Toddler Breakfast Eating: Banana Raisin Granola Porridge

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I feel like breakfast is the one meal that I have struggled the most with in terms of finding things that are healthy and with variety to feed my children in the morning. Let’s not forget that it should be quick too – because 1) I’m not a morning person and 2) I don’t cook. This comes from a person who usually just grabs a protein shake to-go as I’m running out the door to go do a gazillion things… Or I turn to caffeine for myself to wake me up and suppress my appetite. Sigh. But of course, I wouldn’t do that to my kids! So here’s the thing…. My daughter doesn’t like eggs. My son dabbles with it. Both will do the pancake thing but I’m not too enthusiastic about how much they soak it with syrup. Plus, if they do eat pancakes, I’d prefer it be some healthy homemade version I’ve seen a recipe for on Pinterest. But… remember I’m not a morning person and I don’t cook… so therefore, it is unlikely that I’d be up every morning making pancakes for my little people.

Surprisingly enough… my kids have been eating nearly the SAME breakfast (variation) since they were both 15 months old? (Around there). Its crazy that they are ok with eating similar breakfast day in and day out. Its basically a toddler variation of of the rice cereal that they at as babies. To be honest, its like softer version of adult oatmeal in my opinion, which is why I titled it “porridge”. I’ve actually bought some Steel Oats to try and make other variations of oatmeal, but the kids are still happy with this breakfast, so I’m not one to try and fix something that isn’t broken. This post is specifically about Banana Raisin Granola…. but – I’ll list some other fruit variations we do at the bottom. The base – the cereal is all the same. The variation is all in the fruit that’s mixed.

Nonetheless, my kids like it, and its healthy, organic, and its a great way for them to start the day. Here’s how it goes:

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So what’s not pictured here: Horizon 2% DHA Milk (or whatever milk you want to use) and an organic Banana.

Directions – Warm up about 2-3oz of milk in the microwave. Mix in about 3 tablespoons of the baby cereal (I alternate between the HappyBellies multi-grain, rice, and oatmeal) or as much to get the consistency you like. Then I mash/dice in 1/2 a banana. My daughter likes a 1.5 tablespoons of the granola and dumps a box of the organic raisins in.  Mix…… and she kills it!

This is my daughter’s favorite variation.

Other fruit variations that we rotate through: (Note – my kids like the granola added in no matter what fruit it is. This started more recently – I’d only do it for experienced eaters because they are really crunchy with some big pieces)

– Applesauce – You can buy the 4oz snack packages in organic apple flavor and non-organic I have found a berry flavor as well. I usually add cinnamon sometimes instead of buying the cinnamon flavored applesauce.

– Pear – Trader Joes sells the 4oz snack packages of pear sauce – this is great for the younger kids. My kids are older now, so I usually get a can of diced pears or use the Dole’s diced Pears 4oz snack packages that are come in 100% juice – not syrup! My kids like to drink the juice after I’ve put all the diced pieces into their bowl.  Don’t forget fresh pears are always good!

– Passion Fruit – My daughter likes the passion fruit that comes from the Dole’s Tropical Fruit cups – again – the one in 100% juice!

– Mango or Peach Mango – For this one, I usually buy frozen organic peaches and Trader Joes has frozen organic mangoes. I put enough to fill a small sauce pan and boil it with some water until its pretty soft. Then I drain the fruit and toss it in the Magic Bullet and smooth it out a bit. These end up in small 2oz containers in the fridge – or freezer if you make a lot. Each breakfast serving usually requires about 2oz of fruit.

-Blueberry or Blueberry/Raspberry – Similar to Mango, buy the frozen organic fruit and boil it in a saucepan. For the berries, no need to puree – just spoon it into the bowl and/or containers.

