My eight year old son’s declaration of vegetarianism didn’t come as a surprise. He has periodically asked us to stop buying animals to eat, since making the connection between ‘chicken’ and our own backyard chickens when he was four.

chickens
Sunday Telegraph 2012

So, with a Dymocks gift voucher burning a hole in my pocket and in the midst of our annual ‘let’s eat more vegetables’ resolution in my mind, we went trawling for a good kid focused vegetarian cook book for inspiration.

I don’t have any statistics to back this up but from the shelves of the discount department stores (Kmart and Big W), I’m guessing cooking is one genre that’s definitely doing well at the moment.

Fair enough too. I’m a sucker for a good-looking, hard cover cook book that promises delicious meals that I’m not likely ever to reproduce in my kitchen. It’s a bit like my gym membership – I feel so good just signing up, why ruin it with actual exercise?

On this occasion though, I needed more than just pretty pictures. I found Vegetarian Food for Healthy Kids by Nicola Graimes hiding in the vegan, organ cleansing, no sugar, paleolithic eating, clean living bizarre section.

As you may have guessed, I’m a little skeptical of some of the titles in the healthy living arena.

If you’re looking for some evidence based dietary guidance that won’t cost you a penny, visit the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council site www.eatforhealth.gov.au. They’ll send you printed resources for free too. I recommend the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating fridge magnet – it’s about A5 size and has a great diagram of the five food groups, which I point at when the kids demand sweets.

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Now back to Vegetarian Food for Healthy Kids. I’m not great chef, so I was as shocked as my kids when the Aubergine Noodles and the Chocolate Bean Brownies actually turned out like the pictures. Judging by how fast they disappeared, I’m calling it a success.

healthy-eating1

The earlier chapters on nutrition for vegetarian kids served as a good reminder for me and frankly, we could all use more vegetables in our diet, so I’m considering it money well spent.

If you’d like more information regarding the nutritional needs for vegetarian kids, below are some pages I found useful. These (or any online resource for that matter) do not take the place of the advice from your trusted GP or pediatrician.

Happy reading and cooking!