Although I love to cook for our family, there are some nights I just don’t have the time or energy to prep, cook and then clean up. However, I still want everyone to have a healthy meal that they will enjoy. I noticed Dr. Prager’s sensible frozen foods during a recent trip to the grocery store and I decided to try their Spinach Littles (these are star and dinosaur shaped spinach and potato cakes). Dr. Prager’s line of products are made of all natural ingredients and do not contain any preservatives. Check out the box, the Spinach Littles contain only a handful of ingredients and I can recognize them all. Sophia loves the Spinach Littles. I have also tried the Lightly Breaded Fishies served with a yogurt dipping sauce and they were also a hit with Sophia (who has lately been refusing all fish).
I know we all need more of these healthy “fast food” ideas, so please feel free to comment if you have any favorites to share.
As much as Sophia and I love muffins and all carb loaded breakfast treats, I try to limit them because they are often loaded with sugar and do not offer much in the way of nutrition. It is fun for me to experiment with muffin recipes that are delicious, not too sugary and offer some nutritional benefits. I tweaked a carrot muffin recipe this weekend and it came out really yummy. For a special treat, I topped it with a cream cheese “frosting.” Sophia really enjoyed the “frosting” but she also loved the muffins without it.
Carrot Quinoa Muffins with Cream Cheese Spread
- 1 Cup of Organic Quinoa Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill..this flour is stone ground from whole grain organic quinoa. It contains all 8 essential amino acids, is a good source of fiber and is GLUTEN FREE.)
- 1/2 Cup Organic Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Organic Honey
- 2 Cups Organic Shredded Carrot
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/3 Cup Organic Applesauce (or one single serve container of apple sauce)
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Organic Walnuts
- 1 Cup Organic Raisins
- 1/4 Cup Organic Shredded Coconut
- 1/4 Cup Organic Crushed Pineapple
- 2 TSP Cinnamon
- 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 TSP Baking Powder
- 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
- 1/2 TSP Salt
- Pre-heat Oven to 350
- Grease Muffin Pan (you can use mini or regular sized muffin pans)
- Mix eggs, sugar, honey, oil and applesauce with electric mixer. Stir in Vanilla.
- In a separate bowl: sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Add this to sugar mixture and mix well.
- Stir in carrots, raisins, walnuts, coconut and pineapple.
- Pour mixture into muffin pan until almost full.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes about clean. (this will take less time if using mini muffins vs. regular sized muffins.
Cream Cheese Spread
- Organic Whipped Cream Cheese (it is very important that you buy whipped cream cheese vs. plain..this eliminates the step of whipping the cream cheese with an electric mixer).
- Honey to sweeten
- Mix whipped cream cheese with a small amount of honey
- Spread cream cheese “frosting” on top of muffin (This is much easier if you let the cream cheese come to room temp).
Notes/Serving Instructions: These are delicious with and without the cream cheese spread/frosting. I made a small amount of the frosting and put it in the fridge for some of the muffins. These muffins freeze well in a ziplock bag.
I am always trying to find ways to add more veggies/greens to Sophia’s diet. Introducing new veggies like asparagus, green beans etc. doesn’t always go over well. Often, Sophia spits new veggies out and then proceeds to throw them on the floor. (Note: I do keep trying because I think it is really important to keep introducing new healthy foods into her diet. I hope eventually she will like some of the new things I offer. She actually does surprise me sometimes :-)) For those Moms out there who have experienced similar toddler behavior regarding veggies (and I am sure there are plenty of you), a Green Smoothie is a great option that your kids will love.
The recipe below is for a basic green smoothie with Kale, Apple and Spinach. Use this recipe as your base and get creative by adding other fruit such as frozen blueberries or a banana.
Kale is loaded with antioxidants and fiber and supports the body’s detoxification process. Spinach is also rich in antioxidants, fiber and is a good source of iron.
Popeye Organic Green Smoothie
- 1/2 Cup of Organic Apple Juice (you can substitute water or use a mixture of both)
- 2 Cups of loosely packed organic baby spinach
- 1 Large Organic Apple (peeled and cut in cubes)
- 1/2 Cup of Kale
- Optional: 1/4 Cup of Organic Frozen Blueberries
- Peel apple and cut into cubes.
- Pull Kale Leaves from the stem. The idea is that you only want to use the leaves, not the chewy rib that goes up the center.
- Rip Kale leaves into pieces.
- Throw all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. This is where you need to “wing it”. If it is too thick add more water/juice…too thin add some more fruit or spinach.
Serving Notes/Instructions: Kale is somewhat fibrous so the smoothie may have a bit of a chunky texture. If this bothers you, leave out the Kale and just use spinach. **Serve with a straw!
