Plant-based diets are inherently more nutritious than meat-heavy diets, but eschewing meat and animal products doesn't guarantee your vegan diet is good for you. Does your family rely on processed vegan foods? Does your weekly meal planning include only a few fruits and vegetables? Is white bread or white rice a staple in your cruelty-free pantry? Regardless of the diet you follow, there is always room for improvement. We all fall into a diet rut from time to time, and get comfortable with our less-than-healthy eating habits. Since overhauling your family's diet is tougher than simply making changes to your own, we've got five ways you can sneak more nutrition into your family's vegan meals.5 Sneaky ways to improve your family's vegan diet1. Make a healthier marinara
Pasta, preferably whole wheat or high fiber pasta, with tomato sauce is a fast and easy vegan meal that you can throw together in minutes. Being that it is so quick to fix, adding a few nutrient-dense ingredients to the sauce won't take much more time and, best yet, your family probably won't even notice.Healthier marinara ideas:
2. Go with whole grains
- Saute two to three cups of dark leafy greens (the most concentrated plant source of nutrients), such as chard, kale, or spinach in garlic and olive oil before adding a store-bought marinara to the pan.
- Fiber up your meal by sauteing finely chopped broccoli, zucchini, and red bell peppers in a pan until soft, then stir in marinara.
- Add chopped prunes to marinara -- they add texture, sweetness, fiber, and a load of antioxidants.
The wide variety of whole grains in bulk and packaged at the supermarket make adding more fiber and grain-based nutrients to your family's vegan diet easier than ever. Swap out white rice with brown rice. Stir cooked wild rice into your vegetable soups and stews. Make grain salads using bulgur, quinoa, barley, or amaranth, tossing them with your family's favorite salad ingredients and vinaigrettes. Use whole grain flours for baked goods. Opt for whole wheat or whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals. Simply change one vegan meal a day to sneak more whole grains onto your weekly menus.3. Start the day with a smoothie
If your family regularly skips breakfast, start handing smoothies to the crew as they head out the door. Make smoothies with fresh fruit, soy- or coconut-based yogurt, and nut butters. Starting the day with a breakfast loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein, and healthy fats will not only keep your family energized through the morning, it will also boost their performance at work and school, deter them from binging at mid-morning or lunchtime, and even promotes healthy weight management.4. DIY vegan snacks
Though convenient, packaged vegan snack foods are still processed and are often high in calories and sweeteners. If your kids love chips, make your own. If you love nutrition bars, bake your own.DIY vegan snacks to consider:
Make extra batches to keep in the freezer and package each snack in individual serving bags for easy, healthfully portioned eating.5. Drink smarter
Cute juice boxes with straws may be your kiddo's favorite sip, but many "juices" are nothing more than a little juice and a lot of sweetened water. Buy a few (6- to 8-ounce) kid-friendly reusable drink bottles or lidded cups (there are quite a few that have cute designs and catchy colors) and fill them half way up with 100 percent juice, then to the top with water. This will ensure your kids are getting a nutritious beverage for fewer calories than box drinks and it also keeps them hydrated, which is important when your kids are playing hard.More vegan lifestyle tips!