My 9-month-old daughter, Rory, is a voracious eater. She's like a bottomless pit and eats like a champ - especially compared to her brother. My toddler, Shep, eats like a bird. He can be quite picky; on Monday he'll love green beans and on Tuesday, he'll scream if they're on his plate.
This rollercoaster relationship with food boggles me. In an attempt to stay three steps ahead of him, I am always seeking new ways to expand his food horizons. While our family are omnivores - we eat pretty much anything - I have looked outside our meat-and-veggies standard fare for meal inspiration. Once a week, I've been making vegetarian meals. Meat-free Monday lunches have been refreshing and delicious for all of us! Here are some of my favorite vegetarian meals that even my picky toddler will devour.
Mac And Cheese
Classic, creamy, cheesy - macaroni and cheese is kid-friendly by design. Whether it's homemade from scratch or straight from the box, mac and cheese is a great vegetarian meal option. One of my friends (Maria, remember her?) has even found a way to sneak in some extra veggies! Carrots and peas are a great addition if you're trying to bump up the nutrition value.
I love this option for my kids. First of all, my toddler will eat anything that looks like a "kah-koh" (taco). Second - with tortillas on hand, it's so easy to toss in chicken and make it more protein-heavy during a different mealtime. But even veggie quesadillas can pack a protein punch! Add some beans, onions, peppers - heck, even some sauteed mushrooms and zucchini can "beef" it up. Of course, no quesadilla is complete without gooey melted cheese!
Thanks to the beauty of modern conveniences, you can find vegetarian burger options in pretty much any freezer aisle. Morning Star and Boca are two well-known brands. I personally love the Southwest options - add some cheese and top it with salsa, and I swear to you I will eat an entire package in one sitting. Sans bun, personally - but my toddler eats his plain Boca burgers with ketchup and buns. I think part of why he hasn't rejected these burgers is because I don't try to pass it off as a beef burger. Cross your fingers that honesty keeps working!
Ok, maybe Tofurkey is a bit extreme! But it's beyond easy to add tofu into any meal in which you'd otherwise use meat. One of my personal favorites is stir fry. It's so simple to saute some zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Toss in some cubed extra-firm tofu and drizzle it with your favorite sauce. Sriracha is a favorite; I've also added soy sauce, or even premade teriyaki sauce, and served the whole shebang over rice. Why does my toddler eat these veggies so readily? I don't know. I am not going to question it, I'm just going to keep finding ways to repurpose them in every known cuisine.
Ok, this one is a little more specific. However, the original recipe is so yummy I couldn't resist adding it in. I've also done a few creative twists on this but have kept the general recipe much the same. For a bit of extra flavor, I cook my quinoa in chicken broth. Once it's cooked and has cooled a bit, I add in shredded cheese, minced or grated veggies, and a few seasonings. Then I form the mix into balls and bake it in the oven until the cheese is melty and my house smells delicious. They're like cheese nuggets for my toddler - at least, that's what he calls them!
If my picky toddler can enjoy some of these meatless options, I'm confident almost anyone can find a vegetarian meal they enjoy.
What's your favorite veggie dish? Does your kiddo enjoy it with you? Shoot me the recipe on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.