With Halloween around the corner and the weather cooling down, there’s nothing better than mixing the wonderful flavors of fall into all your cooking! Chia pudding is a delicious and nutritious breakfast, but here I’ve switched it up and used Qi’a superfood blend, a combination of chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds, to make a harvest breakfast pudding great for warming bellies on cold mornings!
Is It Safe for My Child to Become a Vegetarian? By Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD
My daughter was ten when she refused to eat meat because she didn’t want to harm animals. A class discussion had raised this topic and she was sold. I listened calmly to her rationale, and it made sense. The bigger question for me was how to manage dinner for a vegetarian and a meat-and-potato-loving husband and preteen son!
Preparing different meals is a common concern I hear from parents with kids becoming vegetarian. Additional questions I often hear include: Is it safe? How will my child get enough protein? What other nutrients should I worry about? Here are some suggested guidelines for responding to the topic of vegetarianism if your child or teen brings it up:
Listen. Talk calmly with your child about their reason for eliminating meat. If it is about animal rights or another reason that you feel makes sense to your child, be respectful of his or her choice(s). It is not worth a power struggle and shows that you value what your child feels. If you have any concerns that your child is cutting out a category of food(s) for weight-loss purposes, it is important to talk about balanced eating and healthy habits rather than weight. In some cases, a sudden change in diet can indicate potential eating-disordered thoughts, and you may have to take the opportunity to address this swiftly.
A well-planned vegetarian diet can be nutritionally adequateaccording to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A healthy vegetarian diet will contain a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and calcium sources. Your child must learn that a steady diet of pizza, pasta, mozzarella sticks, and bagels does not constitute a “healthy” vegetarian diet.
Nutrients in shortest supply in a vegetarian diet, particularly a vegan diet (one that excludes dairy and eggs), may include:
Protein: Vegetarian sources can include eggs and cheese, legumes (beans), nuts and nut butter, seeds, tofu, and other soy products.
Calcium: Vegetarian-friendly sources of calcium include: cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese, calcium-fortified soy, rice, oat or hemp milk, calcium-fortified juice, and tofu, broccoli, leafy greens, beans, almond and almond butter, sesame seeds and sesame butter, and soy nuts.
Iron: Rich sources for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, enriched breads and pasta, eggs, beans, and dark leafy green vegetables. Soy products such as veggie burgers are generally fortified with iron. It is important to consume a good source of vitamin C in order to increase absorption of iron. Vitamin C is found in citrus, tomatoes, and peppers.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products including eggs and dairy. If your child is a vegan, he or she will need supplementation. Many soy products and milk substitutes are fortified, so read labels.
Vitamin D: Considered the “sunshine vitamin” since our body can make it from exposure to sunlight, some vegetarians who do not consume fish, eggs, or dairy and/or do not spend time in the sun will benefit from supplementation.
Do I need to prepare two dinners? A vegetarian diet can be healthy for the whole family, so this is your chance to slowly introduce some new foods into the entire family’s diet. I usually involve my kids in planning several meals for the week.
Simple meal suggestions my kids came up with:
Whole grain pasta with ground turkey (son) AND vegetarian crumbles (daughter). We added salad and soy milk for calcium and protein.
Stir-fried vegetables with chicken AND tofu and quinoa or brown rice.
Rice and beans was a great main meal for my daughter and a side dish for my husband and son. Smaller amounts of red meat and vegetables rounded off the meal.
I experimented and would make dishes that everyone could enjoy such as whole grain vegetable lasagna using tofu instead of ricotta cheese, with lots of vegetables and soy cheese instead of mozzarella.
Turkey tacos and bean tacos were common fare.
When I made breaded chicken cutlet, I make breaded tofu cutlet.
On hectic nights, I confess that I have used frozen foods such as Amy’s Organic Bean Dishes, Morningstar Farm or Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers, or Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods frozen vegetarian meals. Even a dietitian needs a night off from cooking!
