Understanding Tofu

Tofu has been something I had never really cared for throughout my journey – I always opted for tempeh or extra beans and avo instead. However, I've been playing around with it and I can't believe the greatness I've been missing out on all this time.

Previously, the main roadblock I faced with incorporating this soy superpower was the taste, how to prepare it, what to eat it with, the different varieties of it and learning to love its signature texture. Throughout this period of experimentation, I've not only discovered a new favorite food but have been feeling a lot more satiated and physically strong.

There are two different types of Tofu we commonly have access to, these are; Silken and Firm. They both share the same ingredients but what makes Silken so much thinner and delicate compared to firm is that its protein concentration is far less. This makes it great for being a staple ingredient blended into soups, sauces and within cake batter when baking. I wouldn't eat it raw or on its own as it has a faint taste and a slimy texture that falls apart with the lightest touch. Whereas, firm in denser and contains a much richer flavor – much like chicken. This makes it a great meat substitute in stir fries, salads and sandwiches. Both have their places depending on what dish you're feeling like whipping up.

Some easy and delicious ways to eat firm tofu are:

  • Marinated firm tofu chopped into slices in a bean, rice and vegetable salad with avocado and balsamic
  • A thick marinated slab in a sandwich a great replacement for a patty
  • Cubed firm tofu in a curry or stir fry.

Some great ways to lose up to Silken tofu are:

  • Used as a creamed cheese substitute in Vegan Cheesecake recipes
  • A ricotta cheese substitute in lasagna
  • Used to make an Alfredo Dressing
  • Blended into pumpkin soup to make it creamier
  • Make Scrambled Tofu to satisfy your breakfast craving for scrambled eggs. Just fry it up with salt, pepper and turmeric and it'll fall apart into a scrambled texture. (Of course, It's also expected to be served on toast and with avo).

One of the wonders of tofu is its versatility. You can marinate in ways to suit whatever dish your looking to create. Or if you're lazy (like myself) you can buy it pre-marinated from Coles – my favorites are the Thai and Chinese style firm tofu by Soyco. Tofu takes really well to both soy and tomato base sauces so Asian and Italian are a great go-to. Hey, you can even deep fry it to make nuggets and then use some silken tofu to make a creamy sauce. The opportunities are endless!

Finding the correct seasoning, the correct type of tofu to match your meal will do the food justice and therefore it'll be so much more enjoyable. Combining the tofu with other foods with different textures helps you appreciate it's stand out sensation – this is why I love it in salads with heaps of other vegetables, legumes, fruits and starches. Experimentation is key here!

Tofu also has a great nutritional profile, it's high in protein (also has all 8 essential amino acids) and has a decent amount of carbohydrates to keep you fueled and satisfied. Pair it with avocado, sesame seeds, cashews (any healthy fat) and you've got a foundation for a well-balanced meal. Tofu is full of iron, zinc and calcium, which is great considering they're the main nutrients vegans find difficulties consuming. And it'll keep your heart healthy with it's little-to-none amount of cholesterol. I've also noticed with its High satiation level and nutrient density my stomach is always flatter the next morning after having tofu with my dinner.

I can't believe I used to despise this beauty! but being experimental and creative in the kitchen really lead me to find a new love – and I'm not complaining! I strongly encourage you guys give it a go and be persistent with the different kinds and preparations. I mean, you can't get any more vegan than tofu.

Alix Laidler

Instagram @alixhlaidler