Practical food tips for parents from a RD and mom of three

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kid Superfood: Soy foods

Before writing this I will admit that I hardly ever cook tofu. I enjoy eating tofu and choose it in restaurant and take-out dishes, but typically do not prepare it at home. We DO eat a lot of edamame (soybeans), so we aren't missing out on soy entirely! Since tofu is on the kid superfood list, I decided to tackle it.

Tofu and other whole soy foods like edamame are a good source of complete, lean protein for growing bodies, plus calcium for growing bones and fiber. Studies have linked soy consumption to heart health, a lower risk of developing diabetes, bone strength, and improved women's health including a possible lower risk of breast cancer.

While some families (like mine up until now) are unfamiliar with tofu, it is a mild-tasting food that takes on the flavor of the sauce or spices you are using. Knowing what your family likes, you can tailor a tofu dish to their tastes.

Deacon is a smoothie fan, so I decided to experiment with tofu by making him a fruit smoothie with some of the delicious local strawberries that just arrived in our CSA farm share. He LOVED it! I'll definitely be making this recipe again and again with whatever fresh or frozen fruit is available. Please note that babies under 1-year-old should not have honey.

Deacon's Soy Groovy Smoothie
  1. Place 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and pulse until the ice is crushed.
  2. Add 6 small strawberries, 1/3 of a medium banana, 2 oz of silken tofu and a drizzle of honey. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a fun cup for your little smoothie fan – this recipe makes one smoothie that was about 8 fl oz.

Here's another amazing recipe that I got recently – Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie. It is such yummy and comforting way to eat a meal FULL of vegetables. I have made it a few times since I got the recipe and it is a big hit in our house. Thank you so much to Heidi Mears for the recipe!

Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie

3 stalks celery, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp vegan margarine
½ cup flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¾ cup frozen peas
¾ cup frozen shelled edamame
¾ cup frozen green beans, cut into small pieces
1 frozen pie crust, thawed
  1. Saute celery, onions and carrots in margarine for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  3. Add vegetable broth and soy milk to mixture while stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Let the sauce continue to cook for about 5 minutes until it has thickened, then stir in peas, edamame, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the mixture into a round 2-quart casserole dish and top with the pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes until crust has browned.

Once I lightened this recipe up by using phyllo dough instead of pie crust (three layers with cooking spray between each sheet, topped with a little salt and pepper) – this reduced the baking time to only 10 minutes and produced a crunchy, light crust. I have also made this recipe using regular skim milk and margarine when I didn't have the vegan alternatives in the house. When scallions came in the CSA farm share I thinly sliced a few and added them in step 4 with the frozen veggies for an added mild onion flavor.

Please comment to share your family's favorite tofu recipe! I would love to hear a tried-and-true way to serve this new food to the kids.

Today's tip: Introduce your family to soy foods in a meal or snack this week.

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