Tofu has a moment. Healthy and adaptable vegetable protein is steal shelves, with sales in the first half of 2020 40% higher than last year. Google searches for tofu recipes have also increased, almost doubling since March!
But what is tofu? While tofu originated in China and has been a staple in Asian countries for over 2,000 years, it is now enjoyed around the world. Also known as bean curd or soybean curd, tofu is a soft, cheese-like food made from condensed soy milk mixed with nigari and pressed into blocks. While inherently bland, tofu absorbs flavors easily and mixes well with other ingredients, making it incredibly versatile. It's also affordable, gluten-free, low in calories, and has 10 grams of protein and 400 milligrams of calcium per half cup!
Besides being healthy and inexpensive, tofu is easy to cook. These 15 mouth-watering vegan tofu recipes are simple to make and will satisfy you for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert!
Simple tofu quiche
This tasty vegan quiche is easy to prepare and makes the perfect breakfast. Naturally gluten-free, the quiche features a hash brown crust filled with roasted vegetables, silken tofu, hummus and nutritional yeast.
Breakfast Burrito with Tofu Scramble
This hearty breakfast burrito packed full of tasty tofu and potato scrambles for breakfast. You can mix and match this recipe with different vegetables and dressings.
Smoked tofu bacon
This smoked tofu bacon is made by squeezing and marinating sliced tofu. Chewy and delicious, it's the perfect way to start the day.
French toast with tofu
This rich fake french toast is gluten-free and has a decadent paste made from nutmeg, cinnamon and banana.
General Tso's Tofu Stir-Fry
According to Google Trends, Internet users are looking for a General Tso's jump recipe. Luckily, we've got you covered! This delicious breakfast is the perfect mix of sweet and savory and can be prepared in just 30 minutes.
Tofu Egg Salad Sandwich
Made with crumbled tofu and served with a spicy mustard dip, this tofu egg salad sandwich is the perfect starting point in the middle of a busy working day.
Thai green curry with tofu
This tasty curry is a blend of extra-firm tofu, fresh greens and green curry paste. It is delicious when eaten on its own or with rice or noodles.
Grilled Tofu Gyros
This grilled tofu is marinated in a blend of Greek-inspired seasonings and umami ingredients, so it's bursting with flavor.
Served over rice or bread, this Hearty vegan paneer take breaded tofu with spicy curry leaves and soy sauce and cover it with a tasty ginger, garlic and Sriracha sauce.
This tasty pie is filled with veggies, fresh herbs, spices and savory tofu, all under a flaky pie crust. Get ready for your whole home to smell like fall!
Buffalo Tofu Sliders
Crispy and soft, these Buffalo Sliders are served with a tahini ranch and will have the whole family wanting more.
Crispy sesame tofu
This healthy and high protein crispy sesame tofu can be served with cilantro-lime rice or seasoned white or brown rice. It's also delicious with cauliflower rice or broccoli!
Six Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie
Surprise! Tofu is a great ingredient for pies! This simple chocolate silk pie has a raw brownie crust and is filled with a creamy, chocolate-rich filling made with chocolate chips, silken tofu and coconut milk.
Chocolate peanut butter pudding
This instant pudding is made with just five simple ingredients (which you probably already have!) and is packed with protein. All you need is silken tofu, chocolate chips, plant-based milk, peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt.
Vanilla and pear pastry cream
You can create these romantic cream pies with only nine ingredients and two small pie tins! The rich custard is made from silky tofu, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
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It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot of undeniable and powerful energy surrounding the idea of change at this time of year. For many of us, that change starts in the kitchen.
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a saine appetite for grains, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary traditions around the world are already plant-based, which means that vegans and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary folklores to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal favorites ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new céréales, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and nutrition clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the options were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and matière of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tonalités of different céréales, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome texture that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and traditions. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all vegans eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, invite him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.