So the reality of my life right now is that school and work kind of run it. And I can usually accept that, except for when it comes to eating. And having time to spend in the kitchen.
When it comes to eating healthy, cooking is essential. There is just no way around it. In one of my classes recently, we looked at how the decline in people cooking at home correlated to the rise in obesity and it makes sense. I love eating out as much as the next person, but sensible cooking at home provides much needed balance.
I’ve been turning to baked tofu as a protein source pretty often because it is just so darn versatile. It can top salads, serve as the “meat” to a meat and potatoes type dish or even serve as a quick snack while I drive. It can be sliced, cubed, cut into sticks… literally, anything.
When I started using maple syrup & dijon mustard as a marinade, I swooned. Why hadn’t I done this sooner?? And then I was playing around with panko recently and a light bulb went off – crispy, crunchy baked tofu!
So, here’s my latest tofu obsession. You can make this in any shape you want, but these sticks were fun for dipping.
Though I love these little bean curds, I’ll be the first to admit that tofu is one of those things that can either be really tasty or really off-putting. When I first stopped eating meat, as an act of support or solidarity I guess, my dad bought himself a block of tofu. He called me a few days later to tell me how he had really tried to like it, but just couldn’t. I asked him how he prepared it and he said he hadn’t… just took a chunk right out of the package.
Eek, dad. But I really appreciated the effort. Maybe I should make this tofu for him at some point!
My rules for this type of tofu (not silken, which BTW can magically whip up into basically anything):
- Choose extra-firm tofu, though firm will work too
- Freeze it and then thaw it in the refrigerator (usually overnight)
- Press the heck out of it
- Let it sit in marinade for at least 30 minutes
- Bake it for a while
This might sound kind of high maintenance, but it’s a lot of hands-off time so it’s easy to do while you’re doing other things. Like tons of homework 😛
Side note… somehow, this is my very first tofu recipe (!!) here on The Tofu Travels, which is kind of ironic. Yay, tofu!
Nutritional Super Powers:
Tofu – Plant-based protein (including many essential amino acids), Calcium & Iron
- FOR MARINADE:
- 1 14oz. block extra-firm tofu
- 3 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- FOR BREADING:
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 c. whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- Slice tofu into 6 equal slices and then cut those in half to make 12 "sticks". To press tofu, place pieces between 2 clean dish towels and place a heavy object on top of it (cans of beans work well). Let drain for 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the 3 tbsp. of mustard, 2 tbsp. of syrup and 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar. Add salt & pepper and taste to make adjustments.
- Place tofu on a shallow pan/dish and pour marinade over it. Flip tofu pieces so they are well-coated.
- Let sit for 20-30min. While the tofu marinates, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Whisk together the egg, 2 tbsp. mustard and 1 tbsp. syrup. Place panko breadcrumbs in a separate dish.
- Dip each piece of tofu in the egg mixture and then coat with the panko breadcrumbs. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then flip each piece over and bake for 20 more minutes.
I dipped these in a super quick sauce. I just mixed some dijon mustard & maple syrup into some plain greek yogurt. Voila! More mustardy goodness.
To make this vegan, substitute the egg for a flax egg (mix 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp. water and let sit for 5 min., until thick)
Nutrition Info (per stick, without dip):
76 calories, 5g protein, 2g fat, 10g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 107mg sodium