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.
A healthy, make-ahead salad that’s low on guilt yet full on flavor, this Southwestern Corn, Kale and Quinoa Salad will become a new family favorite in no time.
How, oh how is it August already?? This summer has just flown by but, hey, we still have at least a month left, so let’s make the most of it, shall we? It may mean different things to different people, but I think one thing we can all agree making the most of summer does NOT mean is spending a ton of time in the kitchen – which is why you need some of this No Guilt Southwestern Corn, Kale and Quinoa Salad in your life.
With the little one keeping me busy and the beautiful weather keeping us outside, I’ve personally found myself in the kitchen less than I have probably ever been in my life, which means I am loving anything that I can make a big batch of in advance. I need to be able to come home from a morning at the beach, reach into the refrigerator and have lunch there waiting for me – because goodness knows the little one will NOT wait for me to whip up any sort of elaborate meal!
This Southwestern Corn, Kale and Quinoa Salad is just what my summer-loving heart ordered. Full disclosure, this recipe was inspired by a Trader Joe’s salad I grabbed in complete haste one day when I knew there was nothing waiting for me at home for lunch. Yes, it was a quinoa salad (which, on its own can be quite drab) but somehow the sweet corn, juicy tomatoes and creamy poblano-cilantro dressing all complemented each other just perfectly. So I set out to make my own version!
The salad part was pretty obvious – quinoa, corn, kale, tomatoes and some chunks of poblano pepper for good measure – but then came the dressing. I loved the creaminess of the dressing in the TJ’s version, but if this was going to be my go-to grab-and-go lunch, it needed to be as healthy as possible – which meant, Greek yogurt! I love how thick and creamy it is while also having so many nutritional benefits. And, honestly, I knew that all the other ingredients I’d be adding in were so packed with flavor that that was all I needed.
Speaking of those other ingredients – garlic, cilantro and roasted poblanos, I’m looking at you! I knew that would be all I needed to make this No Guilt Southwestern Corn, Kale and Quinoa Salad of mine a reality.
So, it’s pretty obvious that this recipe is packed with flavor, but the other thing I love so much about it is how much of it can be prepped in advance. Literally each of the steps that requires cooking can be done up to a few days ahead of time, so you can work on it whenever you have a free minute (or 10) in the kitchen. And, once it’s done and assembled, you’ll have enough Southwestern Corn, Kale and Quinoa Salad to last you at LEAST a week.
If those aren’t all signs of a winning recipe, I don’t know what would be!
2cupskale, destemmed and cut into bite-size pieces
For the dressing:
1cupplain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 - 1/2cupextra-virgin olive oil
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. (I usually put one part quinoa to two parts water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, turn it down to a heavy simmer and let cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed.) Fluff gently with a fork and let cool completely.
Next, you’ll want to cook the peppers (both of them) and the corn. If you have a gas stove, simply cut the stem off of the peppers and hold them over a burner until they are lightly charred. If you have an electric stove, you may have to head to your grill to get that nice looking char. Let cool and then cut one pepper into large chunks and one into a small dice.
For the corn, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and smell caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool.
The final thing you’ll want to prep before assembling the salad is the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients (including the charred poblano that is in large chunks) in a blender, omitting the olive oil and salt for now. Blend until ingredients are fairly creamy, then start streaming in the olive oil, until you come to a consistency you like. Finally, season with salt.
In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients – quinoa, corn, diced poblano, kale and tomatoes – then pour on dressing and stir to combine. Salad will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator!
Protein-packed PB&J Quinoa is a healthy, filling breakfast to get you through the day. It’s also easy enough to make on weekdays!
This PB&J Quinoa Bowl will change the way you view weekday breakfasts forever, and I don’t think you’ll be one bit mad about it.
I don’t know about you, but the weekends always feel like a crazy whirlwind of fun for me, and it’s always just a little bit tough to go to bed on Sunday night knowing I have to wake up and face the “real world” the next day. Yes, I work from home and yes, many feel that’s quite the luxury, but I promise it’s still not easy. If anything, I feel more accountable for being productive, especially after an event-filled weekend like the one I just had.
