Cool as a Cucumber Vegan Tzatziki – Fat-Free

Dairy-free Dill Tzatziki Sauce – No-oil

My oldest daughter used to love Tzatziki sauce – you know, the Greek one – with cucumbers and yogurt and Dill?  So it fell off my radar when we became plant based in 2013, but the other day I was thinking, why have I not created a vegan version of this for her yet???

So a couple days ago, I did, and here is the recipe, it’s extra awesome because I figured out how to make it without having to drain the cucumber juice – so it’s faster and easier than usual recipes.

However, I was running out of time, so just as I was about to make it with herbs from scratch, I realized I had the Epicure Lemon Dilly Dip Mix and that it would work great.  So this version uses that spice mix.

Instead of the Lemon Dilly Dip Mix use fresh or dried dill, a bit of mint if you have it, some onion powder, garlic powder, and a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.

I plan to post a non-Epicure spices version as soon as I make it again!  If you live in Canada then you can buy it from me here and ship it to yourself.  

The reason I am posting this recipe is because using tofu turned out a very tasty and refreshing vegan Greek Tzatziki, with great consistency.  Apple cider vinegar is the right acid to use, in my opinion, because it is slightly sweet, and gives a yogurt flavour.

Use medium tofu to make a low-fat, dairy-free, yogurt substitute and in the food processor it is ready in just a few minutes.

I hope you find a way to make it too!

Jump to Recipe

 

Here is a lovely picture of Greece for us to consider as we enjoy our Tzatziki!  I’ve never been, but I would love to go!!!  I wonder how the vegan options are there.

 

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Image of vegan tzatziki dip with vegetables.
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Cool as a Cucumber Vegan Tzatziki

Course: Dip, Sauce
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 51 kcal
Author: Jeanette Whitten

The key takeaway I hope you enjoy from this recipe is: you can use tofu and apple cider vinegar as a yogurt substitute!  

Plus, this recipe is easier than most traditional Tzatziki recipes because there is no need to drain the cucumber liquid.  The reason?  It uses thick Medium Firm Tofu, as a yogurt replacement.  The cucumber liquid is required to make it the perfect consistency. 

Rather than fussing with cucumber in a colander or strainer, you can make this in 2 easy steps in a food processor. 

Less mess, fast, easy, chunky, fresh, and dillicious in 5 minutes.

I made this with the Lemon Dilly Dip Mix from Epicure, I've included untested instructions if you don't have the mix, and hope to test and update that version here soon.

Ingredients

OR Instead of the Dip Mix:

  • 3 tbsp dill dried
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp mint optional
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

PLUS

  • 3 cups English Cucumber long, unpeeled, in large chunks

Instructions

  1. Add tofu to food processor with Epicure Lemon Dilly Dip Mix (or individual herbs), salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar.  Blend on high until creamy.

  2. Add cucumber chunks and process on high or low until just diced, some larger chunks should still remain, do not over process or the dip will be too runny.

  3. Serve!  The flavours will blend almost immediately.

Recipe Notes

Adult and Kids Vegan Snack or a Meal Ideas with Tzatziki:

Vegan Tzatziki is a protein rich low-fat fast refreshing snack for adults and kids.  Try serving Tzatziki dip with raw vegetables, such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and red and orange peppers.

Spread on whole grain toast cut into triangles, or baked no-fat pita chips for dipping, for a light healthy meal, snack, or lunch idea for school or work.

Nutrition Facts
Cool as a Cucumber Vegan Tzatziki
Amount Per Serving (1 / 8th of recipe)
Calories 51 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Sodium 172mg 7%
Potassium 223mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
Sugars 1g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 2.2%
Vitamin C 2.3%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 7.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What's Special About VeganEnvy Recipes?  

VeganEnvy recipes are easy, low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based and nutrition rich.  Real food my family eats, and techniques we use to cook.

I choose ingredients that are proven to prevent and reverse disease, based on scientific studies, such as those reviewed on nutritionfacts.org and findings published by whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) experts featured in the Forks Over Knives (FOK) and What the Health documentaries FOK trailer.

Eating VeganEnvy recipes will make you lose weight, look better, feel better and live longer.  PLUS spend your money to cruelty free food systems, cut your environmental impact, and likely increase your compassion for, and awareness of, lives other than your own.

 
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Epicure Healthy Tofu Pad Thai (Whole Foods Vegan)

Whole foods no oil brown rice noodles Vegan Pad Thai in Wok

 

This healthy tofu Pad Thai is a low-fat recipe ready in 20 minutes.

Use your own Pad Thai seasonings/sauce, or visit this Epicure website to buy the delicious Pad Thai mix that I used, and bookmark this recipe for later.

I also show you how to make an easy tasty homemade  Sriracha sauce from an Epicure spices mix.

This recipe shows you how to make an oil free vegan Pad Thai with Tofu and Noodles.

All VeganEnvy recipes are whole foods plant based, oil free, fat-free and exceptionally healthy!  I follow the Forks Over Knives recommendations for disease prevention through diet.

Jump to Recipe

 

Back Story

My kids asked if a couple of their friends could stay for dinner.  That is pretty normal at our house.

I said, “We are having vegan Pad Thai – it’s noodles, tofu and vegetables, do they like that?”

The friends said, “never had it, but sounds GOOD!”

I agree, Pad Thai is good!  A mild, slightly sweet comforting noodle dish with garlic and citrus flavours.

Vegan Pad Thai and homemade Sriracha on plates - Whole foods no oil brown rice noodles VeganEnvy.com

I love feeding children vegan food,

especially kids from non-vegan families. They all seem to love tofu, and whole grain carbs, and most like plain vegetables too.

Kids are very open-minded to eating simple vegan food, they see my kids, my husband and I like it, and they join in – especially when their parents aren’t around.

I always test my recipes on children.  If they like it, I know I have a winner.

 

Epicure Pad Thai Spice Mix

I grabbed a package of vegan Pad Thai spice mix from Epicure, because it is a fast, healthy, high quality way to pull a tofu dish together.

It is spices only – no preservatives, fish, oils or additives.

I have used Canadian Epicure products for over 15 years – they are fantastic and I am an Epicure consultant.

Epicure is a great company for vegans.  Unfortunately their products are only available in Canada.

Carrots, broccoli, green pepper and noodles,

This should take about 20 minutes to pull together.

Sliced green peppers in a wok - VeganEnvy.com
Matchstick carrots in measuring cup - VeganEnvy.com
Package of Lotus Foods Brown Rice Noodles - From Costco

I got started washing and chopping my vegetables, I really take pleasure in cutting them in ways that make them look appealing.

Matchstick carrots, small broccoli, evenly cut green peppers.  Makes them cook uniformly as well.

I learned cutting techniques in the Forks Over Knives Cooking Course.

Sliced Broccoli carrots and green peppers for vegan no oil stir fry in wok

Mix Up the Sauce

While the vegetables were stir frying, I mixed up the Pad Thai spices with water and soy sauce.

This Epicure spice mix is:

  • sweet and tangy with an authentic Thai taste, and has
  • tamarind, garlic and cilantro for true Southeast Asian flavours.
Mixed Epicure Pad Thai Seasoning in measuring cup, veganenvy.com
I decided to use a package of Medium Tofu and a package of Extra Firm Tofu.  The Medium will crumble like eggs (eggs are common in pad Thai) and the extra firm tofu will be solid like chicken or shrimp.
Medium firm and Extra Firm Tofu in packages

Once the vegetables were tender, but still with a bit of a crunch, they were done.

I added the cubes of tofu and stirred them in.

Then I added the sauce.

Vegan Tofu Pad Thai with Epicure seasoning sauce in wok, no oil

I was very careful not to put the noodles in the boiling water until just before the vegetables were done, because the noodles truly only take 5 minutes to cook.

I rinsed the brown rice noodles with cold water to remove extra starch, and added them to the wok.

Vegan Pad Thai - Stir in the Noodles in the wok

Homemade Sriracha Sauce

I also decided to make homemade Sriracha sauce using an Epicure mix, ketchup, and vinegar.

Sriracha sauce really enhances the Pad Thai for adults.

 

Squeeze some lime on each plate (or lemon) and serve.  It was really, good, the kids gobbled it up.
Kids enjoying vegan Pad Thai
 
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Get FREE healthy vegan information and recipes!

FOLLOW HERE!

I forgot to do this for my photos, but add some chopped peanuts to your Pad Thai!  It makes a huge flavour and texture impact.
plates of Vegan Pad Thai with tofu for family and friends

I will work on a Vegan Pad Thai sauce recipe, from scratch

Until I write that recipe, if you are in Canada, please feel free to buy this healthy, oil free, vegan Pad Thai mix from my Epicure website.

The Epicure company is on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and cannot sell to other countries yet.

I hope you can use this recipe to create your own vegan Pad Thai – with a sauce that you have!  🙂

Vegan quote: james cameron "this may surprise you because it surprised me when I found out, but the single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals."

 

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Vegan Epicure Pad Thai Mix with Tofu
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Epicure Healthy Tofu Pad Thai - 20 minutes

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Egg Free, Tofu, Vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 364 kcal
Author: Jeanette Whitten

This recipe uses a vegan Epicure Pad Thai seasoning mixture, to make a vegan pad thai, with tofu, broccoli, green pepper, carrots, and whole grain rice noodles and without oil.  

Ingredients

Pad Thai Seasoning

  • 1 package Epicure Pad Thai Seasoning Pack or store bought pad thai sauce, sorry I haven't invented my own seasonings yet! Suggest how in the comments!
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Vegetables and Tofu

  • 1 green pepper thinly sliced
  • 3 cups carrots in matchsticks
  • 4 broccoli crowns, about 8 cups chopped
  • 16 oz tofu 454g, medium, cubed
  • 12.35 oz extra firm tofu 350g, extra firm, cubed
  • 19.75 oz brown rice noodles 8 cakes, 560 g
  • 2 tbsp lime juiced, about 1 lime

Toppings

  • 2 tbsp peanuts chopped

Epicure Sriracha Sauce

Instructions

Prepare Pad Thai Sauce - 3 minutes

  1. Stir the pad thai seasoning mix with 3/4 cup (180 mL) hot water and 2 Tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce.

Prepare Vegetables - 10 minutes

  1. On medium heat, stir fry green peppers and carrots for 3 - 4 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup or less of water if they start to stick.  Cover to speed cooking time.

  2. Add broccoli and cover, cook for 7 more minutes, stir frequently, until tender, but still bright green and slightly crunchy.

  3. Add medium cubed tofu and stir in so that it crumbles like scrambled eggs.

  4. Add extra firm cubed tofu and gently combine so that it stays in cubes.

Prepare Rice Noodles - 5 minutes

  1. In a large pot boil water for noodles.

  2. Once the vegetables are almost done, add 12 ramen cakes to boiling water per cake  Try for 2 cups of water per cake.  When noodles begin to unfold, after about 1 minute, separate gently with a fork and reduce heat to a low boil.  Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the noodles are just soft.

