8.05.2014

toddler meals | week 1

August kicks off the start of my newest series -- all about toddler meals! Now that Olivia is 14 months, and feeding herself with utensils [cutest thing ever], I wanted to share my knowledge and nutritional [RN] perspective as well as put together fun and creative meals that not only taste delicious but look great too!

For each meal, I also focus on simplicity -- keeping the meals simple with only minimal ingredients but still achieving overall nutritional balance. As a busy mom, I don't always have the time to put together a complex meal, and I've found simple is best. I prep all my food ahead of time & store it in the fridge so it's ready to go anytime.

Every week for the next month or two I'll be sharing my mindful meals for playful kids, discussing the importance of healthy eating & balanced meals and offering three meals and one snack per post. I'll also be featuring a fun meal set up using my favorite mealtime products.

breakfast || scrambled egg, diced strawberries & mini [gluten free] pancakes

+ Almost every morning, Olivia eats an egg in some form or another. They are considered one of the world's most "perfect" foods, in the sense that they offer everything the body needs. Whether scrambled, hard boiled, poached, or fried, Olivia loves eggs. It is a great way to increase protein in your child's diet especially if they are still unable to chew most meat due to lack of teeth. I scramble hers in avocado oil to give an extra boost of healthy fat +


the how to || 
     » make your favorite pancake batter ahead of time & store in the fridge [our favorite is gf king arthur pancake mix]; I actually make the batter on a Saturday morning, make regular-sized pancakes for the two of us and then a few dozen mini pancakes for Olivia; I store them in a glass container and then reheat them each morning to keep it simple
     » scramble one organic free-range egg in avocado oil and cut into small pieces
     » rinse & dice fresh strawberries

the benefits + balance ||
scrambled egg
egg protein supplies all the essential amino acids, which are building blocks for hormones, skin, tissues, etc. in the body; eggs are considered relatively easy to digest when compared with many other foods, which in turn allows the body to absorb the protein well; for children, protein is vital to growth and brain development

strawberries
strawberries are not only flavorful and fun for kids to eat, but they contain immense amounts of vitamin C, which is used to repair body tissue, keep gums and teeth healthy, and to aid in the healing of cuts and wounds; with over 200 seeds per berry, strawberries are also an excellent source of fiber; and despite how sweet they often are, strawberries are actually low in sugar when compared to many other fruits

mini pancakes
pancakes [gluten free] provide necessary carbohydrates for energy and are also a good source of vitamins and minerals; carbohydrates from grains [rather than fruits + vegetables] should be offered in moderation but are still an essential part of any diet

to add a vegetable to this meal, simply scramble in your child's favorite kind with the eggs -- spinach is a hit in our house and pairs nicely with eggs but almost anything can be added! you could also make a hash with scrambled eggs, sweet potato & diced zucchini

lunch || grapes, butternut squash, cucumber & turkey-cheese roll ups 

+ One of Olivia's favorite lunches is chicken-cheese rolls ups. You can sub any of your child's favorite deli meats + cheeses to create this simple and tasty finger food. Be sure to buy high quality deli meat [our favorites listed below] that is free of unhealthy additives. I love this lunch because I prep it in the morning, cover it and have it ready for whenever she is hungry. I'm pretty sure that Olivia would eat 100 roll-ups if I let her +


the how to || 
     » quarter grapes lengthwise or cut in half depending on child's age
     » peel & dice cucumber into small pieces
     » steam butternut squash & dice into small pieces
     » layer thinly-sliced turkey and cheese, roll up tightly and cut into bite-size pieces // I usually do 2 rolls per meal

+ Be sure to buy high quality deli meats because many have preservatives and other additives that aren't healthy. Did you know that almost all brands of deli meat add milk to their meats? Be aware of this especially if you are avoiding dairy in your child's diet for healthy reasons. Our favorite brand for meats is Boar's Head -- we love the oven roast and maple turkey, tavern ham & ever roast chicken. For cheeses -- there is a wider range of quality brands, but we usually purchase Cadycreek Farms [locally sourced and sold in our favorite grocery story] or Kendelson. Ask your deli where each brand comes from and always sample them before purchasing! Chances are, if you like it, your child will too. Having high quality sliced meats and cheeses on hand makes for super simple meals and snacks anytime your toddler's stomach is grumbling! +

the benefits + balance ||

grapes
seedless grapes are an excellent addition to any meal for your child because they are sweet and available almost year-round; they are actually considered berries and one cup provides more than 25% of the daily recommended values of Vitamins K and C; they are the storehouse of many phytonutrients & antioxidants [most notably resveratrol]

cucumbers
cucumbers are considered one of the world's super foods but are often sprayed with pesticides so this is one fruit where it is worth it to buy organic; cucumbers are a good source of vitamin B; due to their high water content [95%], they keep the body hydrated while helping the body eliminate toxins; they are refreshing to eat and pair well with almost everything

