Vegan Fish Tacos

Use the fishless filets from Gardein (or other favorite vegan seafood of choice) for this fun spin on taco night. If you want to up the heat, add 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper to the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes, divided
  • 1 (10-ounce) package vegan fish
  • 1 (10-ounce) package coleslaw mix
  • 8 corn tortillas
  1. To prepare the sauce, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, oregano, salt, and juice from 1 lime in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Arrange the vegan fish in a baking dish and squeeze with the juice of the remaining lime. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Cool slightly and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the coleslaw mix in a skillet over medium-high heat to desired tenderness. Toss the wilted coleslaw with the sauce.
  4. To assemble, warm the tortillas according to package directions. Arrange the fish and coleslaw mixture over each tortilla to taste, then fold up and serve!

Under the Sea Lunch

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Travis has been learning a lot about the ocean recently, both the creatures that live deep down, and the ways that humans can explore under the water. So it felt only appropriate to continue the fun with our food!

For a “fish” sandwich, trim a pita or similar flatbread by making two triangle cut-outs on one side. Now your fish has a tail.

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You can use just about anything for the filling! We filled one “fish” with tofu salad and another with cheese slices.

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Add raisins for eyes.

On the side, I served a little ocean floor scene. Almond butter (or peanut butter) was the sand, lightly-steamed celery sticks become waving seaweed, and we added a few vegan Swedish fish to populate our ocean.

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You could even add homemade goldfish crackers for the fish! I’m happy to report that lunch went swimmingly.

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Baked Agave Fishless Filets

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Gardein makes a wonderfully flaky, just-fishy-enough fishless filet that has been a nice intro to fish for my two little vegans. This homemade sauce adds just a touch of sweetness, and makes frozen food feel gourmet!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 Gardein fishless filets
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the agave, mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice; set aside.
  2. Arrange the fish in a baking dish and drizzle with the sauce. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.

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Floating Fish

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This little balloon project is a fun way to teach kids about buoyancy, and more specifically about how fish can swim in the water without either floating to the top or sinking to the bottom. As a bonus, it starts out as science and ends as a bath toy!

To set up, first insert a marble into each of three uninflated balloons. You’ll have to open the neck of the balloon wide to do this, which can be a bit tricky.

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Using a funnel, fill one balloon with 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Fill the second ballon with 1/3 cup water. Blow up the final balloon with air until it’s roughly the same size as the balloons with liquid.

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You can add fishy faces or fins with permanent marker, if desired! Next, fill a craft bin with water, and set your fish loose. Travis’s hypothesis was that the oil-filled “fish” would be the one to neither sink nor float, and he was so proud to be correct!

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As you can probably guess, the water + marble sinks to the bottom. The oil + marble manages to be midway in the water, just like a fish swimming. The air + marble floats on top…not where a fish wants to be!

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Once the science was done, we brought the fish upstairs at bath time, where they made for extra fun!

Ocean Bottle

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After a recent bottle sailboat craft with Travis, I had a few small seashells left over – much to small to hand to a nine-month-old who puts everything in her mouth. I knew immediately that I could make her a baby-safe version of big brother’s boat by sealing her shells inside an ocean sensory bottle!

My original intention was to use a bottle for the craft, but the small toy fish I included were too large to fit through the opening. Small Tupperware containers worked in a pinch, and probably were easier for her to handle anyway.

Whatever container you use, fill it about 2/3 full with water. Add small seashells and plastic fish to make an “ocean.”

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As Veronika watched, I tinted the water blue with food coloring. This is a magical change for a baby to watch, so make sure he or she doesn’t miss it!

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Secure the lid on the bottle or container tightly, and hand over the “ocean”. Veronika loved shaking this and seeing the fish swim.

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As well as tasting it of course.

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Or turning it upside down.

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The taller bottle (with just shells) was a fun way to show her “waves”; I tilted it back and forth and she could watch the shells move about and then settle.

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In sum, a fun ocean sensory experience even on a summer day when we can’t get to the beach!

Update: I later added little pieces of tinfoil (twisted to look a bit like “fish”) to the bottle.

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She loved watching them swim around.

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Flying Paper, Two Ways

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Here are two fun ways to harness the power of paper and watch things take flight.

Both of these projects are far less involved than the rockets and planes Travis and I have made recently, but sometimes you just need something simple to fill a lazy morning.