 

P.S. If you are wondering what happens when we aren’t home and are traveling? Well…. for the most part, if you are staying at a house or somewhere with a microwave and fridge, then just bring a can of the rice cereal. You can buy milk and bananas anywhere to make a simple breakfast version. On days when I’m just doing a quick overnighter somewhere or staying at someone’s house – I usually grab the Gerber Graduates Breakfast – apple cinnamon oatmeal. The kids like it. 🙂

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Toddler Eating: Healthier than Hamburger-Helper

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Seriously… this is as simple as mac n’ cheese. And the kids LOVE it.

Ingredients:

  • Veggie Pasta – I usually use about a 5th of the box and it yields 6 small servings for my kids.
  • Pasta Sauce – I’ve been using Ragu Chunky Garden – but looking for an organic sauce that I like still.
  • Organic Ground Beef – Trader Joes – I usually use about a 5th of the package for this recipe
  • Cheddar Cheese

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How much to cook depends on your needs in terms of servings. I usually start with boiling the pasta and based on how much of it I have once cooked, then I’ll add in the ground beef and sauce until it thoroughly covers all the pasta. I add in cheddar cheese at the end – either small cubes or shredded and stir until it melts into it. This is a personal preference because I think it take the edge off the “tomato-y” taste of pasta. mhmmmmm. Easy peasy!

Toddler Eating: Spinach & Turkey Quesadillas

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Mhmm mhmmm mhmmm… Even I enjoy one of these for lunch! Much more healthy than what you can pick up for your child at the taco shop!

Ingredients are simple:

  • Tortillas ( your choice flour or corn, organic or not) I always try to get the whole wheat ones. The one below is from Trader Joes and soooo good. Best store-bought corn tortillas in my opinion.
  • Organic frozen chopped Spinach
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Turkey deli slices

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I usually put a chunk of the frozen spinach in a mug with some water and zap it in the microwave for 25 seconds. Then I spread it out on the cheese. I ran out of shredded cheese today (my preferred type for quesadillas) so I had to use sliced cheese. It all melts in the end anyways!

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I spray the the pan with a little olive oil spray, then plop my quesadilla in, flipping it back and forth until the cheese is melted through and the tortilla gets toasty.

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Simple, right!?! Simple. Healthy. Toddler-approved. Add some guacamole and we’re set!

Toddler Eating: Mini Pizzas (with tofu)

There are many different variations for making this simple toddler meal. Here is my take on it:

Ingredients:

*Multigrain or Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin (I prefer these just because they are thin and not so overly carb-filling)

*Pasta Sauce – Preggo used to make a Veggie Smart one, but I can’t find it on the shelves anymore. So I’ve been experimenting with various organic ones – anything that I can find that has SOME veggies in the sauce.

*Organic Tofu

*Organic Shredded or thin sliced cheese.

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I usually start by toasting the bread so that its already hot. I mash a thin slice of the tofu into the pasta sauce. When I have time, I cook the sauce over the stove – when I’m on a time crunch, then I’ll admit that I zap it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Spread the pasta sauce over the bread and slap on the cheese. Then pop it in the toaster oven at 250 degrees until the cheese has melted.
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Daily Schedule Series: 1 month

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At one month old, this was the best I could do in terms of identifying a “routine”. You can see that it was all over the place and definitely didn’t align with my 2 yr old at all! I was seriously entertaining between one kid and another for months before you would see more similarities in the color blocks of their schedules. *sigh* The good news is though is that it DOES eventually get there! You’ll see!  From this month on out through 8 months, you’ll see a lot of tweaking of the schedule. Lots of evolving. In the next 6 months worth of schedules, I’ll post a sample of what V’s was like when she was at that age, and then what it looked like combined with 2 kids. You’ll see that my son’s schedule was slightly different… but not by a whole lot! But I think it helps to see the differences and where it can range.

 

Toddler Eating: How kids should REALLY eat Mac N Cheese

If a kid has always eaten Mac N’ Cheese this way, then how would they ever know the difference? That means, when we go out and about and they have the regular ol’ plain Mac, then THAT is what’s out of the norm – not how we eat it at home.

