Meatless Recipes to Help Your Children Eat More Vegetables
Parents want their kids to be healthy and strong, but it can be hard convincing little eaters to appreciate all the amazing flavors of plant-based foods. This Monday, we’re offering tips to help you get your kids to eat more vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.
First, try to make healthy food more appealing by presenting it in new, playful, and colorful ways. Second, make less popular foods more familiar by incorporating them into a recognizable dish, such as lentil “meatballs” or spicy cauliflower “nuggets.” Third, get cooking in the kitchen together. When kids take part in the prepping and cooking process, they become more invested in the final product.
Below is a list of some super simple plant-based dishes that you can cook for/with your child for a healthy, easy weeknight meal. Many of these recipes will help introduce your young eater to the potential of plants. Bon appétit!
Breakfast Sweet Potato
You may not consider the sweet potato a breakfast food, but when paired with peanut butter, chia seeds, sliced banana, and a touch of maple syrup or honey, it actually becomes the perfect way to start your day. Kids will love this breakfast sweet potato because it’s creamy, soft, sweet, and delicious. Pancakes who?
Baked Polenta Fries
French fries are a kid favorite, but they’re often deep fried and saturated in oil. These polenta fries are super easy to make and capture the look and texture of the classic fry—just without all the oil and heavily-processed potato product. Serve with a side of marinara sauce and you’ll have yourself a table full of happy eaters.
Cannellini Bean Veggie “Meatballs”
Anything converted into a “meatball” is always a winner. These meatless cannellini bean veggie balls pair perfectly with pasta and are a fun alternative to regular meatballs. Cannellini beans and walnuts provide protein, while shallots, garlic, and fresh herbs pack the flavor.
Creamy Butternut Squash “Mac n Cheese”
Don’t be afraid to push your child’s palate. This recipe for creamy butternut squash “mac n cheese” is a great way to introduce kids to the earthy sweetness of squash, and it may encourage them to try other squash dishes.
Crunchy Tacos with Lentil “Meat”
Lentils are a protein powerhouse, and an overall great ingredient to introduce to kids. These crunchy lentil tacos taste similar to traditional tacos, but are much more nutritious.
Easy Black Bean Burritos
Sometimes you want to simply snap your fingers and have a healthy dinner just appear. Well, these easy black bean burritos are nutritious, delicious, and a breeze to make. There’s very little cooking required; it’s more like assembling. Using canned black bean soup and reducing it until it’s a thick stew-like consistency is a helpful trick that will save you precious time.
Fruity Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are a cool ingredient. When reconstituted in liquid, they completely absorb the flavor, becoming sweet and jelly-like. For this fruity chia pudding, soak the oats and chia seeds in almond milk overnight, and add a bit of honey or agave syrup for a bit of sweetness. Top the pudding with sliced fruit or a spoonful of preserves or jelly.
Loaded Nacho Skillet
Who doesn’t love a comforting skillet of nachos? Kids will be drawn to this crunchy, cheesy loaded nacho skillet, and they won’t think twice about all the vegetables they’re eating. You can use shredded cheese, jarred queso, or make your own vegan queso.
Potato, Black Bean and Swiss Chard Hash
Who doesn’t love a good hash? An important recipe to have in your repertoire, this potato, black bean, and Swiss chard hash is perfect for weekend mornings. It’s easy to make, and the diversity of ingredients will help introduce kids to different tastes, textures, and flavors.
Rainbow Veggie Pizza
We eat with our eyes, and the same goes for younger eaters. This rainbow veggie pizza is as fun to look at as it is to eat. Packed with all sorts of vegetables, this pizza can be served for lunch, dinner, or midday snack.