I’ve been up north at the parents’ house since last Wednesday and I’ll actually be working from up here for the next week due to a heavy influx of close friend and family obligations. I helped cater one of my good friends’ baby showers this past Saturday and next weekend we have a family birthday party, so I just decided to forego 8 extra hours in the car (no bueno for a pregnant mamma!) and stay up here for the week.
The downside of that is, now I’m here surrounded by family, and they all have fun, exciting things that they want to do, yet I still need to be sure I find the time to actually WORK and get done what I need to get done since I’m still held accountable for doing my job, even when I’m not physically at my “home base.” Does anyone else struggle with this? Please tell me you do and give me pointers!
But enough about my time management/life balancing skills, let’s talk about what we REALLY need to get out on the table today (both literally and figuratively) – these PB&J Quinoa Bowls!
Real life talk: this is another recipe where I have to give all creative credit to a favorite eating establishment of mine. When I first moved to Santa Barbara, one of the things I remember being most excited about was the fact that they had an entire eatery based around the concept of one of my favorite breakfasts – the acai bowl! Yes, I get excited about these things because, hey, I am a food blogger. And there most definitely were no such places in Napa, where I lived previously.
Let me tell you a little bit about Backyard Bowls and why it is so amazing. Well, they literally have any sort of acai bowl you can imagine – green bowls, power bowls, tropical bowls – you name it! Then on top of that they have a whole list of smoothies, PLUS a line of non-acai bowls that are also healthy and taste absolutely amazing. This is the section of the menu where the PB&J Quinoa Bowl resides.
When I was still working in a “real office” full time, a PB&J Quinoa Bowl from Backyard Bowls was one of my favorite breakfasts to pick up on my way to work and eat at my desk, especially if I had a long day ahead of me where I didn’t know what time I’d be able to get to any sort of lunch.
It’s chock full of protein, yet still tastes indulgent at the same time. And the quinoa, oh the quinoa. If you have never ventured into the world of quinoa served oatmeal-style for breakfast, I highly recommend you do so soon (you can try this Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans while you’re at it.) It is so tasty, super healthy, and full of protein. And yes, quinoa tastes just as good with sweet breakfast-y ingredients as it does with savory dinner-y ingredients.
So here’s the PB&J Quinoa Bowl scoop: First off, you literally cook it just as you would oatmeal. And instead of cooking it using water as the liquid, you’ll use good ol’ cashew milk. In fact, you could really use any sort of regular OR nut milk, I just used cashew because I was trying to really capture Backyard Bowls’ take on the whole thing and that’s what they use. But it’s totally up to you!
Once the quinoa is cooked (but while it’s still warm) you’ll stir in a little additional cashew (or other) milk along with your favorite peanut butter to make it extra creamy.
That’s it as far as cooking goes! The next bit, the toppings, is what really takes your PB&J Quinoa Bowl over the edge. First off, your favorite jelly is KEY. I’m quite the traditionalist and prefer to stick to strawberry jam, but feel free to use your own creative license here and use whatever your little heart desires.
Next, you’ll want to add some texture with nicely toasted slivered almonds. They add the perfect crunch to an otherwise texturally one-dimensional bowl. And are such a fun contrast to the peanut butter!
Finally, slice up some fresh banana and fan that out over top. Because what’s a breakfast bowl without a sliced banana topping?
Long story short, this PB&J Quinoa Bowl is a super easy and insanely delicious recipe that needs to make an appearance in your kitchen ASAP. It’s the perfect breakfast to really turn a week around and I guarantee you won’t be mad about it once your piping hot bowl is sitting in front of you on a Monday morning before heading to work.
