Tofu ...1/2 cup of this mild-tasting, cheeselike product (when it's been prepared with calcium sulfate) ... delivers nearly twice as much calcium (183 mg) as an equal amount of regular cottage cheese or as much as 1oz. of part-skim mozzarella cheese ... serves up as much iron (1.6 mg) as a 3-oz. serving of roasted eye of round and twice as much protein as a hot dog ... plus it yields a healthy boost of isoflavones (35 mg), those likely foes of breast and prostate cancer, as well as osteoporosis. With only 106 calories. P.S. Check labels for calcium amounts; even products made with calcium sulfate have varying levels.
Selecting and storing

Tofu is sold in 4 textures: Soft and silken have a custardlike texture, and they're a natural in dips, dressings, custard, cheesecake, and pudding. Firm, with its medium-dense texture, holds its shape admirably when cut up in salads, casseroles, barbecues, and soup. Extra-firm is just that--really firm. Use this style for stir-frying or crumbling, or just slice it for a sandwich in place of cheese.

Use tofu straight from the box or package. No cooking necessary. An unopened, aseptic box of tofu has a shelf-life of up to 10 months. Once opened, refrigerate and use within 2 days. Fresh tofu, packaged as cakes floating in water, should be refrigerated and water changed daily. Be sure to adhere to sell-by dates when purchasing. Don't buy a bloated container. Toss out tofu with a strong odor.

Dunk it! Tofu has a memory like a steel trap, soaking up and remembering any flavor it comes in contact with (its blandness a huge bonus in that department--no conflicting tastes). Cut chunks into soups, stews, chili, marinara sauce.

Drink it! Make a Raspberry RasCal: Blend 1/2 c. fresh red raspberries, 1/2 c. nonfat yogurt, 1/2 c. soft or silken tofu, 1/2 c. skim milk, a dash of vanilla extract and sweeten with honey to taste.

Spread it! Blend 1/2 lb. soft tofu with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 tbsp. margarine, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp. coconut extract. Spread over the crown of an angel-food cake; sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Flip it! Make tofuburgers: Mash 1 lb. extra-firm tofu with 1/2 c. cooked rice, 1/2 c. dry bread crumbs, 1/4 c. scallions, 1 tbsp. chicken-flavor seasoning, 1/4 c. grated carrots, 1/4 c. grated low-fat Cheddar cheese, and 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce. Saute in a skillet till golden.

PHOTO (COLOR): Tofu cake


By Mary Nagle

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