Is Soy Healthy? 5 Sprouted Tofu Recipes

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soyTo eat soy or not to eat soy, that is the question I often hear. The subject of whether soy is healthy is very controversial—especially whether its most popular by-product tofu should be a key part of a person’s diet.

Over the years tofu has gained a reputation as a healthy plant-based protein source for vegans and vegetarians.

What is tofu, exactly? Tofu is made from curdling soymilk from soybeans, and it is made in a similar process that cheese is made from milk. It is also has an impressive nutrition profile that is high in protein, amino acids, calcium, and iron.

Is Soy (Tofu) Healthy for You?

With all that nutrition, tofu is often promoted as a nutritional powerhouse, but does that mean it is healthy? This is actually a loaded a question, and would take a lot more than a paragraph or two to summarize. I will, however, give a few key points to consider when it comes to tofu:

Soy is Often a GMO

Soy is considered one of the most common genetically modified foods in the world, and again tofu is made from soy. That is why choosing certified GMO-free, and organic tofu is the better option.

Linked to Breast Cancer

Tofu contains phytoestrogens that have an estrogen-like effect on the body. In other words, they block normal estrogen production, and have been associated with breast cancer. Whether soy feeds certain breast cancers may be linked with how much soy is consumed, and the overall health of the woman.

That being said, breast cancer survivors and those with a family history of breast cancer may want to avoid tofu all together.

Thyroid Disruption

Tofu contains the goitrogenic compound soy isoflavone genistein that can interfere with thyroid production. However, some believe that the negative effect on the thyroid pertains to how much soy is consumed.

Anti-nutrients

Tofu contains anti-nutrients that can cause problems in high amounts. For instance, phytates can block mineral absorption and cause deficiencies in iron, zinc, and calcium. Other anti-nutrients in tofu include oxalates, oligosaccharides, lectins, saponins, and protease inhibitors.

5 Sprouted Tofu Recipes 

I’m not going to lie to you—soy is not a regular part of my diet. I also don’t believe it should be a daily food for some of the reasons mentioned.

However, from time to time, I will try some sprouted tofu recipes. You see, soybeans like nuts, seeds, grains, and beans contain enzyme inhibitors that can cause digestive problems in some people. Letting soybeans sprout will start the breakdown process before the soy hits your stomach.

As a result, sprouted tofu is much easier to digest. The following five sprouted tofu recipes will help you get started with it.

1. Scrambled Sprouted Tofu

Want to change up your traditional scramble egg recipe? Scrambling sprouted tofu is a good way to go. The following recipe is full of flavor, and is an excellent option for those looking to try something different.

The tomatoes, spinach, and turmeric all help add color to this meal, which serves about two people and takes less than a half hour to make. For those that prefer to avoid tofu, I suggest using cauliflower instead.

Chopping and steaming the cauliflower before adding it to the pan makes for a good substitute. You can also use four organic eggs, and scramble them.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sprouted extra-firm organic tofu
  • 1/4 cup of oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil or organic ghee
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup of red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp of ground rosemary
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Celtic grey sea salt, to taste
  • Choice of hot sauce
  • 3 cups of spinach, chopped

Directions:

  • Rinse and coarsely chop the tofu.
  • In a medium skillet, heat the oil, and add the white onion, turmeric, green onion, and garlic. Cook under everything is translucent, for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, bell pepper, nutritional yeast, salt, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and hot sauce, and stir occasionally. Cook for eight more minutes until the vegetables are heated, and tofu is scrambled well.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the spinach, and let it wilt in the heat. Serve immediately.

2. Vegan Sprouted Tofu Quiche

You may know quiche as an oven-baked dish with eggs and cream or milk in a pastry crust. Cheese, meat, and vegetables are often included in the egg mixture before it is baked in the oven.

However, this recipe will bend those rules just a bit. It is also very versatile. Make it soy free with eggs instead. Although sprouted tofu is the main piece of this dish, you could opt to go with organic eggs if you prefer.

This recipe makes for the perfect breakfast, but you can also have it for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sprouted extra-firm organic tofu or 4 free-range organic eggs
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil or organic ghee
  • 3/4 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup of chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup of red bell pepper
  • 2 cup of arugula
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • Celtic grey sea salt, to taste

Crust:

  • 1 cup of millet, soaked two to four hours
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil

Directions:

  • If using eggs, beat them in a bowl and set aside. Is using tofu, rinse and wrap it in a clean towel, and put on a plate. Lay some heavy books on top to press out the excess water. After 30 minutes, cut the tofu into quarters, and run it through a food processor until it gets creamy. If it is too dry, add a little water.
  • In a pot, cook the millet in two cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the millet is soft and the water has been absorbed. Once it is ready, let it sit for five minutes uncovered. Then, fluff with a fork.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit, and grease a nine-inch round pie plate with a tablespoon of oil, and place the millet on top.  Press it down to about a quarter-inch of thickness, and push up the edges about three-quarters of an inch.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a skillet and add onion. Cook until translucent, for about five minutes.
  • Add the tomato, pepper, arugula, oregano, and salt, and cook for five to eight minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • If using tofu, add it to the pan, and cook for five minutes. If using eggs, transfer the vegetables to a bowl, and combine with the beaten eggs.
  • Pour the vegetable and egg or tofu mixture into the millet shell, and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is firm in the middle. Broil for two minutes to slightly crisp the top.
  • Allow for cooling, and cut into slices. Enjoy!

