Toddler-Friendly Vegan Meals

Healthy Toddler

I recently wrote about raising healthy eaters and have since then been brainstorming on new ways to get my 2 year old daughter to eat green vegetables.  Despite my best efforts to transfer my love of all things cruciferous to her, she still mostly turns her nose up at a pile of greens (insert heavy sigh here).  I’m forever tinkering with creative ways to make her meals as nutrient dense as possible, and here are some of our current go-to healthy meals and snacks:

Breakfast ideas:

-Old Fashioned Rolled Oats cooked in 1/2 water, 1/2 almond milk (I usually use about 1/4 cup of oats and 1/2 cup of liquid).  Once the oats are cooked, I stir in a small amount of coconut butter, a generous pinch of hemp hearts, lots of fruit (usually a combination of berries and bananas), and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

-Whole grain waffles or pancakes with pure maple syrup and fruit

-Smoothie containing a combination of fresh/frozen organic fruit, a green leafy vegetable (such as spinach or kale), hemp hearts, almond butter, and unsweetened almond milk

Lunch/Dinner ideas:

-Multigrain toast with smashed avocado and nutritional yeast, served with fresh fruit

-Peanut butter and jam on multigrain bread, served with fresh fruit

-Soup: she loves pureed vegetable soups, broth with noodles and simple veggies (peas, carrots), and bean/lentil soups.  In my pureed vegetable soups, I almost always include a split pea or red lentil to boost the protein content.  Pureed soups are also a great way to sneak in all of the veggies that she won’t eat whole (cauliflower, dark leafy greens).  Always served with fresh fruit, and sometimes with some soft multi grain bread for dipping.

-Pasta with marinara sauce, nutritional yeast, and veggies (usually either peas or steamed broccoli crowns).  We love all pasta shapes in my house, and are starting to experiment with chickpea and lentil based pastas for a big nutritional boost.  I also love the vegan vegetable ravioli sold at Whole Foods – there’s no “fake cheese” in it, just lots of yummy pureed veggies – so tasty!  You can usually find these in the same refrigerated case as olives and other fresh pastas.  Always served with fresh fruit.

-Sauteed/baked tofu or tempeh served with a grain (brown rice, quinoa), chickpea “fries” (love this recipe!) and/or sweet potato.  This is where I have the hardest time serving vegetables – as a straight up side dish.  I have the most success with steamed broccoli crowns topped with EVOO and nutritional yeast, diced avocado, and/or simple peas.  Sometimes she’ll pick at carrots or roasted cauliflower if she’s feeling adventurous.  And, as always, fresh fruit.

-Stewed lentils with rice and a simple vegetable (see above).  Fresh fruit.

-Black beans and rice with sliced avocado and raw red pepper strips, fresh fruit.

My family doesn’t do much takeout, and I try very hard to stay away from packaged convenience foods.  However, there are nights where my refrigerator is totally bare and I just can’t get a home cooked dinner on the table in time, and I will not hesitate to rely on a packaged veggie burger on those nights!  I try to buy brands that are organic and minimally processed – we like Sunshine Burgers and Hilary’s the best.  She loves these with ketchup, some avocado, and fresh fruit.

Snacks:

For snacks, we mostly rely on fruit, avocados, fruit leather, and applesauce.  Occasionally she’ll eat some whole grain crackers, organic graham crackers, and cereal.  My daughter tends to eat a lot at meal time so often doesn’t need snacks, but these are the things I keep on hand incase she gets hangry (hangry toddler = scary toddler).

image via www.whattoexpect.com

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