Monday, April 4, 2011

Stuffed Shells



Do you ever notice how people always speak for their kids?

“Oh, Billy won’t eat that. He only likes chicken nuggets and McDonalds. He despises vegetables.”
“No I will never get Jane to eat that, she is so picky!”

I don’t have children, so I will never try and act like I know what it is like to have kids. But whenever I see people making excuses for feeding their kids a poor diet it just makes me wonder if it is just purely a societal expectation that children will only eat chicken nuggets and fries, food marketing, availability, cost, ignorance, or just a combination of all of it.

I can’t consciously remember what its like to be 4 years old, so I don’t know if most kids really don’t like vegetables or if advertisers have made everyone think that kids will only eat processed crap.
 
I have a lot to say about this issue, but I will step of my soapbox for now. Really, it is my long way of getting to pictures of an adorable baby eating tofu.

I had the chance to go to a first birthday party for an amazing little boy a few weeks ago. I brought some cashew ricotta stuffed shells and they were a big hit, especially with the one-year-old crowd! Whoever said babies won’t eat tofu?

Recipe and more pictures after the jump…



Cashew Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Source: Concept: Me / Ricotta - Veganomicon

1 – 2 batches of Cashew Ricotta Recipe (cashews, olive oil, lemon, tofu, basil, salt & pepper)
1 Box of Jumbo Stuffed Shells
1 Jar of your favorite vegan sauce or homemade
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. Prepare cashew ricotta in a food processor or blender according to recipe.
  4. Pour about 3/4 cup of sauce into bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  5. Stuff or pipe cooked shells with ricotta mixture and place in baking dish.
  6. Once all shells are stuffed, pour remainder of sauce over stuffed shells.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 25 to 35 minutes, until shells are warmed throughout and slightly set.


 Chubby Vegan Notes
  • I had to make two batches of ricotta for a whole box of stuffed shells, but if you don’t want to make so much just cut the recipe in half.
  • If you really like sauce you may need more than one jar.
  • Husband helped with this and thought it would be better to pipe the ricotta into the shells. This is totally not necessary, but it does make the presentation a little better.
  • I could eat this cashew ricotta out of the bowl, so I didn’t leave in the oven that long. The time in the oven is more about warming it throughout and less about “cooking” it.
  • If you want to add some vegan cheese and more basil to the top of this, have at it. Well, if you want to show off.
  • I am a big fan of stuffed shells and I L-O-V-E-D these. Easy and delicious, my favorite!
  • As a final note, this babies picture is in no way an inference that his parents make excuses for his eating. His parents are wonderful and do feed him a well balanced and nutritious diet that Uncle CV is happy to supplement with lots of great cruelty free vegan foods!

15 comments:

  1. When kids are "picky eaters" it is the fault of the parents. If you don't expect your child to eat healthy food and model eating healthy food for your child, you'll end up with a french fries and hot dogs kind of kid. My son is 5 now and, having been vegan since he was born (yes, breastfeeding is vegan), he's seen me eat a healthy diet and has been expected to eat the same things I eat. When he was just starting to eat "solid" food he was pretty limited in his tastes; sweet potato, vegan yogurt, baby rice cereal. Apparently he just didn't like mashed up food because as soon as he started eating food that required chewing he would eat pretty much anything I ate, with the exception of spicy things. He'll voluntarily eat spring mix salad and most people's children are afraid of veggies? Mhm. Not that parents fault at all, right?

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  2. I don't want to be a judgmental person, but it breaks my heart to see kids addicted to fast food and processed junk. My 3 year old son has never had fast food, so of course he doesn't crave it. I drink water all day, and so by choice, he sips on water all day, too. Food is a priority for us. We spend our "spending money" on local, organic produce and high quality ingredients rather than eating at restaurants, movies, or new clothes. Our pantry is filled with healthy vegan food, so no matter what he chooses, it's going to nourish him. I feel very passionately about leading children to healthy eating habits by example. I've learned so much about nutrition since having my son, and I feel like as I continue to learn, our kitchen just keeps getting healthier (but never bland or boring)! :)
    Great post, and the shells look delicious!

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  3. Cute post Uncle CV, that baby boy loved your shells and if he could talk I know he would ask his momma for them every night for dinner. He loves his fruits and veggies, as long as they're not brussel sprouts. It must be the texture, because he just does not like them.

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  4. Getting on my soap box.
    First let me say, YES poor eating habits are the fault of the parents. However, kids do have a mind of their own. They also have more receptors on their taste-buds and many vegetables are bitter to them. They simply do not taste food the same as adults do.
    I have been working very hard for over a year now to transition my kids to a vegan diet. It's has been the hardest thing I have had to do. Many nights meals end with children refusing to eat. You have never met a monster more ferocious then a stubborn child. I have been in tears over trying to get them to eat beans. THEY HATE BEANS, all of them but one. The problem was not feeding them like this from day one. But I didn't know any better then. You know what they say " When you know better , you do better".
    My kids eat far better then most,they refuse to eat a McDonald's nugget but continue to ask for the fries.
    I volunteer at the school and cringe when I see the lunch boxes! But one thing I have learned is not to pass judgment.We do not know the circumstances. Maybe the family relys on a food bank to fill the pantry. With some exceptions we all do the best we can.

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  5. Love all these comments from all you moms! So inspiring to hear people who are choosing a healthy vegan diet for their children.

