Soup up my lunch: tofu omelet

A commenter asked “what does your kid eat?” My kid eats a pint-sized version of what I’m eating (varies on choking hazard status of the food item, etc). I’m a big believer in not making more than one meal. Plus I don’t like the idea of a toddler dictating what the whole family eats.
So I made a tofu omelet for lunch (last week, delayed posting). I didn’t get a picture of the finished egg (hey, things get crazy around here). But the ingredients were three eggs, milk, butter in the pan, tofu chunks, and spinach. I didn’t serve this with bread or toast this time, but I usually offer a grain. What else should I have added to this meal? Is a grain necessary?
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37 Responses to Soup up my lunch: tofu omelet

  1. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    Mrs Q,

    despite what the powers that be that control school lunch might claim a grain is NEVER necessary. If you are eating a good variety of good quality protein and vegetables, you really don't need much else, not fruit and not grains. These items are great for variety, but nutritionally not entirely necessary. They don't really offer anything you can't get through veggies and protein sources.

  2. Jess July 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Often, when I make an omelet for lunch, I'll serve it with a side salad. Having a little extra color on the plate seems to make the meal for me. I find that a grain such as a slice of toast balances it out well, but it depends how hungry you are.

  3. Ms.T July 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    A complex carb would have been great with all that protein. Whole grain toast or roll. Fiber helps things digest more slowly and keeps us feeling satisfied longer. Using Olive Oil instead of butter would have added some healthy Omega 3's for brain function and is a healthier fat. Any fruit or drink?

  4. Carol July 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I would not have added tofu but, instead, some swiss cheese and mushrooms. As for the addition of or inclusion of a grain, not absolutely necessary, I would consider it a bonus. That being said, I will sometimes make a 3-egg omelette similar to this (I add spinach, mushrooms, and swiss or I make an omelette with sauteed green, red, and yellow peppers and onions) and divide between two wraps (spinach wrap, sundried tomato wrap, etc.).

    I agree with you about not making multiple meals for family members . . . I was certainly raised with the "you eat what's set before you" rule, as well as "this is a home kitchen, not a restaurant". I truly believe that so many food aversions of children are projected on the children simply by the parents' assumption that the child isn't going to like a particular food. True, a child may not immediately embrace a new food, but with repeated exposure, the child will begin eating that food, rather than push it aside.

  5. Jackie Danicki July 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    I wouldn't serve a grain, either. If I did, it would be something cold from the fridge that I'd made in advance and kept on hand to have as a snack or side – like a quinoa or couscous salad with vegetables and maybe a bit of chopped, dried fruit.

    What about a cold salad? I like broccoli with chopped prunes and a dressing of light canola mayo whisked with a bit of vinegar and seasoning; spinach tossed with some Bolthouse Farm yogurt dressing, banana peppers, and fresh mushrooms; or even just cold, sliced tomato lightly salted or drizzled with a yogurt dressing.

  6. MeredithDuck July 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I love eggs cooked in olive oil.
    Sliced strawberries or blueberries (wonderful in season fruits!) would be good too.

  7. Mary Zawadzki July 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Mrs. Q,

    It's really funny that you said that you don't believe that a toddler should dictate what the whole family eats. My Mom was also a big believer of this and the four of us (me and my three siblings) ate whatever she made for breakfast. lunch or dinner without much fuss or complaint. Honestly, we didn't even think, never mind, try to ask for anything else. Mom never believed in ordering from a kids menu either, so when the family went out to eat (a rare occurrence in the 70s) we asked for family style so that we could try lots of new foods. I am very thankful that Mom did this because it made me the adventurous eater that I am today … and the adventurous cook too!

    Insisting that we eat what she prepared (and let me tell you, there wasn't anything that she cooked that I wouldn't eat — including her delicious, lightly floured, pan fried liver with caramelized onions!) and making sure that we helped in the kitchen helped us to see food in a more healthy and positive way. Mom made cooking and food fun, and in turn we saw dinner as something to look forward to and not some to struggle against. I remember cold, fall evenings coming home from my friend's house for dinner. The lights in the our house were so warm and inviting … and opening the door to the kitchen was magic! AH the smells!!! Mom was always busily preparing something, even if it was leftovers. She would heat leftovers in the oven even when we had a microwave. Mom cooked (and sometimes Pop did too) while she worked, and often times she did big meals on the weekends so that we would have left overs. Nowadays I cook for my husband and myself … and for my Mom. :o) It's the least I could do after all she's done for me.

    Thank you for not caving to what so many other parents do! Cooking for the whole family is very special … separating a child from that equation with food separates the child from the family experience.

