Category Archives: Veg Parenting

Resources For Feeding Vegetarian and Vegan Toddlers

Yesterday’s post turned out to be particularly well-timed.  This morning, my son had his 2 year check-up and the doctor devoted quite a bit of time to asking us about his eating habits.  He advised that we continue to serve balanced meals without commenting or trying to coerce our son to eat.  The idea is to teach my son what healthy eating looks like and make sure that he is familiar with healthy foods when he is finally ready to try them (which could be a year from now, or even longer).  The doctor also assured us that our son is perfectly normal in his finickiness and refusal to try new things.

If yesterday’s post left you filled with despair, fear not.  I’ve compiled a list of resources written by folks who know much more about nutrition and feeding kids than I do.

Nutrition and Child Development Information

  • Raising Vegetarian Children, by Joanne Stepaniak not only addresses nutrition and menu-planning, but also covers things like explaining veganism to your children and helping them deal with being different from their peers.
  • Becoming Vegan, by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina is sub-titled “the everyday guide to plant-based nutrition” and that about sums it up.
  • The Vegetarian Resource group is a non-profit dedicated to educating the public about vegetarianism and veganism.  They have a ton of information available for free on their website, including sections on nutrition and raising vegetarian and vegan children.  VRG takes great care in assuring that the information they provide is factually accurate, so articles are heavily footnoted with references to studies and scientific articles.  (This is the perfect place to send any well-meaning family member who questions how your kid will survive without animal foods).
  • The Vegan RD is the blog of registered dietitian Ginny Messina, the author of Vegan For Life and several other books.  Messina offers lots of health and nutrition resources, but what I like best about her blog is the way she addresses the vegan health controversy du jour with common sense and sound science.

Recipes and Menu Planning

  • Vegan Lunchbox, by Jennifer McCann is a cookbook filled with healthy, kid-approved menu plans and recipes.  Way back in my law school days, I took a study break every day to visit McCann’s blog and see what her then 7 year old son had eaten for lunch that day.  I hoped that I would one day have a son who was such an adventurous eater.  Although McCann no longer updates her blog, both the blog archives and her cookbooks have lots of great ideas for feeding kids.
  • As a Mom of three, Dreena Burton knows what kids like.  All four of her cookbooks feature whole-foods recipes and tips on feeding babies and children.  I think each of Burton’s books is better than the last, so her most recent work, Let Them Eat Vegan!, is my top pick.  Burton also has a blog.

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At 1, Baby Ate His Veggies. At 2, Mommy Ate Crow.

VegNews is publishing again and they’ve added a bunch of new columns, including one called “VegFamily.”  In the October 2014 issue, columnist Rich Lysloff talks about the healthy diet his wife ate during pregnancy. “And wouldn’t you know it,” he goes on to say.  “[T]hese are the same foods that our [one year old] baby girl loves now that she’s eating solids.”  Oh Rich, I said nearly the same thing when my son was one.  Watching him happily eat any veggie, whole grain or wholesome plant-based protein I put in front of him, I surmised that my dietary habits had somehow insulated my son against picky eating.  I even bragged to friends about what an amazing, healthy-eater I was raising.

A year later, the same healthy foods that my son used to eat with gusto might as well be scraped directly into the trash. “I don’t like this,” he pronounces, without taking so much as one bite of his lovely veggie stew.  “Disgusting,” he says, feeding the broccoli he used to devour to the dog.  “It’s dirty.  Yuck,” he exclaims if I dare to put sauce of any kind on his pasta.  Left to his own devices, he would subsist entirely on cookies and Gardein chicken tenders.

Had I skimmed ahead in the parenting handbook, I would have been prepared for this seemingly abrupt behavior change.  As it turns out, one-year-olds are generally great eaters.  Not only are they are at the tail-end of a period of rapid growth that requires them to eat a lot, they also have not yet gotten to the “assert-your-independence” stage of toddler-hood.  If Mommy or Daddy says something is yummy, that’s enough reason to give it a try.  Toddlers, on the other hand, are naturally picky eaters.  With the first-year growth-spurt behind them, calorie needs decrease and eating becomes an annoying interruption in the middle of play time.  As a bonus, refusing to eat the meal that Mommy or Daddy lovingly prepared is a perfect way to show Mommy and Daddy that they are their own boss (at least when it comes to what makes it into their tummies).

While it’s impossible to generalize about kids or parenting, I’ve talked to parents of all stripes — everyone from raw vegans to those who post “recipes” on Facebook involving Velveeta and a can of Spam — and I haven’t met one who completely avoided the picky toddler stage.  For now, all I can do is have faith that this stage will pass.  I continue to cook healthy, balanced and delicious vegan meals knowing that eating this way makes me feel happy and at peace with my choices and I continue to hold my breath and pray that a few bites of dinner actually make it into my son’s belly.

 

 

 

 

 

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Introducing Baby to the Pets

Shelby supervises tummy time on baby’s second day home

One of my big concerns with bringing home the baby was how our dog and cat would react.  I was pretty sure the cat knew I was pregnant (he loved to sleep next to my belly) and pretty sure the dog did not (she stepped on my belly with impunity).  Whether either of them would be happy to have an actual baby in the house was a big question mark.

