin of reduced-fat coconut milk with some reduced-salt vegetable stock, grated fresh ginger, chopped lemongrass and chopped red chilli. Add a handful of sugar snap peas and some cubed firm tofu, then ladle over freshly cooked noodles. Add a squeeze of lime and garnish with fresh coriander.

4. Teriyaki stir-fry

Mix 2tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce, 1tsp sesame oil, 1tsp Chinese five spice powder and 1tsp runny honey in a bowl, then add strips of firm tofu and leave to marinate for 15 min. Remove from the marinade and stir-fry for 3 min until hot. Add the marinade and heat through, then serve on a salad of cooked rice noodles, cucumber, beansprouts, chopped chilli and a few chopped peanuts.

5. Mexican wraps

Stir-fry crumbled firm tofu with a pinch of sweet paprika, crushed garlic, chopped red pepper and chilli and a drained tin of mixed beans. Heat through, then serve in tortilla wraps with fresh coriander sprigs, chopped avocado and a dollop of 0% fat Greek yogurt.

6. Tropical surprise

Blend silken tofu in a food processor with desiccated coconut, 2 drops of vanilla extract, runny honey and a banana. Serve with hot grilled pineapple.

7. Cajun roast veg

Sprinkle Cajun seasoning over thickly sliced firm tofu. Put in a roasting tin with red onion wedges and sliced butternut squash and courgettes. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then cook in a medium-hot oven until the veg are tender. Serve with jacket potatoes and low-fat yogurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.

8. Zesty skewers

Mix hot reduced-salt vegetable stock with 1tsp harissa paste, then pour over couscous to soak. Thread cubes of firm tofu on to metal skewers and brush with a mix of olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes and lemon zest. Grill for a few min on each side until hot. Fluff couscous with a fork, then stir in chopped parsley, mint and dried apricots, grated carrot and roasted pine nuts. Serve with the tofu.

9. Chocolate sundae

Mix 3tbsp cocoa powder with a little boiling water to a thick paste, then blend in a food processor with a pack of silken tofu, 1tsp vanilla extract and some honey. Spoon into tall glasses over chopped mango or defrosted berries. Chill, then serve sprinkled with a few chopped pistachios.

10. Chickpea stew

Cook chopped onion, red pepper, carrot and celery in a little olive oil to soften. Add crushed garlic, tomato purée, chopped fresh rosemary, a tin of drained chickpeas and a tin of cherry tomatoes. Simmer for 20 min, adding a splash of reduced-salt stock if needed. Add chopped firm tofu and heat through, then serve with pasta or rice.

Which type of tofu should I buy?

Firm tofu is best for slicing and chopping for stir-frying and grilling. Drain it, then pat dry firmly with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture before using.

Silken tofu is softer and can be blended for sauces, dips and desserts.

What’s so great about tofu?

HFG expert and nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam says: ‘Unlike other plant foods, tofu is a “complete protein”. In other words, it provides good amounts of all the amino acids that are needed to build proteins in the body. Tofu has a low-energy density, with only 70kcal per 100g, so it should keep you feeling full for relatively few calories. It’s also low in saturates and is a good source of calcium, which is important for healthy bones and teeth.’