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Paneer/Cottage Cheese is a food item on the buying list of every mother. A rich source of protein, no mother wants his kids to be deprived of this luxury.

But isn’t paneer getting boring?

New foods are being introduced daily in the market, but we are too scared to try them just because we, as a kid, never had them.

One such unknown food that is making its mark as a replacement of paneer is Tofu.

If you look carefully, you can find them in your local dairy shops. For the western world, it is quite a simple food and easy to use. But for us, it is still a mystery to understand its need in our routine.

So, let me first explain….

What is Tofu?

Tofu looks like paneer, but unlike paneer which is made from regular milk, tofu is made from soymilk.

what-is-tofu
Image: draxe.com

When soybeans are soaked in water, it creates soymilk. This soymilk is then curdled with lemon juice or vinegar. The curds are then separated from the whey and given a shape of a block. These blocks are sold under the name of ‘Tofu’.

It is available in various forms from soft to extra firm depending upon the amount of water retained in the process.

Is tofu healthy or good for you?

Tofu is a good source of dietary protein and contains all the essential amino acids.

health-benefits-of-tofu
Image: smilingbody.ie

It is also a good source of iron, calcium, and minerals like manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. Low in fat (lower than paneer), it provides all the necessary health benefits of soybeans.

100 gm of tofu contains:

  • 70Kcal
  • 3.5gm fat
  • 8.2gm protein
  • 1.5gm carbohydrate

Types of tofu

There are 2 types of tofu: Silken and Regular.

Silken Tofu, referred to as Japanese style tofu is very soft and silky. It has a more delicate texture and falls apart easily. Silken tofu is packed with very little water and hence, doesn’t need to be drained before use. Silken tofu is labelled with different consistencies like soft, medium, firm, and extra firm depending upon the quantity of water it contains. It is one of the best options to prepare creams, sauces, mayo, and dressings.

types-of-tofu
Image: tofupedia.com

Regular Tofuis popularly known as Chinese style tofu. It is not as creamy as silken tofu and hence, can be easily used in hard cooking. It is also labelled under different consistencies from soft to extra firm depending upon the level of water present in it.

Firm and extra firm quality can be used in dry, stir fried vegetables, baked goods or other cooking in which one wants tofu to retain its original shape. Medium regular tofu is denser with low water content and needs to be drained before cooking.

How to Cook Tofu?

This is a major question that bothers every mother.

how-to-cook-tofu
Image: pinchofyum.com

Now, why should you deviate from your routine and try something new? Paneer is well-known and easy to cook. So why experiment?

But, isn’t childhood all about experimenting with daily flavours?

This is the best time to inculcate a habit to eat everything and not shy away from new ingredients.

How to make Child Eat Healthy food?

Tofu has a very bland flavour. It is neither sweet nor salty. Marinating Tofu with spices and sauces before cooking infuse a flavour from inside out.

Consider it like an empty canvas on which you can paint your cooking style.

Various ways to cook tofu are:

  1.  Air frying : It is a new method of oil free cooking and many people opt for it. Coat the marinated tofu with corn starch and breadcrumbs, and air fry it for 20 minutes to get the crispiest tofu chips. Toss tofu in between to cook it evenly.
  2. Pan Frying: For people who are less innovative in kitchen and prefer traditional ways can panfry tofu as well. Make sure that the pan is a non-stick pan. Add marinated tofu and cook it with a little oil first. When the tofu is golden brown, add your favourite vegetables, rice, noodles, etc.
  3. Steaming: Add tofu to stir fried vegetables with little water, cover, and let the steam do its magic. Tofu can also be added to steamed foods like momos and idlis. Marinated tofu soaks more flavour via steaming. However, tofu will not get crunchy with this method.
  4. Baking: Tofu can be added to baked items. Use silicon baking to keep the food from sticking.
  5. Grilling: Another method to cook tofu without oil is grilling. Add it to your favourite grilled sandwiches or make tofu kebabs.

7 Healthy Cooking Ways for your Family

Easy Tofu Recipes for Beginners

For your ease and understanding, here are some easy home-cooked Tofu recipes to help you and your family adapt to it.

Don't know how to cook Tofu? Here are some easy tofu recipes to try at home and introduce tofu in your family. #MomandMe #healthyrecipes #tofurecipes

5-Spice Tofu and Bean Sprout Rice

The five spices namely star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, cinnamon, and cloves are what make this recipe extra-ordinary. Addition of tofu and bean sprouts brings health. Enjoy the charm of rice with submissive flavours and dominating aromas. It’s Chinese at home!