  3. Strain through a colander, and rinse with cold water.

Combine and Serve

  1. Add cooked rice noodles to the vegetables with the prepared sauce, tossing to heat through.

  2. Serve immediately, with freshly squeezed lime juice, sriracha sauce, and chopped peanuts.

Nutrition Facts
Epicure Healthy Tofu Pad Thai - 20 minutes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 347mg 14%
Potassium 1090mg 31%
Total Carbohydrates 66g 22%
Dietary Fiber 11g 44%
Sugars 8g
Protein 17g 34%
Vitamin A 159.5%
Vitamin C 277.7%
Calcium 15.6%
Iron 16.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

What's Special About VeganEnvy Recipes?  

VeganEnvy recipes are easy, low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based and nutrition rich.  Real food my family eats, and techniques we use to cook.

I choose ingredients that are proven to prevent and reverse disease, based on scientific studies, such as those reviewed on nutritionfacts.org and findings published by whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) experts featured in the Forks Over Knives (FOK) and What the Health documentaries FOK trailer.

Eating VeganEnvy recipes will make you lose weight, look better, feel better and live longer.  PLUS spend your money to cruelty free food systems, cut your environmental impact, and likely increase your compassion for, and awareness of, lives other than your own.

 

Healthy Vegan is Trending!

Please, help others, and our planet – share this content on social media!

Great Tofu Recipe Ideas For Dinner

Tofu or Not Tofu VeganEnvy.com

Tofu – How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Tofu is fast, a blank slate, chewy, soft or smooth, pretty, raw or cooked, replaces dairy, healthy, satisfying, and kids love it.

Best thing about tofu?  VERSATILE

Second best thing?  Makes us feel full with a happy healthy looking tummy.

Vegan cream sauce with no fat!

This pasta only takes 30 minutes to make, and is a great way to use soft silken tofu to make a creamy, tomato and zucchini pasta sauce for dinner that is oil free and nut free.

If you like garlic, tomatoes and creamy sauces you will like this simple pasta dish.  It is an easy and quick vegan recipe for beginners and experienced cooks alike.

Recipe 2 – Bok Choy Tofu Soup

Bok Choy goes so great with tofu, and soy sauce.  A medium tofu (softer than firm) works best in the soup because it has a complementary soft texture to the stiffer bok choy and carrots.

The texture combinations when you enjoy a spoonful of this, are truly excellent.

The simple seasonings of ginger and soy sauce make it a perfect meal.

You should make this soup because it is a creamy, fat-free, silken tofu, cauliflower, and potato soup (well more like a chowder) that is hearty, and healthy, as well as vegan, and dairy free, and it only takes 45 minutes to make.

Plus kids love it, if you know any of those.  If you have soft silken tofu to use for dinner, this is a great option.

The recipe uses extra firm tofu, as a vegan Indian paneer cheese substitute, so it is dairy-free.  Palak is a spinach curry – this one uses frozen chopped spinach, a little tomato, onion and eggplant to make a great tasting simple and fast base.

If you don’t have any eggplant, just add another package of tofu or a can of chickpeas, because either of those will taste great too.

The comforting spices in this dish make it unique and special, filling the kitchen with enticing East Indian aromas.

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The recipe uses extra firm tofu, it is a fantastic tasting, healthy simple vegan lasagna with no oil.

It uses tofu and spinach as a quick and easy ricotta cheese substitute. This is a winning pasta recipe to serve to non-vegans, or if you are looking for what dish to cook a vegan for dinner, that everyone will like.

It tastes like a traditional Italian lasagna, except it is low fat, and high fibre, the zucchini makes it so colourful, and so good for you!

Even if you have never made lasagna, you can succeed with this simple basic lasagna 101 recipe.

The recipe uses both medium tofu and extra firm tofu, and kids love it.

It calls for the Epicure Pad Thai spice mix (available in Canada only) and is:

  • sweet and tangy with an authentic Thai taste, and has
  • tamarind, garlic and cilantro for true Southeast Asian flavours.

Forks Over Knives and NutritionFacts.org

All VeganEnvy.com recipes are created to meet whole foods plant based (WFPB) oil-free eating recommendations from whole foods plant based experts from Forks Over Knives, and with ingredients selected for disease prevention based on nutrition study results from nutritionfacts.org.

If you like these recipes, you are not alone, healthy vegan is trending!

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Bok Choy Silken Tofu Noodle Soup (Source of Calcium!)

Vegan Bok Choy Tofu Noodle Soup Bowls

This bok choy, tofu and noodles soup is so tasty, it is easy, simple and fast to make and is satisfying for dinner, and something you can definitely serve to non vegan company with confidence.

It’s restaurant quality… my family says.  ♥

Bok Choy goes so great with tofu, and soy sauce, and ginger.  A medium tofu (softer than firm) works best in the soup because it has a complementary soft texture to the stiffer bok choy and carrots.

See my article All About Tofu for tofu tips.

The texture combinations when you enjoy a spoonful of this, are truly excellent.

This soup will fill you up without filling you out…

Jump to Recipe

Whole Baby Bok Choy

For this tofu soup recipe I used  “Shanghai Bok Choy” it is larger than baby bok choy, but not full size.

Full size and baby bok choy will work as well.  Cut bite size pieces – whatever kind of bok choy you use.