Where can I read more about vegetarianism? Some great websites for vegetarian nutrition include:
We love to make pancakes for breakfast on the weekends at our house. The kids each have their roles in the preparation and we all get to sit down and enjoy a leisurely breakfast together. One thing I love to do is make large batches at one time and save them for the week! All you need is a zip-top bag or a food container and you’ve got weekday breakfasts at the ready. Check out this video of my son and his friend helping me with a fun pancake recipe.
This recipe can be a bit labor intensive, but it serves as a great opportunity to teach your children about tomatoes and have them help you with the prep work. Who knows, your kids who dislike tomatoes may find they enjoy them when baked!
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (can be omitted if not a family favorite)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 pounds)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup water
4 ounces colby-Jack cheese, shredded (feel free to change to cheese of choice)
Preheat broiler to high.
Add corn and onion to pan; broil 10 minutes, stirring twice. Stir in oregano, oil, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, and black pepper.
Cut tops off tomatoes; set aside. Carefully scoop out tomato pulp, leaving shells intact. Drain pulp through a sieve over a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract liquid. Reserve 1 1/4 cups liquid, and discard remaining liquid. Sprinkle tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Invert tomatoes on a wire rack; let stand 30 minutes. Dry insides of tomatoes with a paper towel.
Rinse quinoa. Combine reserved tomato liquid, quinoa, 1/4 cup water, and the remaining salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Add quinoa mixture to corn mixture; toss well.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spoon about 3/4 cup corn mixture into each tomato. Divide cheese evenly among tomatoes. Place tomatoes and tops, if desired, on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Broil the tomatoes 1 1/2 minutes or until cheese melts. Place tomato tops on tomatoes, if desired.
The recipe and photograph featured in this post are courtesy of our friends at Cooking Light. To view the recipe please click here.
We love soup at my house. However, we miss it in the summer months because it’s just too hot to enjoy it. Luckily, this Summer Ratatouille recipe can be served both hot or cold, making it a great option for these warm summer months!
Celebrate this Memorial Day weekend with a deliciously grilled portobello mushroom cap! This recipe makes a great dish for vegetarian BBQ-ers or those looking to cut back on meat. We here at MDIO are hoping you all have a happy and healthy Memorial Day!
2/3 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 (5-inch) portobello mushroom caps
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Combine the tomato, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon oil, rosemary, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushroom caps using a spoon, and discard gills. Remove stems; discard. Combine 1/2 teaspoon oil, juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl; brush over both sides of mushroom caps. Place the mushroom caps, stem sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 5 minutes on each side or until soft.
Spoon 1/4 cup tomato mixture into each mushroom cap. Cover and grill 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley.
Notes: Since the garlic isn’t really cooked, the mushrooms have a strong garlic flavor. Grill the mushrooms stem sides down first, so that when they’re turned they’ll be in the right position to be filled. If you want to plan ahead, remove the gills and stems from the mushrooms and combine the filling, then cover and chill until ready to grill.
The recipe and photograph in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To see the originals please click here.
The weather is certainly warming up here in NYC and we just love it! My family and I can finally spend more time outdoors and I can try new recipes perfect for Spring. When the weather warms up, I love to use herbs like fresh basil. It adds such a fresh flavor. When I was reading the Diabetes Forecast Magazine and saw their Polenta recipe, I thought that basil would be a great addition to it. So here’s an adapted recipe for a deliciously fresh Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta.
With our recent test on hard boiling eggs, we had quite a few eggs leftover. So, we decided to experiment with ways to use up some hard boiled eggs and turn them into a delicious dish. We highly recommend this dish for you to reuse those hard boiled Easter eggs next month!
With the clocks springing forward this Sunday, we couldn’t help but post a recipe for a Spring-y dish. We can’t wait for the weather to warm up and the spring flowers to bloom, not to mention, eating delicious seasonal fruits and veggies! One of our favorite spring vegetables is asparagus and we especially love this asparagus salad recipe.