3 Kid-Approved, Protein-Rich Sheet Pan Recipes

Recipes & Photos by Nisha Melvani, MS, RD @cookingforpeanuts

As a dietitian and mom of three, my goal is to prepare healthy and delicious meals as quickly as possible. You learn to prioritize efficient meals over elaborate ones when you have three hungry mouths to feed! Plus, I’m sure you want your kids to enjoy these meals while nourishing their growing bodies.  That’s why I’ve put together a list of three of my favorite protein-packed sheet pan recipes. 


Sheet pan recipes are one of my go-tos when time is limited or I’m not in the mood for lots of preparation. These recipes contain two versatile and nutritious plant-based proteins –chickpeas and tofu. I hope you enjoy making and eating these!

 

Chickpeas


 

Chickpeas are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber is a vital nutrient for our gut as it feeds our good bacteria. Fiber also appears to reduce the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, chickpeas are high in protein, making them an excellent addition to this balanced meal. 


Tofu


 

Tofu is a healthy plant-based source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s made from soybeans which are naturally gluten-free, and is a valuable source of iron and calcium. Tofu may also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease as it is rich in heart-healthy isoflavones. 


Does tofu have more iron than red meat?


One half cup of firm tofu packs 3 mg of non-heme iron, slightly more than your average serving of red meat! 



1. Roasted Chickpeas & Veggies with Lemon Tahini

   

Roasting veggies makes them a little sweeter and generally more palatable for kids– especially when you add a drizzle of yummy tahini dressing. The healthy fats in the tahini help our bodies absorb fat soluble vitamins from the veggies, packing in even more nutrition. 


Roasting chickpeas makes them crispy and even more tempting. I sometimes broil them at the end for about two minutes to get them as crispy as possible. Removing the skins by rubbing the chickpeas between layers of a kitchen towel before roasting makes them even crispier, but this step is optional as it can be time consuming. 

Use canned or cooked chickpeas for this recipe. Both will work equally well. If you are using home cooked chickpeas, use 1 ½ cups.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 can chickpeas (14 ounces), drained, and rinsed
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite size florets
  • Drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Dash of dried herbs
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large avocado, sliced

For the Lemon Tahini Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • Juice of 2 medium lemons
  • Zest of one medium lemon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
  • Salt to taste

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, or use non-stick sheets. 
  3. Rub the chickpeas between a large kitchen towel to remove the skins. Transfer the chickpeas to a large bowl with the sweet potato, and broccoli. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Add a generous dash of garlic powder, dried herbs, and paprika. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets in a single layer.
  4. Roast the chickpeas and vegetables for 15 minutes. Toss them so they cook evenly. Roast for about 10 minutes more, or until the chickpeas are crispy and the sweet potato is fork tender.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a medium bowl, add the tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Grate the garlic into the bowl using a microplane grater. Whisk to combine. Add the maple syrup, and more water as needed until the dressing is the desired consistency and sweetness. Season with salt.
  6. Serve the roasted chickpeas and vegetables with avocado slices. Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing.
  7. Refrigerate any remaining dressing in an airtight container for up to three days. 

2. Sheet Pan Gnocchi, Tofu & Veggies


How Long Does It Take to Press Tofu?

I recommend using a tofu press as it will make the process faster. With a press, it takes about 15 minutes. Without a press (using towels and heavy object) it will take about 25 minutes. You can also purchase ‘super firm,’ or ‘extra firm sprouted’ tofu, which require no pressing.


Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 block tofu (14 ounces), pressed 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 cups chopped vegetables (bell peppers, red onion, zucchini)
  • 2 cups frozen gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional), plus more for the vegetables and gnocchi
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the hummus dressing:

  • 1 cup plain hummus
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a large Ziploc bag or reusable container. Add the cornstarch, paprika, and garlic powder. Toss the tofu until it is evenly coated with the cornstarch.
  3. Place the vegetables, and gnocchi into a large bowl and add a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Toss the vegetables and gnocchi until lightly coated with the oil. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Set aside. 
  4. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a second large baking sheet. Heat the oil in the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and tilt the sheet to spread the oil evenly. Transfer the tofu to the baking sheet and use a spatula to toss the tofu in the oil until lightly coated. 
  5. Place both baking sheets into the oven, with the vegetables on the upper rack, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the hummus, lemon juice, and water. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside. 
  7. Remove the tofu, vegetables, and gnocchi from the oven and toss with a spatula so that they cook evenly. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until golden brown.
  8. Top with a generous drizzle of hummus dressing for serving. 


3. Sheet Pan Tofu & Broccoli Teriyaki


What you need:

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu (14 ounces), pressed, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut into bite size florets
  • 2 teaspoons sesame or neutral cooking oil, or fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

For the Teriyaki Sauce (makes 1 cup):

  • ½ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sriracha
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional for a thicker sauce)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Transfer the tofu cubes to a reusable container or Ziploc freezer bag and add 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Seal the container and toss the tofu inside until it is evenly coated with the cornstarch.
  3. Transfer the tofu to a large non-stick baking sheet in a single layer. 
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the broccoli florets with the oil, and salt and rub the florets until evenly coated. Transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet with the tofu and place in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes before flipping over the florets and tofu so they cook evenly. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the tofu is crispy and the broccoli is slightly charred. (Optional: change the oven setting to broil and cook for about 2 minutes more, or until the tofu is extra crispy and the florets are charred.)
  6. While the tofu and broccoli are baking, prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, mix the tamari, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, mirin, sriracha, garlic, and ginger. Heat the sauce in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until it starts to caramelize.
  7. For a thicker sauce, in a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water until it dissolves fully. Add the cornstarch slurry to the heated sauce and stir until the sauce thickens. 
  8. Transfer the tofu and broccoli to the skillet with the sauce and mix to combine. Serve immediately.

 

Want more kid-friendly and delicious recipes? Be sure to check out cookingforpeanuts.com and @cookingforpeanuts on instagram!

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