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Multicultural Weeknight Family Dinners

Stir fry dish

Every week my family travels around the world without leaving our dinner table. For some people the flavors of a culturally diverse menu seem unattainable, especially when presented with challenges like keeping kosher, dealing with food allergies or health concerns related to unknown ingredients in restaurant or takeout food. When you cook at home, all of those challenges disappear, and you have complete control over what goes into each mouthful.

Every week I’m faced with feeding my family of four quick, healthy and kid-friendly food. I make the commitment to cook at home five nights, and the other two nights we either eat out, with friends or have leftovers. To keep things interesting I play mix-and-match with flavors and main components. So, most weeks we eat something Asian, something Latin-flavored, something Italian-style, breakfast-for-dinner and one of our family favorites—but it’s never the same thing two weeks in a row. One week we might eat Ground Turkey Tacos and the next Sweet Potato Enchiladas. They have the same flavor profile, so I’m not restocking my pantry all the time, but the main ingredients are different, so nobody is getting bored—myself included!

Everyone in my family loves Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese food, and in many interfaith families there can be quite a range of different cultural tastes. But take-out or eating in a restaurant gets expensive and it’s not always the most healthy, but if I use these flavors at home I can control the cost and the calories, and make sure we have leftovers for lunch at work and school the next day. We’ve been doing a lot of stir fry, since it’s simple and quick.

One of the ways I’ve tried to simplify things for myself in the kitchen lately is by doing a big round of fruit and veggie prep on Sundays. I’ll cut up peppers, carrots, squash, etc. and keep them in a large food storage container in the fridge so most of the prep work is done for me when I get ready to throw dinner together. An added bonus is that it’s now easy to reach for a healthy snack to dip in hummus or salsa, instead of the crackers or chips I may have reached for before.

Here is my recipe for a super simple stir fry. You can sub in any other protein you like (my husband is a big fan of this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which you can cook and then just pull apart with 2 forks when you are plating it) or if you’d like to avoid the protein altogether, just add more veggies. If you’re looking for another short cut, we LOVE to use Soy Vey or the Trader Joe’s version for stir fries as well; just marinate the protein in ¼ cup of the prepared marinade.

Another note: The size of the vegetables and the order you add them is important, as all these things cook at different speeds, so be aware as you prepare.

B’tayavon (eat with gusto–enjoy!),



Simple Veggie Stir Fry


  • 3 bell Peppers (I like using red/yellow/orange), thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, small julienne
  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced


For Marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. honey



Adding veggies to the pot
Adding veggies is a good step to let your kids jump in!

1. Prepare all ingredients, slice and dice, etc.

2. In a medium bowl, combine marinade ingredients and mix with tofu, set aside

3. In a large heavy-bottom pot (I like to use a dutch oven) or wok, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes, until starting to soften, then add garlic and ginger and sauté for 5 more minutes until fragrant and soft

4. Add carrots, cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes

5. Add peppers, cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes

6. Add ¼ cup of water and deglaze bottom of pan, cook for 5 minutes

7. Push veggies to the side, add tofu and lightly brown, combine with all other ingredients

8. Serve alongside white or brown rice, or atop rice noodles or even spaghetti

Plated dish

Sarah Ruderman Wilensky