Sweet Pea came home on June 14th, pretty unexpectedly–we thought she was going to be transferred to the children’s hospital to have a bridled NG tube put in, but at the last minute, her doctors decided we were capable enough to handle a regular NG tube on our own and that should could leave the hospital the next day. Leaving the NICU was pretty anticlimactic, as was settling into our new life as a family of four. It has just felt right and easy–much easier than you’d expect for a baby with 2-3 doctor’s appointments each week, oxygen, and 4 different medications.
Throwing a wrench into everything was being laid off a week after bringing Sweet Pea home from the hospital. I had to dive right into finding freelance work because I have a family to support–but it was hard to conduct a job search with all the doctor’s appointments and needs of a new baby in the home. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that despite all my control freak, über-planner tendencies, life will always be unpredictable.
One thing I’ve been trying to keep predictable is our dinner times. We ate out a lot when Sweet Pea was in the hospital. I’ve found that with her home, I actually have more time and motivation to cook. And obviously, with my job situation, we can’t afford to get takeout half the week anymore. I’m rediscovering how much I enjoy cooking–not just the act of putting together meals, but the fact that it’s something I can do for my family, to care for them. I’ve felt powerless a lot over the past several months, so I think that things I can do feeling is a powerful one for me.
A few weeks ago, I made Sweet and Sour Tofu with Pineapple for dinner and it was a hit with Little Pea–and hits are few and far between these days. So I decided to go with it and tweaked the recipe a little bit the next week, making this Sweet and Sour Mango Tempeh with Cashews. Little Pea liked it because:
- Mangoes! They’re a favorite of hers.
- The sauce is sweet. It’s balanced with the acidity of the apple cider vinegar, but it leans towards sweet a little more than your typical sweet and sour sauce since I developed it with kids in mind.
- Tempeh. Another winner in our household. If your kids aren’t a fan, tofu will work, as would a faux chicken if you’re into that kind of thing.
- There’s a little bit of crunch. I think Little Pea likes cashews because they’re crunchy, but not as hard as some other nuts.
One thing I kind of struggle with when I blog here–and maybe it’s even one of the reasons why I don’t blog here much–is debating about what constitutes a vegetarian meal for kids. I wonder if people expect to come here and find a gazillion veggie tot recipes, mac and cheese with hidden vegetables in the sauce, that kind of thing. Maybe they look at this recipe and think, “Tempeh?! What kid would eat that?” But my kid eats it! And what won’t she eat? Veggie tots! And mac and cheese, unless it’s from a box and shaped like bunnies.
Yields 4 servings
A plant-based dinner that kids will love. Because: mangoes!
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup sliced white parts of green onions (save green parts for garnish)
- 2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, cubed
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup whole cashews
- 2 ripe mangoes, diced
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Thinly sliced green onions and/or basil chiffonade, for garnish
- Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the white parts of the green onions, tempeh, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tempeh is just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cashews and cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes more.
- Whisk the sauce again and add it to skillet along with the mangoes. Simmer until the sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes more, then remove from heat. Serve over rice and garnish with the green parts of the onion and basil, if using.