    Hugs,
    Mary from NYC

  8. Melissa E. July 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I think the bread could be optional, but I usually add a half of a slice with an omelet meal. I like the side salad idea, too. I make my own whole wheat bread at home, so I know what I'm getting. A fruit might be good, too, but it all depends on how much fruit you've had at other meals.

    Olive oil is better for you, but butter is divine. My trick is to use a tiny bit of real butter with the olive oil. Then, the olive oil takes on some of the flavor of the butter.

    I agree with you about not making a separate meal for your child. Nick gets what we're eating, and he usually eats most or all of it. Actually, if we have something on our plates that he doesn't have, he gets mad. He wants what we're eating.

  9. frogfarm July 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Grains are calorically dense, nutritionally meager, and have an enormous variety of toxins — traditional preparation methods minimized these toxins, but very few people these days do what's necessary. They offer absolutely nothing that you can't get more of, in a more bioavailable form, from less toxic sources. They are only appropriate in the human diet when the only alternative is death by starvation. And their production, particularly under the odious influence of government subsidies, is not just bad for humans but for the environment we live in. Support properly pastured animals, rather than factory feeding operations; permaculture, rather than agriculture.

    Reading:

    "Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization", by Richard Manning

    "The Vegetarian Myth", by Lierre Keith

    "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl", by Timothy Egan

    PS: See fibermenace.com for more on why to avoid these so-called "foods", and instead get all your fiber from fruits and non-starchy vegetables.

    PPS: Everything above regarding grains is also true for legumes, including soy.

  10. Kim July 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Eating veg and protein to the exclusion of all else is a poor diet in my book. Variety is important for good nutrition, enjoyment and satisfaction. How boring to eat only vegetables and protein!

    Baby spinach is soooo yummy in omelets but this combo seems austere to me. I would probably throw in some fresh chopped herbs to make it more interesting….basil, chives, parsley, oregano, savory, marjoram, dill, tarragon or just about any green herb would be wonderful.

    For me, a grain would need to be added for satisfaction along with B vitamins, fiber and the energy provided by carbohydrates.

    -KimMinCT (formerly commenting as Kim)

  11. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    I would add a multi-grain kaiser roll with raisins or blueberries inside it!

  12. Caty July 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Maybe some more veggies in the omelet – red bell peppers, onions, etc, and a piece of fruit or sprouted grain bread!

  13. Viki July 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Okay, I'm going to say something that will get me jumped on for sure…Butter isn't that bad. I mean don't slather it on everything all the time, but butter makes things taste good. A bit of butter is great. A lot of time I'll use olive oil and a bit of butter both in the old iron skillet.

    I like this lunch.
    And I don't eat much tofu. I do regularly eat eggs with greens though. I like them with sauted chard a bit of red onion and a sprinkle of cheese. Real hard white cheddar or a bit of blue cheese sprinkled on top.
    Now I'm hungry.
    IF I was still hungry I might have a piece of fruit.

  14. Mrs. Q July 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Thanks for the great suggestions!

  15. Julia July 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    To say something is caloricly dense and then dismiss it as un-nutritious on that account I think is misleading.

    Take wheat for instance – caloricly dense, but high in fiber, low in sugar, contains manganese, phosphorous, etc.

    Now, can you get these things from other sources? Sure! But the same can be said of meat.

    Meat is a great source of protein and iron, but it is caloricly dense as well. Many other foods, like nuts, contain proteins so it's not essential to eat meat.

    However, eating meats and grains can be one way to get nutrients that you need and add variety. The only downsides that I see to these foods is that they are caloricly dense.

    I think that just tells you to limit them in your diet to a reasonable portion and number of servings. But as long as you are getting all the variety, nutrients, and calories (no more, no less) you need in your diet, what does it matter? Is that a naive assumption?

  16. frogfarm July 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Viki – Butter is fantastically healthy!

    Kim – Your words "boring" and "satisfaction" say it all. Everyone makes their own choices as to how best to balance health and happiness. (For some, it's not a compromise.) But it says a lot that the only real arguments for grains most people can muster are emotional and cultural, bordering on (not always) religious attachment. Eliminating them from my diet only made me realize how basically tasteless they are without adding a ton of fat and/or sugar. So I cut out the middleman and just eat healthy fat!

  17. Rachel July 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I agree with you Viki. Butter gets a bad rap.

    I make this omelet, but with feta instead of tofu, and I add mushrooms unless my stepdaughter is eating it too. She just can't get past the mushrooms. =) But I think feta adds more flavor, and I try to limit the amount of soy we eat.

