Are you getting tired of eating chicken and rice? Or maybe you’ve thought about switching to a plant-based diet but don’t know where to start? Well, tofu is a high-protein and budget-friendly meat-alternative to add to your diet.
As athletes, we need more protein than the average sedentary person since we are constantly breaking down and rebuilding muscle. Eating the same protein sources every day can become boring and expensive; adding tofu to your list of favorites can help! One-half cup (about 4 ounces) of firm tofu offers about 10 grams of protein and 95 calories, as well as 6.5 mg of iron. A good protein target per meal is at least 20 grams, so consider coming back for a second helping!
One nice thing about tofu compared to other meat options is that it will take on any flavor you give it, making it very versatile. This recipe uses maple syrup and soy sauce to give the tofu a sweet and sour flavor that you typically get from a classic Chinese takeout dish. These bites are tasty as an appetizer or snack on their own, but you can also add them to a stir-fry by mixing them with vegetables and serving over rice to make a full balanced meal
I chose to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe because it holds its shape best when mixed with vegetables. Firm tofu would also work well. Lastly, there is silken tofu which is the softest of the three types of tofu. It likely wouldn’t hold its shape in a dish like this but is better in soups or blended into smoothies. Silken tofu has less protein per serving than the two firmer options.
This recipe for Sweet-n-Sour Tofu Bites is one of many favorites from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 6th Edition (page 440):
1 cake tofu (14-16oz), firm or extra firm
1 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp water
– Drain the water from the tofu package before wrapping the block in a towel and let it sit for 10 minutes to absorb excess water
– Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes
– Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the tofu to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes making sure each side gets brown and slightly crispy
– While the tofu is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together thoroughly before pouring over the tofu in the skillet
– Continue to cook the tofu in the sauce as it thickens and gets absorb bu the tofu; about 12-15 minutes
– Remove from the heat and serve as is or over rice and vegetables!
Yields: 4 servings as an appetizer (with toothpicks) or 2 servings as a meal in stir fry
700 total calories, 175 calories per appetizer serving: 15g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 8g fat
Written by guest blogger and Simmons University Nutrition student Gelia Kenney