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Tofu
Tofu is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. It is high in protein and calcium and well known for its ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades. Due to its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value, tofu, a staple of Asian cuisines for hundreds of years, has recently become popular in Western vegetarian cooking. So popular, in fact, that it is celebrated with its own annual festival and has almost become synonymous with vegetarianism itself.

Types of tofu

There are two main kinds of tofu, silken or soft tofu, and firm or regular tofu. When cooking with firm tofu, you will usually want to drain and press the tofu first, and some recipes will tell you to freeze and thaw your tofu.

Protein content in tofu:
One half-cup serving of raw firm tofu contains 10.1 grams of protein. The recommended daily intake is 56 grams for most men and 46 for most women. By comparison, 1/2 cup dairy milk contains 5.1 grams of protein, one 3 oz egg contains 6 grams and 4 oz ground beef contains about 26 grams of protein. Tofu is an excellent source of vegetarian protein.

Calories in tofu:
One half-cup serving of raw firm tofu contains 94 calories. By comparison, 4 oz ground beef contains 331 calories, 1/2 cup of 2% milk has 60 calories and 4 oz of cheese packs 320 calories.

Protein versus calories in tofu:
Tofu is low in calories for the vegetarian protein it packs in. For each 100 calorie serving, tofu contains 11 grams of protein. By comparison, 100 calories of ground beef provides 8.9 grams of protein, and a 100 calorie serving of cheese contains 6.2 grams.

Fat and cholesterol content in tofu:
One half-cup serving of raw firm tofu contains 5 grams of fat. Low fat tofu is also commercially available, and contains 1.5 grams of fat per serving. 4 oz of beef packs a whopping 15 grams of fat, and one egg contains 5.5 grams of fat. Tofu is a cholesterol-free food, as are all plant-based foods. By comparison, a half-cup of 2% milk contains 9 mg of cholesterol, 4 oz of fish contains 75-100 mg of cholesterol and 4 oz ground beef contains about 113 mg cholesterol.

Calcium:
One half-cup serving of firm tofu contains about 227 mg of calcium or about 22% of the RDA. Tofu may contain a little bit less calcium depending on the brand and the way it was made so be sure to read the label if you're concerned. Silken tofu contains approximately 133 mg, again depending on the brand.

Iron:
One half-cup serving of firm tofu contains about 1.82 mg of iron, though this can vary greatly, depending on the brand. The RDA for women is 18 mg and 8 mg for men.

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