Wendyl Wants To Know

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Wants To Know: A good way to introduce tofu to your children

5 comments
Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Bean Supreme Marinated Tofu - $6.50 for 250g (serves two)

Most parents at some stage have a child sit down at the dinner table and announce that they have decided to become a vegetarian or vegan. Three out of our five children remain vegetarian or vegan in adulthood so I've had a fair bit to do with tofu. It is the first thing frightened parents reach for in an effort to ensure their growing children get enough protein, but cooking it is another matter. It takes a lot of practice and it's best if you use a marinade to give it some flavour. We eat a lot of this product in our house because it cooks up well and is enjoyed by everyone so I thought it was about time I took a look at what is in it.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity)

Tofu (60 per cent)

Water

Soybeans
Tofu is made out of coagulating (making solid) soymilk. You get soymilk by mixing soybeans with water and squeezing out the juice which is known as soymilk. Many people seek out GM free soybeans which means their genes have not been altered to either perform better or in the case of America, half the crops planted in 1999 carried a gene which made it resistant to the herbicide Roundup used to control weeds. Many people oppose GM foods because of the risk to biodiversity and the unknown effects on humans. There is no reference on the pack that these soybeans are GM free but on the maker's website they do state that they "vigorously source certified non-genetically engineered ingredients from all of our suppliers". Not only that, but they also test all incoming shipments of soybeans for GM traces.

Firming agent [calcium sulphate]
This is the agent used to coagulate the soymilk so that curds or solids are formed from which the tofu is then made. Calcium sulphate is commonly used for the process and it also has the added benefit of supplying calcium to the tofu. In this case you get 575mg of calcium per 125g serve which is about half the recommended daily intake for an adult.

Ginger

Spring onions

Garlic

Canola oil

Hoisin and sesame marinade (40 per cent)
Hoisin sauce (66 per cent)
Sugar, Water, Fermented soybean paste: another name for this is miso. It's soybeans made into a paste and then fermented. When salt is added it has a meaty taste. Salt, Garlic, Sesame seed, Modified starch (e1422) This is acetylated distarch adipate which is basically corn starch which has been acetylated. This means it has been heated with acetic anhydride or acetyl chloride to remove its water. It is commonly used in processed food to thicken it.
Acidity regulator e260 This is acetic acid, glacial, which is commonly found in vinegar. Glacial means it is water-free acetic acid.
Natural colour (e150) This is plain caramel which does not have any sulphites or ammonium in it as other caramel colours do.
Spices (contains wheat)
Water

Kepcap manis
I think this should read Kecap Manis as I couldn't find any reference to Kepcap Manis. It is a thick and sweet soy sauce.

Soy beans (see above), Wheat flour, Sugar, Salt, Water, Preservative (e211) This is sodium benzoate, a common preservative which is fine on its own but not if mixed with some artificial colours which aren't listed in this ingredients panel. Ginger, Sesame oil (3.5 per cent), Chilli puree, Food acid (e260) This is acetic acid, glacial, as above.

Garlic

My recommendations:
I'm always going on about the number of ingredients in food and this certainly has a lot of ingredients - 20 to be precise - but the majority are real food such as soybeans, ginger, garlic or sauce ingredients. I'm mystified as to why the fact that these soybeans are GM free isn't highlighted on the packaging because this is something most healthy eaters look out for when seeking out any soy products.

It is also high in salt due to the sauces coming in at 687.5mg per serving which is the equivalent of 1.7g of salt per serving .

As a protein source one serving will give you 13.5g of protein compared to a steak of the same size which would give you about 30g. The Ministry of Health suggests children have 14g to 19g of protein a day from ages one to three increasing up to 27g to 39g a day for eight- to 11-year-olds.

If you are experimenting with tofu for the first time, this is a good product to start with because some tofu just doesn't taste that great but your kids will like this one.

Highlights
* Uses GM free soybeans, even though it doesn't say so on the label.
* High in calcium, but also salt.
* Great protein alternative to meat.

Do you have a food product you would like to feature in Wendyl Wants to Know? Email her at wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with your suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond directly with readers.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 22 Oct 2014 16:47:24 Processing Time: 496ms