orange glazed baked tofu with sesame stir-fried vegetables {RECIPE} + a life update

baked tofu in a sweet orange sauce + sesame stir-fried vegetables {RECIPE} // #vegan #glutenfree

Hello dear reader!

I’ve missed you.

Here’s what’s been happening in the bring joy house, of late:

  1. We paid off our last interest bearing credit card.
    A huge step towards our goal of becoming debt-free. Buuut, this was followed by a huge binge spend this month: a spring break vacation (just a two-day trip up north to Dallas to see LegoLand, which mercy, even little trips are expensive!); a new mattress (to replace our jankety eight year old bought-used mattress); an ipad to help with our language learning endeavors (see #3); some new clothes for muah–I’m now *really* back to pre-pregnancy weight (more on this in a future post) & I’m tired of wearing worn-out, stretched out, stained clothes); a rather substantial car repair ($1500 tune-up & radiator replacement); & loads of books & other resources for our Japanese learning adventure. Japan? Yup, that’s right…
  2. We’re moving to Japan.
    Okinawa, actually. (I talk about it in this post.) Which is more like the Hawaii of Japan. Just an itty bitty island in between Taiwan & Japan. August-ish will be our depature date.
  3. Domo Arigato.
    Since we’re adventuresome folk & not scared of a little work, we’ve decided we want the full-immersion experience–language, culture, the whole schabang. So we’re learning Japanese. It’s a lot of fun. Joseph speaks Latvian, I speak a little Spanish, & we figure between the two of us, we can bring our collective knowledge to the table & give our kids the gift of language duality.
  4. As of next Monday, I’m homeschooling again.
    What??! I know, I DID write this post. But (this is a big but), I’m determined for my kids to be bilingual (or tri-lingual), & in order to do so, we can’t just go over to Okinawa & expect to pick up the language. Okinawa has a huge military presence, & as such, if you’re an English speaker, you can easily get around & live a happy American/English speaking existence without ever learning a lick of Japanese (especially if you live on base). So, we’re being deliberate about this. I’ll be homeschooling for the next little bit, which means for the next four months, we’re going to do our darndest to immerse ourselves in Japanese lessons, movies, books, music. And hopefully by the time we go to Okinawa we’ll be able to say more than sayonara.
  5. Our kids are doing sports this spring. 
    We took a little break from extra-curriculars (in part to save money, in part to give them more leisure time–you can read more of my thoughts about extra-curriculars in this & this post), but decided to put our kids in sports this spring. Boys are doing basketball, Amalia is doing soccer. Joseph is Amalia’s coach, so the fee is waived for her. Between that & the military discount, we’re able to have three kids do sports for $180. Not bad considering all the good things that will come from it.
  6. Tyndale is walking/climbing/grabbing machine.
    At nearly 15 months, this kid doesn’t stay still. He’s into everything. I cannot leave him alone for a second. (I sometimes share cute pictures of him on facebook–follow me on facebook, here.) Add this to the mix of already busy craziness, and…

Life is busy, with a capital B!

(Busy in the best way, I might add.)

Which means…I have very little time for cooking. Thank heavens for my Blendtec & rice cooker. (And recipes like these.)

Speaking of rice cookers & being short on time, I have a new recipe for you. One that showcases tofu & though looks pretty fancy, isn’t too complicated or time consuming.

baked tofu in a sweet orange sauce + sesame stir-fried vegetables {RECIPE} // #vegan #glutenfree

My sister recently went to Japan & had this to say about it (she loved it btw, & recommends that everyone should go to visit):

I hear from Americans how bad soy products are. True, the modified, processed soy may be bad, just like any other processed food….however, Japanese eat some form of soy daily and I have yet to find an obese adult Japanese. In fact most are slim (ie-no belly fat, etc) and very active….something to think about.

Between the tofu (soy) & rice (carbs), the Japanese ought to be a bunch of sick, overweight folks according to our American “diet” rules. But my sister was surprised at how slim everyone was (there is also a big walking/biking culture there too).

Anyway, I share that only to underscore what I’ve been saying all along–SOY IS NOT EVIL!* RICE IS NOT EVIL. So enjoy your rice & tofu (& make this recipe).

