Photo via yummytoddlerfood.com.

When did tofu become underappreciated? It’s time to end the bad stigma that has followed tofu around for too long and start to adopt it into our diets. It is a great source of protein that is not just for vegans and vegetarians. Historically, it has never been only a meat substitute and is incredibly versatile.  

Tofu eaten by itself is unexciting and a bit depressing, but spectacular when it’s included as a part of an entire dish. Most of the time, tofu is an unobtrusive, nutritious complement to the main dish.

Tofu is high in protein which makes it dense and packed with a variety of nutrients. A 100 gram piece of tofu contains 17 grams of protein along with 3 grams of carbs and 9 grams of fat. Tofu also provides 15% of the recommended daily value of iron and other minerals. 

There was a rumor spreading around that eating too much tofu can cause you to gain weight or potentially cause cancer. In reality, tofu can actually prevent certain cancers such as breast cancer or those found in the organs of the digestive system. Tofu can also decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes thanks to a special component of the food: isoflavones, which are naturally occurring compounds in plant-based foods. Like all foods, it should be eaten in moderation but it makes a great component to a well-balanced diet.

So, what can you do with tofu? I enjoy eating fried tofu, which can be found in most Thai restaurants. Fried tofu dipped in a creamy peanut sauce is a great way to introduce the food into your diet. It’s a light and crispy appetizer that satisfies the stomach, meanwhile providing you with a great amount of protein. Tofu can be cut into cubes and incorporated into salads and stir frys. Tofu can also be made into a scramble. 

On Wednesdays, the University of Maine’s York dining hall serves buffalo tofu wraps as an alternative to the buffalo chicken wraps they serve at lunch and dinner. 

“Buff tofu day is arguably the best meal of the week. The tofu and buffalo sauce work perfectly together,” first-year Mackenna Homa said. 

Combined in a wrap or eaten alone with rice, tofu creates a delicious sensation of flavor and spice with every bite. Tofu is also a great ingredient to marinate in any sauce to substitute as meat. 

If you are interested in cooking with tofu, it is important to note which type of tofu you are using. There are different levels of firmness: silken, which is the crumbliest and mostly used in smoothies or ravioli filling; regular, which holds sauces the best firm is the most versatile and extra-firm is the best for stir-fry. It is also important to drain the water that the tofu comes in as well as rise and press the tofu to get all the excess liquid removed from it. This makes the tofu easier to work with. 

Overall, tofu is an amazing food that can be used in many different ways and provides a great amount of nutrients to those looking for a healthier addition to their diets.