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Veggie of the Week: Tofu

Okay, so it's not technically a veggie, but tofu definitely deserves a nutrition spotlight. Tofu is made from ground soybeans that are coagulated into curds and then pressed into a block - hence the name, bean curd. The blocks can be sold as silken, soft, firm or extra firm, giving a cook many options for incorporating tofu into a dish or making it the star of the show.

Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it popular among the vegetarian/vegan crowd. Half of a package of tofu contains about 18 grams of protein, which is almost the amount of protein found in three ounces of chicken. Plus, the soy in tofu is considered a "complete" protein, meaning it contains all of the necessary amino acids that our body can't make and must get from food. The fat found in tofu, similarly to nuts and seeds, is mostly in the form of heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Tofu is also a pretty good source of iron, so you don't always have to turn to red meat to get your fill of this micronutrient, which is essential for red blood cells.

Tossed in stir frys, salads or soups, tofu will easily take on the flavor of any dish. And you can rest assured that you're adding a protein-rich, nutrient-dense "veggie" to your meal.