Crispy Kale Chips Healthy Toddler Snack

I haven’t shared any toddler approved recipes lately, not for failure of trying, but for failure of pleasing my seventeen month old son. I continue to test out new foods with my son to maximize his exposure and tempt his interests in hopes of achieving a win. This is tough! It’s a challenge figuring out what he will eat or throw. And throw he will. Veggies are by far the hardest to sneak past my son, which leaves me constantly thinking about ways to mask them. He loves Veggie Straws, crackers and other crunchy things, so I thought I would give kale chips a try. I’ve had some fails with soggy kale chips in the past. Crispness is key to making kale chips delish! I tweaked my recipe a bit, which resulted in perfectly crisp kale chips that my son actually ate. I still can’t believe it! Have a look at what I did to make a yummy and healthy snack that my whole family enjoyed.

Crispy Kale Chips.pngIngredients: 1 bunch Kale, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F and bring in your kitchen helper. Washing, tearing and transferring kale are great tasks to involve little ones in. My son loves helping in the kitchen and I let him do so as much as possible.

2. Tear the kale leaves into large pieces away from the stems and rinse.

3. Thoroughly dry the kale. I placed kale on a towel and blotted it dry with a paper towel. I’ve found that carefully drying the kale is an important step to getting crispy kale chips.

4. Toss kale in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. I prefer using sea-salt. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

5. Spread kale in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure the kale is not overlapping or crammed onto the baking sheet. It’s better to spread the kale leaves out onto two baking sheets or cook it in batches than to pack it onto one tray.

6. Cook kale for fifteen minutes then rotate the pan and cook another fifteen minutes. Let cool.

7. Bon Appe’tit baby!

Verdict: Win and time to do it again! It’s all about trial and error in my kitchen. My son is totally into eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches these days, which are my default. They are so easy to make and I know he will eat them. PBJ + kale chips = win! Kale chips are a good way to get some veggies in my little man’s diet and are a great alternative to potato chips. They really are delicious, very light and flavorful and best of all nutritious. They won’t be around long, can’t eat just one. It took my son awhile to warm up to them, but now he grabs them by the handful. Give crispy kale chips a try and let me know what your little one thinks. Find more toddler friendly recipes here. Do you have any tricks to get veggies in little ones?! Please share!

Cheers to getting veggies in littles!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

Veggie Packed Spaghetti Family Food

What’s on the menu this week?! Veggie packed spaghetti! Spaghetti is new to my son’s palate. I’m not sure why I haven’t shared it with him yet. I know he loves pasta and tomatoes. So, in preparation for our big snow here in North Carolina (we got one inch), I thought spaghetti would be easy to make and leave us with leftovers to survive the great winter storm. Of course, I couldn’t just go with traditional spaghetti. I have a toddler to fool and something was telling me this would be a good way to do it. So, I packed my spaghetti with yummy and colorful vegetables. Here’s what I got myself into!

The oneswho are crazy enough tothink theycan changethe world,are the oneswho do.(1).pngIngredients: 28oz can crushed tomatoes, 15oz tomato sauce, 1lb lean hamburger, spaghetti noodles, 2 carrots, 1 medium zucchini, 1 medium squash, 1 medium green bell pepper, 1 small onion, 2tbsp sugar, basil, oregano, parsley and garlic powder

1. Finely chop all veggies, shred carrots using a grater and stir fry in olive oil on medium-high heat until tender

2. Brown hamburger, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder to flavor

3. Once hamburger is cooked through, add veggies and mix

4. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, combine well. Sprinkle generously with oregano, basil and parsley, mix together.

