Many toddlers are picky when it comes to eating meat, even if they’re not on a vegetarian diet. Here is an ultimate roundup of high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, featuring quinoa, beans and lentils as primary ingredients.
When it comes to toddlers’ picky eating habits, one of the food groups I hear most about is meat. Meat can be tricky – it needs to be prepared a certain way that makes it easy for little ones to eat, and the texture can sometimes be offputting. While it’s important to continually expose your child to animal proteins (if your toddler isn’t on a vegetarian diet), there are tons of other ways to ensure your babe is getting this vital nutrient.
Here’s a roundup of 28 fantastic high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, broken down by meal. Seriously, though, there is so much inspiration here! And if you want more tips on how to deal with a picky eater, check out these 9 Easy Ways to Combat Picky Eating in Toddlers.
What toddler doesn’t love dip?? Here are three nutritious dip recipes that are easy to whip up for your little one at a moment’s notice.
If there’s one thing I can count on to get my toddler excited about eating, it’s offering her something delicious (and yes, messy) to dip her food into. I mean, what toddler doesn’t immediately spot (and demand) the bottle of ketchup on the table whenever you go out to eat? Or beg for the side of ranch dressing that comes with your salad?
Why not capitalize on it by making some of your own delicious dips that are not only tasty, but loaded with nutrients?
The three nutritious dip recipes I’m sharing with you today are just that. They’re all super easy to make, and don’t require any crazy ingredients.
If you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat certain things, dipping can be a great way to up the novelty and get him or her into the adventurous spirit. That’s why, for each dip recipe, I’ve also included ideas for “dippers”.
Finally, I encourage you to get your toddler into the kitchen to make these dips with you. The steps are all fairly simple, and while you always want to be careful around hot stoves and knives, getting your toddler involved will make them all the more excited to eat something when it’s served at a meal.
And for more toddler cooking inspiration, head on over to my Toddler Food board on Pinterest 🙂
Let’s get cooking!
Black Bean Dip
Hummus is a popular standby, but as far as bean dips go, why not mix it up by using alternate types of beans? This Black Bean Dip has some Mexican flair with cumin and fresh lime juice, and comes together quickly in the food processor with no cooking required.
Some great “dipper” ideas for Black Bean Dip include:
Tortilla chips (if your toddler can eat them without choking)
Forget hummus, this black bean dip is going to be your new favorite condiment. With hints of cumin and lime, it's the perfect accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food.
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: black beans, condiment, dip, healthy, Mexican, toddler
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
115-ounce canblack beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2tablespoonsfresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.
This popular Greek condiment is the perfect way to introduce some new flavors into your toddler’s diet. Fresh dill, grated cucumber and garlic are all adventurous, but become a bit more approachable when mixed into yogurt, which most toddlers are pretty familiar with.
Some great “dipper” ideas for Tzatziki include:
Pita chips (if your child can eat them without choking)
1Persian cucumber, grated and water squeezed out with a paper towel
1teaspoonchopped fresh dill
Whisk together ingredients in a small mixing bowl until combined.
Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.
It’s not just for pasta! Marinara is also great for dipping. It’s also loaded with nutrients from tomatoes, and you can even easily sneak in some other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous. An added bonus? Marinara freezes well, so make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it up in ice cube trays or small food storage containers for quick and easy defrosting at a moment’s notice!
This festive vegan grain salad is full of tart cranberries, protein-rich white beans, pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season.
We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today. Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. It’s quite literally a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.
I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.
Don’t Go Against the Grain
As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature. This means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.
For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)
I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards trying your hand at a Tofurkey creation.
Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks. I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!
This Cowgirl Plate is as big on healthy protein as it is on flavor. It’s also perfectly acceptable for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Are you ready for a big plate of deliciousness today?
You might want to buckle your seatbelt and hold on tight for this wild ride I’m about to take you on. Best thing about the Cowgirl Plate? Even though it has a few different components, they are all super easy to make. It’s one of those things where you’re like, “I didn’t know something so simple could be so delicious!”
