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Help! Taking care of omni children this summer!

Hi everyone!
Right now I am a nanny for a vegan family (baby boy-19 months). My husband has a new job and we're moving 2 hours away so I'm going to start working for a new family. During the girls' school year I won't be making meals at all just entertaining them after school but during the summer (7 weeks) I will be there for lunch. I am vegan and I am really worried about what to cook omni kids! The parents say they eat everything, but I don't know how much of that I believe, since most omni kids are incredibly picky. The mum said it's no problem for her if I want to cook vegan meals for lunch but I'm unsure of what to cook! I don't want to be stuck eating pasta and rice everyday.
These are ideas I have so far...please contribute if you have any ideas!:
kidney beans in tomato sauce
chickpea curries
stir fried veggies
crunchy fried tofu
hummus sandwiches
bean burgers
bean balls
red lentils
soups
salads - if they like salads  :-\

i'd suggest mexican food, like tacos or burritos.

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we're in switzerland, mexican can be hard to come by. but I could always try to make something with what is available around here...thanks for the idea!!

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Ask mom/dad what the kids usually eat, and take the vegan items from that list, or the close-to-vegan items and make them vegan.

And you're forgetting the classic PB&J! I think I ate PB&J every day for 5 years. Also, raw veggies and some sort of dip (like hummus or vegan ranch).

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mmm pb&j, i'll give it a try. maybe avocado sandwiches as well?

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remember K.I.S.S... keep it simple silly!

No need to 'cook' lunch... Sandwich (PBJ, hummous and other dips), (soy) yougurt, cut fruit and veggies, and sun/taco/potato chips, granola bars and fruit leathers for snack. They are school age so they can help you make lunches they like.  If you're out and about with the kids... brown bag lunches!!

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I've nannied for many omni kids, and I've had the most luck with pb&j, chips, hummus/veggies, soy yogurt smoothies, many fruits, and nachos..

I've also done a lot of pasta meals (baked ziti, lasagna, penne w/cream sauce)..  can you get daiya cheese?  works wonders for my friend's onmi daughter who comes over often  ;)b

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thanks everyone!
I think I totally forgot that I don't need to "cook" lunch! I have become so used to cooking a decent sized meal at lunch because the family I work for now is vegan and I like to go all out and save the rest for quick dinners or something if baby and I went out in the afternoon.

And no we can't get daiya cheese here. Only cheezly, which is ok. Maybe I could also make nutritional yeast cheeze sauces?

I'm a bit nervous about eating lots of pasta, rice or sandwiches made with a lot of nut butters because I gained 25sh lbs last year as an au pair and now Ive lost 45. I don't want to gain it all back too  ???

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Ugh I'm so frustrated. I've been doing a few evenings a week for the past two weeks. The first night I made pasta w/tomato sauce and veg, they ate the pasta but picked around the vegetables. The second night I made red lentil and carrot soup (VW), the older girl ate it but the little girl didn't. The next night the mum gave the some leftovers from the weekend so I didn't need to cook. Last night I made canelloni piccata (VW) over pasta, the mom said "beans and pasta is not something they will want to eat again". So tonight the mum more or less made dinner... cherry tomatoes, leftover chicken, and boiled carrots for the little girl. For the older girl fennel salad w/ ham slices. all covered in oil.

and the mom told me "the girls love you, but your food they're not so convinced on...". Seriously I have to make dinner for them for another year. and lunch over the summer. I'm sorry but I cook vegan, I'm willing to make them whatever to keep my job but I have no idea how to cook meat or dairy so maybe you (the mom) should give me tips! Not just throw me into it without any idea except "they like pasta with olive oil".

Sorry, I just needed to vent. And another problem this isn't america and no one has peanut butter, so I can't even try to make pb & j!

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Hmmm... you're going to have to try to focus on things they know and veggie them up.  How old are the girls?  Smoothies are a great way to get them to eat fruit.  I know what American kids eat, but not so sure about the kids where you're at.... Mac & cheese is a hit over here.  No peanut butter?!

