Friday, October 01, 2010

Feeding Tiny Vegans, Professional Advice

March 11, 2009 - Professional Advice: Dreena Burton
One of the great things about the internet and things like Facebook is that it enables you to talk to and ask questions of people you otherwise might not be able to. Which is how I've been able to "chat" with Dreena Burton, author of "Vive Le Vegan," "Eat Drink & Be Vegan," "Everyday Vegan," and mother to two!

A few months ago, I asked for her advice on feeding picky tiny vegans. Here is that advice! (It's mildly edited for the removal of child specific info)

So, here are a few notes that *might* help you with the picky eating business. I say ‘might’, because, in my own experience, I have found that kids go through cycles with foods they like and dislike. Sure, they have some faves that seem to stick with them through the years, but other times there are foods they at one time love and then for some reason, later they aren't interested in them. Also, some kids have foods that don’t appeal to them for a long time, but suddenly, their palates accept them. Child #2 still doesn’t like a lot of veggies, so I have to ‘sneak’ them in foods, or get them in her through soups, etc. Child #1 will eat many more veggies, and has recently come to LOVE kale, when I sauté it with just a touch of salt – she wants it every lunch hour with whatever she’s eating! So, that’s a new development that surprised me.

But, having said that, there are definitely 'kid-friendly' foods and recipes, and within some of these foods you can often 'sneak' in other foods for extra nutrition. For instance, in ed&bv there is the Kids Dynamo Hummus, and if T.V. likes hummus, you can try pureeing some spinach or other foods into it. Also, something like hummus (either this one or the Creamy Hummus from Vive) can be used a vehicle to make a full meal. For instance, apart from using it as a dip, you can slather it in sandwiches (and I'll make a hummus & avocado sandwich, or hummus & vegan cheese - and whichever I make, I add some veg, like grating carrot and sprinkling it on the hummus, or chopping zucchini very fine and sprinkling on top). Or, make 'Tortilla Hummus Pizzas' (from Vive). Kids love pizza, and whether you use a tortilla as a crust, or a regular crust, it bumps up the protein and nutrition in the pizza. You might want to revisit the baby and toddler section in Vive, since though T.V. is past most of the food intro stuff, there are some tips and tricks that I give in the various food stages to enhance nutrition in one meal. For instance, I talk about stirring almond butter into oatmeal or on to frozen waffles - to increase the protein/nutrition in their breakfasts. You can also check out my post here about nut butter tricks:

Since T.V. likes pasta, be sure to use whole-grain varieties, and then try and sneak things into the sauce that you want to feed her – pureed beans, pureed or grated veg (ex: carrot/zucchini), etc. Though, you mentioned she likes it plain, but even if it has a dash of tamari or a little vegan cheese grated in there (if she likes it), then she might accept some other things with it, like green peas, corn, other veg, etc. Also, our girls, like most kids, love dips. Whether soy yogurt, hummus, tahini sauce, Goddess Dressing, ketchup, Creamy Cashew Dip, oil/vinegar, tamari, etc, try these dips to either get her to dip the specific foods you want her to eat – or again, to try and sneak some veg or other foods in there. We’ve even used Goddess Dressing in pasta for lunch with other add-in’s – our kids like that. So, sometimes, it’s thinking about what they might like, even though it wouldn’t really appeal to you (Child #1 puts the sautéed kale in her nut butter sandwiches…?!!... yeah, wouldn’t appeal to most of us adults)!

Also, I should mention that if she isn't really big on legumes, you should try the Tamari Roasted Chickpeas in ed&bv. Legumes are so nutritious and through things like hummus, soups, spreads, these are good kid-friendly dishes. Those roasted chickpeas are a big hit with kids!

Also, there are lots of snacks like 'Banana Oat Bundles' that are very quick to make and kids love (and are healthy), and other dishes like Lemon-Herb Tofu from Vive or even Cashew-Ginger Tofu from ed&bv (our kids love that – just maybe go easy on the ginger/garlic). The super-charge me cookies in ed&bv are also very healthy, packed with good things, but still a cookie. I think you’ve stumbled upon some of the baked goods that work for you and your family anyhow, but thought I’d mention a couple of specific recipes.

Hmmm, I hope some of these tips help. It’s a lot of trial and error – and unfortunately, wasted food! Good luck all the same!

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