Last weekend, we had guests over to our house for brunch. I decided to prepare the food we were going to be serving the night before as much as I was able to. As I was doing so, it suddenly dawned on me that everything I was making for our guests was actually derived from recipes I use for my toddler (including one recipe from a toddler specific web site). Without even thinking about it, I was serving a toddler menu.
I started to think back to when I began doing this, and quite honestly I've been doing this for quite awhile now. Ever since my little guy passed the "purees only" phase and became able to navigate finger foods with a bit of expertise, we've pretty much served him whatever we are eating. We simply don't make two meals in our household. We've always tried to include our son in meals, and often sway our menu to suit what his food interests are (while still enjoying a diversity of foods). It's been a compromise, of sorts. Also, serving the same meal to all ages might mean I have to "deconstruct" my son's version of the meal a bit more than what I would do with my own, although that's becoming less often now since all teeth minus the molars have arrived.
In university, I majored in Nutrition. You would think this would prepare you for feeding a kid. In some ways - yes. But mostly - no. You learn as you go and your kid is the ultimate teacher. Their unique attitude - adventurous with food, or not - will determine how you approach feeding them. And just as you get comfortable, the toddler attitudes kick into full gear and you enter a whole new realm. But that is a discussion for another day!
What I have learned from the experience of feeding my family so far is to have an understanding of what kind of flavours your little one(s) appreciate, and meet your kid at where their abilities are (in terms of their fine motor skill development). It was in doing this that I developed a few on-the-go snacks that I make for not only our little guy, but for the whole family to enjoy (as they have actually become favourites for all of us now). I ultimately wanted to provide a few toddler friendly snacks for on-the-go where I felt comfortable about the ingredients in them.
Below I have listed the recipes that have become famous in our household recently.
Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bread
My son does not like bananas. If I were to give him banana anything, including in muffin-form, it will be rejected. He tends to be more of a savory kid overall. Recently, however, over the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, we discovered he was a pumpkin pie fanatic. That inspired this recipe - an awesome breakfast bread that is fast to make, low in sugar, satisfies that pumpkin pie craving, and has some fibre to boot! A small slice of thisis easy to grab for snack time and it freezes well too! Also delicious for a family breakfast.
Yield: Serves 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Adapted From: Taste and Tell
- 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of flour into the pan and shake it around to get a very lightly floured pan. Remove any excess flour.
- Combine whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
- Combine sugar, melted coconut oil, pumpkin puree and egg in a small bowl and mix well.
- Add pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
- Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan, and cool on wire rack until completely cool.
Dill-icious Chex Mix
After looking over a number of snack mixes in the stores, I wasn't impressed with the ingredient labels. And I can assure you that Cheerios on their own were just not cutting it. What can I say ... my kid has my foodie gene! Many other recipes that I found online had nuts or other ingredients I didn't want to include (and at this stage, most play centres that my son and I go to are nut-free environments, plus some foods are still coking hazards since he is less than 18 months old). Eventually I found a snack recipe that I could adapt from a wonderful fellow Canadian nutritionist who does amazing clean eating recipes & programs. While I have not held true to all of the ingredients that she suggested, I was able to take many aspects of the flavour that coats the snack mix and build them into a toddler and play centre friendly snacking solution that my kiddo (and husband) happily devours.
Yield: Serves 4 pounds of snack mix (3 large ziploc bags full!)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 70 minutes
Total Time: 85 minutes
Adapted From: My Awesome Foods
- 1 560 g box of Multi-grain Cheerios
- 1 180 g box of President's Choice Whole Wheat Cheddar Penquins (or Gold Fish Crackers)
- 1 400 g bag of Pretzels
- 1 365 g box of Chex Rice Cereal
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 5 tbsp. dried dill
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. dried chives
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
- Preheat oven to 250F.
- Mix all your dry ingredients together in a very large roasting pan (or in two large baking dishes). There will be a lot!
- Mix all of your dressing ingredients together in a small blender and blend the mixture until it is consistent.
- Mix your dry ingredients with your dressing very thoroughly to ensure there are no clumps of the dressing (as this can cause the mixture to become soggy in areas if it is not evenly distributed).
- Bake the mixture for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Spinach Cake Muffins
This fabulous recipe (link here) comes from the wonderful, and very popular food blog, that has many yummy kids' recipes called Weelicious. But ... if you are an adult ... you will find the food equally as enjoyable! Sometimes you might want to add some extra seasonings to a few of the recipes to spice it up, but you should definitely check out this amazing recipe resource!
But I digress... the muffins! Many muffin recipes include mashed banana as a means of getting fruits and veggies into little ones. As I mentioned, my kid won't have anything to do with those. But the Spinach Cake Muffins from Weelicious use applesauce and also spinach! If you modify the recipe and use 50% whole wheat flour, they also taste just as great (just a suggestion!).
In case you are wondering, yes, they are a pale green... a pale, delicious green! They are also great to throw in the freezer too, and then grab one or two to toss into the snack container to defrost before heading out for errands.
Yield: 20-24 mini muffins
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Recipe Link: Spinach Cake Muffins - Weelicious
I hope these on-the-go snack ideas provide you with some inspiration. What are your favourite snacks when you're out and about or traveling?