5. Add sugar to sauce and simmer sauce on low. Cook noodles per package directions.

6. Serve sauce over noodles, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bon Appe’tit baby and husband!

Verdict: Toddler and husband approved! It’s hard enough to please one but both of them, give this mama an award. My husband suggested I add mushrooms, which I think is a great idea. I will try that next time. My favorite part about this meal was that we sat down together and ate as a family, but not before we prayed as a family. I must say, veggie packed spaghetti was very yummy and will be on our regular menu. I’m not sure how it freezes, because we didn’t have any to spare. It would be nice to have some pre-made spaghetti on hand though, I’ll have to give it a try.

So, there you have it. I just kind of threw this dish together and it worked out for my family. I hope it will for yours too! Let me know if you give it a try. Find more toddler friendly recipes here.

Cheers!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

 

White Chocolate Bark Festive Finger Foods for Toddlers

What’s on the menu this week?! Sweets, yikes! I’m not a big fan of giving my son sugar. He is wild enough as it is. But, tis’ the season! And I wanted his help in the kitchen on this one, so I felt it only fair to let him taste test. Making goodies to share with friends and family is one of my favorite activities of the holidays. It’s extra special this year, because I get to share the fun with my son. In making my Christmas goodies list, I started thinking about which ones I could involve my nearly sixteen month old son in and this one fit the bill! This yummy white chocolate bark is so simple, your toddler can easily join right in. Here’s what my little man and I got into!

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Ingredients: white chocolate morsels, shortening, candy canes, Oreos, pretzels

Directions:

1.Place candy canes/Oreos/pretzels (whichever you choose) in a Ziplock bag and seal.

2. Get your toddler and set them up on a chair beside you in the kitchen, give them a plastic bottle and show them how to crush.  Get your crush on! You’ll need around 1 cup of crushed goodie per 12 oz of chocolate.

3. Let your toddler go trash the house while you finish the job! Melt 12 oz chocolate morsels and 2 tsp shortening together in the microwave, stir every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. This typically takes me 4 rotations of 30 seconds. The shortening is key to getting the chocolate smooth and creamy.

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4. Choose a goody (1 cup of crushed candy canes, Oreos or pretzels). Mix the goody in with the melted chocolate.

5. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Place in the refrigerator until hard, around an hour.

6. Break into finger sized pieces. Bon Appe’tit baby!

Verdict: Dangerous! This momma has a small addiction to white chocolate. I’m afraid my son may be following in my footsteps. He loves it! Making this white chocolate bark was such a treat, because I got to share it with my son and I get to give it to friends and family. And of course, I will have plenty for myself. After all, I only make it one time a year! I like the pretzel bark the best. My son is into the peppermint, it’s very flavorful. If you decide to try this recipe, please share pics of you and your little making it together. Oh what fun! Check out more finger food recipes here.

Cheers!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

Veggie Fritters Finger Food for Toddlers

What’s on the toddler menu this week?! Veggie fritters! This is a spin-off of one of my all time favorite recipes that my grandmother used to make, squash fritters. She is no longer with us, but Christmas time sure makes me think of her. So I decided to break out her recipe collection and share these with my family. She used to make an awesome cheesecake too. Here’s to you memaw! My fritters are not as good as hers, but close. I added a few extra veggies to mine. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

SquashFrittersfinger food for toddlers.png

Ingredients: 1 medium squash, 1 medium zucchini, 1 medium carrot, 1 small onion, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp melted butter, 6 tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 tsp sugar, salt and pepper to taste

1. Grate squash, zucchini, carrot and finely chop onion.

2. Combine veggies with flour, sugar and salt and pepper. Mix well.

img_02473. Beat eggs and stir into mixture. Add melted butter.

img_0249 4. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a greased, hot griddle or skillet. Cook until golden brown, turn and brown the other side. Serve, refrigerate or freeze.

5. Bon Appe’tit baby!

Verdict: Delish! My husband actually liked them better than my baby. Neither one of us could keep our paws off. These fritters are nice and soft, easy to chew and swallow. They were easy for my son to pick up with his fingers and fork. I served them with ham and steamed apples. This made a yummy side dish. Give veggie fritters a try and let me know what you think! Check out more finger food recipes here.

