Healthy plant-based meals for kids! If you need vegan meal ideas, we’re sharing some of our favorite plates for plant-based kids.
We all want to feed our kids well, but it’s easy to run out of ideas sometimes! Not to mention, making plates that include a variety of healthy foods can feel overwhelming after a while.
But the truth is, all it takes to make a healthy well-rounded meal today is using a mish-mash of leftovers from last night, a piece of cut of fruit, a snack-y item, a spoonful of nut butter, a small amount of a favorite sweet treat, a simple sandwich or pasta, or even some canned and drained lentils or beans, for example.
If you don’t already, we recommend using the PB3 Plate to help put together well-rounded meals.
Below are 10 quick ideas for inspiration when you’re putting together plant-based plates for your littles.
- Banana oat waffles smeared with peanut butter and sprinkled with hemp seeds
- Mango chunks
Making healthy breakfasts can be a source of anxiety for many parents, especially on busy mornings. We like making a batch of pancakes or waffles in advance that can be used more than once during the week – just pop them in the toaster! Serving with a healthy source of fat, like nut butter and seeds, with a side of fruit creates a delicious, well-rounded breakfast in no time.
- Chickpea penne with kale pesto (recipe in our Plant-Based Baby + Toddler Book)
- Canned lentils
- Blueberries and blackberries
- Sweet potato crackers
We love legume-based pasta, like ones made from chickpeas, black beans, or red lentils, because they’re a nice extra source of protein for our littles.
- Tortilla roll-up slathered with hummus
- Roasted sweet potato cubes
- Strawberries and cherries
- Sunbutter dark chocolate cup from Trader Joe’s
We suggest offering some of your babe’s favorite sweets alongside meals or snacks on a fairly regular basis, instead of always saving them for an after-dinner reward. Research shows that putting sweets on a pedestal, or restricting them, can actually backfire and create more cravings for unhealthy foods. Stick a little treat in their lunch box or alongside a snack, instead.
- Sushi rice with a few sheets of nori
- DIY trail mix of seeds, raisins, and chocolate chips
- Pineapple chunks
We like to throw together our own Trail Mix concoction at home and store it in a mason jar in the pantry. This can be a great source of fat, protein, fiber, and textures– and versatile to what your kiddos like!
- Tofu Tea Sandwiches made with thinly sliced tofu and cucumber rounds between bread layered with vegan cream cheese (we like Kite Hill chive cream cheese)
- Apple slices with almond butter
- Baby carrots with hummus
Sometimes it’s hard to think beyond PB&J but plant-based sandwiches don’t have to be fancy! This is one of our most frequently made simple sandwiches for lunch. You can switch it up by using other veggies like grated carrots, tomatoes, spinach, or all of the above.
- Vegan meatballs with pasta
- Tofu chocolate pudding (recipe in our Nut-Free ebook)
- Slice of sourdough bread
Tofu is super versatile – why not use it to make pudding? It’s a healthy protein-packed sweet treat that’s also compatible with nut-free school and daycare environments.
- Red lentil pasta primavera
- Roasted broccoli and cauliflower florets
To encourage acceptance of more vegetables, it’s important to offer them consistently and in a variety of ways and settings. Your kids may or may not try them the first ten times, but including them regularly helps normalize and encourage their consumption. Even roasted veggies leftover from last night’s dinner will do the trick – serve them with a yummy dip if you have one!
- Lentil walnut tacos
- Broken up corn chips
- Avocado cubes
- Diced tomatoes
- Banana slices
Lentils may not be one of the most widely consumed foods in western culture, but they should be! Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, iron, and other micronutrients. You can find them dried or canned and use them to make these yummy tacos, Sloppy Joes, or add them to soups and salads.
- Tempeh bacon BLT sandwich
- Vegetarian baked beans (we usually do canned for ease)
- Sweet potato fries
- Chickpea pasta tossed with kale pesto (pesto recipe in our book)
Tofu isn’t the only soy food that makes great sandwiches – give tempeh a try! Plus, leafy greens like kale, spinach, basil, and arugula can be presented in sauces like pesto and tossed with pasta.
- Whole wheat tortilla roll-ups with chickpea tuna salad
- Pear slices
- Celery and carrot sticks
Chickpeas are one of the coolest plant-based alternatives to tuna or chicken salad. Drain a can of chickpeas, rinse them, and mash them with a fork – mix in your tuna or chicken salad ingredients and serve in a tortilla, between bread, or with crackers.
We suggest offering a glass of fortified soy or pea milk alongside meals to help boost protein, fat, and micronutrients. Plus, check out our supplements guide to see what we recommend for plant-based kiddos in addition to their meals and snacks.
For more ideas for healthy plant-based meals, be sure to follow us on Instagram @plantbasedjuniors – we share full-day eats from our kids for inspiration every week!
Chime In: What are some of your favorite healthy plant-based meals for kids? Share in the comments!
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