It isn't always easy to put together meals for the kids that are simple, tasty, and healthy.
Including just a couple of vegetable-based meals a week into your family's diet is a great way to encourage healthy eating, as well as adding in some new flavours and foods. Whether it's something as simple as pizza, a tasty rice dish or a healthy mac 'n' cheese with homemade vegan cheese sauce, we've put together some of the most delicious vegetarian meal options that taste amazing (and the kids can even help cook them)!
This quick and simple dish will satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. There's also lots of concealed veg in there for some extra nutritious goodness!
A glug of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 pieces of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
20 capers, chopped
500g spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 tbsp. oregano
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Method: Melt the butter and oil together in a pan over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring regularly, for 10-12 minutes. Plate up the spaghetti and serve the sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with some grated cheese sprinkled on top and a little chopped parsley, if you like.
Thanks to Ciara at My Fussy Eater for this delicious recipe!
Following a plant-based diet doesn't mean you can't enjoy your favourite Mexican foods! Easy, cheesy and completely plant-based, this healthy vegan version of the classic quesadilla ticks all the boxes for a comforting weekend meal. Plus, no knives or forks required!
For the 'cheese':
130g raw cashew nuts
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (this is what adds the 'cheesy' flavour, and it's rich in vitamin B-12!)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp mild salsa
For the quesadillas:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 courgette, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 mushrooms, chopped or sliced
Method: First, blitz the cashews in a food processor until they take on a 'buttery' texture (this will take three or four minutes of continuous blitzing). Add in the rest of the cheese ingredients and process again until smooth. Heat up a frying pan on medium-low heat. On one tortilla, spread some cheese mixture, then sprinkle on black beans and vegetables. Lay another tortilla on top, and place flat in the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip and cook until golden. Remove from the pan and cut into triangles. Serve with some sour cream, salsa or guacamole!
Find the full recipe on noracooks.com.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
A fantastic plant-based dinner option, these tasty roasted sweet potatoes make an easy and healthy meal for toddlers and babies. They are also a great option for a healthy vegan side at dinner time for the whole family!
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Method: Preheat the oven to 200°C, and line a baking tray with greased parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with oil and scatter on the baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft, and sprinkle salt on top to serve, if you like.
For tips on easy ways to cut sweet potatoes, and the full recipe, check out Yummy Toddler Food!
Hearty Vegetable Soup
It's healthy, it's vegan, and it goes great with crusty bread or a good salad - this simple recipe makes a wonderful light meal, or a satisfying lunch when paired with a sandwich.
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
450g potatoes, peeled and chopped
225g carrots, peeled and chopped
120g green beans
2 cans tinned tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tbsp oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Top Tip: Frozen vegetables work equally as well as fresh ones, or you can equally swap out any veg you like for a replacement of your choice.
Method: In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the celery, garlic and onion on a medium heat until golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or if you prefer a less chunky soup, whizz with a hand blender until smooth.
For the full version of this tasty vegetarian recipe, visit Simple Vegan Blog.
Quick And Easy Sesame Noodles
Filled with vibrant colour and flavours, these tasty noodles take under 30 minutes to make and are super child-friendly.
For the noodles:
200g noodles, cooked
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 handful of peas
120g purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
For the sauce:
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 thumb ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Method: In a large pan or wok, heat the sesame oil and cook the vegetables on medium heat for a few minutes, until soft. In the meantime, add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk together. Add the noodles into the pan, along with the chickpeas and sauce mixture. Stir until it all comes together, and the sauce is thick (about five minutes). Serve with sesame seeds and coriander leaves sprinkled on top.
Thanks to Izzy at She Likes Food for this fab recipe!
Ready to cook up a storm? Check out these recipes for some more fantastic healthy vegetarian meal ideas:
Freezer-Friendly Falafel: Not only is falafel super easy to make, but it can also be frozen for future meals! We love The Spruce Eats' 'Quick And Easy Falafel Recipe', perfect for weekly meal planning and a healthy vegan weekday dish. These delicious bites go well with salad or pitta and hummus.
Halloumi Burger With Roasted Pepper And Hummus: You won't even realise you're missing meat with this super vegetarian burger idea from Hungry Happy Healthy. The sweet pepper and salty halloumi make a dreamy combo that kids will love!
Yummy Pasta Salad: With healthy carbs, vegetables and lots of colours, pasta salad is a comforting staple that can easily be made child-friendly and plant-based. We love Little Sunny Kitchen's recipe, or you can just use up whatever veggies you have with some pre-cooked pasta and a scoop of plant-based mayo, butter, oil or lemon juice depending on your child's age and palette.
Vegan Pesto: If you want to avoid store-bought versions of pesto that might contain non-vegan cheese such as parmesan, then try Minimalist Baker's recipe to make your own in just five minutes! The basis of any pesto is fresh basil, lemon juice, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil, but you can actually just whiz up any nuts, seeds and herbs you have to experiment with different variations. Homemade pesto is a great way to use up leftover fresh herbs and greens that might otherwise go to waste, and is such a delicious and simple dinner when stirred through pasta.
Vegetable Summer Rolls: These classic Vietnamese rolls are super simple and so much fun to make, and taste amazing too! Veggies Don't Bite have a great child-friendly recipe, which you can customise with any colourful veg and proteins that the kids like best. Serve with satay dip made easily from peanut butter and soy sauce for a satisfying plant-based lunch or light bite.
Vegan Mac 'N Cheese: The ultimate comfort food, Cookie And Kate's mac 'n' cheese is not to be missed. This plant-based version of the classic won't leave you missing dairy and even manages to sneak in some delicious greens too.
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