Tofu is a very nutritious and versatile meat alternative that can be used in lots of ways to replace or complement meat in your meals while camping.
Using tofu as a meat alternative while camping can be a great idea for many reasons.
Having tofu on your camping trip
One of the best parts about tofu is that it has a pretty long shelf life. If you buy the vacuum-sealed or shelf-stable types, you can bring it camping and stay out longer without having to replenish your tofu supply.
Tofu is absolutely an excellent source of plant-based protein. It gives you plenty of nutrients for energy and muscle recovery after a long, adventurous hike or bike trip.
One of the best parts of bringing tofu on a camping trip is that it is so versatile. You can add it to make a breakfast scramble, sandwiches, stir-fries, soups, and lots more.
One of the reasons I like to bring tofu on a camping trip as a meat alternative is that it doesn’t need refrigeration until it is open. This is a huge space saver when in an RV or camper van. It can be stowed anywhere in your recreational vehicle, which saves room in the fridge.
If you do any backpacking, it can be a great source of protein for your meals and not be a heavy item to carry.
Bringing tofu also reduces food safety concerns because tofu is less prone to things like spoilage or cross-contamination compared to any type of meat protein. This is especially true when you are traveling without any or reduced amounts of refrigeration.
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Best ways to bring tofu on your next camping trip
It’s always best to bring a firm or extra firm tofu. The firmer tofu is better for camping as it holds up much better during transport and cooking.
Marinating your tofu in your favorite sauces and seasonings before your camping trip really helps with packing. You won’t have to bring all those extra spice ingredients, and it also enhances the flavors that will be absorbed by the tofu.
By draining and pressing the tofu before you pack, it helps remove any excess moisture and allows the tofu to absorb your marinades better.
Using tofu as a meat alternative
Make sure you pick the right tofu for the meal you are making. It comes in different textures, like silken, soft, firm, and extra-firm. For meat-like texture meals, it’s best to use firm or extra-firm tofu.
It’s easy to press the tofu and get all the water out. Just place the tofu block between two clean kitchen towels or paper towels and put something heavy on top of it. Let that sit like that for about 30 minutes to really remove the excess moisture.
Marinating is imperative when using tofu, as it doesn’t really have any flavor on its own. Create a marinade using some of our favorite sauces, like soy sauce, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, or Italian dressing.
Once it is marinated, you can slice it or cube it, which is best for stir-fries. Crumbling your tofu will mimic the texture of ground meat to use in things like tacos, or chili.
The best way to prepare tofu for sandwiches or salads is to grill, pan-fry, or bake it. This will give it a crispy and meaty texture.
Tofu is easy to bread with batter or bread crumbs and pop into an air fryer for a wonderful crispy texture. Kind of like chicken nuggets or tenders.
If you are using the extra firm and you have marinated it for a while, you can grill it on your barbecue grill. This gives it a smoky flavor.
Cube your marinated tofu and thread them onto skewers with vegetables and grill them or roast them.
One of Paul’s favorite ways to use tofu is to cube it and add it to any curry dish for added protein and texture.
Ways to give tofu flavor
As we have already discussed, marinating your tofu is the only way to give it any flavor.
Pressing and drying tofu really helps the tofu get crispier and absorb more of the marinade during your cooking. The marinade helps the tofu develop a nice, flavorful outer layer. The higher the temperature, the more the sugars in your marinade caramelize, which gives you a delicious crust.
Soaking tofu in a tub of different sauces is a great way to let the sauce or gravy really infuse the tofu. This is very helpful when it comes to stir-fries, curries, or pasta dishes.
Another way to give your tofu flavor is to slice it and then rub a dry mixture of spices like paprika, cumin, chili powder, or garlic powder onto each slice before cooking.
The easiest way I have found to get as much flavor as possible is to saute the tofu with aromatics, like garlic, ginger, or onions. These flavors will permeate the tofu nicely.
One of Paul’s favorites is to drizzle some soy sauce or liquid aminos over the tofu and fry it. This really gives it a rich, umami flavor. Be careful, though, because it can be salty if you use too much.
Sometimes, I like to sprinkle nutritional yeast over the tofu before cooking or even after it’s done. This will give your tofu a fantastic cheesy, nutty flavor and add some extra nutrients at the same time.
Don’t forget the spice. If you like your meals more on the spicy side, then just marinade or saute your tofu slices or cubes in some hot sauce or citrus. This really gives any meal a zesty kick.
Remember, smoked paprika or liquid smoke really can make your tofu taste like meat. A small drop of either goes a long way with tofu.
Experiment with different flavors and methods of seasoning to discover what tastes you enjoy the most. The bland flavor of tofu really makes a great canvas to try different ingredients.
Different ways to cook tofu
Tofu is very versatile and can be prepared in many ways.
Here are a couple of ideas.
You can take silken tofu, cube it, and add it directly into a salad for a creamy addition.
As we already discussed, it can be stir-fried, scrambled, or grilled, but it can also be baked. Just marinate and put onto a baking sheet. This is a great way to get a nice crispy outer crust.
I like to add silken tofu to my smoothies for extra protein. This is a great way to add some creaminess without affecting the taste.
Another wonderful thing to do with tofu is to cube it and add it to soup, but make sure that you only add it at the end just to heat through.
My sister likes to hollow out a pepper or mushroom and stuff it with a mixture of crumbled tofu, vegetables, and seasonings for a quick meal.
When Paul and I started eating tofu, I used to cut it into really thick slices and marinate them for tofu ‘steaks’. Grill or bake them for a great, hearty main dish.
If you are a vegan, then making vegan ricotta is easy with silken tofu. Add some garlic, herbs, and nutritional yeast, and it can be used for lasagna or stuffed pasta dishes.
When we are camping, we like to have a night of tacos, and crumbled tofu makes a great meat alternative for ground beef. Just add taco seasoning, and you’re ready to make a taco.
Cook your tofu in an air fryer while camping
Always start by preheating your air fryer. This will help with even cooking and add to the crispiness.
Cut the tofu into small cubes, marinate them, and air fry them until they are crispy. I like to drop them into a salad or rice bowl, or just eat them as a snack.
Tofu is really easy to slice into thin strips, season, and air fry them until crispy. This makes for great tofu ‘fries’ to dip into your favorite sauce.
Another easy way to prepare tofu in an air fryer is to coat cubed tofu in a batter or breadcrumb mixture. Bake them in the air fryer without oil for a nice crispy texture.
The best part about cooking tofu in an air fryer while you are camping is that you don’t have to keep it refrigerated, and there is no chance of cross-contamination.
Health benefits of tofu
Tofu is made from soybeans and is highly nutritious and versatile.
It’s an excellent source of plant-based protein, which makes it extremely useful for vegetarians, vegans, and those looking to reduce their meat consumption.
Tofu is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can help to support heart health. It’s low in calories, which can help with weight management, and is a great source of iron and calcium.
Besides calcium and iron, tofu contains magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, and vitamin K, which is good for bone health.
Of course, individuals with soy allergies or certain medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before adding tofu to their diet.
Nibbler Tip: Don’t forget that tofu doesn’t have any flavor, so it is great to add to any sauce that you want to be creamier.
I was never a big user of tofu in my younger years, but since I learned a lot of different ways to use it, I have really incorporated it into a lot of meals.
Don’t worry about not using an entire block for every use. It keeps for a couple of days in the fridge after it is open.
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