As our readers know our Monday featured articles are set aside for the promotion of the Meatless Monday food program. By doing this, we are able to share information about a program designed to have individuals take one day a week off from eating meat. Not only does this make the individual healthier, but it gives them a way to help do their part in helping the planet.

Our articles have ranged from introducing the Meatless Monday program, to providing meatless recipes, to profiling food trucks that serve vegetarian or vegan cuisine, and finally on health related articles on how someone can find protein on a food truck without ordering meat.

In today’s article we will focus our attention on one of the best protein sources you can find on many food trucks or carts around the country, including those whose menus are primarily meat based. This mysterious ingredient is one that can be found in almost every vegetarian or vegan refrigerator, and is a simple substitute for those following the Meatless Monday program.

Tofu (also called bean curd or soybean curd) 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. There are two main kinds of tofu, silken or soft tofu, and firm or regular tofu. Due to its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value, tofu has recently become popular in Western vegetarian cooking. So popular, in fact, that it has almost become synonymous with vegetarianism itself.

Tofu Nutrition Facts

Tofu is rich in high-quality protein. It is also a good source of B-vitamins and iron. When the curdling agent used to make tofu is calcium salt, the tofu is an excellent source of calcium. While 50 percent of the calories in tofu come from fat, a 4-ounce serving of tofu contains just 6 grams of fat. It is low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Generally, the softer the tofu has a lower the fat content. Tofu is also very low in sodium, making it a perfect food for people on sodium-restricted diets.

Nutrients in
4 ounces of:
Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride (nigari) Tofu, soft, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride (nigari)
Calories 79 69
Protein (gm) 9.25 7.4
Carbohydrate (gm) 1.91 2.03
Fat (gm) 4.71 4.17
Saturated Fat (gm) .975 .602
Cholesterol 0 0
Sodium (mg) 14 9
Fiber (gm) 1 0.2
Calcium (mg) 227 125
Iron (mg) 1.82 1.25

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 200 4. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,, and from product analysis.

Tofu Ban Mi from Mandoline Grill Truck

Buying & Storing Tofu

Tofu most commonly is sold in water-filled tubs, vacuum packs, or in aseptic brick packages. Tofu is usually found in the produce section of the grocery store, although some stores sell tofu in the dairy or deli sections. Tofu is sometimes sold in bulk in food cooperatives or Asian markets. Unless it is aseptically packaged, tofu should be kept cold. As with any perishable food, check the expiration date on the package.

Once the tofu package is open, leftover tofu should be rinsed and covered with fresh water for storage. Change the water daily to keep it fresh, and use the tofu within a week.

Tofu can be frozen up to 5 months. Defrosted tofu has a pleasant caramel color and a chewy, spongy texture that soaks up marinade sauces and is great for the grill.

Tips for using Tofu

Tofu can be for everyone. Its soft consistency and mild taste make it a perfect food. It is a good source of protein for elderly people who prefer dishes that are easy to chew and digest. Soft tofu that has been pureed with fruits or vegetables is a good first protein food for infants. Toddlers can enjoy chunks of cooked tofu for snacks or meals.

Try some of these ideas for introducing tofu to your family.

  • Add chunks of firm tofu to soups and stews.
  • Mix crumbled tofu into a meatloaf for a pleasant light dish.
  • Mash tofu with cottage cheese and seasoning to make a sandwich spread.
  • Create your own tofu burgers with mashed tofu, bread crumbs, chopped onion and your favorite seasonings.
  • Marinate tofu in barbecue sauce, char it on the grill and serve on crusty Italian bread.
  • Add a package of taco seasoning to pan-fried, crumbled tofu, or a mixture of tofu and ground beef to tofu tacos.
  • Blend dried onion soup mix into soft or silken tofu for a cholesterol-free onion dip.
  • Stir silken tofu into sour cream for a reduced-fat baked potato topper.
  • Blend tofu with melted chocolate chips and a little sweetener to make a chocolate cream pie.
  • Replace all or part of the cream in creamed soups with silken tofu.
  • Make missing egg salad with tofu chunks, diced celery, mayonnaise and a dab of prepared mustard.
  • Substitute pureed silken tofu for part of the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese or ricotta cheese in a recipe. Use it in dips and creamy salad dressings.

As you can see from this information, tofu is an easy way to find a substitute for meat on Meatless Mondays. It has become so popular that notable meat based food trucks such as The Nom Nom Truck, Kogi  BBQ Truck as well as any vegetarian or vegan food truck will have tofu as a meat substitute on their menus.

Please do your part today and join the Meatless Monday movement? Signing up is fast and easy! Follow them on Twittter.

Mobile Cuisine Magazine looks forward to continued coverage of Meatless Monday for our readers!