For sauces you can try blending the veggies in so they don't see them.  Most kids like finger foods.  Try bbq tofu 'wings'.  Homemade baked fries are delicious. 

If you are willing to cook omni then ask very specifically what they like (from them or their mother).  After you know that I can help you further as I was omni (and cooked for myself) for many years before going veg.

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And for these suggestions I asked DH as he eats like a child:

Chicken parm = http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=11034.0

Mini homemade pizza and let the kids pick their own toppings.

Casserole (do you have vegan burger cumbles over there?) with veggies & mashed potatoes.

I second the taco/burrito idea.  Most kids like refried beans.

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thanks for the input lauren. I think a big problem that I'm having is the cultural differences in the food. I keep trying to recall things I liked as a child but most of them aren't even available here, for exampe: peanut butter, mac and cheese (cheese is avaibale, so I guess I'd have to make it from scratch), pigs in a blanket, etc.
Their family is Italian and very much  hold onto their traditional Italian roots, especially with cooking. I'm willing to make omni food, I'm just lost because I've never made omni food. Before becoming vegan, I think I lived on take out and spaghetti w/tomato sauce. I only know how to cook veggies! :(
This is so much more difficult that I thought it would be. Anyway here's a list of typical things in their pantry, if you could give me any suggestions, I'd be so grateful:
tomatoes (only the younger girl likes them- age 2)
carrots (raw for the older( age 4), cooked for the younger)
pasta
rice and broken wheat (ble concassee...not something common in the US)...but younger girl doesn't like rice or ble
tomato sauce
pesto sauce
eggplant
zucchini
broccoli
lemons
deli style ham
seafood (neither girsl likes it)
other random meat (chicken breats...)
blue cheese
goat cheese
gruyere cheese
mozzerella
parmesean

I hate the smell of cooking meat, but I'll deal with it because it's my job and besides this I really like the hours and the girls are very sweet so I don't want to lose it. I think for the summer when I'll be eating lunch with them, I'm going to pack myself a lunch and then I only have to worry about what I need to cook them and not something for all of us.

Thanks so much for any help  ;)b

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Ok, so most likely you'll be making a veggie pasta dish with a meaty piece of something. Pesto you can make vegan or just use a regular red sauce. I'm pretty sure you can make Alfredo and vodka sauce vegan. Just google recipes for those.  Veggies just chop up and sautee in a pan with a little oil until fork tender. Adding lemon zest makes them really delicious and tangy.

I'd be more than willing to give you pointers on the meaty part, but just send me a message thru VW (to respect the veganess of the site)  telling me specifically what is in the fridge and I will tell you how to cook it. 

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First, you need to plan  a menu so you know what you'll be doing all week. This will prevent repetition throughout the week and also on any given day.
Second, you don't mention how old they are, but if they are in grammar school they are still probably pretty picky and don't like very complicated dishes or a lot of stuff mushed together.

When I plan menus for our week, I usually think:  two nights a bean dish, two nights a tofu dish, two nights a pasta dish, etc. One night soup. One night seitan. Once you know generally what kind of meal it is going to be, you can plan from there.  You can also have nutritious pancakes or waffles for dinner if they haven't had them for breakfast and won't have them again in the morning.

My kids like pasta shells with green peas (added frozen to the boiling pasta water at the last few minutes of cooking) with margarine and hemp seeds. They also like the abc lentils in the kid-friendly category on this site.  They also like to eat plain chickpeas cooked from scratch until they are quite soft.  They eat tofu in all manner of ways but their favorite is still simply pan fried with a little salt.  If you serve that with a grain and a vegetable you have a complete meal.

You haven't said who is in charge of doing the shopping. If the mom is doing the shopping and you are cooking from what she has in the fridge--well that sounds frustrating.  Maybe the thing to do is sit down and plan with the girls what the meals will be and then give a shopping list to the mom.

PS:  It sounds like you are living in the land of Cornwall pasties.  I have seen many vegan recipes for pasties on the web. I haven't tried any although I've always wanted to. Perhaps this is something you and the girls could make together.

