April is Soy Foods Month, and tofu is what often first comes to mind when soy food is mentioned. Most Americans have heard of tofu yet know very little about it, especially when it comes to knowing how to eat it.

The health benefits of eating soy are as numerous as ways to eat soy. Soy protein has been proven to lower cholesterol. Soy also contains important phytochemicals called isoflavones, which may help reduce your risk of certain cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Current studies have found that even one serving of soy a day may be enough to help give you health benefits.

Tofu is made from curdled soy milk with a cheese-like consistency. Think of it as the “cottage cheese” of soy milk. It is available in silken, soft, firm and extra firm varieties.

Each variety has specific uses. Silken and soft tofu has a smooth and creamy texture. It’s best suited to dressings, dips, soups, pudding, fruit smoothies and desserts. It has less fat and calories than firm varieties.

Firm and extra firm tofu will keep its shape and texture when cut. It’s best suited to cut into cubes for stir-fry, kabobs, entrees and salads. Look for frozen bowl entrees with tofu.

The trick in first starting to use tofu is to find ways to disguise it. Tofu is bland and acts like a sponge, soaking up the flavor of the food with which it is combined.

Having a good blender is a plus. Try blending tofu into fruit smoothies or use as a base for cream soups, dips or salad dressings. The fruity tofu smoothie recipe below is one of my favorite recipes to introduce people to tofu. Give it a try!

 

Fruity Tofu Smoothie

Serves 4 (1 cup each).

All you need:

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 ripe banana

¾ cup 100 percent apple juice

2 oz soft tofu

1 tbsp honey

1 cup ice cubes

 

All you do:

Blend all ingredients in a blender.

 

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.