“Odd” food combinations to boost nutrition! Ideas for offering healthy foods in new ways, like tofu and chocolate, or kale in cookies!
It’s easy to fall into a food rut or feel like you’re totally out of ideas for how to offer your kiddos balanced meals and snacks. This is especially true when they’re going through stages of selective eating, whether they’re being vocal about their likes/dislikes or simply just eating what’s presented to them. We’ve all been there!
Rather than reinvent the wheel, we encourage families to try new combinations now and then. This helps increase exposure to foods in new ways. Plus, it offers your kids a variety of nutrients, textures, and flavors on their plates.
Not sure what we mean by this? We’ve listed 11 ways to offer plant-based food combinations below that can help you get out of a rut on your home menu.
1. Tofu Chocolate Pudding
While we love some extra-firm tofu for making roasted tofu cubes or scrambles, silken tofu is a dream for making creamy puddings. It’s high in protein, omega-3, calcium, manganese, selenium, copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Not to mention, tofu has a fairly neutral flavor that can adapt to whatever it’s mixed with. That’s why we like to blend it up with some dark chocolate, peanut butter, and optional maple syrup to make a delectable pudding.
Find the whole recipe here.
2. Apple “Fries” with Caramel Dip
Apples with caramel were already delicious. But did you know that slicing them with a crinkle fry maker turns them into something even more attractive to kids?
3. Chickpea Blondie Bites
Chickpeas are so versatile that they can double as shredded chicken AND a base for dessert. For this idea, we combine drained canned chickpeas with peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and seasonings in a good processor. High in protein and flavor.
Find the recipe for this one here.
4. Black Beans in a Smoothie
Yes, you heard us right! Black beans probably aren’t the first thing you think of when making a smoothie, but we think they deserve a chance. Combined with banana, vanilla, pitted dates, cocoa powder, and soy milk, they’re virtually unrecognizable.
Check out the recipe here.
5. Peas in Baby Puree
Did you know that green peas are high in protein? Along with beans and lentils, peas are star players in the protein-packed legume family. Plus, they’re mild – which is why we love incorporating them into homemade baby purees.
Get an idea of how to do this here.
6. Leftover Greens in Pesto
Pesto is all about the basil, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add in some other greens for vibrancy and nutrition. For example, we’ve used green carrot tops in homemade pesto before! It’s literally just your traditional pesto recipe plus whatever leafies you have on hand and don’t want to trash.
Find our recipe using carrot top greens here.
7. Strawberries in Salsa
You’ve probably had mango chunks in your salsa before, what what about strawberries? Strawberries and tomatoes are both high in the antioxidant lycopene. Next time you make homemade salsa, consider mixing in some diced strawberries (and even the green parts!). Serve with pita chips.
8. Veggies in Oatmeal
Oatmeal can go either way: sweet or savory. We’ve found that adding certain veggies can take an oatmeal breakfast bowl up a notch without making it overpowering. Some of our favorites are riced/grated cauliflower, beets (especially for color!), zucchini, and pumpkin.
Find a recipe for oatmeal with cauliflower here.
9. Legume Snack Balls
We like to think we’ve mastered the art of making kid-friendly protein balls with a legume base. If you’re not familiar with our OG PBJ Ball recipe, start here. We’ve also created variations of it, like Carrot Cake Chickpea Balls and Raspberry Tahini Chickpea Balls.
Alternatively, grab our recipe for edamame rice balls here.
10. Lentils in Mac and Cheese
Most kids are happy to eat mac and cheese just about any day, right? That gives us plenty of opportunities to create variations of a recipe that includes a touch of new ingredients. For instance, we’ve recently started adding some cooked lentils to our mac and cheese, and our kids still scarf it down.
See how we make this here.
11. Kale in Cookies
We’ve saved the oddest sounding food combination for last, but we promise, it’s worth it! This recipe combines all the regular plant-based cookie-making ingredients, with a touch of finely diced kale. We’re not trying to hide it either – the end result shows its greens proudly!
See how we make kale superfood cookies here.
Plant-based food combinations should be fun! They offer new textures and flavors (and sometimes colors) for kids to try. And of course, they’re full of nutrients for your kiddos.
Chime In: What other “odd” food combos do you use at home that work? Share ideas in the comments!
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