Tofu – that’s just for vegetarians, right?
Tofu is a highly nutritious food that, rather than being seen as just an alternative to meat, should be included in your baby’s diet on its own merits!
Tofu is part of the legume family. It is fermented soymilk curd – the process by which it is made compares to the way that cheese is made from milk. Tofu is a rich source of protein, calcium, iron, fibre and fatty acids – key components for good nutrition.
There are two basic types of tofu – hard/firm tofu, often used in recipes that need a consistency which holds together well – and soft or silken tofu, generally used for desserts, smoothies, soups and sauces.
Fresh tofu has a sweet aroma when opened – any sour odour would indicate that it is stale and should not be used for your baby. It will keep for seven days in the refrigerator and should be placed in an airtight container of water. It is, however, essential that the water is changed on a daily basis. Tofu does not freeze particularly well – upon defrosting it becomes somewhat spongy in texture and appears discoloured.
You can introduce this versatile and healthy food to your baby once he/she is at least 8 months of age. (It is important, however, to be aware that soy is a potential allergen. When introducing it to your baby for the very first time, watch carefully for any signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stuffy or runny nose, watery or red eyes and wheezing. Should you ever suspect your baby is allergic to a particular type of food, then contact a medical professional immediately).
It is very easy to incorporate tofu into your baby’s diet because it has very little taste of its own. Instead, it absorbs the flavours of any foods it comes into contact with.
Initially, you could try blending tofu with cottage cheese or avocado, for a simple, nutritious meal. Soft tofu creamed with fruit would make a delicious dessert for baby. Alternatively, tofu can be cut into chunks and served to your baby raw, as healthy finger food.
Taking into account tofu’s extensive nutritional properties, along with its versatility, it would clearly provide a very worthwhile boost to most babies’ diets.