    Ann-Marie- you hit the nail on the head with your comment on "circumstances." What the worst part of it all is that food assistance programs will often allow (almost force) families to buy the worst, unhealthy, and poor quality foods because they are cheaper and more readily available. To often these kids have obesity problems and grow up to be obese adults which continues a vicious cycle. Oh man, I could go on and on!

    Thanks to everyone for your comments, keep them coming!

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  6. Debbie (Hippie Mama)April 5, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    My kids love vegetables, and my six-year-old considers tofu straight from the package a treat. :-O. Yes, they do like junk too (french fries, cookies, Tofutti Cuties, etc., etc.) but they love most healthy stuff too.

    In my experience at least, kids generally prefer foods prepared as simply as possible. No salad dressing, no sauces on things, not a lot of spices. They like it simple. I'm not sure if that's just my kids, though.

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  7. Not trying to diminish your passion in this post - I agree that kids shouldn't survive on McDonald's and Chips Ahoy alone, but I do find it a slightly odd perspective coming from a blog that proudly proclaims its chubbiness and often provides recipes for things that are far from healthy *cough* s'mores cookies *cough*. I hope that when I have kids, I can expose them to a variety of healthy food options, but the implication that feeding them vegan food automatically means it's the healthiest choice is what bothers me. You have definitely proven that vegan food is not boring or bland, but healthy eating is a conscious decision, animal-free or not.

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  8. Caity- Thanks for your passion and opinion on the matter. Couple of things...

    I will admit, I embrace the concept of being "chubby" and do often posts things that are far from being healthy options. S'mores cookies is one of them... For this reason, I don't mean to infer that vegan food is the automatic healthy option. Sugary snack foods need to be eaten in moderation for anyone, vegan or not.

    HOWEVER, I will say that choosing to be vegan or following a plant centered diet does make people severely cut a tremendous amount of saturated fat, calories, cholesterol, and sugars from their diet. I am and have always been chubby, but my cholesterol is perfect, my blood pressure is good, and my doctors have no complaints about my overall health. If I continued on the unhealthy path that I followed as a kid (eating the foods I talked about), there is no doubt that I would be twice my size and contemplating medical intervention.

    I am sure there are plenty of very healthy kids who live in an omni house and eat meat everyday. I was not one of them. Sadly, I think many kids are not either.

    Being a parent is a really tough job and everyone thinks they are an expert. I know I am not. But I do know that setting your children on a healthy path from birth is what will keep them healthy for their whole life. Sure they can have sweets from time to time, only if its in moderation and unhealthy food isn't treated as a reward or a way to get over problems. This is what leads to more and more problems down the road.

    I have heard lots of comments about this on here and off line and I am interested in what anyone has to say, even if they disagree!

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  9. Agree. I have a very strong sweet tooth and struggle greatly with not adding dessert to every meal and trying to keep prepackaged, processed foods out of my diet. I just feel that, from a purely health-related stance, while a vegan diet is a great choice for some people who need those restrictions, it's not a requirement for a healthy lifestyle. Like you said, there are probably plenty of healthy kids who live in "omni" households.

    I often hear about those crazy couponing people who get $600 of groceries for free, and I think, that's great, but are you seriously going to feed your family 16 boxes of Lucky Charms? Unfortunately there are no coupons for fruits and veggies.

    BTW, if we're comparing medical stats, I also have great cholesterol and blood pressure (just had everything tested in January).

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  10. Yes, I agree with you. I am not afraid to say you can be healthy and not be vegan.

    Of course, that is purely speaking about veganism from a health stance which clearly is not the only reason why I (and most) choose to be vegan. That is a whole other argument! ;)

    Glad to hear your cholesterol and BP is good too. Let's keep it that way!

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  11. Just made these. Thanks for sharing! We added a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast, fresh parsley, and some chopped red onion to the Cashew Ricotta. Soooooo goooooood.

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  12. Hi, I'm a vegan girl, I made this recently and it was delicious, thanks so much.

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  13. Breast cancer survivors aren't supposed to exceed 3 servings of soy products per week. I'm not hatin' on tofu at all--I actually really like it. Soy products, however, can mimic a weak estrogen in our bloodstreams, and those of us with estrogen receptor positive cancers are better off limiting our consumption of soy products until research is more definitive/conclusive. So I am a tofu free vegan for now.

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  14. I found your blog looking for some recipes that I can eat. I'm excited to try this recipe. I'm allergic to eggs and dairy but I am not vegan. I would like to echo what the mother above said about children having more taste receptors and some things being found bitter to them that would normally be fine to an adult whose taste receptors are more blunted. I commend anyone trying to feed their family healthy. However, I want to let anyone stumbling on this site and thread who might feel themselves in the pit of despair because their kid refuses to eat veg to take this all with a grain of salt. Some kids do and will refuse for a period of time to eat veggies and most fruits. I have one. He is turning the corner. You are NOT a bad parent. You are a GREAT parent. Patience and humor will see you through it. Turning it into a battle may damage your child's attitude towards food which should be an enjoyable experience. I would probably not be off base to imagine that some (not all) vegans suffered drastically under well-meaning parents who insisted that being a vegan was weird, unhealthy, unnatural, etc. Please don't do this to your own child over the issue of whether or not they eat their vegetables. I feed my son lots of what he likes, some of what he tolerates, and a taste here and there of things he does not YET like but that I know eventually he will. Which means a LOT of tomato sauce, peanut butter, bananas, apples, grapes, pasta. Don't forget a multivitamin supplement and vitamin D3 supplement to ease your mind.

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