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Tofu... Is it Right for You?

By Annessa Chumbley, RD LDN and Ruthanne Hilbirch, RD


If you do not know what the food is, how to open it, or how to say its name, we can be certain you are never going to feel comfortable eating it! That’s why my colleague, Ruthanne Hilbrich, RD and I decided to help our patients get a handle on how to use unusual “health foods” …beginning with tofu. And guess what…we learned a lot about tofu and fell in love with its culinary abilities as well!


Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk, and pressing the resulting curds into blocks. Sounds delicious, right? The great thing is that tofu is high in protein and therefore can help patients achieve protein goals. It is also rich in vitamins, isoflavones, and some minerals such as iron and calcium. There are two main types of tofu you will find at the grocery store: silken/soft and firm/extra firm.


Since tofu does not carry much flavor of its own, this “chameleon food” can change its stripes to take on the flavors that surround it. This property makes tofu perfect for hiding in recipes, and increasing the nutritional value, without changing the original taste. Since introducing this soy food into our cooking classes, we have been amazed at how patients have embraced this unique product, and have been creating and transforming recipes of their own!


Here are some general ways to use this chameleon culinary acrobat:


1.)   Slip into protein shakes! Scoop a couple tablespoons of silken tofu into a protein shake to pump up the protein and nutrients in a silky way!

2.)   Beat into puddings. Transform regular pudding into powerful protein pudding by beating in silken tofu for a tasty, high-protein treat.

3.)   Cube into soups and stews. If patients are having trouble with meats, adding firm tofu into soups and stews is a perfect way to replace meat with a substantial food. Simply drain and press the liquid out of the firm tofu, then cube or shred it, and add to any meal!


Go create!


Tofabulous Crab Dip

Serves: 8, Serving Size: ½ cup



¾ cup soft tofu, finely chopped

¾ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp black pepper

8 oz low-fat sour cream OR fat-free Greek yogurt

1 can (6 oz) white-lump crabmeat

8 oz (1 cup) canned artichoke hearts (in water), chopped



Method of Preparation

Combine tofu, cheese, mustard, oregano, pepper and sour cream or yogurt into bowl. Gently fold in crabmeat and artichokes. Spoon mixture into a baking, dish and top with extra cheese and paprika. Bake @ 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Perfect for raw vegetables or high-protein pita crisps!


Nutrition Facts

Calories: 120, protein: 10 g, carb: 10 g, fat: 4.5 g, fiber 2 g



Ginger - Sesame Tofu Salad

Serves: 4, Serving Size: ½ cup



Juice of 1 small orange

8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained & diced into cubes

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped

2 tsp Splenda ®

2 small carrots, grated

1 tsp sesame oil, toasted

1 cup red cabbage, finely shredded

1 dash Sriracha chili sauce

2 Tbsp peanuts, chopped

½ tsp ginger root, grated

1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

2 cloves garlic, grated


Method of Preparation

In large bowl, mix the juice of an orange, soy sauce, Splenda ®, sesame oil, chili sauce, ginger and garlic. Place tofu cubes into the mixture and marinade 1 hour in the fridge. Toss the sugar snap peas, carrots, cabbage, & peanuts with the tofu and marinade to serve. Sprinkle the top with toasted sesame seeds!


Nutrition Facts

Calories: 140, protein: 7 g, carb: 10 g, fat: 6 g, fiber 4 g