Chef Wendell shares tofu cooking, serving ideas

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — What’s square, white, jiggles, weighs eight ounces, makes you gag and can clear a room in three seconds?

Tofu strikes dread in the hearts of the bravest, freezing them in fear at its mere mention — like the feeling when receiving notification of an IRS audit. Although tofu is everywhere, don’t expect to see the International House of Tofu popping up soon.

Asians have been eating tofu for 5,000 years. It’s not that tofu is bad for us; it’s how much of the ancient bean curd we eat. Use soy as a protein source, but, like everything else, make sure you’re not eating it exclusively as a protein source. Less is more.

Everyone knows protein builds muscles. That’s why protein is required by athletes and body builders. Pick up any energy or protein bar and I bet the first or second ingredient is soy protein isolate. That’s where the problem begins: with excess.

The American Dietetic Association reports, “Soy protein isolates are known to contain anti-nutrients that can develop or delay the body’s ability to digest food and absorb all the nutrients into the blood stream.” A Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences report foods with higher levels of isoflavones can potentially increase the risk of cancer. Smell what I’m cooking?

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Protein isolates isoflavones mimic the effects of estrogen.

• Hence, soy protein can actually cause imbalances in the body hormones and could even cause the enlargement or depression of the thyroid gland leading to rapid weight gain or weight loss.

Men: Too much intake of soy protein isolates

• Could lower sperm count and libido. This, however, only occurs upon too much intake of the said soy protein form.

Nursing Mothers:

• “Soy is widely used in infant formulas, with nearly 25 percent of the formula sold in the U.S. soy-based,” according to Soy formulas have relatively high levels of isoflavones, which has raised concern about the potential long-term effects of soy formulas on the development and immune function of growing children.”

To be fair and balanced, Dr. Andrew Weil has an alternate take on soy. Pressed Tofu Kebabs for Grilling

To press tofu, you’ll need a cutting board, paper towels or a clean dish cloth, a large bowl and a can of something to use as a weight / press. If you do not like teriyaki, use whatever marinade that pleases your palette.

• Remove silken tofu from the package, drain and wrap it in an absorbent towel.

• Place the wrapped tofu in a dish then balance the can or a brick on top of it to squeeze out the water.

• Leave it overnight in the refrigerator. By morning it will be half its original size and significantly firmer and much easier to work with.

1 pkg. firm or extra firm “SILKEN” Tofu-(Organic and non-GMO when available)

2 cups soy sauced, hot pepper flakes and honey (teriyaki flavor)

4 green pepper chunks

4 red bell chunks

4 zucchini circles

Pineapple cubes

4 red onion chunks

4 grape tomatoes

Wood skewers soaked in water for at least one hour. (This prevents the wooden skewers from igniting on the grill.)

• Cut everything into equal large cubes. Place the cubes onto skewers, alternating with the pineapple, tofu and vegetables to form a colorful arrangement. Pour sauce over kabobs and allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes or more.

• For best results allow kabobs to marinate over night.

• Cook over a grill until marks appear. Do not overcook or you’ll destroy the digestive enzymes and trash the tofu.