tips from a vegan mom: eating vegetables

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I thought this would be a good time to bust out some of my {vegan} mommy wisdom and share a post about eating vegetables. We all know that it can be a parent's worst nightmare as toddlers age, become more opinionated, and think that vegetables are not where it's at. We all need a little help and support, so here are just a few things that are currently working for our household. (I say 'currently' because although I'm privileged to have a very good eater at the moment, that could change suddenly. Please hold me when that day comes!)

1. Start them young.

I cannot stress this one enough. The habits you instill in them when they're young can last a lifetime. If you start them as veggie-loving tiny people from the start, then chances are they'll continue to love veggies throughout their life. And hopes are you won't develop a (super) picky eater!

2. Eat the rainbow. Or, a few different vegetables in one sitting.

When it comes to dinners, I'm always thinking about how I can add a variety of colour to the dish. This is where my 3+ veggie rule came into play. By incorporating more veggies into a meal, I try to also make them each from a different colour variety, so it pops on the plate.

Having more options on a plate could help if your child has  developed some picky tendencies since it allows them some choice, rather than just having to eat the only one there. It might also cause them to try something new, while allowing their plate to look pretty and colorful. I know I feel better giving Nia more options, and it's just another way to pump more nutrients into her.

 
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this should be a fun clean up later :)

3. Keep them involved/make them your helper.

I joke to Tyler about how Nia is going to have mad knife skills by the time she's 6 years old. Although I don't technically have her helping me in the kitchen yet, I make sure to include her in my prep. I ask her if she wants slices of veggies I'm preparing to snack on as I cook dinner - and the answer is almost always yes!

By having her snack through my dinner prep, she not only feels included, but gets to enjoy yummy veggies in the meantime!

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4. Practice what you preach.

This goes along with the first point, but I would never be able to convince Nia of the benefits and deliciousness of vegetables if I didn't think so myself. I feel best when my dinner plate is covered in vegetables and from this, Nia will see the value and how standard it is for us! And hey, maybe in a coupe years you could be on the lookout for a new blog called, Nia Eats Greens(A mom can hope, right?)

5. When in doubt, make green smoothies and kale chips.

These are the green 'go to's, in my opinion. Even if you have reluctant eaters, you can disguise greens in these items and make them eat/drink it up! I never prepare a smoothie for Nia without adding greens into it (either spinach, kale, sprouts, swiss chard, spirulina, etc), and apart from being used to the taste of these smoothies, I doubt she would even know a green was in there if this were her first because fruit masks it so perfectly.

For any new(er) makers of the beloved green smoothie, here are some great ways to build the perfect one:

  • liquid: water, fresh-pressed juices (OJ, grapefruit), almond milk
  • sweetener: dates
  • fruits to mask greens: berries, mango, pineapple, oranges
  • thickeners: frozen bananas, avocados (<--this also gets in some healthy fats!)
  • additional add-ins for nutrient boost: chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax oil, spirulina powder, maca, coconut oil
 
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And then there's kale chips. Apart from the mess of little specks of crispy kale flying around your house, they're a kid's best (chip alternative) friend. We make kale chips at least once a month in our house (probably more often than that!), just because they're a) so easy, b) so tasty and c) so not bad if you eat the whole tray.

Our go to:

Cheesy Chili Kale Chips

 
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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of curly kale
  • 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • 1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast + more to sprinkle on when spread out on tray
  • a few sprinkles of cayenne
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Wash and dry kale very well. Remove leaves from stem and place leaves in a large bowl.
  3. Add in oil, spices, and nutritional yeast to the bowl and combine.
  4. On a cookie sheet, spread kale out in a single layer, then if desired, sprinkle more nutritional yeast on top.
  5. Bake for 12-15 mins, or until crispy enough for you.

And when in absolute doubt, just give your kid a shot of E3 BrainOn!

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Because mine apparently can't get enough! (No, seriously, she asks for 'more' of her shot glass worth.)

If you like what you saw and you want me to continue/start this 'Tips From a Vegan Mom' series, please let me know in the comments! If it's a 'yes' and have some topics, pitch your ideas to me!!