Are Your Vegan Kids Getting Enough Calories?
If you are reading this right now, you are a super parent. In fact, one of my readers, Cathy, shot me a DM on Instagram and asked me a question that started this entire blog post. She has a WFPB (whole food plant based) family at home with four kids. Right on Cathy.
When she started down this plant based journey she had zero concerns on if her kids were eating enough, but as they have gotten older, they seem to be skinnier than other kids and she is worried they aren’t getting enough calories.
The one she was most concerned about was her eleven-year-old son, who is running around like crazy every single day from soccer to baseball to a football game with friends, etc. She described him as “thin and hungry all the time,” so even though I am not a doctor or a registered dietitian, I am more than happy to provide a few examples using my experience with my teenager (currently 13 years old and dances competitively seven days a week).
Three High Calorie Foods That Your Plant Based Teens Will Love
Now it’s time to get down to it. When it comes to having food at our house, we have to have a lot of it. Personally, my family of five eats a lot. Our pantry has some things in it that are for treat night (some Sour Patch kids for movie night, etc), but other than that, we like to keep our pantry pretty clean. That would be my first tip. Keep it clean in appearance, but also clean with the foods that are in it. If you have a WFPB family like Cathy, chances are there are very minimal processed foods help in your pantry.
So let’s talk about meals to help keep your kids full in the belly and on the caloric intake side of things. For my mornings, I like to start out with a bowl of oatmeal. I am talking a half cup or so of rolled oats. You can boil the water and put it on top, but for me, I like to make it in the microwave by putting the water just above the oats and microwaving it for one minute and forty-five seconds. After that, I load on whatever fruit I happen to have close by. After the fruit, I put some nuts on top with my fancy cashew nut crusher (that is an Amazon affiliate link BTW that will throw some loose change my way for suggesting it to you). Nuts are high in calories and will definitely help satiate that hunger to make it to lunch. The biggest topper for me though and one that packs a ton of calories, but won’t spike your blood sugar too much, would be maple syrup. At over 100 calories per serving, you can’t go wrong with packing a plant-based caloric punch.
Want some extra caloric credit? Dice up a few pitted dates to put on top. At 20 calories per date, you can add three of them and give yourself an extra 60 calories right there. Between the maple syrup and the dates alone, you’re looking at around 250 or so calories right there!
For lunch, to me, it’s all about a nice hot thermos full of good stuff. We use this thermos (again an Amazon affiliate link) to get our yummy, plant-based food into the container so it will stay hot for our kids. For us, we focus a lot on soups, like baked potato soup or chickUN noodle soup, or even rice and beans (more on those later). To me, though, getting a nice solid snack is where it’s at. We really love the bars from Pro Bar because they are really solid plant-based bars with whole food nutrition and they have a great calorie count to them. At close to 290 calories per bar, these peanut butter chocolate bars (amazon link) are our faves. They have a bunch of new flavors and they taste awesome. I know that if you are a WFPB family that bars might not fit into your plans, but they are great for on-the-go snacks.
Finally, for dinner, go big and batch often. There are several dinner meals that I am going to link to below. The first is lasagna. It is 100% plant-based. The second is rice and beans in the instant pot. Finally, we have a quesadilla recipe that is packed with nutrition. Here they are:
Plant-Based Lasagna With Tofu Ricotta
>>Just click on the name to get the recipe card. I haven’t had a chance to put it on the website just yet.<<
Easy Vegan Rice and Beans Instant Pot Recipe Hack!
The best vegan rice and beans instant pot recipe out there! Just add your favorite spices to an oven-safe bowl and place it on top of rice in your IP for 22 minutes on natural release. Easy rice and beans! Perfectly made.#riceandbeans
- 1 cup dry brown rice
- 1.5 cup water or veggie broth
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. onion powder
Place rice at the bottom of the IP and pour in your water or broth.
Place beans in an oven-safe bowl with spices of choice and place bowl and rack right on top of rice.
Cook on 22 minutes low-pressure natural release and boom! Best rice and beans ever.
Quesedillas With Refried Pintos
- 1 15 oz can vegan refried beans of your choice
- 4 flour or corn tortillas
- 1 fresh tomato diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1/2 cup Daiya cheddar vegan cheese shreds
Remove tortillas from wrapper and place to the side.
Open your refried beans and paint a generous portion onto the tortilla.
Cover the refried beans with a layer of the Daiya cheddar cheese.
Set your skillet to medium and place your tortilla on the skillet to warm.
Place your second tortilla on top of the existing tortilla on the skillet.
After 2 minutes, give it a flip.
Wait 3 more minutes and look inside to make sure the Daiya cheese has melted.
Remove from skillet, cut, and sprinkle on your diced red onion, avocado and diced tomato.
My final take on if your teen is getting enough calories is to monitor if he or she is at a deficit or a surplus every day. If you are truly concerned about it, work closely with your doctor or find a vegan or plant-based dietitian to help you. My favorite plant-based dietitian is Heather Borders over at Kailo Nutrition. Give her a call and tell her I sent you. She’s great. I hope this post helps you and most of all that it helps Cathy and her amazing plant-based family!