As a kid, I was absurdly picky — I ate primarily what my mom described as “tan foods”: plain buttered bread, plain cheerios with skim milk, cheese tortellini tossed in butter, chips and queso, spaghetti, and sugar cookies. I ordered my Subway sandwiches on white bread, with three ingredients: iceberg lettuce, cheese, and mayonnaise. I only started eating real food — with colors! — when I was in my late teens, working with older and cooler people, dating my first boyfriend, and desperate not to seem immature whenever we went out to eat.
Anyway, I mention this because I often think about how lucky kids who are raised as plant-based are to be able to fall in love early with all of nature’s bounty, from eggplants to avocados. I look up to vegan food bloggers with kids, who often have to navigate sticky situations with family and schools, but who feed their kids such nourishing, colorful, yummy meals that will prepare them for a lifetime of adventures in food.
One of the best is Ilene Godofsky Moreno of the beloved plant-based food blog The Colorful Kitchen, whose recipes are bright, accessible, and nutritious. I loved looking through her new cookbook The Colorful Family Kitchen and recommend it, especially for parents looking for great plant-based recipes for their kids.
Most of Moreno’s recipes are both healthy and kid-approved; these potato chip tofu nuggets are perhaps more of an indulgence, but they speak to the “tan foods” loving kid inside of me. Maybe they’ll speak to your inner child as well. Good luck finding tofu (I recommend hitting up your local Asian supermarket if that’s a thing where you live). I like em with Whataburger spicy ketchup, but you do you.
Potato Chip Tofu Nuggets
Makes 4 servings
Twenty plus years ago, my mom came up with a chicken-based version of this dish for Passover, a Jewish holiday that is known more for avoidance of all bread products than for exciting cuisine. She breaded the chicken in crumbled potato chips instead of breadcrumbs, and my family went wild for it! Of course, when my mom stopped eating meat, her first move was to come up with a vegan version of our beloved recipe. Whether or not you celebrate Passover, this is a fun recipe, especially for kids who love chicken nuggets. Keep it classic with salt and pepper chips, or try adding a pop of flavor with your favorite kind of chip (my mom’s is barbecue).
- 1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 4–5 cups potato chips
- Your favorite dipping sauce
- Cut the tofu into ½-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices of tofu on a cutting board between paper towels or clean dish cloths. Place a heavy item (such as a tea kettle on top of a cutting board) on top, or use a tofu press if you have one. Let the tofu sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator. This will remove the excess water from the tofu and give it a better texture.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
- Cut the tofu slices in half to make square nugget shapes. Place the nuggets in a medium bowl and toss with the tamari. Let sit for at least 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes.
- To prepare the batter, stir the ground flaxseed and warm water together in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then stir in the olive oil, mustard, and maple syrup. Crush the potato chips (my mom places them in a baggie to do this) and put them on a plate.
- Dip each nugget into the batter, then roll it in the potato chips on the plate to coat. Place the nuggets on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the nuggets. Bake for another 10–15 minutes, until the nuggets are crispy. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.