Okay, so after I posted my last blog, I realized that it wasn't directly about veganism and was more of my child-rearing philosophy, so I apologize. I actually intended to go more quickly into the topic of what we consume on a regular basis, but then I got a little long-winded getting there and had to do two separate posts. Ooops! I hope I don't ever come across like I have all the answers to veganism, or raising kids, because I definitely don't and I'm constantly learning new things! =)
So now I thought I'd write a little (probably a lot, actually) about what we normally eat. I like hearing ideas of what other vegan parents are feeding their children, and I thought someone else might like hearing what we feed our little ones (which is the same as what my husband and I eat, too. No separate meals here! =) ) I love hearing what my friends are feeding their kids so as to be inspired and try out some new things--especially in the packed-lunch department.
For breakfast, we have been on a chocolate greens shake kick. I buy the Amazing Grass Green Super Food drink powder, sometimes the chocolate flavor, and sometimes the natural variety. If it is natural, I add my own cocoa powder to the shake when I make it. I add one scoop of the greens powder for each person, 1-2 tbl cocoa, one to two bananas, about a cup of nondairy milk, a little agave nectar to sweeten it a bit, plus two tablespoons of hemp seeds. I like to blend these ingredients first to break up the hemp seeds better and get a creamy consistency. Then I add some ice and water until I have about 4 cups worth of shake. (This feeds my two kids and myself, and if my husband is home on the weekend, I increase the amount I make.)
The Amazing Grass blend has, well, amazing ingredients and nutrients in it. I feel like you hardly need a multivitamin when you are eating this, though a few nutrients are a little low and it's just my lay person's opinion. (We do take a multivitamin and use vitamin D2 and b12 sprays, though not every day...though we probably should!) Oh, and it also has probiotics in it. So cool! At first, my kids didn't want the shake EVERY day, but now they love it. At first, I supplemented it to our usual breakfast of oatmeal, high fiber cereal, or sprouted wheat toast, etc., but nowadays, my kids are satisfied with it and my daughter said it keeps her full until lunchtime. (She opts to skip snack time at school and play instead.) Only in the last week have I started having some soy or coconut milk yogurt for breakfast as a change of pace, but we had been eating the chocolate shake for months. I haven't given it up, but just wanted to try something different for a little while. We still had two shakes or more this week. So, that's just one idea for breakfast. Countless options abound, of course, but I do feel like the shake is a nice way for my family to start the day. =)Now on to lunch...Since my eldest child is in second grade, I pack her lunch everyday, and I also pack a lunch for my preschooler two days a week. I have to say that it is usually easier for me to make a more nutritious and varied lunch at home because it's easier to eat more things, and to heat more of them up if necessary. That being said, I do try and make a well-balanced lunch for my daughter to take to school. I like the lunch to be easy to prepare and simple, and I am so lucky that my daughter is easily satisfied! A common lunch I make for her is homemade hummus (which I constantly have on hand for lunches and snacks), whole wheat pitas cut into triangles, carrots for dipping, and sometimes other veggies as well, like jicama or cucumbers. I give her a sliced apple, orange, or some other kind of fruit with it. The kids always have their water bottle filled with water, no juice, etc. So simple, but my daughter never complains, even if she has this several times a week! (Go Kaylee!)
When I'm not stuck in the hummus/pita rut, I do make other things. Again there's the hummus wrap (kind of the same thing in different form) which is a whole wheat tortilla rolled up with hummus, grated carrots and cucumbers, but with the lovely addition of chunks of avocado and baked tofu. Yum! Sometimes I make her a veggie burger inside a whole wheat pita pocket smeared with avocado, ketchup, mustard and Wildwood Garlic Aoli. I also add lettuce or tomato to this sometimes, too. Kaylee is fine with the veggie burger being at room temperature and not warm. (BTW, my favorite veggie burger are the Sunshine Burgers I get at Whole Foods. They are made with brown rice, veggies, and sunflower seeds and are oh, so good. They are soy- and gluten-free, which is nice, because it's so easy to overdo it on the gluten and soy.)
I do like to utilize a thermos every now and again as well. It takes a little more time to get it ready in the morning, but it's fun for the kids to have something warm and toasty in their lunch. My kids love soup, so that is often what I put in the thermos. I may also fill it with chili or homemade refried beans. Basically, if I have some leftovers, I'll use them. If I give the kids some warm refried beans, I'll include a whole grain tortilla for them to spoon the beans into. Sounds good to me!
Little homemade burritos or "quesadillas" also travel well and my kids enjoy them. I make them several different ways. When we were eating gluten-free for a while to help my son's nighttime breathing issues, I would fill small corn tortillas (I prefer the Ezekiel brand to some others because they are more pliable and less likely to rip when rolled) with a little bit of refried beans, roll them up like a taquito, sealed with a little more beans near the edge, and brown them until crispy in a lightly oiled pan. Dip in a little homemade guacamole or plain smashed avocado, and you have a yummy lunch that travels well. These can be made the night before and popped into a lunchbox in the morning, and even last for several days so they can be used throughout the week. When we were eating gluten-free, we would take them to the park or other outings during the summer and ate them at room temperature. I liked them, too!
It may sound kind of boring, but I also make quesadilla-shaped things that really are only beans in between two whole wheat tortillas that I have browned in a lightly oiled pan. I'll put them in the lunch with guacamole and the occasional Tofutti sour cream, or even alone with nothing to dip into and the kids will eat them! I know, I'm lucky that my kids will eat such simple things! =) You can do a similar thing with beans and guac inside the tortilla and call it a burrito. So many ways to use the same ingredients! Ha! Maybe not so original, but it works!
For a special "treat," the kids will have some Cluckphrey Chic-a-roos (made by Food for Life--think Ezekiel bread) that I have cooked in the toaster oven the night before. These are sooo yummy if you haven't tried them before. I think they are the best tasting vegan "chicken nuggets" and I believe they have the best ingredients of any similar product. BTW, there are also Cluckphrey patties that are similar but in a different shape, and these are nice to have in the freezer to warm when you're pressed for time.
We do have almond butter and jelly sandwiches in our lunchboxes here and there. If I'm in a hurry and feeling lazy, I make these. The kids like sandwiches, so it's fine for us to have them sometimes. Not very exciting, but they do the trick!
If I think of more lunch ideas, I'll pass them along. I'm sure I'm forgetting something! I won't go into dinners in this blog, but I do plan on sharing some of my recipes along with photos of our dinners in the future.