Cheers!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

 

Mini-Meatloaf Finger Food for Toddlers

What’s on the toddler menu this week? Meatloaf! I decided to go with a comfort food since it’s been cold and rainy here in North Carolina the past few days. My son likes hamburger and tomato bases, so I thought meatloaf might float his boat. I also disguised some veggies in these bite sized, little meatloaves and they turned out quite yummy!

www-speechbaby-netThis post contains affiliate links to items I personally find useful. I have not been compensated by the manufacturers for purchasing or promoting any of these products. I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link at no cost to you. If you do, thank you!!

Ingredients: 1 lb ground chuck, 1 c. bread crumbs, 1 green pepper, 1 onion, 1 egg, 1 c. tomato sauce, 1 c. shredded cheese, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp mustard, 2 tbsp vinegar, salt and pepper to taste

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1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Finely chop onion and pepper.

2. Mix raw ground beef, bread crumbs, peppers, onions, cheese, egg, 1/2 c. tomato sauce and salt and pepper until well combined.

3. Scoop mixture into an oven safe baby food container. You can also bake this in an 8×8 greased casserole dish. This recipe made 17 food pods. I doubled it to make a loaf for mama and daddy to enjoy as well.

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4. Bake for 20 mins. While baking, mix up the baste. Combine brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and 1/2 c. tomato sauce, mix well. After cooking meat loaves for 2o mins., top with baste then cook another hour.

5. Let cool, serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

6. Bon Appe’tit baby!

Verdict: Toddler approved! My son enjoyed it while getting protein and veggies in his belly. My son is learning to use toddler utensils. His is more like a spork. I’ve found a fork makes it easier for him to actually get food to his mouth. These mini-meatloaves were a good consistency to train utensil use. My son is currently doing a utensil-fingers eating combination. Whatever works! I served this dish with green beans, tomatoes and blueberries. If you give this recipe a try, please let me know how it goes! I hope your little will enjoy it as much as mine did. Check out more finger food recipes here.

Cheers!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

 

 

Leftover Turkey Casserole Finger Food

What’s on the menu this week?! Thanksgiving leftovers, lots of Thanksgiving leftovers. I’m still stuffed from Thanksgiving and can hardly think about cooking much less eating more, BUT I had tons of leftover turkey that I needed to do something with. My son loved eating it at Thanksgiving, so I came up with this cheesy turkey noodle casserole. Here’s what I got into.

Leftover Turkey Casserole(1).png

Ingredients: 6 oz egg noodles, 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup whole milk, 12 oz pkg cheddar cheese, 2 cups cooked turkey, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, 1 tbsp butter, salt & pepper to taste

img_97831. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil 6 oz (1/2 of 12 oz bag) of egg noodles per package directions. Drain.img_97852. Chop cooked turkey and carrots. Combine cooked noodles, turkey, soup, milk, cheese, corn, peas, carrots, salt & pepper. Mix well.

3. Scoop mixture into oven safe baby food container. You can also bake this in a greased casserole dish. This recipe made 18 food pods with enough leftover for a small casserole for mama and daddy.

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4.Bake in 350 degrees oven for 30 minutes then stir casserole. Crush Ritz crackers, melt butter and pour over crackers. Mix butter and crackers. Top casserole with crackers and bake an additional 5 mins. until brown.

5. Let cool, serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

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6. Bon Appe’tit baby!

Verdict: Win! My little man gobbled it up and it was a great way to disguise the veggies. He is getting better with utensils and actually got some in his mouth though his fingers worked much better, so I still call this a finger food. It was actually a family food because we sat down and ate this dish together, but not before we said our blessing. Check out my post on Eating and Praying with Babies. It’s so important! If you have leftover turkey that needs to be dealt with, you may wish to give this a try. If you do, let me know how it goes. Check out more finger food recipes here.

