Simple Sautéed Noodles The Kids Will Love

This dinner was created with the kids in mind. Lately, my kids have been more excited about green salads than they are about broccoli. And what kid doesn't LOVE noodles? Well, I guess some don't but you get the idea. 

chow mein style sauteed noodles that your kids will love! gluten-free vegan

This time, instead of the same old marinara pasta, I decided to make chow mien style noodles. I first boiled noodles, as usual, but this time I sautéed them up in a hot pan with other sweet, salty and spicy ingredients like garlic, [vegan] butter, chili paste and tamari. It was to-die-for!

Add these to-die-for sautéed noodles to your basic chopped red leaf lettuce and you've got a bomb ass healthy vegan dinner for the whole family! I made it twice just to be sure I wasn't crazy and that this was in fact so tasty. So you can trust me on this one. My kids devoured it and agreed they are to-die-for. 

sautéed noodles the kids will love!
sautéed noodles with salad | kids will love it | gluten-free vegan
simple sautéed noodles for the kids! vegan and gluten-free

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 bunches of gf Lotus foods millet rice noodles (you can get these at Costco as well - note: do not use regular spaghetti noodles - see below)
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp vegan mayo
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cups garbanzo beans (just rinsed, no cooking needed)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp butter or oil (I used Miyokos Butter
  • 5-6 cloves raw garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp agave nectar or honey
  • 1 tsp Thai roasted chili paste (this stuff is amazing)
  • garnish: toasted sesame seeds and/or fresh chopped herbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil the Lotus Foods noodles for 3-4 minutes according to package. 
  2. While it's boiling, chop the red leaf lettuce and set it in a bowl. Add the garbanzo beans, mayo and lemon. Mix well with your hands or utensils of choice. Set aside. 
  3. Warm the butter or oil in a pan with minced raw garlic and chopped onion for about 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add the boiled noodles and toss. Cook for about 1 minute and then add the rest of the spices (agave, tamari, onion powder, chili flakes and chili paste). 
  5. Toss and cook for about 3-4 minutes until noodles are dry in texture and cooked well. (see photos). 
  6. Serve with the greens and topped with toasted sesame seeds or fresh herbs. 

NOTE: do not use regular spaghetti noodles. You must use the chow mien style noodle. Or pad thai style. They are totally different in texture and will yield much better results. 

Kid's Vegan Caramel Sauce (gluten-free)

My kids absolutely love caramel sauce and well, so do I. But if you've ever made it you know that it's basically just pure cooked (almost burnt) sugar. Usually there's a little butter in there as well as some flour possibly, too. 

Vegan Caramel Sauce Recipe Your Kids Will Love. #purelittles

I decided it was time to make a cleaner, healthier version of our favorite sauce. Meet the dairy-free, gluten-free, maple syrup sweetened caramel sauce. It's wonderful on top of brownies or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm! This is the vegan caramel recipe that your kids will devour and mom will love because it's not as bad as the commercial stuff. 

Not only is it delicious and healthier but it's really fun and easy to make. Have you ever made caramel before? Have you ever made it with your kids? It's so easy. And so messy (exactly what kids get excited about). Let them see what actually goes into making caramel sauce next time. It's almost like a science project. 

Vegan Caramel Sauce Recipe Your Kids Will Love. #purelittles #purekitchenblog #puremamas
Vegan Caramel Sauce Recipe Your Kids Will Love. #purelittles

I topped our chocolate tahini brownies with homemade vegan caramel sauce; it was to-die-for especially considering it tastes like dessert when in actuality it is more like plant-based superfood goodness packed with healthy protein. 

KID'S VEGAN CARAMEL SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Open the can of coconut milk. Inside you'll see thick white cream and some cloudy water. For this recipe, I like using all of the thick white cream and then a few Tbsp of the water. Discard the rest or use it in a smoothie. 
  2. Place the coconut cream and maple syrup into a medium sized pan over medium-high heat. 
  3. Stir ingredients well and bring caramel to the boil. Note: It will splatter a lot so keep an eye on it. 
  4. Continue cooking the caramel until it thickens and darkens, stirring occasionally. Remember the key to the caramel flavor is the almost burnt flavor of the sugars. 
  5. Once the caramel has thickened, about 5 or 6 minutes, remove from the heat. 
  6. Serve once it cools a bit or store in an air tight container. 
Vegan Caramel Sauce Recipe Your Kids Will Love. #purelittles

Top 20 Quick Meal Tips For Kids

A few people have asked me to do a round up of sorts featuring my favorite quick easy, healthy kids' meals (that we actually eat at home). I have so many that I'm going to start with just 20 and then do another post at a later time. 

Of course I love quick and easy meals; I'm a mom of 3 little kids. And although I like to get creative in the kitchen, making dinner for my family is still a chore and I'd rather not do it on most nights. I mean, who are we kidding! The fun is completely gone when it comes to this process. 

But I do have to admit when I hear people say they make Macaroni and Cheese because it's quick and easy, I am perplexed because it's actually not really all that quick and easy (nor is it a healthy meal) in comparison to some healthier meal ideas that I'm sharing with you here. It's all about changing your habits, diversifying your menu, and creating a new shopping routine.  And don't worry, you can feed kids healthy for less than $2-3 per head. 

