Which is healthier between Tofu and Paneer?


It is no longer a surprise to find tofu showing up in restaurant menus and health tiffins. Many have taken to switching to tofu and giving paneer a complete miss, while there are others who try to balance by including both in their diet.

Both are easily available
While paneer is always available and can also be made at home, the process of making tofu is tedious. Made by curdling soymilk so that its protein gets coagulated and then pressed into a solid block, tofu is a natural and nourishing vegan product which looks quite similar to paneer. This meticulous process of making tofu makes it richer in nutrients and protein, as compared to paneer.

Paneer or Tofu – Which is healthier?
As seen in the nutritional information of both tofu and paneer, both seem to be beneficial in one way or the other. According to Dr. Deepshikha Agarwal, “Due to its low fat content, tofu is ideal for weight loss, advisable for those suffering from diabetics and heart patients. To find a quick balance, one can include paneer twice a week and tofu thrice a week in the diet. Tofu might soon become a part of our Indian staple diet because of its nutritional benefits and the variety which it offers in every dish whether it’s a subzi, salad or a soup. Tofu is also beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant who cannot have paneer.” Thus, consumption of paneer in moderation and in proper form is advisable over completely shunning it while getting used to tofu which is beneficial for the weight watchers club.

Select the best
When it comes to paneer, the choices are limited to paneer made from full fat milk (which is softer, creamier and high in fat content) or that made from cow’s milk (with less fat but similar taste), either bought from a store or made at home. However, tofu varies in texture from soft to firm to extra firm. Soft tofu has a smoother texture and is used for salad dressings, sauces and desserts while the firm and extra firm are best for baking, stir frying and grilling. Remember, firmer the tofu, higher the fat content whereas the softest tofu has the lowest fat content. Finally, if you are looking for a tofu that is more easily digested and more likely to contain nutrients in forms that are better absorbed, look for fermented tofu.

Tips on making tofu firm
Packaged tofu contains a fair amount of water, and if you want to remove this moisture you can freeze it after pressing it. Remove the tofu from the packet and cover it with paper towels and place it on a firm surface. Put a heavy object on top of the tofu and press it down so that the water is drained out. Leave it for 20 minutes after which remove the pressure and the paper towels and put the tofu in a freezer, packed in a sealed freezer bag. Whenever you are ready to use it, remember to thaw it well. The tofu stored in this form will change to a slightly more yellowish colour and will have a little more chewy texture but will help soak the sauces and flavours better.

Ways to use tofu in your diet
- Stir fry or grill tofu with vegetables like capsicum, carrots, onions, all diced into small cubes.
- Soft tofu, garlic and lemon juice blended together makes for an interesting dip.
- Crumble soft tofu and scramble it along with onion, tomatoes and coriander with spices to make a tofu bhurji which can also be served wrapped in a roti roll or in a tortilla served with a salsa dip.
- Tofu cubes can also be added to your regular fruit salad with a drizzle of honey.
- Brush tofu cubes with a little oil and heat them on a griddle till they are light brown in colour. Eat these with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or add these to your favourite hot soup.
- Once you get used to the taste of tofu, you can replace paneer with tofu in regular delicacies like palak paneer, matar paneer, etc.

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