“Kid-friendly vegan recipes” might make you think hemp nuggets and carrot popsicles. But think about how many traditional kid-friendly foods are plant-based to begin with: fruit salad, cereal, PB&J sandwiches, pasta and tomato sauce, soup, burritos … and many more are easy to convert to plant-based with a few easy tweaks.
If we eat more fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains in a day, there’s less room for processed sugar, refined grains and packaged meats. Replacing even just one meat-based dish each day can up your child’s plant-based nutrient intake and reduce their consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat.
Whether you’re looking to change your family’s intake of animal products or your little one has a food intolerance, we have some delicious (kid-approved) ideas to up the variety of plants they consume, no tantrums involved.
Banana Berry Pancakes
Traditional pancake recipes often incorporate milk and eggs, but this wholesomely sweet and filling version over on Plant Based on a Budget is held together with bananas, apple cider vinegar and coconut milk. The sweetness comes from the fruit; if you need a little more, opt for a vegan-friendly version like brown rice syrup or coconut sugar.
Lentil Veggie Nuggets
If your kids could eat chicken nuggets seven days a week (and you’re thinking that a vegetable might be a good addition to their diets), check out My Fussy Eater’s Lentil Veggie Nuggets (just swap the cheddar for shredded vegan cheese, like Daiya). Just as toothsome and texture-packed as their inspiration, these nuggets leave you with room to improvise with the veggies you have on hand. Plus, they’re great with ketchup.
Butternut Squash Mac and “Cheese”
It’s a law of childhood that Mac & Cheese will be a favorite. Swap the standard cheddar for Vitamin A-packed squash and homemade vegan cashew cheese in this version from Veggie Inspired. For an extra nutrient boost, try out a quinoa or amaranth pasta instead of wheat.
Cauliflower Lentil Sloppy Joes
The secret is in the seasoning. Don’t tell kids what’s in the mix and they won’t even know they’re missing the meat in this comfort food remix from Two Peas and Their Pod. Packed with fiber, folate and plant protein, these are 100% more nutritious than the original and just as yummy.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos
Make taco night vegan by swapping out the standard ground beef and lard-filled refried beans for more plant-based fillings. We love these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos from Oh My Veggies. You can customize with whichever toppings your family loves.
Vegan Chickpea Burgers
Packed with nutrients and as many secret veggies as you can cram in, The Spruce’s Chickpea Burgers make for a great substitute for meat, especially at barbecue time. Top with your kiddo’s favorite sauces and extra veggies.
Vegan Fettucine Alfredo
Remember how much you loved cream-sauce pasta when you were a kid? So do we. This version is surprisingly vegan: using regular wheat pasta (or whatever your grain of choice is), it combines the usual Alfredo blend of herbs and spices with a sumptuous cashew cream sauce that will convince any skeptic that it’s the real thing. Thanks to My Darling Vegan for the inspiration.
Okay, okay… just go with us on this one. It’s a bit of a stretch to put a carrot in a bun but man alive do these look delicious. We applaud Inspiralized for their creativity (and kind of can’t wait for summer to grill these up and cover them in sauce).
The ultimate in Grandma’s best comfort food, this version from Minimalist Baker is full of lentils instead of ground meat, but every bit as savory and satisfying.
Vegan Fried Rice
Recreate healthy, plant-based Chinese takeout at home with Vegan Insanity’s Scrambled Tofu Fried Rice. It’s a quick, filling dish that can make use of whatever leftover veggies might be hanging around in your fridge or waiting in your freezer. This would be a great base for some grilled faux-meat, and perhaps even some grilled greens, too, if your kids are agreeable to those!
Forget fries cooked in tallow and get a little more green into your kids: these little nibbles of plant-based goodness from She Likes Food feel like a treat and a healthful side dish at the same time.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
3 ingredients, one bowl, no baking: a parent’s recipe for treat success, especially since these morsels from Beaming Baker contain no dairy or eggs. Perfect for dessert, lunches, snack time, maybe even breakfast. If your little one is allergic to peanuts, simply swap out for a non-allergenic alternative like pea butter.
– Amy Height