Looking for healthy yet easy vegan recipes for kids? Or are you wanting to incorporate more plant-based and vegan toddler meals into your life but don't know where to start? Well, I'll share with you a typical day in my vegan toddler's life and some of our favorite recipes to feed our 3 kiddos!
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Meeting the Mealtime Challenge
Hey there, super moms! I see you, juggling a million tasks, always on the go, and still finding time to worry about what to put on the dinner table for your little one. It's a constant challenge, isn't it? The same meals week after week, the clock ticking, and a picky eater waiting. I've been there too, and I'm here to help.
My name is Patricia, a mom of three, with a PhD in health science and neuroscience. I'm passionate about nourishing my kids with food and exploring the connection between food and health. But I'm also no stranger to the dinner dilemma, especially when it comes to vegan recipes for kids.
Since my first was a toddler, I found myself stuck in a meal-making rut. I wanted to feed him nutrient-dense well-balanced meals that were quick to prepare and delicious. That has been the entire focus of this blog, to help share easy yet well-balanced meals for busy moms like yourself!
What's With Well-Balanced Anyways?
A well-balanced diet is one that provides all the nutrients your child needs in the right amounts, from a variety of food sources. It's like giving them a head start in the marathon of life. You can read all about it in this post on 'How to Create Well-Balanced Vegan Meals'.
Feeding your little one balanced meals fuels their growth, boosts brain development, and even sets the stage for their health in adulthood (1,2). Plus, it helps cultivate diverse gut microbiota, which is linked to overall health (3). Being a vegan parent for many years, I know that having a healthy vegan diet is very important, especially for our growing children.
Before we get into the good stuff, just a quick word about these recipes
Introducing Your Little One to New Foods
Every child is unique, and this is especially true when it comes to eating habits. As a mom of three, I've seen firsthand how different each child can be at the dinner table. When your little one reaches 12 months old, it's an exciting time to introduce them to a variety of foods (4).
At this age, your child is ready to explore new textures and flavors. It's a great time to introduce them to solid foods, cut into small pieces for safety. Whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins can all be part of your child's diet. Finger foods are particularly great for this age group, as they allow your child to practice their fine motor skills while eating (5).
Remember, the goal is to provide a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups. This not only ensures they get the nutrients they need but also helps them develop a taste for different types of food (4).
However, introducing new foods can sometimes be a challenge. Patience is key during this transition. It's normal for babies to be hesitant when trying new foods. Research suggests that it can take up to 15 tries for a baby to accept a new food, so don't be disheartened if they initially reject something (6).
Above all, make mealtime a positive experience. Let your child explore their food, even if it gets a little messy. After all, eating should be fun! Adn we have a lot of fun and healthy snack, lunch and dinner ideas for 12 month old!
Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your child's eating habits or nutrition.
The Vegan Toddler
All the recipes I am sharing today are plant-based. But before you click away, hear me out. These vegan toddler meals are not just for vegans. They're for every mom who wants to feed her child wholesome, tasty meals. They're packed with nutrients, easy to whip up, and customizable to your child's preferences. You can always add your favorite proteins, and I promise, they're toddler-approved!
When I switched to a vegan and gluten-free diet, I saw how much my body and my youngest son thrived. But finding balanced, well-researched vegan meal ideas for children was a challenge. That's why I'm sharing these vegan recipes for kids - to help you add variety to your meal times, save you precious minutes, and ensure your little one gets the nutrients they need.
If you want to learn more about what a well-balanced diet is or are looking for more resources be sure to check outthis blog post on "why we eat a whole-food plant-based diet". I also love this post by Forks over Knives How I answer 6 common questions as the parent of a vegan toddler.
Remember, if you're considering a diet change or have concerns about your child's nutrition, always consult a dietician or doctor. And if you're dealing with a picky eater, I've got you covered in this post where I share more of my personal story and tips.
So, are you ready to shake up your dinner routine and discover some delicious, toddler-approved vegan meals? Let's get cooking!
Let's kick off our day of delicious, toddler and kid-approved easy breakfast ideas. During the week, our go-to meals are quick, easy, and nutritious and can be made ahead of time if we need them. All the recipes have vegan alternatives and are made with simple ingredients.
Here are a few quick vegan toddler meals that are a hit with my little ones and give them the energy they need for a busy day of play and learning.
