Am I starving my child? Raising a vegetarian toddler

Welcome to this week’s One Meal for All- my weekly feature for vegetarian, low FODMAP, BLW recipes! I’m going to talk about how not to starve a vegetarian toddler, and give you a recipe for chachouka, a gorgeous north African stew.

One Meal for All Vegetarian, Low FODMAP, BLW-friendly recipes

Raising a Vegetarian Toddler

T has very little meat in his diet. Although I would not say he is a vegetarian, I personally choose to feed him very little meat as I want him to make the decision himself when he’s old enough to understand. I have had to adapt my thinking about food slightly to make sure he’s getting enough fat, protein and iron.

Fat

A vegetarian diet is that it is naturally lower in fat and healthier than a diet containing meat. This is great for adults, but toddlers need to eat concentrated sources of energy because they only have little stomachs but have high energy needs. Here are a few foods that can help your toddler to have enough fat:

  • Full fat milk, cheese, yoghurt.
  • Adding cream and/or cheese to sauces, mashed potato, soup.
  • Avocado
  • Hummus
  • Smooth nut butter

Protein

Toddlers need protein in order to grow. I include some protein in each of T’s meals. Good sources of protein are:

  • tofu
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • beans
  • dairy products
  • bread
  • pasta
  • cereal
  • eggs
  • nuts (not whole/chopped for under 5’s as they might choke)
  • Quorn*

*Avoid giving babies and toddlers too much Quorn. It is too low in fat and high in fibre, so it fills them up without giving them the energy that they need so should only be given occasionally after 9 months of age. I only give T Quorn once or twice a week.

Iron

Some high protein foods also contain iron:

  • lentils
  • cereals
  • beans

Other good sources of iron are:

  • dried apricots
  • green vegetables

The Vegetarian Society have produced a brilliant fact sheet on vegetarian diets for babies and during pregnancy.

Chachouka

This week’s One Meal for All recipe is a yummy north African stew that I’ve adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day‘ (affiliate link) to make it low-FODMAP and BLW-friendly. I tend to serve it with some bread and a few salad leaves. T doesn’t like eggs so sometimes I add tinned beans at the same time as the tomatoes (pinto/cannellini/butter- or whatever you happen to have) if I feel he’s not had enough protein that day (it will no longer be low-FODMAP though).

✓ Vegetarian
✓ BLW-friendly
✓ Low-FODMAP

Serves: 2 adults + 1 toddler
Prep + Cooking time: 1 hour

Chachouka Vegetarian, gluten-free, low FODMAP spicy north African stew

 

Ingredients

2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 each red, yellow and green peppers, finely sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch saffron
400g tin chopped tomatoes
black pepper
4 eggs

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, preferably oven proof, frying pan. Gently fry the garlic clove until lightly brown to infuse the oil with garlic. Remove the garlic clove.
  2. Fry the cumin seeds until they start to brown then add the asafoetida and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the peppers and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes until the peppers are soft and wilted.
  4. Add the paprika, crumble over the saffron, then stir in the tomatoes. Season with black pepper. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4
  5. If your pan isn’t oven proof, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows on the surface and gently break an egg into each one.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until the eggs are set.

Chachouka, spicy north African stew- vegetarian, low FODMAP, BLW friendly

 

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