Achieving Perfection

Last night I achieved perfection. I can honestly say that I finally, after years of failed attempts, cooked the perfect tofu.

I wrote a post a last week talking about grilling tofu, and got a great comment and recipe suggestion from Laura. Her recipe sounded awesome, and I couldn’t wait to make it!

On Sunday afternoon, I pressed a block of tofu in my new best friend, the Tofu Xpress. After the water was all drained out, I cut the tofu into small cubes (or rectangular prisms, if you want to get technical) and placed it back in the Tofu Xpress (this time with the lid instead of the spring, so it could marinate).

When I looked at the ingredient list for Laura’s marinade, I referred back to my favorite culinary quote of all time (from Michael Voltaggio): “Recipes are a guide map- not a contract.” I pretty much live by this quote, which is why I cook, and don’t bake.

Laura’s marinade calls for the following ingredients:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T nut butter (I used TJโ€™s Valencia Peanut Butter)
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 T Thai-style chili sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

I did not have any Thai style chili sauce, and for some reason completely forgot to add sesame seeds (which would have been awesome) and paprika!

My marinade included various amounts of the following things: sesame oil, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, Soy Sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, peanut flour, red pepper flake, chili powder, garlic, and honey. To be honest, I started with a few ingredients and added a bit too much rice vinegar, and then added some other things in to mellow it out. The marinade tasted SO good- I could have slathered some on the raw tofu and eaten it just like that! But, I didn’t. I let it marinade for almost a full 24 hours.

I set the oven to 400 and baked the tofu for 35 minutes, flipping it over halfway through. When it was done baking, it looked like this:

(there’s a few pieces missing because I could not wait to try it!)

I filled up a bowl with kelp noodles (which are like 5 calories for an entire bowlful!), steamed broccoli and carrots, and poured some of the leftover marinade over top. And then of course the star of the meal, the tofu, was carefully placed on top.

I could not BELIEVE the texture of this tofu- if I hadn’t baked it myself, I would assume it had been fried! Completely crispy outside and chewy on the inside.

The flavor soaked all the way through and each bite was ahhhhh-mazing. By the time I brought it to the table, I remembered that there was one final touch that I wanted to add to make this bowl of perfection even more perfect: chopped peanuts.

Heavenly. Best part is- there was enough tofu leftover for me to bring for lunch one day this week. Knowing that I will have this waiting for me to eat at lunch will certainly make the work day a lot easier to get through.


On the idea of perfection, I have some news to share. Apparently I have not yet achieved perfection as a Bodypump instructor. I got my results back this morning (finally) from the video assessment that I submitted in January. And they weren’t bad, but I “sorta” passed my certification. When you submit your assessment you get one of three results.

#1 is a “PASS” in which you are cleared, certified and ready to go

#2 isย  “PASS WITHHELD” which means that you are almost there, but need to work on things for 30 more days (and have the approval of your gym’s exercise coordinator) andthen you get your “PASS” (and certification)

#3 is “RESUBMIT” which means still have some improvements that need to be made, and that you have to film your video assessment again and go through the whole process of waiting again.

If you remember back from my post in January, luck was not on my side the day I filmed my video assessment. I woke up with flu-like symptoms and was the sickest I had been in almost three years that whole weekend. I had no energy and could barely lift a dumbbell, but I did my best to soldier through and fake it for my assessment. My worst fear in all of this was that I would receive a “Resubmit” on my assessment and have to go through the whole process again. But thank God, I did not. I got a “Pass Withheld.”

The assessors send about 20 pages of notes critiquing your technique + form, fitness (meaning how much weight you are selecting for each track), coaching, timing, and how well you know the choreography, amongst other things. I actually got some really good feedback and agree with most of it. Overall, they liked my “natural teaching style” and said that I knew the choreography really well, and that my form and technique were strong (even on push-ups!). What I need to work on is my timing (I knew that) and increase my weight selection (obviously- I went super light for my filming because it was all I could do being sick). So I’m almost there, and really just can’t wait to have that certification in my hands that I’ve worked so hard for.

I can honestly say that I have improved a great deal since filming my assessment back in January. I have practiced the choreography for the last 2 releases at least 3 times a week, and have met up with a friend for “one on one” classes on Sunday mornings for additional practice. And after the amazing class I taught Sunday, I feel 100% confident in my skills as a Les Mills instructor. So now I just have to wait 30 days (and continue to practice and improve the areas noted) until I’m “official.”

One more thing- and this is completely random. I needed a ‘lighter’ workout at the gym yesterday, so I decided to spend some time on the elliptical. I was about 30 minutes into my workout (I was planning to go for 50, since I was running through one of my spin playlists), when someone got on the machine next to me. Now, you might think that the worst smell at the gym is B.O., but I beg to differ. This woman reeked of the worst gym stench combination: cigarette smoke “covered up” with a ton of perfume. It was really bad at first, and I seriously considered getting off my machine and moving to another one, but I was in such a good groove where I was at. I sucked it up for the last 20 minutes and tried to breathe out of my mouth as much as possible. I survived- barely. To all smokers out there: please don’t smoke on the way to the gym (and try to cover it up with a ton of perfume). You’re not fooling anyone.

Have a great Tuesday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you achieved “perfection” lately? Or, what are you constantly trying to improve upon?

30 Comments on “Achieving Perfection”

  1. Your tofu looks delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

    Congrats on the body pump! I have no doubt that you’ll be rocking out as a full instructor soon.

