Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Bray. Bray Wonders, “Why does tofu not have a taste?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Bray!
Take some time to think about the tasty treats that tempt your taste buds. What comes to mind? A handful of chicken nuggets? A slice of pepperoni pizza? How about French fries, ice cream, or a juicy hamburger?
Unless you're a vegetarian or a vegan, there's one item that probably does not make most kids' lists: tofu. Tofu isn't just for vegetarians and vegans, though, and it's actually a very popular food around the world, especially in Asia.
Historians believe tofu was invented about 2,000 years ago in China. Over time, tofu's popularity grew and it spread to other areas of Asia, such as Japan and Korea.
Since tofu is high in protein and low in calories and fat, it's often used as a meat substitute, which is why it's especially popular among vegetarians and vegans. In Asia, though, it's a popular ingredient that's a part of a wide variety of dishes.
So what exactly is tofu? Since many people associate tofu with vegetarians and vegans, they often think it's a vegetable, but it's not. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soybeans.
To make tofu, soybeans are dried and then ground up with water to turn them into milk. The milk is then curdled with coagulants, such as enzymes, salts, or acids.
Finally, the liquid, known as whey, is drained and the curds are pressed into small blocks. The process is similar to how cheese is made from curdling and solidifying milk.
By itself, tofu may taste a bit bland and chewy. However, tofu fans will tell you that one of its great qualities is that it's a bit like a sponge, soaking up and taking on the flavors of the other foods it's cooked with.
Tofu is also considered to be a very healthy food that's packed with nutrients. For example, tofu contains a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals, including manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Some experts also believe tofu can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Due to its high concentration of isoflavones, tofu might also improve brain function and bone health.