Veganuary with the family

    Asset 26

    New Year is almost here, which means families all over the world will be making their resolutions for 2021. With help from our experts, we’re sharing simple and nutritious dishes full of flavour for you and your little ones to try this Veganuary.  

    At nurseries by Gymfinity Kids, we make smart food decision for little tummies. When it comes to food, studies show that having a balanced and nutritious diet directly impacts a child’s growth and development.

    That’s why we have turned to our nursery caterers the Yum Yum Food Company & award-winning children’s nutritionist and author Annabel Karmel MBE to create our nursery menu (as well as share some of their Vegan recipes for Veganuary below).

    Even if you’re not doing Veganuary this year, why not try out one or two vegan dishes and be a flexitarian! There’s lots of vegan alternatives to try, packed full of nourishment.

    The importance of Iron for babies

    If you’re following a vegetarian diet for Veganuary, there are plenty of non-meat sources of iron. However, as these are primarily plant-based, the absorption of this form of iron is lower, so the amount your baby will need is slightly higher.

    Best vegetarian sources of iron:

    • Wholegrain foods (such as brown pasta, wholegrain bread, brown rice and even chia seeds)
    • Tofu – mini croquettes are always a hit with tiny hands!
    • Beans and pulses (such as lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas) – lentil puree and homemade chickpea humus
    • Dried fruit (including dates, apricots and raisins) – add to porridge, stews and casseroles
    • Dark green leafy veggies (for example spinach and kale) – lightly cooked by steaming or stir frying

    Pairing vitamin C with iron

    Did you know that vitamin C aids iron absorption?

    Annabel Karmel explains: “By pairing iron containing foods with a vitamin C rich food it will help with the absorption of iron. This is particularly important for those following a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based diet.”

    Which foods are high in vitamin C?

    • Fresh fruit (for example strawberries, blueberries, mango and kiwi)
    • Raw and lightly cooked vegetables (such as red peppers and tomatoes)
    • Green veggies (like broccoli and spinach) – plus these contain iron too!

    And remember, if you are cooking vegetables, be sure to only very lightly cook these as vitamin C is heat sensitive. Heating them for a prolonged time reduces the level of this nutrient. Stir frying or steaming is one of the best ways to cook veggies.

    Vegan recipes:

    Tasty Lentil Bolognese

    You won’t miss the meat in this Bolognese sauce! For a full list of ingredients click here.

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes


    1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, carrots and aubergine.
    2. Fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and coat in the mixture. Add the chopped tomatoes. stock, sundried tomato paste and seasoning.
    3. Cover with a lid, bring up to the boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are soft and the sauce is reduced. Add thyme and soy sauce.
    4. Cook the pasta according to the packet instruction, drain and toss the sauce.

    Annabel Karmel’s Favourite Vegan Burger

    Sneaking vegetables into a burger is a good option for children who are super fussy and profess to hate their veggies. For a full list of ingredients click here.

    Prep Time: 10 – 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 20-25 minutes


    1. Put the grated carrot and courgette in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and add the mushrooms, oregano, parsley, cayenne pepper, ketchup, soy sauce and 100g/3½oz of the breadcrumbs. Mix well and season with a little salt and pepper.
    • Put the chia seeds (if using) in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons of cold water and leave for 5 minutes until thickened. Add the mixture to the vegetables in the bowl or, if using egg substitute, mix the powder with 2 tablespoons of cold water then add it to the mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 burgers and coat each burger in the remaining breadcrumbs.
    • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the burgers in batches for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Serve with soup or salad.

    Annabel’s Quinoa Salad

    A tasty treat for the whole family, find a full list of ingredients here.

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Cook Time: 6 minutes (plus 30 minutes chill time)


    1. Open the packet of quinoa. Place in a bowl. Add 100 ml of water. Cover with cling film and make some holes. Cook in the microwave for 6 minutes until fluffy. Leave to stand until cold.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients to the quinoa and season.
    3. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the salad.
    4. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

    Read all about our collaboration with Annabel Karmel & the Yum Yum Food Company here.

    If Veganuary isn’t for you, browse through hundreds of other exciting recipes by Annabel Karmel here.

    If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please get in touch with a member of our team. Nourishment is one of our Key Pillars, find out more about our food for focus and discover our new delicious nursery menu here.

    Our nurseries are located in Milton KeynesCambridgeMaidstone & Wandsworth, book a personal tour today!