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. 🙂

Toddler Eating: Organic Udon Stir-fry

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My nanny recently starting making this stir-fry for the kids and they love it! We use all organic products and low-sodium soy sauce. mhmmm

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I found these organic Udon noodles (they have other yummy Asian noodles as well, like Soba) on Amazon, so I usually buy a large box and have it stocked up in our pantry.

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Boil and drain udon noodles.

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Thaw and chop one cup of frozen broccoli
Shred one carrot
Thaw 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach

1/2 cup of diced tofu

Mince one clove of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil add garlic, cook until light brown then add all the veggies. Cook until the broccoli is tender. Add the noodles and mix. Add 1-2 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Add the tofu at the end, mix and serve.

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Still using the same organic tofu from Trader Joes – you see it in most of my recipes on here! 🙂

 

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This was a double batch made for a potluck. But the kids were loving it. For my little guy, I use scissors to cut up the long noodles a bit. Even as a finger food, the noodles and tofu bits would be fun!

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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Emergency Toddler Meals

Ok… We’ve all been there. Its okay. You don’t have to be ashamed. I don’t look at you any differently!

I’m talking about those days when you are either too tired, too busy, or just plan ran out of ideas for cooking something fresh and nutritious for your child. We ALL have those days. And on those days…. you find yourself reaching for the nearest microwavable meal. And you know what? IT’S OK. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Goodness – I know in my freezer I got some Banquet TV dinners and Celeste Pizzas on hand for my “emergency adult meals”. Shoot… who doesn’t have some ramen or Cup o’ Noodles on stock either? You know… starving college meal days… translates into emergency working adult meals too. Its all good.

Anyhow… Of all the things that you could be giving your child in those moments… here’s my roundup of favorites. Enjoy!

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I’d have to say that there are a lot of pretty good Frozen Meals from the Earth’s Best line. I’m pretty impressed. I typically like to make my own mini pizzas for my son… but every once in while… a quick 3 minute meal is needed.

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I don’t feel as guilty if I get my kids the Whole Grain Chef Boyardee at least. hehe

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My kids have been eating the Graduates Pasta Pick-ups just fine. I like that there is some veggies in them as well. I haven’t tried the Organic ones yet. but I like the sound of Organic and the fact that its in a sauce is a nice transition for them to start eating some adult ravioli versions in the future.

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Trader Joe’s has a lot of great options for quick meals. The chicken drumettes are really yummy but take a little longer if you are using the oven to make them more crispy. The organic tofu veggie burgers are great! I usually just wrap them in a paper towel and zap it in the microwave for a minute. When my kids were younger, I would dice them as finger foods because its really soft. But now, I actually can slap it between some Oroweat Sandwich Thins and make a quick sandwich.

Overall, I try to do my best to feed my kids. I’m just a mom. I can’t slave away at an intricate, healthy, organic meal all the time. So I admit it. These emergency items save my ass.

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.