I decided it was time to spice up our snack options a little bit. I know most toddlers love those Annie’s cheddar bunnies and the fruit squeeze pouches, but Sophia gets bored if I offer the same thing too often. I also want her to have variety in her diet and don’t want to give her too many processed foods. For those of us who give our kids snacks at the park, museum, beach etc., a snack also needs to be easy to transport. Homemade Granola bars are a great healthy snack that your kids will love and they are really easy to make!
Chewy Granola Bars
2 Cups Organic Rolled Oats
1 Cup Organic Raisins
1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts or Almonds
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Sunflower Seeds
3/4 Cup Applesauce or Mashed Banana
2 TSP Vanilla
1/2 TSP Salt
1 TSP Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Organic Honey
1/2 Cup Organic Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Organic Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Organic All Purpose Flour
1. Mix together all dry ingredients (Oats, Raisins, Flax, Nuts, Sees, Salt, Cinnamon, Flour, Sugar).
2. Add Applesauce or Banana and Vanilla
3. Make a well and pour in egg, canola oil and honey.
4. Mix well
5. Pat mixture into buttered 9 x 11 baking dish.
6. Place in 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown on edges.
7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Do not allow to cool completely or you will not be able to cut.
Serving Suggestion: Great snack. I stored the granola bars in an airtight container in our pantry. I froze half of the bars and they thawed nicely.
Other Notes: Be creative with this recipe. I will add more nuts and some dried apricots next time (another 1/4 of cup of dried ingredients should work well. You can also try peanut butter instead of applesauce or banana.
As the weather gets cooler I tend to crave a warm breakfast to start out my day. I love making oatmeal, but it takes some time and attention. Mornings can be hectic for many of us, especially when you add an energetic kid to the mix. Using your slow cooker to make oatmeal is super easy and breakfast is ready to go when you wake up in the morning.
Steel cut oats are an amazing whole grain. They are great source of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, potasium and carbohydrates.
I made an apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal in the slow cooker last night. Sophia LOVED it and so did my husband (who normally frowns at the sight of oatmeal).
- 1 Cup Organic Steel Cut Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 3 1/2 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Organic Apple Juice (you can use all water if you prefer)
- 2 TBSP Organic Brown Sugar
- 1/2 TSP Cinnamon
- 1 TBSP Organic Butter
- 1 Medium Apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and stir to mix.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7-9 Hours or overnight.
- In the morning, stir the oatmeal well.
Serving Suggestions: I added a little milk. If you have extra, you can freeze this in your baby food cubes or other freezer safe containers.
At our house, we love Lassi! Although Sophia is a huge fan of dogs, I am not referring to Lassie the dog, rather the Indian yogurt drink called Lassi. Lassi is an indian yogurt based drink that is commonly flavored with mango pulp and sometimes honey for sweetness. Lassi is full of beneficial probiotics. Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract that can be beneficial to your health. The benefits associated with probiotics include: enhanced immune system response, increased ability to digest foods, increased ability to assimilate the nutrients from food, alleviates many common digestive disorders (constipation, diarrhea and IBS) and increases the ability of the body to absorb calcium (among many others). We discovered Lassi at the San Rafael Farmers Market, Lakshmi Lassi makes their Mango and Rose Lassi from Organic Strauss Yogurt and it is delicious! I have also tried the Mango Lassi from Trader Joes..it is good too (not as good as Lakshmi Lassi). I have been reading through Lassi recipes and plan on trying to make some on my own. I will add a new post with the recipe when I find something we all like.
Quinoa is an amazing gluten free whole grain that is packed full of protein. Sophia loves the quinoa blueberry muffins I make (see earlier post for recipe), but I wanted to give Sophia this super grain in a savory dish that can be served for lunch or dinner.
I have enjoyed trying out recipes in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday so I decided to try out her recipe for Little Quinoa Patties. I made a batch of these and brought them to my book club (everyone LOVED them)..and one of my toughest critics (Sophia) loved them too.
Little Quinoa Patties (from the cookbook Super Natural Everyday)
- 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa at room temperature (see blueberry quinoa muffin recipe for how to cook quinoa)
- 4 Large Organic Eggs Beaten
- 1/2 TSP salt
- 1/3 Cup Organic Chopped Chives
- 1 Organic Yellow Onion finely chopped (this part is really important if you are serving these to your kiddos)
- 1/3 Cup grated Organic Guyere or Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 3 Organic Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Cup Organic Breadcrumbs (I have tried Italian and Plain and both worked well) plus more if needed
- water, if needed
- 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the quinoa, eggs and salt in a medium bowl.
- Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic.
- Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the breadcrumbs can absorb the moisture. At this point you should have a mixture that you can easily form into 12 patties (think hamburgers). If needed, add more breadcrumbs or if the mixture is too dry add water or egg. (err on the moist side)
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium low. Add six patties, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
- Carefully flip patties and cook for another 7 minutes or until golden brown.
Serving Suggestions: These are great just plain. I also plan to “green” these cakes by adding finely chopped broccoli.
Storage: I froze a bunch of these to have on hand for Sophia. Just reheat and serve.