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Looking for kid-friendly fish, tofu and vegetarian recipes

We are trying to get our act together to eat more healthfully in our house. The challenge is thus:
-one five year old boy, who distrusts anything that is not pizza, tacos, steak or ribs
-one three year old girl who is much more willing to try new things, but often gets on her brother's bandwagon
-one husband, who is a meat and potatoes kind of guy but very willing to try new things
-and me, one veggie-loving mother who has to make dinner within about half an hour of arriving home with both kids.

I'm particularly interested in finding a couple of go-to recipes for fish and tofu that the kids will enjoy (I've made the caramelized tofu from 101 Cookbooks and I thought for sure it would be a winner, but the kids didn't like it. I'm trying the white wine and lemon tofu recipe I've read on this board tonight).

Thanks!

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  1. tofitas?
    I use extra firm for these. The general theme is fajitas made with tofu instead of meat. adjust accordingly to your tastes.

    Drain and slice tofu into sizes of strips that make sense to you.
    I pan fry them pretty hard (brown them) and then remove them from pan.
    Get pan back up to temp, and then add the veggies you'd like for your fajitas. Bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, similarly cut zucchini, I'll sear up some mushrooms as well.
    If you need to do the veggies in batches, then so be it. When the veggies are done, I'll add the tofu back in the pan along with garlic, and a touch of cumin, and maybe any dried chile you'd like to add. Once the garlic heats through, and releases it's aroma, I'll throw in a little bit of whatever salsa you're gonna use - not to make it soggy, just to add some juicyness to everything - along with a healthy squeeze of lime juice, and S&P. Add all veggies back in, and toss until warmed through. Top with cilantro, and serve em up in warmed tortillas with:
    Salsas
    sour cream
    guacamole

    Rice and beans on the side.
    I haven't made this in a few months. Thanks for the dinner idea later this week.
    ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: gordeaux

      I use basically the same recipe as above, but I usually serve it in hard taco shells.

      I've also had pizza that had pesto, defrosted shredded tofu, tomatoes, spinach, and roasted garlic as topping. The restaurant that serves it has it with plain crust, but when I made it at home I used a whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's. The trick is to pat the tofu and spinach dry with paper towels so it doesn't make the whole pizza soggy.

      What about seitan? You can buy it or make it. I've seen recipes where it's made from scratch and baked with bbq sauce to taste like ribs. I usually stir fry it with vegetables, hoisin, and soy sauce and serve it over brown rice.

      If your kids like eggplant parm, try making it with grilled portobellos or zucchini. You can also make individual servings in small ramekins... your kids might find it 'cuter' this way.

      Pureed tofu mixed with spinach and other veggies makes a great lasagna. The recipe I use is at blog.fatfreevegan.com.

      Lastly, scarmbled tofu. It's a great clean-out-the-fridge dish. Basically, you want to saute any veggies, add drained crumbled tofu, and keep sauteing until the tofu firms up and water evaporates. You can make it tex-mex with canned tomatoes and chilis, or Italian style with dried basil, zucchini, garlic, fresh tomatoes and chopped artichokes. My husband likes the Asian inspired version the best- water chesnuts, bamboo shoots, broccoli, Japanese eggplant, hot chili sauce, and soy sauce.

      Good Luck!

    2. I grew up eating tofu and fish and vegetables in the 50s. Home cooked peasant foods - o-kazu - combined veggies (onions, green onions, young green beans sliced on the bias, asparagus from the garden, sliced zucchini, spinach, and so on), fish, tofu, and small amounts of meat in endless combinations. Most were cooked with little to no oil, often in a sort of light teriyaki. Quick sautes of vegetable(s) and tofu with a bit of shoyu (soy sauce), touch of sugar, plus garlic and/or ginger of vegetable(s) were common; as were a light teriyaki type fish.

      Tonight I'm steaming some white fish fillets marinaded in home-made teriyaki with quite a bit of ginger plus chile and cilantro. Steamed rice and a simple cold blanched spinach salad with a light miso & lemon dressing will complete the meal.

      1. Well, like Sam, I also grew up with fish, tofu and vegetables in an Asian household. But I'm assuming that you are not Asian, and a lot of the dishes I ate probably wouldn't fly with your kids -- eg. Korean seasoned spinach, roasted whole fish, Maryland crab casserole with spicy fermented bean paste, etc.

        Caroline1 nearly had a heart attack when I mentioned this. I used to eat my tofu pan-fried dipped in ketchup. I thought it was really good. Then again, I really loved ketchup as a kid, and used it as salad dressing instead of a vinaigrette.

        If your kids are picky, I like the idea of gradually introducing these items in your kids' diets in a way that may be more palatable for them. When you freeze and defrost tofu, it takes on the texture of ground meat. Use them as toppings for pizza, or in tacos, etc. Dip filets of fish in panko bread crumbs and pan fry them and serve them in soft tortilla shells as fish tacos. If they start eating these items in ways that are more familiar to them, perhaps they'll move onto eating some nice steamed fish with ginger and scallions with sauteed watercress in the future.

        1. Weiszguy:

          Are you focusing on fish and tofu for the protein? if so, don't forget bean and grain combinations that give you a decent protein package. Like black bean chili and corn bread, whole wheat pasta and white bean soup, bean burgers and corn salsa, or falafel in a whole wheat pita.

          I have a recipe for tofu meatballs that my brother and I collaborated on. They're pretty tasty but they use Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, so I'll only post if you're okay with using the mix.

          jfood posted his salmon patty recipe a day or so ago on this board. I grew up with a similar thing called salmon loaf, served hot with tomato sauce.

          1. I'd recommend the Vegan Lunchbox cookbook. Easy, good, 'cute' food to entice kids to eat great. Good recipes for adutls too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alwayscooking

              Your son sounds the pickiest, so if he likes steak, you may want to give tuna steaks a try. They'll still be familiar - just a lot healthier. They're best served rare or close to it, and there's very little prep work involved. Altogether, it might take you 15 minutes TOPS to prep and grill a couple tuna steaks (perfect for squeezing into your busy schedule). Just rub each one with a bit of olive oil, salt, and coarse ground pepper to prep. Grill them for about two to three minutes on each side, and you're good to go. My mom is the one who introduced them to me, and she said she was told to use indirect heat but has gotten much better results from just putting them directly on the grill.