Bok choy is a nice mild addition to many dishes,  and it is very healthy for you.

Bok Choy is a great source of calcium – did you know?

  • One cup of bok choy contains the same amount of calcium as a glass of cow’s milk, due to having a better calcium absorption rate (in the 50–60% range, where calcium from milk is 30-40%).  See this article for more about calcium absorption.
  • The best sources of calcium come from the earth, in foods such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts.  As a bonus, these vegetables are high in vitamin K, which is also important for strong bones.
  • Not that you have to worry, there is no need to specifically target calcium sources in your diet; a diverse, whole-foods, plant-based diet will provide all of the calcium you need.

In one study, fruit and vegetable intake was positively associated with bone density.

My bok choy was very clean, not much dirt trapped under the stalks.

I chopped it like this, then put it in a large colander and gave it a rinse in the sink before adding it to the bubbling broth.

Chopped Bok Choy
bowls of asian tofu soup

If you don’t have spaghettini you can use whole grain spaghetti, it will take a few more minutes to cook, but thicker noodles are fun too, right?

I used canned mushrooms because I wanted to use staple ingredients that most people have in the kitchen.  If you use fresh or dried mushrooms it will make this soup even more delicious for you.

Adding the tofu to the soup
Add cubed medium tofu near the end, and gently stir through the soup.

Chop your dried seaweed (optional) before you add it.

Seaweed contains iodine – an essential nutrient for health.

Crumbled dried nori seaweed

Sprinkle some chili peppers in your bowl, or leave it mild and add a bit more soy sauce instead.

 

Enjoy!  Soup is On! 🙂

Crushed Red Pepper - Spicy

 

Bok Choy Tofu Noodle Soup Vegan
Print

Bok Choy Tofu Vegan Soup

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 22 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 192 kcal
Author: Jeanette Whitten

Spaghettini noodles are thinner than spaghetti, and cook in 6-8 minutes, so this soup is fast to make, plus, the noodles make it familiar and appealing to kids. The tofu adds substance and you can be sure it will fill you up as a main dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1L) vegetable broth
  • 6 cups (1.5L) water
  • 195 g whole wheat spaghetti 7 oz whole grain, use spaghettini (thinner) half a package
  • 10 oz can mushrooms (284 mL), drained, or use dried or fresh
  • 2 Tablespoons (15 mL) seaweed dried nori, crumbled, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons (15 mL) ginger minced fresh, frozen, or jarred, to taste
  • 15 cups bok choy about 6 medium, with leaves, chopped, or Chinese cabbage
  • 1 yellow bell pepper medium , large diced
  • 2 cups carrots , in matchsticks
  • 4 green onions , sliced
  • 700 g silken tofu 25 oz total, 2 packages, in large cubes
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons (45 mL) soy sauce , or to taste
  • sprinkle Crushed red pepper - spicy , to taste, see image

Instructions

  1. On high, in a large soup pot, combine the vegetable broth with 6 cups water, mushrooms, seaweed, and ginger and bring to a rapid boil.

  2. Wash and chop the bok choy and carrots. 

  3. Once the broth is bubbling, reduce heat, break the spaghettini noodles into very small pieces and drop them in.  Cook until the noodles are al dente, about 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Increase heat back to high, add the bok choy and carrots.  Reduce heat to medium once the soup begins simmering again.

  5. Slice and add the bell pepper and onions, increase heat as required, to keep the soup bubbling gently.

  6. Cut tofu into large cubes and add with cilantro.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in soy sauce and serve at once.

  7. Season with crushed red pepper, or hot sauce, and additional soy sauce.

Recipe Notes

To use frozen ginger, leave the skin on and grate it on a microplane grater.

Try dried mushrooms for even better flavour.

For a more traditional asian soup, use whole grain buckwheat soba noodles instead of whole grain spaghettini.

Chinese cabbage also works well in this soup instead of bok choy.

Nutrition Facts
Bok Choy Tofu Vegan Soup
Amount Per Serving (1 / 8th of recipe)
Calories 192 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Sodium 964mg 40%
Potassium 787mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 6g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 231.8%
Vitamin C 112.9%
Calcium 21.4%
Iron 20.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

So vegan use a strawberry instead of a mouse

What Is Tofu? | All About Tofu, Nutrition, Benefits, Protein, Types, Ingredients, Health

Curious about tofu? Here is some information compiled from quality sources about how food manufacturers make tofu, what ingredients go into tofu, and how to choose, buy, and prepare the different types of tofu varieties.

Learn about tofu taste, nutrition, protein content, fiber, benefits, calories, and is tofu healthy or not??

Knowledge is power!

Table of Contents

What is Tofu Made of?

Tofu is made from mature white soybeans.

The beans have been soaked in water, ground up and cooked and then filtered to make a milk.

How Long Have People Been Eating Tofu?

There is written evidence to show that soymilk existed in China by 82 AD, and may have existed several centuries before that time. Evidence about tofu is less clear.

A theory is that tofu was invented about 2000 years ago by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed as part of salting it.

Types of Tofu

There are two types of tofu: Regular and Silken.

 

Regular Tofu

Regular Tofu

Regular Tofu

Curdled milk. To make Regular (harder) tofu the milk is curdled and then the liquid is pressed out of it.

This is much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk.

The liquid (whey) is discarded, and the curds are pressed to form a cohesive bond. Regular tofu is also called soybean curd or bean curd and comes in different hardness varieties.

Silken Tofu

Uncurdled milk.

