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TOFU- the OTHER white meat

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Tofu has been around for centuries as a staple in many diets. Chinese legend has it that tofu was an invention to Prince Liu An (179-122 BC). It is very popular in East and Southeastern Asian cuisines and is an important source of protein in the vegetarian diet of East Asian Buddhism.  Tofu can be a great alternative to meat as it is considered to be a complete protein containing all essential amino acids we need to be healthy. Tofu also has soy isoflavones (organic compounds that act as phytoestrogens in mammals), is low in fat and calories, and may reduce cholesterol and heart disease risks.

Tofu is made from pressed and drained coagulated soy milk. It comes in a variety of firmness; so go by the recipe’s recommendation, as most varieties of firmness are not interchangeable. For those that are unfamiliar with tofu here are a couple of tips: treat it like you would any raw ingredient like raw chicken. You would not eat raw chicken; you would marinate, season, grill, bake it and so on. Tofu can be full of flavor if it prepared correctly. Tofu also pretty much goes with any combination of flavors, not just Asian style. I like to experiment with fresh herbs on it, rubbing it with different spice blends or marinating and then grilling it on my barbeque. Here is one of my recipes that uses mediterranean style cooking, spices and techniques MEDITERRANEAN TOFU MEDLEY

I suggest starting off with firm ORGANIC sprouted tofu. The firm texture is more palatable, organic to avoid unwanted chemicals and the sprouted varieties are easier to digest. Tofu comes in blocks and is submerged in water to keep it fresh. After opening, always store tofu in fresh water in a container that is resealable. Tofu can be a great addition to quiche, eggs, stir fried vegetables, sushi and in stuffing too. Before I add my tofu to any dish, I cut into small dices and give it a quick browning in a frying pan with a little oil. This makes it a little firmer and it holds together better in my recipes. Once you get used to firm tofu, try the other varieties of firmness in a recipe that you have found, you might be pleasantly surprised.

I have used tofu as an alternative for years in recipes and have come up with a few of my own. I encourage you to incorporate tofu into your diet. Go ahead and experiment with different recipes, remember to season it well and have fun with tofu—the other white meat.

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