Baked Mozzarella Bites

Who in this world doesn’t like fried mozzarella sticks???? Actually, I can answer that question: my Dad. Dad doesn’t like any any cheese except for on pizza and in “cheese”cake.  He’s so funny!
To my excitement, and hopefully yours, I discovered a healthy version to the infamously fatty, yet delicious fried mozzarella sticks… Baked Mozzarella Sticks from Cooking Light.  With only 91 calories, 5g of fat, and 7g of protein, these are the most healthy and delicious cheese sticks I’ve ever heard of!  As a kid, my mom would take my sister and me to Sonic where we would order two slushees and mozzarella sticks.  As I got older and started eating healthier, I discovered the nutritional flaws with Sonic’s delicious cheese sticks.  
As most of you may know, baking rather than frying foods, will instantly cut fat and calories.  My cheese sticks saved 17g of fat and over 350 calories when compared to Sonic’s!   In addition, my stomach doesn’t feel bad because these mozzarella bits are virtually grease-free!  (As I’ve gotten older, I can’t handle fried foods anymore or else I’ll get sick.)  In addition, the flavor is great, and the panko crumbs add a nice “crunch”.  Marinara sauce is optional, but a great addition.  Take a look at these nutritional stats comparing my mozzarella sticks versus Sonic’s:
Sonic’s Mozzarella Sticks: 
440 Calories | 22g Fat | Saturated Fat 9g | Protein 19g | Sodium 1050mg 
Baked Mozzarella Bites
91 Calories | 5.1g Fat | Saturated Fat 2.8g | Protein 7.2g | Sodium 162mg 
If you’re not convinced to make these yet, I don’t know what will.  They would also be a healthy and quick after-school snack for kids now that most schools start back tomorrow.  The kids won’t have to wait long either…you can make these in less than 20 minutes.  Let me know what you think and enjoy!
Heat Panko crumbs in a skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, or until browned.
Dredge 1-inch mozzarella pieces in egg.

Roll cheese sticks in Panko crumbs.

Place on a cookie sheet, coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 3-4 minutes at 425 degrees F, or until cheese is softened.

Serve warm with marinara sauce.

Baked Mozzarella Bites
Ingredients
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 (1-ounce) sticks part-mozzarella string cheese
1 egg, beaten
Cooking Spray
1/4 cup marinara sauce (such as Newman’s Own Marinara)

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/3 cup panko to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, and place the panko in a shallow dish.
3.  Cut mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, dip cheese in egg; dredge in panko. Place cheese on a baking sheet coating with cooking spray.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is softened and thoroughly heated.
4.  Pour the marinara sauce into a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring after 30 seconds.  Serve with mozzarella pieces.

Yield: 4 servings (3 mozzarella bites and 1 tablespoon sauce)
Cooking Light

Calories: 91
Fat: 5.1g
Saturated Fat: 2.8g
Protein: 7.2g
Sodium: 162mg
Calcium: 162mg

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