I have a little story to tell you. It starts about a year ago with a visit to a new Asian market in my neighborhood. It has celebrity sightings, new friends, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m not telling you this story to make you rage with jealousy. I’m telling you this story to inspire you! So here it is! This is a long post. I hope you read it to the end.
Once upon a time (good stories all start this way), we visited the new Asian market in my neighborhood. It was a place of wonder where vegetables and fruit were plentiful and insanely inexpensive! Being a new store, samples were everywhere. The woman sampling tofu caught my son’s eye and he strolled over to her, looking back at me with that “Can I?” expression on his face. I headed his way, nodding yes as he took a tiny, perfectly sautéed cube of tofu from the woman. Into his mouth it goes. “Mom! This is great! Can we get some?” This statement is typically reserved for baked goods or candy. Tofu is neither of those things. And at .89 a pound, it was hard to resist. So I put some in our cart, with the oil the store was using to cook the samples. We headed home and whipped up some Sizzling Tofu with Green Onions and Sugar Snap Peas and it was delightful!
Fast forward a few weeks when I came across an article announcing a children’s cooking contest sponsored by Epicurious Magazine, the First Lady’s Office and the Department of Education. It was a Healthy Lunch Challenge. Kids between the ages of 8 and 12 could submit a recipe for a healthy, balanced and affordable lunch idea. I am not a big contest person, but this one intrigued me. And I immediately thought of the tofu. I had sent it for lunch with my son several times. I asked him what he thought and told him the prize was a visit to the White House for a Kids’ State Dinner with winners from all over the country. Yes! Yes! Yes!
We submitted our recipe and we waited and waited and waited. We were finalists for Maryland! OMG!!! So exciting! But more waiting! I was losing my mind! The announcement day came…. and went. An email came. They needed more time. Just a few more days. Thanks for your patience. More mind losing.
Then, as I checked my email for the 3,000th time the day we were told the announcement would be made, there it was! “Congratulations! You are the Maryland winner of the Healthy Lunch Challenge!” Unreal! We were going to the White House for a formal luncheon where we would meet the First Lady! I still get chills thinking about it.
Of course, the event was amazing. It was inspiring to see kids from all over the country who love to cook, love healthy food and meet the parents who make it all happen for them. We met Neville from iCarly and were treated to a mini concert with some little pop group that thrilled the kids but I have no clue who they were. I could go on but by now you’re probably wondering where the recipe is for heaven’s sake. So without further ado…
Sizzling Tofu with Green Onions and Sugar Snap Peas
1/2 extra firm tofu cut into small cubes
1 tbsp oil that can get hot! I used canola.
1 cup sugar snap peas
3 chopped green onions, white part only
1. Heat the oil over medium high heat.
2. Add the tofu and cook until lightly brown. It takes about 20 minutes.
3. Lower the heat to medium and add the green onions and sugar snap peas.
4. Cook about 7 minutes until the peas are heated through but still nice and crisp.
Believe it or not, everyone in my house loves this! Everyone! Even the vegetable averse teen. It’s very healthy and at about $1.50 a serving, it’s an incredibly affordable meal. Add your favorite veggies. The picture shows tofu with broccoli. We make it with mushrooms, too.
I hope you liked my story. But wait! There’s more! This can be your story too! There is another Healthy Lunch Challenge this year and you can enter too! All the details are on the Epicurious page you can access via the link I have now included twice! Recipes from last year are in an electronic cookbook. Check it out for some inspiration.
I can’t say enough about how great this experience was for me and my son. It was a life changing event for me because it provided me a book full of healthy food that got me started eating better and helped me lose almost 20 pounds. My son and I have made many new friends with whom we remain in contact. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Sorry for rambling. Oh! One more thing! The bathrooms in the White House are REALLY NICE!!!
My son and Sam Kass, White House Chef and Policy Advisor