Carla Hall's Go-To Vegan Protein Is A Supermarket Staple

Chef Carla Hall might not identify as a vegan, but she's not one to shy away from plant-based foods either. Hall told Kitchn that she doesn't really follow any specific kind of meal plan but, instead, focuses on how her foods make her feel. For her, that means swapping out some standard proteins with plant-based options.

Her favorite breakfast is apparently a high-protein oatmeal. She told Harper's Bazaar that she was told to work more protein into her diet, but was resistant because she didn't want to part with her morning oatmeal. Instead, she swapped it out for a high-protein oatmeal mix.

According to Kitchn, Hall's go-to vegan protein source is Nasoya brand extra-firm tofu. This brand is commonly found among other vegan selections at major grocery chains and won't even require a trip to a specialized grocery store. Hall said she gets hers from the local Safeway and loves the way that tofu can take on a wide variety of flavors.

What is tofu

Tofu has been one of the go-to vegetarian protein options for centuries. Tofu emerged as a common food around the 10th century and was a great source of protein for vegetarian Buddhists in Asia. It started to spread around the globe along with Buddhist ideas in the 1970s. Tofu has gone from being an Asian-exclusive cooking ingredient to a common supermarket staple that can be found around the globe. It serves as a great meat replacement but also does well in its own dishes, like spicy Mapo Tofu or these Kung Pao Tofu Puffs.

It's made by compressing soy milk into solid rectangles and comes in a variety of textures that are well suited for use in soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, and as a replacement for meat. It also contains all nine amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source. It's also a great source of iron, fiber, and calcium. Tofu's been shown to have a high amount of antioxidants and other nutrients that have been linked to improved heart health as well.

Hall's tofu tips

Hall told Kitchn that one of the best things about tofu is its ability to take on other flavors. She loves to cut her tofu into cubes to help get most of the water out and then mix it with spices to give it a boost of flavor.

"I think the one thing about tofu that people are afraid of, they're like, 'Oh, it doesn't have any flavor.' Well, you have to do something to it. With the tofu, drain it. You can try to get most of the water out and then you have to marinate it," Hall told Essence.

She said that this might sound like work to some, but it also gives you all the control to decide what kind of flavor you want the tofu to have.

Extra firm tofu is best suited for frying because its texture can hold up to higher temperatures. Once you get the water pressed out of the tofu, it can also crisp up really well. Tearing tofu into smaller pieces will give you maximum crispiness. The uneven surfaces of torn tofu help give it a unique texture similar to fried breading. Coating it in corn starch or blanching it in salty water will also help get more moisture out and help you get the crispiest tofu possible.