Jazz up your normal (ahem, boring) quesadillas with these Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas. Add in spicy Togarashi Sweet Potato Fries and top with zesty Lemon Aioli, and you have a creative and flavorful meal.
Cooking Vegan for a Family
One of the most common complaints I hear when people consider transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is kids and family. Because most children are so accustomed to having meat at every meal, they balk at the idea of eating only vegetables. So how do you get picky kids (and adults) to enjoy vegan foods? Check out these top tips.
First of all, take the time to explain to your family the reason for the change. When they understand the health benefits for the decision, they’re more likely to cooperate. You can even go as far as to tell your kids the benefits of specific foods and help them learn to appreciate the value of them.
Don’t Be an Extremist
If you recently decided to become vegan, resist the temptation to force it on your family as all-or-nothing. Resist the urge to pack organic vegan-friendly meals when your kids go to a friend’s pizza party. You may even decide to set aside one day a week for them to choose whatever they want to eat. In the long run, they’ll be better off for the small changes.
Involve Them in the Process
From the very start, you can involve your family in their food choices. Ask them to help look for recipes and plan menus. Take them with you to the store and involve their help choosing groceries. Invite kids to help cook and serve the meal. Kids are far more likely to eat a new food if they’ve been involved in the planning and preparation process.
Keep it Familiar
If you start out with exotic dishes that taste unfamiliar to your family, you may catch some flack. Instead, choose things that taste familiar. That’s why I love recipes like these Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas. I mean, what kid doesn’t love good, cheesy quesadillas? There’s enough familiarity to it that they will likely accept the foods better. (And it’s okay to leave out the kimchi if that helps too. Be flexible.)
So cook vegan burgers and pizzas and Mac and cheese and soups and such. You can gradually branch out with more creative dishes, but not all at once.
Make it Fun
Have a kid who doesn’t want smoothies? Then freeze them and make popsicles instead. Spiralize assorted vegetables for fun texture. Mix up colors; serve finger foods…whatever it takes to get them involved.
Fake Them Out
Okay, so this isn’t my favorite method because it’s better for kids to learn good eating habits. But occasionally, there’s no harm in sneaking some spinach in their smoothie, black beans in the brownies, or pureed carrots in the pizza sauce. You can also purchase vegan “meat” products, such as chicken nuggets, hamburger patties, lunch meat, hot dogs, and more. While these aren’t always the most nutritious option, they can be great for adding occasional variety.
Baby Steps Are Still Steps
Even if you’re family isn’t all-in when it comes to a vegan lifestyle, small changes add up to make a big difference. You may start by cooking just one vegan meal a week. That’s still a step in the right direction.
Looking for more kid-friendly vegan recipes? Check out some of my favorites: