3 Awesome Tofu Recipes You Need to Try

tofu and soya beans

If you recently discovered tofu and want some ideas about ways to cook it, this post is definitely for you. If you think you dislike tofu, this post is also for you. After all, it used to be the case for me until this year… It’s never too late to change your mind. And if you’re a tofu lover and already an expert, keep reading… You might still be inspired, who knows!

First of all, it’s important to keep an open mind when you try something new (especially when it comes to food). I used to really dislike tofu, but it plays a huge part in a plant-based diet. I had to ignore my childhood’s memories and at least give it another go as an adult. The first time I cooked with it was a complete fail… It took me 2 or 3 attempts before I mastered it. But I persisted, and now I’m glad I didn’t give up so easily.

What is tofu?

Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. Then the curdled fresh soya milk is pressed into a solid block and cooled… It’s not far from the process used for dairy cheese, made by curdling and solidifying milk. Except it’s healthier for you! This solid white block comes in varying softness: it can be silken, soft, firm, or extra firm.

Health benefits

It’s a great source of protein, probably one of the main reasons why it’s such a staple in a vegetarian / vegan diet. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, copper and zinc. In addition to this, tofu is a valuable plant source of iron and calcium. Can we say it’s healthier than meat? Yes, because just like meat, soy provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals – but without the cholesterol and saturated fat. Not to mention it’s a lot lower in calories. Basically, it can replace foods that may compromise your health.

Cooking with tofu

Tofu is pretty bland on its own, which makes it a very versatile ingredient. It will soak in any flavours you want to give it. But it could be a bit intimidating for beginners: how do you learn how to cook with it? Trying with my own ingredients didn’t work well, I had no idea what sauce and/or spice to add with it. So I decided to try a recipe box to give me a good basic knowledge, using Mindful Chef. They have a good range of recipes and you get delivered the exact quantities you need for each ingredient. It’s really convenient when you’re not sure what you’re doing at the beginning.

Below are 3 ways to cook tofu I recently learnt, thanks to them. I have to say I was really impressed with the results. Maybe it tasted even better because I put the effort in… For the 3 recipes below, indicated quantities are always for 2 people. I used the organic super-firm tofu from Dragonfly (300g) each time, which is really easy to find in any supermarket.

1. Tofu & apricot harissa tagine with quinoa

tofu apricot harissa

Here, it’s the apricot harissa that gives the main flavour to the dish. The method is simple: cut the tofu in cubes and add to a pan on medium-high heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to briefly colour all sides. Then you can add the sauce you mixed beforehand: 2 large diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tbsp apricot harissa paste and 50ml boiled water. It melts in the mouth and the after taste is the right mix of tomato and spice.

Add a bit of coriander if you like, and 20g of flaked almonds for the presentation. For the sides: 180g of green beans and 250g of quinoa are a good option. Total calories per person: 586.

2. Mexican-style beans with scrambled tofu & avocado

tofu scrambled eggs

Eggs are not part of a plant-based diet, so I was really excited to try the tofu version. You just have to scramble it into small pieces with your fingers. Then cook it in a pan on medium heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Stir for 10 minutes with a pinch of black pepper and 1/2 tsp turmeric, until it turns golden. Then add in 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and a pinch of chilli flakes. It tastes amazing!

The other ingredients added many colours on the plate and made the entire meal very appealing. You need 1 avocado and 120g baby plum tomatoes mixed with a handful of fresh coriander. For the Mexican-style beans: 240g kidney beans, 1 tbsp Mexican spice, 4 tbsp tomato puree and 40g baby spinach. Total calories per person: 573.

3. Sesame tofu & rice bowl

tofu in buddha bowl

Finally, if you fancy a salad-type meal, this recipe is great and doesn’t require much cooking. Tofu is cooked like in the first recipe but cut in triangles instead (or whatever shape you fancy, after all). For the dressing: peel and grate 4cm fresh ginger and add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp rice vinegar. Mix well and add in the saucepan once the tofu has turned golden in colour.

Simply cook 250g brown basmati rice for the base. And for the rest of the salad: grate 100g carrot, thinly slice 1 baby cucumber and 60g radishes. You could also add some kimchi or anything else you want. Sprinkle some sesame seeds for the final touch. That’s it! Total calories per person: 481.

Do any of these 3 recipes take your fancy?

If you’re convinced about the many health benefits of tofu and want to explore further, you can easily find online tons of other great tofu recipes. Let me know how you cook it!

