Toddler Meals: On Our Table this Week

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Soba Noodles with Pan Seared Tofu, Kale and Carrots.

Manners were always a big deal at our house growing up. No elbows on the table, don’t start eating until everyone is seated, chew with your mouth closed, put your napkin on your lap etc. While I’m certainly no prim and proper lady, I do want my kids to have solid table manners and its something I’ve been thinking about and struggling with a bit.

For a while, we were asking little Fig to stay seated until dinner. That idea lasted about a week when our semi-peaceful dinners  turned into a total sob-fest complete with food throwing, drastic escape attempts, and high pitched howling. Turns out that two year olds can’t sit still for very long ( duh) and asking him to do so seemed a little unfair.

Now Fig will eat a few bites, run around and play and then come back for more. He’ll probably come back to the table three or more times in a single meal; nibbling here or there before its back to his favorite game; trying to run the dog over with his mini-wheelbarrow (too bad for him she’s too fast and too smart to become toddler roadkill).

There are some things that Fig is great with; like using his utensils and drinking excellently out of open cups. He’s also a little bit of a clean freak and hates when he spills food on his shirt or his area asking me to “clean!”.  But I still struggle with the whole running around like a wild banshee at dinner situation and his constant want to sit on our laps and pick from our plates. I’m hoping that my motherly intuition will guide me on this one but I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime; here is what my little gus has been eating as of late:

Green Thai Curry with Peppers and Tofu

Green Thai Curry with Peppers and Tofu

Black Lentil Bowl with Tomatoes and Avocados

Black Lentil Bowl with Tomatoes and Avocados

Sweet Potato and Brown Rice Burger with Guacamole

Sweet Potato and Brown Rice Burger with Guacamole

Buckwheat Soba Noddles with Kale. Sweet Potatoes and Seaweed.

Buckwheat Soba Noddles with Kale. Sweet Potatoes and Seaweed.

 

Coho Salmon , Fennel and Tomatoes

Coho Salmon , Fennel and Tomatoes

Eating the bread first; typical!

Eating the bread first; typical!

Lemon Cream Orecchiette Pasta with Parsley

Lemon Cream Orecchiette Pasta with Parsley

Sweet Potato Wedges and Eggplant, Chickpea, and Tomato Mix

Sweet Potato Wedges and Eggplant, Chickpea, and Tomato Mix

One of the few non-oatmeal breakfasts we have. Buckwheat Waffles with Strawberries, Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds

One of the few non-oatmeal breakfasts we have. Buckwheat Waffles with Strawberries, Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds

Yum Bowls

Yum Bowls

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sage Aioli

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sage Aioli

Carrot and Carrot Top Salad with a Lime Ginger Vinaigrette ( was spit out by Fig!)

Carrot and Carrot Top Salad with a Lime Ginger Vinaigrette ( was spit out by Fig!)

Toddler Meals: Mexico Addition

Pomegranate and Spinach Wrap

On our Table this week:

Our adventure in Mexico City wraps up this week. It certainly was a welcomed respite from our everyday life and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Although, I am excited to return home and get my little one back on a regular eating schedule. For the last few weeks, Fig’s eating has been something like this;  1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, 3rd breakfast, after breakfast snack, afternoon snack, mid afternoon snack, late night snack. I’m beginning to think he’s a hobbit with all that breakfasting.

While I had several internal freak outs over what someone was giving my two year old (late night slice of cake anyone?), I had to remind myself that these moments don’t last forever and a few weeks of eating less than perfect isn’t going to ruin his health forever.

Most of what Fig ate these past weeks could be summed up in one word: Fruit. However, I did manage to get a few “real” meals into him. His favorite was the Pomegranate and Spinach Wrap, burritoed just so to hide the spinach. He also liked the Blue Corn Papaya Tacos , mostly due to the papaya ( obviously).