To make Silken (softer) tofu the soymilk is coagulated without curdling the milk.

It is left unpressed and because curds never form, Silken tofu has a smooth and silky appearance.

Silken Tofu

Silken Tofu

How is Tofu Made?

Here is a description of the process to produce tofu, from a video that shows one manufacturer in detail.

Soy Beans (the seeds that grow in the pods of the soy bean plant) are soaked in water, as they absorb the water they double in size and soften.

Soaked and Dry Soybeans

The swollen beans are are crushed and filtered to make a soy soup / slurry.

The ‘soup’ is transformed into a paste by being cooked in a steam cooker for a few minutes.

Then, a spinner separates the milk from the pulp (called soy meal).

The soy meal pulp goes off to be sold for cattle and pet food, the milk stays behind to be transformed into tofu.

While still hot the milk goes into a coagulation tank to be thickened into curd.

It is at this point that flavors may be added.

A coagulant like calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, or traditionally nigari is added to the soy milk along with water to activate it.

After about 15 minutes the milk congeals into soybean curd = tofu.

Nigari is the dried liquid (mostly magnesium chloride) that remains after common table salt has been removed from seawater.

Once curdled the soymilk it is still hot and soggy and is run through a filter to drain it as much as possible.

soybeans in tray
 
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Now the bean curd is relatively dry and is transferred into large trays lined with cheesecloth and pressed, which squeezes out most of the remaining liquid, and molds the tofu into firm large blocks.

Pressing it longer squeezes out more liquid and makes the tofu firmer.

The large blocks are cut to be smaller store sized blocks and are packaged.

To kill any bacteria, packaged blocks are heated for about an hour and then cooled in a cold water bath.

Is Tofu Healthy?  Is Soy Healthy?

The Chinese honored soybeans as one of the five sacred grains essential to the existence of civilization—the others were rice, barley, wheat, and millet.

They considered the soybean to be both a food and a medicine.

Extremely versatile and high in nutrients, soy foods such as soymilk, tofu, miso, and tempeh are all derived from the soybean, a legume that was first cultivated in northern China about 3,000 years ago.

However, the nutritional value of any given soyfood can vary greatly, depending on how it was processed. With only about 164 calories per 4 ounces of firm tofu, tofu is a good, high-protein substitute for meat and whole-milk products.

Tofu is high in fat, with almost 10 grams per 4 ounces, though the fat is mostly unsaturated.

Tofu Nutrition

Tofu is healthy because it is high in protein, is an excellent source of calcium and iron and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It is cholesterol free, sodium free, it contains healthy fats, carbs and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals with a low number of calories.

Tofu Contains Many Nutrients

One 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of tofu contains:

  • Calories: 70 cal.
  • Protein: 8 grams.
  • Carbs: 2 grams.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.
  • Fat: 4 grams.
  • Manganese: 31% of the RDI.
  • Calcium: 20% of the RDI.
  • Selenium: 14% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 12% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 11% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 9% of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 6% of the RDI.

Several national dietary guidelines, including Canada’s Food Guide, recommend soy foods as part of a healthy diet.

Protein

Did you know?  Soy beans contain 40% protein, more than double the protein in beef or fish.  

Fat

Tofu contains the healthy Omega-3 fat, 2 grams for 1 1/2 cups of tofu.  Omega-3 fat is an essential fatty acid, the body cannot manufacture it, and it is required for health.  Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory.

Studies have shown that consuming tofu regularly instead of meat and dairy results in significantly lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol).  

Calcium

The micronutrient content of tofu varies, depending on the coagulant used to make it. Nigari or magnesium sulfate adds magnesium, calcium sulfate increases the calcium content.  

Check the ingredients list for calcium sulphate, and read the Nutrition Facts table to see how much calcium is in the tofu. Different brands may have different amounts of calcium.

Calcium found in plant foods and milk

Source: Book: The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet – author Rip Esselstyn

Tofu Recipe Ideas

 

Take a look at some of our favourite dinner tofu recipes.

Other Benefits of Tofu

Isoflavones are compounds found in soy products, and they are known to exert direct and indirect antioxidant effects. Isoflavones can directly scavenge free radicals, thereby preventing premature aging.  These beneficial compounds also prevent the effects of free radicals indirectly by suppressing phagocyte radical production.

Tofu contains fibre, which greatly contributes to digestive health – animal products contain zero fibre.

Health Controversy

Breast cancer awareness ribbon

Breast cancer awareness ribbon

There has been controversy about soy and breast cancer.   The medical community was warning women with breast cancer to avoid soy because of plant oestrogens in it.  

Contrary to this advice, the latest studies are finding that soy is preventative for breast cancer and also helps people with breast cancer to survive longer.

Recent studies now show that women who have had estrogen-sensitive breast cancers do not need to avoid soy isoflavones.

The latest recommendation for breast cancer patients to consume soy foods is consistent with the fact that breast cancer occurs much less in countries where soy consumption is high.  

What about GMO Tofu?

Is genetically modified soy safe?  The genetically modified beans appear to be safe, but the chemicals sprayed onto them are not.



Farmer spraying crops

Farmer spraying crops

The genetically modified genes in GMO soy were not detectable in the human body, leading researchers to conclude that they are harmless.  Note: genetically modified corn proteins were found in humans, but those were also found to be harmless.

Research has found risks to people may not be from eating a genetically modified plant, but from eating the pesticide residues that were sprayed on the GMO plants.

