Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feeding an Opinionated Toddler

Feeding a toddler is very different from feeding baby. It's easier in the sense that you can cook the same meals for everyone and not have to make separate dishes for your baby. On the contrary, feeding a little one who is having more and more of their own opinions every day can be a challenge. Devyn doesn't eat as much as she used to and this can be distressing, although very normal for a toddler. I would like to share some of the meals that I make for Devyn for a few reasons. Sometimes we get stuck and run out of ideas for feeding ourselves and our little ones and find that we are tired of the same kinds of dishes week after week. I'm a pretty adventurous cook so I am always trying new things to see what I can make that is nutritious and that will appeal to her. I also find that feeding Devyn is easier when I allow her to feed herself. When I try to spoon feed her she will take a few bites and then turn her entire torso around, rejecting any more of my advances.. kind of like the exorcist. When she sees me pick up her spoon she is already turned by the time I'm done scooping up a spoonful. She also does not care to sit in the chair for as long as it takes to consume a meal. When I let her feed herself it keeps her occupied. I put the food down on her tray (put the dogs away too otherwise its much more fun feeding them than feeding herself) and let her have at it. Without my attention she will generally eat a decent sized meal. Givng her time also helps because sometimes she loses interest for a few minutes and then goes back to eating again. Most of these meals are great for self feeding just because Devyn would rather do it herself at this stage. It's messy but it's nice to be able to eat my own food while it's still hot! Here are some of the recipes that I prepare for her although there aren't any measurements because I cook to taste and if you're making it for your baby, yourself and your baby, or your whole family, you will have to adjust amounts and flavors accordingly.

Fruit and Oatmeal
If I make hot cereal tasty enough, she will tolerate being spoon fed and she will eat it up! I use whole milk in her hot cereals to increase her daily milk consumption.

A small apple, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
Whole milk
Good vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Butter (optional)

Put the cut up apple in a microwave safe dish with a little water and cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave until tender (60-90 seconds). Prepare oatmeal according to package directions. After adding oats to boiling water/milk, add apples, cinnamon and vanilla to taste. Do not leave out the salt because it makes a HUGE difference when making hot cereals. Cook until oats are tender enough for your baby to chew. Alternately you can use dried fruit (cranberries, apricots roughly chopped). Put these in the water and bring to a slow boil before adding oats so they can rehydrate and soften. For the adults I toast some nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans) and sprinkle them on the finished cereal. You can add some brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten if desired.
Veggie Scrambled Eggs
This is a great self feeding recipe. I serve it with 100% whole wheat toast that I offer when she's halway through with eating the eggs. I ate this quite a bit while Devyn was still in my tummy!

Eggs (duh!)
Frozen spinach
Shredded Cheese (cheddar, swiss, provlone.. anything not processed)
Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onions until softened in your choice of fat (butter, canola oil, olive oil). Meanwhile defrost spinach in a collander under warm water. Squeeze water out VERY well. When the onions are cooked, add the spinach and then the eggs. Scramble until cooked through. Sprinkle cheese on top and gently fold into eggs. Alternately you can use any veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, peppers.. the possibilities are endless). I will usually throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand.

Banana French Toast
You can substitute bananas for sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, soft cooked apple or pear.. whatever you have on hand. Using 100% whole wheat bread guarantees that you're getting the most nutritious whole grains. Pure maple syrup is actually good for your health with heart healthy minerals and antioxidants

100% Whole Bread
Good vanilla extract
Butter or Pam
Pure maple syrup
A ripe banana

Break eggs into a shallow dish. Add enough milk and mix with a fork until custard is light yellow. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. You can either soak the bread in the custard or put the bread in a shallow pan and pour the custard over it, turning bread over so it soaks through thoroughly. Since whole wheat bread tends to be dense it's best to let it sit for a few minutes to allow it soften. Grease a hot skillet and cook French toast until golden. Top with sliced bananas and maple syrup.

Blueberry Smoothie

I like to use frozen fruit when I make smoothies because it makes it nice and cold without using ice. Any frozen fruit can be used. For health conscious mamas whole milk products probably aren't ideal, however they're best for your baby's growth and development at this time. You can use flavored yogurt obviously, but I only buy plain yogurt for Devyn and mix in fresh fruit to avoid sugar overload.

Frozen blueberries
Whole milk yogurt
Whole milk
Honey (Only for babies over 1 year who are not allergic. I only use a drop to offset the tartness of the blueberies)
Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese
I can't take credit for this recipe because it belongs to Alton Brown and I've been making it way before Devyn was even a thought. She is a huge fan though so I had to add it to the list. It's a little more labor intensive than the rest of these recipes but it's well worth it. You can serve it on crackers of make a sandwich with whole wheat bread.

1 small zucchini
1 small onion
1 red pepper
8 oz. bar of cream cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Slice all vegetables and put in a baking pan, tossing with olive oil (enough to coat so they don't stick. Roast veggies in the oven, stirring occasionally until tender (about 40 minutes). Allow to cool thoroughly. Transfer veggies (not liquid) into a food processor or finely chop. Add cream cheese and combine. Season to taste.

Devyn's Quesadillas
Alternately you can make this using whole wheat bread so that it's more like grilled cheese. This is a pretty messy self feeding meal but oh so good!

2 Whole Wheat tortillas
1/3 roma tomato, small dice
1/2 Hass avocado
Shredded cheddar
Butter or Pam spray

Grease pan over medium heat and put in first tortilla. Top woth shredded cheddar and tomato. On the other tortilla, scoop out avocado and spread to cover. Place tortilla avocado side down on cheese and tomatos. Cook until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden and crisp on both sides. Let sit for a few minutes for the filling to resettle so it doesn't ooze out when you cut it. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and into smaller bites if necessary for your little one.

Fried Rice
If you don't have time to cook brown rice the old fashioned way, Trader Joe's sells it frozen and it cooks up perfectly in 3 minutes. Ginger, garlic and soy are the holy trinity of Chinese cooking. The right combination of these yields delicious chinese dishes. Fresh ginger keeps well in the freezer but a little dried ginger works just as well. This is a great dinner for the whole family.

Brown rice
Frozen Veggies (I use broccoli, carrots, asparagus and peas)
Onion, small dice
Chicken breast, finely chopped
Scrambled egg (optional)
Ginger, grated
Garlic, grated
Soy sauce
Sesame oil

In a microwave safe dish, cook veggies until tender and cut into small pieces. Heat a little sesame oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat. Cook onions for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken breast and when it is halfway done add garlic and ginger. Sautee for 1 minute then add veggies and brown rice. Once everything is nice and hot add soy sauce to taste.

Pastina is tiny star shaped pasta. I grew up on this and its great comfort food that most kids love.

Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach or a combination, cut into small pieces
1 egg, raw and scrambled

Cook pastina in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Halfway through, add the veggies so they can cook with the pasta. When tender, drain and add back to the pot over medium hear. Add egg and butter and cook, stirring until fluffy and the egg is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Alternately you can add cheese, either with or without the veggies.

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