First we made a school of  “flipping fishies”.

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Draw rectangles on white paper and color in. The more colors the better!

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Cut out the rectangles, and cut a notch on each end, facing in opposite directions.

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Slot these notches together and you have fish. Soon we had mommies, daddies, and baby fish.

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Toss them in the air and watch them whirl!

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Interestingly, we discovered that our baby fish swirled much better than the bigger ones we made.

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Next up, we did a repeat of a flying straw we’d made recently with a Kiwi Crate; as with our repeat of the Balloon Rocket, this time we used wide (“milkshake”) straws for better effect.

Cutting out rectangles was great practice for Travis to cut in straight lines!

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For each straw, make one long rectangle, and one short; tape these into circles, and tape onto the straws.

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Hold your straw so the small circle is at the front – and let it soar!

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Those paper circles really catch the wind, and will carry your straw across a room. It’s fun to compare these to a plain old straw, which nose-dives right down.

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Happy flying!

Textured Painted Fish

 

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Travis and I haven’t played with clay in some time, so he was really excited when I pulled out a fresh pack of it this morning. Pretty soon, we came up with great under-the-sea fun, and added texture in two unique ways.

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First, we shaped the clay into little fish. Travis needed some help with this, but sort of got the hang of shaping an oval body and pinching the back to form a tail.

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More so, though, he made his own variations on sea creatures, which was just great to watch; he thought this looked like a perfect seahorse!

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Next we painted the fish, and he loved mixing colors to help them “camouflage.”

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Now for the texture fun. I pulled out a mesh bag, and we placed it on the wet clay. Cover with a rag (to avoid dirty hands!) and press down.

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Now our fish had scales!

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Travis loved it! Some glitter paint was the final shimmery touch for the fish, but Travis wasn’t done yet, so added “coral reefs” (which got lots more glittery glue).

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Finally, our fish needed an ocean to swim in. We painted a piece of poster board blue, and added texture in another fun way – by running a comb over it for ocean waves and currants.

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In sum, this was a great art project, with lots of fun elements, new ways to make texture, and opportunity for creativity.

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Glowing Fishbowl

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Although I don’t advocate keeping real fish as pets (it’s a sad existence to travel around and around a bowl for years on end), fake fish can make adorable companions! On a recent trip to a local fish hatchery, Travis picked up a plastic fish and turtle. We thought it would be cute to make them a little habitat to stay in. What’s better than a fishbowl home? A glowing fishbowl home!

First we squirted glue into the insides of the a clear glass bowl with a wide mouth, intending to make lines that looked like seaweed. Our glue was very runny, so didn’t work as well as we hoped, but we still then managed to dump in a whole can of glow-in-the-dark glitter and swirl the bowl until it coated the “seaweed.”

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Definitely do this step over a trash can!

I then piped on a few fish with additional glow-in-the-dark paint and we set it aside to dry.

The glitter, disappointingly, didn’t show up as glowy as we hoped, but the fish were cute glowing in the dark.

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Once we filled the bowl with water, it was the perfect home for our fish and turtle.

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Magnetic Fishing Game

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Disappointed with the mechanics of two recent fishing games, we decided to make our own version instead!

As a bonus, this activity was less about the “fishing” and more about a little learning that I wanted to sneak in.

While Travis slept, I cut lots of fish from construction paper – you can use a template or just freehand the shapes.

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Some of the fish received a letter, and others a shape, and then each one got a paper clip to make it magnetic.

For the wand, tie yarn to a wooden dowel, and secure the yarn with tape. Tie the other end of the yarn onto a magnet. I have a craft stick with a magnet glued to the tip, which makes for sturdier “fishing“, so used that here.

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Now it was time to go fishing! (Or, as we like to say in this vegan household, “rescue” the fish).

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For kids just learning the alphabet, you can simply ask them to find any letter at random. For older kids, this is a great name recognition game. We found T-r-a-v-i-s in both caps and lower case!

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Next up was a shape hunt, which Travis loved. There are so many other variations you could do with this game, such as finding fish of all one color, or finding the biggest and smallest fish.

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Travis ultimately decided that he liked fishing in a slightly different way, affixing the magnet to the paper clip by hand, then tugging up. Either way, I loved that this activity got him playing and learning at the same time.

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