Dreena Burton has written five best selling plant powered cook books and has a great website with recipes on it as well. Dreena is also a mother of three and just published a new book called “Plant-Powered Families“, I love this book as their are so many great recipes. I love that the fact that it fills a much needed void of plant based recipes that are family friendly. I find myself often cooking two meals at a time because my kids will not eat what my husband and I are eating. Dreena does an incredible job of having recipes that work for everyone along with helpful tips and information on how to get your kids eating more of a plant based diet. My families favorite and kid approved recipes from her book at the moment are the Sunday Morning Pancakes, Oven Dehydrated Kale Chips, Apple Pie Smoothie and Hummus 101.
My husband and I eat a mostly plant-based diet but find it hard sometimes in trying to transition our kids to do the same, in fact its hard to get them to eat anything some days. Seeing as how Dreena is an expert on getting kids to eat plant based foods we were eager to get some advice on this.
- What are your favorite tips for transitioning kids to a more plant based diet? First, keep a long-term perspective in mind! It’s easy to feel frustrated and discouraged with little progress day to day or even week to month. Yet, our children grow with, and into, a healthy diet. So remember, even small steps of progress are important and help to build a foundation of healthy eating that can last a lifetime. Next, modelling is key. Our kids see our own food choices and behaviors. So, be the example by choosing more fruits and vegetables, and being open to trying new dishes and ingredients.
- What are some tips to try and get picky eaters to try new things? With younger kids, I often encourage parents to “work with what your kids already love”. So, rather than focus on the foods they won’t eat, step back and look at all the good foods your kids DO eat! Then, use those foods as the framework to incorporate new foods, and items they aren’t especially fond of. For instance, when my kids were really young, they didn’t like the texture of nut butters, it was too sticky for them. So, I’d find ways to make nuts and nut butters a part of their meals without it being a big fuss. Stirring nut butters into oatmeal, adding a slather on top of a waffle, and then topped with applesauce. Or, working nuts and seeds into veggie burger mixtures. They loved all of those foods, so it was easier than just giving them a nut butter sandwich. With older children, it really helps to keep discussions going about food, and involving them in the process. This doesn’t have to be cooking (as that can be stressful for busy parents), but perhaps asking them what new recipe they might like to try, or to select a new fruit, veg, bean, or grain at the market. Or, during dinner, ask them what foods they think might have been used to create a particular dish. It keeps them interested and invested, and they are likely to be more open about new foods and recipes. I have many other tips in the book, but these are a couple I have found particularly useful myself!
- Is it hard to get enough calcium, iron and protein in a kids diet when eating plant based? Not at all, even though it is a common misconception that it takes a lot of work to get enough of these nutrients. We simply need to eat a range of whole plant-foods, consuming fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, grains, and legumes. This isn’t difficult, and is pretty delicious! I worked with a nutritionist for Plant-Powered Families to address these nutritional questions (and others) in more details for parents.
- What are some of your favorite go to healthy snacks? Our girls really love fruit, so they often snack on fresh fruit throughout the day. Sometimes they’ll add a smear of almond or cashew butter to a banana, or to slices of apple. They also love the healthy muffins and snack bars I make (like the breakfast oat bars and banana bread muffins). Oh, and they are always reaching for “Chickpea Nibbles” in the fridge. Always!
- What is your family favorite meal that you cook? Ooh, that’s hard. We all have some favorites as individuals, and quite a few dishes we love as a family. We all love the veggie burgers from Plant-Powered Families, as well as the pasta dishes, soups, and the ‘Ship-Shape Joe’s’. Our girls love hummus as well, and the No-Fu Love Loaf from my last book. They also enjoy very simple meals, like brown rice topped with Amy’s baked beans and avocado. Generally, anything with avocado is an easy sell for my family!
Do you have any tips or tricks you like to use to get kids to eat more of a plant based diet? Please share your ideas in the comments below.