WHAT WILL YOU LEARN IN THIS ARTICLE?
- Is Tofu Vegan?
- Basic Ingredients of Tofu.
- Nutritional Composition of Tofu.
- Health Benefits of Tofu.
- Health Considerations of Tofu.
- Process of making Tofu.
- 7 Tofu Health Benefits That Will Surprise You! (Video)
- Bonus for Meat Lovers: Recipe to Make Tofu as a meat alternative (you will love it)
IS TOFU A VEGAN FOOD
Though tofu is by no means vegetable, it most certainly is a vegan food because it fits under the beans and legumes category.
Tofu is a soy protein made from pressed soybean curds with its traditional roots in Asian diets.
The food which is high in protein and minerals is popular in Asian dishes like pad thai, bibimbap, kung pao tofu, and mapo tofu among many others.
Due to its mild flavor, and it mostly inherits the taste of the sauces with which it is cooked.
CAN VEGANS EAT TOFU?
Although manufacturers may sometimes use nonvegan ingredients in their tofu, the standard tofu is definitely safe for vegans to consume.
There are exceptions such as stinky tofu, which is famous in Asian countries, is fermented using dairy milk or shrimp brine.
We can also talk about egg tofu, which is a Japanese dish made of eggs. It does not contain any plant-based tofu despite having the same texture.
However, if we are to talk about standard tofu, it certainly is 100% vegan and we will explore the standard ingredients in the next section.
When purchasing commercially made products that may be flavored and altered, always take caution to read the label to ensure that no nonvegan additives were used.
Here is an amazon link for the Vegan tofu I like.
WHAT IS TOFU MADE OF (THE BASIC INGREDIENTS)
We cannot talk about tofu without factoring in dried soybeans.
They are the cornerstone ingredient in creating tofu.
They are also very much a vegan ingredient as they are purely plant-based.
Soybeans are a nutritious source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K1, folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and thiamine.
The water is required for soaking the beans.
It is then boiled to create the milk base of the substance.
After the boiling process, the purpose of coagulants is to facilitate the reaction that transforms the soymilk into solid curds.
Calcium sulfate (gypsum) and Nigari salts are the ones normally used although in some instances acid and enzyme coagulants may be an option.
Needless to say, these are all safe for vegan consumption.
NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION OF TOFU
All the nine essential amino acids can be found in the protein-rich tofu.
Not only is it rich in protein but it is a reliable plant source of iron, calcium, manganese and phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1.
This is an example of an all-in-one highly nutritional natural supplement.
From a nutritional and health standpoint, it can certainly be a great substitute for meat-based protein.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TOFU
The soya protein according to credible research can assist in lowering levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
The food contains isoflavones – a group of amino acids found in many plant foods.
They resemble the structure of the hormone estrogen and thus mimic the action of estrogen produced by the body.
They naturally bind to estrogen receptor sites in human cells including breast cells – effectively lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Due to this fact, many women decide to include soy-rich foods like tofu in their diet as they enter menopause.
The natural production of estrogen significantly reduces during menopause.
As these isoflavones act as a weak estrogen, they may help relieve symptoms by boosting levels slightly, reducing hot flushes in some women.
There a many genetic and environmental factors in the body that play a role in how our body reaction different foods.
We thus cannot conclusively claim yet that a diet rich in isoflavones is beneficial for everyone.
Tofu and all soy products contain large amounts of oxalate.
Individuals with a history of kidney stones containing oxalate should avoid overconsuming soy products.
Before changing your diet, it is advisable that you speak to your GP or an alternative health professional.
Other than that if you are a vegetarian or vegan, soy-based foods like tofu can be an invaluable part of your diet.
THE PROCESS OF MAKING TOFU
Having mentioned the ingredients involved above, we will dive into the process of how tofu is actually made with a bit more detail.
When making tofu the initial step is soaking the soybeans and extracting the soy milk.
A coagulant is added to curd the milk.
After the coagulation, the resulting soya curds are then processed into tofu in the desired form, firstly in custard-like blocks.
A variety of textures may be produced, depending on the water content.
Tofu comes in soft, firm, extra-firm, silken, or liquid forms. There can also be a variety of tofu flavors
Step 1: Soaking the beans
Dried beans are soaked in water for 12 to 14 hours.
The beans soften as they absorb the water and double in size. They usually come in 60-pound (27 kg) sacks.
Step 2: Processing the soybeans
After the soaking process is complete, the beans are mashed using stone grinders or other pureeing machines and fused with water into a slurry which is then boiled to neutralize enzymes that inhibit digestion.
A roller press is then used to separate the soy milk from the pulp, which consists of the hull and fiber.
This process takes an estimated two hours to complete.
The remaining pulp can be used to feed livestock.
Step 3: Solidifying the soy milk
A coagulating agent such as calcium sulfate, magnesium chloride, or nigari is then mixed in.
The coagulant alters the pH and curds the milk much like the process for making cottage cheese.
This step takes approximately 20 minutes.
Step 4: Pressing the tofu
Traditionally the curds are pressed with hand-turned screw presses or simple lever presses.
The tofu may be pressed in cheesecloth-lined boxes.
Modern systems however use centrifuges or hydraulic presses.
The whey drains off, leaving soft blocks of pressed curds.
Tofu can be produced in a variety of textures, from a dense cheese-like texture to a softer or liquid form.
Step 5: Cutting the tofu
Automated cutters slice the cake tofu into one-pound (.45 kg) blocks.
The tofu blocks are washed in vats of water where they firm up and are stored until they are ready to be processed further.
Step 6: Packaging the tofu
Tofu may be packaged into shrink-wrapped blocks or continuous thermo-form packages.
Water may be added to the packages or tubs, and then they are sealed, weighed, and dated. Some companies process the soy milk directly in its package.
Step 7: Pasteurizing the tofu
The packaged tofu is pasteurized at about 180°F (82°C).
Pasteurization extends the shelf life of tofu to about 30 days.
The tofu is then chilled in water until it is ready to be placed into boxes and shipped to distributors.
Tofu must be refrigerated at below 45°F (7°C) to keep it fresh.
7 TOFU HEALTH BENEFITS THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU!
We hope you found this article informative.
Please refer to it time and again to reinforce your knowledge and also feel free to check out some of our other articles on the website as we help each other accomplish a fulfilling vegan lifestyle.
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Here is the bonus recipe!