Tofu 101: Everything You Need to Know About Cooking Tofu
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Is tofu healthy? Get answers plus 5 simple ways to cook tofu! 

Everything you Need to Know About Cooking Tofu

Who knew bean curd could be so versatile and nutrient-dense?  

Over the past few months, I’ve had several conversations with clients about tofu. Some of them have been interested in bringing more plant-based meals into their routine, while others have tried cooking it and it was a complete fail. 

I’ve also gotten the question about the safety of consuming soy- which is something many people are curious about. Simply put, tofu is like a blank canvas, able to be transformed into a multitude of both sweet and savoury dishes, and enjoyed in various textures. It is also quite affordable and has a long shelf life- two qualities we can all appreciate, as grocery prices continue to rise. 

Read on to learn what tofu is, some of the nutritional benefits of tofu, and tasty ways to incorporate tofu into your routine! 

What Is Tofu Anyways?

Tofu, which is sometimes referred to as bean curd or soybean curd, is made from soybeans. The soybeans are crushed and boiled, then the pulp is separated from the rest of the mixture, often called the “milk”. From there, it gets curdled, pressed into a block, and sets into the desired texture. Oftentimes your local grocer will carry “extra firm”, “firm”, “medium” and “silken tofu”- which is a smoother, custard-like variation. Believe it or not, you may find it in other forms depending on your store’s availability. Click here to read more about the different textures and how you can use each.

Fun fact: edamame beans are soybeans that are harvested when young and immature, whereas soybeans are left to dry and harden before harvesting

Health Benefits of Tofu 

  • Protein: If you’re interested in bringing more plant-based proteins into your routine, Tofu is a fantastic option. Unlike other plant proteins, tofu contains all the essential amino acids.  For every 3oz portion (which is comparable to the size of a deck of cards), you’ll get about 12g of protein.   
  • Calcium: Depending on the brand and firmness you choose, calcium ranges can vary. For example, more calcium sulfate is used when making firmer tofu, which could then provide upwards of 100mg of calcium per 3oz serving. 
  • Iron: Tofu can provide around 2mg of Iron per 3oz serving. As this is a plant-based, or “non-heme” iron source, including foods rich in vitamin C with your meal can help the body to better absorb it (think bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes etc..) 
  • Heart health Benefits:  Not only is tofu low in total fats, and very low in saturated fats, but research has shown that including soy regularly in the diet can help to lower cholesterol, and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Isoflavones:  Soy is a primary food source of this class of compounds, which can exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties. If you want to nerd out and read more about isoflavones, click here.

Is Soy Safe to Eat?  

This is such a common question that I get from my clients, and it’s understandable, considering the overwhelming amount of nutrition information there is out there! As mentioned earlier, soyfoods contain isoflavones, which are a type of plant estrogen (called phytoestrogen), and because of this, people get nervous about its potential hormonal impact. 

These phytoestrogen compounds have a much weaker effect, and can actually support symptoms experienced in menopause, and help prevent breast cancer recurrence. 

Whole soy foods such as edamame, soy milk, and tofu are safe for cancer patients, and eating soy regularly can help prevent cancer to begin with. In fact, rates of prostate and breast cancer are lower in Asian countries where soy foods are a regular part of an overall healthy diet.  

Lastly, neither soy foods nor isoflavones affect testosterone levels, precocious puberty, or gynecomastia. To read more about soy myths, click here.

5 Ways to Cook With Tofu: 

1. Stir fry it

Slice extra firm tofu and remove excess water with a tea towel. Cube it, pan-fry until golden, and add your favourite sauce. Now it’s ready to enjoy in wraps, rice bowls, pasta, you name it!  You can also marinate tofu before pan-frying. Click here to try this recipe. 

2. Scramble it

That’s right, you can use tofu instead of scrambled eggs if you so desire. These are a great option any time of day, in a wrap, with toast and roasted veggies, or simply on their own. Click here for inspo!

3. Make Pesto

Extra firm tofu can be blended alongside fresh basil, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, and parmesan (or nutritional yeast). Add to whole-grain bowtie pasta for a delicious, protein-packed meatless meal. 

4. Blend it

Silken tofu can add a wonderful creamy texture to your smoothies; and a punch of protein. Click here to try this banana coffee one! 

5. Plant-based lasagna filling

Use silken tofu in place of ricotta in your next veggie lasagna recipe. Mix in nutritional yeast, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper before layering. 

Scrambled Tofu

Looking for trending nutrition facts and healthy recipes?  

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites. 

Our Sound Bites newsletter is written by the competent Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice. 

Don’t miss out, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Looking for more tofu recipe ideas? Check out our other blog posts:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This