At home, I add organic: tofu, spinach and broccoli.  This is how my kids eat Mac N Cheese and chow it down. Honestly, I don’t care how you like to prep your Mac (whether it be from scratch or from the box), but I think by just simply adding a few extra ingredients, you can make what really isn’t the best toddler meal, turn into a much healthier entree. For the veggies, I heat up from frozen chopped spinach and cut up broccoli florets.

Sometimes, when I have time, I’ll add organic shredded cheese and bread crumbs on top and pop it in the oven to get it nice and crispy. hmmmmm yummy breaded bake!

 

When I reach for the box, I’m usually reaching for Annie’s Homegrown. Original, shells, shapes – my kids eat it all.

I love the Organic Sprouted Tofu from Trader Joes, especially because it comes in a smaller packaging. I usually just dice them into meals for the kids, so the typical larger packaging of Tofu seems like a waste. I just slice them and then put them into a tupperware container with fresh water. Then just dice slices as I need them throughout the week. Just be sure to change the water every 1-2 days!

 

Preparing the Baby Chef hat

So the baby is 5 months old… time to switch over to babyfood mode! On the first round of each fruit or vegetable, I did use store-bought food (Earth’s Best brand mostly). Once they got an initial taste of all the basics, then I started to incorporate some homemade babyfood by yours truly.

I headed to Costco and got myself a Magic Bullet. Don’t be fooled by all those other fancy contraptions with names that include the word “baby”. It’s basically a magic bullet with a higher price tag. In my opinon, any food processor would do. I also already had a small rice cooker that had a steamer basket part to it, so that’s what I used to steam prior to pureeing.

I had picked up a cookbook on babyfood once, but with all the resources online, I never really did anything out of it. My favorite web source came from Momtastic’s Wholesome Babyfood.  I loved clicking on the individual fruits and veggies to read up on how to best cook them and at the bottom of each page was a list of other food items that would blend well together. This was key to creating new blends of multiple foods and giving the baby some variety.

They say its cheaper to make your own babyfood. I never really kept track of the money spent/saved, but I did like the thought of knowing exactly what was going into my baby’s belly. Not only that, homemade babyfood tastes like real food. Haven’t you ever tasted that stuff that comes from the jar? I mean, how many pink bananas do you know of?

On another note, prior to the babyfood “pouches” such as the ones from Plum Organics, there was no way you were going to find zucchini or beets in a babyfood jar! Nor are you still going to be able to find avocado on the shelf. The only way to expose your kiddo on that one is to give it to them fresh! Yum!

 

I did weekly trips to buy organic food items, steam, puree, and store (some in fridge to eat and some in freezer for back-up meals). I reused the little jars from the store-bought food (which I still used when I had to feed the baby outside of the house when we are out). To make it all orderly, you can make chalkboard lids and easily keep the jars labeled! I totally didn’t know of this idea until after Pinterest was born, but this would have been perfect back in my babyfood making days:

On a final note, I must be honest about one thing: I don’t cook. It is not my thing. You know how you can just watch some people cook, and you can see the enjoyment and passion in in what they are doing? Yeah… that’s not me. Cooking actually makes me angry almost. Like a chore. Baking I like. But general cooking, not so much. Although Pinterest has certainly sparked more enjoyment in it these days, don’t go signing me up for Top Chef.

Sample Feeding Schedules

I remember when I was a new mom, I was combing the Internet just for sample daily schedules and to see what other moms were doing. What’s the norm? IS there a norm? Ok, then what times does the average kid nap and eat? I had stumbled across a forum once where a bunch of moms had shared what their child’s daily feeding and napping looked like. It was a huge help for me to gauge how I wanted my kids’ days to be. So for anyone in search of just an idea for your own planning… here it is:  (this might be helpful to view along with the sample daily spreadsheets that I will post at a later time). *Note: This was originally the feeding schedule my daughter was on – whom I had frozen less BM for so you will see an introduction of formula at 6 months. For my son, it was generally the same schedule, but formula was introduced much later. For both kids, I did use the formula to mix with the cereal every morning.