Big Girl x

Surprising Things I Discovered After Going Vegan for a Month

Every year since 2014, some people commit to Veganuary by adopting a vegan diet for a month – in January. I would have never considered it in the past but this year I was intrigued… We all have preconceived ideas about the unknown, so why not try and see if they’re actually valid? And if it’s the most effective way to save the planet, it’s probably worth keeping an open mind. But not at all costs! Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, I want to keep enjoying it. Sticking to what you know is always easier… So let me tell you the main 3 things I learnt after trying it myself for a month:

1. It’s actually quite easy to eat vegan every day

If your main reason for going vegan is the environment and/or the animals, then it’s not difficult to stick to it. First of all, many popular foods are already vegan (potatoes, rice, pasta, fruits…). Treats and things that are not especially good for you (like biscuits, sweets, etc) are easy to fit in a vegan diet too, if you read the labels properly. Secondly, more and more companies diversify their range to offer vegan options. Meat alternatives are everywhere nowadays (especially in big cities like London) so it’s really not difficult to avoid animal products. They’re not always the healthiest as some of them are highly processed, but they are a great way to help you while you’re transitioning. You won’t have to eat fries everyday to have a clear conscience.

Basically, if your health is not the main reason, the switch will be relatively easy. It’s when you want to have a healthy and balanced diet (as you should) that things can get a bit more complicated… Especially if you’re a fussy eater like me. But even that turned out to be a lot easier that I anticipated.

2. A vegan diet is very varied and not boring at all

If you asked me several months ago what I thought about a vegan diet, I would have said I wasn’t interested in eating lettuce everyday. I didn’t understand how you could enjoy life with “boring” food. I thought it was a sacrifice not worth doing. It was made worse by the fact I’ve always disliked vegetables (especially the green ones…).

Now I wish I did it sooner

Take it from someone who had a lot of negative opinions about veganism not so long ago. Someone who would never willingly put vegetables on their plate… I realise how ignorant I was to have never tried most of the foods available! Don’t get me wrong, it seems daunting to remove from your diet all products derived from animals. Because they’re literally everywhere. But I can honestly tell you I eat a lot more varied now than I ever have in my entire life.

I’m always looking forward to my next meal

I now feel I have almost too much choice when I prepare the food plan for the week. Before it was a lot easier to plan our meals, it was always the same thing (roast chicken, beef burger or salmon, with either rice, fries or pasta). Now I feel like I should do a food plan for the entire month, just so I can fit in everything I fancy. And my cupboards have never been so full of varied things!

In fact, I added so many things in my diet by going vegan. Things I didn’t even know existed. Things I’m now willing to try because I realised I don’t even know what it tastes like. It also forces me to play more with spices and sauces, giving amazing flavours to every meal.

3. Eating cruelty-free makes food more enjoyable

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that no animals have been killed to feed me… But something makes the whole eating experience very rewarding. You know when you feel guilty after eating too much for example? It’s usually because you know it’s not good for your body to overeat. But I wonder if it could also be because most of the time food industries control what you eat, not you. By cooking with plants I don’t experience that guilt anymore. And eating used to make me feel a bit lethargic after each meal… Like I would need all of my body’s energy just to digest it. That feeling is gone too.

Eating vegan also makes cooking more enjoyable, because I don’t have to deal with what used to put me off before: blood from a steak, nerves from chicken, fat from bacon, etc. When I cook with raw ingredients only involving plants, the smell in the kitchen feels a lot more “natural”. I eat more for less calories and feel full for longer, without any sluggish feeling afterwards. It means I have more energy and feel “lighter” at the same time. It’s a win in all aspects!

Other things I discovered:

  • Because I eat a lot more fibre than I used to, my digestive system has improved a lot (my guts are happier)
  • I haven’t missed meat at all, not once…
  • Cooking with tofu is actually quite fun, it’s such a versatile ingredient and an excellent source of proteins
  • I would pick a plant-based burger over a beef burger without hesitation
  • Cauliflower can be an amazing snack
  • Cashews are used a lot in vegan meals to give a cheesy flavour
  • We can “learn” to appreciate healthy food and even thrive for it
  • I get to be more creative with my cooking skills and it makes me feel proud when my partner enjoys a home-cooked meal – I can’t wait to invite friends & family to try
  • There is so much more to vegan food than simply tofu, cauliflower and cashews… These are my personal favourites for now, but I still have so much more to experience and discover (a month is far from being enough!)

Going forward

I considered Veganuary like a test and I passed it. So I’ve decided, I’m not going back to my previous diet! Why would I even consider eating meat again with all the benefits I discovered from a plant-based diet? Long term, the only thing I may find hard to never eat again is salmon. It’s difficult because it’s an obvious source of omega-3 and also it tastes great (I especially love salmon sushi). It’s still an animal product though! And if we don’t do anything, our oceans will be empty in the next few decades. It’s as simple as that. Making the wrong choice would be a way to contribute to this huge killing machine that is destroying our planet.

Would you not consider changing your eating habits if it meant saving the planet, the animals and yourself at the same time?

Big Girl x