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JKL,
The girls are 2 and 4. We live in Switzerland. And yes the mum does the shopping but always says she'll give me money to guy buy what I want, but the only store in the villages carries like fruit and vegetables and that's it. They're not very open about food so I don't think tofu is even option or beans. Thanks for the suggestions of meal planning, I think I'll start doing that. But I fear it's going to be "pasta, pasta, pasta, soup, pasta, salad" because that's really all she feeds them and all they're willing to eat. So incredibly frustrated! Maybe I'll bake some delicious cupcakes so they're realize vegan food isn't scary and maybe it'll open them up to something other than pasta, meat, cheese.  :'(

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Okay, 2 and 4 and hard ages for most kids anyway.  So now I see where the Italian fits in.  There have just got to be a lot of beans there.  Little kids like beans--not kidney beans--but garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, lentils.  The other thing to remember is that most kids need to try a new food at least a couple of times before they like it.  The American Academy of Pediatrics did a study that found it takes on average 10 tries before a child will accept a new food.  And you might not have access to peanut butter, but I am sure you can get access to almond or cashew butter.  If not, it is quite a simple matter to make your own.  You can actually make your own seitan from whole wheat and white wheat flour.  Most people do not because it is such a long process and easier to do with the already available vital wheat gluten. But making seitan from scratch would actually be a fun project with little kids on a rainy afternoon.  All that kneading, but especially the rinsing in the hot and cold water in the big pots in the sink. They'd need to wear their raincoats.  They would also probably enjoy making potato gnocchi with you, which sounds complicated but is quite easy and fun for little kids.  And many kids really do like tofu, even if many adults don't. They actually like the blandness.

But assuming you don't have easy access to tofu, most of your cooking is going to be based on beans and nuts.  Check out the kid friendly category on this site.  There are a bunch of recipes that don't require special ingredients.  Like I said, I've had good luck with the ABC lentils recipe with my children at an early age.  There is also a book called "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen" by Donna Klein which has many excellent recipes that use no hard to find ingredients (except fresh produce, which actually can be hard to find). I have had good success with many of the recipes because she often notes which would be good for children.  There is a recipe in that book--Conchiglie with green peas and black eyed peas--that is one of my children's absolute favorites.  There is another site called allrecipes.com that has a zillion recipes and you can search for vegan ones.  And of course there is the famous veganlunchbox.com site which probably uses a lot of ingredients you dont' have access to but will give you ideas.

I think you're freaking out a bit because you're in a vaccuum and the ideas aren't coming.  I am sure in Switzerland there are veg groups that also exchange recipes, and many of these woudl be sutiable for children.  Once you start to gather more recipes they will give you more ideas and you will be okay.  Also, I frequently  have success with recipes that come from omni sources but just happen to be vegetarian.  For example, thiis is now a family favorite: 
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102854605.  You can make it with regular paprika if you can't find the Spanish one.  For my family, I cut up the spinach very fine before adding it to the pot. And I never include the egg at the end.  Here's another one that took about five tries before my kids ate it willingly (which is ridiculous because it is completely delicious). But I served it this week and they gobbled it down. Again, be sure to chop the spinach fine:  http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10397?section=.  In case the link doesn't work it is the "creepy finger sanwiches" from vegetariantimes.com.

The other thing to consider is that nobody is going to starve while you find your footing as a vegan mommy chef.  They have a fridge full of their famliar omni food that sounds like it is ready to eat. And although I'm probably risking getting kicked off vegweb for life for suggesting that you give a kid a deli ham slice--until you really get your cooking game going, it is important they not feel hungry or deprived.  It's not the end of the world. And if it weren't for you they'd be eating tons more of that garbage.

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Thanks so much for the help everyone. I'm going to try to introduce some vegan foods to the kids so I can at least eat lunch with them this summer. I feel like omni parents put so much less interest in cooking and preparing healthy meals for their kids and they're the ones who don't shut up about getting the right vitamins and nutrients, etc!

I'm going to try to the ABC lentils, hopefully it's something they like. I think it's partially that the mum is around during dinner and doesn't exactly encourage them to try the things I make with much enthusiasm.

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