Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Grilled Tofu Pita Sandwiches...


My eldest son came home with a cookbook this week. Library books at my twin's French school are borrowed at the beginning of each week, and it was the first food book I've seen brought back from their usual selection. I was ecstatic! Asking him which recipes he was interested in, he knowingly flipped to the pages for a filled pita and a dessert crumble (for Sunday). A grilled tofu pita sandwich in fact which peaked my curiosity as well. So what is a mom to do-- make it together of course! I had everything in the fridge (love that when it happens) and all it took was a quick trip to the store for pita, and Etienne was slicing, mixing and basting his way to deelish saucy protein-rich grilled tofu strips to fill hearty sandwiches for the family dinner. This simple recipe would be perfect for a meatless Monday, to tempt picky eaters for their first "tofu" attempt or to convert a "hater". Because, who doesn't love grilled foods? I also relished in having my son read out the ingredients to brush up on my French food language since my recipe development and cooking show days on a Quebec food platform eons ago.

Reiterating the same sentiments in my Kids Can Cook section-- Cooking together with your family is one of the most important factors to healthy eating. Making the change from cooking for your kids to cooking with your kids can feel like a leap but it's all about taking one small step at a time. Gradually your kids will be more proficient, independent, their confidence will grow and you will reap the rewards of building a stronger family connection and eating more healthily just by cooking together. Of course, it's easier and less messy if you just do it yourself, but if you allow your children to take part in some of the preparations, you will give them a sense of ownership and pride in the final results. And it can be a superb way to motivate fussy eaters to try new tastes and gain confidence with a variety of foods. Preparing meals can be educational; children quickly pick up new skills when they're having fun- they'll learn about weighing, measuring, mixing, spreading, pouring, chopping, organising and following instructions, as well as finding out how ingredients work together. This translates to everyday life- trying a new recipe is not unlike learning math or problem-solving skills. It takes persistence, resilience, patience and creative thinking- life lessons that is worthy of a messy kitchen!

The have fun cooking kid's French cookbook that inspired...

Grilled Tofu Pita Sandwiches
Makes 16 Strips (or use 1 pkg. (250 mL) firm tofu for half the recipe)

1 package (473 mL) firm tofu, drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 whole wheat pitas, halved
3 leaf lettuce, chopped
2 green onions, cut into long strips
alfalfa sprouts

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
Marinade:
1 to 2 Tbsp. chili sauce (I used sriracha)
2 Tbsp. ketchup
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground cumin



See the cute Hello Kitty soy sauce bottle. So Kawaii (cute in Japanese).

Slice the tofu block across the centre to make two halves. Slice each half into eight strips. (A paring knife is perfect for a little hand, and sharp so kids feel they are handling an actual knife).


Mix the marinade ingredients together. Add the tofu and coat evenly. Let sit for one hour before grilling.



Heat grill pan on medium-high, add oil to coat pan and place the tofu vertically against the pan grill marks. Grill for a few minutes before turning over once to cook the other side. Handle tofu gently as they can stick and are soft to lift. (This required my close supervision, to ensure no one gets burned and a warning not to get too close to the pan in case of grill spitting-- is that a term?)

Etienne's twin brother Sebastien checking out other recipes in the cookbook.

Let the family fill their own pita half with their favourite ingredients. Go crazy in offering other toppings your family may enjoy. For a more saucier experience, offer more chilli-ketchup sauce at the table for dolloping. 

Grilled sweet and spicy, with a hint of earthy cumin takes tofu to a whole new level!

Nothing beats digging in the fruits of your labour! NOM NOM!


Go to the local library with your kids and check out the children's cookbook stack or food magazines. Ask your child to choose a few books to discover and "cook out of" together! Make it a frequent or an occasional fun weekend activity to do, be it breakfast, lunch, snack, dessert-- soon you will find that creating something tasty together, will increase their appreciation for a variety of food, confidence in the kitchen and strengthen the bond of eating together and healthier as a family.



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