However, most surprising was his love of Nopal cactus. When cooked, the cactus turns a putrid shade of green and is slimy ( yes, slimy). No matter, he ate it with gusto and asked for more. This reinforces the importance of feeding little kids a lot of different foods even if you’re 99.99% sure they will hate it. You might just be surprised!

One final note; There is hardly any natural light in our Mexico house, so these pictures aren’t the best.

Ricotta with Quinoa

Ricotta with Quinoa, Carrots, and Guava Fruit

Papaya and Fruit Blue Corn Taco

Papaya and Fruit Blue Corn Taco

Cactus and Zucchini Flower Taco with Labne

Cactus and Zucchini Flower Taco with Labne

The Nopal and Flowers before cooking-much prettier!

The Nopal and Flowers before cooking-much prettier!

Helping sort the flowers

Helping sort the flowers

Juice Making

Juice Making

Delicious, fully ripe, oranges for juicing

Delicious, fully ripe, oranges for juicing

 

Cooking with Toddlers: Sopes with Zucchini Flowers, Avocado, and Ricotta

Aforementioned, I came to Mexico totally prepared with meal plans and shopping lists. All of that went out the window when I realized that most of what I needed, I couldn’t find. That is, of course, unless we wanted to brave hours of mexico city traffic, which was certainly not going to happen with a toddler. Needless to say, we’ve been winging it in the kitchen.

We’ve had a pretty loosey goosey week in terms of eating and without a doubt have been overdoing it on the tropical fruit. We did, however, make something that was both fun for little folks and pretty delicious. If your little one enjoys playdough then making sopes will be right up their alley.

Sopes with Zucchini Flowers, Avocado, and Ricotta

For the Sopes (this makes about 20 sopes):

  • 4 cups corn masa flour (we used the Maseca Brand)
  • 2½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying

For the Toppings:

  • 10-20 Zucchini flowers
  • 1 large avocado
  • Ricotta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked black beans

Step # 1: Prepare the Sopes. Combine the corn flour, water and salt. Knead until the mixture is not sticky, around 5-10 minutes ( more like 10 if you’re working with a toddler). Then arrange into 20 round balls and pat down into desired shape.

Making Sopes

Sopes

Making

Making Sopes 1

Sopes 2

Sopes, in my opinion, are like fat tortillas with an indent in the middle, not unlike a little bowl. Perhaps someone with actual knowledge of Mexican cuisine might be able to explain these tasty morsels differently, but I’m no expert.

Flattening

Because I was making these with my sous chef, who happens to be two, we were not able to achieve the blow like shaped ( no surprise there!). Instead, I had him make tiny balls with the dough while I patted them down into thick tortilla style circles. After shaping, I promptly removed them from his reach before he had time to destroy them.

After shaping the sopes, I had Fig crush some garlic for which we would sautee the flowers in.

crushing garlic - Copy

Crushing Garlic

Next, its time to cook the sopes. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a frying pan. When the pan and oil are hot, cook sope until golden brown ( about one minute) on each side.

Sopes finishing

While the sopes are cooking, get out another pan and saute the flowers in olive oil and garlic until slightly wilted ( about 2 minutes). Fig’s not a huge fan of garlic ( yet), so I left a bit of flowers out and sauteed them sans garlic separately.

flowers 2 - Copy

cooking flowers - Copy

After the sopes are cooked, spread ricotta cheese, beans, flowers and avocado- enjoy!

Eating 2

eating - Copy

On Our Table This Week

watermelon salad

Happy summer! This week, I tried to incorporate summer into our dishes as much as possible. Fig was a big fan of the Mint Spring Pasta, Mango Tacos and the Baked Rutabega Wedges with a Cashew Hummus ( I did not expect those to be such a hit!). He also ate his Watermelon Salad up quite nicely, not noticing the tomatoes until it was too late (incognito veggies strike again!)

We also had a few Lebanese dishes since it reminds my husband of home and I’ve vowed to incorporate more traditional foods into our family’s food culture. There were beautiful eggplants at the farmers market and I had to snag a few for a delicious Lebanese dish which highlighted their flavor.

