Sesame Tofu Salad

I like to come up with ways to make tofu taste good. It really is possible. By adding texture and flavor, tofu can be quite enjoyable. Baking tofu is a great way to add chewy texture without frying. Season the tofu before baking it  to add flavor. Tofu is an inexpensive protein source, so if you can find ways to enjoy it–you will benefit in many ways (see nutrition info below).

Tofu can be served either warm or cold. This salad was inspired by the different seasonal veggies that were coming into the store–and I added my “house” dressing to help jazz it up.

Sesame Tofu Salad

1 (14-16 oz.) block firm/extra firm tofu—cut into small cubes and baked *
1 cup diced cucumbers
1 cup mung bean sprouts—roughly chopped
½ cup sugar snap peas—cut into small pieces
½ cup scallions—chopped
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce)
½ cup tahini dressing

*To prepare the tofu: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place tofu cubes onto a cookie sheet—single layer. Sprinkle tofu with 2-3 Tbs. olive oil or sesame oil (or you can use a combination of both) and salt  or soy sauce (to taste). Toss cubes to coat then spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Put into preheated oven—middle rack and cook for about 10 minutes or until bottom of tofu cubes are browned. Then turn oven onto broil and continue to cook tofu until top is browned—approx. 10 minutes. Remove from oven, drain tofu on paper towels, set aside, and allow to cool.

Add cucumbers, mung bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, scallions, and cilantro to a bowl. Stir to combine. When tofu is cooled, mix in with the other ingredients. Add tahini dressing, sesame oil and soy sauce. Mix well. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Tahini Dressing

 ½ cup sesame tahini
½ cup water
3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1-2 tsp. natural sweetener
¼ tsp. salt

Add tahini to a mixing bowl. Gradually add the water—stirring as you blend it into the tahini (a whisk works great!).Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended and creamy.

Health Benefits of Tofu 

Soy, which tofu is made from, is considered to be a complete food since it contains all eight essential amino acids. Of course, tofu is packed with protein, which is why vegetarians use it as a meat substitute. In fact, according to World’s Healthiest Foods, one 4-ounce block of tofu is filled with 9.16 grams of protein, which is more than 18 percent of the Daily Value. Here are some of tofu’s other nutrients:

  • Iron, copper and manganese: This nutrient trifecta helps to absorb one another in the body, and tofu is a great source for all three. Four ounces of tofu provides about a third of the Daily Value of iron and manganese, and about 11 percent of the Daily Value of copper.
  • Calcium: Calcium sulfate is used as a coagulant in tofu, which is essentially made from soy milk. Four ounces of tofu contains about 10 percent of the Daily Value.
  • Omega 3: Fish is the most common source of these fatty acids, but for those who are allergic to fish or just don’t prefer it, tofu is a great replacement source for Omega 3.Four ounces of tofu contains more than 14 percent of the Daily Value.
  • Selenium: Certain types of fish and nuts are good sources of selenium, but so is tofu; four ounces of it contains more than 14 percent of the Daily Value.

Disease Protector

So what do all of these nutrients do for you? Here are some of the ways that tofu can benefit your health:

  • Iron and copper are essential for hemoglobin synthesis, which produces energy. Copper and manganese are responsible for an enzyme that destroys free radicals, and copper itself can help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Calcium is, of course, the vitamin that keeps your bones strong. It can help reduce the bone loss in those with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart and can help prevent blood clots. They also can prevent cholesterol from clogging your arteries.
  • Selenium is a powerful protector against free radicals. It works with iodine to help regulate the thyroid and has been shown to repair DNA, making it a cancer-fighter as well.

Soy also contains compounds called isoflavones that have many beneficial properties as well.

  • Isoflavones can mimic estrogen and are beneficial to women during menopause. The isoflavones can reduce some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
  • Isoflavones have also been associated with lowering the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Lower levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, have been attributed to isoflavones.
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