When little B first started eating finger foods these little gems were cooked up on a regular basis. Since we have recently had a bout of an eating strike (I think thanks to sickies, teeth and lets face it, temperament) I thought I would go back to basics for a few weeks to see what I could get him to try again. While the first night was a success, with 4 bites successfully consumed, all future attempts were like watching Custer’s last stand. I guess you win some, you loose some.
The recipe makes about 2 dozen bites so feel free to cut it in half the first time you make it (something I should have done this time.)
2 small baked or boiled sweet potatoes, skin removed
½ bag of frozen broccoli, defrosted
½ C shredded cheese, cheddar, parm, whatever you like
¼ C + 1 C binder, this could be bread crumbs but I use infant cereal to boost the iron
Place all ingredients except for the additional 1 C of binder in a food processor and pulse until the broccoli is chopped and the ingredients are mixed. Pour 1 C of binder onto a dry work surface. Make small balls of the mixture with your hands and then roll them in the binder to form a crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes flipping once during the cooking process.
There has never been a plate of this carb and cheese filled goodness that I have not enjoyed. As a kid my mother would always let us choose our birthday dinner… I always wanted to have Kraft mac n’ cheese with carrot sticks and apple slices. To this day I still dream about a lobster filled version I had while traveling for work.
I love both the traditional baked dish as well as this creamy bechamel version which is totally way more messy and therefore kidtastic. A few of my favorite twists on this family friendly staple are: chopped broccoli and chicken, ground beef and tomatoes or tuna and peas. The sauce can actually be saved in the fridge (sans noodles) for up to a week and actually works really well as a base for another one of my favorites…. NACHOS!
4 tbs butter cut into chunks
¼ c diced onion (I send mine through the food processor)
¼ c flour
2 c heavy cream (or milk), warm
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayenne pepper or a couple splashes of hot sauce for a mild version
½ tsp salt
8 oz of cheddar cheese (either one small bag of shredded or one regular bar)
Pasta: I use WF 356 brand whole wheat shells because I like the extra nutritional value you get from a whole wheat pasta, the price is right and B loves being able to stick the noodles on his fingers before he puts them in his mouth.
Melt butter in a pan and add onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add flour and stir until it is incorporated. Slowly add in hot milk and continue stirring to keep it from clumping. Reduce heat to low, add spices and slowly add cheese stirring until the everything is the same consistency. Serve immediately by mixing with cooked pasta or store in fridge. The sauce will thicken in fridge so you might need to add a bit more milk, water or chicken stock to thin it as you warm it back up.
Courtney H has been requesting my meatball post for a while so after making almost 200 balls for our holiday open house over the weekend I finally got off my butt and wrote it.
Meatball problems are they can be dry and time consuming but hey, they freeze well and can be used with a variety of sauces including but not limited to pesto, a veggie sauce (like roasted red pepper), white sauce, Swedish gravy, Asian sweet and sour, that crazy grape jelly sauce (I’m not a fan), Thai peanut sauce (see my Thai balls) and last but certainly not least a traditional tomato sauce.The secret to good balls is the sauce. Let them sit in it after baking so they plump up nice and moist.
<photo credit: Brundage Photography>
Traditionally meatballs are like meatloaf, made with a mix of meats but in the end its all about your palates preference. I have made straight chicken, turkey, port or beef balls and as long as you use good meat they all turn out super yummy so just go where your stomach leads you. This past week I did straight beef since WF had some yummy grass fed beef on sale.
Basic Ball Recipe
1.5 lbs of ground meat
¼ c bread crumbs
½ small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 c Parmesan cheese
2 tbs EVOO
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Make small palm sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min or until brown.
Variations on a theme:
Traditional Italian: add fresh chopped parsley and basil (both are high in iron and quite tasty), ¼ tsp red pepper flakes and 1 tbs of Italian seasoning.
Apple Sage: Use chicken or pork. Add 2 finely chopped or shredded apples and a handful of chopped fresh sage. (Sage does great in the garden year round so if you don’t have some in your yard already purchase it this spring)
Spicy Ginger: Peel and finely chop a 4 inch piece of ginger, ¼ to ½ tsp sriracha and replace on tbs of EVOO with Sesame oil.
