How to Judge the Healthiness of Grain Products

How to Judge the Healthiness of Grain Products

How to choose healthy bread and baked goods from the nutrition label

Trying to decide what kind of bread to buy?  What granola bar, cookie, snack food, bagels, banana bread, or what pancake mix is best?

Two tips for you:

  1. Make sure the package says “whole grain”, so that you get all the vitamins and fibre from the bran of the grain.
  2. Use the 5-to-1 Rule of Carbs to Fibre

Whole Grains Only Please

Manufacturers are tricky about hiding refined grains, labels with “multigrain, or “stone-ground” or “100% wheat”, “cracked wheat”, “seven-grain” or “bran” are usually NOT a whole grain product. They are trying to hide the fact that they are using non-whole grains.

Look for the specific words together “whole grain” in front of the ingredient.  Such as “whole grain wheat”, or “whole grain corn” or even “whole grain white wheat” (white wheat is a type of wheat).  Then, apply the 5-to-1 rule to double-check it’s healthy.

The 5-to-1 Rule

Dr. Gregor from recommends the 5-to-1 carbs to fibre rule in his book How Not To Die.  This book is full of information about foods and studies showing how certain foods prevented or reversed or caused disease in study participants.

The 5-to-1 rule says: choose products that have a ratio of carbohydrates grams to fibre grams that is 5 or less.

Refined grains are going to have a higher ratio than 5 because they have too many carbs and not enough fibre.

Look at the Nutrition Facts on the package, divide the grams of carbs by the grams of fibre, if it is 5 or less, then it’s a healthy product.

If the result is more than 5 then you are not getting enough fibre compared to the amount of carbs in that product – skip it.

A ratio higher than 5 means it’s probably made from white flour and or has a lot of sugar added.

Amazing Book 

How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

This book has a great deal of science based information about foods that have been proven to prevent and reverse disease.

For example,

the Blue Menu pancake mix that I veganized in my Whole Weekend Waffles recipe, has 21 g of carbohydrate and 5 g of fibre.

21 g / 5 g = 4.2 carbs to fibre ratio – the ratio is 5 or less and is low enough to fit in the healthy category.


Example 2 – Let’s compare the carbs to fibre ratio in this Aunt Jemima Mix:Image of nutrition facts for aunt jemima pancake mix

For Aunty Jemima Carbs: 27 g / Fibre 1 g = the ratio is 27.  Wow! Big difference.  Definitely over 5!  Avoid products like this.

Something for you to know… breakfast cereals are going to be higher than 5 for the most part… not healthy.  Too much sugar, not enough fibre – ’cause guess why?  They are too processed.

Why Does the 5-to-1 Ratio Matter?

More fibre per carb gram means the grain is closer to it’s original natural state.

There is more about this in the How Not to Die Book, but some important information to know is that when grains are ground into flour or puffed, they are handled by our bodies very differently than whole intact grains.

Ground flours are digested more rapidly and completely.  This raises their glycemic index and leaves fewer leftovers for the microbiome of bacteria in your gut.

When grains are processed into flour, almost all of the starch is digested in the small intestine, leaving nothing for your lower gut bacteria.  If this happens a lot in your body, it results in an imbalance, and bad bacteria can take over and increase your chances of inflammatory diseases or colon cancer.

So, ground whole grains are better than refined because they leave more behind for your gut bacteria, and unprocessed intact whole grains are the best.

What I’ve been saying!  Whole plant-based foods.  They will make you thinner too – harder to overeat on whole grains…

If you want to go even healthier with your breakfast, skip grains that have been ground into flours, and go for intact whole grains – like oatmeal.

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How to Eat Vegan for Energy and Weight Loss – For Adults and Kids

How to Eat Vegan for Energy and Weight Loss – For Adults and Kids

Funny vegan meme with Dr. Evil from Austin Powers laughing. "How vegans react when we see food pyramids."

How to Eat a Healthy Vegan Diet and Be Thin and Active – For Adults and Children

The following recommendations are based on hours of research on the latest scientific findings about human populations and measurable effects of diet on longevity and health, from leading plant based medical doctors.

