Kids Mixed Plate Surprise

This one was a surprise because I really didn’t know what it was going to be (or if it would get eaten) until it was done!  Got lucky, I think… 

The seriously random kids meal, somehow eaten and even enjoyed!  I'm pretty sure I got lucky!

The seriously random kids meal, somehow eaten and even enjoyed! I’m pretty sure I got lucky!

There was no real meal plan/ idea for the kids tonight, and no time to cook a big meal, so I needed to improvise.  I found a bunch of little things to pull together, but not really one main dish – so the plan became a mixed plate!  

We had: brown rice (22 min in the pressure cooker – genius!), zucchini/ tomato/ quinoa sauté, whole wheat pasta, green beans & broccoli.  All assembled on the plate, side by side (even better as a smiley face – kudos to you if you do that!) 

When I first served it, I got the ‘ew’ face and the classic objection, ‘but I wanted pasta!’  I told her that was her dinner tonight and she was welcome to eat it or not.  She went for it… (along with Lily, who goes for anything, bless her healthy little 1 year old appetite)… and actually finished her plate.  Success!  Also a bonus that this meal is protein-packed — brown rice, quinoa, and broccoli all heavy-hitters in the plant-based protein department.  

Doesn't she look thrilled to be eating her crazy green & healthy meal?  :) Oh well, what matters is her plate was empty 5 minutes later!

Doesn’t she look thrilled to be eating her crazy green & healthy meal? 🙂 Oh well, what matters is her plate was empty 5 minutes later!

I think there’s a few things I’m learning about successful plant-based meals for kids: 

1) Variety is important.  You need to give them different things to keep their interest piqued.  She always asks for pasta, so she gets a little bit of pasta all the time, but the grain changes – buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, etc.  I try to always have a few different veggies in the fridge to choose from, and prepare a different one every other day on average.  

2) Simple preparation works best.  This also helps on the time factor! I used to think I needed to sauté everything and infuse flavours as much as possible – garlic, onions, ginger, etc — this may be true for us but not for (my) kids!  The simpler the preparation – steaming, light boiling, broiling/ baking, etc – the happier the outcome.  

3) Make a game out it.  For example — play with the different colours.  Ayla loves to be engaged in what she is doing, so I ask her to count all the colours on her plate, and then eat them one by one.  Finish all the greens, then the yellows, red, etc.  

4) Don’t mix the stuff up – keep it as separate as possible on the plate.  Not news to anyone with a toddler but bears repeating! 

5) Make a face!  Yes, be that parent, have some fun!  

6) Engage them with the prep.  Ayla usually does something to help me out, whether it’s chopping a carrot, setting the table, eating whatever falls on the ground, and other very helpful things.  🙂 This makes her a more willing participant when it comes to eating!