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Q&A: What Should I Do If My Child Doesn't Like Vegetables?

Q: It seems like you are the only vegan African-American woman on YouTube with older children that can relate to me. I am new to eating a plant-based diet and I want to transition my two children whom is 9 and 8 years old. I'm having a hard time with my youngest because he only like corn, carrots, green beans, peas and lettuce. Any advice?

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A: I can relate! My son Elijah didn't like any vegetables when we started this lifestyle.

Here are some tips....

*Continue to put vegetables on his plate (even if it's just a tablespoon) because exposure is so important.

*Just say no to bland and mushy veggies! Be sure to season your vegetables and don't overcook them - A little salt, pepper and garlic powder goes a long way -- Roasted, lightly steamed and sautéed vegetables are much more appealing.

*Let your son explore the produce department with you once a month. Encourage him to pick out something to try, then go home and cook it together. It's hard for most kids to turn down food they cooked.

*Add about a cup of greens to smoothies (spinach is a good start because you can't taste it) This is a delicious and sneaky way for him to get more greens.

*Have fun, be gentle with him and I promise it will get better.

The fact that your son likes green beans and peas is amazing! Most people don't even like those vegetables. lol

I hope this question helped you with your own family. I promise it will get better with consistency.

My son Elijah eats a lot more vegetables these days and is really open-minded about food overall. :-)

~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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How to Introduce Vegan Meals to Your Family

Every.single.meal. was a debate when we started this vegan journey back in 2010. 

Most of the heat came from Elijah....but Eric, Brandon & Jason didn't hesitate with the side eye action.

I already wasn't the most confident about cooking this new way, so listening to chatter from the peanut gallery made me even more insecure.

I won't lie. There were times when I wanted to just give up.

Here's the best way to introduce new meals...

On nights when there are leftovers to fall back on. 

I know. I know.

The whole point of leftovers is so you don't have to cook anything else. 

I promise this method has worked well for our family though.

When you're ready to introduce a brand new meal or ingredient (like tofu) to your family, make sure you have leftovers in the fridge to fall back on.

Taking this step will reduce the complaints (because you can just serve the leftovers) and it will make you more confident to experiment with new recipes and ingredients.

Case in point....this cauliflower Alfredo dish in the picture below. We love Alfredo sauce made of cashews (like this recipe), so I had some anxiety about making it using cauliflower.

The results of making Alfredo sauce using cauliflower?

My family hated it!

Instead of getting all in my feelings about it, I served them leftover vegan pizza and beans & rice and went about my business.

One last thing.... 

Just because they don't like a meal today, it doesn't mean you shouldn't try it again in a couple of months (I talked about that is in this video).  As your family gets used to eating more vegan meals, their tastebuds will adjust and they will be more open to trying new dishes.

Be gentle. Be patient. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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Chickpea Salad Sandwich Recipe | Lunch in under 15 Mins

I used to love tuna sandwiches with mayo, diced eggs, onion, salt & black pepper.

Since starting this journey, chickpea sandwiches have been an amazing replacement.

If you need a really simple lunch this week, this sandwich with a fresh fruit and vegetable is perfect. My kids love it! It takes me about 10 minutes to put this meal together. Plus, it's delicious and filling.

Instead of using conventional mayonnaise (who contains eggs), you can use Vegenaise or Just Mayo (my new fave) to replace it. I also found a recipe on Fablunch if you prefer to make a homemade version of mayo. 

Because I'm random...

Remember this episode of Martin? The one when Ms. Geri threw his last meal on the floor in the bus station and declared....

Let me know what you think once you try the recipe (full instructions below).

Chickpea salad sandwich

by Brown Vegan

Prep Time: 10

Ingredients (6-8 Sandwiches)

  • (2) 15 oz chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon relish (sweet or dill)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup vegan mayo (Just Mayo and Vegenaise are good brands)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 8 Hamburger buns

Instructions

Grind chickpeas in a food processor for a few seconds (you can also use a potato masher if you don't have a food processor). Transfer to a bowl and mix in all the remaining ingredients. Serve on a bun with lettuce/fresh spinach and tomato.

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Watch me make the recipe in this video....(starts at 45 seconds)

~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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How to Plan Vegan School Lunch for Kids (VIDEO)

If you're new to vegan life, the easiest way to transition your kids to vegan school lunches, is by veganizing (make a vegan version) some of the meals they're already enjoying.

Think about it like this.... if your kids love turkey sandwiches - start experimenting with vegan deli slices (I like the Field Roast brand) and use vegan mayo (Just Mayo is a good brand), lettuce, tomato & mustard to make their favorite sandwich vegan. Also, check the ingredients on the bread to ensure that it's vegan (no milk, eggs or butter). 

Try not to overthink it. You want to keep weekly lunches simple for you and delicious for them. :-)

I have an easy formula for making simple and delicious daily lunches....

Main entree + Fruit/Vegetable + Treat/Junk Food + Drink =                                                Vegan School Lunch

I talk about making school lunches and even show you how I put one together for my boys in this video...

Main entree - sandwich (peanut butter and jelly is a great option), burrito, taco, wrap (one with hummus, red bell pepper, lettuce & tomato is an easy option) or leftover soup from dinner in a Thermos

This is a pic of my youngest son, Brandon's lunch from when he was about 6

This is a pic of my youngest son, Brandon's lunch from when he was about 6

Fruit and/or Vegetable - any whole fruit that you have on hand - berries, banana, apple, pineapple, etc. Mini salads with lettuce, tomato, carrot & cucumber served with balsamic vinaigrette or any vegetable and hummus.  If you have older kids, a fruit and vegetable is probably a good idea because they eat more. Smaller kids should get one or the other so they don't waste food.

Treat/Junk Food - Don't skip out on the treat because kids love trading snacks! I know I used to back in the day. Plus, I think it's important for some of their food to look familiar.

Vegan junk food options mentioned in the video: Oreos, plain Lay's potato chips Earth Balance vegan cheddar popcorn, Late July chips (not all of their products are vegan; check the ingredients)
Clif Bar (not all of their products are vegan; check the ingredients) and Stacy's pita chips (not sure if all of their products are vegan; check the ingredients)

There are so many healthy junk food options out there! You can also check out PETA's accidental vegan list for some familiar (not healthy) snack options 

Drink - Water is best but I used to give my boys an organic juice box one week out of the week. You can also send your kids to school with almond or coconut milk (they even sell chocolate flavored versions of these) in a Thermos or drink box.

Remember to keep it simple, get the kids involved and have fun!!

 

~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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