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Put it on the menu: Tofu

Low in fat and a good source of protein, tofu makes an inexpensive meat alternative or silky dessert ingredient.

We recently had a reader describe tofu as ‘like eating bath sponge’, which just goes to show the bad press it has had over the years as a niche food that’s second-best to meat. It’s how you cook it that can make or break tofu in the taste and texture stakes.

Made from soy milk, tofu is a good source of iron, protein and calcium, so it’s an important ingredient for vegetarians, vegans and those who avoid dairy.

For some older women, phytoestrogens in soy, which act like a weak form of oestrogen, may help reduce menopause symptoms. Low in kilojoules and fat, it’s a healthy option if you’re looking for ideas for the odd meat-free day. The mild flavour is a blank canvas for marinades, glazes and sauces – or buy it ready-flavoured.

There are two types of tofu:

  • Firm slices easily and is good for grilling and stir-frying, or crumbling over salads instead of cheese.
  • Silken is ideal for blending into hummus-style dips with tahini, smoothies and non-dairy desserts such as chocolate pots, cheesecake and ice cream.

Spotlight on

Bean Supreme Organic Tofu
Per 75g serving: 403kJ, 10.1g protein, 0.9g sat fat, 5mg sodium, 157mg calcium

Traditionally made in NZ from Canadian and Australian soy beans. Also available is soft, firm, hoisin and sesame-marinated or ginger and honey-marinated tofu.


Turn a few ingredients into top tofu meals

Chocolate tofu orange ice cream

Serves 4
Hands-on time 10 minutes, plus churning or freezing
410kJ per serving, low-kJ

Morinaga Soft Tofu $3.99/290g
Cadbury Bournville Cocoa $2.49/125g
Queen Pure Canadian Maple Syrup $10.99/250ml
Orange $0.80

Drain tofu. Break tofu into large chunks and put in a food processor with 4 tablespoons cocoa, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and the zest and juice of 1 orange. Blend until smooth. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker until frozen. Alternatively, pour it into a shallow container and freeze until firm, whisking the mixture a couple of times as it starts to freeze around the edges. Put in the fridge to soften slightly for 30 minutes before serving, then scoop into 4 bowls to serve.

Tofu, kale and chilli scramble

Serves 4
Hands-on time 5 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes
910kJ per serving, high fibre, low sodium, 1/2 vege serve

Tonzu Tofu $4.99/275g
LeaderBrand Super Kale $3.99/100g bag
MasterFoods Chilli Flakes $3.80/18g
Grainy bread $4.99/750g loaf

Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Break into small irregular-shaped pieces and set aside. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil and heat until hot. Add tofu pieces and stir-fry until just starting to brown. Transfer tofu to a plate. Add kale to pan with a small splash of water and cook for 3–5 minutes until wilted and just tender. Drain off any excess water and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes. Return tofu to the pan and mix. Toast 4 slices grainy bread, then pile tofu scramble on top.

Spanish tofu and med veg rice pot

Serves 4
Hands-on time 5 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
1000kJ per serving, high fibre, low sodium, high iron, 1 vege serve

Bean Supreme Organic Tofu $4.89/300g
Talley’s Mixed Vegetables $3.59/1kg
Leggo’s Tomato Paste $2.90/280g
Gregg’s Smoked Paprika $4.00/34g
Tilda Brown Basmati & Wild Rice $2.30/250g

Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Slice into bite-size chunks and set aside. Spray a large non-stick shallow pan with oil and set over a medium heat. Add 2 cups frozen vegetable mix and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Stir through 3 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cook rice according to packet directions. Add to pan and stir to combine. Stir in tofu and heat through for 1 minute. Divide between 4 plates and serve.


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