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Challenge 3 - Fun Vegetarian Kids Meals
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 21620 times

Hi Lori! 
I would love to have a set of great vegetarian recipes that would appeal to kids!


Jessica Mackley 
Joyce, WA  

Fun Vegetarian Meals For Kids!


I love this challenge because I have always loved cooking for my nieces and nephews and, now, their children.  It constantly surprises me what broad palates kids have…and how they like food that surprises them too!  I wanted to avoid the foods that we already know most kids like – mac and cheese, spaghetti, ramen, grilled cheese, pizza, peanut butter sandwiches and tomato soup – and offer some of the dishes I’ve made that, while different, kids really enjoyed! Each recipe serves 6 kids. 


Have fun!





They are:


Pumpkin Soup

Moroccan 7-Vegetable Couscous

Vegetable Taco Salad 

Veggie Egg and Cheese Puff 


Thai Vegetable Lettuce Wraps




Pumpkin Soup

Pretty, sweet, delicious, smooth and easy to make with canned pumpkin available year round.  Serve with grilled Panini (cheese, tomato, peanut butter and banana) or cheese and crackers and veggies and dip. 

4 cups canned pumpkin or winter squash
2 tspn butter
2 tspn brown sugar
4 cups vegetable, chicken or beef stock or water
¾ tspn fresh grated ginger or ¼ teaspoon dry ginger
½ tspn each of white pepper and salt
1/2 tspn tumeric (to make more golde
1/4 cup cream


Mix squash with all ingredients except cream.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  If you wish, you may put mixture through food processor or blender until very smooth.  If it is too thick, thin with water or cream.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, crème fraiche, sour cream or chopped chives.  Serve hot or cold.


Variation: Use 4 cups of canned cooked carrots instead of pumpkin or squash for carrot soup.  Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts if the kids like them. If you wish, replace dry ginger with cinnamon.


Moroccan 7-Vegetable Couscous


This dish is quick, easy and tastes sweet and savory at the same time due to the inclusion of raisins and ginger and accommodates any vegetables your children like.  If you don't like couscous, use cooked rice or orzo.  Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, mushroom, spinach, cabbage, peas and corn are also delicious in this couscous in place of the veggies suggested.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 chopped carrots
1 tbspn sun-dried tomato chopped
 ½ sweet green, red or yellow peppers chopped
½ cup raisins
1/2 tspn ground ginger
1 cup canned chickpeas
½ cup black olives
1 cup dry couscous
1 ½ cups water
1 cup almonds or pistachios or peanuts (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)


Boil 1 ½ cups water with pinch of salt.  In another pot, heat oil and add onions, celery, garlic, carrots and sweet peppers and cook on medium until softened  (4-5 minutes).  Add ginger and, raisins and cook for 1 minute more.  Add couscous and stir in boiling water. Season with salt and pepper and add chickpeas and olives.  Cover the pot, remove from heat and let it stand 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork. Transfer to large platter. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve, passing salt and pepper, hot sauce and nuts (almonds or pistachios) separately.

Vegetable Taco Salad   



Everyone likes Mexican food and taco salads are lots of fun for kids when they can pick what they want to go on their salads.  Lay out each ingredient in a bowl on a big platter and give kids a bowl of lettuce, then let kids pick out what they want in their salad. 


16 ounces canned beans (black, white, kidney, lentils, chickpeas...whatever beans your children like) or use vegetarian meat crumbles (see below) if you want the texture of ground meat.


1 package taco seasoning mix (Taco Bell, McCormick, Chi-Chi’s)


1/2 cup water


2 cups cooked white or brown rice mixed with ½ cup tomato sauce


1 medium head lettuce, shredded, about 4 cups


1 cup shredded sharp Jack or Cheddar cheese


1/2 cup sliced black olives


1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper


½ cup cooked corn

 1 cup chopped scallions


1 cup chopped cucumbers


½ cup chopped cilantro


1 cup sour cream


1 cup salsa


2 cups taco chips


1 cup sliced avocado (optional)


Pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)


Hot pepper sauce (optional)


Mix beans with taco seasoning and heat gently for 1-2 minutes in a microwave to infuse beans with taco flavoring. On a large platter, place separate bowls of shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced olives, chopped green bell pepper corn, scallions, cucumbers, cilantro, sour cream salsa, taco chips and avocado and. jalapenos if using.For each serving, place lettuce mixture bowl, top with some of the beans, rice and then let children add the vegetables, cheese, sour cream, salsa and corn chips as they wish. 



