With four children aged between 3 and 13, I know only too well about fussy eaters.
Remembering which one dislikes what is the hardest part.
One loves marmite, the others hate it.
One refuses to eat baked beans, while another refuses spaghetti hoops.
One dislikes all veg and another wont eat any fruit…it goes on!
We sit down as a family of 6 every evening for dinner. One meal for everyone. I daren’t ask what anyone wants as none of them would want the same meal. We dont force the children to eat anything they dont like but there is no alternative.
Feeding 4 very differnt and fussy eaters is one thing. Feeding them on a vegan diet at first was another.
We’re 1 year into our vegan life style and I would never go back! They all eat far more fruit and veg than they used to and are far more willing to try new foods.
My advice is if they don’t like something the first time, dont stop putting it on their plate. The more they see it the more normal it becomes and slowly but surely they start to try new things.
My 3 yr old will eat all her veg and fruits and happily accepts why we dont eat meat. She has no real understanding about dairy yet and probably doesn’t know that the milk and yoghurt she has at home differs from the dairy versions. What she wont eat is mince which is a reoccurring visitor to our dinner table. We have chilli and rice, chill and tacos, spaghetti Bolognese, mince in gravy….always fuelled with plenty of mixed vegetables and pulses including blended kale and celery among other healthy alternatives to meat and dairy.
But what to do when your 3yr old will only eat the rice, potato and pasta?
We initially started them off on basic processed meat substitutes such as nuggets, burgers and hot dogs. But as you can see, a year on in and these rarely appear on our dinner table (unless we have friends for tea. These substitutes are great for those meat eating fussy eating guests!)
Here’s a few of our vegan meals that the children love.
Vegan Hunters Chicken
For this we smother Quorn Vegan chunks in a bbq sauce of our choice.
Lay Vegan bacon strips on top. Preferably Moodleys Bad Ass Bacon which we shallow fry first to give that crispy edge.
Then melt vegan mature cheddar on top. Vegankind.com is a great source for all these alternatives.
Next we make a home made chunky coleslaw using a dairy free mayonnaise.
Then finish the plate off with the kids favourite chips whether it be curly fries, chunky chips or straight fries and their favourite vegetable on the side. In our house broccoli is always a safe bet.
This way there is something for everyone. Those who arent keen on coleslaw have broccoli to fall back on. All of our children like the substitite meats in this meal and they are all avid lovers of bbq sauce so its a safe bet in our house. But if that doesn’t appeal to your brood heres some more meals…..
Home made Pizza
I find the children are far more likely to eat if they have input in the making process first. This is a great meal to get all the children involved as they can all make their own individual pizzas.
First to decide on the base.
Making their own dough is probably the most fun but also the most messy. It doesn’t take very long and is a great learning experience. (My children are home educated so any excuse to turn something into a learning experience and ill do it. – Time permitting!)
The quick option is Pitta bread. Or Puff pastry ready rolled.
Pitta bread is great as they are the perfect ready made size for individual pizzas.
Puff pastry always goes down a treat but you have to make sure you check the ingredients as some have egg in.
With a ready rolled puff pastry we either cut them into smaller pieces for individual pizzas or make one large one. Depending on how many kids are helping.
The best bit about making your own pizzas is that everyone can have their own topping.
I like a tomato base with all the vegetables I can find to put on top.
The boys prefer bbq sauce and meat substitutes. We have our favourite meat substitutes but you may already have your own favourites.
Again thevegankind is a great place to bulk buy meat substitutes to freeze for these occassions.
Cheatin chorizo style bites are one of the boys favourites. The younger children like Quorn southern style vegan burgers chopped into strips. My husband likes Quorn hot and spicey vegan burgers chopped into strips and they all like chopped sausage on top. Vegusto farm house sausages are their favourite for pizza toppings.
To get vegetables on their pizza i encourage them to make a face which of course needs some colour.
If you really struggle then the best option is to blend up one or two vegetables and mix into the bbq sauce for the base. The strong flavour of the bbq sauce and dark colour means they can’t tell there is veg hidden inside. I tend to choose kale as this is a great source of calcium and is one of the few vegetables they wont eat otherwise.
There are plenty of mozzarella style cheeses to grate on top but some times the simple cheddar style cheese are just as good.
Some salad or carrot sticks on the side and meals a good’n.
Humous is a great side with this meal along with a caramelized onion Chutney which the kids love!
For those who will eat a vegan mince and vegetables then this is a fairly obvious meal.
For those who dont, there are some tricks.
Fisrtly my favourite and obvious choice is to blend as many vegetables and pulses as possible, including baked beans into a sauce. (Either home made or bought) In this instance I tend to leave out mince altogether. Cheatin meat balls are a good option which go down well and only take a few minutes to cook for more substance.
But those children who can’t be tricked into eating a sauce?
Baked beans! Spaghetti and baked beans with some chopped vegusto farm house sausage or chorizo style sausage chopped on top go down quite well.
A trick that works even better is to involve them in the cooking again.
Chop up the sausage and carefully peirce each infividual peice with 3 or 4 strands of uncooked spaghetti. Push the spaghetti through so that the sausage peices are in the middle of the spaghetti.
You can cook these together and come out joined together which add some extra fun to their plates!
We always cook up our veg fuelled sauce too and put a dollop on their plate. 2 out of 4 children will eat most foods without needing tricks thankfully….the other 2 are slowly following suit.
I could go on for ever with our vegan meal ideas for fussy eaters so please comment for more food blogs!