Our family's favorite vegan breakfast recipes for kids:
More vegan breakfast ideas for kids:
- Banana Pancakes: Mash a ripe banana and mix it with a bit of oat flour and plant-based milk to create a simple pancake batter. Cook small, toddler-sized pancakes on a non-stick pan. These are naturally sweet and easy for little hands to hold. Spread on some peanut butter, or your favorite nut or seed butter, and serve with some fresh fruit.
- Chickpea Pancakes: Blend chickpea flour with water to make a batter, then cook small pancakes on a non-stick pan. These are high in protein and can be topped with a spread of avocado or served with a side of fruit.
- Overnight Oats: Combine rolled oats with your choice of plant-based milk and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you can warm it up slightly and top it with fresh fruits or a sprinkle of cinnamon. This is a great option as you can prepare it the night before, saving time in the morning.
- Veggie-Loaded Mini Muffins: Prepare a batch of mini muffins using whole grain flour, plant-based milk, and your choice of veggies like grated zucchini or carrot. These are great for little hands and can be made in advance and frozen for convenience.
Snack time is a fantastic opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrients and keep those little tummies satisfied between meals. But we all know, it's not always easy to come up with healthy easy snack ideas that your toddler (and older kids) will love.
That's why I've put together this list of nutritious, kid-approved snacks, that are also loved by the rest of your family! These vegan snack recipes for kids are not only packed with goodness but are also quick and easy to prepare - perfect for busy moms on the go. Each recipe also makes a great after-school snack!
Our Family's Favorite Snack Recipes:
More Healthy Snack Ideas:
- Anne's Bunnies with Plant-Based Yogurt and Fresh Fruit: A serving of Anne's Bunnies paired with a side of your favorite plant-based yogurt and some fresh fruit makes for a balanced and tasty snack.
- Cereal with Blueberries and Oat Milk: A bowl of your child's favorite cereal, topped with fresh blueberries, or banana slices and a splash of oat milk, can be a quick and nutritious snack.
- Homemade Cookies or Granola with Fruit: Whip up a batch of homemade cookies or granola and serve with a side of fresh fruit for a snack that's sure to be a hit.
- Cardamom Tangerine Cookies: These cookies offer a unique flavor profile that's both sweet and slightly spicy. They're a great way to introduce your toddler to new tastes.
- Crispy Tofu Nuggets Dipped in Hummus: The perfect way to enjoy nuggets! Slice tofu into finger-sized pieces, bake until crispy, and serve with a side of hummus for dipping. This snack is packed with protein and sure to keep your toddler satisfied until their next meal.
- Veggie Hummus Cups: Slice red bell peppers or cucumbers into thick rounds. Fill them with a dollop of hummus for a protein-packed snack.
Lunch and Dinner Ideas for Vegan Kids:
When it comes to lunch and dinner ideas, we all want to serve our little ones meals that are nutritious, easy to prepare, and most importantly, meals they'll love. But let's be honest, coming up with a fresh vegan toddler meal idea can sometimes feel like a daunting task. That's why I've put together this list of lunch and dinner plant-based dishes that are perfect for your toddler AND the whole family!
These vegan recipes for kids are not only packed with nutrients but are also quick to whip up - perfect for busy moms on the go. Let's explore some delicious and healthy kid-friendly meals that your little one will be excited to dig into!
Our Family's Favorite Easy Weeknight Dinners:
More Plant-Based Recipes
- Leftover Eggplant Meatballs with Steamed Peas: Prepare these eggplant meatballs ahead of time for a quick and easy meal. They have a great texture that toddlers love.
- Easy 20-Minute Tofu Scramble with Quinoa and Steamed Broccoli: Whip up a quick tofu scramble, serve it with quinoa and steamed broccoli for a balanced meal.
- Lentil Bolognese with Cucumber Sticks: Cook up some canned lentils in tomato sauce and add in your favorite pasta! Serve with a side of sliced cucumbers, or raw carrots for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
- Herby Tofu with Quinoa and Fresh Veggies: Marinate tofu in your favorite herbs, serve with quinoa and a side of fresh veggies.
- Easy Red Rice and Roasted Veggie Salad: Combine cooked red rice with a variety of roasted veggies for a colorful and nutritious meal. This is a great idea to make on busy weeknights.
