When I found out I was pregnant in Nov. 2012, I was super excited and super nervous. I had just began my whole foods, plant-based way of eating. After all the research and everything I knew about my new way of nutrition, I was confident my little one was going to be just fine throughout the pregnancy. I was excited as I thought about nursing him for two years as well, giving him a truly nutritious start to his life. Unfortunately, my body did not cooperate and my milk never came in. I had to resort to formula feeding. Even more unfortunate is the lack of options for “vegan” babies. Basically, there are no options. They do have soy based formulas, but soy is a potentially high allergen and guess what, my guy had an allergic reaction to it. So we had to resort to dairy based formula. I was not happy about it, but I had no choice.
When he was 4 months old, his pediatrician decided he was ready to start on purees since he was hungry all the time! I was excited because that meant veggies! My little guy loved them. He ate any veggie I was able to shovel in fast enough for him. It was awesome and I began looking forward to the day we weaned him off formula for good and adopted a plant-based diet for him. But that’s where the problem lies. Now that he’s a year old, he’s eating solid food and rejecting veggies in solid form and doesn’t like the purees any more. What is a momma to do? Get creative!
It seems that it’s easy to get kids to eat fruits since they’re sweet, and even grains in such things as waffles, oatmeal, and the like. And as we know, getting kids to eat their veggies is so important! Getting them to actually eat a vegetable is the challenge, so I’ve done a lot of experimenting. One thing my little man likes is waffles, pancakes, and even “cookies.” What kid doesn’t, right? I have taken some basic recipes and adapted them to include veggies and make savory meals out of them instead of just sweet stuff all the time. I have a few healthy cookies we use to get in the fruits and grains, too. I think his daycare thinks I’m weird, but I honestly don’t care. I know my guy is going to be a lot healthier than the chicken nugget, processed food eating kids, and he’s not suffering in the growth department by any stretch. He’s one year old and already wearing a size 2T! He’s a big boy, not fat, just big! I attribute it to all the veggies and grains I ate when pregnant and all the ones he eats now. Go plants!
Here are a few of my recipes that hopefully will help struggling moms out there get their kids eating a whole foods, plant-based diet! This includes fruits, veggies, and grains!
Potato & Vegetable Nuggets
This recipe is quick and easy and adaptable to your baby’s liking. In Europe they call it “Bubble and Squeak.” If they have veggies they like but maybe you want to combine several, you can do so. My guy likes some veggies straight up, but not other veggies, so I use this for such things as peas, carrots, and corn, and it’s a good way to use leftovers. If you’re using leftover potatoes you may not need to season as much, depending on how you already seasoned them.
- ½ cup leftover mashed potatoes or freshly made—make sure they are not too thin. If they are, add just a little flour (1 tbsp or so)
- Veggies of choice, steamed and chopped into small pieces
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Prepare mash potatoes if using fresh or place leftover potatoes in a bowl. Add steamed chopped veggies, seasonings, and nutritional yeast to desired taste. Form the mixture by hand into shapes or small nuggets/balls and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20–30 minutes or until they have stiffened a bit. Allow to cool and serve.
Chickpea and Apple Patties or Nuggets
These are also quick and easy. You can also add more veggies to them. I have added chopped carrots, peas, and corn before. I usually make the batter first and then add the chopped, steamed veggies for some good texture!
- 1/2 small onion, chopped roughly
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 small apple, grated or chopped (leave skin on for more nutrients!)
- 16 ounce can no/low sodium chickpeas (or equivalent cooked from dried), drained
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage (this gives a very mild sage flavor—feel free to add more!)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 4 tablespoons oats, (grind to a powder for a smoother result)
Place the onion, garlic, and apple in a food processor and blend briefly. Rinse the chickpeas, then add them to the blender along with the sage and ground flax. Process until combined.
Add the ground oats, a little at a time, until the mixture reaches the consistency you desire. Using your hands, form the mixture into little bite size patties (or nuggets) .
Heat a non-stick skillet and cook for around 5 minutes on each side, until golden. I don’t use oil to cook this, but you can use some if you feel the need.
Cool to handling temperature, cut and serve. I cut mine down to smaller finger food size pieces.
NOTE: If you plan on freezing any of these, do so before cooking.
Serve the nibbles just as they are or with a topping of your choice. My little guy likes applesauce on ‘em.
Now for a fun way to eat oatmeal and fruit. My little guy likes oatmeal as a cereal and we add all sorts of fruit, but he’s not using a spoon yet. Since oatmeal isn’t necessarily finger food friendly, these are and with the same benefits. This is similar to the baked oatmeal we may eat as adults but more baby finger friendly. This is just a basic recipe, but you can add all sorts of other fruits. I have added apples before and I think I’m going to try blueberries and strawberries next. I have even added a teaspoon of ground flax seed for some extra nutritional value!
Oatmeal Banana Bites
These are quick and easy and one of my Lil’ Guy’s favorites! They are best fresh, so if you can bake and serve, that’s great. I usually bake up one batch at night and send them off to daycare for his morning snack. You can freeze after baking, but I have found they are not as tasty for some reason.
- ½ ripe banana
- 4 tablespoons instant oats
- Cinnamon (optional)
- Brown sugar (optional)
- Vanilla (optional)
Heat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mash banana well and mix in oats to form a cookie batter like consistency. Then add a dash or two of cinnamon, a pinch or two of brown sugar and a drop or two of vanilla. Also add any additional fruit you like and mix well.
Form 2 cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool to handling temperature. I usually then cut it up into bite size pieces for my guy and serve!