Eggplants from the farm

Eggplants from the farm

For breakfast, we typically have oatmeal and fruit. This week we also had a few bran muffins, Ricotta Buckwheat Pancakes and homemade granola, all of which were eaten with gusto.

So without further delay: here is another edition of On Our Table This Week.

Mint Pasta

Spring Mint Pasta with Peas and Sprouts

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Mango Tacos with Black Beans and Brown Rice

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Vegetable Muffins ( Quiche) with a Salad and Raspberries

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Chickpeas in Lemon and Garlic, Herbed Chard Rice Salad with Pine Nuts, Labne ( Lebanese Yogurt) and Flatbread

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Rutabaga Wedges with Cashew Hummus

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Tabouli Salad, Chickpeas with Eggplant and Tomatoes, Hummus and Pita

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Morning Granola

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Morning Bran Muffins

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Buckwheat Ricotta Pancakes with Figs

Cooking with Toddlers: Ginger Cashew Bok Choy Chickpea Burgers with Mint Hummus

Mint Hummus Prep

I serve my two year raw vegetables nearly every lunch and dinner which, on a  good day, get several meager nibbles at best. So, as most mama’s are familiar with, the approach most often taken around here is one of deception and disguise.

And since burgers, french fries (and a salad) were in order for Father’s Day I decided why not veg it up with a little Bok Choy? Thus, the Cashew Bok Choy Chickpea Burgers with Mint Hummus was born; our vegetable centered take on traditional american fare.

Our purple saged potato wedges

Our purple saged potato wedges

Can't forget the salad! Mint, Black Olive, & Tomato Salad with a coriander vinaigrette.

Can’t forget the salad! Mint, Black Olive, & Tomato Salad with a Coriander Vinaigrette.

I knew these burgers would be good for little mouths when my son started eating the burger batter ( don’t worry, no raw eggs were in it) right out of the bowls with his hands. In fact, for fear our dinner would be lost before it started, we removed the bowl and replaced it with something less critical to the final outcome of our meal.

Peas in the Raw

Peas in the Raw

First let’s start with the mint pea hummus.

  • 1 cup of shelled peas ( or if you’re like me and don’t want to waste the crips pea shells, use two cups of chopped peas; unshelled)
  • 5 large leaves of fresh mint ( we used spearmint)
  • 1 tablespoon of Tahini
  • 1/2 a medium sized lime’s juice ( you could use lemon we just happen to prefer lime)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt to taste

Blend everything together into smooth and taste frequently. I find that everyone likes their hummus’ a bit different. My husband loves a bit more tahini in the mix and I’m a huge fan of really garlickly and limey hummus. If the proportions above don’t taste right play around with the ingredient amounts until you find a blend that you like.

After everything is blended to perfection, place in fridge for later use.

Raw ingredients

Helping with the Mint Pea Hummus

Lime time

Mint Pea Hummus

Mint Pea Hummus

Onto the burgers.

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 1 can ( 15 oz) of cooked and well-drained chickpeas
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked bulgur wheat
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • panko
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

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chickpeas

1) Bring the bulgur wheat to boil in two cups of water. Once the water is boiling, turn off and let stand until bulgur is fluffy and water is absorbed, around 20 minutes.  Once cooked, make sure to drain excess water if any remains

2) Add cashews , grated ginger,  chickpeas, chopped bok choy, garlic and salt to food processor. Blend until smooth.

grating ginger

3) In a bowl, combine the above blended mix with the bulgur wheat. Mix well.  Again, make sure the bulgur is well drained prior to adding it to the mix!

4) With hands ( perfectly fun for toddlers-just ensure you give them a small batch of their own to “work with” lest you lose a great deal of burger batter due curious mouths), craft burgers into desired size. We did a 1 inch thick by 4 inches wide, but you could certainly make smaller burgers as well or sliders.

Little Hands

5) Next you’ll need to bread the burgers. In one wide bowl, place the whisked eggs in. In another wide bowl or plate, spread a generous amount of panko.

