Following a vegetarian or vegan diet is not simply about removing the meat or animal protein from your diet. For children, it is particularly important that they consume adequate energy, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and calcium. These vital nutrients can be part of a balanced vegetarian diet but this takes some thought and careful planning.

Lentils and beansThe quality of protein consumed in a vegetarian diet is even more important than the quantity. It is vital that protein-rich foods containing an appropriate mix of the essential amino acids are included in the diet, particularly for children who are vegan. Adding beans and legumes to a meal can be a great way to make it more filling and to ensure that the protein is complete.

The following recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. These veggie burgers are a good source of soluble fibre, they contain a complete protein and also provide small amounts of β-carotene, iron and zinc. The iron will be absorbed even better if served with a source of vitamin C such as sliced tomatoes.

Veggie Burgers

Makes: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, grated finely
  • 1⁄2 tsp mild chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tin rinsed and drained kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 75g whole rolled oats
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, for frying

Method:

  1. Fry onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add grated carrot and spices and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mash beans thoroughly. Add cooked vegetable and spice mixture to beans. Add mustard, soy sauce, tomato purée and oats. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  3. If you have time, chill the mixture in the fridge before making into burgers to make it easier to form patties. With wet hands, form mix into 6-8 patties.
  4. Fry gently in oil for a few minutes on either side until they are brown on the outside and soft in the middle.
  5. Serve with salad and baked potatoes, or on a multigrain roll with salad, avocado and a slice of cheese.

If you would like a dietitian to assess the adequacy of yours or your child’s diet, contact Vanessa at The Travelling Dietitian

By Vanessa McNamara, The Travelling Dietitian
A dietitian who graduated with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in Sydney in 2000, Vanessa has lived and worked in Australia, the UK, India and now Singapore, where she currently resides with her husband. Passionate about both food and travel, she helps people to improve their lifestyle in a practical way whilst focusing on increasing their enjoyment of delicious, healthy food.