3. Marinated Vegetable and Sprouted Tofu Kebobs

The next tofu recipe would be perfect for a barbecue get-together. The kebobs are excellent to serve over quinoa or rice, and with a green salad. The following recipe will serve about four people, which is good if you only have a few people that don’t eat meat at your barbecue.

Just as you’d marinate meat, you can do the same with sprouted tofu. This teriyaki marinade will give your tofu a unique flavor you may not have considered. After all, many complain that tofu tastes like nothing. After trying this recipe, those people may reconsider that statement.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sprouted organic extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise, and sliced a half inch
  • 16 crimini or button mushrooms, halved
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into large squares
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into large squares, and layers separated
  • 2/3 cup of teriyaki sauce

For the teriyaki sauce:

  • 1/3 cup of low-sodium tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp of filtered water
  • 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of cold-pressed sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 2 tsp of peeled, and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic

Directions:

  • For the teriyaki sauce: put all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to combine. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
  • Put the teriyaki sauce in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and add the tofu, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. Stir gently until evenly coated. Marinate for one to four hours at room temperature, and gently stirring once or twice.
  • Heat the grill on medium-low. Soak four bamboo skewers in water for about 15 minutes. Drain the tofu and vegetables and reserve the marinade. Thread the tofu and vegetables on the skewers, alternate them, and arrange the pieces tightly, so they touch.
  • Grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the tofu has browned. Occasionally turn the kabobs as they cook, and brush them with reserved marinade.
  • Serve hot. Drizzle with some of the remaining marinade if you like.

4. Baked Sprouted Tofu Fingers

I suppose this next tofu recipe is a different take on chicken fingers. It is also a good way to introduce people to sprouted tofu. The following recipe will make about 16 tofu fingers, and will serve three to four people. This recipe goes well when combined with a salad or your choice of vegetables, such as baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sprouted organic extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup of filtered water
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp of low-sodium tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed sesame oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise; then, slice each half, a half-inch thick.
  • Place the water, tamari or coconut aminos, thyme, oregano, and oil in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and whisk until well blended. Arrange the tofu slices in the pan in a single layer while dipping each in the sauce and turning to coat it well on both sides.
  • Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, and gently turn the slices over halfway through the cooking time. The longer the cooking time, the crispier the tofu will be.

5. Pan-Seared Sprouted Tofu

Some people find that the texture of tofu is too soft or mushy. The solution to this problem is cooking the tofu with a cast-iron pan or a non-stick skillet.

This method will create a crispy, lightly flavored tofu that works well in various dishes. It will surely win over the people that normally hate the flavor of tofu. You can add it as a protein source to a salad or as part of a larger meal with vegetables and potatoes. This recipe will serve up to four people.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sprouted organic extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp of coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of avocado oil
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme

Directions:

  • Rinse and wrap the tofu in a clean towel, and put on a plate. Lay some heavy books on top to press out the excess water. After 30 minutes, cut the tofu into nine to 10 rectangles a half-inch thick and then slice each rectangle into six squares, which makes a total of 54 to 60 tofu pieces.
  • Heat a large cast-iron pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the tofu with one tablespoon of the oil, and gently stir until the tofu is coated. Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, and thyme.
  • When a drop of water gently sizzles on the skillet, the skillet is ready. Carefully add another tablespoon of oil, and tilt the skillet to coat it evenly with oil. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer, and make sure all the pieces lie flat against the skillet. Work in batches if the skillet is too small to cook all the tofu at once.
  • Cook the tofu for four to seven minutes on one side until you have a golden crust with some speckled brown spots. Flip each piece and cook for another four to five minutes more, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Final Thoughts on Sprouted Tofu

Although soy may not be the major health food that many vegans and vegetarians often claim it is, in small amounts, sprouted certified organic and GMO-free tofu is a better option than highly processed soy products and soy supplements that contain soy protein isolate and concentrates, and soy junk foods like soy oil, soy burgers, soy ice cream, and soy cheese.

Another alternative for meatless protein is fermented soy foods like natto or tempeh, which studies show have various health benefits. For instance, natto could possibly help lower blood pressure, while tempeh could reduce cholesterol and increase bone density.



Sources:
Dupont, C., The New Enlightened Eating: Simples Recipes for Extraordinary Living (Summertown: Books Alive, 2012), 130, 156.
Liddon, A., The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out (Toronto: Penguin Canada Books Inc., 2014), 197.
Liddon, A., Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes (Toronto: Penguin Canada Books Inc., 2016), 137.
Telpner, M., The UnDiet Cookbook (China: Random House LLC, 2015), 97, 135.
Hyman, M., “How Soy Can Kill You and Save Your Life,” Dr. Hyman; http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/06/how-soy-can-kill-you-and-save-your-life/, last accessed June 2, 2017.

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