Let’s talk snacks (Part 2): from Papaya to Pine Nuts

Toddler Snacks Banana Pine Nuts Kale Chips Papaya
Snacks Part 2 – From Papaya to Pine Nuts

We discovered some new bit hits this week, thanks to some good tips from moms Emma (of Strolling the City in Heels) and Christine (Creator of the amazing skin care line called Lila Bare).

Here’s what’s on the board:

  • Kale Chips
  • Shaved almonds
  • Papaya
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Raspberry
  • Dragon fruit
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Yesterday Raquel flexed her pincers on some pine nuts and shaved almonds – she really liked them a lot, and I’m thrilled about that. Pine nuts are super high in protein, iron, fibre and ‘good fats.’ Almonds are all of that plus calcium too. Good stuff! It’s inspiring me to get the grinder out and incorporate these flavours into some other snack recipes. (Stay tuned). These also might be good options for picky or textural eaters because they are crunchy rather than slippery.

We also tried the cute black and white speckled Dragon Fruit which is actually very mild and sweet!

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Let’s talk snacks (Part 1): 6 simple, healthy toddler snack ideas

Toddler Snack Ideas
Toddler Snack Ideas
Toddler Snack Ideas

Snacks are the in between foods, the sorry-we’re-not-quite-there-yet filler, the I-really-hope-this-makes-you-happier-kiddo option. And I’ve definitely experienced the toddler retort to this, which is “I don’t want that, I want DINNER!” So I’ve divided this list into the most optimal situation it should be paired with – because there’s really quite a range in both the form and function of snacks; from exploring to belly-filling to on-the-go entertainment.

1. THE SUPER SNACK
Tiny Ploughman’s lunch 

tiny ploughman's lunch
tiny ploughman’s lunch

I’m always impressed at how well little mouths can devour a cracker. A cheese square. Or a piece of fruit. And most of us grown-ups would be quite happy to graze on a plate of cheese and crackers, with some fruit for a dash of sweetness. So here’s the toddler version (i.e. no wine included, sorry kiddies!):

Ingredients: (choose from)

  • Cubed, unprocessed hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, swiss)
  • Cheese curds
  • Cubed melon (cantaloupe, honeydew)
  • Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • Sliced Pears or Apples
  • Seedless Grapes
  • Fig, Kiwi
  • Dried Apricot, Apple
  • Cherry tomato
  • Whole grain crackers, saltines, Carr’s whole grain crackers, other of choice
  • Baguette pieces (even for younger babies, baguettes are so gummable)
Glass-Lock tupperware for babies and toddlers
Make it portable…..Wean Green  tupperware is awesome.

2. THE LET’S EXPLORE (AND MAYBE GET A LITTLE STICKY) SNACK

Whole Pear, Banana, Orange 

If you haven’t done it yet, give your toddler a half-peeled banana and encourage him/her to hold it on their own. And take a bite. You will die, it’s so damn adorable.

A few weeks ago I posted about how Raquel was really enjoying eating fruit in it’s natural state – and how impressed I was at how she could navigate a whole half-peeled orange, a started banana, or ‘topless’ pear (I cut the stem part off.)

Plus, when she’s in her high chair and free to explore with her hands, teeth, and motor skills – I’m free to cook.

As I said in the other post, I think our little ones are actually better at eating this way than we give them credit for. Food is the original puzzle, the most intricate Tonka toy!

