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Crisp tofu bites, low-fat ranch dip make a guilt-free snack – Detroit Free Press

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If you’re seeking a meat substitute, try versatile and plant-based tofu. It’s made from soy, and we have good news about that: Soy contains natural plant compounds called isoflavones that reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Because isoflavones can mimic behaviors of the hormone estrogen, a common fear is that the isoflavones in tofu can increase the risk of cancer. A review of studies shows, however, that isoflavones do not increase breast, thyroid or uterine cancer. In addition, they can help post-menopausal women manage hot flashes, fatigue and mood disturbances.
Unfamiliar with tofu? It’s a bit similar to cheese, which is made from milk. In this case, milk from soybeans is pressed out and the remaining curds are pressed into cakes like little blocks of soft cheese. Unlike cheese, tofu is cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fats.
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Tofu comes in different textures: soft, firm and extra firm. Extra-firm tofu contains the least water, and it’s the best for making today’s crispy tofu snack. Still, you’ll need to press out the excess water.
Simply cut the tofu into slices and place the pieces between two kitchen towels or paper towels. Put a heavy skillet on top of the towels for about 30 minutes. Pressing out the excess moisture and will make your tofu bites crisp on the outside and creamy in the center.
The tofu bites are delicious on their own, and they’re also good with your favorite dipping sauce. Try them also as a topper for salads or as a filling for tacos and wraps.
Bethany Thayer is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health. For more recipes and health information, visit henryford.com/blog. For questions about today’s recipe, email HenryFordLiveWell@hfhs.org.
Serves: 4 (about 7 bites per serving) / Prep time: 30 minutes / Total time: 1 hour
1 block (about 14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Ranch Dip
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
½ cup fat-free sour cream
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
To prepare the tofu, slice the block into 2 or 3 slabs about ¾ to 1 inch thick. Press out additional water using a tofu press or place slabs side by side on paper towels on a flat surface. Cover with another layer of paper towel and place a heavy skillet on top.
Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove paper towels and cut tofu into ¾ inch cubes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine tofu with olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper; toss gently to coat.
Evenly spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place tofu on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dip. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. 
Remove baking sheet from the oven, turn over each tofu bite, and bake for 15 minutes more. Serve with dip and carrots and celery, if desired.
From Henry Ford LiveWell. 
209 calories (45% from fat), 11 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 14 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams protein, 135 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, 288 mg calcium, 2 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 milk, 2 fat.

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