Six Kid-Friendly Vegan Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Cutting meat, dairy and other animal products out of all or some of your kids' meals and snacks might seem to be somewhat tricky, but consider all the potential ingredients that you can use in vegan recipes. Countless vegetables, grains, beans, pluses, nuts and other plant-based foods can be the star ingredients in a whole world of kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts as well. The following six recipes show how easy it can be to prepare vegan foods that your kids will love, and that don't take any more time or effort than non-vegan dishes.
Minus the typical cheese and fried egg toppings, the flavor-packed Mexican breakfast dish chilaquiles is a vegan meal that most kids love (it's chips and salsa for breakfast!). Simply simmer your kids' favorite salsa with some vegetable broth, approximately 2 parts salsa to 1 part broth. If they don't mind a little spice, add some chili powder and cumin to the sauce. Add a big handful per person of good-quality corn tortilla chips to the sauce, tossing them gently to coat them. In a few minutes, they will soften into the sauce, and the chilaquiles will be ready to be served. Optional toppings include diced raw onion, avocado slices and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
2. Creamy Tomato Soup
This vegan creamy tomato soup calls for just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have on hand, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it a great quick lunch recipe. In a large saucepan, saute a diced onion in some olive oil or coconut oil until it's translucent, and then pour in one large can of diced tomatoes and one can of coconut milk. Bring everything to a simmer, and then blend with a stick blender until the soup is completely smooth. In addition to some salt, pepper and fresh garlic, you could season the soup with ginger and soy sauce for an Asian-inspired version, or use basil, oregano and cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast for an Italian flavor.
3. Rainbow Hummus
Homemade hummus takes on the varied colors of different roasted vegetables to make a visually appealing vegan snack plate. Blend canned and drained, or cooked-from-scratch chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and a little garlic until the mixture is smooth. A typical ratio is 1 part olive oil to 2 parts tahini to 8 parts chickpeas, plus garlic and lemon juice to taste, but you can adjust the proportions as you go. Meanwhile, roast colorful vegetables, such as bright red beets, orange carrots and yellow bell peppers, in the oven. Blend separate batches of the hummus with these vegetables, plus another with wilted baby spinach, to create a colorful array of dips. For dippers, serve vegan-friendly crackers, breadsticks, chips or even more fresh, crunchy vegetables.
4. Vegetable Stir-Fry With Peanut Sauce
Stir-fry your children's favorite vegetables, as many different varieties as you like, and serve them with rice or noodles plus a delicious vegan peanut-based sauce. The base of the sauce is peanut butter, either smooth or crunchy, blended with vegetable stock. You could also use coconut milk instead of or in addition to the stock. Season the sauce with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, a touch of brown sugar, and if your kids like a little heat, a squeeze of sriracha. Vegetables ideal for this kind of stir-fry dish include onions, carrots, bell peppers and broccoli, as well as mushrooms. To save time, use a bag of frozen vegetable stir-fry blend instead. You might also want to prepare a big batch of the sauce and freeze the remaining portions for future dinners.
5. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
Cooked lentils are a satisfying substitute for meat in this vegan version of spaghetti bolognese. You can find cooked lentils in a can, but cooking your own is very easy. Just boil red, yellow or green lentils in salted water until they're soft, which takes approximately 20 minutes. Use your favorite tomato sauce from a jar or make your own using canned, crushed tomatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Vegetables, such as onion, carrots, bell peppers and zucchini, along with mushrooms, are all good additions to the sauce. Dice them small and saute them before adding the pre-cooked lentils, seasonings and then the sauce or tomatoes, which all come together as a richly flavored, nutritious topping for spaghetti or any other pasta your kids like to eat.
6. Smoothie or Popsicle
Vegan-friendly smoothies can also be frozen into popsicles for desserts, making this a great two-for-one recipe. Blend a banana and handful of fresh or frozen fruit with enough almond milk, coconut water or juice to be drinkable. Frozen berries, mango chunks and fruit blends made specifically for smoothies are ideal as they require no preparation and make the smoothie instantly cold and ready to drink without ice. For a nutritional boost, add a handful of baby spinach, a spoonful of nut butter and ground chia or flax seeds. For sweetness, try some cacao nibs, dates or a squeeze of maple syrup.
- Adapted from a recipe at Serious Eats: Chilaquiles Verdes With Fried Eggs Recipe
- Adapted from a recipe at Epicurious: Hummus
- Adapted from a recipe at The Stone Soup: Yuuummy Spiced Tomato Soup
- Adapted from a recipe at Fitness Magazine: 7 Delicious, Filling Vegan Smoothies
- Adapted from a recipe at Rachel Cooks: Vegan Bolognese--With Lentils and Quinoa
Joanne Thomas has worked as a writer and editor for print and online publications since 2004. As a specialist in all things food and drink, she has penned pieces for Livestrong, Robert Mondavi and Modern Mom, among other names. She found her first jobs in a series of kitchens before moving on to celebrate food via the written word. Thomas resides in California and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Bristol, U.K.