Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easy, Kid Friendly Meals

Some of my friends have asked me to make a section on baby/kid friendly recipes. Like any new mother who's juggling multiple tasks, I am always pressed for time. I no longer have the luxury of cooking leisurely. However, it is more important than ever that I plan for healthy and nutritious meals for the family now that the baby girl has started to eat from our plates. I'll share information about how I plan for weekday meals, and some of my favorite easy fix-up recipes. Not all recipes are good for the young ones, but they are easy cooking options for the parents. I'll also talk about what my daughter loves to eat. Going forward, I'll label all my posts that fall into the baby/kid friendly category as 'Kid-friendly' so you can go and click on the label to see all the recipes.

My Eleven Month's Favorite Foods
My daughter eats most of the stuff we eat - basically whatever she can chew with her tiny 4 teeth. Sometimes we trick her into eating her own foods by putting it in our plates. However, here are some of her favorite things.
  • Boiled carrots, peas, beets, sweet potatoes
  • Cooked and pureed spinach, green beans with a touch of salt and cumin
  • Squash - butternut, acorn, zucchini, pumpkin cooked with a touch of salt and cumin-coriander powder
  • Lightly seasoned rava or sevai upama
  • Daal-rice or khichadi
  • Well cooked pasta, couscous, quinoa, oats
  • Roti with mildly spiced and well cooked vegetables or small beans
  • Fruits - banana, pear, blueberries, strawberries, apples, cantaloupe, avocado
  • Rice puffs
Meal Planning
  • I try to do bulk of my groceries every week and a half to two weeks. If we are running out of milk or some other essential, we just make a quick trip to the store. We are lucky enough to have access to fresh and abundant vegetables even during winter. I buy a variety of vegetables, but all in moderate quantity. 
  • Depending on what I get in the store, I plan for a few different dishes and write them down on my kitchen board. This way, I don't have to think about what to make every day. I don't necessarily stick to the list. Sometimes we have leftovers to finish, sometimes we go out with friends, sometime we are in the mood for something else. However, the list is a guide and keeps me on track with what needs to be used up from the fridge. 
  • I try to make multiple dishes with a mix of veggies. For example, if I make a mixed vegetable curry, I work the leftover vegetables into a pasta dish, a rice or quinoa pulao, a veggie sandwich, or a couscous. The idea is to have a different vehicle each time to serve the vegetables or beans. This way, we get to eat a variety of vegetables and cuisines. Also, I can just take out the cooked veggies, mash them, and feed my daughter. 
Below are some meal ideas, mostly categorized by different carb mediums. Although many of these recipes are available online, I'll try to post my recipes and link them as I do.

Meal Ideas

Rice - Instead of making plain rice, I try adding different veggies, beans, and legumes. It means less rice, and more of the healthy stuff; and great one pot meals.
  • Mixed vegetable pulao
  • Masoor rice
  • Moong daal khichai
  • Mixed vegetabe khichadi
  • Palak khichadi
Pasta - I am not a huge fan of pasta with tomato sauce. However, I enjoy whole wheat pasta simply tossed in olive oil or with pesto.
  • Penne with kale pesto
  • Shiitake mushroom orzo (you can use any kind of mushroom in this recipe)
  • Mixed vegetable pasta in olive oil (wish mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, sun dried tomatoes)
  • Pasta salad (with tomato, olives, chopped spinach/arugula, broccoli, feta cheese)
Couscous - I love couscous for how easy it is to prepare. Also, it doesn't need to be served hot - so a great make ahead. Couscous is a good source of fiber and protein.
Quinoa - High in fiber and iron grain is a great replacement in many rice dishes.
Bread- We have made a permanent switch from white to multi-grain or whole wheat bread. It is great to make healthy sandwiches. Most of the times I throw in whatever suitable vegetables we have. Everything tastes great in between two slices of bread. We have a George Foreman grill which has served us really well.
  • Avocado sandwich with pesto (or any other spread on the bread)
  • 'Bombay' Sandwich (with cucumber, tomato, boiled potato, and mint-cilantro chutney)
  • Roasted red pepper sandwich (with tomato, your favorite cheese, spinach/arugula/basil)
  • Grilled veggie sandwich (with zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms etc.)
Salads - Husband loves salads. We make a big bowl of salad for dinner at least once a week. You can toss pretty much anything together and call it a salad.


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