With the benefits of plant-based diet catching on, what are some ways we can integrate this healthy lifestyle to our little one? Sharing with us the knowledge of plant-based living is a mother of two, Veggie Mama, Lindsey Fine.
Have you always raised your kids on a plant-based diet?
My two rambunctious boys, Sam 4 and Max 2, have been vegetarian since birth. They have hearty appetites, have tons of energy and are growing up to be healthy. I make sure to get them routinely tested at the doctor to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need and do not have any deficiencies. So far, so good! I also make sure to give them a daily multivitamin to ensure that they get enough b12 and iron.
I’m lucky in that my husband and both sides of our family support that we are raising the kids veggie.
My older son started to be curious about eating meat and so I talked to him about why we don’t eat animals. We have a couple of children’s books about it, and we have also watched a few videos. After we talk about it, he’s always proud to say he doesn’t eat meat!
On a side note, we save so much money by eating simple healthy meals that are cooked at home. That allows us to save enough to travel a bit, which allows us to experience the wondrous things our amazing planet has to offer as a family.
How did you introduce vegetables to your children?
My kids LOVE veggies, fruits, and tofu. The other night my older son was worried that he wasn’t going to get enough broccoli, so he stockpiled it in his mouth to get it away from his brother. Who would have thought kids would fight over broccoli? Not me! Now my oldest son is loving bok choy, and hilariously calls it “bob choy”. In our home, these foods have always been front and center, and we introduced them to the kids at such a young age, so that’s all they have ever known.
We eat a lot of tofu. My boys absolutely love it! I love how there are so many variations of it here, so you can never get bored. Wheat, rice, oats and other grains are packed with protein. Many people are surprised to find out that wheat has 12 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is the same as two eggs. The recommended daily amount of protein for kids from 1-3 years of age is around 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. With so many delicious plant-based ways to get protein, your kids can get the amount they need to grow up healthy and happy.
For vitamins, we have a multi-vitamin that has added iron and b12. I recommend using iherb.com for supplements and other great ingredients for a plant-based living. It’s easy to use and the price is very reasonable. Probiotics are easy to find on iHerb as well, but I get mine from the local pharmacy, which happens to be imported from France. My kids are not 100% plant-based, so yogurt is something they eat and contain enough probiotics for their digestive health. Because they get a lot of fiber from fruits and veggies, digestion is not a problem for them!
Any good recipes to share?
My kids go through phases like any kids do, but with the amazing abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains we have available to us in China, they always have something delicious to eat! Here are a couple of recipes I recommend for your little ones. You can also check out my blog at www.veggiemamablog.com for lots yummier treats for you and your family to enjoy!
Kids of all ages will likely love this smoothie and because it’s blended, it’s great for babies too!
• 2 small cucumbers, diced
• 1 apple, diced
• 2 stalks of celery, sliced
• 1-2 handfuls of spinach
• 1-2 handfuls of kale
• 1 banana, preferably frozen and sliced
• 1/2 avocado, diced
• 1 tbs nut butter or tahini
• 1 tsp spirulina powder
• 2 tbs ground flaxseed
1. Start by putting the cucumber & Apple through a juicer. Then add the juice to the blender with all of the other ingredients.
2. Blend until smooth!
This is the perfect substitute for scrambled egg. My kids actually like this even more than real eggs!
1 block (approximately 200g) firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
Filtered water, as needed so mixture doesn’t stick to the pan
1. In a medium bowl, crumble tofu with a fork
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix so they are evenly distributed but be careful not to over-mix or it will become too mushy
3. In a wok, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add mixture and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. If the mixture starts to stick, add 1 tbs of water at a time and stir. The mixture should resemble scrambled eggs.
4. Serve on toast alongside your child’s favorite fruits or veggies!
Homemade apple puree is so easy to make! You can mix in some maple syrup and cinnamon for extra flavor. Apple sauce is also a great replacement for eggs in baked goods such as with 1/4 C apple puree equaling 1 egg. I usually replace butter in baking with equal parts coconut oil. If I don’t want a coconut flavor, I use refined coconut oil.
4 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 C water
1. Add apples and water to a pot and cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. If needed, reduce heat and a a bit of water to avoid burning the apples.
3. Once apples have become very soft, remove from heat. You can purée them in a food processor, or mash with a potato masher.