Read these 21 Veggie Kids Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Vegetarian tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you prefer to not feed your kids artificial food coloring, but they love colored frosting on treats, try this healthier version. Strain frozen raspberries or blueberries, then whip the juice into white frosting. Not only is it bright and colorful, it also tastes great.
To help your child make healthier food choices, make a weekly vegetable and fruit chart, and have your child color a picture or place a sticker for each vegetable or fruit eaten. Sometimes we simply need a visual reminder to help us to reach for some strawberries instead of a cookie.
Raising vegetarian children can be tough on you and them. Being "different" from classmates and friends can be a strain on youngsters who just want to fit in. One of the best ways to help your child's peers accept a vegetarian lifestyle is through birthday or holiday parties, either at home or at school. This provides a chance for kids to sample vegetarian food in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, and can help take the mystery out of your child's eating habits.
To help increase your child's protein intake, you can blend small amounts of silken tofu into shakes, sauces, puddings and dips. There are many great tofu shake recipes, try a chocolate peanut butter one for a kid-friendly protein shake. If you don't use an entire block of tofu, immerse the unused portion in water and refrigerate for up to a week, changing the water daily.
Ask your health care provider for a growth record form so that you can follow your child's rate of growth at home. He or she can show you how simple it is to plot your child's height and weight monthly or quarterly. Thay way, you can rest assured that your child is making satisfactory progress, and you'll be the first to know if there is a problem.
The percentage of North American children who are overweight has reached the point where childhood obesity is now considered a major health problem. This is attributed to diets that are too high in fat and too low in fiber, as well as less physical activity. Vegetarian children are more likely to be as their ideal body weights. Their diet contains substantially more fiber and less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
To learn about vegetarianism and the nutritional needs of children under the age of two you might want to check out the "New Vegetarian Baby" (McBooks Press, 1999) by Sharon K. Yntema and Christine H. Beard. www.vegetarianbaby.com.
Another informative book on the subject is "Raising Vegetarian Children: A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony" Jo Stepaniak (McGraw-Hill, 2002). Her book is for babies to teenagers. She says, "Vegetarianism is not only a safe option but health-supporting choice that can give …[kids] a strong advantage for living a long, happy and disease-free life.”
Pre-schoolers often have a few select foods that they like to eat again and again. If your toddler is going through a nothing-but-green peas stage, try mixing them with basmati rice, whole wheat couscous, or alone in a bowl drenched with a nutritious sauce. A little peanut butter mashed with cooked beans may be more acceptable than the beans alone. Adding a bit of fruit juice is another good way to lend familiar flavor to unfamiliar foods.
Snacking is a very important way for young children to get all the calories they need in a day. Their small stomachs do not allow them to eat large meals and get sufficient calories in one sitting. Be sure to provide healthy snack choices, such as bread sticks, low-fat whole-grain crackers and other nutritious snacks.
Vegetarian diets can be bulky. Many plant foods are high in fiber and low in calories. Since young children have small stomachs they may become full before they've had a chance to take in enough calories to meet their energy needs. For this reason, it's important to be sure to include plenty of calorie-dense foods in the diets of young children.
Satisfy your child's sweet tooth naturally with ripe bananas, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and dried fruit. If your child is used to having sweet desserts, try offering a fruit ambrosia salad made with sliced bananas, cubed steamed sweet potatoes, and a sprinkling of chopped dates or dried apricots.
Let your child help to fix the food whenever possible. Even a two-year-old can mash tofu or add dried fruit. While you're in the kitchen, talk to your child about the ingredients you're using, and give the child a choice when you can. For example, "Should we put a banana or an apple in this cereal?"
Your child will probably have a few vegetables and fruits that are favorites—carrots, potatoes, corn, apples and bananas, for example. Serve these foods often, perhaps paired with more unfamiliar vegetables and fruits. Although variety is important, it's also important for children to think of veggies as a regular part of their daily diets.
The next time you're in the grocery store, look for pastas made of corn (kids love the bright yellow color), amaranth, spelt, artichoke, brown rice and buckwheat flours. Children seem to like small pasta shapes such as spirals, shells, wagon wheels, elbow macaroni, and, of course, alphabet pasta. To make spaghetti more manageable for young children, snap it into two or three pieces before cooking.
One of the ways to ensure young children are getting enough calories is by not overly restricting dietary fat. Kids need extra calories since they are growing and developing rapidly. So, for instance, adding a slice of avocado (nearly all fat) to a sandwich is fine, or using nut and seed butters on sandwiches and vegetable sticks is also a good idea.
To ensure that your child is getting enough calcium, give calcium-fortified soymilk to children who do not consume dairy products. While nutrient amounts of specific brands of soymilk will vary, three cups of fortified soymilk typically provide about 420 calories, 18 gm of protein and 600 mg of calcium, all with only 9 gm of fat.