Delicious, Easy Low Carb Recipes Made with Tofu
Tofu has been a staple in Asian vegetarian cuisine for centuries. Legend has it that tofu was discovered in China 2000 years ago by a cook who accidentally curdled soy milk! There’s no question tofu has survived for so long in different cultures and cuisines – its high protein content and boundless versatility make it the perfect addition to just about any dish.
What is Tofu?
Tofu is made by pressing curds of soy milk into those mysterious-looking solid white blocks you may have seen in the produce aisle at your local grocery store. You can almost compare it to butter or cheese made from dairy milk, but the result is totally different. Tofu comes in varying degrees of softness, including silken, medium, firm and extra firm.
In this article, we share the basics of cooking with tofu and provide some easy, tasty low carb tofu recipes.
Does It Taste Like Chicken?
The short answer is no. Some vegetarian options just can’t be comparable to meat; they are simply different foods. But, with a few tricks and tips, you can achieve a hearty, meat-y flavour from this wonderful soybean curd!
While it is not a perfect substitute for meat, tofu is uniquely satisfying and delicious on its own. Plus, it can arguably be used in many more ways than chicken, so if you are bored of the same chicken dinners every night – why not try tofu? It’s also much cheaper than meat, so if keto is breaking your budget, try switching out some of your top sirloins for tofu!
Is Tofu Good for You?
Before we dive into the recipes, we should address the controversy surrounding tofu, and specifically soy. A lot of people wonder if it is okay to eat soy on a regular basis.
Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids – score! These amino acids are needed for proper growth and function of the body, but they cannot be created by the body on its own, so we must obtain them from our diets. Amino acids are used for protein synthesis in the body (proteins are the building blocks of pretty much everything in our bodies), hormone regulation and neurotransmitter function. Not consuming enough amino acids can lead to a range of emotional and physical disorders.
In case you were wondering, some other great sources of amino acids include eggs, sesame, buckwheat, quinoa, wheat gluten, Ezekiel, nuts, meat and dairy. You don’t need every essential amino acid at every meal, but you should aim to consume a variety of foods that have at least some of the essential amino acids each day. Some foods, when eaten together, form complete proteins by “filling in the gaps” where the other is lacking in certain amino acids. For example, rice and beans have complementary amino acids so they form a complete protein together. This is true for most pairings of grains and legumes (this means peanut butter sandwiches get the green light).
Back to tofu…
Tofu is a good source of protein, naturally gluten-free and low in calories. It also contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamin B1. Plus, it is low in carbs with fewer than 3g net carbs per serving (depends on varietal). However, it has a very low fat content, so if you follow a keto diet you will need to sub the fat in other parts of your tofu meals.
Contrary to popular belief, tofu does not result in feminization in men, nor does it cause a condition called gynecomastia (the accumulation of breast tissue in males). This is thought to occur because soy contains compounds called isoflavones, which are molecules that behave similarly to estrogen (the female sex hormone). But researchers who have studied this link have yet to find a direct association between soy and those conditions. The link is also not observed in Asian men, who typically consume diets high in soy products.
For comparison’s sake, cow’s milk often contains added hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and prolactin which are required to produce breast milk in women and thus enhance breast size. The difference in the effects of plant-derived and animal-derived estrogenic compounds is significant, and something to consider since we, too, are animals. The takeaway is to be aware of the risks of the food you might currently consume before ruling out something you’ve never tried before (and has sustained billions of people for thousands of years!).
As with all other foods, always choose tofu that has undergone minimal processing (has a short ingredients list without artificial preservatives) as this will decrease the risk of any downside effects.
Low Carb Tofu Recipes
Here’s a list of a few keto-friendly recipes we put together that really allow tofu to shine!
Keto Raspberry Chocolate Tofu Pudding
- 1 package of Silken Tofu
- ¼ cup Anthony’s Goods Cocoa Powder
- 2 tbsp Nutilight Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- ¼ cup Swerve Icing Sugar
- 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
- 4-5 drops of Flavorall Radiant Raspberry Liquid Stevia
Blend everything together in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Top with cocoa nibs and a few fresh raspberries (low in carbs) and enjoy!
Keto Tofu Breakfast Burrito
- ½ package of Extra Firm Tofu
- Green Onions
- 5 medium Mushrooms (2g net carbs)
- ½ Bell Pepper (2-4g net carbs)
- Low Carb Wrap or Tortilla
- Spice Mix: salt, black pepper, turmeric, paprika
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Sautee the garlic and green onions in a pan over medium-low heat with olive or avocado oil until they brown a little bit.
- Add the rest of the veggies to the pan and let them cook down so no moisture is left in the pan.
- Cube the tofu and add it to the pan, mashing it down slightly with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add the spices, nutritional yeast and soy sauce and mix everything together. Soy sauce brings out more umami flavour in this dish, which makes it taste meatier.
- Serve the tofu scramble over a low carb tortilla with some avocado slices. Wrap it up and enjoy!
Keto Coconut Curry
- ½ package of Extra Firm Tofu, cubed
- Onion, thinly sliced
- Garlic, minced
- ½ Red Chili Pepper, sliced
- 2 tbsp Red Curry Paste
- 1 can of Full Fat Coconut Milk
- 3 tbsp of Coconut Oil
- 1 cup of Chicken Stock (Mushroom or Vegetable Stock will work, too)
- 1 tbsp of Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos
- Spice Mix: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin
- 5 medium Mushrooms (2g net carbs)
- ½ Bell Pepper (2-4g net carbs)
- ¼ cup of Fresh Cilantro and/or Thai Basil
- Use a little bit of coconut oil to cook down the onions, garlic and red chili pepper in a large stew pot.
- Add the curry paste, spice mixes, coconut milk, the rest of the coconut oil, stock and soy sauce or coconut aminos.
- Add the tofu, mushrooms and bell peppers to the pot and let everything cook covered on medium low heat for at least 20 minutes to let all the flavours develop.
- Add the cilantro and/or Thai Basil and let it wilt for 1-2 minutes before serving.
- Serve over cauliflower rice or konjac noodles. Low carb pita is also perfect for scooping up this delicious curry!
We also found some more tasty tofu recipes on the web:
- Spicy Almond Tofu
- Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Low Carb Vegan Pumpkin “Cheesecake”
- Keto Teriyaki Tofu
- Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Here are some cooking tips that can help you perfect your tofu-making skills:
- Remove the moisture from the tofu to ensure maximum crispiness. This can be done by wrapping the tofu in a clean towel and applying weight or pressure to squeeze out all the water. A heavy plate or cast-iron skillet works great for this. Also note that the softness level of the tofu indicates its water content and how much you have to squeeze out; silken containing the most water and extra firm containing the least.
- Make sure your pan and oil are hot before adding the tofu. This will also ensure maximum crispiness. Be sure to use an oil with a high smoking point, if you will be cooking with high heat. Sesame oil and coconut oil are great options and can add a wonderful, light flavour to your tofu.
- Season liberally. Tofu will absorb any and all flavours you add to it. Don’t be shy with the spices!
- Don’t use oil marinades. Due to the water content in tofu, oil marinades wont seep in and infuse flavour. You are better off using vinegar, soy sauce, citrus juice, stock or spices instead.
- Freeze your tofu for a chewier texture. Freezing before marinating changes the character of the tofu and allows it to absorb more flavours from your marinade. Just cut them into cubes and freeze them on a flat baking sheet. This is perfect for making kebabs and stir fries!
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