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June 28, 2016

How to Make Plant-Based Foods Kid-Friendly

A plant-based diet can be great for adults and kids alike! With so many health and environmental benefits, plant-based eating is often an easy choice for parents to make. We wanted to share a few tips and tricks we’ve found to be helpful in convincing growing kids to choose veggies in today’s world.

We’ve talked before about all of the wonderful nutrients plants provide to our bodies, and it’s especially true when our bodies are developing. Calcium, a nutrient very well known for its importance to growing bodies, is found in edamame, spinach, broccoli, tofu, soy milk, and more. Good sources of protein include beans, quinoa, asparagus, lentils, peas, sweet potatoes, and oats. In addition to calcium and protein, plant-based foods can provide plenty of omega-3, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

Aside from supplying an ample amount of the many nutrients required for healthy growth, plant-based eating delivers some nice extras too! Studies have shown that children raised on a plant-based diet tend to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and have less trouble with acne, allergies and stomach problems.

The temptation of unhealthy food choices can be all around. From grocery store shelves to what friends at school have packed for lunch to TV commercials, convincing kids to make healthy choices can feel like an uphill battle. It can seem even more so if your kids are used to eating processed foods, like so many are. Here are a few strategies that we’ve found to be very helpful:

  • Include kids in the kitchen. Cooking with your kids is a great way to help them build healthy eating habits and educate them on what they are eating. Children love to help in the kitchen and involving them in the process will not only teach them basic cooking skills, but it will also get them interested in eating the food they cook.
  • Educate them. While the kids are helping you in the kitchen, talk to them about the health benefits of plant-based foods. You can also make family outings to the farmers’ market or local grocery store. Kids seem to enjoy learning about where their food comes from and picking it out.
  • Find different ways of cooking foods they won’t eat. A lot of kids don’t like the texture of some foods or the taste of foods that are cooked a certain way. If you can get away with it, try to sneak in the veggies they won’t eat into other dishes. A great way to get kids to eat their greens is adding it to smoothies for a healthy breakfast or snack. You can also hide vegetables in pastas and rice-based meals.
  • Sauce it up. Sometimes, all a vegetable really needs is the perfect sauce. Surprisingly, there are many recipes for plant-based sauces made with mustards, vinegars, citrus fruits, and tons more. The options are endless!
  • Let them see what you eat. Kids are always wanting what you’re eating. Parents are an example for their kids, so make sure you’re eating at the same time and let them see you eating. Before you know it, they’ll be reaching for your plate full of veggies!

We’re working on our line of plant-based foods for kids, and can’t wait to share it with you. In the meantime, we’re hearing rave reviews from parents about many of our current dishes. For little ones, check out the Rustic Lentil or Hearty Split Pea and Barley Soup. They’re fresh, natural, healthy options that are packed with plants and ready to heat and eat. What could be better on a crazy weeknight after a long day at work (or any night!)?

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