Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Finally, Taco Success with Both Vegan Children and Adults

Cooking for young children can be very tricky. One day, they will like something; the next, they will declare it to be gross. In a general way, the blander the food, the more likely they will accept what you are offering. Of course, if it has a suspicious look to them, they might refuse to try it. The problem with cooking bland food is that I do not have that much motivation to do it. I do not like to eat bland food, and I usually do not have the energy to make two separate dishes. Of all types of meals, tacos have been especially challenging. It is hard for a young child to learn to eat a taco in the way it is meant to be eaten, so whatever you make becomes deconstructed quickly. The most complex taco my children have ever expressed a like for has been Vegan Nom's potato-tofu-avocado taco, but there is something about the taco that they have ended up rejecting. I am not positive what kind of spice is in the taco (maybe too much mustard in the tofu or too much salt with the potatoes?), but they do not consistently like the Vegan Nom taco anymore. So, I am reluctant to buy it for them because I do not want to waste the money. The only taco they have ever consistently liked that I or my wife have made at home is simply avocado and tortilla. That makes me feel guilty that they are not getting enough varied nutrition, and it does nothing for my own appetite. A couple of weeks ago, I was struck with some inspiration. I have been experimenting with using tofu in different ways since we generally do not like vegan cheese (Anita likes the new Field Roast vegan cheese, but the kids do not). I have been putting raw sliced tofu on pizzas and stromboli to simulate some of the texture of cheese without the gooeyness, and this has been quite successful for all of us. I have also tried a technique of frying squares of tofu in a sauté  pan and salting and putting nooch on one side for use in tomato sandwiches. This has been especially good. My new inspiration came when I was thinking about spices and the children. Obviously, they love nutritional yeast, but they also love a dal that I make that is heavy in cumin with a moderate amount of garlic but not much else. I already had a couple of boiled potatoes in the refrigerator, so I freshened them up on the sauté pan with oil, salt, and cumin. I made my fried tofu squares with salt and nooch. I added sliced avocado in a whole wheat tortilla. Both of the children ate all of their tacos! And quickly, too. I ate one like the children, and I really liked it, too. A good variance for adults is to eat it with the jalapeño sauce from the local Yellow Bird company and add jalapeños to the potatoes after some have been set aside for the children. I have since made the taco again, and they were also a huge hit. I think this is going to become a staple. The key is that Anita and I really like the tacos, too, so we are motivated to make them. Sometimes, simpler is better. Here are some pictures of the cooking of the tacos:

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