According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, 2021 has been designated the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.
To celebrate this observance, let us taco ‘bout a meat alternative: tofu.
Tofu is made of condensed soymilk that is pressed into a solid white block in a process similar to cheese making. Tofu is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It is nutrient-dense at 70 calories for 3.5 oz serving due to the wide variety of micronutrients also found in it, such as calcium, manganese, selenium, and iron. Tofu also contains isoflavones which are linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, breast, GI, and prostate cancers, and diabetes.
Besides being a good meat alternative, tofu can be used to substitute in various ways. It is a blank, nutritious slate that can be altered into various delicious meals. Tofu can be used as a taco filling, in smoothies, fried rice, soup, smoothies, dips, and sour cream alternatives.
With tofu being a blank slate, most complain that they do not like the texture or taste. Working with tofu requires playing with flavors and cooking techniques.
A major component that is missing from tofu in comparison with most meats is that umami flavor. Umami is the savory sensation that we get from certain foods. In the case of this recipe, we are using tomato paste, soy sauce, and cocoa powder to help create an umami sensation for tofu.
- 1 package of firm tofu
- 3 T tomato paste
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1 T cumin
- 1 T cinnamon
- 2 t cayenne pepper
- Black pepper to taste
- 3 t cocoa powder
- 1 can black beans, no salt added
- 1 can tomatoes with green peppers
- Small onion, diced
- Flour tortillas
- Taco toppings: cheese, avocado, hot sauce, sour cream (*or alternative), lettuce
- In a large mixing bowl, add 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, tomato paste, cocoa powder, soy sauce, and spices. Whisk all these ingredients together until they form a paste.
- Dry the tofu using either a paper towel or tea towel to remove the excess surface water.
- Use your hands to crumble the tofu into the spice paste.
- Mix the crumbled tofu through the paste until the tofu crumbles are covered evenly with the spices.
- Heat a large fry pan/skillet and the remaining olive oil over a medium-high heat. Sauté half of the diced onion for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the Mexican tofu crumbles. Cook for 10 -15 minutes stirring occasionally. You want the liquid to cook off and the tofu to brown.
- While the tofu is cooking, drain the black beans and rinse in a colander.
- Add the drained black beans and canned tomatoes to the tofu, cook over medium-high heat until the beans are heated through and the tomato liquid has been absorbed.
- Season your tofu and beans with pepper to taste.
- Serve your tofu tacos with tortillas and your favorite toppings!
*Tofu sour cream alternative
- 1 package silken tofu
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
Directions: In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Chill until ready to serve.
About Devin Brittain:
Devin Brittain is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Louisiana. Born and raised in California, Devin obtained her Bachelors of Science in Food and Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Dietetics and Food Administration from California State University, Fresno. She then moved to Louisiana and completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Devin is currently the Outpatient Dietitian for the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center where she assists patients and teaches healthy cooking classes. She is serving on the board for the New Orleans Dietetic Association where she strongly advocates for the dietetic profession and the health of her community. In her free time, Devin enjoys attending festivals, reading, developing recipes, dancing, and cheering on the Saints! She is passionate about utilizing her food and nutrition knowledge to benefit others and believes in finding innovative ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle that works for each individual.