Plus, we have used trial and error of different types of meals/proportions and recommend this daily eating guide, based on how we feel ourselves, how much energy we have, how much we weigh, and what our kids want to eat.

Image of an active vegan family at a lake.

When we first went whole foods vegan we lost weight very quickly, results are immediate.

You can expect the same.  Greg lost 20 lbs down to 190 lbs and I lost 6 lbs down to 122 lbs in 4 weeks.  I especially noticed weight loss on my upper arms, around my ribs and my legs.  I bet we lost a lot of fat around our internal organs too, fat there is really unhealthy.

Over the last couple years, we started eating a bit too much starch,

my husband had gained weight (even as a vegan) back up to 210 lbs and I was feeling low energy, but still weighed about 122 lbs.

Increasing our dark leafy greens resulted in fast weight loss and higher energy.

In April of 2017 we discovered Dr. Furhman’s recommendations and increased the proportion of the most nutritious vegetables (leafy greens) eating those instead of as much whole grains.

My husband went from 210 lbs to 193 lbs in 4 weeks eating more dark leafy vegetables.

I went from 122 lbs to 115 lbs, and my energy levels went way, way up.


Based on our trials and experience since 2013, I share our vegan eating tips with you.

For us the key to staying vegan is to remain focused on our health goals and environmental goals.

It’s really quite easy to stay whole foods vegan because our stomachs feel so much better, and if we eat animal products we don’t feel good.

Use these pie chart proportions to plan the best way to eat vegan, for lots of energy, and to lose and maintain weight without effort.

We are still gradually losing weight eating the following way (unless we get lazy and eat a bunch of restaurant meals, or buy a packaged snack).

I expect I might stabilize around 112lbs and Greg around 185lbs – right at the weights Dr. Furman recommends for our heights for maximum life span.

Studies show skinny people live longer.

Adult Meal = Greens + Fruit or Vegetable + A Little Starch + A Little Protein

Use the percentages in the adult vegan proportions pie chart as a guideline for a single day.

For adults, think about meals as firstly being composed of a vegetable (lunch and supper) or fruit (breakfast), then add a little whole grain starch and some protein or nuts with a no oil dressing/sauce/spices.

If you want to lose weight really quickly, and actually increase your energy, start most adult lunch and supper meals with a plate of dark leafy greens, like spinach. Pile the meal (made of vegetables, starch, and protein) on top.  Have a fruit for a bedtime snack.

Beans are the perfect protein because they are the right amount of protein and carbs.  You can eat vegetables and beans with no starch and get lots of energy.  This makes a great lunch.  Typically we will add a bit of starch at dinner, because it tastes great.

Kids Meal = Starch + Vegetable or Fruit + A Little Protein

Use the percentages in the children vegan proportions pie chart as a guideline for a single day.

For kids, because they need more energy, and can resist some vegetables and resistant to sauces that give calories, think about kids meals as first being composed of a whole grain starch such as potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, corn, or quinoa.

Then fill 1/3 the plate with vegetables or fruit and 1/4 with a protein.  Most kids love tofu and plain beans and lemon juice as a sauce.

I get my kids to eat dark leafy greens by including spinach or bok choy in soup, pizza sauce, and spaghetti sauce.  Especially in soup.  We eat soup once a week for supper plus lunch leftovers.  They enjoy plain romaine lettuce, but we are working on salads more than that.  It is a work in progress.

My kids love plain broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots and cabbage.  They really love plain vegetables.  So they eat vegetables every dinner and most lunches as leftovers.  Our conflicts usually come from the fact that Greg and I want spices and sauces on our meals, the kids don’t.

Our kids eat whole grain cereal (Cheerios, Mini Wheats) with unsweetened soy milk for weekday breakfast, and whole grain waffles with loads of berries on top on weekends.

They like fruit and smoothies and toast with fruit for snacks.

General Guidelines – Follow These to Be a Healthy Whole Foods Plant Based Vegan

Eat only whole plant based foods.

As much as possible, choose “whole foods” – which means not altered from how it grew.

