So that little newborn of yours is now a toddler and ready to start eating solid foods. Can you believe it? Time flies, especially when you’ve got a tiny human running around your house. And many new parents (especially vegan ones) wonder what to feed them. It might feel a little scary, as there can be added pressure being vegan, right? Your child catches the same cold as their little friends, and someone says “Oh, maybe they’re not getting enough nutrients.”
Truth is, it’s usually easier to ensure your child is getting enough essential nutrients (and fiber) when they’re on a healthy vegan diet—the main thing is making sure they’re eating a variety of foods and getting enough (and the right kind of) fats and calories. So here are twenty ideas for what to feed that bundle of energy that’s now ready for more than mama’s milk.
For the love of potatoes: French fries and tater tots may sound like junk food, but they don’t have to be! Most toddlers love potato snacks, and they’re full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Try making your own French fries in the oven or air fryer, or purchase an organic variety of fries or tater tots from the frozen section of the supermarket. Yum! Oh, and keep in mind—you can use regular potatoes, purple potatoes, or sweet potatoes if you’re making you’re making your own.
Nori snacks: These aren’t going to supply much in the way of calories, but oh how toddlers love these! Plus, they’re full of minerals, as are all sea vegetables. Simply purchase pre-packaged nori strips (often called “seaweed snacks”) from your local health food store. Or, cut sheets of nori into strips that are about 1” x 4” in size. (Fun-ish note: My daughter was fine with me cutting regular nori sheets into strips until she turned ten—then she became a seaweed snob and only liked the pre-packaged kind with seasoning on it.)
Fresh fruits: The ultimate fast food. What better thing to give toddlers for snack time, especially when they’re new to solid food? Try a variety of fresh (or frozen) fruits, and see what your little one likes. My daughter’s first food ever was mango, actually. I can still remember the look on her face when she tried it. Sort of like “What new amazing world has just been opened up to me?” To this day, she could eat mango til the rescue cows come home.
Vegan yogurt: Another all-time favorite of my daughter’s, ever since her toddler days when soy yogurt was the only option. Now, there are all kinds of yogurts available—from soy to coconut to almond to flax to cashew! Try to find one that’s not overloaded with sugar, and experiment with different flavors to find a favorite. You can also top with a little granola or cereal for added calories and crunch.
Avocado anything: Avocado is an ideal food for toddlers, because it’s chock-full of potassium, good fats, fiber, and needed calories. Try different forms of avocado—plain, as guacamole, as a pudding base, or mashed on toast. And remember, if your little one doesn’t like one form, try another! Some children will only eat avocado as guacamole or pudding, for example. Experiment to find what your toddler will happily eat.
Chia pudding: You can purchase this at the health food store, or easily make your own. Chia seeds are a wonderful source of good fats, antioxidants, and necessary calories, and the pudding is very easy to eat, even for the tiniest toddler! For a very quick, easy chia pudding to make at home, try this Easy Peasy Vanilla Chia Pudding.
Kale chips: What a great way to introduce little ones to kale, one of earth’s best superfoods! Almost every toddler likes kale chips, and they can be purchased or made at home.
Energy cookies: These are a wonderful source of essential fats, nutrients, and calories—while being nutrient-dense and tasty at the same time. What exactly is an energy cookie, you ask? They’re a “cookie” that’s all raw, made by blending up nuts, dried fruits, and spices in your food processor and forming into balls. You can purchase them at health food stores, or make your own at home. They’re also the perfect portable snack! Here’s a recipe for Apple Pie Energy Cookies to get you started.
Tofu: Good ol’ tofu—old school and new school all at the same time. Try feeding your toddler a tofu scramble, some baked tofu, or a tofu (eggless) salad.
Whole grain pasta: You can use a whole wheat pasta, or any of the gluten-free varieties. Just look for whole grain ingredients, so that your toddler is getting lots of nutrients and fiber. Once you’ve cooked your pasta, try topping with a little vegan butter—or for more adventurous eaters, a tomato, cashew alfredo, or vegan pesto sauce.
Hummus: (and other bean dips) Hummus is pretty much a food group, right? Who doesn’t love this creamy, dreamy, protein-packed dip? Serve hummus (or any other bean dip) with pita chips, cut vegetables, or whole grain crackers. Perfect for little fingers!
Whole grain tortilla wedges with nut (or seed) butter: Cut a whole grain (or sprouted) tortilla into wedges. Top as is with some nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc.) or seed butter (such as sunflower butter). Or, for children who prefer a crispy tortilla, spray the tortilla wedges with coconut oil first, then bake at 400 F until lightly browned and crisp. Top with the nut or seed butter of your choice.
Toddler tacos: Basically, these are just super-simple “tacos,” made smaller for tiny hands. To make, cut corn tortillas in half. Then, fill with vegetarian refried beans (and a little vegan cheese if desired) and fold in half. To cook them, spray with a little oil and air-fry, bake, or pan-fry until browned on both sides. Serve plain or with guacamole.
Sushi (or sushi bowls): This is a great way to get mineral-rich seaweed into little bodies. You can make sushi by wrapping short grain brown rice (and fillings like avocado) in nori sheets, and cutting into pieces. Or, simply serve the rice in a bowl, with strips of nori on hand to scoop the rice up with.
Stuffed dates: Such a simple, tasty treat! Fill pitted date halves with a little nut or seed butter (such as peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, or sunflower butter) and serve. Don’t forget to make yourself one too!
Strawberry milk: Kids go crazy for this stuff! Simply blend cashews (or cashew butter), water, strawberries, vanilla, and a little maple syrup until silky smooth. Serve cold.
Healthy popsicles: You can turn any smoothie (regular or green) into an icy treat. Be sure to get the variety of popsicle maker that “grips” the filling by having holes in the stick (ones with a solid stick in the middle usually don’t work very well).
Vegan cheese: Many vegan cheeses on the market today are not only delicious, they’re full of nutrients too! You can give your toddler a slice of plain cheese, or a vegan cheese dip with some crackers (or veggie sticks). Again, experiment to find their favorites.
We hope you find this list super-duper helpful for you and your little one. Which ideas will you try first?, comment below and let us know!