Tofu-bean-sprout-rice
Image: pinterest.com

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cooking Time: 5 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tsp 5 spices powder
  • ½ cup firm tofu
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • 3 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup sliced spring onion whites
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat oil in a wok (Kadhai) and add spring onion. Sauté on a high flame for 1 minute.
  2. Add the bean sprouts, 5 spices powder and sauté on a high flame for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice, salt, and mix well. Stir occasionally and cook for another minute.
  4. Add tofu and mix gently. Cover the lid and let it simmer for another 2 minutes so that the aroma mixes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Serve hot garnished with spring onion greens.

Tofu Chila

Your favourite fingerfood is back but with a healthy twist. It provides iron and proteins in optimum amounts.

tofu-chila
Image: enrichingyourkid.blogspot.com

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 15 mins

Serves: 6 chilas

Ingredients:

For Batter

  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup moong sprouts (whole green gram)
  • 2 tbsp besan (Bengal gram flour)
  • ½ tsp finely chopped green chillies
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste

For Stuffing

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ cup grated onions
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped tomato
  • ½ cup tofu
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

For Greasing

  • 1.5 tsp oil for greasing and cooking

Method

For Stuffing

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and sauté on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, tofu, coriander, and salt. Toss gently and sauté on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously.
  3. Cool and divide the stuffing in 6 equal portions. Keep it aside.
  4. Prepare a batter of flowing consistency by adding all the ingredients.

How to proceed

  1. Heat a non-stick girdle (tawa)and grease it with oil.
  2. Spread a ladleful of batter on tawa and rotate in a circular motion so as to form a pancake.
  3. Cook it until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Place a portion of the stuffing on one side and roll the chila over it.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining batter and stuffing.
  6. Serve hot with chutney/ketchup.

Chickpea, Tofu, and Spinach Curry

Preparation of curry is very important in every household and what other ingredients than tofu, chickpea, and spinach to provide the richness of nutrients in this curry. Easy to prepare and an innovative method, you can try this curry in your routine.

chickpea-tofu-spinach-curry
Image: cocooncooks.com

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 25 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chickpeas, boiled
  • 2 cup tofu, patted dry and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3.5 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method

  1. Heat oil in a wide wok/ deep pan. Add onion, garlic, ginger and sauté on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder and mix it well with the ingredients. Allow the spices to roast for a minute. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add coconut milk and season it with salt.
  4. Add chickpeas and tofu. Let the milk come to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer all the ingredients for 5 to 10 minutes. The coconut milk should be reduced and become like a creamy velvety sauce.
  5. Add spinach leaves 1 cup at a time and mix them right before turning off the heat.Cover the lid and let spinach leaves wilt in the curry.
  6. Serve immediately. You can garnish it with fresh cream, Kasturi Methi and fresh coriander.

Spinach and Tofu Dip

The nutty flavour and texture of tofu complements the spinach very well, thus making this dish a perfect combination of mouth feel along with health.

spinac-tofu-dip
Image: sunrise-soya.com

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 5 mins

Serves: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup blanched and chopped spinach
  • ¾ cup tofu cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • ¼ cup sliced onion
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat ½ tbsp oil in a broad non-stick pan. Add onions and sauté on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
  2. Combine the onions, spinach, tofu, lemon juice, oregano, 1 tbsp oil, salt and pepper, and blend in a mixer to have a sauce like consistency.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a deep bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Serve chilled with nachos or chips.

Conclusion

The market is full of new foods. The old ones are trustworthy, but the new ones are also worth a try.

It’ stime that we start introducing them to our kids. In comparison to modern lifestyle, these foods are more compatible to retain health in the long term.

Add tofu to your rice, pasta, noodles, dumplings, kebabs etc. where ever you used paneer and go tofu pro!

What do you think about introducing tofu in your family?

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Dr Vinita Vashist

Hi, I am Dr Vinita, a homoeopathic medical professional and a post-graduate in Dietetics and Nutrition. Intrigued by the role of diet in one’s health, I share my ideas and knowledge on this blog to help parents understand the important nutrients required for their child’s health, which they cannot substitute later in life. It will help you and I understand the basic problem of today’s generation regarding nutrition and how can you inculcate healthy eating habits in your child.

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