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This is what my 7-year-old daughter will say when you ask her if she is a vegan. She actually is Puerto Rican, but she will say she is Chinese when we get take-out, Mexican when we have chips and salsa and so on. As is true with most kids she is quite literal, she was confused as to why my Black Eyed Pea soup did not dance;) In her little cute seven-year old mind we are, literally, what we eat.
My kids health has been on my mind quite a bit lately. We have really started fighting the good fight with our kids to eat what we eat and try new things. For the past few years my husband has worked nights and now that he is home in the evenings I have a partner which helps me greatly. Some nights my kids will start crying or negotiating the minute I take ingredients out of the fridge. I spend my time cooking to the classic lament’s of:”mom’s food is gross”, “I’m not eating that”, “are you putting that on my plate” and my favorite “WAAAAAAAAAAA”. I hope I am not the only one. Those of you who have children know, getting our kids to eat wholesome food can be a challenge. The fact that I consume my weight in veggies each day doesn’t automatically mean my kids follow suit. I have fallen victim to making what they will eat to avoid the fit and letting nutrition slide to keep the peace. However, I know this is a battle worth fighting so even though it can be painful I will forge ahead. We have had major victories and epic battles. For instance, my daughter asked me the other day what a pizza hut is. She has no idea what it is because we never eat there. My son ate steamed kale, mashed sweet potatoes and tofu for dinner one night (after one of our epic battles).
I say all of that to say, I try to create some food during the week that offers them good nutrition in spite of what they may or may not waste at dinner.
Hide, hide, hide! I put spinach in fruit smoothies for a morning dose of greens. Add beans and every veggie you can to your spaghetti sauce and them puree it. You’ll get more bang for your veggie buck. Put canned pumpkin in your pancakes.
Capitalize on the veggies they will eat. My son loves carrots. I always have them well stocked. It is a go to snack in our house. My daughter loves avocado and artichokes (exotic, I know) so we have these frequently and she gets excited to eat them.
Put veggies and fruit on their plates at every dinner. If they see it enough, they will eventually try it. My son now likes broccoli, I finally wore him out with it, he tried it and loves it, YAY!
Try not to use food as a reward. I am guilty of this as well. We can reward with stickers, media time, small trinkets or a special excursion. This is a great tip for adults as well. We don’t deserve processed crap that leads to chronic disease and weight gain, we deserve food that builds us up and activities that enrich our lives.
Make healthy meals fun. Have a taco bar with tons of toppings and have them make their own with at least one new ingredient. Make pizza’s together and have them put veggies under the cheese or vegan cheeze in our case. Let them help with prep, if they make it, they are more likely to eat it.
Educate them about healthy choices. Call me crazy but, I tell my kids that sugar is poison, because it is. It is one of the most unnecessary ingredients we eat and does all harm, no good. They know treats are treats and we eat them in moderation, same goes for chips and most processed food.
One of our favorite family meals is Nachos. This is such an easy and fun meal for the kids to eat. We always feel like we are cheating when we eat this meal because it tastes too decadent to be good for us.
“Not”Cho Cheese Sauce
1/2 Cup Raw Cashews (soak for up to 3 hours if not using a Vitamix or high-powered blender
1/2 cup oat flour (or just grind oats into flour)
1 1/2 Cups Water
2 Tsp Onion Flakes
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 Cloves Garlic
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Green Chilies (more or less depending on your heat preference)
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor and combine until smooth. Transfer to a deep skillet or pan and heat on medium, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
Serve over baked tortilla chips with your choice of toppings. We typically add, brown rice, beans, salsa, avocado, olives, tofutti sour cream, shredded lettuce etc… I have even made my chilli recipe and had chilli cheeze nacho’s:)
Join me in fighting the good fight with our kids. We are facing one of the unhealthiest generations to date and as parents, we have the power to influence what our children comsume.
Thanks so much for reading!
Your Vegan Friend