- Finger Licking Good Orange Sesame Tofu with Rice and Steamed Broccoli: Marinate tofu in an orange sesame sauce, serve with rice and steamed broccoli. This is the ultimate comfort food!
- Quick 1 Pot Vegan Chili Recipe: Combine beans, veggies, and spices in a pot and let it simmer until flavors meld together for a hearty chili.
- Vegan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas: Mash cooked sweet potato and black beans together, spread on a tortilla, fold in half and cook until crispy. Cut into toddler-friendly pieces.
- Chickpea Salad Wraps: Mash canned chickpeas, mix with vegan mayo and your favorite veggies, and serve in a wrap or on whole grain bread.
What my Vegan Kids Eat
Let's dive into what my little one typically munches on on a weekday. While weekdays have a bit more structure thanks to daycare and my older boys being in school, these vegan foods and kid friendly vegan meals are also our go-to during weekends.
Just like your kiddo, my little man has his ups and downs when it comes to meal time. Some days he's all in, and other days, he's not that interested - and that's okay. The best piece of advice I've ever received is to look at what they eat over an entire day or even a three-day cycle, rather than focusing on individual meals. You'll often find that if they have an off day, they'll make up for it a few days with these food ideas.
Remember, as parents, our job is to provide a variety of healthy food options. It's up to our little ones to decide how much they're going to eat. So, let's take a look at some breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner vegan toddler meals:
Breakfast: 7:30 am
After my big kids get on the bus for school, we usually come back home and have a more relaxed simple breakfast.
Most days we have steel-cut oatmeal topped with berries, nut butter, and a little maple syrup. I am still nursing (he is 23 months old) so he also gets some breast milk after.
When we are pressed for time, we will opt for sprouted oats cereal with oat milk or one of the meal prep recipes we shared above.
Snack time: 9:30 am
My little man goes to daycare for a few hours, and we send along his snack. I always aim for a snack that includes all 3 food groups, so a protein, carb, and veggie or fruit source.
Lunch Time: 12:00 pm
Lunchtime is the highlight of my day! It's when I pick up my little man and we get to share a delightful meal together. This time is precious to me, and I use it to reinforce healthy eating habits. I make it a point to sit and eat with my children during meals. This way, they can see what I'm eating and tasting, and we create a positive, social atmosphere around mealtime.
Today he is having lentils, rice, steamed peas, and peppers.
Afternoon Snack: 3:00 pm
Little man goes down for a nap after lunch, and when he wakes up he is usually pretty hungry. By this time his older brothers are home from school so the snack will vary based on what they request that day. Most days it's a smoothie, veggies with hummus, a granola bar, or muffins (if I have the time).
Dinner Time: 5:30 pm
If any meal is hit-or-miss it is dinner. Finding easy kid friendly vegan recipes can sometimes be challenging!
With 3 boys at home, there is a lot going on at dinner time. My little man is the best eater out of my 3 kids but there are days when he won't eat much or isn't into what we made. You can read a bit more about picky eaters, along with some tips and strategies here if you are interested.
My son is eating roasted veggie and creamy oat milk pasta today!
Bedtime 7:30 pm
My two youngest boys are tucked in by 7:30 pm, while my oldest enjoys some reading time in his room until his bedtime at 8:30 pm. I always offer a fruit snack before bed, but my toddler usually passes. However, he does enjoy a nursing session just before bedtime - I suppose that's his version of a bedtime snack!
And there you have it - a day in our life, filled with nutritious meals and precious moments. Tomorrow, we'll do it all over again in the ever-revolving door of mealtimes.
Feeding your toddler doesn't have to be a challenge. With these vegan toddler meals, you can ensure your little one is getting the nutrients they need while also enjoying their meals. Remember, variety is key when it comes to a child's diet, and these vegan recipes offer just that. So why not give them a try? You might just find your toddler's new favorite dish. Until next time, happy cooking
Thank you for joining us on this journey! If you try out these easy vegan toddler meal ideas or have your own vegan toddler meals, I'd love to see your creations.
I hope you enjoyed some of these kid friendly vegan recipes. Please tag me in your posts so I can share them on Instagram!
Until next time, tchau!
If you are looking for a collection of vegan recipes and plant-based meals, be sure to check out our recipe catalog here.
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