80% of GMO crops are bioengineered only for pesticide resistance. The top 5 biotech companies are chemical companies that manufacture pesticides.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans are the #1 GM crop, genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup—also sold by Monsanto—allowing farmers to spray fields with the Roundup herbicide glyphosate, which then kills the weeds while leaving the soy standing.

Soybean plants in field

Soybean plants in field

Monsanto’s Roundup has been shown to have adverse effects on human placental tissue.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup didn’t seem to have much of a toxic effect on human cells even at high doses, or have much effect on a hormone-regulating enzyme, leading Monsanto-funded reviewers concluded that regardless of what hazards might be alleged based on animal studies, glyphosate is not anticipated to produce adverse developmental and reproductive effects in humans.

But pure glyphosate isn’t sprayed on crops.

The Roundup formulation – which includes a variety of adjuvants and surfactants meant to help the glyphosate penetrate into tissues – was found to be 100 times more toxic than glyphosate itself.

Similar results were found for other major pesticides. It took until 2014, but 8 out of 9 pesticide formulations tested were up to one thousand times more toxic than their so-called active ingredients, so when you just test the isolated chemicals you may not get the whole story.

When the study was repeated with what’s actually sprayed on GMO crops, there were toxic and hormonal effects.

Biohazard symbol

Roundup turned out to be among the most toxic pesticides researchers tested, contrary to a popular belief that RoundUp is harmless.

Thumbs up green

What about conventional non-GMO soy where glyphosate is sprayed on the soil to kill weeds between crop cycles?… No residues on the plants.

What about Organic Soy? No residues.

At this point, steering away from GMO soy because GMO plants are sprayed with a larger dosage of chemical pesticides than non-GMO plants, might make sense.

 

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Types and Varieties of Tofu and Which Kind of Tofu to Use for Cooking

Tofu in package

Tofu in packages – Medium Firm and Extra Firm

When buying tofu, you must decide what brand and what hardness will be the best tofu for your recipes.  

From soft to extra firm, common tofu textures are broken into two categories: Silken (Soft) and Regular (Firm) Tofu.  

Extra firm tofus are best baked, grilled and in stir-fries, while silken tofu is suitable for sauces, desserts, shakes and salad dressings.

One manufacturer’s Firm tofu may be more or less dense than another’s.

Click on the types below to view information about each variety of tofu, how to prepare the tofu and best uses for each type of tofu.

Silken Tofu

Silken Tofu has the highest water content and resembles pudding or white jello and can be available in soft, firm or extra firm.  

Prep: Just drain if it is stored in water and optionally blot it with a paper towel.

Silken Tofu is good for: Use Silken Tofu for spreads, smoothies, shakes, dips, salad dressings, creamy sauces and some desserts like pie fillings.

You can blend soft silken tofu as a good lactose free substitute for light cream or milk and the firm or extra firm silken tofu varieties are a dairy free replacement for sour cream or yogurt.

Egg Substitute: Silken tofu can also be used as a vegan egg substitute in some baking (depending what the egg was bringing to the recipe).  ¼ cup blended silken tofu = 1 egg.

Extra Soft / Soft Regular Block Tofu

Delicate tofu, can hold it’s shape just barely.  It has a mild milky flavour.

Prep: Pressing soft tofu is not recommended as you will end up squishing it. Just drain if it is stored in water and optionally blot it with a paper towel.

Soft Tofu is good for: Similar applications to Silken Tofu, can be blended and made into sauces and smoothies.  Battering and deep frying, a method that fully envelops the cubes, produces tender nuggets.  Although you will not see any fried recipes on this blog.

Note: Because it has a high water content, soft tofu is not recommended for shallow frying unless you do not use oil, the sputtering and spit-back can be dangerous.

Medium / Medium Firm Regular Tofu

Will hold it’s shape, has a rougher texture than soft and can crack when handled.  Has a droopy appearance due to moisture.

Medium Tofu Prep: Can be gently pressed to reduce water.  It will squish out of it’s shape somewhat easily.  

Medium Tofu is good for: mimicking cottage cheese and ricotta cheeses.  Use in gently simmered soups like miso soup or serve cold.  

Medium Tofu Tips: Add it to your recipe at the end of cooking to reduce breakage and crumbling.

As firmness increases, the cooking time to bake or fry out the excess water goes down.

Firm Tofu

Holds together well, even in a stir fry or recipe where you are stirring a lot.  How well it holds together can change with the brand.  

Firm Tofu Prep: Press firmly to reduce water.

Firm Tofu is good for: Fairly good for stir frys and pan fried tofu.  It will be more moist than extra firm tofu, so do not stir too much, and add at the end of cooking if you can to reduce crumbling.

Extra Firm Tofu

Holds it’s shape very well.  Does not absorb flavours as quickly or easily as softer tofu.  Contains the least amount of water of any tofu.

Extra Firm Tofu Prep: Press to reduce water.

Extra Firm Tofu is good for: Extra firm tofu is the best tofu for making crispy tofu, to bake (like making tofu sticks) or grill.  Excellent for stir frys, glazing and, pan frying.  It can be crumbled and used like ground meat as it will hold up without becoming runny.

Try the different textures to determine what you prefer.  In our house, we buy mostly Extra Firm Regular Tofu and Soft Silken Tofu.  I’ve found the Extra firm will work in almost all recipes, but medium can be too soft for some, such as tofu sticks or stir frys.  However, medium tofu has a more gentle appearance and softer feel when eating, so adds subtlety and variety to recipes.