Toddler eats whole orange
Exploring an Orange

3. THE PORTABLE, IRRESISTIBLE, AFTER NAP SNACK
Sandwich bites 

Raquel has become quite accustomed to the little sandwiches Jason makes for her. And I understand why. They’re delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Almond or cashew butter and No-sugar added fruit preserves (blueberry and fig jams have been popular)
  • OR tuna
  • OR chopped egg
  • OR cream cheese (with jam is yummy too.)
  • OR hummous and tomato
  • A soft whole grain bread (experiment with natural breads that your kid seems to take to.)
  • OR pita
  • OR bagel

Directions: Lightly toast, spread the almond butter, then the jam, put the top bread on, then cut to toddler appropriate size – we still cube her sandwiches, most days, but sandwich sticks or small squares or triangles are also great.

star sandwiches
star sandwiches

4. THE FIVE ALARM FIRE OOPS I DIDN’T BRING ANYTHING SNACK
Cereal Bars 

We’re pretty (okay, quite) picky with ingredient lists, and generally haven’t used many packaged products because of the amount of sugar, nasty ingredients, or processing, but the ingredients of the PC Organics Mini Cereal Bars are fantastic (all organic, cane sugar, brown rice flour, etc.) and um, they’ve saved us more than a few times now. Our diaper bag is LINED with these puppies.

If you are choosing another brand, do make sure to scan the ingredients. I’ve found HORRIBLE things in Gerber brand snacks. I don’t think babies should eat Carnauba Wax, you know? (Another post on this to come later in the snack series) And while I love the idea of dried fuit snacks, many of those fruit rolls and gummies are really high in sugar.

5. Apple sauce or yogurt with banana or puffed wheat – The learning to spoon snack! 

I think yogurt is a go-to snack for most of us, but it’s usually a messy one. Not the best choice for the car, obviously. At home, there are a few ways to have fun with a yogurt snack. These are pretty hit and miss – some days, you’ll see those tiny fingers picking out the banana like it was a gross spider, other days – devoured. Now that Raquel is 14 mos, she’ll pretty much tell me if she wants anything ‘extra’ in her yogurt with her body language when I offer it.

I’m all about the ‘what do you think of THIS?!’ approach and don’t really care what the outcome is… it’s just fun to watch her face as she tries new things!

6. THE MILDLY ENTERTAINING SNACK FOR THE NOT TOO HUNGRY TUMMY
Toddler Trail mix 

This is a good option for in the stroller. Especially if you’ve got a good snack tray.

I’m a little bit obsessed with making a healthy toddler trail mix, and this is the closest I’ve come so far. But I’m still working on it! And please add your suggestions!

One part each (or choose from):

  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried currents
  • Cherries
  • Cheerios/Oatie-O’s/puffed wheat – *Kashi or Nature’s path have some good options. Stay tuned for another post on this topic though.
  • Bran sticks
  • Diced dried apples and apricots
  • Pumpkin seeds

Tips:

  • Too few teeth? Blanche the dried fruit first, and cut into smaller pieces. You can also substitute mum-mum cracker pieces for younger toddlers and babies.
  • Dried fruit comes back out? Not a problem really, it’s just the skin being rejected. My daughter still spits the shell of the raisin back out, but she devours the dried cranberries.
  • Pumpkin seeds, really? As the baby led weaning community assures us, if he/she can’t manage it or doesn’t like it, it will “come back out”. Probably with a loving or a not-so-loving scowl ; ) Try these weelicious maple roasted ones too, if you’re near an oven and have some extra time. (Maybe next year some time?)

*I’d like to also include a list of fantastic links to other snack posts, but there really isn’t much out there!! Please add your own favorites in the comments or on Facebook. 

What’s so great about Organic?

Today Parents Magazine had a feature on When to Buy Organic. It was well done, educational, and actually scarier and more factually accurate than I expected. Like Global Warming, there’s a stigma attached to buying Organic  – and where you fall on the spectrum means someone on the other side thinks you’re crazy or snobby or a bad mom.

Bananas for Organic Bananas
Bananas for Organic Bananas

Sometimes I feel I have to defend my choice to buy organic produce, milk, and meat. Why am I purposely spending more money on food that has questionable differences from the other ‘normal’ food? Does it make me a rich bitch? A hippie? Both? In most cases, people resolve themselves to one side of this argument or another, and feel that they’ve made the right decision for their family.

Well, here’s my take.