    I hate when people get on machines right next to you especially if there are open machines and if they smell awful. People are really gross at the gym.

    • Lauren says:

      People are really gross in general- but yes, especially at the gym. I can give a “pass” for smelling sweaty and maybe a LITTLE b.o.- but cigarette smoke is just unacceptable!

  2. The brownies I just made a total perfection. I’ve tried billions of recipes and I finally hit the jackpot! I’m posting the recipe of my site today!

  3. Amanda says:

    I just bought that same tofu press and can’t wait to give it a try! for almost $50, it better be good! haha

    I go to an all-women’s gym so the smells are usually minimal (part of the reason for my gym choice!), but every once in a while there will be someone wearing too much perfume. It’s so distracting and really does make the workout that much less enjoyable.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes! So glad you bought it! I’ll be looking for recipes on your blog, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚
      This was a WOMAN that was so stinky at the gym- but yes, usually men are worse about that.

  4. I tried tofu for the first time and I didn’t like the texture. I don’t have a tofu press and I pressed it as best I could but the texture was like fluffy egg whites… sorta.
    Your recipe looks amazing.
    I’m going to have to try it at a few restaurants so I can get a feel for it!
    You will be a great Body Pump instructor!

    • Lauren says:

      Tofu is really tricky. It can taste really amazing if it’s cooked just right- it’s something that I’ve been working on for years and finally mastered. Believe me- it’s worth it!

  5. Jenny says:

    A) I’m making tofu tonight and will once again curse myself for not ordering the press yet.

    B) My friend tried Body Pump and told me I would love it since I’m all into weights. I’m a little scared of it, though. Also, my gym doesn’t offer classes. But it’s on my list of things to someday try.

    C) I commute for a total of 2 hours a day and the worst part is when a walking ashtray sits down next to me. Ugh. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.

    • Lauren says:

      Order the press! I don’t know why I waited so long, but it was worth every penny. Do it now.
      You would love Bodypump- it is awesome! Too bad your gym doesn’t have classes. I think that Gold’s gives a free week pass if you say you want to try their gym and they have all of the Les Mills classes- same goes for Sport & Health club.
      I would say drive out to my gym and take my class, but that might be a litttttle far…

  6. I am SO EXCITED you liked the tofu! This is my absolute favorite way to make it. Baking is the way to go. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t believe I never thought to use peanut flour too. What was your butter to flour ratio?

    Thanks for the shout out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      I still can’t get over how great it was- and I have the leftovers for lunch today which makes me a very happy girl! I only had like maybe a 1/2 T left of peanut butter and probably added about 2 T of peanut flour.. I didn’t really measure it out. I just kept adding things in until it tasted “right” (and I wanted it to be very “peanut-y.”
      I can’t wait to try out more baked tofu recipes (and see what I can come up with on my own!). I owe you big time- thanks so much again for sending me the recipe!

  7. AWESOME tofu. Wow. Looks totally delicious!!

    And girl, you’ll be all “Certified” in no time. Have no fear!! Besides, like you said, you KNOW you’re a good instructor–filming is the worst–it totally blows, so it’s all good that you just have a few more weeks and then you’re all good to go. Seriously, do NOT spend an extra minute worrying about it ๐Ÿ™‚ Just rock on during the next few weeks–just like you HAVE been!! Go YOU! Wahoo for BodyPUMP. BEst class EVER.

    • Lauren says:

      Yeah, I’m definitely glad that I don’t really have to “do” anything else- just teach and recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I would have DIED if I had to film again- and WAIT again!!

  8. Congrats on passing and on making perfect tofu. ๐Ÿ˜€ I need to check out Laura’s recipe. I too am a cook, but I’m no baker!

  9. #1: Yum. Meal looks delicious.
    #2: Way to go on BodyPump!
    #3: Ew to the gym smell!

  10. janetha says:

    oh i must try this tofu.. i am always trying to make the best tofu.

    • Lauren says:

      This is seriously THE BEST. I can’t say that enough. I don’t think I’ve ever had better- even on Whole Foods salad bar- and that’s saying A LOT.

  11. Corrie Anne says:

    I’m perfect at sleeping in!?!! Lol.

    I ordered that Jackie Warner book from the library!! Can’t wait!

    • Lauren says:

      Sleeping in IS a talent- I can’t do it! (My body and my dogs don’t let me). Wish I could!
      Yay for the book- can’t wait to see what you think of it!

  12. Lee says:

    I love baked tofu. I definitely think it gets chewier that way then when you try to saute it. Although, I have to say, I’m not much for fried foods, but fried tofu is delicious.

  13. Congrats girlie! I know it’s not 100% pass but still, you rocked it! Great job with the tofu…so…was it Whole foods quality? ๐Ÿ™‚ BTW my friend told me to BROIL the tofu, the high heat helps with the texture!

  14. Haha, your question is funny to me considering my last post ‘messy’, to trying for perfection here. Although I am constantly reevaluating how I parent, time well spent with the kids and teaching them all I need and want to.

    I have been looking for a good way to make tofu tastier ( I usually just pan fry it up, so lazy) I’ve got to try this.

    I am so happy that you are progressing with your fitness teaching. At the rate you’re going I have complete faith that you will reach ‘pass’ very soon.

  15. No trying, no trying for perfection. How fitting that I messed that up huh?

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