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Et Tu, Tofu?

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These days, it seems everyone is talking tofu—and for good reason. That little gelatinous white brick of soy curd not only packs a powerful protein punch, but soy also provides tons of other body benefits, as well.

According to the American Dietetic Association, soy protein may aid in the prevention of several major diseases.

“In heart disease, soy helps lower blood cholesterol and possibly increases the good cholesterol. It might even help prevent some forms of cancer, reduce the symptoms of menopause and provide calcium to prevent osteoporosis, “ the ADA states.

Tofu is also low in fat, cholesterol and calories (three ounces of light, extra firm tofu contains a half a gram of fat, no cholesterol and only thirty-five calories) and is an excellent source of isoflavones, soy compounds that are similar to our bodies’ estrogen which studies are indicating may be useful in helping to prevent breast cancer.

Seems tofu is the food of the gods. So why, then, aren’t Americans eating more of it? Good question. In Southeast Asian countries, where soy foods like tofu are diet staples, “the incidence of breast, prostate and uterine cancer is substantially lower than in the USA,” say Helen Kim and Stephen Barnes, professors of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

But we Western meat-and-potatoes diners often shun the unknown, even when (or maybe especially when) we know it’s good for us. If you’ve ever sifted through your Chinese take-out to avoid those unidentifiable masses you know what I’m talking about.

In fact, many of the most common tofu recipes are Asian-inspired, so if you’re not a fan of soy sauce and sesame oil or you’re not a whiz with a wok, you may have been hesitant to give tofu a go.

It goes without saying that a sure way to get the good stuff down you is to make it more appealing. Well, what’s more appealing to an American palate than dessert? Sneaking tofu into an after-supper treat is a great way to reap the health benefits of soy while feeling a little indulgent. And these low-fat recipes will allow you to skip the guilt. It’s kinda like having your cake and eating tofu, too.

Citrus Tofu Cheesecake


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 pound 8 ounces silken tofu
1 pound Neufchatel (1/3 fat cream cheese)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 egg whites
Lime, orange and lemon rind curls for garnish


Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press mixture into bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake eight minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until golden brown. Cool.

In a large bowl, beat tofu at medium speed until smooth. Add cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon, orange and lime rinds and vanilla; mix well. Beat in eggs and whites, one at a time until well combined. Pour mixture over crust.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set and edges of are slightly browned. Cool on wire rack to room temperature and then refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Remove from pan and garnish with citrus rind curls.

Makes 12 servings.

Note: To make rind curls, using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel a thin horizontal “equator” around citrus fruit.

White Chocolate-Raspberry Tofu Mousse


12.3 ounces light extra-firm tofu
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3 teaspoons raspberry liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Fresh raspberries and mint sprigs for garnish


Melt white chocolate chips according to package directions. Place melted chips and tofu in a food processor and process until smooth. Add raspberry liqueur and pulse to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, to the soft ball stage, 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour sugar over beaten egg whites in a thin stream, beating at high speed to combine. Gently fold egg white mixture into tofu mixture, just until combined. (The 238 degree temperature is important to ensure that the hot sugar syrup “cooks” the egg whites and makes them safe to eat.)

Spoon into eight ramekins. Cover and chill for four hours or overnight.

Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint sprigs before serving.

Note: Since this dessert isn’t cooked, the liquor in the mousse won’t “cook off” making this dessert unsuitable for anyone who shouldn’t have alcohol. The dessert is equally good if the liqueur is eliminated. Non-alcoholic raspberry liqueur, vanilla extract or orange flavoring can also be substituted.

Tofu Crème Brulee


10.5 oz light firm tofu
1/2 cup lemon curd
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp powdered sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries
Brown sugar for garnish


Place tofu in food processor, process until smooth. Add lemon curd, vanilla and powdered sugar. Process until well blended and smooth. Place a layer of sliced strawberries in the bottoms of four ramekins. Spoon tofu mixture over strawberries. Sprinkle tops with a generous amount of brown sugar and place under oven broiler to caramelize. Remove from oven and serve.

Makes four servings.


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