Tasty Thai: 4 inch stalk of lemon grass (finely chopped), handful each of fresh mint, basil and cilantro (chopped) 2 inch piece of ginger (peeled and chopped)
Sweet Middle East: 1 tsp of each of the following spices: cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger ¼ tsp cayenne pepper and 2 tsp of honey
One of my play group buddies recently referred to her pediatrician as Dr. Spaceman after he suggested she feed her daughter pizza rolls to help fatten her up. After that conversation, the group of us did a little digging to come up with some healthier high calorie snacks to help all of our tiny tots stay on their growth curve. Since I am a researcher by trade, I did a little extra digging and found it fascinating that many moms of the tiniest tots fortify milk by adding half and half to it to boost up the calorie count. I will say that I am a big fan of the Homestead Creamery cream line milk which tastes like it is straight from the cow. But back to the original thought: snacks.
Our favorite healthy snacks that pack a high calorie punch
1. Whole Wheat Toast &: avocado, EVOO, hummus or full fat versions of butter, melted cheese or cream cheese to increase the calorie count. If your toddler has been cleared for nut butters a banana and nut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread. For non nut kids try Sunbutter, a nut free alternative.
2. Eggs are a great healthy calorie source. Try making an omelet, making a breakfast quesadilla, homemade French toast, egg salad or deviled eggs.
3. Fruit Smoothies: blend whole milk yogurt, whole milk and a favorite fruit.
4. Bumped up grilled cheese: use French toast instead of regular bread to increase the calorie content. This idea can be used for any type of sandwich.
5. Peanut butter play dough: mix nut butter of choice with equal parts powdered milk and honey and roll into balls to create “cookies” for your little one.
6. Mini meatballs: use your ground meat of choice adding spices and veggies/fruits of choice to season them as you like. (Ill post a couple mini meatball recipes soon)
7. Homemade chicken fingers or fish sticks. When I make these I soak the protein in buttermilk, dredge in flour, dip in egg and then cover with a mix of panko bread crumbs and either coconut flakes or almond meal.
8. Homemade baked goods including banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread or muffins
9. Hand cut fries: use your potato of choice and toss in EVOO and spices.
10. Pasta Either adding additional ricotta cheese to your child’s macaroni and cheese or regular pasta sauce of choice or making your own white sauce out of butter, half and half and Parmesan.
The holidays are here… the holidays are here! For many of us this means many hours in a plane, train or car trying to
wrangle occupy a crazy toddler for the sanity of everyone around. On top of struggling to keep your little one in good spirits it’s often difficult for parents to offer nutritious on the go snacks and meals while traveling so I thought I would put together a little list of delicious and nutritious snack and meal options to take on the road.
5 Great Healthy and Car Friendly Snack Options for Toddlers
1. Dairy: cheese sticks and yogurt tubes- Horizon and Organic Valley both make individually wrapped organic whole milk cheese sticks that are perfectly packed protein options. Stonyfield Farms makes organic versions of Gogurts- I wish they made a whole milk version but they are great spoon free options for car rides and can also be frozen to help keep other items cool.
2. Vegetables: Cooked baby carrots are a great homemade snack. I usually roll them in a little bit of EVOO, cinnamon and cumin and roast them down until they are soft. For the adults I usually leave them in the oven until they get a bit crispier and turn them into carrot “fries.” They are great non messy finger foods to enjoy in the car. Other easy veggies are frozen green beans, edamame and peas.
3. Fruit: I try to stick to the ones that come in their own package like berries and grapes (cut in half) but you could always cook down some apple or pear slices if you wanted.
4. Sandwich sticks: B loves the soft whole wheat sandwich thins so I have been giving him hummus, turkey and avocado sandwich strips that he can hold and eat on his own.
5. Fruit and veggie pouches: There are several companies that make these treats. B loves them and can suck them down all by himself which makes me love them. Since we couldn’t take any fresh fruit or vegetables with us to Hawaii he basically lived off of these on the plane.My favorites include: Earth’s Best Smoothies and Go Go SqueeZ Applesauce.
Snacks: I’m a mom, not a monster.
1. Earth’s Best Cereal Bars- B literally kicks his feet when he sees these treats.
2. Animal Crackers- These fun snacks are also great teaching tools/games to play. You can talk about the animal names and sounds as you eat.
3. Earth’s Best Letter of the Day cookies. Again, these can be a fun teaching tool to show your toddler their letters as they enjoy a snack.