Who doesn’t love Wagamama? The family friendly restaurant that first opened its doors in London’s Bloomsbury in 1992 and offered us a new way to enjoy eastern foods. Inspired by fast-paced, Japanese ramen bars and a celebration of Asian food it opened our minds to a unique way of eating socially with shared tables and benches, freshly cooked noodles and broths that nourish both body and mind and, the odd bit of soup slurping too.
We’re also fans of the children’s menu with a vast selection of mini dishes, we now all know and love, from mini ramen bowls, katsu dishes and yaki soba. Rounded out with a mini juice and fruit ice pop. So, we were intrigued to hear about the new refreshed children’s menu available at Wagamama to include more vegan dishes. With tofu, lentils, passionfruit, butternut squash, a range of plant-based dishes and updated classics like mini yasai ramen (udon noodles in a vegetable soup with fried tofu) and mini yasai katsu curry (sweet potato and butternut squash in crispy panic breadcrumbs).
Noticing a 60% increase in the proportion of customers enjoying a vegan option as their main course, Wagamama wanted to serve up this same authentic experience for children, with a vegan diet in mind. This in turn offers children a chance to broaden their taste buds – but, as parents we know this isn’t always an easy task – so, they have introduced the ‘Tofu Challenge’, where kids are encouraged to try a piece of tofu in vegetable broth (for free in all restaurants across the UK).
As well as this they have worked with a specialist Paediatric Dietitian Bahee Van de Bor to come up with the top 30 plant-based foods to try before they’re 12. Aiming to encourage kids to be more playful with their palettes with a selection of fun flavours, crisp and crunchy textures and go outside their cuisine comfort zone. The vegan list has been carefully selected and based on natural, unprocessed foods, with a focus on ingredients that are nutritionally beneficial for children on a plant-based diet.
Bahee Van de Bor says, ‘It’s vital that children who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle are still consuming important nutrients. These include protein, iron and vitamin B12 for normal growth and immunity; essential omega-3 fats and iodine for brain development; and calcium for building healthy bones and teeth’ and, Ross Farquhar, Chief Marketing Officer added:
And, us at Junior are all for encouraging children to eat more healthily. Ready for the list…
Wagamama: Top 30 Vegan foods to try before you’re 12
- Tofu for protection against heart disease and also help reduce bone loss
- Edamame a useful snack for kids as an additional way to sneak in protein into children’s diets
- Sesame Seeds these contribute iron and zinc but also a range of vitamins and minerals
- Peanuts rich in antioxidants and a good source of zinc for those who aren’t allergic
- Guava high in Vitamin C which is an immune booster and protects from infection, such as the regular coughs and colds
- Banana the prebiotic fibre in bananas help the growth of friendly “good” bacteria in the gut to help maintain a healthy digestive system
- Broccoli a nutritious vegetable with multiple vitamins and at least 50% of calcium present in broccoli is absorbed by the body.
- Spinach high in iron, which is important for transporting oxygen around the body
- Sweet potato rich in beta-carotene, a vitamin important for immunity and vision
- Red Split Lentils rich in iron and a great source of fibre
- All Beans: Chickpeas, Butter Beans, Haricot, Adzuki all an excellent source of plant protein and carbohydrate with soluble fibre – supporting a healthy central nervous system and children’s learning capacity
- Soba Noodles high in fibre and also higher in protein compared to standard wheat-based noodles
- Beets nitrates in beetroot are thought to help promote cognitive function
- Carrots rich in fat-soluble vitamin A that children require for vision, immunity as well as normal growth and development
- Amaranth a high protein grain that is complete with all essential amino acids and antioxidants
- Oats containing a beta-glucan fibre which helps prevent constipation
- Blueberries a superfood that is beneficial for heart health, brain function, low in calories and anti-inflammatory properties
- Mango the high vitamin A content makes it a great food source for immunity, healthy hair and skin
- Walnuts offering the perfect ratio of the essential omega-3 fats to help the body make DHA that has an important role in brain development
- Almonds one of the best sources of vitamin E foods (23.9mg/100g)and also rich in iron
- Apple as most of the fibre and antioxidants are on the skin, it’s best to encourage kids to eat with the skin left on
- Passion Fruit full of vitamin A that is important for immunity, vision and healthy skin
- Mushrooms an affordable source of selenium with a “meaty” texture
- Bell Peppers the vitamin C in bell peppers also helps the absorption of iron from plant foods
- Artichoke an excellent source of fibre that helps feed the healthy bacteria in the gut
- Kale the calcium in kale is highly bioavailable with at least 50-60% which is absorbed
- Butternut Squash a nutritious food for kids that is high in both vitamin A and is a source of vitamin E and potassium
- Aubergine especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that’s responsible for their vibrant colour
- Rapeseed Oil rich in poly and mono fats, it is also a source of parent omega-3 fats which the body can convert to a small extent to DHA (DHA has a role in the normal development of the brain and eyes)
- Calcium Fortified Plant Drink it is advised children following a plant-based diet require a reliable source of calcium which can be found in soy or oat-based calcium enriched drink