Making Meals Vegan and Yummy! (for children)
Easy Vegan Meals for Lunch and Dinner: (left to right)
1.) Chick'n Strips with Mac & Cheese and Veggies 2.) Orange Chick'n with Veggie Spring Roll, Cauliflower Rice, Mango Slices w/ Red Peppers and Raw Spinach 3.) Pizza Pocket (quick bite that kids can make themselves after school)
4.) Typical Lunch w/ Fresh Fruit, Chick'n Sandwich w/ Lettuce, Spaghetti w/ "Meat" Sauce, Baby Carrots and a Kind Bar for a Snack. 5.) Hot Dog w/ Grapes and Creamy Garlic Mac & Cheese 6.) Curried "Meatless" Beef Tips w/ Sweet Peppers and Veggies
Managing family life is hard enough when you're free from dietary restrictions, but as we are discovering even self-imposed limitations make meal planning a real challenge. My kids and I are now 30+ days into our vegan adventure, and we are feeling great, so we wanted to share some meal ideas with you in case you are struggling in the kitchen too. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my 11-year old twins an I are still in the transitional phase of our no meat- no dairy journey, so substitutes work well for us. The six photos you see above represent some of the meals we made last week. In our home, we've found that recreating comfort foods make vegan meals a lot easier to embrace. Mac & Cheese: My kids love homemade garlic mac and cheese, so I had to figure out a way to create a vegan version. We start with any egg-less pasta and flavor it with garlic and Earth Balance "butter" while it's cooking. Then, in a separate pot, we use soy creamer which I found at Trader Joes, a half a teaspoon of Earth Balance vegan "butter," roasted garlic, sea salt and vegan cheddar cheese. (about half the amount you'd use with real cheese) Once that mix is creamy and smooth, we add the drained pasta and a bit of black pepper to taste and stir. The kids think it taste like the real thing. One note: It's better to make the mac & cheese fresh and avoid intentional leftovers. There is someone about the soy creamer and pasta combo, that tends to dry out a bit after just one night in the refrigerator. Crispy Chick'n Tenders: I have not been successful making chick'n tenders from tofu (big fail), so I rely on packaged products like Gardein Seven Grain Tenders. Instead of being breaded with flour and eggs, the "meat" is coated with oats, quinoa, and millet. It doesn't sound all that appetizing, but if you bake them at a high temperature until they are crispy, I think you will be pleased with the texture and the taste. My kids request them for lunch and dinner. Be careful not to overcook meatless products, as they tend to dry out easily.
Spaghetti, Nachos, Tacos, Burritos, Penne w/ "Meat" Sauce and More:
When it comes to replacing ground turkey or beef, I start by combining a few different "meatless" crumbles with a package of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. Now, the chorizo is heavily seasoned with smoked paprika, so if you don't like spicy foods reduce the portion by half. As you can see in the photo below, it looks like a large, dark red sausage encased in plastic wrap. Don't forget to remove the thin casing before you put it in the hot pan. I like to heat the chorizo in a frying pan with a generous amount of red wine, onions, roasted garlic and sweet peppers (pictured below to the left). That pan of "meat" becomes my starter for spaghetti, tacos, nachos, burritos. penne, spaghetti or any other pasta. For Italian dishes, we add freshly chopped tomatoes, fennel, Italian seasoning and fresh oregano and basil from our herb garden. Italian dishes also require the best vegan marinara sauce you can find.
For Mexican dishes, we add reduced sodium taco seasoning, fajita flavoring, mild or medium taco sauce (the starter "meat" is already quite spicy), more peppers and onions. Then we drain black or light kidney beans and add them to the Mexican "meat" , topping it off with a dash of sweetened lime juice. From there we make tacos, burritos, nachos, and chili. You'll be surprised how much they taste an feel like meat and how quickly you feel full. Enjoy!
Stay tuned; we will soon be adding videos, to show you how easily and quickly vegan family meals can come together. And, we are planning a taste test, to see what non-vegan think of our new dishes.