I have a 10 year old. This still surprises me, even though I barely remember my life before I came a mother. While it seems he grew from five, to six, to seven with changes in reading level and physical capabilities, nothing has quite prepared me for the stage and growth curve we’re entering now. He’s really growing up. It’s like I’ve realized, almost for the first time, that he really will go to middle school and high school and move out of the house. I have this new awareness that he won’t be my baby forever and MAN I had better soak it up.
He’s seeking independence like never before, and testing the boundaries. He’s a sweet boy, but he’s definitely opinionated and gets fiery when he feels something isn’t fair. I’m in this new territory of pro/con lists for getting him a phone, seeking his maturity and responsibility in helping to care for his little sister, but struggling as I try to determine just how far is reasonable to bike or longboard on his own.
I’m learning to really pick my battles, and one of the things I’ve decided I’m not up for battling on is food. I’m up for battling on the way we treat people, respecting your elders, taking responsibility for your actions and being honest. But the dinner table is a place of joy, or should be, in my opinion. I try really hard to offer up a variety of healthy options every night. Of course I miss the mark sometimes, but I find that encouraging my kids to try new foods without excessive pressure or arguments is a fit for me.
In the last week Audrey has tried, and loved, a mild Thai curry I made with CSA carrots, sugar snap peas and garbanzo beans. The Mango-Sesame Tofu Spring Rolls pictured above originally had Aidan giving a hesitant eye, but we found a good middle ground – outside of the spring roll, he liked everything except the tofu, deconstructed. Little piles of mango, purple cabbage, carrots, cucumber and avocado worked for him, and he tried the tofu before politely declining.
I know this doesn’t match every parent’s food philosophy, and that’s okay. We all have to navigate what strikes the balance we’re personally looking for. In my case, it’s mostly homemade food, local as often as possible, a large variety of colors and frequently putting something new out there for them to sample.
Young or older, picky or open to all foods, these spring rolls are delicious. With a bit of time for the tofu to marinate and some slicing, these come together easily. And they’re pretty! I like attractive food.
Mango-Sesame Tofu Spring Rolls
Tofu and Wrap:
8 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
2 TBSP tamari
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup
juice of one lime
8 spring roll papers
Fruit, Veggies and Herbs:
8 small swiss chard leaves
1 mango, cut into matchsticks
1 avocado, cut into matchsticks
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1/2 c. purple cabbage, shredded
fresh cilantro, to top
fresh mint, to top
Sesame-Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 TBSP tamari
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP water
1 tsp. maple syrup
Start by pressing the water out of your tofu, then cutting it into matchsticks. Whisk together the tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup and fresh lime juice for the tofu, then soak it in the marinade for 30 minutes.
While the tofu is soaking, cut your mango, avocado, carrots and cucumber into match sticks. Shred the purple cabbage, trying to keep the size similar to the matchsticks. Cut your swiss chard if it’s too large to fit within the spring roll wrap. Roughly chop cilantro and mint. Whisk together dipping sauce ingredients.
Prepare a large bowl of warm water. Dip a sheet of the spring roll paper into the warm water to soften it, then place on a cutting board. Put one of your swiss chard leaves in the center. Starting with the tofu, layer 1 – 2 matchsticks each of the tofu, mango, avocado, carrots, cucumber and cabbage. Top with cilantro and mint to taste. Fold the top and bottom towards the center, then roll tight to close. (Ideally, you will be better at rolling spring rolls than I am!) Repeat with the rest of your rolls; this should make about 8, though you may have enough for more. Serve with your sesame-peanut dipping sauce. These are really best the day you make them, but you could keep them in the fridge for a couple of days, wrapped in damp paper towels.