Kid-Friendly Easy-Peasy Pasta (or the recipe that isn’t really a recipe)

I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had fast-food anything in the past 10 years…but “fast-food”, that is to say, foods that can be prepared quickly, do have their place in our family’s meal repertoire.

With Guppy and Monsieur F. home every day for lunch, I try to keep things interesting, nutritious and affordable.  And quick.  While there are lots of  healthy and delicious things that I can whip up in just minutes, not all of them pass the Guppy-test, but this one does and it’s ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.

I’m not going to complain here : our daughter was the easiest kid in the world to feed for 4 years.  She’d eat just about anything from spicy lentil curries to tapanade.  She’d have her moments, but generally was very easy to please.  However, since turning 5 she’s gone into a more curious food-phase where she likes everything, sometimes.  One day she’ll love artichokes, the next will gag on them.  I let it go, because as my dear Mamafish would say, “if she’s hungry, she’ll eat.”, but it is still nice to see her clean her plate.  Broccoli, peas, spinach and mushrooms are still her top 5 foods, so I try to use them as often as possible, and will sub one of the above for the peas in this dish…but I didn’t want to lose the cute name and call it “Mushy-peasy Pasta” or “Easy-ccoli Pasta”.  But maybe I should?

Kids love me, you’ll see!

Easy-Peasy Pasta

For the child who doesn’t like rice or peanut butter & jelly sammies.

500 g whole-wheat pasta (mini-macaronis are our favourite)

Pot full of boiling, salted water

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp non-dairy butter

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

3 tbsp soy cream, soy yogurt or non-dairy milk (in order of preference)

2 to 3 handfuls frozen peas, rinsed under hot water

1 or 2 diced meatless-dogs or sausage (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

1) Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.

2) While the pasta is boiling, sautée the onion in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes or so.

3) Add the balsamic vinegar and set heat to low, stirring to keep the onion from sticking, then add the butter, soy cream and peas and stir until combined.

4) Drain the pasta and return to the pot, add the balsamic onion mixture and the nutritional yeast and stir until combined.  Add optional soydogs (if you’re in North America you can use Yves and I’m jealous!) and salt and pepper.

5) Youppie!  Eat a happy meal with your kidlet!

*I feel kind of guilty calling this a recipe, because it’s just pasta…but pasta with stuff, makes it fancier, right?

Mashed Potato Christmas Trees

Personally, I love playing with my food, don’t you?

Take mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, chickpeas and mushroom gravy and have some fun!

Mama Fish’s Tree

Papa Fish’s Tree

Guppy’s Tree

The pictures with the mushroom gravy were just too reminiscent of mud slides and natural catastrophes devastating forests, so I’m censuring those.

This is one of our favourite ways to eat mashed potatoes around the holiday season.  To be honest, the humble spud doesn’t make it to our dinner table too often, finding itself relegated to “special requests” by Guppy.  Other choice veggies/decorations are of course cherry tomatoes, peas, olives, corn, diced red or green pepper, red onion, etc.  Steamed broccoli makes lovely surrounding shrubbery, and there have been steamed cauliflower clouds in the skies as well.  Hot sauce (for the big kids) or ketchup could be used for garlands, too. I set out the “ornaments” in little bowls and everyone decorates their own.

Very fun stuff, kids.  Tasty, too.

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice

Now that Buy Nothing Day has come and gone, it’s time to start ticking off that  holiday gift list.  If you’ve got any little ones on that list, you’re going to want to pay close attention. What better way to end Vegan MoFo, than to tell you about one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time.


Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is the tale of a not-so-typical family, who lives in a not-so-typical house.  Our protagonist, Thora, well, thinks. She thinks a great deal.  She might be called the brains of the family. Her two Viking family members, Aksel and Krog, however,  are less pensive and a bit more physical.  The brawn, if you will.  They get pumped.  Totally pumped, even.  About, well, lots of “stuff” from heavy metal music to kale.  These two “non-hairy Vikings” are reminiscent of Bill and Ted in all the best ways.

They also get pumped about juicing.  Yes, juicing. Thora grows concerned when Aksel and Krog learn about a new ingredient that could make their juice even healthier for them (to get them even more PUMPED!), because what is good for them, well, isn’t good for everyone, particularly for the little beings about to become collateral damage.

There are no good guys, no bad guys, no preaching or judging.  Just a family who wants to do the right thing and be healthy.  Author/illustrator/publisher VanBalen articulates all this and more through a quirky story with off-beat and unexpected characters and a sense of humor.  What could be better?

This book is the synthesis of so much of what I love :

Creativity – Nathalie (can I call you Nathalie?)  not only drempt-up the characters, but she’s  sewn them into  plush doll-protagonists!  This is 3-D creativity, not simply a linear story with a beginning and end.

Art – The drawings, mixed-media illustrations and photos throughout the book are visually interesting, and do more than simply accompany the story – I think they reflect a child’s imagination (and mine) as they use photos and illustration, which dove-tails nicely reality and fiction.

Critical thinking - (ie : questioning the dominant paradigm) – We want to be happy.  We want to be healthy.  We try to make the right food choices, but is eating everything that could be  good for our health a good idea, especially when it harms other beings?

Renegade spirit – Ms. VanBalen self-published and created ThoraThinksPress to do it, taking DIY to a supreme level which frankly, gets me pumped!

Though Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is suggested for readers age 6 and up,  kids of all ages like to colour, right?  I know I do.  Check out these free colouring pages that accompany the book. They’ll keep little ones creating and thinking, too.  You can also read more about Nathalie or find out more about the book here.

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is a visual and intellectual delight – the Dr. Seuss-esque title alone still has me giggling aloud.  It would make a wonderful holiday gift for children of all ages, vegan or not.

And speaking of gifts, if you’re looking for a unique and handmade original  present,  visit the Thora Thinks Store and order yourself one of the characters from the book, buttons, or veggie magnets (I really love the magnets).

And that concludes this year’s Vegan Month of Food!  It was a lot of fun, but whew, am I beat.  See you tomorrow for the winners of the tea and chocolate give-aways!