Can Tofu Be a Kid’s Meal?

I have been on this bandwagon before and I am about to hop on it again. I am convinced that children will eat healthy foods if we simply go to the time and trouble of preparing it for them. It’s easy to fall in the macaroni and cheese, pizza and dinosaur nugget habit because it’s easier– easier to make and easier not to have to deal with some of the typical gripes one might hear from a child who doesn’t want to try something new and healthy. But a little creativity can go a long way in getting kids to partake in (and actually enjoy) a healthier diet. Last night is just another example….

I decided to prepare tofu enchiladas, in large part motivated by this blog post I read about what it would look like if we skipped meat for just one day a week. This is one of the best arguments I have read in favor of cutting back on meat, namely because it didn’t tell me to cut it out completely. My motto of gradual changes in diet versus drastic ones stands firm, even in my choices of meat, chicken and fish, or omission thereof.

I assumed Luke would walk in his father’s disapproving tofu footsteps, so I had a plate of leftover chicken ready for him. (Ok, maybe I would be the only one eating a meal without meat, but by gosh, I was going to do it anyway). I prepared the tofu by cutting it into small blocks, then sautéing it with olive oil, lime juice and home-made taco seasoning. I am a self-proclaimed non-tofu-making-expert, if there is such a thing, and even I wasn’t so sure how it was going to taste. But it was amazing! So much so that I thought, well, I’m going to see if Luke might like it, even though I know it’s a long-shot. “Luke, take a bite of this and let me know what you think.” And I got an immediate, “Umm…this is delicious, Mommy.” Luke was eating tofu, edamame, and fruit, all while I was explaining what the word vegetarian meant.

(And this came at the heels of last week when I prepared pancetta topped cod with asparagus and couscous. This was the beloved night when Luke was so excited that he told me, “Mom, this meal is just delicious. I think I need to hug you.” Check out my recipes because they are yummy and easy to make).

So not only am I feeling pretty good about making most of my family happy, but Luke’s eating super healthy dishes that are a far cry from fried, breaded chicken. With a little creativity in food preparation, and involving children in the cooking process, I’m certain that eating habits can evolve for the better. Either that or I have proven once and for all that Luke is my child, through and through.

Melinda Hinson