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Monday Morning Parent: My Baby's Veggie Tales

Monday, October 4, 2010

You should see/hear the reactions we get when we tell people that we are raising Marlie as a vegetarian. Most of it is simple curiosity, like how does she get her protein? I realize we live in America where beef is king (or is it chicken?) and that meat is a diet staple in this country. But it is a big misconception that human children or adults need to eat meat for sustenance. I am not bashing meat-eaters. Hey, I eat it too...although in better qualities and far less quantities than I used to. My point is that meat is a dietary choice not a dietary necessity, not to mention the negative impact that large-scale meat production has on our environment. I'll end my preaching there.

It's not hard to prepare vegetarian meals that provide the nourishment that your child's growing body needs. You will need to educate yourself about food and buy a good cookbook. A meatless diet doesn't have to be boring or restrictive. For example, I make (un)fries instead of french fries by boiling a potato, cutting it french-style, coating the pieces in olive or coconut oil, and baking until crisp. Even fruit and veggies can be fun! I smear almond butter on sliced pears, drizzle yogurt on bananas, and sprinkle grounded flax seeds on sweet potatoes. I also experiment with smoothies by mixing greens and fruit with almond or coconut milk for a refreshing treat packed with vitamins and minerals!

Here is a sample of Marlie's daily menu:

Breakfast: scrambled egg, porridge,
fruit, almond/coconut milk
Morning Snack: fruit,
almond/coconut milk
Lunch: organic Greek yogurt, vegetable, breastmilk
Afternoon Snack: fruit or vegetable*, water
Dinner: beans, vegetable,
almond/coconut milk
*fruits and vegetables are bought fresh (preferably organic and locally grown), cooked or ripened to soften, then cut into spears or cubed so she can hold it and feed herself.

Here is a list of Marlie's favorite foods and some of the nutrients they provide:
  • almond butter: iron, calcium, protein, riboflavin, folate, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • almond milk: calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, manganese, selenium, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • apples: fiber, vitamin C
  • avocados: fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium
  • bananas: vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium
  • beets: vitamin C, fiber, iron, folate, manganese
  • blueberries: vitamin C, vitamin , manganese (also good source of antioxidants)
  • carrots: vitamin A
  • chickpeas/hummus: protein, fiber, iron, folate, manganese,
  • coconut milk: vitamin B12, vitamin D (also a good source of medium chain fatty acids)
  • eggs: vitamin B12
  • kale: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K
  • mangoes: vitamin A, vitamin C
  • oatmeal, protein, fiber, iron, thiamin, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • peaches: vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium
  • pears: fiber, vitamin C
  • pinto beans: protein, fiber, iron, folate
  • potatoes: fiber, protein, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium
  • quinoa cereal: protein, iron, fiber, folate, manganese
  • spinach: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, protein
  • sweet potatoes: fiber, iron, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6
  • tomatoes: vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium
  • yogurt (Greek-style): protein, calcium (also a good source of probiotics)
There are some foods that we let Marlie have occasionally, but I call these the seldom/rarely foods:
  • bread (whole grain or sprouted)
  • cheese
  • chips (blue corn tortilla)
  • corn/corn grits
  • fruit juices
  • ginger cookies/arrowroot teething biscuits
  • pancakes
  • pasta
  • popcorn
  • rice
Not ready to convert yet? Try a meatless day or two with your family. Happy eating!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional dietitian or a nutritionist. Consult your family physician about making dietary changes. Please be mindful that some foods such as eggs and nuts are not recommended for babies under a year old. Always introduce new foods one at a time and watch for allergic reactions. Report any suspected food allergies to your child's pediatrician.


keyalus said...

I enjoy meat and suffer no ill effects from it so I have never had a desire to give it up. More power to those who feel strongly about it though!

I would like to choose better meats (local, grassfed) than I do currently, but I'm not ready to take on that financial burden just yet.

Will you allow Marlie to try seafood?

The Redhead Riter said...

I see all those things in the grocers or market, but I don't think I have ever seen this one there...



Jamie said...

My husband and I eat mostly vegetarian meals, but occasionally have meat if it is grass-fed, free-range, and processed cleanly. We also eat only organic fruits and veggies. Our oldest is 16 mos and a VERY picky eater. I feel like meal time (except breakfast) is a battle. I always start with the veggies and then the grains and or meats followed by fruit (his favorite). How does Marlie do with new foods? Does she resist at all? Is it because that there is so much more variety in my son's meals that he wants to choose to eat only his favorites?

Unknown said...

@ Jamie: Marlie does not always take to new foods, but I don't give up. I keep giving it to her until she eats it. I introduce new foods one at a time and wait until she has developed a taste for it before moving on to the next food. A local child nutritionist I consult with says parents should follow their kid's cues and not force eating because it can have the opposite effect. One of her recommendations for picky eaters is the green smoothie. You can put everything in it your child needs for daily vitamins, proteins and minerals and then he can eat whatever he likes the rest of the day because he got his nutrients. After blending, put it in a fancy cup and garnish it with fruit wedges to make it appealing. Pour yourself a glass too so he sees that it is appetizing. I have been trying this recipe with marlie: 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 banana, 1/4 cup pineapple or mango, 1/4 cup spinach, scoop of rice protein, tbsp of flax seed meal or quinoa flakes

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