The trick for making delicious tofu is twofold: First, you have to nail the spices; second, you have to dedicate your life (or, okay, a 45 minutes) to the pursuit of crispiness. The I Am a Food Blog folks meet both these criteria by walking you through a super simple seven-ingredient, sweet and savory sauce that includes crunchy cornstarch.
- Mary Keyes, MS, RD, registered dietitian nutritionist
These honey garlic tofu bites cook for 45 minutes in the oven, and about 50 minutes total. So while it's a bit more waiting time as protein options go, you're getting a lot of nutritional bang for your buck—particularly when it comes to caring for your body's infrastructure (hello, strong, healthy bones). Not to mention the fact that the process of prepping these bites is exceedingly easy.
This dish contains about 40 grams of protein, which works in tandem with calcium to strengthen your bones, says Mary Kate Keyes, RDN, director of nutrition and wellness for MindFirst Health and Fitness. "While the mechanisms are still being investigated, what we do know is that as long as you’re consuming enough calcium, a decent amount of protein can make a lot of difference in strengthening your bones," she says.
When we don't consume enough calcium, the body withdraws stores from our bones, which can lead to long-term health issues like osteoporosis. "Ensuring you're getting enough calcium every day, several times a day, is a great way to ensure that skeleton keeps you going for decades," says Keyes. So get serious about your calcium intake, everyone.
According to The National Institutes of Health, the calcium sweet spot is around 1,000 milligrams per day for folks between the age of 19 and 50, and work yourself up to 1,200 milligrams thereafter. This tofu dish alone offers a whopping 450 milligrams of calcium that—with a little teamwork from good old protein—can keep your bones healthy and strong.
"Ensuring you're getting enough calcium every day, several times a day, is a great way to ensure that skeleton keeps you going for decades." — Mary Kate Keyes, RDN
This honey garlic tofu is a great option no matter your dietary restrictions or food preferences, but Keyes says it's particularly game-changing for those plant-based eaters out there. Why? Tofu is what nutrition experts like to call a complete protein. "When we eat animal products, the protein we get is called 'complete,' meaning that it contains at least all the nine essential amino acids humans need," Keyes says.
Getting all nine on a no-meat diet can be a little more complex, as plant-based sources of complete protein are less common. "Most plant protein sources are incomplete, meaning that any given plant protein is missing an essential amino acid or two," says Keyes. Tofu is one exception: It contains all nine essential amino acids, as well fiber and less saturated fat than meat.
Basically: Tofu's a shy nutritional hero. Give it a little love—and a deliciously sweet, savory, and garlicky sauce—and you'll have a tasty, nutrient-dense dinner for your effort. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself.
Try I Am a Food Blog's honey garlic tofu recipe
Yields two servings
1 lb pressed tofu, firm or extra firm
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Green onions sliced, to garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dry off your tofu with a paper towel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with the cornstarch and arrange the tofu on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
2. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Midway through, flip the tofu cubes.
3. When you have just five minutes left on the baking time (at that point your tofu should be a light golden brown), it's time to prep the sauce. In a small frying pan, heat up honey, soy and garlic over medium heat until bubbly and thick. Taste and season with freshly ground pepper.
4. Garnish with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy hot!
Soy curious? A dietitian breaks down the vegan protein:
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