Olives instead of olive oil, an apple instead of apple juice.  Beans instead of protein powder or vegan nuggets.

For pasta, rice, oatmeal, and bread, whole grain instead of refined.  Whole wheat instead of white flour, brown rice, brown pasta, stone ground oats, or quick cooking oats, quinoa, barley, cornmeal.

Whole grains are the whole grain kernel with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact. Refined grains started out as whole grains, but then are processed to give them a finer texture and longer shelf life. During processing, the bran and germ are removed, which also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

Edamame soy beans are better than tempeh which is better than tofu which is better than soy milk.

Image of Comparison of Calorie Density and volume it takes in the stomach. What 500 calories looks like of oil, cheese, meat, potatoes, rice and beans and fruits and veggies.

Choose a rainbow of colours.

Try for some green and cruciferous vegetables daily.  Start adult lunch and supper meals with a plate of leafy greens. Pile the meal on top.  Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables over the course of a week, and over a month.


Image of Hippocrates quote on fresh vegetables: "Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food."

Choose foods that have the most nutrition per calorie.

This is the secret to high energy.  Vegetables have the highest nutrition per calorie.

Only eat foods that contain fibre.

Animal products contain no fibre. Processed foods with oils added often have reduced fibre.

High fibre ensures wonderful digestive regularity and health, poop once a day, no bloating, no acid indigestion, never diarrhoea, and no smelly gas.

Funny vegan meme, spraying air freshener: "When a meat eater uses your bathroom."

Cook supper at home most of the time.

Eat leftovers for lunch.  Entertain company often.  Our house, our food.

Avoid processed food and drinks.

No soda pop, no candy bars, or candy.  No purchased bags of snacks. Limited juice.

Drink tea.

Especially green tea. Glorious tea.

Do not cook with or use oils, margarine, or any added fats.

All veganEnvy recipes are no oil, fat-free.  Oils reduce arterial function and cause inflammation inside our bodies, plus they clog up our blood vessels leading to heart disease, erectile dysfunction, stroke, alzheimers, obesity and dementia.

Use dried dates/fruit instead of sugars and syrups.

Sugar (even less processed sugar, like brown sugar, honey and maple syrup) cause inflammation, dried fruits repair it.

Eat every two hours and take snacks with you everywhere you go.

Keep your body running and humming by continuously feeding it healthy nutrition filled fibre.  Take an apple, or orange, or yellow pepper or carrots or a banana with you if you run errands.  Have nuts and dried fruit in your desk drawer or whole grain fig newton type snacks for emergencies.  Choose whole fruits as snacks in between meals as much as you can.

Schedule a daily 3:00 green smoothie to stay energized throughout the afternoon and then you won’t get too hungry before dinner.

Image of Vegan meme: "Vegans be like: "It's ok, I brought my own." With many stacked containers full of food.

Eat vegan

Eat no animal products, no dairy, no fish, no eggs, no poultry, no beef.  No cheese, no sour cream, no yogurt.  If came from an animal do not eat it.

Image of bunny with vegan quote: "Animals are our friends, we don't eat our friends."

Don’t stress out about organic and GMO

You don’t need to eat organic or non GMO to get serious benefits and results from a plant based diet.

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.  We buy much of our produce in bulk at Costco, a good portion is organic, but not all of it.  The highest concentrations of pesticides are in animals, because they eat a lot of plants and it concentrates in them.  You are avoiding that.

Be flexible (go out and have fun!)

Accept that society makes it hard for children to eat vegan, (think birthday parties, school snacks, friends houses, kids menus) we let the kids pick what they eat when they are not in our house.  This usually means they eat animal products once or twice a week.

Eat added oils in restaurants, but try to avoid them.  Research in advance and choose restaurants with better healthy low fat vegan choices.

Drink low to moderate amounts of alcohol.

on some weekends.  Ok, sometimes we drink high amounts of alcohol, but we notice we recover quicker now that we are plant based, so hopefully we aren’t damaging our bodies too much!

Drink soy milk.

We used to drink Almond milk, but I feel more energetic after soy milk,  and I want the kids to get the protein from their drinks, so that is what we drink.