20 Tips + Quick Healthy Meal Ideas (dairy + meat free):

  1. Think simply but think ahead.

    Trick: get creative and make meals that you want to eat but can be easily adaptable for the kids. This will save loads of time. 
  2. Homemade tomato sauce for pasta nights. 

    Take some time to perfect a easy one that you can make on the quick. The jarred version are easier. But nothing compares to a raw vegan homemade sauce. You can just blend up the ingredients and voila. 
  3. Try making pesto

    I now can whip up fresh kale pesto in a few minutes and my kids gobble it up)
  4. Get on pinterest and try out a few fun sauces

    This isn't a quick or easy task. But once you nail down a recipe, you can just make it up really quickly without measuring. Test a few out on your kids and then if they love one make it all the time. Note: My son told me the other day that he will eat anything as long as it has sauce: "I'm a sauce guy!" haha. But it's so true, and that's a great thing to know. (check out my board of mouth watering dairyfree sauces). 
  5. Saute veggies in oil and soy sauce

    (Tamari here at my house); get them nice and brown. I have found that kids enjoy eating veggies this way. 
  6. or put chopped veggies in the oven

    at 415 degrees for about 20 minutes until the veggies are crunchy and browned. kids love this. 
  7. Wraps + tacos: 

    We make bean or cauliflower or walnut meat tacos and wraps at home all the time. It's super cheap (corn tortillas), quick and delicious. I swear by Magestic Garlic Sauce. Kids love it. 
  8. Pizza.

    Pizza is so versatile and can be quick as quick to make as Mac and Cheese. It is so versatile. Get a few different crusts and customize each one - loads of veggies on one; just cheese on another, etc. Here is one we made a few years back. 
  9. Baby Potatoes. 

    Cut them up and boil and/or bake until crispy/brown with a little oil. My kids love them right out of the oven. I always salt them and sprinkle with herbs. They like to dip them in all sorts of things. Again add parm. 
  10. Corn on the cob.

    For some reason kids love corn on the cob. You can bbq it or roast it in the oven. It's really easy, you don't have to fuss over it. Just butter it up with a dash of salt & pepper. 
  11. Bowls.

    You can see from the photos that we do a lot of bowls. I choose a protein (beans or tofu, fish - if you eat meat - etc.) and always add rice or potatoes. Then I add a veggie. Often times they get to pick the veggie or choose between two different ones. Sometimes I offer greens. They love avocado on this as well. Sometimes we do crunchy seaweed on top and also they love sauce or parm.  
  12. Frozen bean burritos 

    are a great idea for those super busy nights. I always whip up my super simple kids' green drink - that way they at least get a great dose of spinach, bananas and OJ. They never complain about the smoothie - it's thirst quenching and easy to drink. Or the milk + greens option if your kids are little. 
  13. Mix in cauliflower rice with regular rice

    to sneak in some veggies. 
  14. Lasagna.

    You might remember my recent dairy-free lasagna recipe. My kids devoured it. My trick - use spiralized OR shaved (using a cheese grater) zucchini. See pizza recipe for the shaved vegetable trick. You can do carrots as well but zucchini turns out almost clear an unnoticeable. I also have an older recipe that includes dairy - you can try that one as well. 
  15. Try mushrooms.

    I saw try because kids think they won't like them at first. Keep trying. If you cook them (on stove top in oil and soy sauce) until they are dry and chewy like meat - a lot of kids will enjoy them. At least try it. One of my sons LOVES them and the other isn't a fan. 
  16. Cook rice in the microwave (never every night).

    But better yet, I invested in a rice cooker which is a great gadget to have on hand (they are cheap) to quickly cook rice while you're organizing everything else. 
  17. Homemade sushi.

    This is a lot quicker and easier than you'd think (again rice can be premade and microwaved which saves time. Trader Joes has white and brown rice frozen). All you need is rice, seaweed or rice paper and avo. But feel free to add other veggies like carrots and cucumber and even those mushrooms I mentioned above. My kids like marinated tofu. Just roll it all up and dip in soy sauce. 
  18. Thai rice noodles.

    Have you made my kids pad thai dish yet? Omit eggs if you're vegan. My kids sometimes eat eggs even though I don't. It's a really GOOD dish that I have had great feedback on. Another rice noodle dish winner is my creamy miso rice noodles. Add some tofu for the kids and whatever veggie they want. Have fun and play around with it. The sauce isn't quick and easy. But the noodles are so versatile. 
  19. Tofu + Tempeh.

    My kids LOVE LOVE the smokey tempeh bacon. Check out my lettuce cups recipe. You can cook the tempeh that way I do in that recipe but then put the bacon in between toast with avocado and whatever sauce you want. 
  20. Slow cooker meals. 

    There are so many meals you can cook in 4 hours. Just throw stuff in the slow cooker and hit go. Check Pinterest for ideas; there are endless amounts of healthy ones. 