6) Carefully, since the burgers are delicate, cover each patty in eggs and then cover completely in panko. You may need to re-egg and re-panko several times to get desired coverage since they are delicate. The shape may get lost in this process, but just reshape them prior to putting them on the stove.

7) Over low medium, cook burgers until each side is nicely browned ( around 3-5 minutes on each side).

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8) If desired, drizzle olive oil on buns and pop into the broiler for a bit to toast the buns.

9) Add patties to the bun and top with mint Pea hummus and any other toppings you see fit.

Final Father's Day Meal

Final Father’s Day Meal

On Our Table This Week

Tomato of my dreams!

The tomato of my dreams; which eventually found it’s way into a quesadilla

What a week! Between an international business trip, a summer cold ( blah!), and a few birthday parties we weren’t able to spend as much time in the kitchen as we usually do, but so is life. The “Zen Bowl” was probably the winner of the week. Fig just loves noodles and doesn’t mind barreling his way through the vegetables, which in this case happened to be sunflower sprouts and bok choy, to get to those precious udons. I made a simple herbal broth which consisted of star anise, fennel seeds, garlic, onions and salt and then cooked the noodles into the nutritious broth. The meal was half inspired by a Pho bowl but was really a vehicle to get rid of some older vegetables that were nearing the end of their days in my fridge.

Fig was also a huge fan of the Butternut Squash Cornbread Muffins. Like most little kids, he can pound down carbs like nobodies business,  filling up on starches and then not touching anything else on his plate. For this reason, I avoid giving him bread with his meals unless the items are homemade and typically contain some kind of vegetables that needs to be used up quickly.

So without further adieu, here is this week’s sparse edition of “On Our Table This Week”

Fruit and Nut Quinoa, Tuna Salad, and a Butternut Squash Cornbread Muffin

Fruit and Nut Sprouted Quinoa Mix, Tuna Salad, and a Butternut Squash Cornbread Muffin

Assisting with the butternut squash cornbread muffins

Assisting with the butternut squash cornbread muffins

Loaded Vegetable Quesadilla with Cucumbers and Strawberries

Loaded Vegetable Quesadilla with Cucumbers and Strawberries

Potatoes and Spinach with Cumin Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Kale Bread

Potatoes and Spinach Mix with Cumin Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Kale Bread

Zen Bowl

Zen Bowl

And of course, copious amounts of figs

And of course, copious amounts of figs

 

Cooking with Toddlers: Radish Top and Peanut Wontons

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It starts with a simple phone call. “Hey honey, we’re out of ( insert missing grocery item). Could you stop by on your way home and pick it up? ” My husband happily obliges and upon returning home, I notice that he is not carrying the one item I’d requested but is instead holding a large brown bag, which from the looks of it, appears to be jam packed with goodies from none other than Trader Joe’s. We live in Southern California, an abundant food mecca and are lucky enough to get nearly all our food from local farmers via our outdoor markets and Coop. But we all have our vices, and my husband has a weakness for Trader Joe’s danish pancakes, pizza’s, and most recently wontons. ( And really, can I blame him? Those Danish Pancakes are amazing albeit a little sketchy when it comes to nutritional value). It was these Wonton’s that upon returning from a walk, was horrified to find both my husband and 2 year old double fisting them into their mouths as if they were the very last Wonton’s on earth. While making an effort to conceal my disappointment at the not-so-healthy lunch my family was pounding down with gusto , I made a mental note that my not-so-baby baby apparently loves Wonton’s which are incredibly easy to make, deliciously fun for little hands, and the perfect vehicle for so many different kinds of veggies. Radish tops aren’t a vegetable most american’s eat and its certainly not something you would imagine a toddler liking but it seems a crime to waste a perfectly delicious and magnificently healthy green for no good reason. That being said, radish tops are a leafy green that taste like a leafy green and for that reason we added peanuts to this dish; to include a fatty, nutty flavor and disguise the vegetables a bit. I think between the peanuts and tamari, my little man hardly noticed that he was consuming a powerhouse of dark green vegetables and that’s something I’m totally OK with. Greens

