Kid-friendly vegetarian recipes

It’s not easy being green in any household. So, if you’re struggling to instill a love of vegetables in your kids, don’t feel discouraged. Little ones have more taste buds than adults and tend to like sweeter flavours over bitter foods.[1] This fact means that helping your kids acquire a taste for vegetarian recipes may take some strategic thinking, persistence and patience.

First off, keep serving the greens! The secret to loving new foods is exposure on repeat.[2] Don’t let up and offer a variety of fresh, colourful vegetables. You can start by serving raw veggies with creamy yogurt-based dip or store-bought hummus.

Getting kids involved is also key. Want them to love vegetarian food? Let them have a say in grocery shopping and help with meal prep and cooking. These eight healthy and vibrant vegetarian recipes for kids are full of tips for how your wee ones can participate, learn and have fun along the way.

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Roasted vegetable béchamel pizza.

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: Pizza is the great equalizer—a fan favourite for kids and parents alike. And this classic Italian trio of zucchini, red onion and red bell pepper really shines when roasted to bring out the natural sweetness. The béchamel (a.k.a. white sauce) is also the perfect alternative to tomato-based pies for tomato-phobes and allergy sufferers.

How kids can help: Dough mastery is fun! Let kids dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough (let them have a go, then mom or dad can finish) and brush it with olive oil. You can then demonstrate how to spread the béchamel sauce evenly with a spoon and let the little ones take a turn, leaving a border. It’s a good lesson in spatial awareness, artistry and dexterity.

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Store-bought pizza dough offers the relief all parents need. It cuts down on prep time because your only task is to rest it at room temperature—covered with a kitchen towel—while prepping and roasting your veggies. This step will relax the gluten, making it easier to stretch onto the baking sheet.

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mushroom calzones

Ready in: 52 minutes

Why we love it: Gooey cheese and garlicky mushrooms in a fresh pizza dough crust? This is family-friendly finger food at its finest!

How kids can help: Little hands love to work with dough, which makes rolling out the pizza crust a fitting job. As a quick math exercise, let kids divide the dough into eight equal portions. (Just make sure they wash their hands before!)

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Chilled tofu with ginger sesame sauce

Ready in: 20 minutes

Why we love it: There’s no cooking required! Imagine punchy flavours with little effort and you’ve got this refreshing salad pegged. It’s an effective way to introduce soft tofu to kids as you’re exploring the small-yet-mighty soybean in all its iterations—from soy milk to edamame. Plus, the tangy vinaigrette is pretty much all you need to season the spinach and convince the family.

How kids can help: Tofu is easy to handle, so let kids cut the block into manageable slices. (They can even use a butter knife.) Afterward, let them design their plate, adding more green onions, bonito and sesame seeds if you have them on hand.

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Drizzle the dressing over top and refrigerate until chilled for those balmy, hot days. You can also double the dressing and have it on hand for salads, grain bowls or slurpy cold-noodle recipes.

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Bean burritos with Spanish rice

Ready in: 35 minutes

Why we love it: This vegetarian recipe is ready in just over 30 minutes and filling on its own or with all the fixings like sour cream (or Greek yogurt), salsa, guacamole and fresh herbs.

How kids can help: Kids can measure out and rinse the rice and beans and shred the cheese. They can also fill each tortilla and learn how to fold the perfect burrito.

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Grilled potato salad with green onion dressing.

Ready in: 20 minutes

Why we love it: Whether you’re on team oil or mayo when it comes to potato salads, this vegetarian recipe doesn’t take sides. It has a bit of both for the best combo! Choose small potatoes for easy prep and to make it easy for little ones to navigate the pieces onto their forks.

How kids can help: With your supervision, let kids use a small paring knife to halve potatoes and chop roasted peppers. You can also let them use kitchen shears to safely cut the green onions into small pieces. Don’t forget to get their help measuring the yogurt and mayo! Plus, stirring is a fun treat for anyone.

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BUDGET WATCH
You’ll need a small grocery shop to nab roasted red peppers and green onions, but the remaining ingredients are pantry staples you’ll likely have on hand!

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Two bean vegetarian chili

Ready in: 50 minutes

Why we love it: This comforting chili is packed with kid-approved veggies and plant-based protein.

How kids can help: Bigger kids can help chop the carrots, peppers and mushrooms while little ones can stir in the other ingredients such as beans, broth, tomatoes and spices.

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Baked Broccoli Cheddar Tots

Ready in: 55 minutes

Why we love it: The traditional tater tot gets a healthier makeover with the addition of broccoli and cheddar—a genuinely classic duo. This vegetarian recipe for kids is baked, not fried, and loaded with all the tasty qualities of a beloved broccoli-cheddar soup. And did we mention the pieces are pocket-sized for dipping?

How kids can help: Let kids cut the broccoli florets with a small paring knife and pulse the food processor. They’ll love to watch the magical whirling! Next, demonstrate how to scoop the mixture and form the shape—then let kids try. Their little hands are kinda perfect for this job. So cute!

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A head of fibre-rich broccoli will cost you just a few dollars and you can keep the stem (the sweetest, crunchiest bit) for stir-fries, salads and snacks.

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Cauliflower rice tofu stir fry

Ready in: 45 minutes

Why we love it: A fresh twist on a popular Asian take-out dish, this stirfry is also a great team-building recipe where every family member can be in charge of a vegetable. Ready, set, go!

How kids can help: Have kids measure out the sauce ingredients. Then let the bigger kids slice the bell peppers and red onion (try it with goggles on!), while little ones can be on stirring duty—under supervision, of course.

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Plan ahead! Measure and chop the ingredients and organize them on a baking sheet until your wok or skillet is ready to go. (A hot wok is the secret to tender-crisp vegetables!) The cooking itself will only take a few minutes.

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