Grab the recipe below and here’s to another productive week ahead! Xo
The delicious Memorial Day-friendly eats continue! And today I’m even talking about some outdoor entertaining tips to boot 😉
This Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad is most definitely one for the books. It’s full of healthy veggies and quinoa, and topped with my favorite luscious, creamy cheese. Even better, it’s both omnivore- and vegetarian-friendly. Plenty of substance for your meat-loving friends yet perfectly suitable for those plant-eaters among you! (A must for large-group entertaining, as you’ll see below.)
One of the things I love most about Instagram is stumbling across different brands and companies that I may have never encountered otherwise. It’s so fun to see what other influencers are loving, which posts are going viral, and what other Insta-friends are liking and commenting on.
Q Squared is one of those brands whose products I absolutely fell in love with as soon as I saw them cross my feed. They make some of the most beautiful tableware that you’d never guess is made out of melamine and completely shatter-proof. So naturally, when they offered to send me a set of my choosing, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, Memorial Day weekend is upon us which means outdoor-friendly, shatter-proof dinnerware is where it’s at!
You can see from the photos just how beautiful these products are (and this is just one of the designs to choose from!) but what you can’t see is just how amazingly durable they are. They truly feel like legitimate dinnerware and you do not have to worry one bit about it looking cheesy or cheap. High class all the way!
As soon as I decided on the Lima design as my set of choice, I started brainstorming what eventually turned into this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad. I knew I wanted to take advantage of all of the bright blues and greens in the dinnerware and all of the in-season spring produce, so I took a little trip to the Farmer’s Market for inspiration. What I came across were the cutest little spring onions and piles upon piles of fresh fava beans. Not to mention fresh basil! I decided that these spring superstars, with the addition of quinoa, toasted walnuts, fresh lemon juice and creamy burrata, would make the perfect grain salad to serve over Memorial Day weekend.
The salad comes together quickly, especially if you cook the quinoa and prep the fava beans in advance. Even better, it’s great served warm, cold or at room temperature. Just add the burrata right before serving to ensure its freshness (and ooziness.)
Which brings me to the other topic of this post: My Top Four Outdoor Entertaining Tips!
Let me break it down for you real quick here:
1. Opt for sturdy tableware.
You should have two goals for whatever dinner/serving ware you use for your outdoor soiree: it should stand up well to wind (you don’t want to be chasing down paper plates and napkins as soon as a little breeze picks up!) and it should be shatter-proof (especially important if you’re entertaining anywhere near a pool.) Good thing Q Squared has everything you need! (And with a special discount for my readers at that, see below!)
2. Plan your menu around what’s in season in your area.
For me, outdoor entertaining is THE time to showcase the season’s best produce. We’re dining in nature, after all, so why not enjoy what nature has to offer?
3. Serve food that is okay being left out for a bit.
Outdoor cookouts are typically meant to be casual get-togethers, not multi-course plated dinners hot out of the oven. You’ll want dishes that can sit out for a bit for people to help themselves at their convenience.
Be sure to offer something that people of all dietary preferences can enjoy.
This is one of the reasons I love grain salads. Although it’s not vegan due to the cheese, this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad can easily be made so by just omitting that part. Be sure to offer something vegetarian, vegan and omnivore-friendly so no one leaves hungry.
Not too difficult, right? Like I mentioned, one of the greatest things about outdoor entertaining is that it’s meant to be CASUAL. Low-key, easy-going vibes are where it’s at. And with the right food and serving ware, can you really go wrong?
Now comes the best part. I’ve teamed up with Q Squared to offer you, my dear readers, a 20% discount on all of their products. So time to stock up! Just be sure to use the discount code CALIGIRL20 at checkout to get this sweet deal. Recipe is below and link to buy all the pretty things is here. What are you waiting for??
1green onion, diced (both the bulb and the green stems)
1/2cupwalnut pieces, toasted
1/3cupchiffonaded basil, plus more for garnish
1/4cupextra-virgin olive oil
2-3tablespoonsfresh lemon juice (to taste)
First, prepare the fava beans. You’ll need to pull the beans out of their shells, and then cook the beans in a small pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, transferring them to an ice bath afterwards to cool. At this point, you should be able to peel off the beans’ waxy coating.
