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Picky-Eater Pleaser

Broccoli and tofu pita packet recipe is sure to be a family favorite

All Animals magazine, July/August 2015

by Catherine Hess

HSUS blog editor Vaishali Honawar has helped her son, Jay, become a more adventurous eater. Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Children can be tough to cook for. Just ask Vaishali Honawar, blog editor for The HSUS. Honawar and her husband recently adopted Jay, a 6-year-old boy from Mumbai, and although Honawar is a talented cook, feeding him has been a challenge.

After hours, Honawar writes the blog HolyCowVegan.net, which she started after she began a vegan diet, chronicling her experiments with tofu, seitan, tempeh and other new foods. Before she became a mom, Honawar only had cooked for children when friends with youngsters visited for dinner, and it hardly prepared her for Jay’s unpredictable preferences. This kid thinks peanut butter and jelly is disgusting. He wouldn’t even try pasta. Only lovingly firm parenting has kept meals from being a multiple-hour ordeal, waiting for Jay to try whatever is on his plate.

“The biggest tip I have is to not give in to every food whim, or you are setting yourself up for a life of misery—and a lot of time in the kitchen,” she says. While she considers Jay’s preferences when cooking, “I also insist that he eats whatever I cook for the whole family, and that includes foods that he hated with a passion when we first brought him home. Over time he has learned to enjoy tofu, pasta and broccoli, and although he still doesn’t love mushrooms, he will eat them without complaining.”

At the Mumbai orphanage where Jay grew up, meals regularly consisted of creamy, spicy lentils called “dal” and rice, and cooking these dishes is a surefire way to feed him. But his parents want to introduce him to new foods, too. Remarkably, a recent success was broccoli and tofu (every kid’s dream, right?) baked into an empanada-like shell. You can make your own dough or use premade pizza dough for a weeknight shortcut.

Go to HolyCowVegan.net and let Honawar know how these pita packets went over with your family.

Broccoli and Tofu Pita Packets

Serves 4 // Recipe by Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes


    Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS


One package premade dough (or make your own!)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 medium head of broccoli, shredded in a food processor or minced
One 12-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 12-ounce package frozen greens
Salt to taste


1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir-fry 1 minute. Add coriander, cumin and cayenne. Mix well.
2. Add shredded broccoli and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender.
3. Mix in tofu, crumbling any large pieces. Cook until moisture evaporates and turn off heat. Set aside.
4. In another pan, heat remaining oil. Add mustard seeds. When they sputter, add red pepper flakes.
5. Mix in thawed greens. Add salt, cover and cook to taste over medium-low heat. Adjust salt if needed.
6. Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll a ball of dough into a thin circle 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a couple of tablespoons of tofu-broccoli filling in center and top with some sautéed greens.
7. Brush some water along the edges of the circle and fold one half over the other. Press edges together and crimp with a fork. Repeat with all of the dough.
8. Place pita packets on a baking sheet sprayed or brushed with oil. Spray or brush tops of pita packets with a little more oil to make them crisp. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 5 minutes. Serve hot with chutney.

Per serving: Calories: 415; Fat: 12 g; Carbs: 61 g; Fiber: 15 g; Protein: 13 g; Sodium: 959 mg

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