Looking for a protein alternative lunch

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by cori, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. cori

    cori

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    The daycare I work at has a couple children who don't eat meat for religious reasons. I'm looking for ideas on what to make them for lunch that contains protein. It would have to have simple (and inexpensive) ingredients.
     
  2. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    Hi Cori,

    There are various things, for example: cheese, lentils, legumes, mushrooms.  All have protein and , except for the cheese unless you can get it well within your budget, pretty inexpensive.  They can be made into soups, mixed with pasta and the like.  There is also Tofu but I'm not sure how that would go with the kids.  Egg is another you may consider.  Either boiled, halved and served as finger food, or mashed and served in a salad sandwich.  Even simply as sandwiches spread with a mix of butter and margarine, basically an egg spread Perhaps add some finely diced celery for some added crunch and interest. Easy peesey /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Baked beans with toast dippers.

    Lentil meatballs.

    Mushroom and cauliflower bake sprinkled with cheese.  Just chop the shrooms fine so they don't notice them /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

    Depends a bit on what age they are.  What age group/s do you have?

    Are they full  vegetarians or will they eat fish?

    I'm guessing this is the lunch meal you are trying to solve?

    Hope this helps and Welcome to the forum - you'll find all the info you need here from a broad range of people from home cooks, caterers, cooks, private chefs, retired chefs with a great width of knowledge.

    DC
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  3. iplaywithfire

    iplaywithfire

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    DC Sunshine touched on some good points with ingredients. 

    As for me, there's a lot of questions I would ask the kids and their parents if I had the opportunity.

    Are the kids used to a particular ethnic food culture?  Are they adventurous eaters?  Would they prefer to eat things closer to what "other kids" are eating?

    Part of the trick to eating healthy as a vegetarian is limiting your carb and fat intake while getting quality protein from various sources.  With all the vitamins and fiber that veggies provide, as well as the absorptive nature of the base nutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) found in veggies, it generally takes less of each respective base nutrient to fulfill a dietary need.  However, beware that those are generalizations, and necessary quantities can vary greatly depending on food quality and preparation/holding methods.  The main point I wanted to convey with all that is that cooking for herbies requires a bit of a different mindset from cooking for omnies.  Instead of the protein being the base of any dish, as it generally is for omnies, herbi dishes tend to be more appealing when the proteins are found in various elements. 

    Think of layering or spreading out protein sources in each dish.   If you make a pasta dish for an herbi, try finding a higher protein pasta, use some beans and broccoli in the dish, make a nut-rich pesto sauce, things of that sort.  Whole grains are a vegetarian's must-have.  If you use bread for sandwiches, get high-quality, whole-grain (maybe even oat bread) instead of 'wonder'style white bread.  Use brown rice instead of white.  Use fresh spinach leaves instead of iceberg lettuce in a veggie sandwich.  Look into some other possibilities like bulgar wheat side dishes, quinoa, or meat substitution products (like gluten satay, or making your own black bean patties for burgers), depending on the preferences of the children and their parents.  Since vegetable protein sources are generally cheaper than meat, spending more on items than you would in a typical omnivore dish that will increase protein quantities simply via quality is very feasible.  Supplements can be a nice touch too.  Tossing in a dash of B-12 solution as you would any other seasoning is a common practice for many vegetarians.  Keeping some old standbys on hand is always a good thing, too.  Most kids will happily eat peanut butter and cheesy stuff with some fruit.
     
  4. siduri

    siduri

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    It's important to remember that apart from non-flesh animal protein (milk, eggs, cheese and other milk products) no vegetable source of protein gives the body enough useable protein ON ITS OWN.  However, mix proteins, like lentils and bread, pasta and chickpeas, chickpeas and sesame seeds (hummus, a great sandwich ingredient for kids), pasta and cheese, rice and beans, rice and peas, etc etc, all will have more useable protein than its components if eaten separatelyand as much as or more than a serving of meat - the body puts the partial protein molecules together is what i read as the explanation. 

    Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc)

    grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc)

    legumes (including peas and peanuts)

    nuts (like walnuts, almonds, etc)

    mix any two together and you ahve a complete protein.

    Certain vegetables have decent protein too, like i believe broccoli, but i'd have to look it up, same for potato

    Also any of the above with a very small amount of milk product or egg, has way more protein than can be accounted for in either ingredient separately,. 

    For sandwiches, you can make them look the same as the other kids, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes.

    You can make a bean salad, with semi crushed chick peas or beans, and celery, carrot, tomato and mayonnaise, like a tuna salad sandwich. 

    If they eat cheese, there are plenty of things you can make. 

    And it wouldn't harm the meat eaters to have whole wheat bread too!

    Research some traditional foods from around the world - poor people rarely had meat, if ever, and they got their protein through traditional dishes - pasta and chickpeas, rice and peas, dahl (lentil stew) over rice, hummus, chick pea stews, lentil soup over toasted bread.  And on and on. 
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    no vegetable source of protein gives the body enough useable protein ON ITS OWN.

    Just to clarify this a bit, because it is the crux of vegetarian nutrition.

