The Many Ways to Eat Soy in a Soy Protein Diet: Tofu and Tempeh

Tofu

What is Tofu?

Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is a popular way to eat soy protein in Asian cultures. It is a soft, cheese or custard-like curd. You can buy it in firm, soft, and silken varieties. It’s available in many different flavors. You can also buy it with no flavor at all. Tofu’s neutral and versatile qualities make it easy to blend in with many different types of recipes.

Buying Tofu

There are six retail makers of tofu. You can buy it in the supermarket or in specialty grocery stores that sell health and natural food products. Packaged by itself, tofu comes smoked, marinated and crumbled, or you can buy foods already prepared with tofu such as entrées, snacks, and cereals. Two ounces of dried tofu at the Eden Food’s website is about $6. Sunrise Soya Foods’ website describes their dessert varieties in peach mango, almond, coconut, and banana as a tasteful treat and recommends that they be eaten with fruit.

Cooking With Tofu

Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways including baked, grilled, broiled, steamed, marinated, fried or boiled. You can add it to chili, stir fry, pizza, flan, smoothies, wraps and the list goes on. Any unused portions can be frozen but this will change the color and texture of tofu.

Nutritional Content

One half cup of tofu has 10 grams of soy protein. In addition to being an excellent source of soy protein, tofu is fortified with calcium (some varieties), B vitamins, iron and other minerals. Tofu has no cholesterol and is low in sodium and very low in saturated fat. One of tofu’s individual components, isoflavones, have been studied in association with relieving post-menopausal symptoms. There is some controversy surrounding it’s use in this way, however.

Tempeh: Rich in Soy Protein

What is Tempeh

Tempeh (sounds like "Tim" and "pay") is a cake-like food of Indonesian origin that is made of only soybeans or a mixture of soy, seeds and grains. Tempeh is firm, chewy, white, and smells somewhat like mushrooms.

Buying Tempeh

White Wave Foods, the makers of Silk soy milk and Land O’ Lakes dairy products, is the only retailer of tempeh listed by the Soyfoods Association of North America. It is available in the supermarket in the refrigerated, frozen and fresh food aisles. It can be pre-cooked, ready-to-eat or require cooking at home. It comes in many varieties including smoked, meatless burgers, marinated, baked, flavored or plain.

Cooking with Tempeh

Tempeh can be microwaved, boiled, fried, poached, grilled, or steamed. It can be frozen for four to six months and then kept in the refrigerator for up to ten days. Tempeh can be topped with barbecue sauce, crumbled into your favorite dish, used in sandwiches and wraps, or mixed into stir fry.

Nutritional Content of Tempeh

Tempeh is a great source of soy protein but it also contains fiber, folic acid (recommended for pregnant women), potassium, and iron. One half cup has 15 grams of soy protein.

Resources

Soy: Health Claims for Soy Protein, Questions About Other Ingredients– May, June 200 FDA publication

Soyfoods Association of North America

Sunrise Soya Foods

This post is part of the series: All About Soy Protein

This article series will introduce you to soy and allow you to learn about it’s history and it’s current trends. You’ll learn about it’s health benefits, what forms it comes in, and delicious ways to include it in your diet. You’ll also learn about some of the controversy that surrounds soy protein.
  1. Soy Protein’s Increasing Popularity in Western Diet and Culture
  2. The Many Ways to Eat Soy Protein: Soy Milk and Miso
  3. The Many Ways to Eat Soy Protein: Tofu and Tempeh
  4. The Many Ways to Eat Soy Protein: Soy Protein Isolate