Variations: If you want the texture of meat, consider using one of the many vegetarian ground meat replacements (e.g. crumbles, patties broken up into meat or meatless meatballs by Morningstar, Trader Joe’s, Gimme Lean, Boca Burger are terrific!)  instead of beans.  If your children prefer vegetables other than those traditionally used for taco salads, feel free to experiment.



Veggie Egg and Cheese Puff


Cheesy, eggy and tasty, this dish can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave.  Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


1 ½ cups cooked vegetables, chopped (may be a mixture or just one type - e.g. broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, onion, corn, artichokes)


5 eggs


2 tbsp flour


¼ tspn salt


Fresh cracked pepper to taste


8 ounces grated Swiss or cheddar cheese


Set oven to 350 degrees. Place eggs, salt, pepper and flour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Spread vegetables in a greased   9” square or round baking pan.  Pour egg mixture over vegetables and sprinkle with cheese. Cook in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes until it is golden and bubbling and set. Cut into wedges or squares and serve.


Variations:  Cooked apples and pears make a slightly sweeter version of this dish.  Just replace veggies with cooked apples and pears and proceed with recipe.   


Thai Vegetable Lettuce Wraps


Lettuce wraps are a staple of Pacific Rim and California-style Asian restaurants. In Thailand, cool lettuces and greens are used as wraps to create a contrast in flavors, such as in lettuce wraps where warm cooked warm noodles, meats or seafood are mixed with raw crispy vegetables and crunchy nuts or fried shallots then rolled and dipped in a sweet bright sauce.



While the ingredients list is daunting, the dish is very flexible and you can make use of whatever you have. 



The work is mostly chopping and plating with a small amount of cooking to make the warm veggie mixture that will go into the lettuce wraps.  Every child I know loves these lettuces wraps because they can choose what they like and the can make and eat lettuce wraps with their hands!



Cooked vegetables for lettuce wraps


1 tspn vegetable oil


2 cup mixed diced vegetables (for example, celery, onion, red sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, edamame, baby corn)


1/4 cup lime juice


2 tspn fish sauce or soy sauce


2 tspn brown sugar


1 tspn ginger, finely grated


4 scallions (green onions), chopped


1/3 cup cilantro leaves


1/4 cup basil leaves


1 chopped jalapeno or red Chile (optional)




Marinade for vegetables


1-1/2 tspn cornstarch


2 tspn water


1/4 tspn salt


1 large egg white, beaten lightly




Garnishes for lettuce wraps


18 iceberg lettuce leaves (3 per person)


2 cups cooked noodles (rice noodles, soba or angel hair pasta


2 cup bean sprouts


2 tspn nuts, toasted (pine nuts, peanuts, cashews)


1/2 cup of each of parsley, chives, cilantro, mint


1 whole cucumber, seeded and chopped


1/2 cup hoisin sauce, duck sauce or plum sauce


Marinate veggies:  In a small cup, stir together cornstarch and water. In a bowl, stir together veggies, cornstarch mixture, salt, and egg white. Marinate mixture 5 minutes.


Cook veggies: Heat a frying pan over high heat and add oil. Remove veggie mixture from marinade and drain; add to pan and stirfry for 5 minutes or until just golden brown.   Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar and add to pan along with ginger, and half the green onions. Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid is evaporated then add cilantro, basil and chili if using.


Place veggie mixture on a large platter surrounded by noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, nuts, cucumbers, herbs and lettuce leaves in little piles.  Add bowls of dipping sauces and hoisin, duck  (don’t worry, no ducks involved) or plum sauce.


Children place a small amount of hoisin, plum or duck sauce in lettuce leaf; then, add a teaspoon or so of warm veggie mixture, followed by noodles, cucumber, their choice of herbs (mint, cilantro, parsley), and top it all with nuts. Roll loosely and dip in one of the dipping sauces below.


Dipping Sauces


Peanut Dipping Sauce


3 tspn minced onion


1 garlic clove, minced


1 tspn oil


3 tspn water


1 tspn peanut butter


1 tspn hoisin sauce


1 tspn tomato paste


3/4 tspn sugar


3/4 tspn crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Microwave onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in oil for 2 minutes on high. Whisk in remaining sauce ingredients. Heat for 1 minute, stir, and then cool.



Ginger Dipping Sauce


1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), peeled and chopped


2 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoon garlic paste


Juice and pulp of 1 lime, finely chopped


2 tspn sugar


2 tspn fish sauce or soy sauce


Chile pepper, minced, or hot sauce to taste (optional)


Combine all ingredients. Let stand to blend the flavors. 


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