- Toby Kramer
HOW TO MAKE PLANT-BASED FOOD APPEAL TO CHILDREN
When we think about creating plant-based meals, the children’s menu can often be overlooked. But there’s no reason that any less attention or creativity should be given to the curation of a children’s menu. We should be feeding young minds with information and options, so they can make their own choices, whether that’s the sport they want to play or food they prefer to eat.
With more and more families cooking plant-based meals at home, children are becoming much more adventurous with what they eat. Some may have even been brought up on a strict vegan diet, and almost half (42%) of British kids are worried about the future and environment, which is why it’s ever more important to feature exciting plant-based meals on your menu.
One of our suppliers, Meatless Farm, has recently partnered with 12-year-old Omari McQueen, the UK’s youngest award-winning plant-based chef, to launch a ‘For Kids By Kids’ campaign. Aimed at the education catering sector, the campaign highlights how simple and delicious it can be to include more plant-based food on to school menus. But we think it’s a great inspiration for any business that caters for children.
To kick off the campaign, Meatless Farm has launched a series of videos and recipes with Omari, shot alongside the plant-based brand’s chef, Ben Davy. From cheesy meatballs to juicy and succulent burgers, sausages and mash, and warming hot pots, there are loads of tasty meals incoming… so make sure you keep an eye on the page. Most of the Meatless Farm core products are school-approved, so you can feel confident you’re serving up great, nutritious food.
Serves 4 – recipe video here
1 pack of Meatless Farm Meatballs (for Foodservice) or 1 pack of Meatless Farm Mince
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
500g pasta (feel free to make this gluten-free)
Small bunch basil
1 tsp sage
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 carrots, chopped
½ broccoli, chopped
150g mozzarella cheese
Season meatballs or roll meatballs from mince into small balls and season with all-purpose seasoning, black pepper, and salt then leave aside.
In a blender, add the tin tomatoes, black pepper, basil, sage and Thyme then blend until smooth.
In a pot, boil water and add the pasta and carrots. Halfway through cooking add the broccoli and cook altogether until tender.
Add oil to a casserole dish.
Drain the pasta, broccoli and carrots and put into the casserole dish along with the sauce and the meatballs and cheese, leaving some of it for the topping.
Put the dish into the oven for 30-45 minutes.
Remove from the oven, add the rest of the cheese on top to melt.
Serve and Enjoy!
SCHOOL HOT POT
Serves 6 to 8
2 white onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
100g mushrooms, finely chopped
A few sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
1 knob of vegan butter
1 tbsp tomato puree
1kg Meatless Farm Frozen Mince
1 litre of veg stock
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp gravy granules (vegan/vegetarian)
Splash of soy sauce
Pinch of sea salt
Black pepper to taste
4 large potatoes, finely sliced to roughly 2mm thickness
Preheat your oven to 180C.
In a non-stick pan, heat a little oil and the vegan butter, add the onion, carrot, celery, and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 mins over a medium heat.
Add the mushrooms, thyme and garlic and cook for a further 4 – 5 mins until everything is nice and soft.
Add the tomato puree, stir well and cook for 2 mins.
Tip in the mince, cook for 2 mins then stir in the flour, cook for 2 mins.
Gradually ladle in the veg stock, a bit at a time, stirring well until combined. Cook for 3 mins, then add the gravy granules. Stir well and cook for a few mins. Add a little more stock if necessary.
Season well with black pepper and add a splash of soy sauce. This will add a lovely dark colour and will improve the flavour massively.
Tip the hot pot mix into a deep baking dish and set aside.
Take the sliced potatoes and toss with a little olive oil, a good grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt (if using).
Lay the potatoes on top of the mince mixture. Sprinkle the top with some chopped thyme, place in the oven for 30 – 40 mins until the potatoes are cooked and crispy.
Serve with some vibrant steamed greens.
MAC AND CHEESE SHEPHERD’S PIE
Ingredients: For the pie
3 tbsp veg oil
1x 400g pack of Meatless Farm Meat Free Mince
1 large white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stick, de stringed and finely diced
150g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree/tomato paste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
1 litre of vegan ‘beef’ stock or veg stock, heated
½ tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp soy sauce (to season)
1 tbsp gravy granules (not meat ones… obviously)
Plenty of black pepper
Ingredients: Mac & Cheese
200g Macaroni, cooked
60g Vegan Butter
60g Plain Flour
800g Unsweetened Soy Milk
3 tsp Dijon mustard
200g grated vegan cheese (something that melts well)
Sea Salt to taste
For the crispy garlic pitta crunchy bits…
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
A massive glug of olive oil
50g Flat leaf parsley chopped
Place a non-stick pan over a medium high heat with a good glug of veg oil, carefully add the mince to the pan in one block, leave to cook on one side until well browned, carefully flip the block of mince and colour on the second side. Using a wooden spoon start to break the mince up. Keep cooking until the mince strands are well coloured on all sides. This should take 10 -12 minutes. When the mince is cooked and nice and crispy, remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side.
Place a pan over a low/med heat, add 3 tbsp of veg oil, tip in the onion, celery, mushrooms, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and thyme/rosemary and season well with salt and pepper. Cook gently for ten minutes until the vegetables are soft. Then add the tomato paste and cook for 2 mins.
Add a drizzle more oil, then tip in the flour, stir well and cook for 2 mins then slowly start adding the warm stock a little at a time until fully incorporated into the flour. Cook for 10 mins stirring regularly.
Add the soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. If the gravy needs to be thicker you can add a few gravy granules or cornflour. Check the seasoning and then tip in the cooked Meatless Farm Mince. Mix well, check the seasoning again.
Tip the pie mix into a deep baking dish and leave to cool (ideally get it in the fridge for an hour so when it’s cool enough to do so).
Turn your oven on to Gas Mark 5/180C.
Place the vegan butter in a saucepan over medium heat until fully melted, then add the flour, mix well with a wooden spoon or whisk, keep cooking for 2 mins until the flour starts to smell biscuity.
Then slowly add the soya milk a drizzle at a time, mix well until fully incorporated, then add more milk.
Keep going until the milk has been fully absorbed. Cook the sauce out until thickened and the raw taste of flour has gone.
Make sure you scrape around the corners of the pan to ensure the sauce isn’t lumpy. Then throw in the grated cheese, Dijon mustard and return to the heat and mix until fully melted. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Layer the mac & cheese on top of the mince mixture.
Tear up the pitta breads, mix well with the garlic, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Sprinkle the pitta bits on top of the mac & cheese, place the baking dish on a baking tray and stick in the oven for around 30 mins at 180.C/Gas Mark 5.