The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Shelbyville News”. By: Blaise Doubman.
Healthier, Protein-Packed, French Fries!
What if I told you that you could have something that tasted just like french fries but were packed with protein and so much healthier than deep fried french fries? Would you believe me? What if I told you I had a recipe for tofu french fries that you may question at first but would completely fall in love with after you tried them? Well, guess what? It is true! When I first started thinking about coming up with a “healthier” version of a french fry, I was, as you might have guessed, on my second plate of freshly fried french fries. Ha! I have always loved french fries, all kinds and all varieties, but I know they are not the healthiest snack of choice. There is nothing quite like super-hot french fries dipped in really good cold ketchup. Ketchup! Another example of not the healthiest choice. Why? It contains so much sugar! Anyways, the point is, I love french fries. After thinking about healthier alternatives, I decided that I simply could not develop a recipe for “healthy french fries” by using potatoes. Even using an air fryer or baking them in the oven would not work for what I was looking for here.
So, I got to brainstorming about reworking french fries completely. I have seen a popular TikTok video floating around the internet of “carrot french fries”. They looked good but after all, carrots contain quite a bit of sugar too, so I decided to skip that. Then I remembered an ingredient that I told myself I was going to try and work more with several years ago – tofu! Yes, I expect this to be a bit controversial but just trust me on this. I tried several different tofu variations, and the firm is what you want to work with here because it has the perfect texture and that is so particularly important in these french fries. I was completely blown away by the first taste test I did with these. Then blown away even more by the second, third and so on. You really can not tell the difference between these fries and your typical homemade variety, except these are not only healthier but I really do think have more flavor! If you are a vegetarian or vegan this is the perfect side dish with your vegetable burger. If you are a meat eater and love an all-beef cheeseburger, these would still be a wonderful side dish! I just love these, and they are something I can feel good about eating. I highly recommend this recipe!
It is important to use firm tofu for this recipe. These are best eaten as hot from the oven as you can stand. Sprinkle with black pepper and salt but you can also sprinkle with red pepper flakes and garlic powder.
1 package firm tofu
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Start by cutting your tofu into ½-inch sized fries.
Lay a layer of paper towels onto a large baking sheet. Place the fries onto the prepared baking sheet and cover with another layer of paper towels, on top of the fries.
Place a baking sheet on top of this and weigh down with several large soup cans. This will help press the excess liquid away from the tofu. Let stand at room temperature like this for 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with the olive oil. Spread around with clean hands to ensure the baking pan has been coated evenly.
Be sure your tofu is fairly dry, patting it drier if necessary. Lay the prepared tofu onto the prepared baking sheet, in a single layer with about ½-inch between each fry. Sprinkle evenly with the black pepper and salt. This is where you would add the red pepper flaked and garlic powder too, if using. Be mindful of your seasoning and make sure they are seasoned evenly.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning each fry every 15 minutes until brown.
Remove and serve hot.
Ask and Answer: I have had some questions about gluten free recipes. You can essentially make just about any recipe “gluten free” by using special gluten free ingredients, such as gluten free flours. Check out your local baking area in your local grocery store and be prepared to be amazed at all the different gluten free baking mixes and ingredients that are available!