Friday, March 18, 2011

Tofu Two Ways! Healthy, Low Carb Recipes

The other day, I got brave and ventured into the world of tofu. I am not a vegetarian. I have never been into cooking "non traditional" types of foods. But the plan I am on (Medifast 5&1) allows a pretty generous portion of tofu per day: 15 ounces of Mori-Nu Silken firm, extra firm, or soft tofu. Fifteen ounces is a *lot* of food, especially combined with 3 servings of vegetables. It's more than I can eat in one sitting, like the volume of Egg Beaters allowed (2 cups) or the amount of canned tuna permitted (almost 2 whole, small cans). On hungry days I like to split my protein portion up... maybe have half for lunch and half for dinner. That's why these recipes use only half of the allowed amount of tofu. But you can easily double the tofu in each recipe if you like!

Recipe 1: Tofu Parmesan

I got the idea for this recipe here, but tweaked it to make it low carb. It is really good!

Take your block of extra-firm tofu and slice it into four thinner pieces as pictured. Put the slices between some layers of paper towels and put something heavy on top to press out extra water. After an hour or so, your tofu is ready to use! (I am told freezing the tofu and thawing it ahead of time gives it a "meatier" texture, but I didn't try that this time). Put two of the slices in a ziplock baggie in the fridge for future use.

Take the two remaining slices of tofu and dip them carefully into a bowl of Egg Beaters (or beaten egg). Then dredge the slices in a crumb mixture. You have 3 options: I used half a pack of Medifast Parmesan Puffs crushed in a baggie and mixed with a bit of onion powder, sea salt, and black pepper. If you are low carbing but not on Medifast, you can use Parmesan cheese. Or, you can use the breadcrumb mixture in the link above.

Place the breaded tofu slices on a cookie sheet that you've rubbed 1/2-1 tsp olive oil on. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then flip the tofu over and bake another 15 minutes. Top with one serving of any low carb tomato sauce (I used a generic brand pizza sauce that has 4 grams of carbs per serving) and an ounce of 2% low fat mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven just until the cheese melts.

If you are on Medifast, this counts as 3/4 of your Lean and one serving of Green with 1/2-1 Healthy Fat. Be sure and add whatever condiments you used... my combined seasonings totalled less than one condiment. The Puffs in the breading counts as half a Medifast meal. I just ate the other half of the Parmesan Puffs earlier in the day to be sure I got in all 5 Medifast meals.

Recipe 2: Asparagus Tofu Stir Fry

I got the idea for this recipe here but tweaked it a lot myself. This one was pretty simple. Take two slices of tofu in a sandwich baggie (prepared as described above) and add some lite soy sauce, a bit of crushed garlic, and some ginger. Let it marinate for a half hour or so. Drain and cut into triangles.

Prepare your vegetables. For Medifast you will want a total of 1.5 cups cooked. I used asparagus, broccoli, green onions, and shredded cabbage. Toss them in a nonstick pan that's been heated with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Stir fry until crisp-tender. Scoot them over to the side and add the tofu triangles and cook until they are browned. Flip them over and brown the other side. Stir everything together. I then added a bit of pepper and lite soy sauce. You can, if you wish, add things like red pepper flakes or balsamic vinegar but be sure to count it.

This makes a nice big plate of food, and very tasty! In the skillet:

On the plate:

If you're on Medifast, this recipe counts as 1/2 Lean and 3 Greens with 1 Healthy Fat. Be sure and count whatever condiments you used but you do not have to count the marinade, as it is drained off.

Enjoy your tofu!


Anonymous said...

Thses look awesome ! Thank you Lynn! Can't wait to try them.

Theresa said...

that looks soooo good. What did you think of the tofu? Would you recommend it? I have bought it twice and chickened out cooking it. Trash day came and out it went. :(

Sandy "Sugarspice76" said...

How did you like the tofu? I am still nervous to try it but I will never know until I do. How is the texture? Creamy? Like meat? These recipes look good and it makes me want to try it but tboy is that a lot of tofu to eat!

Lyn said...

Theresa & Sandy~

Yes, I did like it! It was not at all creamy or mushy. Not as firm as chicken though. Yes I'd recommend it and will make it again; I liked the second recipe better (more flavorful). Tofu has no real flavor but tastes like whatever it is marinated in or mixed with so very mild. I will try freezing it and thawing it next time to try and get the more "meaty" texture.

If you want creamy, the silken soft tofu is outstanding. I just pureed some in the blender with my Medifast pudding mix and some Splenda and it was yummy and creamy.

Candy kankles said...

I have tried to cook it before and it was a disaster! Im gonna have to try these thanks :)

Beyond Willpower said...

I LOVE tofu parm! I've been making it lately.

I would make some now if I had the time. I like to dip it in soy milk/lemon juice mixture and then coat it in brown rice flour mixed with a bit of arrowroot (For a nice crispy texture, I don't currently have breadcrumbs, and I'm gluten free so they're a pain to make) and I add basil and oregano and garlic salt to the flour mix and it is sooooo good.

timothy said...

sounds good but my experience with tofu is limited to chunks in some oriental soups which i did NOT care for. i'm gonna have to try the tofu parm that one looks doable! thanks for the info and have yourself a great weekend now ya hear!

Karen@WaistingTime said...

I have never cooked tofu in my life! But your recipes look delicious. Funny thing is my picky eater son,away at college, has meals on Fridays with friends and since one is a vegetarian my son has been eating tofu!

Liway said...

This looks yummy Lyn!! I'm going to pick up some tofu today!! :) Thanks for the inspiration (as always!!)

Anonymous said...

I bet you will come to love tofu. It is so versatile. The firm is great for baking or stir-frying like you did, but silken tofu can also be pureed into sauces (think alfredo) to give them a protein punch and soups to make them creamy without all the saturated fat of cheese. One other tofu tip - pressing the water out with paper towels before stir-frying at a high temp will give it a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside texture and will suck up the taste of your cooking liquid (I like sesame oil). Enjoy!

Cortney said...

For all of you looking to try tofu the absolute most important thing is to get extra firm and press the hell out of it to get rid of ALL the extra water- I press mine for 20 minutes between two cloth napkins.

I always thought I disliked tofu until I made it myself, at home. Extra firm tofu, completely drained, sliced thinly, and marinated/spiced correctly is the way to go. The cubes of tofu in soup at Chinese/Japanese restaurants are simply sliced tofu dropped into the soup, which is why they're mushy. Also, some places don't take the time to drain the tofu, so even in stir fries it's mushy/soggy and kind of unappetizing.

If you think about it, tofu is just as bland as chicken breasts. Both need lots of spices and/or good marinades and a good prep to not taste rubbery and dull :)

Beyond Willpower said...

I thought I'd answer the 'texture of tofu question":

it's kind of like a hard boiled egg white. it's not like meat at all, it's just a source of protein. if you fry it it gets crispy, I pan grill mine, using no oil, it gets a little crispy and firm on the outside, I put sauce of some type on it, like bbq and red onions and rice is really good.

It's not so scary. :D

MincaAnne said...

Definitely, definitely freeze tofu for at least 24 hours before using it in dishes like this (unless you like mushier tofu). As soon as I get home from the grocery store, I drain my tofu and stick it in a ziplock baggie then stick it in the freezer. This way, I always have tofu ready to go whenever I feel like cooking it. Defrost it in a colander under hot running water (if you need it quickly) and gently squeeze it like a sponge to get as much water as you can out. I've also found that the tofu absorbs more of the flavors in the dish this way. I've been theorizing about using Parmesan puffs as breading for tofu parm, and here you've already tested it, so awesome, thanks!