This is the second in our 2014 National Nutrition Month #SoyInspired series!
Cooking Soy with Kids
By Diana K. Rice, RD, Kids Cook Monday Staff Dietitian
National Nutrition Month provides an excellent opportunity to start talking to your kids about the foods they’re eating and why a healthy diet is so important. As a children’s nutrition educator and the RD on staff with The Kids Cook Monday, I’ve learned that the best way to set up that conversation and get kids excited about making healthy eating is to encourage them to get their hands dirty in the kitchen!
Soy is an excellent product to incorporate into your healthy eating routine. And while it’s best to introduce kids to healthy foods like soy at a young age in order to set them of for a lifetime of healthy preferences, parents may understandably be curious about what exactly to do with that wiggly blob of tofu, let alone how to talk to their kids about it!
At The Kids Cook Monday, our mission is to provide families the tools to make cooking and eating healthy recipes together a regular family activity. Research shows that frequent family dinners are associated with healthier child and adolescent body weights, improved academic performance and reduced levels of substance abuse and teen depression.
To de-mystify that wiggly tofu and inspire parents and kids to incorporate soy products into their rotations of healthy dinners, many of our Kids Cook Monday recipes feature various soy products. Our recipe packages also include tips on cooking with potentially unfamiliar ingredients and a list of instructions broken down by the steps that are appropriate for parents and children. Here are a few of my favorite Kids Cook Monday soy recipes:
The sweet flavors in this recipe, provided by the Mandarin orange sections and a touch of honey, are a great way to introduce kids to cubed tofu, which is a great protein option for stir-frys and rice dishes. In most recipes, tofu must first be pressed to so it will absorb other flavors. Pressing and cubing tofu is a great task for little hands because it doesn’t require heat and tofu cuts easily with a dull knife. After draining the block of tofu from its package, place it on a plate and position another plate on top of the block. Weight the top plate down with a few more plates or a book. After 30-40 minutes, water should collect on the bottom plate and the tofu is ready to be sliced.
Edamame is the name for young, intact soy beans, which are a great way to add protein to any noodle dish. It can be purchased frozen, either shelled or unshelled, and kids can easily help prepare it. For recipes like this, look for shelled edamame. Place the frozen, shelled edamame in a microwave-safe bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. After carefully removing the bowl, the shelled edamame is ready to add to your dish!
This recipe, developed by children’s cooking expert Stacey Antine, RD of HealthBarn USA, is uses soy to transform a traditionally cheese-heavy dish into a protein-packed meal that’s still kid-friendly. Silken tofu is easy to work with, so it’s a great recipe for the tofu novice. Kids will love slicing and pressing the tofu, mixing the tofu-cheese mixture together and spreading it along lasagna noodles. After that, all that’s left to do is top the lasagna rolls with a bit more cheese, bake and dig in!
A special weekend morning breakfast, free of the hustle and bustle of the rest of the week, is a great time to get the kids in the kitchen to linger over recipe together. Even better, put the ingredients together on Sunday afternoon and carve out time Monday morning to quickly cook your creation and enjoy a little extra time around the family breakfast table before starting the day! Soy milk makes for a great, healthy addition to any pancake or French toast recipe, like these Crunch French Toast Chocolate Sandwiches, which kids will love to soak, stuff and flip!
So give one of these recipes a try this Monday. Even if your kids have never had soy before, you may be surprised to discover how much fun they have cooking and eating it with you!