When I was a teenager not many people knew about vegetarian or vegan diets. These days with kids being more aware, there are more vegetarian kids. While I decided to give up meat and chicken in my early 20’s my daughter decided at 10. Why? Was it my influence? Was it her friends? Was it something she learned in school? Who knows, she simply told me one day meat grossed her out. She is now 13 and has a handful of friends, mostly girls, who have also become vegetarian.
Vegetarian kids and protein
By eliminating meat these girls are giving up protein and iron sources that must be replaced with good quality substitutes. A vegetarian diet full of fruits, vegetables, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds can provide most of the nutrients a growing girl needs. There are a few nutrients that are more difficult for vegetarians and those are B12 and Vitamin D. With vegetarian kids, you’ll want to make sure they take a vitamin that contains these nutrients or ensure they are eating foods fortified with them like soy milk.
I advise parents it is important to respect our children’s choices but now how do you plan meals to accommodate the meat eaters and the vegetarians? Do you have to make 2 meals every night? Though it is probably not a bad idea for the whole family to eat a few vegetarian meals per week it is important to find a few options that can accommodate everyone.
Here is a recipe for Moo Shu which is easily adaptable for both meat eaters and vegetarians. You can make it with pork, chicken or tofu. The egg is also optional. If you are preparing this dish with meat, be sure to thinly slice and pre-cook in sesame oil before adding it to the cabbage mixture.
Moo Shu Wraps
3-4 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced ginger
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 block organic tofu sliced in strips
2 green onions, chopped
4 cups shredded cabbage (mix of green and purple)
1 grated carrot
2 tbsp low sodium tamari soy sauce, preferably organic
Rice paper soaked as per package instructions
Hoisin sauce – recipe below
Optional: 1 egg
- Cut tofu into strips and marinate in tamari and sesame oil while you prepare the other ingredients.
- If adding the egg, scramble it in sesame oil and then remove from pan.
- Pour 2-3 tsp of sesame oil into a large frying pan and cook garlic and ginger until soft.
- Add shiitake mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes, until soft.
- Add cabbage and cook until it wilts. If mixture gets dry add more sesame oil.
- Add tofu and continue cooking.
- Stir in green onions.
- Add egg or meat, if using.
- Add soy sauce and cook until warmed through.
4 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
Mix ingredients until smooth.
To serve the Moo Shu, spoon the cabbage mixture onto prepared rice paper. Drizzle with hoisin sauce, roll like a burrito and enjoy.