    Animal flesh (and associated products, such as eggs) contain what is called a complete protein. This means that the single product contains the range of amino acids necessary for human health and wel being.

    With one exception, vegetables have incomplete proteins. That is, they contain only some of the necessary amino acids.

    But here's the key: If you combine any grain with any legume, you create the same complete protein found in meat. Primative cultures intuited this, which is why there are some many global variations of things like rice & beans.

    So, it's not a question of whether vegies provide enough protein, but whether they provide the right kind. Mixing and matching grains and legumes assures that they do.

    The exception, btw, is soy. Soy is a complete protein, which is why it plays such a strong role in modern vegetarian diets. I mean, let's face it. Nobody actually likes tofu.

    Cori: I can't believe that the owners would have accepted children with special dietary needs and not had you consult with the parents. What sort of folk are you working for?
     
  6. buckeye_hunter

    buckeye_hunter

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    Informative and well written post.  Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  7. gypsy2727

    gypsy2727

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    Cori.....there are more kids these days growing up vegan then we would suspect.

    Some Chefs cannot wrap their brain around that fact. We have to conform to this reality.  Vegan lifestyle is becoming larger than we know. We are ever changing beings...and we have to accept all into our culinary expertise...as people look to us for answers....I have a few friends who are raising their children vegan and they have come to me for recipes. Mainly, they

    are well educated vegans themselves and are looking for kids fun kids recipes. They know the nutritional value of food so that is not an issue. As a mom myself , I would definatly want to meet with chef myself to make sure my kids were getting the proper amount of calcium , protein and B12 everyday...

    Orange Juice ...fortified with vitamin C ...( helps in absorption of Iron )

    Snacks

     Veggies and hummous dip ( kids love dipping) ...

    Trail Mix with dried fruit

    Honey Sesame snaps   ( rich in B12 ,,,use local honey)

    Muffins: Cranberry Orange, Carrot Raisin, Bluberry, Lemon Poppyseed, Banana Walnut. ( I like chocolate chips in my banana muffins...parents may not allow though )

    Lunch

    Tofu Hotdogs  or Hamburgers ( St. Iyves is the best) with Sweet Potato or Yukon Gold Fries

    Quinoa Pasta with Prima Vera Sauce and grated soy cheese

    B12 Fortified Macaroni with calcium fortified Soy Cheese

    Ground Tofu Shepherd's Pie

    Vegggie Casadia with melted Soy cheese 

    Soy Cheese & Veggie Pizza

    P,B & J on whole wheat

    Dessert

    Fruit Kabobs

    Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares....(.I like coconut in them too....... but that may be over the top)

    I am not vegan myself ....I am as carnivore as they come. I do although, understand this movement of change in the culinary world.

    Just some thoughts....

    Gypsy
     
  8. tallycast

    tallycast

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    I recommend crisp frying tofu cubes and then simmering in some sort of savory sauce.  Serve them as finger food or with more sauce over rice or noodles.  Prepared well, tofu is a dish that makes kids smile.
     
  9. siduri

    siduri

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    In Italian, there is the expression "fried air" which they use for bull, or what we often call "a lot of hot air", in other words, when people talk and it all sounds so good, but really there's nothing behind it, on the principle that if you fry ANYTHING it tastes good.  No doubt, breaded and fried, even tofu is palatable, and sort of tastes like... fried air.  (It;s not that tofu tastes bad, it's just that it's like biting into a hole in the flavor of your dish!
     
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Cori.....there are more kids these days growing up vegan then we would suspect.

    Gypsy, I don't think anyone questions that. But it isn't the issue. If your kids were vegan (or kosher, or diabetic, or gluten-intolerant, or had any other special dietary needs) would you just send them off to school without consulting with the cook or nutritionist or whoever was in charge of feeding the children?

    To me it is unconscionable that 1. the parents would do so, and 2. that Cori's bosses would allow it to happen.

    One thing we have to keep in mind is that these kids, like kids in any household, have certain distinct preferences; that there are things they eat joyously, and things they won't touch. And that most kids are suspicious of unfamiliar food.

    So, let's look at those fried tofu cubes (yeah, yeah, Siduri, I know. But they pretend that tofu is not only palatable but delicious). If we posit that, for some reason, the adults do not serve tofu at home, or that they do, but never fry it, I guarantee that if served it at daycare the kids will stick up their noses at it.

    I'm sorry, but, to me, this is not a nutritional issue. It's a parental responsibility issue.
     
  11. tallycast

    tallycast

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    I'm pretty much an omnivore but for a long time turned up my nose at tofu. I associated it with the granola crowd; a sort of bland bland jello with some supposed health benefits.  A trip to Japan and some interesting culinary adventures changed my perspective.  Prepared well, tofu can be amazing.
     
  12. frostheim

    frostheim

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  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Somebody else who's convinced themselves that tofu is edible. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif

    Be that as it may, welcome to ChefTalk, Frostheim.
     
  14. gypsy2727

    gypsy2727

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    The original post by Cori never implied a question of any problem with her employers or the parents of the vegan children.

