They might be still in the early developmental stages, which means that they are not ready to get all-in just yet. But that doesn’t mean you cannot introduce a kid to vegan options.
Think about it, kids are already under siege from the media, an entity that quite simply does not care if what they advertise for them is healthy or not. It starts slowly by getting them hooked into one salty, innocuously-seeming snack, then they are all hooked on 8 different kinds on the daily.
Give them an alternative, allow them to know healthier ways earlier in life so they can have a much healthier future than most who blindly follow mainstream indulgences. It’s only a start, but one that can potentially guide to a better life.
#1 Hulk Pesto
This versatile sauce was created as a way to introduce more vegetables to our kids’ dinner. Making a green pesto sauce from kale puts the superfoods right into their pasta or on top of a sandwich. You can also try a broccoli variation.
- 1 small bunch of kale
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 lemon
- Vegan Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- Pine nuts (optional)
Braise small bunch of kale in a little olive oil. Add one cup of water and cover over medium heat for five minutes. Transfer kale to ice bath.
Add 2 cups of kale to high speed blender with 1/4 cup olive oil, one clove garlic, juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 3 tablespoons basil, and 1/4 cup water. Blend on high speed for one minute. Use more water to thin or more nutritional yeast to thicken to desired consistency. Add 2 tablespoons pine nuts (save reserve for top) and 2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan (save reserve for top). Blend until done. Salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer pesto sauce into large pan and fold into gluten-free penne pasta. Pesto also makes an amazing spread on sandwiches.
#2 Oat Up Bars
Pamela’s makes a line of gluten-free bars called Oat Up Bars, and many of the flavor options are vegan. These snack bars are easy to cut/pull into bite-sized pieces for a snack for you and your child while you’re on-the-go. They’re available in delicious flavors like cinnamon oatmeal, cranberry orange, ginger spice and peanut butter.
Tofu and tempeh are minimally processed meat substitutes made from soybeans.
Both contain 16–19 grams of protein per 3.5-oz (100-gram) portion. They’re also good sources of iron and calcium.
Tofu, created from the pressing of soybean curds, is a popular replacement for meats. It can be sautéed, grilled or scrambled. It makes a nice alternative to eggs in recipes such as omelets, frittatas and quiches.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. Its distinctive flavor makes it a popular replacement for fish, but tempeh can also be used in a variety of other dishes.
The fermentation process helps reduce the amount of antinutrients that are naturally found in soybeans, which may increase the amount of nutrients the body can absorb from tempeh.
The fermentation process of tempeh may produce small amounts of vitamin B12, a nutrient mainly found in animal foods that soybeans do not normally contain.
However, it remains unclear whether the type of vitamin B12 found in tempeh is active in humans.
The quantity of vitamin B12 in tempeh also remains low and can vary from one brand of tempeh to another. Therefore, vegans should not rely on tempeh as their source of vitamin B12.
Seitan is another popular meat alternative. It provides about 25 grams of wheat protein per 3.5 oz (100 grams). It is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus.
However, individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid seitan due to its high gluten content.
More heavily processed mock meats, such as vegan burgers or vegan chicken fillets, usually provide far fewer nutrients and can contain various additives. They should be eaten sparingly.
Enjoy the richness of a creamy dessert that’s completely plant based with my vegan panna cotta recipe.
#5 Acorn Squash
Can be baked, roasted, sauteed or steamed, Acorn squash is easily considered on the top of the list of healthy foods that are safe for toddlers. It also is a great resource to get dietary fiber and potassium + contains some small quantities of Vitamin B and C.
All natural peanut butter or almond butter is a great vegan snack option for toddlers that pairs perfectly with healthy fruits and vegetables, or even vegan bread options. Filled with protein, this is a tasty treat for kids and a great way to get them to eat healthier food groups that are still vegan.
Vegan bread recipes are easy for toddlers and kids to digest and soft on the stomach. You can even pair them with vegan spreads, that are either sweet or on the healthier side (i.e. hummus). Some ideas include vegan zucchini bread, vegan pumpkin bread, and vegan banana bread.
Natural hummus, which is filled with protein and low in fat, is a great snack option for toddlers and kids. You can pair it with veggies, crackers, or soft chips that are easy to digest.
They are super soft and flavorful and I love how easy they are to make. Tastes just like they are from a bakery!