Chinese Style Tofu is a regular soft tofu (not a silken), often sold in a pillow shaped package.  

Japanese Style Tofu is less compressed (it is a silken) than Chinese Style and is sold in square sided blocks.

Dried Tofu Skin - Also Called Yuba

Yuba is made by lifting and drying the thin layer formed on the surface of heated soymilk once it has cooled.

It has a high protein content and is most commonly found as brittle, brown sheets that must be reconstituted before use.

Once softened, it can be added to stocks, soups, stews, and the like.

Lite Tofu

Lite tofu is lower fat.

What Does Tofu Taste Like?

Tofu alone is relatively tasteless to adults, it is a neutral flavour and mild and bland.  I say adults because for my kids, and all kids we have cooked for, they love the taste of plain tofu, so it must have taste for them!  

To me it tastes mildly bitter, and is not salty, and not sweet and the firmer varieties have a satisfying texture.  The silken variety tastes a bit watery to me and I need to add salt or garlic or onion or some other foods to fill out the flavor of the softer tofus.

Tofu is like a sponge, it absorbs the flavor of whatever it comes into contact with.

How to Prepare Tofu for Cooking

Great!  You have your tofu home, now what are you supposed to do to prepare tofu before you eat it?  

Cut open or tear open your tofu package, if it’s packed in water I like to do this over the sink.  I let the liquid drain out and then I put it on a cutting board, or for the soft silken varieties I cut it into squares right in the package and pull them out right into my blender or food processor with the same dull knife.   

Pay Attention to the Best Before Date on Your Tofu Package

In our house we throw tofu away on the day after the best before date because it seems to start to smell bad and the package swells up very quickly after that date.  

If the package is swollen before this date, it may have gone bad due to lack of proper refrigeration, when in doubt, throw it out.

Open and Drain Your Tofu

You do not need to rinse individually packaged tofu.  Tofu in a sealed package is preservative free and sterile, so there is nothing you are trying to rinse off.

Tofu purchased in bulk could have come in contact with contaminants and should be rinsed off.

How to Press Tofu – Do You Need To?

Because tofu has a high water content, it’s wise to remove excess liquid to make room to absorb new flavors.

That being said, I press my tofu if I want it to be more firm in a recipe, I do not press my tofu if I want it to be moist.

Many recipes call for pressed tofu. How to press tofu:

A quick way to press tofu is to place the tofu on an absorbent paper towel or dish towel and wrap it up around the top.  Place a flat surface on top such as a dish or baking sheet and press on it gently to squeeze water into the towels.

Some people put a dish under the tofu as well and instead of using paper towels tip the dish so the liquid can drain off.  Less waste this way.

Go easy until you know how much pressure to put.  Medium and softer tofu will start to crack and squish out the sides if you put too much pressure.  You can also place a heavy item on top of a plate such as large can of tomatoes and let it sit 5 – 10 minutes while you prep your recipe.

Once it is pressed, pour the water into the sink, you will be left with a drier, more firm tofu block.

Only press medium, firm and extra firm tofu.  Softer varieties will just squish and you will be left with a mess.

How to Cut and Cube Tofu for Baking, Stir Frys and Dipping

After pressing and draining your medium, firm or extra firm tofu, stand it on it’s small end on a cutting board and press a knife down the wide side.  Cut one or two times, so that you get two or three even wide planks from the block depending how many cubes or tofu sticks you want to end up with.

Long sliced firm tofu

Long sliced firm tofu

Fit the tofu planks back together into the block shape and lay them flat like in the package, press a medium or long knife through it lengthwise to make 2 – 3 cuts and long rows.  Turn it and press your knife through 4 – 6 times to make 16 or 24 rectangles or 45 – 84 cubes (if my math is right!).

How to cut tofu into cubes

Cutting tofu into cubes

Adjust the size of your cuts to make larger or smaller cubes or rectangle sticks.  

Raw tofu cubes

Raw tofu cubes

Tip: Don’t cut the cubes too small or the slices too thin. That will lead to the tofu overcooking and becoming hard and brittle rather than moist and crispy.

Rectangle shaped tofu sticks are good for coating, baking, dipping and eating with your fingers.

Small or large cubes are a good shape for tofu in stir frys.  Smaller cubes are easier to divide up to a family as some will be in each scoop of the stir fry.

Flat thin squares increase the surface area for sauce to coat and are a good tofu shape for pan frying or baking in a dish.

How to Prepare Tofu for Salad

You can use baked tofu or raw tofu in a salad.

How to Thaw Frozen Tofu

Frozen tofu can be defrosted in the fridge, microwave, or by boiling it in water.

Take it out the night before and let thaw in the refrigerator.  After it thaws, tofu soaks up marinades more easily since it becomes more porous from the frozen expanded water.  It also changes consistency, and becomes chewier.

After freezing, the curds are so compact and water pockets so enlarged that liquid drains freely from the tofu with a gentle squeeze.

Vegans Don't Just Eat Tofu!

I have a lot of non-tofu recipes on this site too.

Take a look through my recipes page!  Find a whole foods vegan recipe to try!

Tofu Food Safety, Avoid Food Poisoning

Will expired tofu make you sick?

A package of fresh tofu will last 3-5 days beyond the date stamped on the package, depending on it’s preparation method and how the tofu has been stored.

Since the soy liquid is thoroughly heated prior to making tofu, killing most bacteria and viruses in the soy, properly processed and handled tofu is not likely to be contaminated.

