Today’s Guest Post, Mission Impossible: Vegetables – Toddler Edition, was written by my good friend, Sarah W. She too has a toddler, which means, getting them to eat certain things, is quite the undertaking.
Like many parents, it is a weekly (if not every meal time) struggle to get my 18-month-old daughter to consume any type of vegetable, let alone those 3-5 servings a day. Over the past few months, I have been on what seems like the longest game of hide-and-seek to find recipes to help get Munchie to eat any sort of fruit and veggies beyond pouch form.
What initially felt like mission impossible, has become more manageable after a few rounds of trial and error. Many of the recipes that we have added into the rotation now are great hot or cold and perfect for those packing lunches/snacks for daycare or preschool. The muffin and pancakes recipe has also been a life saver for breakfasts in the morning because sometimes getting out the door for school is a mission in itself in the morning. I hope some of the recipes Munchie and I have tried over the past few months helps other parents who also face the meal time struggle.
1. Spinach and Parmesan Twists
My first find was a great way to incorporate some extra veggies into snack time while also promoting independence. Munchie is as strong-willed as they come so anything that she can eat by herself without help, let alone actually enjoy, was a win in our book.
Ingredients: 1 sheet puff pastry, 1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup spinach, 1 egg (beaten)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil. Unfold the puff pastry, so it is flat on the cookie try. For the next few steps try to cover only half of the sheet of push pastry as you will be folding it in half on top of the toppings. Sprinkle half the parmesan cheese on the puff pastry evenly. Then cover with the spinach. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the spinach. Fold the puff pastry in half. Cut the puff pastry into 1″ strips. Holding both ends, twist the strips. Space out on a cookie try with 3 or 4 per row as they will expand in the oven. Brush the twists with the egg. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
2. Zucchini Carrot Muffins (Vegan)
This recipe is low sugar, egg and dairy free. Perfect for those little ones with sensitive tummies! Makes 2 dozen mini muffins or 1 dozen regular-ish size muffins.
Ingredients: 3 mashed bananas (ripe), 1 cup shredded zucchini, 1 cup shredded carrot (can use 2 cups zucchini if you do not want to include carrots), 1/2 cup apple sauce (sugar-free), 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tbsp. honey, 2 tsp. vanilla
Directions: Grate the carrots and zucchini. (1 cup of zucchini is approximately 1 full zucchini; 1 cup of carrots is about 10 baby carrots) Blot with a paper towel to remove the moisture. Do not skip this step or the muffins will sink in the middle when you bake them. Grease the muffin tin or use cupcake liners. Mix the mashed bananas, applesauce, honey, vanilla, and vegetables. Add flour, cinnamon, and baking soda to veggie mixture. Scoop mixture into muffin tins. I use 1- 1 1/2 medium cookie scoops per muffin. Bake in the oven fore 30 minutes for mini muffins and 40 minutes for full-size muffins. Check centers with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, they are done. Let them cool completely before eating, or the centers will be gooey.
3. Pumpkin Pancakes
Okay, I know pumpkin is a fruit, not a veggie, but let’s be real its a great way to slip in some extra nutrition for a quick morning breakfast during the week. I typically make this recipe on Sundays and then will reheat the pancake quickly in the toaster or oven during the week. Makes about 12 pancakes.
Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 cup light brown sugar (or 3 tbsp. honey), 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I often use the 1 cup whole milk + 1 tbsp. white distilled vinegar trick since we never have buttermilk in the house), 3 tbsp. butter, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla
Directions: Preheat a non-stick pan or griddle. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, mix together pumpkin, buttermilk, brown sugar/honey, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add to dry ingredients being careful not to over-mix (may have some lumps in batter). Let rest 3 minutes. Spray/oil griddle or pan. Pour batter into a pan. Cook until golden brown on bottom then flip and cook opposite side until golden. Repeat until all batter is used.
4. Ham, Spinach and Cheese Pinwheels
Right around the time when Munchie decided to boycott veggies was the same time she decided to boycott protein too. She is on the smaller side (30th percentile) consistently so one of the perks of using puff pastry is the added calories for her since she has the world’s fastest metabolism (I am so jealous of her on a regular basis).
Ingredients: 1 sheet puff pastry, deli ham (5-6 thin slices), 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or 5 slices deli American cheese, 1/4 cup spinach (other variation: shredded bbq chicken, cheddar cheese, and sautéed kale)
Directions: Preheat over to 400 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil. Unfold the puff pastry so it is flat on the cookie sheet. Cover the puff pastry with one layer of ham slices. Leave 1/2 inch on one end of the puff pastry with no toppings. Then add the spinach on top of the ham and cover the spinach with your preference of cheese. Start with the end that has the toppings all the way to the edge. Roll the puff pastry “hot dog” style and use a fork to seal at the end. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Cut the roll into 12 evenly spaced slices. Lay flat on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.