Toddler Approved: Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir-Fry


I am a huge fan of one-dish meals.  Soups, stews, curries, stir-fried vegetables — any of these can simply be topped with whatever goodies (vegetables, greens, nuts and seeds, let your mind run wild) you have on hand, or just ladled lovingly over a pile of brown rice. Viola! Dinner, done.

I may be a fan of the ever-versatile vegan bowl, but my children are still, well, processing. (Perhaps it is time to get rid of their monkey and ladybug themed cafeteria style partitioned dishes. You think?)   They’re squarely in the developmental stage of having a complete conniption when a piece of pasta comes into contact with its sauce or a pea tragically wedges itself betwixt a carrot and a chunk of potato.   I’m more of the mindset that they should eat what we eat, not bits of food morphed into tiny race cars, goldfish, or unicorns. 

No matter. I press on, sitting expectantly beside them at the table, cheerfully (at first) describing all of the once-familiar ingredients that have gone into the hodgepodge before them.  They usually take a quivering bite – perhaps gagging for dramatic effect — and wash it quickly down with a drink or bite of bread.  Then the complaints begin, which can range from critiques of texture or taste to tantrums over temperature.  (Serious Goldilocks situation going on here.)  I, pathetically, start bargaining: “If you take another bite you can have some watered-down juice! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Or, if you eat 3 more bites of broccoli, Daddy will let you cut his hair – doesn’t that sound fun??”  Once in a while there is a success and they eat 28% of what is on their plate; more often, they win the standoff by either resolutely refusing to eat, or they squeak under the radar, ingesting the minimum required bites to obtain more noodles, rice, bread. . . or unicorns. Oh, the joy of cooking for one’s family. 

I flipped through some old recipe books this afternoon and decided to rework a  tofu stir-fry.  It turned out quite well, though I think next time I won’t add as much pineapple to lessen the sweet factor.  However, Everett (my cars-obsessed 3 year old) ate almost his entire serving.  Which means I’ll be making this again.  (If Genevieve had enjoyed hers I probably would have done a jig with tears streaming down my face!)

Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry (adapted from The Broccoli Forrest –remember this one? I think someone gave it to me for my 18th birthday.)

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 3 t. sesame oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, in juice
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. fresh ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Toppings: green onions, roasted cashews, fresh basil

1. In a small sauce pan, mix fresh squeezed orange juice (or some from the fridge if your orchard is just plain out!), pineapple chunks and 1/2 cup of juice, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger.  Add water so you have about 2 cups altogether. Simmer on low heat.  

2. In large pan, saute onion in sesame oil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add carrot, tofu cubes (or tempeh would be lovely, too) and pepper, cook for another 3-5 minutes, then add tomato. Turn off heat.

3. In a cup, mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup water until dissolved (everyone loves a big blob of starch in their dinner!), then add this mix to the pineapple concoction.  Stir over low heat until thickened a little, then add to tofu mixture and heat through.  

4.  Serve topped with green onions, cashews, and fresh basil over brown rice.  Delicious!

I wish you much success in the kitchen! 🙂





One response »

  1. This stir fry sounds delicious, Hannah….I will be trying it soon! Your children are close in age to my grandchildren, and your description of their food preferences sounds spot on! Thanks for sharing!

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