For centuries, tofu was mainly a feature of East Asian cuisine, but this superfood has now become a firm favorite with people all over the globe. While it’s a staple-food in plant-based and gluten-free diets, tofu is also enjoyed by meat-eaters.
However, is tofu good for kids? And what’s the best way to serve it to them?
In this article, we’ll be diving into why tofu makes excellent food for kids and give you three recipes for irresistible tofu dishes.
Why Tofu is Great for Kids
Tofu is basically dairy-free, soybean cheese. It’s made by combining soybean milk with a coagulant like nigari seaweed or magnesium, which is then processed into block tofu or silken tofu.
Being such a pure substance, tofu has a very healthy nutritional profile, so it’s perfect for growing bodies and minds. A typical serving of tofu is loaded with essential amino acids, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and plenty of other micronutrients.
Its soft texture also makes it easy for milk teeth to chew, while its unique consistency absorbs marinades and sauces in minutes.
Types of Tofu
While it’s possible to find quite a few different tofu varieties on the shelves of grocery stores today, you’ll typically use either firm or extra firm block tofu or silken tofu when it comes to home cooking.
Firm and extra-firm blocks hold their shape more than other varieties, and their denser texture means they absorb more flavors and liquids, so they’re what you need when it comes to cooking delicious baked, fried, or grilled dishes.
Silken tofu is very soft and smooth, especially compared to block tofu. This is the type of tofu that you can easily puree and add to soups, smoothies, pasta sauces, and even desserts.
Silken tofu also ranges in firmness levels from soft to extra firm, but even the extra-firm variety is nothing like block tofu in its texture.
The various recipes featured in this article incorporate extra firm block tofu and silken tofu.
When preparing silken tofu for cooking, you can simply drain it for a few minutes and add it to the dish as per the recipe instructions.
However, firmer block tofu needs to be pressed before you cook it to remove any excess moisture from the product. A TofuBud tofu press will get the job done quickly, but it’s also possible to press tofu the traditional way using paper towels and a kitchen weight – this step can take up to 45 minutes, so a tofu press is much more efficient.
3 Easy Tofu Recipes
1. Sesame Tofu
- 1 x block firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- 1 – 2 x garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 x tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 x tsp sesame oil
- 1 x tsp sunflower oil
- 2 x pinches cayenne pepper
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sesame oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a medium pan over a medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry for appx. 3 minutes, turning frequently to ensure even cooking.
- When the tofu is golden brown in color, add the sauce and sesame seeds. Mix well until tofu is incorporated into the sauce.
- Serve with brown rice and sauteed colorful veggies
2. Baked Tofu Nuggets
- 1 x block extra firm tofu, pressed
- 3 x tbsp wheat germ
- 2 x tbsp cornmeal
- 1 x tsp sea salt
Warmed barbecue or marinara sauce, or ketchup to serve
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, wheat germ, and sea salt. Add the cubed tofu and stir carefully until evenly coated.
- Lightly spray a non-stick baking tray with oil and arrange the tofu nuggets. Bake for a total of 15 minutes, turning the nuggets once or twice until firm and uniformly golden brown. Serve with favorite sauces for dipping.
3. Easy Tofu Mac and Cheese
- 1 x packet silken tofu
- 12 x oz macaroni pasta
- 1 ½ x cups of cheddar cheese
- 2 x tbsp butter
- Sea salt to season
- Cook the macaroni according to instructions until al dente in texture. Drain.
- Puree the silken tofu in a blender until perfectly smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, add the tofu, butter, and cheese. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring regularly to ensure even warming. Reduce the heat and then cook until the cheese is completely melted.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the saucepan and stir thoroughly to coat the pasta evenly. Season with salt and serve immediately.
Other Ways to Incorporate Tofu
The three recipes above are just a small sample of the kid-friendly meals you can create with tofu. From tofu scrambled “eggs” to tofu tacos, tofu fried rice, and even blueberry smoothies, there are all sorts of fun and imaginative ways that you can introduce this healthful ingredient into your kids’ diets.