Health experts have been saying for years that too much meat isn’t good for us. And everyone would be healthier if we ate less meat and more vegetables. Trouble is, most people are used to eating meat with nearly every meal, and it can be hard to get kids to eat more veg.
Here are some ideas for how to put together easy, plant-based meals that all the family will enjoy. I have managed to introduce more vegetables into our family’s meals in the last year.
Introduce Changes Gradually
This is the first step in getting the family to enjoy more vegetables. Most of us find it hard to make changes, and with diet it can be especially challenging. If your family isn’t used to lots of veg on the plate, suddenly serving such a meal might lead to a few protests.
Start gradually introducing one or two more veg varieties in ways that don’t change the substance of the meal too much. As the family gets used to more veg, everyone will be willing to be a bit more adventurous in trying new things.
The Hidden Vegetable
If your family enjoys sauce based dishes such as curries, Chinese, Thai , or Italian. It’s very easy to sneak a few veg in there. Instead of making the sauce part of the dish with mostly meat. Try adding chopped carrot, sliced red peppers, a few peas, or a little chopped celery. Not only are you eating a few more veg than you normally would in such a dish, you’ve found an inexpensive way to make the meal go further.
Another way to be a little stealthy is to add vegetable rice to ordinary cooked rice. You can get cauliflower rice, sweet potato rice and broccoli rice that comes in pouches . It just needs just a couple of minutes in the microwave to heat up. Add some to boiled rice for a change of flavour and a bit of veggie goodness. Vegetable rice is also good straight from the pouch, as it’s already cooked and prepared. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s low in carbs and has no added preservatives.
Make Vegetables Fun for Kids
A plate full of soggy vegetables is never going to delight a child. Offer some cucumber ribbons or make veg kebabs with cherry tomatoes, chopped peppers and cubed cucumber. A bit of apple or cheese adds a tasty extra. You can also make carrots more fun as a snack if you cut them into thin fingers then stand them up in a tub like fries. Include a savoury dip for an extra fun element. In fact, offering a bit of ketchup or mayonnaise for dipping give kids a familiar taste that can encourage them to try something new.
When you’re serving vegetables on a plate for kids, get a bit creative. Make smiley faces or animals by arranging vegetables into little heaps strategically placed on the plate. I know this is something which Jess would love.
You can bake all kinds of vegetables, and they’re a tasty addition to any meal. Try arranging chopped or sliced red peppers on a baking tray, drizzling with olive oil. Then baking them until they’re soft and a little bit charred on the outside.
Baked carrots and parsnips are also delicious, and so is roasted butternut squash. A baked platter of veg such as parsnips, sweet potatoes, peppers and onions makes a tasty and varied accompaniment. You can toss them together with microwaved cauliflower or broccoli rice to create a single side dish. This is something which we may have to do in the future.
There are lots of ways to make healthier plant-based meals for the family, including using convenience foods. That are healthy but save time chopping and prepping. Introduce changes gradually at meal times, without putting pressure on anyone to eat things they don’t like, and pretty soon you’ll be eating more veg every day.
Do you struggle to get veg on your child’s plates?
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