In our written series of Yoga Yummies we will venture, with a light-hearted manner, to highlight the magic of chosen power foods, their consumption and origins – and, importantly, how they can invigorate us, bring energy and joy into our daily living while helping us to enliven our yoga routines.
Triumphant tofu – the origins
Tofu, a word that is actually Japanese and referred to the Chinese as “doufu“, is an invention dating back over 2000 years to China, where, as the legend goes, a chef invented tofu by mixing soy milk with crystallized salt. According to another source, the glory of inventing tofu belongs to prince Liu An of the Han Dynasty. Tofu earns one of its first mentions in a Chinese document from 965 A.D. in a story of a ”vice mayor’s mutton”, where a local mayor would buy a daily dose of tofu to be eaten with rice, instead of the more expensive meats. Tofu was a common ingredient in the monastery diet, as well as amongst those of power in the military rule. Today, tofu is celebrated in an annual festival taking place in Los Angeles.
Tofu belongs to the most wide-spread soy products in the globe, and for centuries provided the importance of meat and link in several parts of Asia, where it originally spread also as a part of Buddhism, as Buddhists follow a vegetetarian diet. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made by curding soy milk and thus made of soy beans, pressing the product into dense white blocks, very often used as a replacement of meat in the vegetarian diet. The varieties of tofu include soft or otherwise known as silken tofu, as well as firm and extra-firm tofu.
Triumphant tofu – the vitamin essence & controversy
The original, good-quality tofu boasts several health benefits: it is low in calories and high in protein while containing a lot of iron and calcium, all important ingredients for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, as well as acting as the mineral sources for resilient immune system functions and an agile brain.
Recent studies argue, that the health benefits of tofu are related its fermentation time, and the longer this is, the more the micro-organisms born through fermentation get to work their magic. As an added point of attention, it is important to recognize the possibility of harmful chemicals in an industrially prepared tofu, that can contain remains of pesticides and may even be genetically altered. This in mind, the safest choice is to choose natural, organic tofu.
Triumphant tofu – choose & store
Find your triumphant tofu in a regular grocery store shelf, most likely amongst the milk products, and add that tofu twist into your wok or any other fried or raw culinary composition. Soft tofu contains the highest moisture rate, and is considered very suitable for smoothies and desserts, as well as other recipes requiring a more liquid consistency. In fact, one can prepare soft tofu as a healthy dip by draining it and then mixing it with herbs of choice, along with a touch of rose salt and olive oil. Firm and extra-firm tofu are, according to their names, more composed and hard. They do well chopped into salad ingredients as well as potent parts of an Asian-influenced wok.
Tofu can be stored in a sealed container the fridge, where it remains edible for a week. One can also place tofu into the freezer, as frozen tofu remains in top-notch shape for three months.
Triumphant tofu – eat & enjoy!
As tofu is very subtle in its natural taste, fear not of generous spicing – one can try preserving the firm tofu as chopped pieces in olive oil along with sundried tomatoes, olives and garlic, to add that secret ingredient after a few days into a salad or a sandwich. Of course, the adventurous can always try what is called the ’stinky tofu’, a fermented tofu with an extremely persistent odour – this delicacy is common in China, often served with a chilli or soy sauce in the street stalls.
Try tofu as a classical component of a miso soup, paired together with shiitake mushrooms. Or, wrap it into a delicious seaweed roll accompanied with slice of chili and cucumber if you’re up for it – in any case, you’ll feel the tofu thunder roam your way!