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Tofu as substitute

There are a lot of reasons to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. For one, it's healthier for your body. For another, it's cheaper. And if you're one of those people who talks about being "obsessed with being green" on your internet dating profile, it's also a heck of a lot greener as well.

But just because you reduce the amount of meat in your diet doesn't mean it's okay to skip the protein. Your body needs it for energy, for building muscles, and for feeling fuller longer. And, of course, one of the best sources of protein in the world is tofu. The problem with tofu, though, is that nobody really likes it the first time around. Used to firm, flavorful proteins, most of us take a bite of tofu and say... "what the heck is this squishy, tasteless stuff?"

But there are ways to learn to like tofu. You just have to be able to look at it the right way. For instance, while it is true that tofu is rather flavorless, it also has the ability to take on the flavor of whatever you put it in. So marinated, smoked, or flavored tofu can taste incredible if you're willing to give it a try. The texture, too, can vary hugely, from the almost meat-like texture of extra firm tofu to the ultra-soft texture of silken tofu. Which means you can put it in just about everything.

With time and practice, it's easy to learn to like tofu. But not all of us are there yet! Want to eat a little greener and add some tofu to your diet? Read on for ways to sneak it in-- or at least prepare it in a way that everybody will enjoy.

Toss it into a Smoothie.

You know how some people put raw eggs into smoothies to add a little extra protein? Well, tofu does the same thing without that raw-egg taste (and salmonella risk). Just toss some silken tofu (be sure to pay attention to what kind you use) into any smoothie you make. Not only will it up the nutritional value, it'll make your smoothie creamier and tastier, too.

Make Pie.

If you've never tried it, you'd be shocked to see how easy it is to make pies, puddings, mousses, and other creamy desserts with silken tofu. When blended into a pie or pudding mixture, you can't even tell there's tofu in your dessert. But it adds creaminess, thickness, body, and protein without a bunch of extra fat.

Replace the Eggs.

If you want to reduce the cholesterol in your baked goods, pureed silken tofu makes a great replacement for eggs in your doughs and batters. About 1/4 cup of pureed silken tofu will replace one egg in your cupcakes, cookies, or other baked desserts.

Add it to Meat.

When you mince a firm tofu and add it to meat dishes, chances are nobody will ever realize they're eating soy. Any recipe calling for ground beef or pork or sausage can be half-substituted with tofu (or more). There are plenty of recipes out there that supplement some of the meat in dish for tofu. Try a tofu and beef meatloaf by adding one pound of extra-firm, minced tofu to one pound of ground beef, followed by your favorite ingredients. You'll be eating healthier, and nobody will notice a thing.

Make a Creamy Soup.

It's hard to get the rich mouth feel you want with a creamy soup without adding lots of heavy cream. But replacing the cream with pureed silken tofu in your cream-based soups makes them more nutritious, way lower in fat, and almost as tasty as the original.

Pretend it's Ricotta.

When blended, a firm tofu is a good substitute for soft cheeses like ricotta. Make the cheese mix for a baked ziti casserole or lasagna by blending together firm tofu, eggs, salt, pepper, and parmesan.

Scramble it up.

Even avowed tofu haters like a tofu scramble. Instead of eggs, take a block of firm tofu and chop it up relatively fine. Then scramble it up with the veggies of your choice and salt and pepper.

There are a lot of good reasons to eat soy. And if you work at it, it's possible to fall in love with this inexpensive, healthy, versatile ingredient. Who knows? In a few weeks, you may be a tofu devotee, too. And get your body --and the planet-- a bit healthier while you're at it.

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