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Nutritional Benefits of Tofu

Can I eat tofu without cooking it? Or I must cook tofu before eating it?
(December 13, 2010)

Tofu Raw Food 

Tofu is a highly nutritious food item, which is derived from soybean. Also known as soybean curd (or bean curd), it is an important feature of most vegetarian and vegan diets, since it is very high in calcium as well as protein. When marinated, tofu soaks up spices, herbs, condiments and other flavor enhancers very easily. Moreover, several people who are vegetarian add tofu to soup, salads, appetizers and main dishes, in place of meat. Since many people are exploring the concept of raw foods and raw food diets, the often ask nutritionists if they can eat tofu raw.


However, in order to know if eating raw tofu is acceptable of not, you will need to look at the source that you get the tofu from.

Can you eat tofu raw?

It is a well known fact that some of the nutrients that are present in certain foods diminish upon being cooked. Therefore, several people who are into health and fitness like to eat raw foods, in order to preserve the nutrients that are present in the foods. Such people usually eat a lot of raw salads, sushi, smoothies, soup and fruits and so on. Since the nutrition content in tofu is quite high and since it can enhance the taste of any salad or soup, there are many people who ask professional nutritionists questions like “can you eat raw tofu?”, “can you eat tofu without cooking it?” or “how to eat tofu raw?”. Moreover, people who are on a raw food diet usually believe that because of its consistency and texture, bean curd or tofu makes the perfect base for raw food cheesecake, raw chocolate mousse as well as a wide variety of other scrumptious but raw desserts, that belong to a vegan diet. However, there are a few factors that should be considered, before eating or serving any tofu raw food.

There are some people who prepare raw tofu at home, using soy milk and Epsom salts. They believe that homemade tofu will probably last longer and can be used in a tofu raw diet for a longer time. However, making tofu at home and preserving it requires a lot of effort and if there is a slight error in the preparation the tofu could be completely inedible. Hence, it is a lot safer and much more economical to purchase fresh tofu from a supermarket.

In the United States, you can either buy tofu, in a vacuum sealed package or in a container that has been packed with water. If you are wondering “can I eat tofu raw?” you need to see if the tofu you have bought is pre-cooked and whether it is in an aseptic package. If it is, you can eat the tofu raw, i.e., without even boiling or steaming it.

However, if the tofu is packed in water, it probably means that it is not in an airtight container. Moreover, since the tofu is packed in water, it will be on the softer side. The chances of the soft tofu attracting bacteria are very high. These bacteria get destroyed when the tofu is cooked, but eating tofu raw could allow the bacteria to get into your system, since they have not been destroyed by the cooking procedure. The problem is that if the tofu looks fresh and smells fine, people do not realize that it could contain harmful bacteria. Due to this, there have been several instances of people suffering from food poisoning, after they eat tofu raw.

Hence, while you may be able to eat raw tofu, it is strongly suggested recommended that you refrain from doing so, as much as possible. You do not need to cook it too much, since that could reduce its nutritional value and change its texture. Instead, you can rinse the tofu thoroughly and then boil it for around 5 or 10 minutes. It is perfectly acceptable to then place the tofu in an airtight container and let it chill in a refrigerator for a while.

How to eat tofu raw?

There are quite a few ways in which tofu can be eaten in its raw form. You could just cut the tofu into bite size pieces and sprinkle some soy sauce over it. Adding green onions on top enhance their flavor significantly. Some people use ground ginger as a base on which the tofu is place before the soy sauce is poured over it. In some countries, people simply cut tofu into bite sized cubes and dip them in a sauce before eating them.

Given below is a recipe for Greek Salad with Tofu, which can be included in a tofu raw diet.

Ingredients:

• 16 ounces tofu, firm
• ½ cup of black olives
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 large tomatoes, chopped
• 1 large cucumber, sliced
• 1 head of lettuce
• 1 teaspoon basil
• 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
• ¼ teaspoon oregano
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt

Method

• Rinse the tofu thoroughly and cut it into bite sized cubes
• Place the tofu cubes in a large or a medium sized mixing bowl
• In another mixing bowl, add the basil, wine vinegar, oregano, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, to make a marinade
• Pour the marinade over the tofu cubes and set it aside for at least an hour or so
• In the mean time, separate the leaves of the lettuce head, wash them thoroughly and allow them to dry.
• After an hour, add the sliced cucumbers, onion, tomatoes and black olives to the tofu and toss all the ingredients lightly.
• Spread the lettuce leaves on a plate and pour the tofu and vegetable salad over them
• The salad can be served immediately, or can be placed in the refrigerator for a short while

It is best to consult a dietician for the recommended servings of tofu that can be consumed each day. Like any other product, an excess of soy or tofu can be harmful to the health.

Submitted by A V on December 13, 2010 at 11:02

 

Soybeans are used to make tofu. It is extremely nutritious as it is very high in calcium and protein. In addition it is able to, when added to marinades and spices, soak up new flavors.  Most vegetarians find tofu a good alternate for meat and you use it in different ways. To answer your question “Can You Eat Tofu Raw? - Can I eat tofu without cooking it? Or I must cook tofu before eating it?” the answer is a yes and a no. Read on to know more

Tofu is generally packed in water or comes in a vacuum sealed package. If the tofu you pick up is pre-cooked and in an aseptic package there is no need to boil it or steam it before use. You can directly use it. Tofu that is packed in water however, is not airtight. Chances of bacteria and air getting into the package are high. As tofu is soggy to some extent, it tends to attract bacteria very easily. These bacteria get destroyed when tofu is added to food and there is no problem. When it is used raw, the bacteria are not destroyed. As a result of this you might get a stomach ache or mild food poisoning. This happens because it is very difficult to detect bacteria on tofu that is “raw”. You assume that since the tofu looks good and smells fresh, it is fine to eat it. But you are mistaken.

It is therefore very important to rinse and boil the tofu for about 5-10 minutes before you use it. Then place slices of it on a ceramic tray and chill in the refrigerator. When chilled, go ahead and use it in your recipes. Thus, to sum up, you can use tofu raw, provided it is vacuum sealed. Else it needs to be boiled or as an alternative, steamed.
Here are a few ways to eat tofu without cooking it:
  • You can use soy sauce to enhance the taste of the tofu. Simply cover the tofu with the sauce and use green onions to top it. It tastes really delicious. As an alternative, you could use some ground ginger as a base to place the tofu on and then pour a little soy sauce on it.
  • If you are looking forward to eating chilled tofu, simply make cubes of your tofu block and place it on a base of ice while serving. You can serve soy sauce alongside and can use chopsticks to lift the tofu and dip it into the soy sauce.
Submitted by C N on May 25, 2010 at 07:58

 

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