Cheers!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

This post contains an affiliate link to items I personally find useful. I have not been compensated by the manufacturers for purchasing or promoting any of these products. I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link at no cost to you. If you do, thank you!!

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5 Reasons to Eat and Pray with Babies

Try This at Home Tuesday: Eat and pray with your baby!

The spirit of Thanksgiving inspired me to write this post. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s filled with family, love and fellowship. It’s a time to reflect and think about the things we are grateful for. I’m so thankful for the life I’ve been granted and having the privilege of being a mother is icing on the cake.

Thankfulness and appreciation are learned behaviors which must be taught. This can be taught by role-modeling the behaviors you want and expect from your child. The meal environment is a great place to instill values, morals and appreciation. It’s an excellent time to teach by doing. I want my son to understand the power of prayers and thankfulness, so we’ve started saying prayers together when our family sits down to eat. This only happens a few times a week, though my goal in the new year is to do it more. The reality is, it’s very difficult to get everyone around the table at the same time, especially when a cranky, hungry toddler is involved. I’m sure any parent can attest to this. But babies are part of the family and it’s important to include them in family dining times. It’s never to early to do this. When you can make it happen, it’s good for all involved. Here’s why.

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1. Prayers of Thanksgiving: We started engaging our son in mealtime prayers when he turned twelve months old. I realize he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, but it’s all about creating value and painting the bigger picture. One year olds understand way more than they can express. You can believe that your baby is learning everything you are putting down. We want our son to recognize the importance of being thankful and the power of prayer, so we model for him. We don’t do it everyday, but every chance we get. The more we pray together, the more engaged our son gets. We don’t do a serious, long church prayer. We make it fun by saying a short, sweet rhyming prayer/blessing, usually God is Great. The key to engaging babies in prayer is holding their hands, swinging their arms, and making a big deal when finished by clapping, smiling and saying “yay, we said our prayers!” Do whatever you can to make it a positive, light experience and you will be on the road to a respectful, appreciative little being.

2. Bonding: I’m the first to admit that sitting down to eat together as a family is tough to organize, but when we do, magic happens. We talk, laugh, get frustrated (when baby throws food), problem solve, act silly, make sound effects and learn from one another. We bond and you will too! Instilling the importance of prayer and family meals together at a young age will carry over to ongoing family bonding as your little gets older. Make it a goal to sit down and eat along with your baby as much as possible. My heart melts every time we do this with our son.

3. Language: My favorite! Meal times are great times to incorporate expressive and receptive language. You can practice signing “more, milk, eat, all done, etc.” Babies will also play with their voices, making sounds or talking. It’s important to take turns vocalizing and talking back to babies. Ask babies to follow simple directions during meal times such as, “It’s time to pray, hold daddy’s hand,” “give mommy your milk,” “get your spoon” or “eat your banana.” Better yet, drink milk, use spoons and eat bananas together! Name everything on baby’s plate.

4. Demonstration: Babies learn by watching. This is how they learn to pray and encourages eating. When they see others praying and eating, they are likely to mimic these behaviors. This results in food in your baby’s belly- win, win!

5. Eating Habits: All babies know, is all they know! Getting in a routine of praying before eating helps to prepare babies for the next step, a yummy meal with their family. When babies know what’s happening next, they are more likely to be relaxed and sit down for longer than two minutes and complete their meal. Demonstrating good eating behaviors for babies helps them to develop a healthy, nutritional lifestyle. Providing healthy choices such as fresh veggies and fruits, lean meats, and whole grains gives babies the opportunity to learn how to eat healthy.

Engaging babies in prayers and dining etiquette early on builds the foundation for appreciation, respect and compliance during meal time experiences later on. When babies are engaged in prayers and mealtimes with others, they develop the cognitive skills of attention, listening, memory, problem solving and language. Yes, please! Babies learn by example, I challenge you to be the example you want a baby to be. You will be thankful you did!

Cheers to eating with babies! (Our son loves to cheers 😊)

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

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