How to feed tofu to kids is a common question when families switch to a predominantly plant-based diet. Here are some ideas for introducing tofu to kids, plus the benefits of incorporating it into their diet.
If you’re new to the plant-based lifestyle, or considering making the transition with your family, you might be have some curiosities around plant proteins like tofu.
Tofu is a highly versatile, nutrient-dense food that can be appropriate for new eaters just as much as adults.
What is Tofu?
Tofu – also called bean curd in some areas around the world – is a sponge-like cake made from condensed soy milk.
It starts by coagulating soy milk and then pressing it into blocks. The process of making blocks of tofu is similar to that of making cheese.
Tofu comes in several textures, including silken, firm, and extra firm.
Silken tofu works well for creamy or pureed uses, whereas firm and extra firm work better for recipes that require it to maintain more of its structure.
Tofu has a very mild soybean taste, which makes it easy to flavor.
Health Benefits of Tofu
Besides being inexpensive – often coming in at less than $2 per package – tofu offers a number of other benefits for your family.
Tofu is a nutrient-dense food, meaning that even a small serving contains a significant amount of nutrition.
It’s an excellent source of protein, containing around 8 grams per 3.5 ounce serving.
Tofu is rich in essential micronutrients, especially calcium, manganese, selenium, copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
It also contains alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega 3 fat.
Furthermore, tofu and other soy foods contain compounds called isoflavones. These are natural plant compounds that may have protective benefits against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
When it comes to breast cancer specifically, eating soy foods appears to have a higher protective effect later on when it has been consumed earlier on in life.
Some research also indicates that soy isoflavones may support bone health and benefit memory and cognitive function.
How to Introduce Tofu to Kids
One of the great things about tofu is that it tends to take on much of the flavor of whatever else it’s being cooked with, whether that’s a veggie stir fry or as part of a berry smoothie.
For brand new eaters, tofu is an ideal first food and can work well for baby-led weaning.
Simply cut a block of tofu into long strips that your baby can practice picking up and feeding herself. Alternatively, you can crumble extra firm tofu or cut it into small cubes she can bite.
Tofu is considered a precooked food, which means you don’t have to do anything to it before it’s eaten. It doesn’t even need to be flavored in any way.
However, tofu can also be grilled, blended or pureed, roasted, scrambled, or pan-fried to give it a little more crunchiness and flavor.
Once your baby becomes used to more solid foods, you can lightly season tofu with something mild, like a small amount of cumin, paprika, turmeric, or garlic powder.
As your child continues to grow up, he or she will be able to enjoy tofu prepared in any way the rest of the family enjoys eating it.
Tofu can be incorporated into a variety of kid-friendly meals, such as mac and cheese, smoothies, pudding, “cheese” sauces for enchiladas, vegan lasagna, or mashed into avocado toast.
Tofu has a high water content, so depending on how you’re using it, it can be helpful to press some of the water out of it first with a clean towel.
Note that much of the tofu available today is may from genetically-modified soybeans. We recommend purchasing organic, non-GMO tofu as much as possible.
Here are some of our favorite ways to make tofu that your family may enjoy:
- Crispy Baked Tofu
- Vegan Tofu Nuggets
- Basic Tofu Scramble
- Vegan Tofu “Egg” Sandwich
- Air Fryer Tofu
- BBQ Tofu Sliders with Apple Slaw
If you’re wondering how to feed tofu to kids, give some of these tips and recipes a shot! Introducing tofu to kids is a great way to expose babies to new textures and flavors, packed in a nutritious finger food.
Chime In: Do your kids like eating tofu? What’s your favorite family-friendly way to prepare it for them?
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