Rotini, tofu parmesan and garlic bread

Pasta, tofu and garlic bread

I’ve been out of town most of this week – leaving my teacher husband with the kids, while it snowed repeatedly during the week report cards are due. So when I picked up the kids from school and got home (later than usual), there were dishes to do before starting dinner.  What I needed was something simple that the kids would eat.

Dinner tonight was rotini with leftover tomato sauce, garlic bread and tofu baked in garlic/tofu marinade smothered in tomato sauce and melted Daiya cheese.

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My son’s not a tomato sauce fan but he’ll tolerate some on his pasta if it’s topped with nutritional yeast. I didn’t bother putting any sauce on the tofu. If you have a picky eater, this meal is worth a try. It was gone before I could say, “eat with your fork!”

The garlic bread is whole wheat store-bought bread with vegan butter and the Daiya cheese melted under the broiler. My daughter likes powdered garlic granules but my son was hanging around when I mentioned them, he ran away and hid under the table. This is the drama that ensues when they’re overtired and hungry.

If I had had enough energy, I would have used real garlic for the adults but it didn’t happen tonight.

Here’s how I made the tofu.

Garlic/olive oil baked tofu in tomato sauce and cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (gives it some flavour)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheese

While the oven is preheating, mix the marinade in a wide dish. Slice the tofu into the thinest slices you can (I was able to make 6 slices). Rub each slice in the marinade and let it sit while the oven is heating.

When the oven is ready, bake the tofu for 20 minutes. When the  tofu is cooked, flip it and put a spoonful of tomato sauce on each slice. Sprinkle it with a bit of cheese and broil until melted.

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Serve with whole wheat pasta and whole wheat garlic bread and you’ve got an easy, nutritious meal that the kids will scarf down. Good luck!

Steamed veggies, tofu and barley

vegan barley bowl
My barley bowl is covered in a savoury miso ginger sauce.

I had a short first day at the office and made it home to make a quick dinner before skating. I went for an old familiar – a bowl as many call it. Meaning: a grain topped with veggies, a protein and a sauce. This is as simple as it gets and it’s always a winner at our house.

You can vary the ingredients, keep it plain for the kids and top it with whatever sauce you’d like. The kids gobble it down like little bunnies. And I’m happy because I know they’re getting a healthy meal and we’ll be out the door in no time. Seriously – we only had 15 minutes to eat!

The grain today is barley. I got it going while I cubed and marinated the tofu. For the kids, I added a teaspoon of vegan butter to their barley since I knew they wouldn’t have any sauce. My son has rejected barley in the past but he has since forgotten that he declared he didn’t like it. I added the butter just in case. And it worked!

The tofu is marinated in a bit of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. I let it absorb the flavours while I preheated the oven to 350. Then I baked them while the barley cooked, flipping a couple times. They’re done when they’re crispy and you can’t resist popping one in your mouth!

I steamed a selection of the veggies that we had in the crisper. I rarely steam our vegetables – so bland – but it tasted nice and clean today. I guess I was craving simplicity.

The sauce is a miso ginger sauce made with olive oil, miso, rice vinegar, maple syrup, a bit of fresh ginger and water to thin it out a bit. Popped it in the blender until smooth.

I also sprinkled black sesame seeds on top.

barley bowl
The kids’ barley bowls are simple and they love them.

This is clean eating! Food like this just makes my body happy.

Bangers and mash with purple cabbage slaw

Weeknight dinners are the WORST! We live in a small town that doesn’t have many options for eating out – the ones we have, I’m completely over. So even when we’re all hungry and getting home later than usual, I throw something together at home. It’s generally faster than eating out anyway.

Tonight, we got home later than usual and there were complaints in the car of being hungry. Not a good sign – when the kids are hungry and tired from a long day at school, they’re easily frazzled.

But amazingly, they were on their best behaviour. My daughter cut a corner too tightly coming back to hang up her coat at my request and bumped it with her hip. When she cried out in pain, her little brother gave her a hug and said (I’m not making this up), “I feel what you’re feeling.”

And then he helped her hang up her coat! Then they went off to make kindness chains – they look like paper chains that have kind acts written on them. They say things like “empathy” and “you helped me” and there’s a few “you are the best.” I guess they’re really trying to tackle bullying at their school with a focus on kindness.

So I was feeling quite blessed when I started making dinner and was able to leave them to their crafting.

I had a meeting in Markham today (a city close to Toronto about an hour from where I live). And they have a Whole Foods! I managed to do a bit of shopping. I found a new kind of vegan sausage that I thought my kids might eat. It’s made by Tofurky.