But, before we get to the recipe itself, a little backstory. This is a dish that my fiancé and his friends would actually go out on “man dates” for to a little lounge-y, upscale Mexican restaurant here in Santa Barbara. There are a few things that may surprise you about very tall, athletic manly men specifically going out to order this Cowgirl Plate:
It’s vegetarian (I don’t know about you but it’s quite the feat to get my meat-lovin’ man to eat anything vegetarian. It’s got to be darnnnn good.)
It’s HEALTHY. When was the last time your man was like “Hey babe, I’m going out with the dudes tonight to get a healthy and nutritious meal.” I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I’m guessing that doesn’t happen too often.
So we had this local restaurant, we had this Cowgirl Plate, we had this great excuse for a healthy meal and then something tragic happened. The restaurant decided to “rebrand” itself and go in a different direction and, much to our dismay, the owner told us the Cowgirl Plate would not be coming back. Talk about a MAJOR disappointment.
We tried begging the owner for the recipe, but he was keeping it under lock and key, so I decided to take it into my own hands and recreate it. Now, my version of the Cowgirl Plate is not EXACTLY like the restaurant’s, but I must say it’s pretty darn close and has my own little personal spin to it.
We start with mashed sweet potatoes. But these aren’t just any mashed sweet potatoes. These are magically enhanced with orange juice and a little brown sugar. The tart sweetness that this provides is the perfect contrast to the rest of the dish.
Then we move on to our cilantro rice. If you’re a cilantro-hater, make plain rice, but let me tell you as a cilantro-lover, this rice takes the whole dish to the next level on the flavor spectrum.
Now let’s talk about the beans. Because we’re lazy and want all of this to be easy, we take canned black beans (and even the juice in the can…no draining and rinsing here!) and spice them up a bit with some onion, garlic and tomato. Flavor bomb!
But the beans aren’t quite enough protein for us. Now we need to cook up some eggs (you choose the style!) to really add some bang for our buck.
To finish off the dish, we need to make a simple green salad with an easy olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette. We’ve got so many other flavors going on in this Cowgirl Plate, we do not need to overcomplicate things.
One last step – and please don’t skip this. We need to caramelize some onions. And we need to add just a leeetle bit of balsamic glaze to really sweeten these puppies up. This is the perfect final garnish for the amazingness of flavors that is called the Cowgirl Plate.
So what do you say? Are you ready to make this right this instant? If you’re lucky enough to have the day off for President’s Day, this would be the perfect light meal to wind down the holiday weekend. Forget about how healthy it is, it is soooo tasty and you will go to bed ready for work tomorrow and dreaming of the next time you can work a Cowgirl Plate into your dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) rotation.
BRB. I’m going to dig into some leftovers right now.
1/4white onion, dicedYou will use the other 3/4 for the caramelized onions.
For the eggs:
For the salad:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the mashed sweet potatoes:
Bring sweet potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water. Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Drain water. Add butter, milk, orange juice and brown sugar to pan. Using a hand mixer (or you could also mash the potatoes by hand), whip the potatoes until all ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the cilantro rice:
Place jasmine rice in a small saucepan with chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to low and place a lid on the pan. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes. Once rice is cooked, stir in cilantro.
To make the black beans:
Heat olive (or avocado) oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onions are translucent and fragrant. Add garlic, stir to combine. Add black beans and their juices from the can; stir in tomatoes. Bring heat down to medium-low. Let beans simmer for 30-45 minutes. You want their starches to release so the juices thicken up a bit.
To make the caramelized onions:
Melt butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add onions. Add balsamic glaze and stir to coat. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook onions slowly on low heat until they are soft and caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the eggs:
Cook the eggs in any way you’d like!
To make the salad:
Toss all salad ingredients together in a small bowl.
To assemble the Cowgirl Plate:
Place a heaping scoop of the mashed sweet potatoes in one corner of a large oval plate. Next, spoon the cilantro rice in sort of a diagonal across the middle of the plate. To the other side of the rice (not the same side with the potatoes), spoon on the black beans. These will essentially take over the whole half of this plate. The rice will serve as a dam between the beans and the rest of the plate. Next, arrange the salad on the other quarter of the plate that is on the side with the potatoes. Top salad with caramelized onions. Top entire plate with eggs.
When eating, I highly recommend you completely mess up the plating described above and mix every component together.