    I would just serve it with fresh fruit on the side. My kids are crazy about diced mango with blueberries right now, so we've been eating a lot of that combo.

  18. Shannon July 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    I think whether or not a grain is necessary depends on you. Do *you* feel healthy and satisfied when you eat a grain free meal? How do you feel when you eat grains? Good? Bad? Bloated? Satisfied? Doesn't matter either way?

    It seems to me there's conflicting opinions on both sides of every food argument. I think what's most important is how each individual feels when they eat something.

  19. Momof3 July 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Not big tofu fans here.

    I would have made the eggs with spinach, tomatoes and a bit of cheese. Then served it in a whole wheat wrap or a mini whole wheat bagel on the side.

  20. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Have you tried cooking the spinach first? My usual midmorning snack is an egg white omelet (I'm allergic to yolks) with kale and spinach; I'll saute the greens in olive oil and season them with a bit of salt and pepper before I cook the eggs. It adds a lot of flavor and (I think) gives the finished meal a better texture.

  21. Kelly B. July 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    No short order cooks here either! In fact,the name of my blog is What are my kids eating? (The answer – whatever I am!)

  22. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    frogfarm, please, please, PLEASE do some real research into the sources you're quoting. That fibermenace site is a complete pile. The author him/herself states flat-out that

    "At this point I can only share with you anecdotal evidence based on the input from my readers and clients. Yes, all of these “miracles” were unexpected (by readers and clients, not me), spontaneous, and undocumented. And, yes, none of them may be representative or repeatable for anyone else. And, yes, there have yet to be any controlled studies to prove or repeat any of these successes."

    That means that anything they have to say is completely, 100% worthless. I can claim that my dog jumped into the air and flew around the room, but until he does it multiple times with outside witnesses and verifiable documentation, my claims aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

    Please, people, do not be taken in by quacks trying to sell you something. The scientific method exists for a reason.

  23. doris non-woo July 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    i personally like to eat my omelets with toast, but i think it's a matter of preference, not a necessity.
    i did come across this recipe recently though, and can't wait to make it: http://www.ourbestbites.com/2010/07/quick-fix-mediterranean-feta-egg.html
    i really like the idea of putting it in a tortilla, i probably wouldn't have thought of it on my own. and one day, when there's lots of extra time (har har), maybe there'll be time to make crepes…

  24. Sarah July 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    I'm not a big fan of tofu, so I'd have switched it out for a fresh cheese of some kind. As for a grain, I prefer toast as well, but an apple would have gotten the fiber in there as well.

    I think sometimes it's okay to not have a completely 100% balanced meal. You'll have a snack later and can get your grain/fruit in there. Or have a salad with dinner that has fruit in it like baby spinach and fresh mandarin orange segments.

    My daughter's pediatrician told us a long time ago to look at nutrition in larger terms. If in your child's day she has three servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit, two grains and three proteins, then call it a well balanced day. Every meal doesn't have to have all five in it to be a good healthy meal.

  25. frogfarm July 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Anonymous – I've done my research, but I'm always hesitant to be accused of "spamming with references" when I provide backup sources for my claims. You don't have to buy any of the products Konstantin is selling to benefit from his advice. Regarding grains, Loren Cordain has done stellar work on the subject showing that even non-glutinous grains are detrimental to human health. And there is a growing body of evidence indicating the demonstrable decline in health with their introduction into our diets:

    o Loren Cordain, PhD, "Cereal Grains: Humanity's Double-Edged Sword", 1999, World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics:

    http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/EvolutionPaleolithic/Cereal%20Sword.pdf

    o Mark Nathan Cohen etc., "Paleopathology at the origins of agriculture", 1984, Academic Press:

    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/paleopathology-at-origins-of.html

    And the European Global History of Health Project:

    http://global.sbs.ohio-state.edu/

    Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist with a proven track record, has written extensively on how modern wheat in particular is one of the most harmful grains:

    http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Wheat

    PS: I am in no way trying to force my own choices on anyone. I don't want subsidies for the way I eat — I want to see an end to all subsidies, an end to artificial price distortions that hide the true cost of things.

  26. mahli July 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Wow that tofu omelet looks delicious.

  27. aellwynde July 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I'm not a huge tofu fan, but I've found that i can enjoy it in a omelet, especially if it happens to be flavored with a little butter. And I love spinach. The only thing I might have added is tomato, because I have a slight addiction there. 🙂 If I were eating it with you, I probably would have been content with your meal as is. It was very pretty too!

  28. Anita July 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Looks tasty. Can you believe I've never eaten tofu? Gotta make a grocery run soon; maybe I'll try some. 🙂

  29. HenrysMom A2MI July 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Mrs. Q,

    Looks really good! I love toast with eggs. Tortillas, too.

