Posts Tagged ‘toddler-approved’

Dr. Praeger’s Little Bites for Foodie Tots

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

This post is sponsored by Dr. Praeger’s.

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the press over a recent study that called the family meal stressful and unattainable. I’ll spare you my complete rant on the matter, but suffice to say that even yours truly takes short cuts when needed to get a healthy meal on the table on even the busiest of school nights. And I’m grateful to have a handful of real food products to fall back on from companies I can trust, like Dr. Praeger’s. I first purchased their Little Bites way back when the foodie boy was first starting on finger foods, and continue to use them when I want a fun way to boost the veggie content of a meal. Shaped in fun dinosaur and star shapes, they have all the appeal of that dreaded childhood favorite, the chicken nugget, but with none of the junk — in fact, the ingredients are 100% pronounceable and recognizable. The Broccoli Littles, for example, contain: broccoli, potatoes, onions, egg whites, potato flakes, expeller pressed canola oil, arrowroot, salt, garlic. Things you would even find in your own kitchen. Imagine that.

Dr. Praeger's Fishies review | foodietots.com

One of my son’s favorite school lunches is something called “fish treasures.” I’m glad to be able to serve fish bites at home that, again, I can feel good about — knowing Dr. Praeger’s are made with wild Alaskan pollock and aren’t full of unhealthy fillers. There’s even a gluten-free, rice-crusted version of the Fish Littles, and all the veggie Littles (broccoli, spinach and sweet potato) are gluten-free. Dr. Praeger’s asked us to create a couple foodie tot-approved “Little Meals” around their Littles, and we were happy to taste-test some new combinations. The sweet potato Littles can stand in for hash browns at breakfast, and to make a super fast dinner, I roast some additional vegetables — sweet carrots, here — while the bites are cooking. (The carrots are bubbles, get it?) Edamame, sauteed with olive oil and garlic, is another kid-friendly favorite in our house to round out the plate.

Dr. Praeger's Fish Bites dinner | foodietots.com

I’m not one to hide the fact that we’re eating vegetables, so I like to serve a few broccoli trees along side the broccoli Littles and point out the fact that foods can taste different depending on how they’re prepared. My kids loved dipping the broccoli Littles in carrot soup. (Another tried-and-true trick for feeding toddlers: embrace the dip!) As with the carrots, I simply tossed the cut broccoli with a little olive oil and roasted it on a separate baking sheet for 10 minutes, while the Littles cooked.

Dr. Praeger's Broccoli Littles meal | foodietots.com

You can find Dr. Praeger’s in many grocery stores, but check their store locator to find a retailer near you.

Disclosure: Thank you to Dr. Praeger’s for sponsoring this post and providing samples for review. As always, all opinions and comments are our own and we only recommend products we eat at home. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make this blog possible!

Sweet Corn Chowder with Shrimp

Monday, September 10th, 2012

With fall on the way, I had the idea of a fresh corn chowder teeming with local sweet corn before it disappears from the markets. I kept it as simple as possible to really let the corn shine. To make a meal out of it, I sauteed some wild Key West shrimp in garlic, finished with a splash of white wine, and served those on top of the chowder for the husband and I. The kids don’t like their foods to mix….so they had their shrimp on the side. If you have less finicky eaters, you could even stir the shrimp into the chowder for the final minutes of cooking. But I’ll give you the chowder recipe straight up and leave those tough decisions up to you.

sweet corn chowder with shrimp

Recipe: Sweet Corn Chowder
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped small
  • 4 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock*
  • 2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
  • optional: 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, smoked paprika to garnish

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in soup pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic just until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme and potato, and cook, stirring, another minute.

2. Add stock and raise heat to medium high until it begins to boil. Reduce heat, stir in half and half or milk, and let simmer for 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

3. Remove from heat and serve, topping with cooked shrimp if desired, and a dash of smoked paprika.

*If you want to really let the corn flavors shine, check out my friend One Hungry Mama’s corncob stock — brilliant!

Kids Cook: Baked Snapper in Parchment

Monday, May 21st, 2012

We had a fabulously delicious weekend, including our Food Revolution picnic at the Washington Monument — before participating in Yoga on the Mall.

Taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather, we had another picnic with friends on Sunday, for which I made my favorite summer salad — my asparagus version of Heidi Swanson’s “Mostly Not Potato Salad.” Sunday morning I had the rare shopping trip with only my five-year-old in tow. Having recently caught (and released) his first fish with his grandpop, he was especially interested in the fish on display at the grocery. After chatting with the fishmonger for a bit, he asked if we could bring home a yellow tail snapper for dinner. We nearly always eat salmon at home, so I was happy to branch out. He then noticed the June issue of Bon Appetit nearby, with a picture of fish on the cover, and added that to our cart — “So I can learn how to cook our fish.”