First 2 weeks: pure boob every 3 hours.

1 month old: 1 boob feeding + 7 bottles BM (3 oz each)

6 weeks old: 7 bottles BM (4 oz each = 28 daily) about every 3 hours after full nights sleep

8 weeks old: 6 bottles BM (4.5×2 and 4oz x4) = 25oz

3 months old: 5 bottles BM (5 oz each) = 25oz at 7am, 1p, 4p, 7p, 10p

4 months old: 4 bottles BM (6oz each = 24 oz daily) at 8am, 1pm, 430p, 830p

5 months old: 4 bottles BM – introduce solids … start with one feeding of cereal at feeding #3… then after 3 weeks, start 2 feedings a day (Feeding #1 and #3) 

8am 2tbs cereal mixed with Formula + 4oz bottle BM 

12pm 6 oz bottle BM 

4pm 2.5 oz jar of Stage 1 (new food every 3-4 days) + 6oz bottle of BM

8pm 6 oz bottle BM.   

Note: order of introducing food {rice cereal, oatmeal, carrots, squash, sweet potato, peas, green beans}

6 months old: 4 bottles (Introduce more Formula) Start eating solids 3 times a day.  Introduce Sippy cup and water. 

8am 2tbs cereal (alternated between rice and oatmeal) mixed with Formula + 4oz bottle BM

12pm 3oz New food item + 4 oz bottle BM

4pm 4oz bottle of BM+ 2oz of Formula separately

6:30pm 3oz Veggie + some Water in cup

8pm 4 oz bottle BM+ 2oz of Formula separately.

{continued with apples, pears, bananas, zucchini, avocado, different kinds of squash, peaches}

7 month old: 4 bottles (total daily 16 BM + 6 formula to supplement – we used Enfamil) Started Baby Mum-mums rice rusks and shortly after that the little puffs (preferably Plum Organics). Try to drink at least 2oz water a day. 

8am 2tbs cereal mixed with Formula – mixed further with 1oz fruit + 4oz bottle BM

12pm 4oz mixed fruit/sometimes with veggie + 4 oz bottle BM

4pm 4oz bottle of BM+ 2oz of Formula separately

6:30pm 3.5oz Veggie + some Water in cup

8pm 4 oz bottle BM+ 2oz of Formula separately.

{New foods included Strawberry (mixed in store-bought), more kinds of squash, spaghetti squash, broccoli, edamame, granola (in store-bought)}

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8 month old: 4 bottles (total daily 16 BM + 6 formula to supplement) Starting finger foods at the table (Butternut Squash, banana, ). 

8am 2tbs cereal mixed with Formula – mixed further with 1oz fruit + 4oz bottle BM

12pm 4oz mixed fruit/sometimes with veggie + 4 oz bottle BM

4pm 4oz bottle of BM+ 2oz of Formula separately 

6:30pm 3.5oz Veggie + some Water in cup

8pm 4 oz bottle BM+ 2oz of Formula separately.   

{New foods included: Cherry, Blueberry, Apricot (mixed in store-bought), eggplant, orca,   

**My daughter finished Frozen boob juice reserves right at 9 months. *sniff* My son took it to 11months.

9 months: 4 Bottles (Total Daily 22oz Formula Enfamil). Continue with Finger foods. Start Meats, Yogurt, Cheese. Increase food intake. 

8am 2tbs cereal mixed with Formula – mixed further with 2oz fruit + 4oz bottle Formula

12pm 4oz Food + 4 oz bottle Formula

4pm 6oz bottle of Formula 

6:00pm 4.5oz – 6oz Food + some Water in cup

8pm 6 oz bottle Formula.   

