Vegan Valentines Day - HOPE!!!

At the beginning of the school year I signed up to bring a healthy snack or treat to every one of our son's special holiday parties. I did this for a number of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to make sure that there would be really good vegan items for him, so he would not feel left out. I also wanted to be able to share some of what we eat with the other kids and parents... maybe so they would not think that we are extraordinarily weird (I say this because I do have a certain need to be a little bit weird).
I have been really excited that the parents of the kids in Carter's class, and his school have been really supportive of our lifestyle choices, and have shown an impressive level of accommodation and understanding. This week I was emailing back and forth with several of the other kids' moms about who would bring what, and I offered to bring something with chocolate, as well as baked tofu. Yeah I know, I was worried that people would say, "Who is that kooky guy that brought baked tofu to the Valentines Day Party." I did offer up links to SHIFTvegan, so they could see that tofu did not have to be boring white slabs of boringness. I also shared that I brought tofu to Addison's parties and the kids loved the tofu. They were fine with me bringing the tofu and I offered to bring Chocolate Crispies too (just in case the tofu was a total bomb).

Here is the simple baked tofu recipe:
For the glaze, mix the ingredients below in a glass bowl, heat in microwave for 30 seconds - stir, heat for 30 seconds more and stir - the glaze should thicken. If not, heat a bit more.
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons corn or potato starch

Tofu preparation:
2 lbs Nigari Tofu
Cut into 1/2 thick slabs, then cut into triangles/squares/heart shapes/stars/whatever suits the event.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment and spray with oil. Brush the tofu with the glaze and put in 375 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven. Turn the tofu pieces over and glaze, put back in the oven for 15 more minutes. Repeat the last step and remove and let the tofu cool completely. You can cook the day before, just warm the tofu in the microwave for a minute before serving.

I put the tofu triangles in little paper cups and did not include a dipping sauce... I felt like this would be the best way for first graders to handle the tofu.
OK, so now to the party... the other parents arrived before the kids came back from gym class... in addition to the items that I brought, there were heart shaped chocolate cupcakes (VEGAN - Thank you Sarah!!), fresh pineapple, mini cupcakes (from a store and not vegan), and apple juice.

The kids did a quick activity, stacking conversation hearts, then they came up to the counter where the treats were and served themselves. I watched with great interest as the kids went through.

About half of the kids took a piece of the tofu on the first pass through, which when you compare to the allure of sweets, I was honestly surprised that any of them chose the tofu!!! Then I watched as the kids sat down, and almost all of the ones who selected the tofu tried it before the sweets... and there were many surprised reactions, like, "What is this.... it's really good" and, "This is tofu?" and, "This tastes better than chicken!" (No I did not make that up), and finally one little girl came up and thanked me for bringing the tofu and said, "It is really yummy."

Carter was doing a really good job of being enthusiastic (hopping around like a little bird), and got the other kids who had not tried the tofu to get some. They did, and I did not hear a single complaint. The kids ate all but a few pieces, the parents ate the rest!!!

Ironically, I brought the Chocolate Crispies because I was afraid the kids would not like the tofu, but as I turned out I brought more than half of the Crispies home!!!

One of the main reasons I do this blog is to show that just because we are vegan doesn't mean we miss out on normal, everyday stuff; and to show that vegan alternatives are not weird. I was happy that the little boy stated that the tofu tasted better than chicken because it really illustrates that in many cases the item being cooked is really judged by the flavor added and its texture, not whether it was a plant or an animal!!!

Thank you for reading my blog
..... if you are vegan you are not weird!!! If you are not vegan... please consider reducing or eliminating animal products from your family's diet, it makes a world of difference, especially to the animals!!!!

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VeganCraftastic said...

That's awesome that the kids liked the tofu, I think most kids will if given the chance :)

Ariadne said...

I absolutely love this post. You are modeling how tasty, accessible, and un-weird a vegan diet can be to impressionable kids and their parents. Way to go! I'm vegan now because I've warmed up to the idea over the years as I've met more vegans and vegetarians and heard what they had to say. You and your family are paving the way for future vegans.

Anonymous said...

I found your site today and wanted to say Thank you. My family has recently become Vegan, I have two young daughters. I love reading about the school adventures with snacks. How did you make the Chocoloate Crispies? We are having a Valentines Dance and I would love to make them. I am going to make the Tofu bites too. My girls LOVE tofu.

SHIFTvegan said...

The chocolate crispies were so easy it is almost silly!!!
I use Bakers chocolate chunks, but any vegan semi sweet chocolate chip will work.
Take 1/2 bag of chips and melt in microwave or with double boiler. Fold in rice cereal, the amount of cereal depends on how "chocolaty" you want them. Spoon into mini cup cake paper cups cool until hard, they stay solid at room temperature.
I have varied this recipe by adding chopped nuts or cinnamon. I would like to try this with Cap'n Crunch.... but am concerned as the damage this could do to the inside of my mouth!!
TOFU ROCKS, we are really luck to have local, organic, hand made artisan tofu.

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