The PB3 Plate for feeding plant-based kids well. Plant-based nutrition for kids needs to be appropriately planned to ensure it meets your child’s needs through critical periods of growth. If you’re looking for a vegan food pyramid, we think the PB3 Plate is a practical resource for everyday use.
Odds are good that most Americans are familiar with, or have at least seen, the MyPlate graphic (formerly known as MyPyramid until 2011).
Serving as the current nutrition guide for Americans, MyPlate was designed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion to inform and help you visualize what a healthful diet looks like, starting with your meal plate.
It includes 5 food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy – and is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are published every 5 years.
While our personal and professional philosophies may not align with everything incorporated on the MyPlate graphic, we certainly support providing helpful resources for families to strive for a healthy, balanced diet.
What would a guide like this look like for predominantly plant-based families? We’re glad you asked!
Enter, the PB3 Plate, created exclusively by Plant-Based Juniors for you.
What is the PB3 Plate?
The PB3 Plate is a visual representation of components that a nutritious, balanced plant-based plate should include to meet the needs of growing babes.
It’s designed to help you put together meals and snacks for your plant-based kids that you feel good about, while meeting nutrient needs.
There are three main parts to the PB3 Plate:
Unlike other plate models, these components each take up 1/3 of the plate. We’ve divided it this way – instead of dedicating 1/2 of the plate to produce like other models – because of caloric density.
While we absolutely want children to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, we don’t want them to fill up so much on these high-fiber foods that they don’t have room for more high-calorie, nutrient-rich items from the other categories.
Additionally, the PB3 Plate calls out nutrients of importance from each of the three main categories:
- Vitamin-C rich foods in fruits and veggies to boost iron absorption
- Calcium-rich foods in both the fruit and veggie and legumes, nuts, and seeds section
- Omega-3 ALA-rich foods in legumes, nuts, and seeds
- Carotene Queens in the fruits and veggies category to emphasize plant-based sources of vitamin A
- Iron in all three categories
- Friendly fat is in the middle because it can be found in all three categories and easily added to these foods during cooking
- On the side, we have optional supplements that are often necessary in plant-based diets; B12 is a must if your child is vegan and not regularly getting B12 through fortified foods, like soy milk
- Soy milk or pea milk (preferably unsweetened to avoid added sugar) on the side as an easy source of protein, fat and micronutrients
How do you use the PB3 Plate?
Use the PB3 Plate as a basic guide for incorporating essential nutrients into your family’s diet, one plate at a time.
We recommend downloading and printing your own free version of the PB3 Plate and putting it somewhere you can easily reference. We keep ours on the fridge!
You can use our model not only to design meals and snacks for your babe, but also to create a shopping list or meal plan for the week ahead.
If you’re uncertain whether your child is getting enough variety on a daily basis, it can be helpful to record what you’re offering for a few days – as well as how much he or she is eating.
Note: Remember, it’s only nutrition if it’s eaten. While it’s a great habit to offer balanced plates to your child, be sure you’re supplementing appropriately as well, especially during those inevitable picky eating phases. Grab our supplement guide for specific recommendations when it comes to plant-based kiddos.
The PB3 Plate in action
To help you use the PB3 Plate, we also put together the meal builder chart below. Use this to help you choose items from each category to build healthy, balanced meals and snacks.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the foods in each category, just the ones our families enjoy often. You could add more foods to the categories that your family loves.
Now that you know what the PB3 Plate is, and how it could be used to build healthy plates, what might a PB3-designed plate look like?
Here are a few examples of how the PB3 Plate is used to create balanced plates:
Example #1 – This plate meets the PB3 guidelines by incorporating the following:
- Fruits and Veggies: Avocado, tomatoes, kale
- Legumes, Nuts & Seeds: White beans
- Grains and Starches: Wheat pita
- Friendly Fat: Olive oil, avocado
- Iron: Pita and beans
- Vitamin C: Tomatoes
- Calcium: Beans
Example #2 – This plate meets the PB3 guidelines by incorporating the following:
- Fruits and Veggies: Bell peppers, broccoli
- Legumes, Nuts & Seeds: Baked tofu, sesame seeds
- Grains and Starches: Soba noodles
- Friendly Fat: Olive oil
- Iron: Soba noodles, sesame seeds
- Vitamin C: Bell peppers
- Calcium: Tofu
Example #3 – This plate meets the PB3 guidelines by incorporating the following:
- Fruits and Veggies: Tomatoes
- Legumes, Nuts & Seeds: Black beans
- Grains and Starches: Tortilla
- Friendly Fat: Fortified plant-based yogurt
- Iron: Black beans
- Vitamin C: Tomatoes
- Calcium: Fortified plant-based yogurt
Our goal is that using the PB3 Plate helps make meal time a little easier, especially during times when your food options and flexibility may be limited.
We hope you love using the PB3 Plate to ensure adequate plant-based nutrition for kids. It can be used everyday to plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks that are more specific for kids than a general vegan food pyramid or standard plate model.
Follow us on Instagram for plant-based, kid-friendly recipes and more ideas of how to use the PB3 Plate to create healthy and balanced meals for your family.
Download your own FREE version of the PB3 Plate here. You’re welcome to share it with others, but thank you in advance for giving credit to and tagging Plant Based Juniors.
Chime In: Have you referred to the PB3 Plate in your household? How has it helped with your family meals?
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