We flipped through the magazine later in the day and came across halibut and cherry tomatoes baked “en papillote” — or, in paper. He was intrigued so we decided to try the technique on our snapper. We used thin lemon slices, olive oil and a pinch of salt to flavor our fish. Neatly wrapped packages go into the oven for just 10 minutes, and are then placed on a serving plate to be unwrapped at the table. Fun, so easy, and a successful technique to get the kids to try something new. Even if he ate one bite and declared, “I’ve had enough fishiness for one day.” It’s a start, right?

Recipe: Baked Snapper in Parchment Paper
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 6-ounce snapper filets
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear off four 12-inch lengths of parchment paper. Fold each in half, then trim corners into a (half) heart shape. Open and lay flat on baking sheet.

2. Drizzle one-half tablespoon olive oil on one side of each parchment sheet. Lay 2-3 lemon slices on each and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place fish fillet on top and sprinkle with another pinch of salt.

3. Fold the empty half over the fish. Beginning at the top, fold and crimp edges a little bit at a time, continuing all the way around to make a tight seal. Bake for 10 minutes.

4. Remove packets to a serving platter. Carefully cut a slit in the top of each to allow steam to escape, then unwrap to serve.

baked snapper in parchment

Corn and Feta Quiche

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Welcome spring! Everything seems to be blooming early this year, with the first strawberries arriving at the markets in DC already. The kids and I have only just planted our garden, but it feels like corn season is already just around the corner. It *is* egg season, though — did you know that chickens raised naturally lay fewer eggs in the winter? Warmer days mean our favorite vendors will have more eggs at the farmers market — and that is definitely a good thing.

Eggs play a prominent role in both Passover and Easter holiday celebrations and my kids have been delighted to have hard boiled eggs on hand. Flavor magazine’s latest issue had a great article explaining the difference between commercial and farm-raised eggs and a guide to help you decode the labels on eggs at the grocery store. We prefer to buy our eggs directly from the farmer, but in a pinch, look for cage-free, organic/vegetarian-fed eggs at the grocery. In real life, chickens aren’t vegetarians; when you aren’t buying directly from a farmer and want to avoid animal by-products and genetically-engineered feed, it’s important to get organic-fed eggs.

I first learned to make quiche in high school, when volunteering as a kitchen aide at a school retreat. There, the leftover vegetables from the previous night’s dinner were recycled into breakfast — but now I typically use fresh vegetables and serve the quiche for dinner. It’s so fast to put together — especially if you keep a pie crust on hand in the freezer — and I can steal some time in the yard with the kids while it bakes. This quiche works just fine with frozen corn, so enjoy it now and then make it again when sweet corn is available this summer.

know your egg farmer

Recipe: Corn and Feta Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 crust for 9-inch pie
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup corn (if frozen, defrost)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch dried thyme
  • optional: green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and back chilled pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove and lower temperature to 325 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Gently stir in cheese, corn, and green onion if using. Pour into pie crust.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, until set through. Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: If your kids will go for it, you can add color and a little spice with diced green pepper, Hatch chilies or jalapeƱo.

corn and feta quiche

What’s your family’s favorite egg recipe?

A Lighter Shade of Green for St. Patrick’s Day {Leprechaun Smoothies}

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I’m not sure when St. Patrick’s Day became a national holiday nearly on par with Christmas. I know it can be a slow slog through the months of school between winter and spring breaks, but we still have a few stray pieces of Valentine’s candy around and now we’re in full-fledged leprechaun territory. And for kids, corned beef and cabbage has long since been supplanted with shamrock cookies and pots of gold. At least the chocolate is, well, slightly natural, but the barrage of bright rainbow-colored and artificially-dyed green treats flooding the internet frankly makes me nauseous. Even so, I wasn’t sure how my own little leprechauns would react to my latest green smoothie. Neither has touched avocado on its own since their first birthdays, though they will still dabble in guacamole occasionally. (I doubt anyone would suspect a toddler of being a rational being.)

leprechaun smoothie

Recently my five-year-old watched a VitaMix demonstration at the supermarket with rapt attention. When the woman placed handfuls of kale and spinach in the smoothie, he declared, “I LOVE kale and spinach!” Um, news to me, to say the least — but I determined to test his enthusiasm at home. And so my Leprechaun Smoothie was born — avocado, banana, orange juice and spinach. (According to the folks at Avocados from Mexico, a slice of avocado has a full gram of fiber — always something little ones can use more of.) Even if your kids load up on junk food the rest of the day, at least they can get a healthy start this St. Patrick’s Day.

st. patrick's day green smoothie

As for my leprechauns? They both demanded seconds. To quote my five-year-old, “I’ll die if you don’t get me some more smoothie immediately.” That’s better than a pot of gold to this mama.

Recipe: Avocado Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • several fresh spinach leaves

Instructions: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 small servings or 1 large smoothie.

A few other healthy green options for St. Patrick’s Day:

(and if you really want to go even more naturally green, check out my “Eat More Kale {and Other Greens}” board on Pinterest.)