It is not common, but there are a few ways tofu could cause foodborne illness. One of these is contamination of the tofu by unclean equipment at the food processing facility.  Another way is  at your house by a food preparer with unwashed hands, sneezing or coughing on foods, or if the tofu touches pathogens from another food, such as raw chicken.

Tofu may also be exposed to pathogens if stored in contaminated water. There are more safety concerns if you will be purchasing tofu sold in bulk.  Tofu stored in a large bin of water could come into contact with unwashed hands or contaminants.  Also, unclean water can infect the entire batch of tofu.

How to Store Tofu

Store your tofu according to the directions on the package, some require refrigeration while others can be stored at room temperature.  

Once opened if you are not using it right away, rinse the tofu, cover it with water and keep it in a refrigerated container. To keep the tofu fresh for up to a week, change the water often.  

Unopened tofu can be frozen in the original package for up to five months.

Store leftovers in your refrigerator promptly, as bacteria grow best when exposed to 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 – 60 degrees Celsius).

How to Freeze Tofu

I haven’t tried freezing tofu yet.  The next time I have a package that is about to expire I will try it.

My research indicated that if we drain and/or press the tofu first, it won’t be as wet and messy when you thaw it.  But it could become more easily freezer burned.

Apparently, you can freeze the block of tofu whole, or cut it into the sizes you want beforehand and separate them.  The pieces will stick together though, so might not be worth it.

From what I’ve read, freezing separates out almost all the moisture, and turns tofu into a spongy substance that quickly absorbs sauces.

Feel free to let me know what you recommend when it comes to freezing tofu in the comments.

Eating Raw Tofu – Does Tofu Need to be Cooked?

Tofu can be eaten raw.  Soft and silken tofu are great in salad dressings, or as a sour cream or yogurt substitute in dips and spreads.  Regular (harder) tofu can be served raw in salads.  

Some sources recommend that to be safe you boil uncooked tofu for five minutes before eating it.  Personally I am going to ignore this advice.  

We eat raw pieces of tofu when cooking all the time and we use raw silken tofu in dressings and desserts and have never had any stomach issues.

Tofu vs. Tempeh – what is the difference?

Tofu and tempeh are both made from soybeans, but the process is quite different.

Tempeh contains whole soybeans that are aged and cultured and become stuck together into a firm substance that can be sliced.

Tempeh in a vegan bowl

Flavoured Tempeh in a vegan bowl

Tempeh is healthier than tofu because it is closer to the original whole food, it is less processed.  It has a nutty drier texture and a stronger flavour than tofu.

Tempeh

To make tempeh, soybeans are cooked, usually with grains like rice or millet, and then aged with a special culture that breaks the cooked beans down and binds the mixture into a firm substance that can be sliced.

When you look at tempeh, you can see the individual beans bound into a solid paste that makes up the slice or brick.

Tempeh contains more protein than tofu, and has a stronger taste.  Some are flavored to be smoked or like bacon.  

My Experience With Tempeh

My kids are still warming up to tempeh, because it tastes stronger and has a bit of the texture of eating beans.  They enjoy it when cut it up into very small pieces (smaller than their usual tofu cubes).  They liked the bacon flavoured one we recently put on pizza.  

I have trouble finding plain tempeh where I live, I am in the process of looking for more sources of it because we would like to eat more tempeh and less tofu, since tempeh is less processed.  I plan to experiment with a number of marinades on it, as I have read marinated tempeh is fabulous.

If you are lucky, you can find plain tempeh in health food stores and in many supermarkets near you, either refrigerated or frozen.

Where Can I Buy Tofu?

You can buy tofu at your local supermarket or grocery store or health food store in a refrigerated section.  It comes in packaged bricks or blocks.

In Asian Markets tofu is often sold in bulk with blocks floating in tubs of water.

What is a Substitute for Tofu?

A tofu substitute you can use is edamame  – which are green soybeans.  They are soft, yummy beans that are very satisfyingly chewy and rich – kind of like an avocado and a peanut, but much less oily.  I find they fill me up quite quickly probably due to their protein, fiber and the fat content (the essential kind of unprocessed fat we need to eat a little of each day).

Edamame are not processed like tofu, they are whole foods.  Edamame are a specialty soybean grown specifically to be picked and used in their immature stage. Edamame has small, fuzzy, dark green pods and a mild flavor. These soybeans have a higher protein and fat content than other beans.  Their protein is complete, meaning that it provides the essential amino acids needed in one’s diet. Soybeans are equivalent to animal products in terms of protein quality.

If you are lucky, you can find two types of edamame in your frozen vegetable section: shelled or still in their pods. The package directions will indicate if they are already cooked and ready to be thawed and eaten or if you need to steam or microwave them first.

The edamame in pods are great as a snack — you have to work to pop each slippery soybean out.  My daughter loves to sit and shell them for herself.  

The pre-shelled edamame are faster and can be used instead of tofu in your cooking.  

Edamame Nutrition

A half-cup serving of shelled edamame (or 1 1/8 cup edamame in the pods) contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 9 grams fiber
  • 2.5 grams fat
  • 1.5 grams polyunsaturated fat (0.3 grams plant omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 0.5 gram monounsaturated fat
  • 11 grams protein
  • 13 grams carbohydrate
  • 15 mg sodium
  • 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin C
  • 10% Daily Value for iron (quite high for a plant food – about as much as a 4-ounce roasted chicken breast.)
  • 8% Daily Value for vitamin A
  • 4% Daily Value for calcium

All health content on veganenvy.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider.

 

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