*Go for the non-GMO, organic soy. You already knew that though, right? Of course you did.

baked tofu in a sweet orange sauce + sesame stir-fried vegetables {RECIPE} // #vegan #glutenfree

Orange Glazed Baked Tofu with Sesame Stir-fried Vegetables
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
Baked tofu in a sweet orange glaze. Vegan, gluten-free.
  • 1 block (12-14 oz.) firm baked tofu (plain, or flavored)
  • 1⅓ c. pulp-free orange juice
  • ¼ c. agave OR ⅓ c. evaporated cane juice/sugar
  • 2 TBS. low-sodium soy sauce OR Bragg's liquid aminos
  • ¼ c. water (or additional orange juice)
  • 1½ TBS. corn starch
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce (does add a little heat)
  • orange peel of 1 medium orange (optional)
  • 1 TBS. sesame oil
  • ½ lb. cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen--about ½ medium head of cauliflower)
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • ½ medium head, cabbage
  • 2 TBS. sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 TBS. soy sauce OR Bragg's liquid aminos
  1. FIRST, A FEW NOTES: The key with the tofu is to use baked tofu. You can make your own baked tofu, or buy pre-made. I used plain baked tofu, but I think this recipe would be extra delicious if you used a 5-spice or flavored baked tofu (just make sure the flavor will mesh with the orange glaze!). Baked tofu is more dense & has a much firmer texture than regular firm tofu. Many American Asian restaurants use baked tofu (P.F. Changs & Pei Wei come to mind). If you want to cut the sugars in the sauce, you can use a low-sugar orange juice (like Trop50, which has half the calories & sugar than regular & is stevia sweetened). Also, to keep the sodium in check, use a low-sodium soy sauce. I don't recommend completely cutting out the sesame oil (a little goes a LONG way & adds a ton of flavor). If you want to reduce the oil, I'd recommend reducing by no more than half. Now to the recipe...
  2. Heat your oven to 350F.
  3. Cut your tofu into thin, rectangular strips (about ¼ inch think, 2 inches long). Using a non-stick baking sheet, put tofu strips in oven & bake for 30 minutes, turning the tofu about half way into the cooking time. Why are you baking already baked tofu? Good question. Baking already baked tofu gives it a slightly crisp texture (similar to frying, but without the oil). You can skip this part, but I've found my kids (& myself), really like firmer, crispier tofu, which you can get when you bake it.
  4. Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a medium saucepan, whisk orange juice, agave, & soy sauce. Turn your burner on high to bring to a boil. Whisk water with cornstarch & pour into pan. Turn down heat to medium. Let it simmer until thick. Remove from heat & stir in orange peel & chili sauce. Set aside.
  5. Now for the veggies. It doesn't matter if you use fresh or frozen green beans or cauliflower, but in order to attain that crisp flavor, you need to use a wok & be sure to not overcook. Cut veggies (if you're using frozen cauliflower & green beans you don't have to worry about this--yay!). When you cut the cauliflower, cut in half & then cut in quarters/chunks (don't shred or cut too small--this ain't coleslaw). Heat wok on high & add oil. Immediately add frozen green beans. Stir. Then add green beans & cauliflower. Stir-fry for a minute or two (until veggies looked about half-cooked/defrosted). Add cabbage & stir for an additional minute. Add a tablespoon of water at a time, as needed to prevent sticking (but be careful--don't add very much water otherwise you'll lose that crisp flavor). Add sesame seeds, soy sauce, garlic powder, & stir. Cover & reduce heat to low, or if veggies are cooked (but still crisp), turn heat off completely. Let it sit, covered for about 5 minutes.
  6. Once tofu is finished, put in a bowl & cover with glaze. Stir gently.
  7. Serve vegetables & tofu with your favorite rice or quinoa.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅛ of recipe Calories: 238, 6 WWP points Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 32 g Sugar: 14 g Sodium: 571 mg Fiber: 6 Protein: 16 g

For more Asian inspired quick & healthy vegan, gluten-free dishes, check out my peanut siracha raw noodles or my sweet & sour veggies.

Looking for more inspiration in the kitchen?

→ Check out my 28 day meal plan!

(100% vegan & gluten-free.)

P.S. If you have sent me an email or message in the past month or so, please forgive me if I haven’t responded yet! It’s taking me much longer these days to respond to emails, so please don’t think I’m ignoring you. I read EVERY email & comment, & do my best to always respond, but sometimes it takes awhile. Thanks for your understanding!! xo

Other bring joy posts you might want to check out:



  1. Cadry
    on March 31, 2015 at 1:59 pm said:

    I am so excited for you! That’s really awesome that you’re plunging yourself and your family into learning a new language. The time that you invest in it will be something you’ll never regret. I’m sure it will make the transition into a new culture even more pleasurable and welcoming since you’ll be able to engage with the people around you (outside of the base).

  2. Lfwfv
    on March 28, 2015 at 10:39 am said:

    wow, sounds great! Can’t wait to hear how round two of homeschooling treats you guys!