Tofu is a great plant-based protein for any high-fat ketogenic diet! If you're wondering, "Is tofu keto?" you've come to the right place! It's high in protein, low in carbs, and has a good dose of healthy fats. It's also super versatile and can be used in a wide variety of recipes.
Here at Cast Iron Keto, we're huge fans of tofu! It's amazingly versatile. You can use it in savory and sweet dishes, sauces, dressings, and even ice cream! We often get the question, "Is tofu keto?" First, let's talk about what tofu is.
What is tofu?
Tofu is an ingredient that originated in China about 2000 years ago. Made from soybeans, it's similar to cheesemaking. The process starts with curdling soy milk and then pressing the solid curds into blocks of different levels of firmness. We always opt for organic soy products as soy crops are heavily genetically modified, and as much as 90 percent of the soy crop in the United States is treated with pesticides.
Types of tofu
Tofu is broken into categories by the texture and consistency of the tofu. This firmness is determined mostly by the water content in tofu; the more water, the softer the tofu is. That's why in a lot of savory dishes where tofu is used as the protein, the tofu is pressed to remove the water content and make it firmer. Here are the different types of tofu:
Silken tofu is a silky, very soft tofu with the highest water content. It barely keeps its shape when handles and is mostly used in sauces, "cheesecakes", smoothies, and creamy fillings. For a Keto diet, this tofu is great for sauces/dressings, making a cream sauce, smoothies, ice cream, etc.
This is the most common type of tofu, often labeled as "regular" or "firm." It has a solid texture and holds its shape well during cooking. Used to make spreads, tofu scrambles, or scrambled "eggs", regular tofu is slightly more firm than silken.
Probably the most popular type of tofu, firm tofu is firm enough for stir-fries. You can also find smoked tofu, it makes a great BBQ bowl! You can also use firm tofu to make thicker spreads.
This tofu is great for marinating. If using in stir-fries or pan-frying, you may want to press the tofu. Read on below for our best pressing tips!
Extra-firm tofu has the same uses as firm for the most part, but this type doesn't absorb marinades or sauces as much. It is a bit easier to fry if you're trying to make a crispy tofu dish. We like this style for baked tofu and fried tofu dishes the most.
As dense as meat and makes a great meat substitute! Cubed and fried in oil, it makes a great plant-based chicken substitute. Ground makes a great ground meat substitute for things like tacos, bowls, and more.
There are a few other fun types of tofu-like skin and tofu pockets, but these above are the most widely used.
Tofu Nutritional Profile + carb content
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of tofu has the following:
How to press tofu?
While there are tofu presses that you can pick up relatively cheaply, we usually opt to go the DIY route:
- Simply place a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan.
- Place the block of tofu on the rack, and cover it with another sheet pan.
- Then, plop something heavy like a Dutch oven on top.
- Leave it be for 30 minutes or so before slicing and cooking.
It's amazing how much liquid comes out after pressing tofu!
How to prepare tofu for recipes?
Preparing tofu for recipes involves a few essential steps to enhance its texture and flavor. Here's a general guide on how to prepare tofu:
- Choose the right tofu: Select the type of tofu that best suits your recipe. Use firm or extra-firm tofu for dishes where you want the tofu to hold its shape. Opt for soft or silken tofu for recipes with a creamy or blended texture.
- Drain the tofu: Most tofu comes packed in water to keep it fresh. Before using it, drain the water by carefully removing it from its packaging and place it on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
- Press the tofu: Pressing helps to remove even more water from it. Use the instructions in the section above to press the tofu. If using extra-firm tofu, you can press it for a shorter time as it already has less water content.
- Cut the tofu: Once you've drained and pressed, cut it into the desired shape for your recipe. You can slice it into cubes, strips, or any other shape.
- Marinate (optional): Marinating tofu can infuse it with flavor. Prepare a marinade of your choice using soy sauce, tamari, vinegar, citrus juice, herbs, spices, or any other seasoning you like. Let the tofu sit in the marinade for at least 15-30 minutes (or longer if you have time) to allow the flavors to penetrate it.
- Cooking methods: There are various cooking methods you can use for tofu, depending on the recipe and the texture you want to achieve:
- Pan-Frying: Heat some oil in a pan and cook until you get golden and crispy tofu.
- Baking: Arrange the tofu on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until it's firm and slightly browned.
- Grilling: A grill or grill pan gives the tofu a smoky flavor and charred texture.
- Stir-Frying: Add marinated or plain tofu to a stir-fry with vegetables and sauce.
- Use in recipes: Once the tofu is prepared, incorporate it into your desired recipe, such as stir-fries, curries, salads, soups, or noodle dishes.
How to store tofu properly?
Properly storing tofu can help maintain its freshness and prevent it from spoiling. Here are some guidelines on how to store tofu:
To recap on the question: Is tofu keto-friendly?
Yes! You can definitely include tofu in any low-carb diet. As a versatile and nutritious plant-based protein, it is a valuable addition to a vegetarian keto diet when consumed within the daily carb limit. There are relatively fewer carbs in tofu, which makes it suitable for maintaining ketosis.
Its high protein, low carb, and good fat content make it a great addition to vegan keto diets. Unlike chicken, including more tofu is easy, ensuring balanced protein and carb intake. Whether plant-based or not, tofu's versatility and nutrient balance make it a delicious choice.
However, as with any food on a ketogenic diet, portion control and overall carbohydrate content intake awareness is essential.