We don’t do it for the environment. Sorry environment. Guess I’m not a hippie after all. Or because it’s shinier and fancier. Because usually it’s not. We don’t do it as a mark of pride, either. It’s actually shameful that we have to buy a food that essentially stamped “not toxic!”.

In our family, we buy Organic out of evidence-based, factual reasons that it will do LESS harm. In other words, we fear the hormone and pesticide soaked ‘regular’ stuff.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees:

“Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Acute poisoning risks are clear, and understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”

 – American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Environmental Health

Does that sound extreme? I just don’t want to take the chance on my daughter’s health. My husband’s family suffered with Grave’s disease and Lymphoma. My side of the family has turned up insidious diseases like Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidoisis. All of these have been linked to environmental factors. There is enough out there on the outside that puts us at risk. I want to try to limit the toxicity she’s battling from the inside.

Simple, easy, healthy meals for picky, busy, hungry toddlers!

Corn Salads

Cold salads aren’t the first thing you think of for little people with 8 or so teeth, but these are kid-approved. I’m kind of obsessed with them right now actually, because they are so easy, and perfect for the warmer weather.

1. Toddler’s Picnic

  • 2 cups of cooked corn
  • 3 -4 hearts of palm and/or artichoke hearts in oil (diced. Don’t use the tough leaves either, just the tender ones.)
  • As many Cherry tomatoes as you can dice before getting bored (around 6?)

Dressing: a dash of mayo, a dash of lemon, some olive oil, and Herbamare or sea salt

2. Monster Pasta Mix (some cooking required) 

  • 2 cups Rotini (spiral pasta)
  • 1 bunch Asparagus Tops (steamed well in water first, chopped diagonally is good)
  • 1/2 Avocado (Diced)
  • 1/2 cup Peas

Dressing: Olive Oil, Lemon, Mayonaise (a dash), Dill (a dash), Soy Sauce/Tamari (a splash), Herbamare  

3. Cleopatra’s Quinoa (some cooking required)

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked carrot or sweet potato chunks (steamed or roasted until soft)
  • 1 handful rehydrated dried raisins or cranberries

Dressing: Olive Oil, Lemon, Mayonaise (a dash), Dill (a dash), Soy Sauce/Tamari (a splash), Herbamare. Quinoa can be a bit dry, so you could also add yoghurt or a little extra olive oil to taste.   

4.  Bambino Risotto (some cooking required) 

  • Brown Rice or Orzo, or Arborio Rice
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Blueberry

Dressing: Creme Fraiche (Fancy!?), Sour Cream + Cinnamon

5. Cloud and Rainbow Salad 

  • Cottage Cheese
  • watermelon (diced)
  • honeydew
  • strawberries

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 9.00.33 PM

How to make homemade baby wipes

I’m EXCITED to start making things at home, especially when there are stories everywhere about big companies putting sh*tty, dangerous ingredients in baby products, including wipes (I’m looking at you HUGGIES).

Below is my favorite recipe, mostly because of the apricot oil and castile soap, but my instinct is to substitute chamomile instead of tea tree. This is just personal preference because my skin has always reacted so poorly to tea tree.

So the basic idea is to take a roll of paper towel and cut it in half, then remove the cardboard core. What’s left is a tube that you can pull from, through a narrow plastic top opening (like the typical baby wipe container or even more like the household wipes style tube container.) Once you’ve got your half roll and your container, you just poor on the solution and then let it soak in. VOILA!

Homemade Natural Baby Wipe Solution

• 1 tablespoon almond or apricot oil

• 1 tablespoon Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (comes in several natural scents)

• 2 drops tea tree essential oil (an antibacterial agent)

• 1 drop lavender essential oil

• 1 cup water

Thanks go to My Organic Baby http://www.my-organic-baby.net/organic-baby-wipes.html

The baby wash and baby oil method is also popular, and the instructions are good on these:

http://babyparenting.about.com/cs/diapering/ht/wipes.htm

How To Make Your Own Homemade Baby Wipes