When shopping look for things like:

  • Precooked rice
  • Organic frozen vegetables (or freeze your organic fruits and vegetables to use at a later time)
  • Frozen meat/protein options (i.e. we love vegan Beyond Beef meatballs)
  • Canned chili
  • Load up on bananas and spinach
  • Black bean pastas - my kids love that they are full of protein (Trader Joes makes a good one)
  • Precooked lentils
  • Certain cereals are now made of beans and Target carries them (I would rather my son eat a huge bowl of one of these cereals for dinner than a bowl of mac and cheese any day)
  • Buy vegetables already spiralized or already chopped up (sometimes this costs a lot more money, so check the price first to see if it's worth saving you time)
  • Health food stores have super healthy french fries (sweet potato fries, etc.) that you can just pop in the oven for like 20 minutes. Add some organic ketchup and voila
  • Frozen pizza crusts
  • Premade raviolis or gnocchi (the health food stores have "real" food versions - not filled with a bunch of preservatives)
  • Avocados. Always have these on hand
  • Have parmesan cheese on hand at all times. We use this vegan kind. Or make our own cashew parmesan (<-- you can buy it or check out my recipe). Kids love it. 
  • Frozen burritos. There are so many options now-a-days. 

All of these images were taken from my own personal Instagram account. I often Snapchat ( name: PureMamas ) or take photos for Instagram showcasing what we eat at home that's plant-based, quick and easy to make.

If you have any quick and easy kids meal ideas - please feel free to leave them in the comments below. 

Nana Ice Cream Sundae {vegan / gf}

I love love love nana ice cream. I'm so glad I found it years ago. Like where has it been all my life? It's nothing like real rich creamy ice cream, I get it. But when I used to eat the "real" stuff, I felt this need to control my portions {for obvious reasons} and I would subconsciously feel a tad guilty while consuming it? And that's just silly. 

But I have a feeling, I'm not alone. I think the guilt was real because a carton full of rich creamy dairy and sugar isn't exactly the healthiest thing. But at the same time, we all need to splurge once in awhile. I mean, come on! And I mean splurge WITHOUT guilt. 

But for the most part, why feel like that when you don't have to. I consume frozen banana ice cream {aka nana ice cream or nice cream as some call it} and can't stop at a few bites, but the good part is, I don't feel guilty but rather nourished! Whaaat? 

Food shame - you totally suck! What a dumb concept that I don't want my kids to have to deal with. But that's why I choose this health foodie life because who has the emotional energy to have foods in the fridge and in the cupboards that "temp" us or that cause us to have a mental battle of right and wrong and should and shouldn't eat. Or why battle with the kiddos on which foods they can't and can have.. Or again should and shouldn't have. bleh! 

It's just easier for me and my family to have a plentiful abundance of all these healthy foods that they can eat until they are full without being told to have just a little or being shamed into not eating things. It's not fun to hear the whining either {so maybe my choices are totally self fulfilling}. Of course we talk about candy and junk that looks good in the stores or at birthday parties and of course they can eat it and enjoy it. In fact, I rarely hide it and rather let them eat as much as they want when it's brought home. They will only really learn why some foods shouldn't be eaten in large quantities when they get super ill or queasy or they have sores in their mouths. I could say it over and over but they will never get it. My job is just to coach them through it. Not make them feel guilty about it but to just make sure they know that the candy is what made them sick or gave them that sore in their mouth.

Home to me is my place of health where my kids can worry about homework or sibling rivalry, or balancing electronic time, not what they are eating or not eating. Pancakes or waffles for breakfast? Sure! "Nana Ice cream for lunch?...ok?"

And nana ice cream is fun to make with my kids - and super simple. Not to mention, my boys love cooking more and more now as they get older. So why not teach them healthy recipes? Rather than baking donuts, I'd like to give them the tools to make healthy foods for their family one day or for themselves when they go off to college. That's a skill we don't usually acquire until later on in life. Why wait?

Anyways, enough chit chat. Sheesh. Sorry about that. Now about this recipe...

The key to this recipe is the bananas; they must be completely ripe with dark brown spots on the peel before freezing or the ice cream won't taste right. 

Nana Ice Cream Sunday Recipe

ICE CREAM BASE INGREDIENTS

4 frozen bananas

1/2 tsp vanilla bean seeds or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup water or almond milk

SUNDAY INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup almond butter or peanut butter {preferably salted, otherwise add a little salt}

2 Tbsp maple syrup or 3-4 dates, seeds removed

2 Tbsp cacao beans or dairy free chocolate chips

1/2 cup granola

NANA ICE CREAM DIRECTIONS

In a blend you'll want to break up the frozen bananas into chunks. Or, better yet, cut the bananas into chunks before freezing them. 

In a high speed blender or food processor, you'll want to blend up the bananas and the water and vanilla on high until there are absolutely no chunks left and the bananas are pureed into what looks like ice cold ice cream. 

Serve immediately. 

SUNDAY DIRECTIONS

For the almond butter sauce, you'll want to blend up the maple syrup {or the dates} and almond butter until it becomes a creamy sauce.

Layer the granola, chocolate chips and almond sauce in between layers of the nana ice cream. 

Hope you guys enjoy this!

xoxo

Juli