My friends would share their food preparation frustration as I listened sweetly oblivious to the road ahead.
Who could like something one day, and hate it the next? A toddler.
When does food ever taste better eaten off the ground versus a plate? It does…if you’re a toddler.
Where did this pre-determined bias against any texture closely related to meat come from? Hmm, are they a toddler?
Why can meal time become such a stressful part of the day? You have a toddler.
Determined to win this battle, I kicked into stubborn mama mode, afterall Ketan’s got nutritional needs.
For me, it starts by being sneaky. Figuring out what he likes and covertly sprinkling in the nutritious unmentionables.
It can’t be time consuming, food prep needs to be easy. Patience and my toddler are just getting acquainted.
The first sneaky technique begins and ends with puff pastry. Ketan gets fooled by anything wrapped in puff pastry. Butter. Who can resist the magic of butter? One of his favorites is sautéed spinach with Applegate Organics Nitrate-Free Black Forest Ham and shredded Harvarti cheese. You can make your own pate brisee from scratch, or you can buy one of the ready-made store-bought versions as a time saver. It freezes well for up to 1 month, wrapped individually in plastic wrap after they are cooled, stored in a freezer safe container.
Spinach is a relatively tasteless green with tons of nutrients, especially iron, which is a concern for toddlers since they are no longer drinking iron-fortified formula. Spinach is also a good source of Niacin and Zinc, Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. So load it up!
Layer the spinach with finely diced ham (especially if they are picky about texture) and shredded cheese and roll into a swirl. Cut into 1 inch rings.
Place swirls on a lined baking sheet and put them in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. I like to slightly under cook mine, since I freeze them and rewarm them in the toaster oven throughout the week.
Another sneaky dish: brown fried rice. Lil’ man loves this and I can stick nutritious items he would not eat indiviually like green peas, diced cooked shrimp, or salmon, fluffy scrambled eggs, shredded carrots, and sesame seeds. The possibilities are endless when they are hidden in the yum-i-ness of rice. Thank you rice. My favorite brown rice is Massa Organics or Lundberg Family Farms.
Ketan loves vegetarian chickpea falafel from Israel. They can be found at some supermarkets or you can order the Telma Falafel packets online. Making them could not be easier. You combine the contents of one package with 1/3 cup and 2 TBSP of water. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Pour 2 TBSP of safflower oil into heavy skillet or saucepan. Heat over medium-high until oil begins to ripple or glisten, fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove; drain on paper towels. Makes about 12 falafels per packet. Serve warm.
Unprocessed energy bars, Ketan’s favorite is from TwoFish Baking Company from Sea Ranch, California. This energy bar sports serious goodies including, cashew butter, hazelnuts, oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax meal, almonds, cinnamon and dried cherries.
Three Sisters Farina Cream of Wheat with 60% of daily iron intake is another gem. Ketan enjoys a small cup, prepared with whole milk, sprinkled with organic brown sugar a pinch of flax meal and sliced bananas. From opening the box, to boiling the liquid and cooking the cereal, it’s about five minutes. As Barefoot Contessa always says, “How easy is that?”
After I am done with my sneaky chef work, I really enjoy packing up the meal. You eat with the eyes first, so how about a little packaging to go with that childhood nostalgia. Mine starts with a Tootsie roll lunch box. We also have a sock monkey lunch box. Working on an old skool Star Wars one next…
And a favorite utility necessity is Green Sprouts “sprout ware” travel cups with lids. Petroleum-free, made from plants and dishwasher safe. Fits great into the various lunch boxes.
Or the thermal coolers from Sugar Boogers. They have the cutest patterns.