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In addition to the radish tops, our wontons included peas, baby spinach, chard and carrots. Chard is very earthy, so if you’re trying to get your little one to eat more vegetable, I’d suggest omitting the chard and replacing it with a milder leafy green. Our local store only carried the 3 X 3 wonton wrappers, which is the perfect size for toddlers. However, I’ve seen them come in larger sizes which would work well too but you’d need to increase the ingredient amounts accordingly. Ingredients:

  • 25 Wonton Wrappers
  • 1/2 a cup of diced baby spinach
  • 1/2 a cup of diced radish tops
  • 1/2 a cup of diced chard
  • 1/2 a cup of peanuts, grounded down semi-finely
  • 1/4 cup shelled peas
  • 1 medium grated carrot
  • 1 teaspoon tamari ( soy sauce will do if tamari isn’t available)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt to taste

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IMG_7919 Directions

  • Start out by chopping all the vegetables finely, grating the carrot on a micro-plane grater, and shelling the peas.
  • Next,  break down the peanuts into small chunks. We used a mortal and pestle, but you could also just have your toddler beat the heck out of them in a plastic zip lock bag.
  • Place the vegetables and peanuts in a Wok ( if you don’t have a Wok any pan will do) on medium high with sesame oil and tamari. Cook for about 5 minutes until the greens are vibrant.

IMG_7968 After the vegetable and peanut mix is done sauteing in the Wok its wonton wrapping time. This kept Fig’s attention for a solid 20 minutes. Eventually we realized that our wonton’s were be massacred beyond recognition and we set up him with several sheets of his own to minimize the destruction. Either way, this activity was a total win and so much fun for him.

  • In a wonton sheet put a heaping tablespoon of vegetable mix in. Dab your fingers in some water and wet all sides of the wonton wrapper and fold together in a purse like shape.

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  • Next the Wonton’s need to be steamed. Since we don’t own a bamboo steamer, we used a regular pot with a vegetable steamer insert and lined it with chard to prevent the wonton sticking to the metal.
  • Once the pot is steaming, line the pot with Wonton’s and cook for about 6 minutes ensuring the wonton’s do not touch each other.

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  • Once cooked, serve with Tamari sauce and enjoy!

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What we ate this week

I’m always interested in what other families feed their little kids so I’d thought I share what was on our table this past week. My little guy had a great eating week and scarfed down nearly everything that was put on his plate and then some.  The loaded spring quiche was a total win and a complete surprise. Telling him it was vegetable “cake” may have helped encourage him just a bit.  The only thing he unequivocally said “in your dreams” to was the raw garlic kale salad which I’m sure shocks no one.

Several meals where not photographed due to the sheer mayhem that surrounded the kitchen on those particular days ( think of a crying/clinging toddler, a barking dog, 4,000 dishes in the sink  and the smell of burnt bread wafting from the oven; a scene that happens too often around here).

So here we go; This week on Fig’s plate:

And of course, tons and tons of berries

No spring would be complete with tons of berries

Radish Sandwich

Radish sandwich with a side of cucumbers, cherries and blackberries

Chickpeas tossed in yogurt, lemon, and spinach

Chickpeas tossed in yogurt, lemon, and spinach

Cashew pesto pasta, kale bread, radishes and the imfamous garlic kale salad

Cashew tuna pesto pasta, kale bread, radishes and the infamous garlic kale salad

Pasta with a homemade marinara sauce with a Apple Fennel Salad ( not pictured)

Pasta with a homemade marinara sauce with an Apple Fennel Salad ( not pictured)

Sprouted Sushi with Cream Cheese and Cucumber

Sprouted Sushi with Cream Cheese and Cucumber

Mung bean daal

Mung bean daal

Monday: Spring Vegetable Quiche, Tabouli, and Blueberries

Spring Vegetable Quiche, Tabouli, and Blueberries