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Help! My daughter's gone vegetarian

Karen GilmanHi, I am Karen Gilman and I am here to celebrate with you your daughter’s choice to ‘go vegetarian.’ You are here because you worry your daughter will not get the nutrients she needs or you are looking for tips on how to make healthy vegetarian meals. I can help put your mind at ease and give you the tools to support this vegetarian journey.

My daughter's a vegetarian... Now what?

Your daughter has declared she no longer wants to eat meat.  How is she going to get enough protein, calcium or iron? Can her growing body get enough of these nutrients and the calories its needs if she does not eat any meat?

Not to worry. She’ll be fine as long as she eats the right foods. I know only too well how challenging it can be to get kids to eat properly.  Boys, too, can be picky eaters, though they don’t face the same nutritional challenges as girls.

You don’t want her to become dependent on multivitamins to bridge the gap. Ensure she gets the nutrients she needs from the food she eats.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Let's get started!

Tips For Healthy Traveling

Tips For Healthy Traveling

The summer weather brings weekends away and family vacations. Fun, yes? Only if everyone is happy and well fed. Well fed is key, especially if you have someone with dietary restrictions amongst you. How do you manage this when travelling? It can be quite simple.

Here are a few tips to keep everyone healthy and happy when traveling:

Stick to the same schedule, especially in the evening. Time differences can be a challenge but once you have adapted, try to eat at the same time you would if you were at home. For example, if your kids eat lunch at noon, eat when it is noon where you are.

Drink lots of water throughout the day. Carry water bottles with you and refill. Water will help balance your body fluids which is important if you have taken an airplane and changed time zones or if you have been sitting in the car for a long time.

Carry snacks with you so no one is tempted to buy junk food when hunger hits. I always have some almonds or home-made snacks in my purse.  One of my favourites is a granola cookie, see recipe below.

Make sure all snacks include some protein. This will ensure everyone stays fuller for longer. Fruit and nuts or seeds, pita with hummous, yogurt and fruit and cheese and crackers are all good examples.

Go online to find a health food or grocery store nearby. I love to check out these stores wherever we go. Take a look to see what is available when you reach your destination so you can restock your stash.

Take probiotics with you, just in case.  If someones gets the runs or has tummy troubles, probiotics can help. This is a substance that stimulates the growth of beneficial properties of intestinal flora. Travelling and eating out can modify the bacteria in your gut, leading to diarrhea.  Look for a shelf-stable brand to take with you.

If you are staying in a hotel, ask to have a fridge put in your room so you can store your snacks or prepare small meals.

If you are going on a road trip, create your own snack bar with a cooler. When we take road trips I fill a small cooler with yogurt, fruit, vegetables and hummous so the kids can snack while they watch their favourite movie. Though they don’t hesitate to ask for the Tim’s at the rest area I always respond by telling them we have much better snacks in the car.

Eating out with your vegetarian can be easy if you plan ahead and look at restaurant menus online. Or opt for Asian, Mexican, Italian or Indian foods that are likely to have vegetarian items on the menu.

Here is a recipe for homemade granola cookies that are easy to make for a great, portable snack.

The Granola Cookie
2 cups rolled oats-large flake or old fashioned
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1T. cinnamon
1/t. sea salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup small raisins or chocolate chips

Preheat to 350 or 325 convection. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl combine oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon and salt

In a smaller bowl stir together maple syrup, oil and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until evenly combined. Fold in the nuts and chips etc.

Using a soup spoon, scoop batter into mounds and onto prepared cookie sheet.  You may need to form them into mounds with your fingers. They may appear that they are not coming together but they will bake up great. They don’t spread.

Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned. Don’t over bake.

 

 

Seeds

Seeds

Though we don’t usually think about  seeds as replacements for animal protein in our diet, they can be a great addition to a vegetarian meal to increase its nutritional value.

At last count, I had the following in my pantry:

. Sesame seeds

What you’ll see most often is white sesame seeds though there are also black sesame seeds. These guys are full of iron and calcium.  Here’s what I do with them.. toast them and use them to coat tofu, add them to stir fries, granola bars and other baked goods. Also available is tahini which is a paste made from sesame seeds. I use tahini in salad dressings to make them rich and creamy and I also add tahini to granola bars. It is a great nut-free substitution for baked goods you send to school.

. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are a relative newcomer to the seed scene and are now readily available in the grocery store. The great thing about these seeds is they are an amazing source of protein (10 grams per 3 tbsp) as well as essential fatty acids (think fish oil without the fish).  They are also a good source of iron.

. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are also a relative newcomer to the seed scene and are also available in the grocery store. Chia seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids as well as calcium. I also add chia seeds to smoothies, baked goods and I sprinkle them on top of yogurt or add them to granola.

. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and iron. I add them to homemade granola bars, salads, stir fries and eat them plain. Sometimes I will make chocolate pumpkin seed bark for us to snack on. It is easy to make and it is nice healthier treat to send to school.

. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are also a good source of protein though not as much as pumpkin seeds (10 g per 1/3 cup vs. 18 g per 1/3 cup). They can also be added to homemade granola bars, salads, stir fries or eaten plain.

 

Here is a recipe I developed to incorporate all the benefits of seeds:

1/2 cup dates soaked in warm water for a few minutes to soften
1/2 cup cashews or walnuts
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1/8 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cashew or almond butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8″ square Pyrex dish with coconut oil. Process all the ingredients in a food processor until a thick dough forms. Press into the Pyrex dish and bake around 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown. Allow to cool before slicing.  Feel free to add chocolate chips or dried cranberries if you think your kids will like them.  Depending on how big you cut these bars they can provide up to 10 grams of protein a serving.

You won’t find a 1/8 cup measure but you can fill the 1/4 cup halfway to get this amount.

 

Grillin’ Like A (Vegetarian) Boss

Grillin’ Like A (Vegetarian) Boss

It’s that time of year! Barbecue Season!

Check out my latest blog post for Eco Parent for some tips on how to survive barbecue season as a vegetarian.

You can find it here.