Meatless Monday: My Healthy, Happy Vegan Toddler
This is a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Keri over at I Eat Trees. I like to keep this blog family-friendly so today she shares how to feed a toddler and one of his favorite recipes!
Living in the Midwest, when we tell people we're raising our son vegan, they almost always look at us as though giant horns are sprouting from our foreheads. Or worse, start casually flipping through the phone book for the child services number while smiling and nodding. It may be true that vegan parents have gotten a bad rap with the "mainstream" crowd, but no one can deny our son is happy, healthy, and incredibly well-fed. Be it his diet and lifestyle or just pure luck, our little man, who turned 2 in March, has never had so much as a fever. We feel extremely blessed for his super-baby immune system, no matter the reason.
The most common question I get (aside from "Where does he get his protein??") is, "So what does he eat?!" Well, the thing is, I can lead a toddler to cauliflower, but I can't make him eat. I just offer him a plateful of wholesome foods at every meal, so no matter what he chooses I can feel good about it. As a mom I've become more inspired than ever to research proper nutrition and play with new flavor combinations. Plus, I have a 3 foot tall tester who doesn't know any better than to give me his completely honest opinion. I can usually put people's mind at ease with the guarantee my son eats more nutrient-packed vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in a day than most kids on this block eat in a month. He even happily starts every morning with a blended green juice smoothie straight from the Vita-Mix! When I assure them pizza, PB&J, cupcakes, and cookies can all be made vegan, our horns magically begin to disappear.
This Cranberry Pepita Quinoa is definitely one of our little guy's favorites, undeniably full of flavor and packed with all the essential amino acids and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. It's an amazing fall dish, but because dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds are easily stored, I can make it especially for him year-round.
Cranberry Pepita Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Soak quinoa in cold water for 30 minutes, drain, and rinse. Toast quinoa over medium head until dry and golden. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth and cranberries to a simmer for 4-5 minutes to plump. Stir in salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add toasted quinoa and pumpkin seeds to saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to simmer for 20-22 minutes. Fork-fluff gently. Enjoy!
Follow Keri on Twitter and be sure to check out her blog for more great recipes!