In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shelled fava beans and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, fava beans, spring onion, walnuts and 1/3 cup basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. If not serving right away, refrigerate for the time being.
Right before serving, top with burrata. Cut into it (breaking it into smaller pieces) so each person gets a piece as you’re serving.
This Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans takes the protein-packed superfood – quinoa – and loads it up with peaches, bananas and cinnamon sugar pecans!
Summertime comfort food right here. THE best. I know it’s sometimes hard to think about turning on the stove in the heat of summer but, since this Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans is your first meal of the day, you can essentially get all of the cooking out of the way before the high temperatures set in. Plus, you’ll have a happy belly to boot!
That’s right. I’m calling this summertime comfort food for a reason. This breakfast quinoa is comfort food in the best way possible: It’s incredibly filling and is a healthy, complete breakfast that will get you geared up and ready to conquer anything that will be thrown your way that day.
Case in point: I have been busting my booty the past few days getting all of the finishing touches done for our wedding (two days away now!!!!!) Once I get started in the morning, I’ve hardly been having time to think about eating until the sun starts to set and I realize I should probably eat something to avoid waking up as the hangriest person ever the next day. This Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa has been giving me the energy I need to get through the day, even if I forget to stop for lunch. (And, if I happen to wake up as the hangriest person ever, my mood is quickly remedied by a big bowl of this deliciousness.)
So, back to this hangry remedy. We all know that quinoa is a complete protein (that also happens to be gluten-free), and we amp the protein factor up in this dish even more by cooking the healthy grain in vanilla-scented coconut beverage. Stirring in just a touch of real maple syrup finishes off the base of our Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans, giving us a hearty, tropical, and perfectly sweetened flavor to add even more deliciousness to.
This additional deliciousness comes in the form of fresh bananas and peaches, because I don’t know about you but right now the peaches here in Santa Barbara are on point and I want to add them to everything. The icing on the cake (or topping on the quinoa?): cinnamon-sugar pecans. You guys, why haven’t I thought of this earlier? Seriously, so good, and the perfect addition to any and all breakfasts, lunches and dinners (I’m most specifically thinking these would be a fantastic addition to any salad. Yum!) Plus, they add even MORE protein to this already protein-rich dish and some delicious crunch to balance out the creaminess of the quinoa.
Here’s the long and short of it (it’s so easy!)
Toss some pecans in coconut oil and cinnamon-sugar and roast ‘em up.
Cook up the quinoa in our delicious maple-vanilla coconut beverage blend.
Stir in some fresh bananas and peaches.
Top with even more fresh bananas, peaches and, of course, cinnamon sugar pecans.
Easy as that and sooooo delicious. Seriously, I’d only explored the “breakfast quinoa” route once before, and that was years ago. Why had I forgotten about it? I can’t wait to come up with even more variations to share with you in the future.
But, for now, how about I go get married? That’s right, we leave today for Sonoma and tie the knot on Friday! We’ll stay in Sonoma for a couple of days of “unwinding” with family after the wedding (is there such a thing?) and then we fly out for our honeymoon in Belize! But don’t worry, I’ve got lots of great content scheduled to share with you while I’m away. And be sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (user name: @caligirlcooking) to see all of our fun wedding and honeymoon adventures! XO
2cupsvanilla coconut beverage (I used the Trader Joe's brand)
2peaches, one diced (to mix into the quinoa) and one sliced (to top the quinoa)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, coconut oil and cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toss until pecans are evenly coated in cinnamon-sugar.
Place coated pecans on a small jelly roll pan and roast in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add a small sprinkle of salt. Set aside.
Add quinoa, coconut beverage and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low and cover saucepan with a lid. Let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in maple syrup.
Turn off heat and stir in diced peach and half of sliced bananas. Spoon into individual bowls and top with sliced peaches, the rest of the banana and cinnamon sugar pecans.
Save any extra cinnamon sugar pecans in an airtight container to use on salads and other delicious dishes!