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Monday, 14 July 2014

Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Week #2: Meet Registered Dietitian and Yoga Instructor -- Cristina Cavanaugh

We are now at week two of the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event which, as announced previously, is a virtual event featuring kid-friendly recipes, tips and pieces of advice from a few featured blogging friends who strive to prepare quick, easy and delicious meals for their children. We hope you will be inspired into how to encourage your child to eat more vegetables.

This week's featured blogger is Cristina Cavanaugh, RD, who writes a beautiful blog - BeginWithin Nutrition. Cristina is a registered dietitian, yoga instructor, and mom who is passionate about health and wellness. She strives to help people feel and look their best! "Variety is the key to ensure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet", as she rightly says it. I feel so privileged to have Cristina as a guest this week. I interviewed her and she was very kind to share with us some pieces of advice from her experience of working with mums and children.

1. You said you were interested in cooking and learning about healthy living at a young age, what triggered your interest in healthy living at that time?
I come from a long line of foodies! My mother is Italian and I grew up watching her and my grandmother cook. It always relaxed me and still does to this day! I remember waking up early with my grandma to pick squash flowers to turn them into a delicious salad for lunch. Something about using fresh, whole ingredients to create a meal has always amazed me!

2. Since when have you been a vegan and what made you choose this lifestyle?
I can’t call myself a vegan although I do feel like it is a diet that makes me feel my best. I would say I eat a vegan diet 90% of the time. However, becoming 100% vegan is a goal I strive for! My love for animals lead me to a plant based diet when I was in my early teens. I feel as though eating a plant based diet is a way for me to practice ahimisa or non-violence in my everyday life. In my professional career as a nutritionist, I truly believe that we are what we eat! Our food should be healing and by eating plants full of prana or energy is the best way for people to feel their best!

3. From your experience of working with mums and children, what type of vegetable dishes have you found to be most successful with children and welcomed by mums too?
Quinoa! I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love quinoa! Some day’s quinoa is all I can get my little one to eat! It’s super easy to make, is very versatile and tastes great too! For an added nutritional boost I add sesame seeds, which are high in calcium! Quinoa can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I recommend cooking a plain batch in the beginning of the week and using it as needed for a quick and healthy meal!

4. What has been your best experience so far from working with parents and children (in terms a particular project or event if any)?
I loved working with WIC as a nutritionist. I was able to interact with moms from a variety of different backgrounds and ethnicities. I was there to educate moms, but I learned so much more from them!

5. What advice can you give to parents to ensure their children are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet? Do you recommend supplements as part of a healthy diet?
Variety is the key to ensure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet. Rotate grains, always add different sources of protein to meals and snacks and experiment with new fruits and vegetables. Also, add what I like to call superfoods to meals and snacks. Some superfoods include hemp seeds, chia seeds, miso, sesame seeds, seaweed and wheat grass to name a few! These ingredients add a power packed nutritional punch! I add them to smoothies, soups, salads and dips. Yes, I do recommend high quality supplements, especially a probiotic supplement.

6. Do you have any particular plans for the next year, for your blog or career-wise? Five years from now?
I don’t! I know I should, but honestly being a good mom is all I am focused on at the moment! I would love to devote more time to my blog and I know that day will come, but for now all my energy goes to my family!

7. Anything else you would like to share?
I wanted to share my recipe for miso soup, because not only is it kid friendly, it is super healing! We eat miso soup year round, even in the summer! It contains probiotics from the miso paste, phytonutrients from the seaweed and fiber rich vegetables, all are important ingredients for keeping immune systems running strong! Feel free to use any veggies that your kids like! Baby spinach, tofu and edamame are all great add-ins! I hope you like it as much as we do :)

Spring Pea Miso Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup alphabet pasta (or brown rice)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas
1 large pinch of wakame
1-2 tablespoons Bragg’s Amino Acids
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons white miso paste

In a large soup pot add broth, water, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add pasta or brown rice and cook until tender. Add chickpeas, frozen peas, wakame, Bragg’s Amino Acids and toasted sesame seed oil. Cover and remove from heat. In a small bowl mix miso paste with a few tablespoons of water until thinned out. When soup is no longer simmering, stir in miso paste. Serve warm and enjoy!

Sweet Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced using a mandoline
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
½ tablespoon organic cane sugar or agave (optional)
½ tablespoon red onion, minced
Pinch sea salt
Small pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Gomasio for garnish

Add sliced cucumbers to a medium bowl, set aside. In a small bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, sugar, red onion and sea salt. Drizzle on top of cucumbers and toss to coat. Top with gomasio and enjoy!

Note: I only add crushed red pepper flakes for an adult version, kids don’t always tolerate heat well!


Thank you Cristina for sharing these delicious recipes with us. Miso soup is one of my favourite all-year-round recipe too!

Connect with Cristina

BeginWithin Nutrition Blog


Visit the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event main page for updates on participating guest bloggers every week until August 2014.
If you haven't already, follow Veganlovlie by email by clicking on the envelope icon in the sidebar at the top then enter your email address. Or you can subscribe to the Veganlovlie's Sunshine Newsletter.

In case you missed our previously featured blogger:

Sarah Creighton

If you want to link to this event, grab the banner below.


  1. What a great series! I love the alphabet pasta in the miso soup! I've never seen that before, that's an awesome idea. :-)

    1. I also thought this was very creative. I love miso and I could have an alphabet pasta all by myself!

  2. I'm glad she shared these recipes. I love miso so much, too, and my kids always like buying those little miso soup cups in the store so I'd love to make it.

    1. Glad you liked Cristina's recipes. I have miso soup almost every week. I'm starting to think I should start fermenting my own soybeans. :)

  3. This is a great idea! I like reading about other people. Her recipes sound great, too.


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