Crispy Tofu Sticks Recipe with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Please welcome Stephanie of The Recipe Renovator, who graciously agreed to guest post for me today. I can't wait to try her recipe for these yummy kid-friendly crispy tofu sticks, a healthier alternative to chicken nuggets. I asked her to guest post because I am a huge fan of her blog and I am inspired to think outside the box when it comes to feeding my kids. This recipe might take a bit of fore thought and prep, but in the end I think you might be surprised by how your kids might like it. This is a great recipe for any family who eats vegan, or wants to try something different. 
I was soexcited when Michelle asked me to write a guest post for Muffin Tin Mom, whichI think is about the cutest blog ever. I don't have kids, but I used to work ata children's museum and taught cholesterol education to kids, so I thought backto successful recipes that are kid-friendly.

Thisrecipe, in my mind, is a "Sunday night" recipe. I grew up in atraditional Lutheran home, where we always had Sunday dinner after church. Thatmeal involved some kind of roast, a starch, side vegetable, and dessert.Everyone was expected, required actually, to attend and sit still for theentire meal.

Sundaynights were different. They were the only time we had unusual food, fun food,and frankly, unbalanced meals. Meals like Welsh rarebit (tomato soup with Velveetacheese melted into it, poured over toast), Velveeta-stuffed hot dogs wrapped increscent roll dough, and fish sticks. Oh, how I loved fish sticks! Sometimes mymom would even buy these little frozen crab cakes, which were absolutely thebest treat. Sunday night was toaster oven night, and we could eat when wewanted. These crispy tofu sticks remind me of those fun Sunday night dinners,but are far healthier. And as shown, a much more balanced meal than one of mySunday night memories.

I had made tofu "hot wings" for the Super Bowl and they were a big hit. Iadapted the basic technique, mellowing out the spices on the tofu sticks andcreating a less spicy version of my home-made barbecue sauce for dipping.

You couldmake these in place of fish sticks or chicken nuggets. Tofu is much lower infat than fish sticks or nuggets (and has no saturated fat), there are nofillers or additives, and these are baked, not fried. You can feel great aboutfeeding these to your family. If you have thought about trying Meatless Monday(one day a week without meat), you could serve these for dinner.

The saucecomes together easily and can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up toa month. I've explained the basic tecnique below, and suggest quickeralternatives in the notes at bottom. I hope you enjoy these! If your kids likeranch dressing, you can try my home-made recipe here.

Thanks tomy recipe testers Erik, Don, Ruby, Austin, and Kai, who gave these the thumbsup. They are also husband tested and approved! All five kids loved the tofusticks. Half of the kids liked the barbecue sauce, and half liked the ranchdressing.

Crispytofu sticks with mild barbecue sauce
Makes 16sticks and about 1-1/2 cups of sauce

Crispytofu sticks
  • 16 oz.super-firm tofu
  • 1/2 C. home-madebarbecue sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 C.garbanzo bean flour or almond meal
  • 1 T.nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 t.smoked salt
  • pinch ofwhite pepper, optional
  • 1/8 t.garlic powder
  • 1/8 t.onion powder

Press thetofu for at least 30 minutes (overnight if possible) using weights or a TofuXpress. If using weights, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel and placebetween two cutting boards. Put a heavy frying pan or pile of cookbooks on top.Pressing the tofu removes more water from it, giving it a meatier texture andallowing it to absorb more flavor.

Cut thetofu into 16 sticks, using the short side as your length, and making the piecesas even as possible.

Prick thepieces all over with a fork to help the tofu absorb the marinade. (Kids couldhelp with this!)

Put someof the barbecue sauce in the bottom of your marinating dish (something with atight-fitting lid), add the tofu sticks, then pour the rest of the sauce over.Cover, shake well, and marinate in the refrigerator, overnight if possible.

Preheatthe oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix thedry ingredients together in a shallow bowl, stirring with a fork. (Kids can dothis step too!) Take each piece of tofu and wipe off extra sauce with yourfingers. Roll each piece of tofu in the breading, making sure it sticks to eachside evenly and isn't too thick.

 It should be a nice even coating. Place on theprepared cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray, and flip over, making sure allthe breading is thoroughly coated with spray. (If it's too thick then you needto add more spray and therefore more oil.)

Bake for15 minutes, then flip all the pieces over. Lightly spray any dry patches withmore cooking spray. Bake another 18-20 minutes, until the sticks are crispy andgolden brown. Serve with barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, or ketchup.

Kid-friendlyBarbecue Sauce
Makesabout 1-1/2 cups

  • 1/4 smallred onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 T. oliveoil
  • 1 T. applecider vinegar
  • 1 T. realmaple syrup
  • 2 T.Bragg's liquid aminos, wheat-free tamari, or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 C.tomato sauce (made from just tomatoes, no salt added)

Saute theonion in the oil over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add theremaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender untilsmooth.

Some important tips:

There are three specialty ingredients you will need to buy: smoked salt,nutritional yeast, and garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour. If your family can haveregular wheat flour, you can use that instead of the bean flour. The bean flourdoes add a nice heartiness and thickness to the coating, and makes thesegluten-free. The nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk foods department athealth food stores so you don't have buy a whole package. You can use regularsalt, but the smoked salt adds some meaty flavor and I love using it in soups andstews as well.

If yourkids can have nuts, you can pulse almonds into meal in the blender and use thatinstead of the garbanzo bean flour. This makes the coating even crispier andheartier.

If theseare a hit, you can mix up the dry coating in bulk and store it in an airtightcontainer, pulling out what you need. (If it includes ground nuts, store it inthe fridge.) You can also use this same method to coat firm fish like mahi-mahior tuna, chicken tenders, or pork strips.

You can use store-bought barbecue sauce orketchup thinned with water to marinate the tofu. Note that both do have a lotof sugar (high-fructose corn syrup) in them.

**Stephanie Weaver blogs at The Recipe Renovator She has a Master’s degree in Public Health in nutrition education and has been cooking delicious, healthy food for friends and family for more than three decades. She is also a recipe contributor to Meatless Monday,Earth Eats, and Bob’s Red MillGojee, andBlogHer Food

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