A Quest for Toddler Nutrition

November 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I started out so well. I made Liam baby food with my blender and some simple recipes. As he grew older, I baked my own finger foods. I bought freeze-dried peas, corn, mangoes and bananas. I shopped at the farmer’s market every weekend and bought fresh produce – blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes.

But then as Liam approached two, I found it increasingly difficult and frustrating to toil in the kitchen making wholesome goodies just to have him heartily reject my creations. Cheddar broccoli balls? No. Mini turkey meatballs? No. Nana Cakes, which he had been eating greedily for months and months? Suddenly, no way, mama! (I found all of these recipes plus the baby food recipes here, in case you wanted to try them at your own risk!)

That’s when I resorted to Easy Mac, Chef Boyardee, and Tyson chicken fingers. Occasionally I could get him to eat what James and I were eating for dinner. But many of our favorite meals are either too spicy or too hard for him to chew. He still eats freeze-dried veggies and fruits, thankfully. But he won’t touch anything fresh. He’s even refusing grilled chicken in favor of the processed breaded kind.

Feeling we were in a dietary rut, I decided to try making these muffins I found on allrecipes.com. I’d made them once before with so-so results, so I decided to make the full recipe and enlist Liam’s help in the kitchen. He watched as I grated zucchini and carrots. He helped me pour the flour, whisk the eggs, and measure out the ingredients. He pointed to each container and asked, “What’s that?” He was having so much fun! Finally the muffins were ready for tasting – 48 mini-muffins in all. He took one look at it, spied a tiny piece of orange carrot, and insisted I pick it out. Great. I tried telling him they were orange sprinkles, but he wasn’t having it. Smart kid. After picking through all the orange pieces, he finally gave it a try…and then declared, “Mommy, I don’t like that.”

To his credit, the muffins were a bit bland. I had followed the advice of some of the commenters, taking out the sugar and using all whole wheat flour. I didn’t have quite enough honey, so the muffins weren’t terribly sweet. Kind of salty, actually. Ok, Liam. Fair enough. Mommy doesn’t like these, either. Into the trash they went.

The next day I decided to start over. I grated the carrots much smaller this time, then did my best to color them with food coloring. I figured green and orange would make brown…but evidently it makes green, ha ha. I threw in some blue, red, and yellow for good measure. Nope, still green. Liam doesn’t much like green food either, and these carrots were starting to look like dreaded spinach! Liam asked what I was up to. “I’m making you special green muffins, honey. With no carrots.” That seemed to satisfy him. I put the sugar from the original recipe back in, then used maple syrup instead of honey. Mixing in the green carrots turned all of the batter green…successfully hiding the veggies in with the mix, which is what I was going for in the first place. I only made a 1/3 of the recipe this time, just in case.

Finally, the new, green, carrot-less (not really, shhhh!) muffins were ready for tasting. So far he’s had four. Huzzah, we’ve got a hit! My son is eating carrots! Yikes, he’s asking for a fifth. Perhaps I’ll need to make another batch!



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  1. If you’re interested, we use this recipe for muffins: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jackys-fruit-and-yogurt-muffins/detail.aspx
    The recipe as written is very thick so I have to add a little bit of milk to the batter. I ususally make a batch every few weeks (or sooner if we have fruit that’s going bad) and I’ll freeze them. Whenever we want one, we’ll just take it out of the freezer, defrost it on the counter for about an hour and then they’re ready to eat. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Celena! We’ll try those out after we’ve run through this batch.

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