What’s the secret to getting kids to enjoy healthier meals with little to no fuss? Use meat and dairy substitutes and fruit and vegetable purees-but keep it a secret!
Entertaining kids with an appetite for ice cream, pizza, and soda mustn’t be a hassle. As grown-up vegetarians, vegans, and healthy eaters know, meatless and dairy-free meals can be just as pleasing to big kids as they are too little ones. Use lighter oils, soymilk, and soy butter in baked goods, top vegetables with vegan cheese, and slip in a glass of chocolate soymilk to compliment meal any meal.
A bit duplicitous, yes, but it’s for the greater good. Shhh!
Healthy Kids Breakfast
Kids love tater tots—make home fries in lighter oils, like canola or olive oil. No kid will turn away waffles—multigrain or flaxseed waffles can be found in local supermarket freezer sections and will be irresistible once topped with natural maple syrup, soy butter, and fresh berries. Bagels with soy butter, jelly, or vegan cream cheese are also options.
Healthy Kids Meals for Lunch and Dinner
Pair meatless chicken nuggets with broccoli or cauliflower, and be sure to top vegetables with vegan cheese for a more savory meal. Vegan cheese is lower, in fact, contains no lactose, and some brands are cholesterol or gluten free—and because it is yellow like conventionally made cheddar cheese, kids probably won’t notice that they’re on the receiving end of a little healthy switcheroo.
Once topped with ketchup, mustard, and an array of other condiments, kids will hardly recognize a tofu hotdog as a meatless treat off of the barbecue grill. A vegan grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread is a great snack.
Healthy Kids Beverages
Presenting a fidgety tween with a tall glass of soymilk may be a bit precarious. Fortunately, there are healthy drinks that can be served to kids with little to no coercion. Chocolate soymilk may get past a discerning kid. Fruit smoothies (containing all fruit) can be delightful for breakfast or during the summer months and are a great way to sneak in a few servings of fruit. While a small glass of fruit juice (not fruit drink or juice drink) contains a more significant amount of sugar than water or soymilk, it is an entirely better alternative to soda, which offers no nutritional value.
Healthy Kids Snacks
Spinach in brownies and sweet potato in grilled cheese sandwiches? Author Jessica Seinfeld’s (wife of Jerry) bestselling book Deceptively Delicious helped popularize the idea of incorporating fruit and vegetable purees into brownies, pudding, and other snacks and treats that are popular among the elementary school set.
Vegan baked good recipes primarily call for egg replacements like bananas or applesauce. Soymilk and almond milk are healthier alternatives to cow’s milk and will not be detected in cupcake or brownie recipes by even the most discriminating of palates.
Additionally, substitute vegetable oil with canola or flaxseed, and use a lighter natural buttery spread instead of butter or margarine. Earth Balance, Soy Garden, and Spectrum Spread contain no hydrogenated oils or trans fat and are vegan.
Natural vegan ice creams and frozen products by So Delicious and Tofutti are readily available in supermarket natural food sections, and kids will hardly be able to taste the difference between these healthy treats and their conventionally made counterparts.