Family Noodle Bowl

Family Noodle Bowl.jpg

Ahhh toddlers. They’re notorious for many things, not least their pickiness when it comes to food. I often get messages from fellow toddler parents, asking if I have any tips as to how to get their little ones to eat more vegetables, but the sad, sad truth is that my toddler is up there with the pickiest.

He hasn’t always been this way. There was once a time where Louie would almost climb out of the supermarket trolley in his attempts to get to the broccoli, and once I passed it to him he would bite into it and eat it raw. He loved avocado, beans, rice, blueberries… Then came the obsession with anything round that he could hold in his hand – enter fritters and balls, which I would hide all kinds of nutritious and wonderful ingredients in. Green smoothies have always been a hit, but green is the only colour smoothie he will drink and these days, I usually need to give him a smoothie while he watches something on the iPad, a bribe of sorts, and I know it’s ‘bad’ but fuck me, it is the only way to get my child to consume anything green.

These days, Louie’s favourite foods are roasted sweet potato – which he will only eat if he gets to sprinkle nutritional yeast on them first, pasta – again with the nutritional yeast, and basically anything dry. Bread, crackers, cookies, crackers, halloumi pies (Louie is vegetarian, not vegan), croissants, oh and did I mention crackers? He might occasionally eat a banana, but all other fruit is completely off limits.

Whilst this used to cause me immense stress, I now feel grateful for my toddlers picky ways because it has given me an insight as to what it’s really like to have a child who’s a fussy eater. When he was little, I had it in my mind that he would simply eat what we eat, and that he would enjoy everything I offered him. Despite all the tidbits of advice I’ve picked up along the way and despite all of my best intentions, Louie will simply not cooperate.

His pickiness reached a peak when we relocated from Berlin to Melbourne in October, and not surprisingly. Everything in the world of a toddler is out of their control. I hear repeatedly that toddlers thrive on routine, and all semblance of routine has been stripped away from Louie since we moved out of our Berlin apartment in September. The one thing he can control however, is what he eats. Theres also some sensory issues coming into it I’m sure, but more about that later.

Today, I want to share with you the first of what I plan to be many recipes that are quick, easy, healthy and family friendly. Meals that you can prepare, serve in a giant bowl in the middle of the table, allowing everyone to help themselves to as much of whatever components they like. I’m sharing these with busy families with small children in mind, because this is what I know best, but as with all of my food, it can be enjoyed by anyone. Friends, lovers, toddlers, teenagers and extended family alike.

Without further ado, my family friendly noodle bowl. It’s got marinated tempeh and mushrooms on a bed of satay noodles and raw veggies. With extra satay sauce on the side for all your dunking, slathering and slurping pleasure. Louie only eats the noodles at this stage, but I’m hoping that with consistent exposure to all of the different vegetables we eat, he will eventually come around to the idea of trying something other than the different variations of flour, salt and water he’s so fond of.

As with most of my recipes, you can use this as a guide and adapt the ingredients and methods to suit your needs. Enjoy!

Louie Eating Noodles.jpg

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6

For the tempeh and mushrooms:
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, finely minced
30ml tamari
30ml maple syrup
30ml rice vinegar
300g tempeh (buy the kind that is vacuum packed, not the kind which is packaged in water)
10 brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
Light drizzle of sesame or olive oil

For the satay sauce:
60ml smooth peanut butter
30ml tamari
30ml maple syrup
30ml rice vinegar

For the rest of the dish:
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 carrot orange, peeled and thinly sliced
1 purple carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
250g asian noodles – such as yu-meng, soba, udon, rice etc
Fresh herbs such as basil, mint, coriander
Spring onion, finely sliced
Sesame seeds to taste
Fresh lime to serve

Family-Noodle-Bowl-2.jpg

Method:

Takes 30 minutes

For the tempeh and mushrooms:
Combine ginger, garlic, tamari, maple syrup and rice vinegar in a shallow dish. Cut tempeh into cubes or triangles and add this to the marinade. Tilt the dish back and forth to coat the tempeh in the marinade. Do this in the morning or a few hours before cooking if you can, but don’t stress if you don’t have time to do it until directly before cooking.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Push to one side of the pan and add the tempeh, cooking until lightly browned. Add the additional marinade as you cook, along with a splash of water if necessary, to keep things from sticking to the pan.

For the satay sauce:
Combine all ingredients, then add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition, until desired consistency is reached.

For the rest of the dish:
Prepare all of your raw veggies and set aside.

Get your noodles ready. Depending on the type you are using, you may need to cook them first, or you may be able to just throw them straight in the pan. Follow the directions on the packet for this one. If cooking in water, drain and rinse once cooked and set aside. If using noodles you can throw straight in the pan, then you can do exactly that.

Once tempeh and mushrooms are cooked, add the noodles to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Transfer cooked noodles, tempeh and mushrooms to a large serving bowl. Add half the satay sauce and toss to lightly combine. Add the raw veggies, fresh herbs, spring onions and sesame seeds.

Serve with additional sauce and fresh lime on the side. I like to place the big bowl straight on the table with some smaller serving bowls. I put noodles in Louie’s one so he doesn’t feel pressured to eat any of the veggies, and then Andy and I pick away at it with chopsticks, loading it into our little bowls but also eating directly from the big bowl when a certain veggie jumps out and says ‘eat me!’. I always offer Louie some of the veggies and tempeh, just to keep him familiar with it all, but with no expectation that he will actually say yes!

Pop leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and eat for lunch the following day. We usually have enough for two lunches <3