This week Cara Wright, nutritionist, vegetarian, and mom, talks about raising her daughter, Evelyn as a vegetarian and how she uses yogurt as a dietary staple.

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When I originally sat down to write about raising a vegetarian child, I was going to start by listing all of the misconceptions of a vegetarian diet. Instead of harping on old, pre-conceived notions about “not getting enough protein” and “what about iron?”, I want to show you how I live a vegetarian lifestyle and how I share that lifestyle with my daughter. I promise, it’s not hard, and there are plenty of great vegetarian dishes out there! If you don’t believe me, the American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that a vegetarian diet is a healthy option for children and adults.

(Find more info here: www.eatright.org/kids, and  http://www.healthychildren.org. I have chosen to include eggs and dairy in our everyday diet which ensures that all the necessary nutritional requirements, like vitamin B12, calcium, and iron are met. In our family, we choose organic eggs and dairy to avoid hormones and antibiotics.

Speaking of dairy…. Yogurt is one of my favorite foods to serve Evelyn. My dietetics training has made me a stickler for reading nutrition labels and I have found baby yogurt to be one of the most disappointing products on the market. Every yogurt product marketed to babies and children has sugar or high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient. “Adult” yogurt has less sugar! We need to start children off with good habits right from the beginning. Giving children foods loaded with sugar and salt will only lead them to believe that is the norm.

Here are two yogurt recipes- one for babies and one for bigger kids!

Curry Pea Baby Food

Ingredients
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, cooked and drained
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Directions
Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Confetti Yogurt Pops

Ingredients
2 cups  low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 cup  assorted berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chopped strawberries)

5 pretzel rods, halved, or 10 baked snack stick crackers

Directions
1. In a large bowl gently stir together the yogurt and fruit. Spoon into 4-ounce ice-pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups. Cover molds or cups with foil; use a sharp knife to cut a small hole in the foil and insert cut side of pretzel rod or snack stick. Freeze until firm. Remove foil and mold or cup before serving.

2. Store for up to a month. Makes 6 pops.

Nutritional Facts

Amount Per Serving

Calories 67
Total Fat (g) 1
Cholesterol (mg) 2
Sodium (mg) 94
Carbohydrate (g) 12
Total Sugar (g) 8
Fiber (g) 1
Protein (g) 3
Vitamin C (DV%) 7
Calcium (DV%) 9
Iron (DV%) 1

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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