Known to most as the dairy free cousin of cottage cheese, tofu is a great addition to your diet, whether you are plant based or not. Other than giving you roughly 10 g of protein per 100 g (believe me, as a vegan substitute it’s a lot), it is such a versatile food that even the most novice kitcheneer’s would be able to cook up some delicious treats with it!
Not to mention it has so many benefits for the health of your skin, hair and overall wellness, you'd be mad to miss the opportunity to include more tofu in your diet. Keep reading to find out more about how tofu could benefit you.
Rich in collagen building amino acids
Protein aside, tofu boasts a generous profile of skin loving, collagen boosting ingredients that will also help to work wonders for your hair and nails! It is full of amino acids, specifically lysine, proline and glycine, which just happen to be the 3 amino acids that make up a collagen molecule (yet another reason why plant-based foods are amazing). Ensuring your body has enough of the building blocks for collagen is essential to ensuring your body can produce enough collagen to keep your skin, hair and nails healthy.
Loaded with Hair and Nail Boosting Selenium
Tofu is loaded with selenium, a trace mineral that is essential for hair and nail growth. It works by regulating the production of thyroid hormone, which in turn regulates hair growth. It also works alongside vitamin E, a potent antioxidant thats helps prevent free radicals damaging collagen in your skin cells. If that wasn’t enough, selenium also helps to build white blood cells in your body – the ringleaders of your immune defence against disease (among a pandemic, I don’t need to convince you how important this point is!).
Filled With Iron
One of the biggest causes of hairloss is a deficiency of iron in your body. Iron is essential for producinghaemoglobin - the vault within red blood cells that holds onto oxygen so it can be delivered to your cells. The excess iron in your body is stored in a protein called ferritin, some of which is stored within hair follicles.
When you have an iron deficiency, your body borrows the iron from the ferritin stored in your hair follicles, which weakens your hair follicle and causes an increase in hair fall. Thankfully, there are lots of plant-based foods such as tofu that can help to increase iron, and consequently ferritin levels in your hair follicles. This would improve the strength with which your hair shaft is rooted to the follicle on your scalp, reducing hair fall.
Iron is also involved in collagen synthesis and therefore a lack of iron can hinder the production of collagen, especially in places like your skin, hair or nails which your body considers to be non-vital areas for primary survival. Increasing your iron uptake can ensure that your body has an adequate supply of the mineral and prevent it from reducing collagen production in your skin and hair!
Contains Oestrogen Mimicking Compounds To Help with Menopause
And for all my lovely ladies going through menopause, you’ll be happy to know that soy products have their own hormones that can benefit you too! Soy products such as tofu contain genistein, a plant hormone that can mimic the activity of oestrogen in your body and your skin. When you’re young, your body is swimming in oestrogen, a prime hormone responsible for inhibiting MMP enzymes that break down collagen. This helps to keep your skin tight, bouncy and full of collagen. But as you approach menopause, your oestrogen production decreases letting those pesky enzymes wreak havoc as they barricade through your collagen. Including more soy products in your diet can keep those MMP enzymes in check and reduce the rate of collagen degradation, keeping your skin healthy and plump for longer!
There are so many ways you could incorporate tofu into your diet – as scrambled eggs, as marinated tofu bites, crumbled into your salad – the list goes on. But an incredibly nutritious way of incorporating it into your diet is in savoury tofu pancakes.
When you hear pancakes, it’s usually the sweet, fluffy delicacies doused in maple syrup you picture. But as I’m sure you know however, sugar (and all of its factory produced synthetic minions) don't do any favours to our skin, our energy or our overall wellbeing. But with a couple of tweaks and a few ingredient swaps, pancakes can be incredibly nutritious – and that’s exactly what I'm serving up for you today!
Savoury Tofu Pancakes
700g of firm tofu
1/3 – ½ cup of water or soy milk – alter depending on how watery your tofu is
1/3 cup of whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose flour or rice flour)
1 tsp baking powder (optional, but makes them fluffier)
2 tbsp of soy sauce
½ an onion, diced
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
¼ cup of chopped coriander
1 tbsp sesame oil (can use good quality vegetable oil as well)
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Drain the tofu and press gently between two paper towels to ensure the excess water is removed.
Add the tofu, 1/3 cup of soy milk, tahini, onions, ginger and garlic into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Remove the mixture into a bowl and fold in the flour, soy sauce, baking powder and coriander until they form a thick batter (if you have too thick of a mixture or your ingredients aren’t combining together, add in small volumes of milk or water until they form a thick batter.)
Add the oil to a large non-stick pan and put it over a medium heat.
When the oil in hot, use a ladle to spoon the batter into the pan (tip: to make circular pancakes, pour the batter into one spot on the pan and let it fan out itself).
Leave them to cook for about 3 minutes. Lift the edges gently to see if the bottom is golden brown and then flip the pancake until the other side is cooked through, usually in around 2/3 minutes. Serve hot!