Feeding my children is becoming more challenging by the day. My 3 year old is becoming more particular in his tastes. My one-year old will only eat what's on our plates and she insists on feeding herself. Since she only recently got her third and fourth teeth, this means the food has to be relatively mushy and she has to be able to eat it with her fingers or sip it in a little cup.
To make matters worse, they both seem to have truly discerning palates. I kid you not, they can tell if I use black pepper instead of white pepper in my dishes. And heaven forbid I don’t caramelize the onion enough! They actually notice. How is this even possible?? I ask myself all the time!
As I am borderline obsessed with good nutrition and cannot get away with anything less than delicious flavor, I spend a lot of time searching for recipes that provide some nutritional value and that we can all enjoy. Since I know my issues are extremely common, here are some recipes that have been working for me. Please, please share anything that has been working for you! My email address is Laura@LoveYourBodyBoutique.com.
Homemade Super Veggie Tomato Sauce
This tomato sauce is the bomb for many reasons: It is packed with veggies, it is incredibly delicious, and it helps make sure no veggies go to waste in the kitchen. There really isn’t a recipe since you can throw in almost any veggie. It’s only crucial that you include an onion and two garlic cloves.
Heat oven to bake at 375 degrees
While the oven is heating, prepare your veggies. The last time I made it, I washed and chopped:
Place the veggies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. When done, let the veggies cool.
Once the veggies have cooled, place them in a blender with 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes and their juice. Blend. The sauce will be very thick. Add water to reach desired consistency. I added about 2 cups of water (last time, I filled the tomatoes can half way). Blend again.
Put some olive oil in a saucepan and heat lightly. Pour sauce into pan. Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. Add 2 bay leaves. Bring to a slight boil.
Pour over pasta.
I like to use Tolerant Organic Legume Pasta. The pasta is made of legumes such as black beans, red lentils, green lentils. It tastes very good. The one thing you have to make sure is that you don’t over boil the pasta. It also doesn’t keep very well, so you can’t prepare it ahead of time. But between the Tolerant pasta and the super veggie tomato sauce, your kids are getting a seriously nutritious dinner!
If your kids will not eat Tolerant pasta, then try Trader Joe’s quinoa and brown rice pasta. It adds some protein because of the quinoa. Every single person I have served this pasta to has loved it.
I usually have some left over sauce. I either use it the next day over something like the Cheesy Quinoa and Broccoli Patties (see below), or I freeze it.
Cheesy Quinoa and Broccoli Patties
I got this recipe from A Homemade Living and we all really like it.
First, cook your quinoa according to the directions on the packaging. I cooked mine by combining 1/2 cup of quinoa with 1 cup of boiling water, then letting it come to a boil, and simmering, covered for about 15 minutes. Once the quinoa has absorbed all the water (this shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes), put it on a plate and let it cool completely.
2) Next, saute your diced onion until it’s soft and translucent. Set aside and let cool completely. Cook your broccoli until it has softened a little bit, then let it cool as well. Once the broccoli has cooled completely, dice it into small pieces. (I find it’s easier to chop the broccoli into tiny pieces first, then saute it.)
3) Now that you have everything ready, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, leaving the egg until the end*. Mix well so you have a smooth, wet mixture that will allow you to make patties that will stick together.
4) Heat some olive oil in a pan, and make your patties**. I made each using 1/4 cup of the mixture. Just make a ball out of the mixture, and squash it down a little bit. Cook each patty for about 7 – 8 minutes on each side on medium heat. You want the patty to develop a crust, but not to burn, so watch them carefully. Let cool for a couple of minutes before eating.
*I don’t add the egg because my son is allergic. I haven’t had any trouble getting the patties to stick together without the egg.
**I have also tried baking these. It works very well! But it does make them crunchier, which doesn’t always work for my 1 year old.
Try dipping these patties into the homemade veggies tomato sauce! It’s yummy!
Homemade Veggie Broth for Noodle or Alphabet Soup
Homemade veggie broth is my secret weapon. Every 2-3 weeks, I make a huge pot of veggie broth, freeze it in glass tupperwares and use it in many of the dishes I make. Of course, if you eat meat, you can add chicken to it. When boiled, the vegetables’ nutrients are released into the water. The broth is not only flavorful, but packed with vitamins and minerals.
Wash and lightly chop the vegetables (I only peel the carrots and butternut squash). Place all vegetables in a large lidded pot. Cover the vegetables with (preferably purified) water. Bring to a boil. Drizzle in some olive oil and salt. Once boiling, lower the heat so that it’s at a low boil. Allow to boil for at least one hour, but not more than 2.5 hours.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then fish out the vegetables. I have always heard that if left in the water to cool, the vegetables will reabsorb the nutrients. Once all the vegetables are out, let the broth cool before placing in (preferably glass) tupperwares. If not using that day or the next, place in freezer.
This broth is delicious! A very simple recipe is to make alphabet soup with this broth. The kids think they are just eating pasta soup. You know they are getting the nutrients of a rainbow array of veggies! I also use this broth to make every other kind of soup: black bean, carrot, pea, split pea, corn, etc.
Healthiest Chocolate Mousse
I don’t offer my kids dessert unless my son asks for it. If he does ask for it, I often just give him a piece of dark chocolate, which actually makes him very happy (if I ever doubted he’s really my son…). But this mousse is one dessert I have no problem putting in front of them. This recipe comes from Deliciously Ella.
It’s very easy to make and it’s incredible how yummy it is.
Optional (I haven’t tried adding any of these)
a little sweetener (like maple syrup)
a teaspoon of hemp protein powder
a sprinkling of chia seeds
a sprinkling of flax seeds
Simply put all the ingredients into a food processor – be sure to pit the dates first – then blend into a smooth delicious mixture.
A blender will work for this but a food processor is a lot easier and quicker!
Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy!
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
And just in time for Fourth of July: the yummiest veggie burgers!
This recipe is from Minimalist Baker. The moment I tried it, it became my favorite veggie burger. I love that they have both sweet potatoes and black beans in the burgers. And the taste….:) I actually grill these. I make the patties, then give them to my husband. He places them on the grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
2 cups mashed sweet potato (~2 large sweet potatoes – organic when possible)
1 cup cooked salted black beans, rinsed and well drained (if unsalted, add more salt to the burgers)
1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (or sub cooked quinoa with varied results)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan meal (or very finely chopped) [I sub with bread crumbs since my son is allergic to walnuts and pecans]
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional | for added sweetness)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut sweet potatoes in half. Rub with olive oil and place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake sweet potatoes until soft and tender to the touch – about 30 minutes – set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.
While potatoes are baking, cook rice or quinoa.
Add black beans to a mixing bowl and mash half of them for texture. Then add sweet potato and lightly mash, then 1 cup rice, green onion, nut meal and spices. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more rice or nut meal if the mixture feels too wet. It should be very moist but moldable.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and line a 1/4 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap.
Fill the lined measuring cup with sweet potato mixture. Scrape down to pack, then lift out and transfer to the baking sheet and gently press down to mash. The thinner you press them, the faster they’ll cook, but no need to go too far. Just a gentle press will do.
Bake burgers for a total 30-45 minutes, carefully flipping 20 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake them the firmer and drier they will get – up to preference. I went for around the 35 minute mark.
Serve on slider buns (double stack for more bulk) or atop a salad with sliced avocado, red onion, greens, and ketchup or salsa.
Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to a few days. Freeze for longer term storage