I'm sure you'll be shocked to read that I'm not the most skilled or health conscious mom in the kitchen. Our refrigerator has yet to house one shred (leaf? piece?) of Kale and I'm happy if I can get some Chia seed laden yogurt down the toddler hatch every other day so I was thrilled when sweet Nell volunteered to share some of her expertise with us. When you're done being schooled here you'll want to hop over to her amazing blog where she shares her wealth of natural parenting/gardening/birthing/everythinging knowledge that you'll surely benefit from scouring.
When I think of what is for lunch for my toddler and up & coming cruiser, some days I just cringe. And then I have to mentally juggle what I am going to refrain from feeding them for lunch in case I need to save that for whatingod’sname I am going to feed them for dinner. Here are a few healthy snacks & meals for your kiddos to save you headache!
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. But I do love food. I love food that tastes good and is good. I love food that tastes like someone made it for me in a really nice restaurant. We try to eat as healthfully as possible with our 2 and a half year old boy and our 9 month old girl. We cook from scratch most days, baking our own bread and canning or freezing our veggies from our little city garden back yard. I’m inspired by the locavore, farmers’ market, coop & community supported agriculture movement. Our kiddos are deprived and do not yet know about candy, chocolate, and refined sugar. (Spurring on years of therapy down the road, I know, I know.) We shop at Costco & the coop. And sometimes Target when in a pinch.
You simply need a few simple recipes for healthy food to start your repertoire and then the sky (or the ends of the internet) is your limit! If you can make a habit of the baseline stuff being both good for you and good tasting, you’re golden.
1) Baby carrots, Akmak crackers, and hummus
I have found that the size and shape of baby carrots are perfect for my son (and teething daughter) despite being a lover of adult carrots. Cutting those bad boys up simply does not provide you with the perfectly grippable carrot.
For crackers, we purchase Akmak because they’re relatively inexpensive for an organic cracker and have few ingredients--all of which are healthy but also nummy.
For hummus, a quick and easy recipe is 1 15-ounce can drained chickpeas or garbanzo beans, 1 smashed garlic clove, 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best and kids love helping with this part!), optional 1/4 cup tahini which is sesame seed paste, optional 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil or the amount necessary for the right consistency, a little salt for flavor but not too much at the end, after you've blended everything in a food processor.
2) Dates, pears, and raw almonds or walnuts
Buy Mejool dates and rinse them and be sure to get the pit out before you dice them up. They are such a sweet treat! Raw nuts are better for you, and are packed with brain food big time. The pear has a sweet but crispness that I think pairs well with the super sweet date and crunch of the nuts.
1) Oatmeal Delight: This is breakfast every day. It has yet to not be a hit.
Directions: Bring one cup whole milk on the stove to a gentle boil, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add ½ cup oatmeal (whole rolled oats) and bring it to a rolling boil, then down to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Dish into your child’s favorite bowl, add plain whole milk yogurt and berries. Delish.
2) Butternut Squash Soup: I make big batches & freeze it in little glass jars as well as large ones--for my little man & my big man (that's the husband, you know). This is adapted the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook’s Butternut Squash Basil Soup:
Ingredients: 2 medium butternut squash, 1 medium yellow onion, 1 quart stock, 4 thick slices of cheddar, 3 garlic cloves diced, 4 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt, pepper, and optional brown sugar to taste
Directions: Cut squash in half, leaving seeds in. Place the halves, cut side down, on a buttered baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven until soft, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, saute diced onion with butter and olive oil in your favorite soup pot until translucent. Add garlic and dried basil. Stir for one minute and enjoy a deep whiff!
Quickly add veggie stock and let simmer. When the squash is done, remove seeds and process or mash the pulp until it's smooth, adding a bit of broth if necessary. Combine the puree with the broth and add sliced cheese. Adjust thickness by added more stock if desired. Stir in balsamic vinegar.
Taste the soup and add up to 2 tsp of brown sugar to enhance the flavor of the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste. I add raw sugar and it works too.
3) Carrot Waffles: Meet my go-to-I'm-making-breakfast-
for-a-non-breakfast-meal. It's simple and you
probably have all the ingredients on hand already. This is adapted from Willow
Bird Baking’s Carrot Cake Waffle recipe (http://willowbirdbaking.com/ 2010/03/30/carrot-cake- waffles/)
Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup whole milk, 2 eggs, separated, 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots
Directions: Combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and spices.
Mix together the yogurt & milk and the egg yolks. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Spray the waffle iron well and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl with a whisk or electric mixer (make sure bowl and mixer are spotlessly clean) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter. Add carrots—optional to add walnuts, and raisins (but my family doesn’t like these). Stir gently to combine.
Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Spray iron with cooking spray between waffles as needed.
Slather in real whipped cream and real maple syrup. YUM!
4) Real Deal Spaghetti: my brother-in-law's spaghetti recipe. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare and then you leave it on the stove for an hour or two. Can add meatballs, but it's really just amazing on its own. The secret to it? BUTTER!
Ingredients: 4 large cans whole peeled tomatoes; about ¼ pound hunk of parmesan or pecorino romano, angel hair spaghetti, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, fresh basil
Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot on the stove. Prep the tomatoes by squeezing out the seeds over the sink, then plop them into this pot. Save the liquid from the can & add one cup of it to the pot. Let that bad boy simmer for 1- 1 ½ hours with the lid on, adding the reserved liquid if it gets too reduced.
Meanwhile boil water in a saucepan and put 1 ½ pound of pasta into it and cook until very chewy. Drain it, but don’t rinse it. Put the cooked spaghetti into the large stock pot and finish cooking in the sauce (gets the flavor right into the core of the spaghetti!).
Now add 1 cup freshly grated parm or romano cheese, and 1 tablespoon of butter (I do more, truth be told). Fold it all in, and then add freshly torn basil leaves, like 8 or so. Tah-dah!
Natural Mama Nell is a lawyer-turned-mom-of-two-
blogger-Etsy-shopkeeper. She lives in a big old house
with her two kids, husband, and numerous pets. She loves hanging out with her
family, making pizza dough and flinging it up in the air, and gardening indoors
in the winter. She hates making beds, greasy glasses lenses, and wet socks. She
blogs about natural parenting at Whole Parenting Family (www.wholeparentingfamily.com)
and sells her mama & baby organic goods at Whole Parenting Goods (www.etsy.com/shop/ WholeParentingGoods)