{New foods included: Chicken, Ground Turkey, Yogurt, Pineapple (store-bought), broccoli, cauliflower , firm tofu, white potato, corn (store-bought), kiwi, cheddar cheese – Good Finger foods: boiled carrots/potatoes,  Firm tofu,

**tried to give her a spoon a couple of times but it got very messy and we are a little lazy as well. hehe

10 months: 4 Bottles (Total Daily 22oz Formula Enfamil). Continue with Finger foods. Trying to give her larger finger food pieces so that she can learn to take appropriate sized bites.  Increase to chunkier solids. 8am 2tbs cereal mixed with Formula – mixed further with 2oz fruit + 4oz bottle Formula 

12pm 4oz Food + 4 oz bottle Formula

**frequently given a 2pm snack: 4oz YoBaby or some fruit and cheese

4pm 6oz bottle of Formula 

6:00pm 4.5oz – 6oz Food + some Water in cup

8pm 6 oz bottle Formula.   

{New foods included: Fish,  egg yolk, quinoa, wheat pasta, pastini, papaya, mozzarella cheese, Tomato  – Good finger foods: scrambled egg yolk, small pieces of cheese, shredded cheese, small pieces of tofu veggie burger pattie, Very thin slices of fresh apple.

**allowed her to take her own bites fresh from a banana… still stuffing her mouth but chewing real well.

 

11 and 12 months: 4 Bottles (Total Daily 22oz Formula Enfamil). Continue with Finger foods.  Increase to semi-chunkier solids. Start to introduce in Whole milk 

8am 2tbs cereal mixed with milk – mixed further with 2oz fruit + 4oz bottle Formula 

12pm 4oz Food + 4 oz bottle Formula

2pm snack: 4oz YoBaby or some fruit and cheese+Water

4pm 6oz bottle of Formula 

6:00pm 4.5oz – 6oz Food + some Milk in cup

8pm 6 oz bottle Formula.  

12.5 & 13 months: 4 Bottles (Total Daily 20 oz Formula Enfamil and Organic Whole Milk). Continue with Finger foods.  Chunky solids. Try to use more table foods.  Start to wean in Whole milk (bottles mixed with ¼ whole milk…then the next week increase to ½ whole milk… ) 

8am 3tbs cereal mixed with Milk – mixed further with 2.5oz fruit + 4oz bottle 

12pm 6oz Food + 4 oz bottle 

2pm snack: 4oz YoBaby or some fruit and cheese, etc + Water

4pm 4oz bottle 

6:00pm 6oz Food + some Milk or Water in cup

8pm 6 oz bottle. 

{New Foods: Fresh grapes cut into quarters, fresh apricot, Corn, more seasoning in her food, 

At this time… the routine was pretty set and stayed the same for most of the next year…. until:

For my daughter – 21 months – transition to ONLY table foods and reduced milk to two cups a day of 8oz each (9am and 3pm- after nap).She took a long time to take to all table foods. She continued to eat the super chunky baby food (almost like what would be a Stage 4 or 5 baby food) and I didn’t mind making it for her because I was buying all organic and I knew what was going into her food. Plus it assured she was getting her veggies in! 


For my son – 15 months – he was an eating machine, so he was on to table foods much sooner. He still ate the baby food I made him here and there when I was too lazy to think of a toddler meal, but for the most part, this guy ate everything. I didn’t transition him to the two 8oz cups of milk  until he was 22 months – which at that point, I was getting ready to potty train him anyways, so needed to keep that milk away from  nap and bed time. 


Now… here we are… my son 2 yrs old this week, and my daughter 4… we’ve come a looooong ways!

8am – Breakfast – usually oatmeal type breakfast mixed w/ fruit (puree or diced) and sometimes organic granola mix. This is followed by 8oz cup of milk (Organic Horizon DHA 2%)

11am – Lunch – 

4pm – 8oz cup of milk

5pm – Yogurt (sometimes cheese or other snack) My son eats YoBaby and my daughter eats Activia

6:30pm – Dinner

8pm – My kids think those Babyfood puree pouches are a “snack/treat” – so if they are still hungry… they eat one of these. I like them because I buy the organic ones that always have some sort of veggie mixed in.