Tiptoeing into Tofu: How to Mix it into Your Diet - Patch.com

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Recently, I researched vegetarian diets and how to get the nutrition you need without eating meat. I quickly learned that tofu was one of the main food types vegetarians use as a replacement for meat. It dawned on me that I have never tried tofu and that I'm not exactly sure what it is. I guess it's time to change that.

Tofu can be a very healthy component of any diet. It is made from soy, water and a coagulant agent. The tofu is pressed together into soft white blocks. There is a health advantage to eating tofu. It is high in protein and iron and, depending on how it is processed, it can be fortified with calcium and magnesium. It is also low in fat and cholesterol, especially when compared to hamburger.

Tofu is also easy to cook with because it absorbs spices and marinades, which makes it a good replacement for dishes generally served with meat.

The vegetarian diet was not the first to incorporate tofu. It originated in Asia and was considered a staple part of the diet. However, tofu has become so popular in western society that you can find it in the produce section of a grocery store. Some communities even celebrate with annual tofu festivals and celebrations.

The nice thing about tofu is that you can incorporate it into your diet whether or not you are a vegetarian. It is healthy, can be made into a variety of dishes, and can be an alternative to meat products. Here is an example of a common chili recipe from the Mayo Clinic, but it has been modified to accommodate a vegetarian meal by including tofu instead of meat. Check out the Mayo Clinic for a breakdown of nutrition facts for the recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)

  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into small pieces

  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) diced tomatoes with no added salt

  • 1 can (14 ounces) kidney beans with no salt added, rinsed and drained

  • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans with no salt added, rinsed and drained

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)


  • In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about six minutes. Add the tofu, tomatoes, beans, chili powder and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro. Ladle into individual bowls and serve immediately.

Tofu is another piece you can use when you are making decisions regarding your healthy eating habits. Try it and see—you might be surprised to find that you can keep the hamburger in the freezer and pull out the tofu.

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15 Oct, 2011

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