Tofu is super healthy for kids! But you might be stumped on how to prepare it so your kids will really love it. Here are three tofu recipes for kids that will win over your little critics, plus tips on selecting and prepping tofu.
Tofu may be the most famous vegetarian protein food, but it isn’t just for vegetarians. Well-prepared tofu tastes great in stir-fries, sandwiches, grain bowls, and even smoothies. And it dishes out a generous amount of protein and minerals that benefit growing kids.
You can try just about any tofu recipe with your kids, but we’ve compiled our favorite three kid-friendly tofu recipes here, because tried-and-true options = more chance of a thumbs up from your picky eaters!
Tofu can be a bit mystifying if you’re not used to preparing and eating it. So before we get to the recipe, we talk a little about tofu’s nutrition, plus how to buy and prep your tofu. If you’re thinking, just show me the recipes, feel free to skip ahead to the bottom of the post.
Why Tofu is Healthy for Kids
There’s a lot of sensation around soy in the world of food and health. Some shy away from this legume and the products made from it, because they’ve heard that it’s harmful to eat it or serve to kids.
But the reality of soy and health is basically all positive. In fact, the most current research about soy products finds that this plant protein really does provide health benefits like improved cholesterol, blood pressure, and even improved bone and brain health.
In addition to being protein-packed, tofu contains nutrients that are important for growing bodies, like calcium, selenium, and iron.
The key to choosing healthy soy products is to look for ones that are minimally-processed, like soy milk, edamame beans, and–yep–tofu! So pick up a carton and get cooking.
Tofu Primer: Types and Uses
You’ll find two main types of tofu at most grocery stores, and they’re actually completely different! So make sure you’re clear on which one you need before you buy:
1) Firm or Extra Firm Tofu. This type of tofu is the most common kind you’ll find at the store. It usually comes packaged in a tub of water, and a serving contains around 7 grams of protein. Firm or extra firm tofu holds its shape well, so you should choose this type when you’re making baked tofu, tofu nuggets, or a tofu stir-fry.
2.) Silken tofu. This type of tofu is super smooth, lower in protein than firm tofu, and contains a lot of moisture. It won’t hold it’s shape during cooking but it adds a thick and creamy texture to salad dressings, smoothies, and desserts.
Both kinds of tofu are made from whole soybeans, and they both have a similarly mild flavor.
How to Prep Tofu for a Recipe
Silken tofu needs no particular prep; since it’s usually blended, you can simply drain any excess water from the package and add it to your blender.
Firm or extra-firm tofu cooks up best when it’s had 20-30 minutes of pressing before you cook it. Here’s how to do it:
- Drain the water out of the tofu carton, remove the block of tofu, and slice it into about 5 thick slabs.
- Place a clean dish towel on a large dinner plate or a cutting board. Place the slabs of tofu on top of the towel.
- Cover the tofu with a second clean dish towel (or just fold the bottom towel up over the tofu, so there’s an absorbent layer on top.)
- Place a plate or heavy cutting board on top of the tofu, so it’s gently pressing out the liquid.
- Wait 20-30 minutes, then remove the tofu and follow the directions of your recipe.
3 Best Tofu Recipes for Kids
Any tofu recipe you love is one you should share with your kids. Here are the top three recipes we love that our kids love, too.
Kid-Friendly Baked Tofu
- Place a clean, absorbent dish towel on a plate. Drain the tofu, and cut into 2-3 large slabs. Place the slabs on the towel. Drape a second towel on top of the tofu, and place a heavy cutting board on top, to press the remaining liquid out. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 F. (If you have a convection option on your oven, preheat the convection setting to 375 F.)
- Cut tofu into cubes, and place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss lightly.
- Add corn starch, ginger, garlic, and salt to the cubes, and gently toss until coated.
- Spread the cubes evenly on a light-colored cookie sheet, and bake 15 minutes. Turn the cubes, and cook an additional 15 minutes, or until the tofu is crispy and golden-brown. Serve immediately with rice, noodles, and/or your favorite stir-fried veggies.
Triple Berry Tofu Smoothie
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Drain the blocks of tofu, and cut each block into six rectangular slabs.
- Pat the slabs with a towel until they are good and dry, then cut each slab in half twice to make four nuggets per slab.
- Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized mixing bowl, and set aside.
- In a gallon freezer bag, combine the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and nutritional yeast.
- In batches, dunk nuggets into olive oil, then add them to the bag and shake until they’re well coated.
- Arrange the nuggets close together on your baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip, then bake 15 minutes more.
- Serve hot with ketchup, barbecue, or your favorite sauce for dipping.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie