Crispy, flaky puff pastry wrapped around a tasty chickpea and mushroom filling, what's not to love? Try my delicious vegan Chickpea Mushroom Turnovers.
So these last few weeks of cooking for a fussy six-year-old have turned me into a bit of a Machiavelli, cooking up schemes to stay ahead of the game. And for some crazy reason, I thought you would want to read my scary little tale.
Before I became a mom in the real world, I liked to dream of a fantasy one where my child would love vegetables, adore whole grains, and wouldn't get enough of beans and lentils (c'mon, I'm not naive-- I did say it was a fantasy world). Of course there would be ice cream and cookies and chips and donuts, but they would be occasional treats. And wholegrain, when I could help it.
Meeting Jay was not an unexpected but still challenging introduction to what a child's fantasy world looks like. For the first few days after we had picked him up, we waited at a hotel in Delhi for his immigration-related paperwork to come through. We had the luxury of hotel breakfast buffets and dining out and Jay, I soon found out, had a tendency to rush for the fried and the crispy and the intensely sugary. Even muffins-- decidedly less sweeter than cupcakes-- did not meet his bar.
After two days of watching him make the worst possible choices, I decided to take matters in hand. At breakfast, he would eat a healthy food like cereal or idli or dosa, followed by fruit, and after that, if he was still hungry, he could have anything he wanted.
Easier said than done. Every day he ate that healthy breakfast, Jay would want to throw up right after. In fact, throwing up, we discovered, was his response to anything he really didn't want to do. While sometimes he actually did manage to summon up some icky stuff, at others it was clear he was pretending because he'd retch and retch and nothing would come out. So Desi and I did what we thought was the only reasonable thing to do. We treated all of those throwing-up fits as though they were no big deal. When it happened, Desi would quietly leave the table to take him to the bathroom, and after it started to happen in the car-- whenever we were out and he didn't get a toy or something else that he had just seen in a store -- we started giving him a paper bag to throw up in. We were mindful to keep an eye on him in case it was something more serious, but we didn't make a big fuss when he threw up, nor did we give in to his demands.
A week or two later, realizing he was getting nowhere, the throwing up subsided, although it's not yet completely out because, let's face it, kids will throw up sometimes and it's okay when it's not part of a tantrum.
There's more. I have been trying to ease Jay's transition by making familiar foods for him, like dal and rotis and rice and sabzi-- all foods he routinely ate at the orphanage and liked and are quite healthy. But every time I'd introduce a new meal like spaghetti or a sandwich-- even one touted as "kid-friendly" by every food website in the world -- he would turn up his nose.
I am a bit of a food Nazi (thanks to my mom whom I am increasingly channeling these days) which means Jay isn't just allowed to refuse what he thinks he doesn't want to eat, nor do I rush at dinnertime to cook something else for him just because he isn't too keen on the food I just served (I've seen enough friends with kids have their lives reduced to misery with that attitude and even if I didn't work full-time there's no way I'd cook two separate meals). So I've set a simple rule: he gets to choose how much he eats, so if it's an unfamiliar food and he wants to eat just a little first, that's what he does. There are meals when he isn't too sure about a new food and will pick at it, but there are others when he will stuff himself silly on seconds and thirds. In balance, I think he is doing just fine. Increasingly he is opening up to new foods although we still have a long way to go, and yes, he does clean his plate at every meal, like mommy and daddy do.
But here's what's been the most challenging part:
In the first week of bringing Jay home, Desi and I found ourselves sitting at the table for more than 90 minutes for each meal while Jay slowly chewed his food, got distracted by every single thing around him, picked imaginary hair out of his plate, and hid food in the sides of his mouth -- we later found that he just spat it out when he went to the sink to rinse his mouth.
Since we simply don't have 90 minutes to devote to each meal-- who does? -- I came up with a trick. I started to time his meals.
So he gets half an hour for each meal and if he goes over that, he gets a cross. Five crosses mean that the next day, he doesn't get the half-hour of TV he is allowed each day. Five stars -- one star for each meal completed on time-- means he gets a food treat he loves. Jay doesn't like getting those crosses and he does enjoy looking at the timer and shrieking in mock terror as the minutes count down. He has actually finished at least three meals within the half-hour limit in the last week, and we got very close on many others. Yes, there are still days when he will sit at the table for an hour or more and look dolefully at the food as though it's going to kill him, but I am feeling more confident now that in time my scary tale is headed for a happier ending.
These Mushroom and Chickpea Turnovers are food in his new world that Jay actually likes, perhaps because they are crispy and savory. And even if you don't have a fussy child to deal with at mealtimes (lucky you!), you will love them. They make a great snack or a lunchbox/brown bag and they are utterly delicious. Even better, they're healthier than your average puff-pastry-turnover recipes because I used part-whole-wheat pastry to make these.
I had the pastry sheet left over from my Thanksgiving dinner, where one of the dishes I made was a Potato-Olive-Onion tart. It was delicious and because this was a rather special Thanskgiving for our new, bigger family, I didn't really have the time or opportunity to take photos. But I promise to make it again and share it someday. I won't repeat the puff pastry recipe because I've already posted it before with these vegetable puffs-- all you need to do for a whole-wheat version is substitute half the flour with whole wheat. You can also just buy it from the store-- popular brands are typically vegan.
One of the best things about this recipe-- one I know all moms will like to hear -- is that it comes together in minutes. The puff pastry is something you hopefully already have on hand when you make these, and most ingredients come out of jars or cans. The only thing you need to chop is the mushrooms and onions and coriander leaves.
Now for the recipe. Enjoy, all! And for more inspiration if you're planning to cook vegan meals for your kids, check out my compilation of 66 Kid Friendly Vegan Recipes.
More vegan snack recipes you might like
- Baked Samosa with Chickpea Filling
- Vegan Cabbage, Leek and Potato Tart
- Vegan Sausage Rolls
- Indian Punjabi Samosa
- Vegan Puff Pastry Cups with Marinara Meatballs
Vegan Chickpea and Mushroom Turnovers
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 2 cups chickpeas (cooked or canned, drain before using)
- 8-10 button mushrooms (or crimini mushrooms)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ½ large onion (minced)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (minced)
- Salt to taste
- Thaw the puff pastry until it reaches room temperature.
- In a saucepan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the onion.
- Saute the onions until they start to brown. Add the garlic and ginger powder, garam masala and red pepper flakes.
- Stir to mix, then add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt.
- Once the mushrooms are cooked and have expressed all their water, add the chickpeas and lemon juice and coriander leaves. Stir to mix and let the mixture dry out completely. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Roll out the puff pastry into a slightly larger rectangle and, with a pastry cutter, divide it into six pieces.
- Roll out each piece into a 6 by 3 inch rectangle.
- Divide the chickpea-mushroom filling into six and place each portion on one half of each rectangle, leaving a ½-inch border. Brush the edges with some water and turn over the other half of the puff pastry over the filling. Press down on the border to seal, and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork for a decorative look.
- Place the pastries on a baking sheet. Make a couple of slits on the top of each turnover with a knife or a pizza cutter.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the turnovers for 25 minutes until they are golden.
- Remove to a rack and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.
- Roll out each individual piece further
This one was a hit tonight! (Dinner guest thought so too.)
I couldn't find coriander leaves at any of our local grocers. What might be a good substitute? I apologize if you already said and I somehow missed it! Thanks so much!
Try mint or even thyme. Good luck!
Wow! You're such an inspiration! Good for you for holding your ground, he's lucky to have such awesome parents. Good luck and have fun!
You are doing a great job mama! I often think that having children has let me finally see through to my true nature and what I need to work on (patience and more patience). They really are great teachers, these little ones.
I think that's great that you and your husband are working together as a team. I think that is the most effective way to parent. I look at what I went through with my biological children (just when you think you had it bad, someone has it worse) and am just shaking my head at what you are going through already! Wowsa! There is a lot of thinking on your feet as a parent. It won't be easy but it certainly will be rewarding. May you and your family be blessed with wonderful memories and lots of love!
Thanks, dear Lauren, although there are many challenges, and moments of stress, I do feel lucky too. 🙂
Vaishali, you have the patience of a saint! It's wonderful to see Jay and Opie becoming best friends. I wish you, Desi and Jay all the best in this new journey.
Thanks, dear Shan.
wow, how did you figure this stuff out so fast? I have been mom for ten years and just learnt this part. "You practice, you teach" meaning if you practice fear, you will teach your child fear even if you say or advice otherwise. See those moms, who freak out if the kids drops something or sneezes or coughs or throws up.... that is exactly what the child is expecting and continues to do.
You are amazing . I am still learning how not to be manipulated by those little suckers.
Hi Padma, Thanks for your encouraging words. I must admit I feel really clueless at times as I navigate parenthood. Those little suckers sure know how to push your buttons, and they don't play fair! 🙂
🙂 those are some great tips there. great going vaishali and the last picture with opie is the sweetest! its like they both are making plans on how to next avoid doing whatever you ask them to do 🙂
Hi Richa, I am sure they are plotting! 🙂
You could be talking about my 7 yo daughter. Food is her enemy #1, since she'd rather play/craft/talk/make stories/cuddle with her baby sister in that time! We use the timer too but she gets only 20 mins and is rewarded with 20 mins of television time. Works quite well! Interestingly though, she likes some veggies (carrots, spinach, beans) and most lentils. These were the first solid foods she ate and still loves them. So we eat a lot of these at home.
You know what I find interesting about kids? They come up with the darndest ideas to avoid doing something they don't like! I don't know whether to yell at my DD or applaud her for her ingenuity. I guess that's what parenting is mostly about - you teach the kids stuff and learn a lot in return. Jay and Opie make adorable siblings. Much love to them.
Hi Noodle, that sounds familiar. 🙂 I like the idea of an immediate reward/consequence, like the TV time-- great suggestion and one I might steal. 🙂 Jay too seems to like some veggies and he loves fruit, and he likes dal too, so not all's lost. Of course, he'd rather have cake, but that's what I'm here for!
Me again. Do you know why there are links that appear in your recipes? There is one for chicken tortilla soup and another for cheesy recipes, in different spots.
Hi, those come from Swoop which is an advertiser. I had spoken to them abt not putting non vegan links but they persist. I understand they can be offensive to some vegans so I have removed Swoop from the site for now.
So glad for a happy ending to your tale...best to nip little problems in the bud, as my mother would say. He looks happy and healthy and you and your husband are blessed by him and he is a blessing to you.
I definitely will make this recipe and I just read the instructions for the homemade puff pastry. You make it sound so easy...I have never read a better explanation anywhere.
I have a question about the asefetida...is it a spice? a dried herb? Is it a must have ingredient? Can it be replaced by something similar? I have access to an Indian grocery in a nearby town, but the gentleman that is there 100% of the time doesn't seem to understand my questions. I usually look for another shopper and question them.
Hi Athanasia, thanks for your kind words! Asafetida is a powdered resin that acts like an herb or spice in Indian food. It has a very distinct smell and flavor that takes some getting used to, but it also adds a little bit of magic to foods like sambar and some dals. It's called "hing" in Hindi, so you might try asking for that at the Indian store. 🙂
Vaishali, as a former (now retired) clinical psych, I commend your approach with your son...largely ignoring unwanted behaviours like the retching, and positive reinforcements are the way to go to shape behaviour in the directions needed. One thing you might try...if he has gone over time and dawdles further, looking dejected, it will be partly because he has blown it. You might consider giving him a reprieve....'if you can finish your meal in 10 minutes, we will give you a star instead of a cross....do you think you can do that?' He can also be given challenges with a view to removing crosses.
What a fortunate young man he is to be in your loving family.
I do not have your expertise though I hold a master's in social work.
I can see the value of keeping meals within a set time frame, but trying to push a child to eat within ten minutes is frankly insane.
The notion to eat fast is a major reason behind both obesity and gasto intestinal discomfort.
I applaud little Jay and his new loving family! I wonder if he craves sugar as a substitute for the love he may have missed out on in his life before adoption?
Hi John, Thanks for weighing in. We are not asking Jay to eat within 10 minutes -- he gets half an hour for each meal, and like Valerie suggested, we sometimes give him some extra time to finish the meal and don't give him a cross. Jay's definitely not in any danger of eating too fast, if anything, he has the opposite problem.
The time allotted is less important than the task and ten minutes was just a suggestion, since he would have already eaten some of his food.... Vaishalli can decide for herself what is a reasonable time to aim for! The point is to give him a chance to redeem himself and to get a reward for not dawdling
Hello Val and Vaishali, I may have reacted a bit too strong. However, in our well meant wish to do right it is easy to go too far. Being both foodies and vegans we may already be quite strong in our opinions on the matter I guess?
Food represent so much more than mere fuel to us humans. We eat and cook to comfort, punish, seduce, change and sedate our selves. As vegans we even eat to save the planet! 🙂 It is a big deal.
However, as parents, our concern and care can tip the scale in a less positive direction and perhaps a child can sense our frustration about food and use it even more in a power struggle.
I have struggled with eating disorders in my youth and I would just like to say that thus far, NOT ONE child has starved beside a filled plate. Just be careful not to chase all joy out of eating. I also think that sugar craving is an emotional thing. Food is highly psychoactive.
Valerie, I suddenly realised that I must have misunderstood your advice completely! I see now that you suggest giving him an additional ten minutes to finish, I misinterpreted the advice as giving him ten minutes to eat in total! (Imagine my shock! Lol)
Please accept my apologies. I am not a native English speaker and I live Europe. To top it off I write this on my android. Again, I am very sorry for misunderstanding what I see now was brilliant advice!
That's good John, and thanks for the apology. I think children should be given the opportunity to redeem themselves. Children have such a strong sense of fairness, and being allowed some extra time once in a while seems fair. He will be so un-used to all the strange tastes, and patience is necessary. Many children are just picky with tastes, but often grow out of it as they mature. When I was a child I hated veggies that I love now, like asparagus, spinach, avocado.
Hi Valerie, thanks for your kind words and support, and I totally agree with the suggestion to give him some extra time-- in fact, that's what we've been doing sometimes and will continue to do! 🙂
You are a saint. So glad I adopt animals, not kids!
Saint? Haha. 🙂 The animals are lucky to have you!
You and Desi are really good parents. While the vomiting and long mealtimes seem scary you both are handling it with lots of patience and maturity. The picture of Jay with Opie melted my heart. It made me want to give both of them one giant hug!
Hi Priti, thanks for your kind words. I am not sure I qualify as a good mom yet -- I definitely need more patience and a better hold on my temper at times, although Desi certainly takes the prize for being the patient dad. We are trying our best. And I will be happy to convey your giant hug to Jay and Opie. 🙂
My heartfelt congratulations to you on becoming parents to Jay! You are going to be a fantastic mom to this cutie.
Thanks, ET! Good to hear from you. 🙂
Vaishali, your website had vanished from my feeds for unknown technical reasons and I found out about Jay through Mints. Then I removed and re-added your site, and the new updates are coming in now!
Hi ET, thanks for that heads-up-- wonder how that happened, and it probably affected other readers too, but I don't know how I can find out. Anyway, so glad to have you back! 🙂
Sounds like the challenges we faced when we adopted our boys from foster care! Our older son, who was 23 months at the time, had been fed exclusively on Gerber Graduates and wasn't used to flavor. He's four now and did a happy dance when we told him we were making brussel sprouts over the weekend! How things change...
We use the timer method too. Have you seen tea timers? They come in 3-, 5- and 7-minute sizes. There's a set of all three on Amazon. They are great! A few books we read to them early on were We Belong Together and The Family Book, both by Todd Parr. Both acknowledge all different types of families, including same-sex parents, which we loved. Thanks for your wonderful recipes. The saag paneer with tofu is always a big hit around our house. Congrats on your growing family. 🙂
Hi Rachel, how wonderful to hear from another mom who faced similar challenges-- and that story about the brussel sprouts dance gives me hope. 🙂 Your son sounds adorable.
I haven't seen the tea timers-- I just use the oven timer which is right before his eyes when he eats at the table. 🙂 But they sound like they'd be fun for kids. And thanks for the book recommendations-- I've been reading to Jay before bedtime each night and I'm definitely going to look for the Todd Parr books. What a wonderful way to get a child to grow up with an open mind about the beautiful, diverse world we live in.
Glad you liked the saag paneer. 🙂
I loved reading your post and the pain you and Desi taking to give healty eating habits. You have already won the first round. Cheers. Do keep me posted. Just for info I live 10 minutes away from Shraddanand. You are going to have the most beautiful moments on this journey. Reminds me of my journey with my son. He ofcourse through college and working. God Bless you child.
Thanks, dear Smita, for your sweet words. It's definitely a struggle bringing up a child, as I've been finding out -- and you already know-- but I do realize that our time together is a very special gift. Kudos to you for raising a son-- how lucky he must be -- and what a coincidence that you live near Shraddhanand. They definitely do some good work there, and the kids are amazing.
Oh I love a happy ending and I love the realistic ever after picture you painted too- Because real life starts when the fairy tale ends!
You are an absolutely awesome mum- so happy for you all!!
Thanks, Lavanya. 🙂 Not sure if I'll ever get it right -- who can? -- but I keep telling myself that he'll be thanking me for it 20 years from now (fingers crossed!)