Take B12 and Vitamin D,

but no other supplements.

Exercise daily.

Typical examples for us include walking, Beachbody workout videos, jumping on our trampoline, swimming, watersports.

Practice body alignment exercises daily.

As we got older, we started suffering from aches and pains caused by our computer desk lifestyles.

The Pain Free book by Pete Egoscue gave us a way to simply manage muscular-skeletal issues from toes to top of our head, with simple exercises you can do while watching TV.  Changed my life.

Eat a bedtime snack.

My favourite is a whole fruit (oranges, apples are great) and a glass of low fat soy milk (about 70 calories per cup and 6g protein).  I can wake up in the night if I don’t have some protein (beans, nuts or soy milk) before bed.  If I have my protein snack I sleep soundly through the night.

If I do wake up, I drink a glass of soy milk and it puts me right back to sleep.

The rest of my family just likes fruit as their bedtime snack.  This habit ensures they get fruit every day.

Eat Spices

Use as many different spices as you can on every single meal.  Spices are concentrated plants and we are just learning about all the phytonutrients and benefits spices convey.

For example, 1 tsp daily of ginger powder totally works as a pain killer, especially for headaches and menstrual cramps.  Try it!


Please, let me know what you think and if you are confused about any of these recommendations in the comments!

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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 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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Get FREE healthy vegan information and recipes!


Adding Healthy Plant Based Meals to Your Menu is Easy!

Help others learn – share on social media!

What You Need to Know About Seaweed and Iodine for Vegan Nutrition

What You Need to Know About Seaweed and Iodine for Vegan Nutrition

Vegan sushi made with seaweed

Iodine – how much do you need and how should you get it?

Everyone needs iodine, but it’s especially important for vegans, since many healthy plant foods like flax, soy, and broccoli have compounds, which can interfere with thyroid function in people with not enough iodine intake, and cause goiter/goitre (British spelling) a swelling of the neck because of enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Does that mean you shouldn’t eat these “goitrogenic” foods? Definitely not, they have too many other benefits for you (preventing cancer and fibre, for example).

You just need to get the right amount of iodine in your diet.

If you cook with salt, then use iodized salt, instead of using natural sea salt, and you’ll probably get all the iodine you need.

Iodized salt contains 71 mcg of iodine in 1.5 g (approx 1/4 teaspoon) of iodized salt.

But what about whole foods vegans who avoid salt and oil?

If, for good reason, you don’t add salt to your food you need to get your iodine somewhere.



The best source of iodine is sea vegetables – or you can get it in iodized salt, or in a multivitamin.

Nori Seaweed Package
Laver Nori Nutrition Facts

7 grams of this dried seaweed has 70% of a person’s daily iodine needs.

Don’t cook with iodized salt? Seaweed is a good tasty option for getting iodine.

This table from the World Health Organization lists the recommended dietary allowances for iodine.

Crumbled dried nori seaweed

I urge you to get some dried, oil free, nori seaweed and start adding it to your meals, both for taste and for iodine.

Seaweed is especially tasty in soup.  Try my Bok Choy Tofu Soup, it calls for seaweed.

Dried seaweed adds a salty, base flavour and it is good for you, more than just for iodine.   Studies have shown seaweed inhibits human cancer cell growth, this video outlines a study where scientists found seaweed may have therapeutic potential for liver cancer.

Also, sea vegetables have lots of B vitamins and minerals – particularly iodine.

Just don’t overdo it with the seaweed.

Iodine Upper Limit Daily Intake

A problem with seaweed is: we can get too much iodine.


The World Health Organization places the safe upper limit for iodine at 1,000 micrograms a day for adults and 90 – 120 mcg for kids (depending on age).


Eating 300 micrograms or so of iodine could be too much for a five-year-old.


Make sure you and your family are within the daily limits for iodine by checking the seaweed label.


A little seaweed goes a long way as far as flavour is concerned, by adding a small amount to some of your meals you will find it is quite easy to get the amount of iodine you need, without going over.

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

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

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.


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


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).  


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.


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 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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