So today we did something new–Biddi and I went to our regular “Story Time” but she walked herself there, instead of me pushing her in the stroller! It was really a cool trip. She stopped at every house with an open gate and closed each and every one along the way. It took at least double the regular time, but I feel like she learned a lot more than she does being passively pushed along.
I have read some books on the Montessori education, which is evidence-based, and a common theme was movement and learning being closely related. My experience is just anecdotal, of course, but after our regular story time and trip to the park, she asked to be carried the last couple of blocks home and was noticeably calmer. She had lunch and was ready to nap about 30 minutes earlier than normal.
I tried to give her leftovers for lunch “Would you like the tofu noodles with peas and pesto from last night?”
“No!” I hear from the living room, followed by the pitter-patter of little feet. And then she runs into the kitchen to show me what she wants from the fridge! She is so unbelievable. She took an inventory of her options and decided on carrots and tofu, so I went with stir-fry. She hangs out in the kitchen and watches me cook, or while I am cooking I call her in and let her smell the food or look at what is going on in the oven or stove. It’s a very involved process, but it keeps me mindful of what I am doing.
So here is the recipe that Biddi designed for lunch today! She loved it, she asked for more tofu 2 times and ended up eating about 8 more pieces than pictured. I didn’t use any spicy peppers in the stir fry, but I would if it were just for me. I prefer sambal oelek, but I was out so I added dry sriracha seasoning to mine at the end as a seasoning. The first or second ingredient is sugar in the sriracha powder, but I only use maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon, so that doesn’t bother me too much. The stuff tastes really good, so I am sure one of the many ingredients (maltodextrin, citric acid, natural flavorings, etc) are actually MSG, which is more concerning to me than the sugar listed on the label, to be honest. I used to eat MSG powder and bouillon cubes as a kid and I don’t think there were any long-term side effects, but who knows? I developed a really keen taste as a result of snacking on it, so I can taste it immediately when it is in food. Like chicken stock in risotto or fish sauce in pad Thai, its pretty obvious when it’s not there and so you can pick it out immediately when it is.
Quick Stir Fry Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I grate the whole piece of ginger whenever I buy it fresh and keep it in the freezer to grab as-needed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper (use roasted if they cause indigestion)
1 diced fresno, jalapeño, or serrano peppers, with seeds to make it spicier (optional–no spicy food for baby)
1 bunch carrots, sliced
1 diced yellow onion…Vidalia onions, if you’re lucky!
1 Brick of tofu
1 cup cooked grains: rice or barley/peas/lentil mix work well
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Black sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon White sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon Toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Mirin cooking wine (or rice wine vinegar)
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
Press the tofu to remove water for 30-60 minutes by wrapping in kitchen towels and weighting with pots or something heavy. Or use Tofu Express for 15 minutes. This is so that the marinade can absorb and add flavor without making the stir fry watery
Whisk together Marinade ingredients and add tofu for 15 minutes or so
Heat Oil on medium heat (medium-high if you will be standing over the wok to watch it closely, I usually am cutting veggies while things cook, so I use medium)
Add minced ginger and garlic and diced onion to the heated oil and cook for 2-5 minutes, until fragrant and starting to char
Add veggies-peppers and carrots and cook for 10 minutes
Add tofu and marinade and cook for another 5 minutes
Add barley/cooked rice and cook another 5 minutes
This is just a basic stir fry with the veggies cooked in oil and aromatics and then sauce added towards the end so that it doesn’t get too salty. Most teriyaki-style marinade recipes will have sugar or honey added but I don’t find that I miss it, so I leave it out. Plus, the cooking wine has some sweetness to it. I love to include broccoli, too, but I left it out since broccoli will probably be the bulk of dinner tonight.
Another great option is substituting all these veggies(onions/peppers/carrots) and using only green beans(or frozen haricot vert depending on what is in season). After cooking until they are brown, I add in the marinade and tofu. I usually have that once a week for lunch, it is so filling but still healthy.