I have a 19 month old little girl who will eat just about anything. I feel the need to explore a world of different foods as a result. I know as she gets older she will probably reach a point where she will eat nothing but chicken fingers and fries so I will take advantage while I can. Since she will eat anything, I actually find myself at a loss for what to feed her next. I am not overly adventurous when it comes to food – I don’t eat red meat or seafood nor will I eat mushrooms or squash. These are just because I don’t like them, it’s not an alternative diet or anything. There are many foods out there that most people tend to feed their toddlers like broccoli or avocado or bananas. I’m not here to list out the obvious foods. I’m here to show you some of the not-so-obvious foods that my toddler simply adores!
Toddler Meal Ideas
These can be high in sodium but I rinse them profusely to help reduce this. Also of note is that chickpeas have a skin. They get stuck in my throat so I figure they will also get stuck in Miss O’s throat. It takes a bit of time but I remove all of the skins when I open a can – they come off very easily by gently pinching them off.
If it’s not straight-up chick peas, I buy a tin of mixed organic beans. Again many will argue the sodium is too high. I rinse them profusely. It’s a personal decision at the end of the day. My kid drinks water like it’s going out of style so I’m pretty sure she flushes the salt out quite well. She loves beans though. I don’t particularly enjoy the after-effects but at least she’s getting her fibre! There is also the option of buying dried beans and soaking them.
Blanched frozen peas
Peas are one of the few foods that completely maintain their nutritional value when frozen so this is a great option. Blanching requires a few steps but it’s quite simple: Put 1 cup of peas into a small pan of boiling water. It will take a few moments until they start to boil again – once they do, keep them in for only 2 minutes. Pour into a sieve and submerge the sieve into a bowl full of ice water until the peas are cooled. Allow them to dry on a layer of paper towel. Store in the refrigerator. The reason I blanch them is because they maintain their color and still remain slightly firm instead of turning to mush.
I did not want to give my child lunch meat as it is loaded with nitrites. Even those fancy “all-natural” meats have nitrites. I recently found a brand called McLean’s that is completely nitrite-free. Miss O adores this stuff (can’t say I blame her – it just tastes better) and I feel good about feeding it to her. It’s a bit pricier but I feel that my family’s health is worth it. Plus lunch meat takes the stress off of preparing meat every day. Usually she has the same as us or leftovers but if we went out the night before then I don’t feel compelled to prepare a meat dish just for my kid.
Miss O loves pasta (she is part-Italian after all). If you’re like me, you hate whole wheat pasta. I find that it’s always too al dente – no matter how long you cook it, it remains too firm. As a result I buy the “smart” pastas available today. We eat a lot of pasta in our house so she enjoys a variety of sauces – she particularly enjoys pesto!
She would live off of tomatoes and blueberries if she could have her way. I think this also comes from the Italian blood. I like to buy packs of assorted cherry tomatoes as it offers variety and they last longer than a normal tomato. I cut them into chunks and off she goes.
As previously mentioned I don’t eat seafood. The smell of tuna grosses me out to the point where I can’t even feed it to Miss O. Tuna is a special treat with daddy. When purchasing tuna for your child be sure to buy low-sodium flaked light tuna packed in water (not oil). Avoid albacore tuna as it is higher in mercury.
I recently discovered Yves Veggie Sliders. There are 8 in a package and they are frozen in pairs. I can simply remove one of the pairs from the packaging and microwave it directly from frozen. It’s handy in a pinch especially since it only takes 30 seconds in the microwave! O eats it up like it’s her last meal, making constant yummy noises the whole time.
If you haven’t yet discovered these then both you and your toddler are missing out! Miss O loves them and I must say, so do Mommy & Daddy! There are many brands available but I find the organic brands to last longer than something like Gerber. Baby Gourmet Mushies, Plum Organics Little Cremes and First Food Organics Yogurt Yums are the common brands in our household.
If you have a fussy kid, smoothies are the way to go. You can sneak all sorts of healthy stuff in there without them even knowing. I make one for O every day. I use a variety of fruit (I often buy a small pre-packaged fruit salad along with an assortment of berries) then I add either spinach or kale (be sure to remove stems – they will make it bitter). I use Bolthouse juices (Strawberry Banana or C-Boost), orange juice and usually a splash of homo milk or almond milk. I blend it all up in my Magic Bullet and put in a cup with a straw for her. The best part is, I get the extra smoothie that doesn’t fit in her cup! I also put fish oil into O’s smoothies – we use a brand that tastes like fruit so she never even notices.
What are some of the interesting things that your toddler likes to eat? I am always looking for new and interesting things to feed Miss O. I have noticed of late that she is starting to get pickier. She won’t eat very soft, mushy foods anymore like bananas or avocados – I think she has a texture issue with them (which she probably gets from me…). She no longer enjoys peppers (red, green, etc). Inspire me! I want to hear all of the fabulous snacks, meals and treats you have created for your toddler, picky or otherwise.
Andrea can always be found with a new craft in front of her, a form of technology on her right and a coffee on her left. This is how she survives suburbia with her two crazy toddlers in tow.