    I agree about butter — it gets a bad rap. We use both butter and olive oil, whichever tastes better in the recipe.

    More spinach!

  30. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    The eggs and tofu are interchangeable. I would eliminate the eggs and do a tofu scramble with a ton of veggies. Or eliminate the tofu and do a ton of eggs and veggies.

  31. WordVixen July 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    You know what I would add? Grape tomatoes! Crazy burst of flavor in those. (on the side, not in the omelet) I personally avoid all soy for health concerns, but the baby spinach seems like a great addition. I'm with Kim and Vicki though- a bit of onion and herbs would be terrific.

    Great, now I'm craving an omelete, which under normal circumstances I don't even like!

    Oh, and I saw a post on "sweet omelets" this week. The author suggested stirring vanilla into the egg mixture, then topping the omelet with lemon curd, jam, nuts, or other things that you'd normally put on toast or pancakes. I haven't tried it yet, but it's definitely on my to-do list.

  32. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    I LOVE eggs! I've never met an egg I didn't like, and lately (especially with these lovely summer days) I've been making quiche for dinner. I like to caramelize a whole onion, add a tiny bit of smoked meat (bacon or summer sausage. No more than 2 tbs cubed), and a big handful of spinach. Once the spinach is wilted, I pour my veggie concoction into a pie crust, top with 3 eggs (beaten along with salt, pepper, paprika, and a splash of water, which I find makes eggs lighter and fluffier than milk does). Bake at 350 until it's firm on top, and you've got yourself a very, very delicious meal. Paired with a big serving of salad makes it delicious, nutritious, filling, and energizing. This is a favorite following a heavy workout, because the quiche can be shoved into the fridge and eaten cold.

    Also, you make my heart swell with pride to hear that you expect your kids to eat what you eat. I've heard it said several times recently that kids in France are treated like small adults, and are expected to eat what they're served and develop a refined palate just like their parents. I always had to eat what was served to me, and despite several battles of will (beans used to gross me out–it was a textural thing), I always eventually ate what I had to eat (now I adore beans–all because my mom wouldn't take no for an answer!). I'm now an adventurous eater (as many other commentators have acknowledged) and will try anything SEVERAL TIMES before I decide I don't care for it.

  33. Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    frogfarm, I don't think you understood my point. Do you know what the scientific method is, and why it was adopted as a guideline for the scientific community? Do you know what the point of experiments are, and the difference between a controlled experiment and a "study"? Are you familiar with the logical fallacy of "correlation equals causation" and why it's a logical fallacy?

    The point is that your "sources" prove nothing. They're worthless pseudoscience.

  34. Mary Zawadzki July 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Viki — butter. I love you. Seriously, I follow a whole foods diet, meaning that I don't eat processed foods including tofu (which is technically processed to make it look like that.). Butter, milk, eggs, cheese, meats, whole grains, honey, fruits, vegetables, etc. in multiple combinations and in moderation ALL contribute to one's health. There is no such thing as a bad WHOLE grain … it's the over-processing that kills them (and over-indulgence). The biggest problem folks have is pushing away from the table and embracing moderation in everything they do. Real chocolate is good for you in moderation … but don't go eating a pound of it all by yourself.

    Mrs. Q — I like eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To me they are the perfect food. I would do away with the tofu all together and add a crumble of feta. Ooo, and maybe chopped tomatoes. Since there is a Middle Eastern twist to this I would add a mini whole wheat pita instead of a roll.

  35. frogfarm July 16, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    Anonymous = Wow, you read all that stuff really fast! But we can play "dueling studies" all day long, but what happens when a beautiful theory is flat out disproven by the reality in front of our faces? Anyway, Cordain versus T. Colin Campbell: Cordain provides 164 references. Campbell provides none. I know whose opinions I'm more likely to give credence to!

  36. Anonymous July 17, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    frogfarm, I can see I'll be talking to a wall if I try to go on. Have fun listening to your witch doctors and following your fad diets. Just take care you don't start sliding into orthorexia.

  37. frogfarm July 17, 2010 at 2:03 am #

    Pejorative terms like "witch doctors" get thrown around a lot by people uncomfortable with the idea that "conventional wisdom" might not be all it's cracked up to be. How can any diet based on evolutionary and biochemical science be a "fad" when all human diets for thousands if not millions of years lacked grains, sugars and vegetable oils? And "orthorexia", like many so-called "mental illnesses", is nothing more than what Thomas Szasz termed "the medicalization of behavior". I love my food, by the way, and contrary to what you may think, don't obsess about it one bit!

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