Help expand your toddler's palate by serving tasty, nutritious recipes the whole family will love.
Text: Carolyn Land Williams, M.Ed., R.D.
June 20, 2011
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A few months ago as you spooned tiny bites of pureed peas into your little one's mouth, you may have longed for the day that baby could feed herself. Now your toddler is older, and that day has arrived. But just because she can feed herself doesn't mean she will. Help get your child involved in mealtime as well as initiate a lifelong interest in cooking and nutrition by letting your toddler help prepare food in the kitchen. In this slideshow, we have identified a few ways your toddler can help with these family-friendly recipes.
Here are a few general tasks for younger children: • Help gather ingredients from a low shelf in the pantry • Add measured ingredients to a mixing bowl • Stir ingredients • Sprinkle raisins or nuts into a batter
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Breakfast Fig and Nut “Cookies”
These oversized cookies are more like muffin tops, but calling them cookies makes them seem more fun. These healthy treats make a great breakfast or snack when they're paired with a glass of milk. Unprocessed bran is usually found near the hot cereals in the grocery; if you can't find it, substitute oat bran or crushed bran-flake cereal.
Let your toddler help by: • Pouring the measured figs and cranberries into a bowl. • Stirring the ingredients in Step 3 of the recipe. • Pouring the measured almonds into the batter.
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It's impossible to predict what your 2-year-old will want for breakfast each morning, which is why granola can be a great option. Serve it with yogurt or milk for breakfast, or take it along for a tasty snack on the go.
Let your toddler help by: • Looking for and gathering the ingredients. • Pouring the measured oats and almonds into a mixing bowl. • Spooning the cooled granola into a storage container.
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Alphabet Chicken Soup
Your toddler will love finding and recognizing letters in their soup. Look for whole-wheat alphabet pasta for added fiber and vitamins.
Let your toddler help by: • Identifying and gathering the vegetables.
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Black Bean Quesadillas with Warm Corn Salsa
Quesadillas are fun finger food and a great way to get your toddler to eat veggies. Offer him a small spoonful of the salsa—he might surprise you and like it!
Let your toddler help by: • Helping rinse the beans in a colander. • Placing the tortillas on the baking sheet. • Sprinkling the cheese on the tortillas and bean mixture.
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Peanut Butter-Banana Spirals
In this recipe, peanut butter stars with banana and yogurt, and we added wheat germ for crunch and a nutritional boost. If you can't find honey-crunch wheat germ, plain wheat germ will work fine. Pack these for lunch or a snack.
Let your toddler help by: • Arranging the banana slices on top of the peanut butter mixture. • Sprinkling the wheat germ over the banana slices.
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Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Using oatmeal in the breading adds crunch to these chicken tenders, which are sure to be a hit with adults and children alike. Serve with commercial honey mustard or light ranch dressing for dipping.
Let your toddler help by: • Identifying and gathering the ingredients.
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Chicken and Root Vegetable Potpie
You can also bake this recipe in individual (10-ounce) ramekins for the same amount of time. Toddlers will love having their own potpie—just make sure you let the ramekins cool completely before serving.
Let your toddler help by: • Identifying and locating the vegetables. • Helping roll the dough.
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Whole-Wheat Pepperoni Pizza
Let your food processor prepare the dough for this recipe, or purchase a prebaked whole-wheat thin-crust pizza shell from the grocery store. Substitute your favorite pizza veggies for the pepperoni for a vegetarian option.
Let your toddler help by: • Pouring the measured ingredients into the food processor with your guidance. • Placing the pepperoni slices on the pizza. • Sprinkling the cheese on the pizza.
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These offer a great homemade alternative to store-bought cereal bars. The butter contributes to the golden crust of the dense, moist fruit-studded treats. You can use walnuts instead of pecans or substitute raisins for the dates.
Let your toddler help by: • Locating and gathering the ingredients. • Pouring the measured dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. • Adding the measured dates, apples, and pecans to the batter.
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Banana-Mango Frozen Yogurt
You can feel good about this dessert because it's made with fresh fruit, milk, and yogurt.
Let your toddler help by: • Pouring the measured fruit and sugar into the blender with your guidance.
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This slightly sweet, thick drink is a great snack or part of breakfast. You can also freeze it in ice pop molds for a refreshing–and nutritious–frozen treat.
Let your toddler help by: • Pouring the measured fruit and yogurt into the blender with your guidance.
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Fresh Cherry Smoothie
This smoothie is perfect for a cool snack or breakfast shake during summer months when cherries are ripe. Serve it to your toddler in a small nonbreakable glass with or without a straw.
Let your toddler help by: • Pouring the measured cherries, ice, and yogurt into the blender with your guidance.