Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas, Part One

In addition to recipes, I wanted to collect some kid-friendly dinner ideas here. In my recipes I mostly avoid fake meat, but sometimes you just want to grab some hot dogs and buns so you know your kids will actually eat something.

Serving vegan hot dogs for dinner might not be ideal, but it's a heck of a lot better than feeding them meat hot dogs. Ditto meat chicken nuggets. Even if you're fine with the basic idea of having them eat factory-farmed animal meat, kid staples like these, made with animal parts, can be pretty gross.

In keeping with the rest of this blog, there's nothing at all fancy here! Just simple, super easy ideas for kids' dinners, using things that are available at most grocery stores.

I serve these with a side of whatever fresh fruits or vegetables my kids are willing to eat that day.

Kid Dinner Ideas

Note: There are a lot of fake meats out there. You should try whatever looks good to you, but I've found the ones below to be the most kid-friendly.

Smart Dogs are my kids' favorite, and are available almost everywhere. If I add white-bread buns, they're very happy. Smart Dogs are in the refrigerated section.

Wrap hot dogs in Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and bake to make pigs-in-blankets without harming any pigs. (Have you met Esther the Wonder Pig?)

Gardein products are starting to appear at lots of stores, even Target. They're in the freezer section. Gardein sliders are great and take two minutes to heat up in the microwave.

Gardein also makes chicken sliders, which my kids find a bit spicy, but some will love them. Especially with some lettuce and tomato and Vegenaise. Vegenaise isn't available at all grocery stores, but the sliders are good without it too.

Gardein chicken nuggets are always a hit. Ditto Trader Joe's vegan chicken nuggets if you're lucky enough to live near a TJ's.

Tofurky (or, as my son calls it, "faux turkey") is available at some regular grocery stores too. It will be next to the Smart Dogs. They make a couple of good kinds of "deli slices"-- we stick with the Hickory Smoked and the Balogna style. Some of the others are kind of weird.

Almost all marinara sauce is vegan, and of course pasta is vegan (unless it's egg noodles). If you want more protein and your store doesn't carry Nate's Classic Meatless Meatballs, serve a side of nuts. My kids will always eat salted pistachios--the closest you can get to junk food, nut-wise.

Cashew and green bean pasta is pretty kid-friendly.

You might even get them to eat spaghetti with homemade spinach and nut sauce.

Or with the French sauce called pistou, which is really just pesto without the cheese. (Everybody likes pesto!) Some people make pistou without pine nuts, but the above recipe includes them. If you like, you could substitute any other kind of nut you have in the house.

Chili with cornbread is always good.

Amy's makes a couple of good vegan frozen burritos, such as the Bean and Rice Non-Dairy and the Black Bean Vegetable.

You can make your own burritos or tacos pretty easily. Here's my post on tacos. That's my kids' current favorite dinner.

More kid-friendly dinner ideas to come!

Apparatus for the Magnetic Treatment of Plants, Paul Klee, 1908

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hummus and Sandwich Spreads

I eat hummus all day, even for breakfast. You can make it out of lots of things--not just chick peas but lentils, white beans, black beans, or split peas. You can add nuts, vegetables, all kinds of spices. Here are some of my favorite variations. Some are pretty far from hummus, so you might just call them sandwich spreads.

Basic Hummus

1 can (or 1.5 cups cooked) chick peas
1 T tahini (leave this out if you don't have it--it will be different, but still good)
1 or 2 T olive oil or other oil
1 t salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend.

If you don't have one of those, a mortar and pestle, or a bowl and a potato masher, or a bowl and a fork, will work. For those methods, mince the garlic before you put it in.

Other Kinds of Hummus

Instead of chickpeas, you can substitute the same amount of cooked lentils, red lentils, any kind of beans, or split peas.

Other Sandwich Spreads:

White Bean Spread

1 can white beans (such as cannellini)
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 clove garlic
1 t sage
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of parsley

Blend all ingredients.

Lentil Walnut Spread

1.5 c cooked lentils
2 T walnuts
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 onion (optional)
splash of white wine (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Toast the walnuts in a skillet until they become fragrant and start to brown, if you have time. Otherwise, just throw them in the blender. If you're using onions, sautee them in the oil with the salt, either for a few minutes, or if you have time, until they start to brown. Blend all ingredients.

Another wonderful variation is Green Pea Hummus.

Diver with Reflection III, Willi Baumeister, 1934