butternut squash
rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, butternut squash is a delicious addition to your toddler's diet, especially now as we approach Fall; they are low in fat and deliver an ample amount of dietary fiber; butternut squash provides significant amounts of potassium [important for bone health] and vitamin B6 [essential for proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems]; the orange hue signifies this squash's most noteworthy health perk: an abundance of carotenoids and in particular, beta-carotene; for children, it is especially good when lightly coated in coconut oil or topped with a little bit of cinnamon as a savory snack

turkey + cheese roll ups
when you offer your child high quality meats and cheeses [organic, pasture-raised, from local farms if possible, etc.], you provide excellent sources of protein, dairy and calcium; turkey is a very low-fat and high-protein food [32 grams per 4 oz serving!]; lack of protein contributes to many health issues and especially as your child is growing, adequate protein is essential; cheese provides necessary calcium, vitamin D, is low in sodium and low in saturated fat

snack || sweet potatoes + black beans + avocado

+ A day rarely goes by that Olivia doesn't get her little paws on one of these foods because they happen to be her favorites. This is a great snack for after nap time to keep your toddler satisfied until dinner time without over filling them || Beans & sweet potatoes also make a great snack when you're on the go because they don't need continuous refrigeration, unlike many other foods Olivia eats. We are often out & about for hours at a time, especially on the weekends, so I pack a container full of sweet potatoes and beans in a mini cooler with a cold water bottle and other snacks and it is a great way to always have fresh food on hand +


the how to || 
     » peel and dice sweet potato + steam until tender [approximately 6-8 minutes]
     » rinse black beans // store in frig for up to 3 days
     » dice ripe avocado 

the benefits + balance || 
sweet potatoes
naturally sweet and an excellent first food for babies, sweet potatoes are nutrition powerhouses! they can be prepared in so many ways [baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, grilled, mashed, etc.] and also contain high levels of carotenoids, which are a type of antioxidant that prevents cells from being damaged; they are high in vitamin B6, contain vitamin D and iron [which contributes to energy levels and production of red and white blood cells, and proper immune functioning; finally, they are a great source of magnesium, which is the "relaxation and anti-stress mineral," and necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle and nerve function

black beans
beans are a great source of protein and offer and excellent option for young toddlers who are just starting to get teeth but who are unable to chew meat; beans are comparable with meat when it comes to calories but really shine in terms of fiber and water content; beans are also high in antioxidants!

avocado
avocado was Oliva's first food not only because of all the nutrients it offers but because it's so easy for babies to eat due to the soft and creamy texture; avocados are packed with healthy fats which aid in brain development in babies and children; they are also an excellent source of vitamins and contain more natural fiber than any other fruit, which aids in digestion and the regulation of blood sugar

dinner || roasted rainbow carrots, red cherries & wild keta salmon

+ Salmon has been a staple in our diet for years and I ate it often during my pregnancy. Olivia has been eating it since she was 6 months old and loves it because of how tender and flavorful it is. We bake or grill it and flake it for her to feed herself. It pairs perfectly with any roasted or steamed vegetable and offers all the protein & healthy fat a growing toddler needs +


the how to || 
     » steam roasted rainbow carrots 6-8 minutes or until tender, let cool slightly 
     » rinse fresh cherries and cut in half, remove the pit and cut again 
     » bake wild salmon at 350 for 15-18 minutes [depending on thickness of fillet] and let cool       
     slightly, then flake into bite-sized pieces

the benefits + balance  ||
rainbow carrots
carrots are crunchy power foods and the rainbow variety is especially fun for your toddler to eat; they contribute to healthy vision and beautiful skin, and are loaded with vitamin A; for toddlers & younger children, toss them in olive oil and roast them until tender or steam and top with a little butter or serve plain

cherries
one of the lowest calorie fruits, cherries are packed with [you guessed it!] antioxidants, iron, potassium, zinc and fiber. when in season, remove the pit and serve fresh to your toddler -- they will likely be a hit due to their sweet flavor and tender texture

keta salmon
we serve Olivia a few different kinds of salmon but lately we've been enjoying keta salmon because it's widely available this time of year and always on sale! wild salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids that are beneficial for your toddler's brain and body and when prepared correctly, is tender, juicy and flavorful, making it a perfect protein offering that is easy to chew. salmon was one of V's first foods, alongside sweet potatoes and avocado, and she could eat it 7 days a week!

stay tuned for another set of meals + a new snack next week as well as some of your questions about toddler meals answered.

happy eating feeding!

3 comments:

  1. Great post! Love that you are sharing all the details and how to as well. Is that an ice cube tray? with the beans and avacado and cheese? clever. I've been meaning to pick up something like because Aria loves to graze. I wish she'd eat some deli meat, but she sure loves beans and eggs.

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  2. Wow! Great post, awesome ideas here, thanks!!

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  3. This is amazing. My lo is only 10 months and just began eating table food, but I've been so clueless as to what to feed her. Thank you for not only suggesting foods, but explaining how to prepare them!

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