    I do understand from your posts that you do. I did state in my post I would as a parent want to meet with the chef to discuss my childrens nutritional needs. Maybe Cori has met with the parents and  is just here at Chef Talk to get some creative vegan kids recipes......I am pretty sure that was the intent of the original post.

    peace

    Gypsy
     
  15. tallycast

    tallycast

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    I have to disagree with the "stay away from firm" tofu advice. I use a lot of extra firm. The secret is to freeze the tofu solid, thaw and press out as much liquid as possible without breaking the block.

    Cut into small cubes and fry in a mix of pommace oil and toasted sesame oil until it's crisp on the outside. Getting the right level of crisp is the trick.

    The fried cubes can be served salted or with a dipping sauce. The can be added to curries, soups, stews etc.where they suck up some of the liquid and become little nuggets of chewiness.
     
  16. siduri

    siduri

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    I've eaten home-made tofu made by my korean neighbor - still don;t like it.  Not that i particularly dislike it, but i can;t taste it! It goes against all i believe in to have food that has no taste.   I wasn't introduced to it by any flakey alternative cook, and anyway, since i am also a flakey alternative cook it would not be a problem.  I even used Laurel's kitchen cookbook quite a lot, so i'm not put off by the whole-food and sprouts people.  I do like subtle, mild tastes, like mild cheese, breads, etc, but i can;t taste tofu.

    While i find tofu to be a non-offensive tasteless cube on my plate,  a square inch where there is no flavor though it may be surrounded by flavor, I find fake soy meat products to be repulsive.  Like if you found a piece of meat but it was colored like a black and white photo.  I cooked many years for a vegetarian, and never resorted to that stuff.  Gives me the creeps. 

    (And while we're at it, about soy "milk" - don't even go there!  Bean juice.  Yuck.) 

    But there's no dictating taste, and i know people who love all three.  What counts is what the kids like.
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Too bad the rest of the world never figured out how to eat well without meat.  If they had they'd be eating things like beans and tortillas; lentils and rice; moros y cristianos, hummus, babaganouj, and tabbouleh, and adding a few other vegetable along side.  But no.  They haven't.  Or those sorts of meals would staples all over the globe.

    Can't have the protein without tofu, apparently. 

    BDL
     
  18. siduri

    siduri

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    I get the feeling that when people think "healthy eating", BDL,  what they really mean is self-deprivation. 

    Even vegetarian eating is often associated with self-deprivation.  Eat stuff that's not pleasant, it's good for you,  If it tastes good (hostess twinkies, yum) it must be bad for you,.

    Back in the day, 1971 maybe, I was with a guy who lived in an urban "comune" of students (nothing proletarian about it, all rich kids playing at being poor).  They had just joined a food cooperative that had fresh vegetables.  No one of them had ever eaten fresh vegetables, apparently. For them it was an ideological thing.  

    Before I stepped in and explained how to shell peas (they were using a knife, scissors, pulling the string saying it was a zipper!!!) or how to blanch stringbeans, they were cooking everything in a wok with a ton of soy sauce and all the vegetables were BLACK. Burnt and soyed up.  THey thought healthy food had to taste bad, they hated vegetables as kids, so they thought they were being somehow virtuous, swallowing down crap but it was "healthy".   For me, food is also for the soul, you might say, not only for the body, it has to taste good or it poisons you in other ways, makes you a nasty self-deprived or worse self-righteous person!

    I like vegetarian restaurants because they have a much more inventive cuisine - the vegetable is not a side dish, but takes center stage and is usually done in an interesting way with interesting combinations.  I love meat, I adore meat, but i like it plain, grilled, roasted, i don;t even particularly like it stewed or in other dishes, and I'll be darned if i'll go to pay good money for someone to put a piece of meat on a grill which i can do just as easily at home, and charge me five times as much as i pay for it at the butcher.  I'd rather eat an elaborate dish that I had never thought of.    But lots of people become vegetarians without having any knowledge of the range of high-protein dishes available.  You'd think with the economic crisis, there would be a proliferation of these. 
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  19. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ahhhhh, the heady days of the alternative lifestyles of the '60s generation. You and I lived in the same part of the world, back then. So maybe our view is a bit warped? I don't think the rest of the country was quite so crazy. Well, maybe the Pacific Northwest?

    (they were using a knife, scissors, pulling the string saying it was a zipper!!!)

    Not for nothing, Siduri, but I grow and eat more old-fashioned beans, cowpeas, and garden peas than you can shake a combine at, and I call them "zippers." So does everyone else I know who raises them---including market growers.

    But you're absolutely right about people connoting healthy with self-deprivation. Which is precisely why so many diet plans fail.
     
  20. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    I might have an unpopular response,  but I'm going for it anyway.  Perhaps you are overthinking this.   Presumably, these children get breakfast and dinner at home.  Just make sure what you feed them for lunch does not offend their religiosity,  and let the dietary protein be their parents' concern.  Another alternative would be for the parents to pack lunches for their children.  That way they would be assured that both bases [religion and protein] would be covered without any additional frustration to the day care staff. 
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010