Tofurky Chick'n apple sausages

The flash is obscuring the English but it says Chick’n apple. Sounds pretty kid-friendly to me. But you never know – the first ingredient is vital wheat gluten and my son tends to turn his nose up at anything like seitan so I decided to make lentils just in case these are a no-go.

I used the lentils in my gravy. I caramelized a half of a really nice onion I had from my local farm. It may be a Spanish onion – it’s huge and very sweet. And when they’d caramelized, I added the lentils, some soy sauce, nutritional yeast and fresh rosemary. A bit of tapioca starch with water to make the sauce. Simple and good. I saved some of the lentils for my son who tends to not like sauces – really playing it cautious tonight!

vegan sausage with mashed potatoes, lentils and slaw
Plain version with lentils, potatoes, vegan sausage and slaw.

Very plain meal for my picky eater. The slaw is shredded carrots and purple cabbage with a dressing made with fresh lime juice, rice vinegar and some grape seed oil. Very simple but too sour for him to like. He ate a tiny bit of the slaw but the rest of us enjoyed it.

carrot cabbage slaw vegan
Slaw made with carrots and purple cabbage. Dressed in lime juice, rice vinegar and grape seed oil.

What really surprised me is that he liked the sausage. So that’s great! Both kids like the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages – we rely on them when we go camping. It’s nice to have a second kind they’ll eat since tall the other Field Roast sausages are too spicy for the kids.

My daughter’s dinner is a bit more interesting since I gave her gravy. And she loved the slaw. She has adventurous taste buds like her mom.

vegan bangers and mash

Now I’m off to take a closer look at these kindness chains!

 

Banana oatmeal with almond milk and brown sugar

snowy walk to school
Walking to school this morning.

Woke up this morning to Winter – what a shock! It always comes as a shock the first time I look out the window to see everything coated in white and hear the sound of the neighbours’ shovels scraping against their driveways as they clear the snow. So when I asked the kids what they wanted for breakfast and my son said oatmeal, yup – that sounded just right.

Oatmeal is great for school days because it only takes a few minutes to throw together and they always finish their breakfast quickly when I make it. This morning, I added a very ripe banana, almond milk, brown sugar and a splash of vanilla to the oatmeal and water.

banana oatmeal with almond milk and brown sugar
“How did you get the walnut to stay on the top of the oatmeal?” my son asked. “Mommy magic.”

I had barely sat down to my breakfast when the kids were done theirs. So I sent them outside to shovel the driveway. When they came in, I had to feed them again! PB and J with hot apple cider. There’s nothing like playing in the snow to get the metabolism running!

Kids playing in the snow
Very little shovelling was accomplished by the kids.

I guess they’re too young to be expected to shovel the driveway. My daughter has been waiting for the first snow for months. So I threw on my winter gear and got it done. By the time they had their second breakfast and their winter clothes back on, we had to make a beeline for the school with very little time for detours. That didn’t stop them from running through their “secret passages” and sliding down hills.

snowy walk to school
Walking to school this morning.

What a beautiful morning. The sun sparkled on the freshly fallen snow – my daughter couldn’t help but sing Christmas carols. The school ground was a cacophony of excitement. The two snow piles the snowplow made clearing the courtyard were covered in kids like ants on an ant hill. I feel blessed to have been able to enjoy early morning with the kids after the first snowfall of the season.

Taco bowl

roasted cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, black beans, salsa and cashew cheese

Tonight was a rushed evening with one kid going to hockey and the other to swimming lessons. We needed to eat and go. On these nights, it’s all about what I can get on the table quickly and what the kids will devour.

I bought this lovely cauliflower from a local farm yesterday – it’s huge and orange is my son’s favourite colour. I chopped it, tossed half of it with olive oil, nutritional yeast, a dash of chili powder, sea salt and lemon juice and roasted it at 400 for about 15 minutes while I prepped the rest of the food.

orange cauliflower
Farm fresh orange cauliflower

As a base, I made couscous since it’s practically instant. Rinsed a can of black beans, chopped a carrot fresh from my garden, cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of cashew cheese I made earlier this week. No salsa for the kids – they like their food very plain.

vegan dinner: cauliflower, black beans, carrots, cherry tomatoes and couscous

That’s good for the kids but I wanted something spicy. In the summer, we ate at a taco truck in Sauble Beach that had some great spicy cauliflower. The cauliflower taco was what I had ordered the kids (I had the eggplant taco) and I only got a taste of it so I can’t remember it well but that hasn’t stopped me from craving it!

So for the grown ups, I followed the recipe for Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos from Thug Kitchen. It was good and a quick recipe. Next time I hope I’ll have time to make the slaw as well… we’ll see.

Can anyone suggest any other cauliflower taco recipes they can recommend? How do you handle rushed school nights?