Power to the children!
Children are the most emphatic beings in this world.
Would we tell children seriously and honestly where chicken nuggets and other “treats” come from, they would not touch them.
How can we explain to them that we put pigs, cows and chickens through incredible torment and death without the blink of an eye, but love and cherish our dogs and cats?
Children understand vegan life. Even my 2-year-old understands that a cow’s milk is meant for a cow’s baby. They are much closer to the “baby status” and instinctively know how important the
mom is, in this scheme. They do not understand why we separate animals from their mother, just so we get to drink milk.
For my children, vegan life is not a waiver. They are faced with so many delicious, healthy alternatives. And the more people join the movement, the easier things will be for the next generation.
Let us learn from our children and see the world through their empathic eyes. That would be very beneficial for all of us!
“This collective mindfulness can bring positive change to our families, organizations, communities, nations and future generations.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Naturally, vegan children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, as there are usually not many alternatives on their plate.
Nevertheless, it is of course perfectly normal for children to love pasta and bread and would rather avoid raw salad. Like everyone else, they have favorite dishes and dislikes.
In order to provide them with the best nutrients, I have developed a few tricks over the years:
Play hide and seek!
Green smoothies are of course the ideal and most obvious hiding place. In my recipes you will find some tips on how you manage to create child-friendly smoothies with ease. Soon, your children will ask for them!
You know, they don’t necessarily need to be green you can still put a lot of “good” into them. Or you take an opaque bottle to hide any offending coloration.
Sauces, too are ideal to hide unloved vegetables. My little one has just issued a degree that he doesn’t like zucchini anymore (when he used to steal them from my plate). Easy-peasy: Lightly braised zucchini is a wonderful basis for a creamy sauce. With some tasty seasoning and pre-mixed with the rice or pasta, what a temptation even for the most suspicious of eyes. And – hey presto! – The zucchini is gobbled up into a healthy tummy.
My third favorite hiding place is rice. The attitude of my children varies when it comes to sprouts. To avoid discussions, I stir a healthy portion of it into the rice dish while still in the kitchen. Particularly Alfalfa are barely visible that way, and certainly non-removable. Even small bean sprouts can camouflage themselves well. Particularly if the green zucchini or yellow squash sauce acts as a colorful veil… Easy as that, the nutrient content of pure rice is increased by a multiple!
When grated, zucchini or carrots can also mix well in, say, much beloved mashed potatoes. And as they’re raw, they are even more nutritious! And cannot be sorted out. For the evening meal, just fry the rasps briefly before stiring them in.
More hiding place are waiting for you (no hide and seek necessary) in my recipes… Enjoy browsing!
Let your little ones participate!
Even though it may be stressful at times to have the kids participating in the kitchen, even though everything would go faster and cleaner if you did it on your own: Let them help you. Not only will they learn a lot, they’ll also eat so much more readily if they had a chance to be part of the preparation process. The courgette pasta that they themselves have spiralised. The dandelion, they threw into the mixer to give their smoothie its nutritional kick and that funny, yucky color. Or the leeks, which they were allowed to chop and will no longer be sorting out: After all, they have worked them into the dish themselves!
Children’s participation creates a more relaxing, more accepting relationship to food. It does not come out of the bag, THEY created it. That makes it unique and precious. Taking time and tranquility to relish it comes naturally!
Alternatives to conventional bread and pasta
Children and carbohydrates have a special relationship. Even vegan kids (and adults!) are not immune to the craving for pasta and bread. So it is especially important to me to find suitable alternatives for these two food groups.
Delicious breads that are partially gluten free, or even flourless. Or sourdough bread, because the fermentation renders the grain much easier to digest.
Especially when it comes to pasta, you can let your creativity run free. With a little help from your spiraliser you can magic mouthwatering pasta from almost all vegetable families. Another favorite: lentil pasta. If grain pasta is a must, sprouted spelled pasta are a very tasty and nutritious choice.
Be a role model!
All these dishes share an easy truth: Be your children’s role model. If you live by your set of values, your children will take to them a lot easier. However, if they realize that you prefer a chocolate biscuit to an apple it will naturally be harder for them to accept healthy alternatives, themselves. When they see that you truly enjoy wholesome food, they most certainly will try and eat the mouthwatering dishes of “their” grown-ups!