Following the advice I found in baby books and online, my plan for introducing the baby to the dog and cat was as follows:

  • Buy treats and new toys for the pets to be given out when the baby came home.
  • Bring pet blanket to the hospital.  Get baby’s scent on it.  Bring blanket home to the pets one day in advance of baby.
  • Have the dog on leash for the first meeting to prevent jumping.

I’m happy to report that having the baby meet his siblings turned out to be completely painless.  I may be imagining it, but I’m pretty sure that both pets were expecting the baby (maybe due to the scent on the blanket).  With our supervision, both pets were allowed to sniff the baby.  The cat seemed indifferent to the baby, but fairly pleased with his new toys.  The dog was thrilled to meet the baby.  She ignored the toys and treats we bought her and instead stuck to the baby like glue for the first few days he was home.

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Mofo: My Week In Food 2

Sadly, my parents went home last Saturday, leaving Veggie Husband and I on our own when it comes to baby care.  I can’t believe how much harder it is to get things done without the extra help (especially now that the little guy has been having tummy trouble).

Here’s what we had for dinner this week:

Sunday – French Onion Soup from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  Using the slow cooker was a great idea.  I was able to throw the ingredients in during the baby’s morning nap and dinner was ready once we finally got the baby calmed down in the evening.  Unfortunately, I thought this version of onion soup turned out a little bland and I don’t think I would make it again.

Monday – Pasta with Marinara and Meatballs.  More pre-made and pre-frozen sauce with store-bought meatballs.

Tuesday – Takeout falafel platter and lemonade from Gaby’s.  This place is up the block from our apartment, but we’ve never tried it.  The falafel wrap is just $5 and the platter just $8.  For the price, this was a decent meal.

Wednesday – Meatball subs using leftover meatballs from Monday.

Thursday – takeout pizza.  Given how much pizza we’ve been eating, you may be wondering if we live upstairs from a pizza place.  Why, yes.  Yes, we do.

Friday – Italian Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance, baked sweet potato, frozen mixed vegetables.  Marinated tofu is a great option for a busy day.  I pressed the tofu on Thursday:

After 24 hours in the Tofu Xpress, tofu is very firm and ready to absorb marinade.  On Friday morning, I marinated the tofu.  Then, at dinner time, I threw the tofu into my grill pan and cooked it for 5 minutes on each side.  In total, dinner was on the table in less than 25 minutes (spread out in 5 to 10 minute blocks over 2 days).  Check out those grill marks:

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Mofo: Post Baby Survival – My Week In Meals

Now that I have to plan my day around when my little guy is hungry (pretty much all the time), getting meals on the table for Veggie Husband and I has become quite a challenge.  Here’s what I ate during week one.

Saturday

  • Breakfast (hospital) – oatmeal, veggie sausage patty, fruit, coffee, prune juice
  • Lunch (home) – leftovers
  • Dinner (home) – takeout from LA Vegan (mango salad, orange chicken, green curry, tofu with pumpkin and eggplant, satay) – we over-ordered so that we would have leftovers

Sunday

  • Breakfast (home) – puffed grain cereal, soy yogurt, fruit (all purchased before going to have baby)
  • Lunch (home) – leftovers from LA Vegan
  • Dinner (home) – spaghetti, veggie sausage using Vegan Diner recipe, salad (sauce and sausages pre-made and frozen before baby was born)

Monday

  • Breakfast (home) – oatmeal with apple butter, raisins and walnuts, banana, coffee
  • Lunch (out) – bean and rice burrito
  • Dinner (out) – mixed green, fruit and nut salad, pasta

We chose restaurants with outdoor dining patios to avoid exposing baby to too many germs.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast (out) – latte and oatmeal at Coffee Bean
  • Lunch (home) – leftovers
  • Dinner (home) – Smokey Grilled Tempeh from Veganomicon, collard greens, roasted potatoes, cornbread adapted from Pillsbury Complete Cookbook recipe (recipes chosen for ease of preparation — the marinade for the tempeh is used to flavor the greens- and prepared with help from my parents, who were visiting)

Smokey Grilled Tempeh, Collard Greens, Roasted Potatoes, Corn Bread

Wednesday

  • Breakfast (home) – peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple, chai tea
  • Lunch (home) – more leftovers
  • Dinner (home) – Chilli and salad (Chilli premade and frozen before baby was born)

Thursday

  • Breakfast (home) – strawberry smoothie
  • Lunch (home) – more leftovers
  • Dinner (out) – Native Foods Greek Gyro Bowl, glass of wine, pumpkin cheesecake

Native Foods has a dog friendly patio, so the whole family was able to go.  The glass of wine was to celebrate weaning myself off my painkillers, which means I could safely have a drink for the first time in more than 9 months.

Friday

  • Breakfast (home) – tofu scramble, veggie bacon, toast, fruit, coffee
  • Lunch (home) – takeout pizza
  • Dinner (home) – chana masala, vegetable biryani, roasted brussels sprouts (sprouts and chana masala made by me, biryani was a frozen meal)

Baby slept well today and my parents were still in town, so I had more time to cook.

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