Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas with Togarashi Sweet Potato Fries and Lemon Aioli

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Jazz up your normal (ahem, boring) quesadillas with these Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas. Add in spicy Togarashi Sweet Potato Fries and top with zesty Lemon Aioli, and you have a creative and flavorful meal.

Cooking Vegan for a Family

One of the most common complaints I hear when people consider transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is kids and family. Because most children are so accustomed to having meat at every meal, they balk at the idea of eating only vegetables. So how do you get picky kids (and adults) to enjoy vegan foods? Check out these top tips.

Educate

First of all, take the time to explain to your family the reason for the change. When they understand the health benefits for the decision, they’re more likely to cooperate. You can even go as far as to tell your kids the benefits of specific foods and help them learn to appreciate the value of them.

Don’t Be an Extremist

If you recently decided to become vegan, resist the temptation to force it on your family as all-or-nothing. Resist the urge to pack organic vegan-friendly meals when your kids go to a friend’s pizza party. You may even decide to set aside one day a week for them to choose whatever they want to eat. In the long run, they’ll be better off for the small changes.

Involve Them in the Process

From the very start, you can involve your family in their food choices. Ask them to help look for recipes and plan menus. Take them with you to the store and involve their help choosing groceries. Invite kids to help cook and serve the meal. Kids are far more likely to eat a new food if they’ve been involved in the planning and preparation process.

Keep it Familiar

If you start out with exotic dishes that taste unfamiliar to your family, you may catch some flack. Instead, choose things that taste familiar. That’s why I love recipes like these Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas. I mean, what kid doesn’t love good, cheesy quesadillas? There’s enough familiarity to it that they will likely accept the foods better. (And it’s okay to leave out the kimchi if that helps too. Be flexible.)

So cook vegan burgers and pizzas and Mac and cheese and soups and such. You can gradually branch out with more creative dishes, but not all at once.

Make it Fun

Have a kid who doesn’t want smoothies? Then freeze them and make popsicles instead. Spiralize assorted vegetables for fun texture. Mix up colors; serve finger foods…whatever it takes to get them involved.

Fake Them Out

Okay, so this isn’t my favorite method because it’s better for kids to learn good eating habits. But occasionally, there’s no harm in sneaking some spinach in their smoothie, black beans in the brownies, or pureed carrots in the pizza sauce. You can also purchase vegan “meat” products, such as chicken nuggets, hamburger patties, lunch meat, hot dogs, and more. While these aren’t always the most nutritious option, they can be great for adding occasional variety.

Baby Steps Are Still Steps

Even if you’re family isn’t all-in when it comes to a vegan lifestyle, small changes add up to make a big difference. You may start by cooking just one vegan meal a week. That’s still a step in the right direction.


Looking for more kid-friendly vegan recipes? Check out some of my favorites:

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Black Bean and Kimchi Quesadillas with Togarashi Sweet Potato Fries and Lemon Aioli

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield:2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato, sliced into fries

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided

1 teaspoon togarashi spice

Salt and pepper

1 lemon, halved

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 cup kimchi, finely chopped

1/2 cup vegan cheddar or pepper jack, divided

2 gluten-free tortillas (or gluten-filled)

1 jalapeño, sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, leaves removed from stem

Instructions

For the Fries

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss sweet potato fries with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, togarashi spice, and a generous sprinkle of salt.

For the Aioli

  1. Make the aioli by stirring together the juice of half of the lemon, vegan mayonnaise, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Quesadillas

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the black beans, chili powder, and 1/4 cup of water. Mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Build the quesadillas by layering black bean mash, kimchi, and 1/4 cup vegan cheese on half a tortilla. Fold in half.
  3. Next, add one teaspoon grapeseed oil to a cast iron skillet and cook quesadilla until browned on each side. Repeat with the other quesadilla.
  4. Cut quesadillas into quarters top with sliced jalapeño, aioli and garnish with cilantro.

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