Delish Recipes for Tods (which Mom and Dad will enjoy, too)!

Our toddler likes to eat.  For the first month of his life he was only in the 30th percentile for weight, but now he regularly tops the charts at between 90-95 percentile.  This makes him dwarf most Thai children his age and causes our Thai pediatrician to be completely unconcerned if he misses a few days of regular meals because of a common cold.  We’ll readily admit that he’s a bit of a beefcake, but he eats healthy meals, loves his milk, and is not picky — what more could you ask for when it comes to feeding a toddler?

So what’s our secret to creating such a good eater?  Ever since Logan started solids at around five and a half months, I’ve striven to make him some of the best, wholesome meals out there from my favorite baby and toddler cookbooks on the market.  When I was making a lot of purees for Logan (between 6 and 12 months), I would make enough to freeze for a month or two so that I could offer him greater variety (I would make several different purees a week).  Plus, being able to pull a yummy puree from the freezer every now and then made my life a whole lot easier.  Now that my little guy is older, I choose recipes that the whole family can enjoy together.  Our goal is to sit down as a family and eat together most evenings, which has turned into a precious time for all of us to “talk” about our day, and yes, refine Logan’s table manners.  I have to admit that we’ve come a long way on that last one since Logan started eating purees on his own (see below).

Logan at nine months, enjoying a mystery puree

My two absolute favorite baby/toddler cookbooks are: Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating by Tyler Florence and Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler by Nora O’Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy.  I tend to like Florence’s book best for ages 12 months and up and O’Donnell and Tracy’s book best for 4-12 months.  Below are a few of my very favorite recipes, with some adaptations if you are buying ingredients and cooking in Bangkok:

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Raisin (suggested for 8 months and up)

Adapted From: Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler by Nora O’Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples (I like to use Gala)
  • 1/2 cup golden (or regular) raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 ounces water or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup baby oatmeal cereal
  1. Wash and peel apples, cut each apple in half, remove the seeds and the stem, cut each half into approximately six pieces.
  2. Put the apples, raisins, cinnamon, and water into a 4-quart pot.
  3. Turn the burner on high and cover with a lid.
  4. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Add the oatmeal and cook for 1 more minute, stirring throughout the final minute.
  6. Pour everything into the blender and puree.
  7. Freeze leftovers in covered ice cube trays.

This super-simple puree recipe smells like heaven when it is cooking – very similar to baking an apple pie, in fact.  My husband and I found that we liked the puree so much that we began using it as a topping for our yogurt in the morning or even warmed on top of vanilla ice cream (and as I write this, I’m now questioning whether I really make this puree for Logan, or Mommy and Daddy).

Ginger Beef (suggested for 10 months and up)

Adapted From: Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler by Nora O’Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Canola (vegetable) oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, small diced
  • 1 cup carrot, small diced (about 1 medium carrot)
  • 1 cup celery, small diced (about 1 stalk)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces beef (suggested beef cut:  boneless short rib – I generally buy this at Central Chitlom, but I’m sure you can find other locations as well), all excess fat removed, cut into 4 pieces
  • 16 ounces water
  • 1/4 cup brown rice uncooked
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (known as “coriander” in Thailand), chopped
  1.  In a 4-quart pot, add the oil and put on medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook 3 minutes.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, and beef.  Cook 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the water, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add peas, spinach, and cilantro.  Simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  6. (Optional):  Puree in a blender depending on your child’s age and chewing ability.

I’ve read that the more exotic flavors you introduce your child to at a young age, the more sophisticated of a palate they will develop, and as a result, the more appreciation they will have for a variety of foods later in life.  This recipe definitely fits the bill by introducing them to ginger.  I also love that the recipe uses beef, so little ones can get their fill of iron for the day.  To make this recipe more adult-friendly, my husband and I add some Thai chiles, diced pineapple, salt, pepper, and soy sauce to our portion of the meal after step 5 to ramp up the flavor.  The taste never disappoints.

Roasted Salmon with Green Pea Risotto (suggested for 9 months and up)

Adapted From:  Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating by Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless wild salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions (and bones removed)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To cook the salmon:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 204 degrees Celsius)
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the salmon pieces and cook without turning until browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the salmon to a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes.

To prepare the risotto:

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the peas, reduce the heat, and cook until bright green (1-2 minutes)
  3. With a strainer, scoop the peas into a bowl; reserve and keep the broth warm.
  4. Transfer half of the peas to a blender and puree until smooth; set aside.
  5. In a separate large saucepan, toast the rice over medium heat, stirring often, until the rice has darkened slightly, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth to the rice 1 cup at a time, waiting until each addition is almost fully absorbed by the rice before adding more.  Stir the rice frequently during this process.
  7. Before all of the broth has been absorbed by the rice, stir in both the pureed and whole peas, butter, and cheese.
  8. Serve the salmon atop the risotto (or flake the salmon into small pieces and stir into the risotto for child portions).

This is a good way to create fish lovers early on.  You and your child reap the awesome benefits of the salmon’s omega-3 fats and you get your share of greens.

Baked Apples and Barley (suggested for 9 months and up)

Adapted From:  Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating by Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 2 Rome or Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup blueberries (I’ve also used blackberries)
  • 1 cupcooked pearled barley
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of instant oatmeal

To cook the barley:

  1. Place 1/2 cup raw barley in a saucepan with 2 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Cook the barley until tender but not mushy, about 40-50 minutes.

To make the crumble:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (or 190 degrees Celsius).
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Arrange the apples and blueberries on the baking sheet.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked barley, almonds, butter, brown sugar, flaxseed, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and stir until well mixed.
  5. Spoon the barley mixture evenly over the apples and blueberries, then sprinkle with the oatmeal.
  6. Bake until the blueberries have burst and the barley and almonds are lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then transfer the child portions to a blender and puree until smooth.  Serve warm.

Our little guy loves this one . . . in fact, it is an excellent indulgence for the whole family, while still being healthy.  I freeze the leftover pureed portions for Logan’s subsequent meals.  My husband and I eat the crumble straight off of the baking sheet while warm (patience has never been one of our strong suits).

If you’ve discovered other great baby and toddler cookbooks, please do share in the comments section.  I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, and as the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life!

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One thought on “Delish Recipes for Tods (which Mom and Dad will enjoy, too)!

  1. Priya says:

    hey there – great blog and super useful. I shall definitely try out one of these deliccccccious recipes once my stuff arrives…. loved your getaway secrets – sorry you had to give them away but I can see Ronny, Amaira and myself using quite a few of these tips for newcomers like us 🙂

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