DIY playa bowls are a breakfast treat or fun snack that kids can assemble on their own!Read More
Create a DIY parfait bar with this crunchy, hearty granola that’s loaded with dried sweet cranberries, filling pumpkin seeds, and delicious coconut! Just add yogurt and fruit for a balanced breakfast!Read More
Back in 2012 when I first started teaching baby food cooking classes, a client of mine mentioned that her husband had been making chocolate avocado pudding, and that her baby was gobbling it right up. I put the idea on my imaginary list of recipes that I wanted to recreate, and then—-like every other item on my to-do list that I write in my head but never on paper—I completely forgot about it. Fast forward five years when that baby of hers is ready to graduate kindergarten, and here I am in my kitchen finally checking off this recipe. Do I regret not trying this sooner? Yes, but mostly because recently when I pay for avocados at checkout, I have to do a doubletake (2 for $5--seriously?!) and then you get home, cut it open, and it's all pit. Five years ago, if I can remember correctly, the world was a cheaper place for avocados, and hashtags like #avocadoproblems and #avocadofail and #willworkforavocados (okay fine I made that last one up), were not yet a thing.
But I digress.
In truth, this recipe was a real win for the kids, and I already am thinking ahead to tweaking the recipe for avocado-chocolate fudgsicles this summer (stay tuned!). The avocado creates a perfectly creamy texture and a blank slate that lets the chocolate from cacao powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips really shine through. It comes together in minutes after a whirl in a food processor or blender, and since it's made without refined sugar, it's a treat that I'm happy to serve my kids regularly. Also, unlike every other avocado recipe in the world, this can be made up to 24 hours in advanced and stored in the refrigerator. Because of the chocolate, there's no telling if the avocado turns brown.
Finally, another perk to this recipe is that it's allergy friendly--perfect for friends who are allergic to milk or eggs. But everyone will love it!
CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING makes 4 servings Ingredients: 2 medium ripe avocados 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup cacao powder* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 1/4 cup milk (cows, almond, coconut, or even water) pinch of salt 1/4 cup pure maple syrup Directions: In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips according to package directions. Cool for a few minutes, then add them to a food processor or blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until no lumps remain, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer mousse to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 20 minutes (or up to 24 hours before serving.
*I use cacao powder instead of cocoa powder because it is much less processed than cocoa powder and it contains a crazy high amount of fiber, nutrients, antioxidants and magnesium. You can find it in the same location in the grocery store as traditional cocoa powder. Yes, it's more expensive, but we use it sparingly enough that it's worth it for us.
I'm all about feeding my family the same foods (because: sanity), and guacamole is my go-to at least twice a week. The baby gets hers mashed and spoon fed, my 3 and 6 year olds like it with chips or spread on crackers, and I do the cliche avocado toast. I love using foods that they already like as a vehicle for getting them to taste new flavors, and this is an example of that. In place of lime juice and cilantro, this springy, refreshing version is made with fresh lemon juice, mint, and peas. The peas give the guac a serving of protein (yep, peas contain this filling, muscle-building nutrient!). You could add the peas whole, slightly mashed up, or use it for leftover baby food pea puree--because cooking one thing for everyone is always a win!
PEA AND MINT GUACAMOLE
Ingredients: 2 ripe avocados 1/2 cup peas OR 1/2 cup pea puree 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped juice from half a lemon salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mash with a back of a fork until you reach the desired chunkiness (I like mine a little chunky; the kids like theirs smoother). Add salt and pepper to taste.
When parents tell me that their child is ahead in reading or sports, I like to brag that mine are at least 15 years past their age when it comes to food. By that, I mean that they've channeled their future frat boy diet and could live off of cereal at every meal.
In fact the single food truth I swear by, is that if you pour it out of a cereal box, they will eat it. There are a whole bunch of good-for-you cereals out there (more on that HERE), but cereals for breakfast can fall short on the protein they need to sustain them until snack time.
In fact, the best breakfasts for kids (and adults too!) have 3 components to keep you full and energized:
Protein (found in eggs, yogurt, lean deli cuts, cheese, and nut butters)
Whole grains (found in oatmeal, whole grain breads, multigrain waffles, and cereals)
Most kids don't have trouble eating the latter two as their morning meal, but protein at breakfast can be harder for them to swallow--especially since the morning rush leaves little time for frying up a few eggs. Enter your child's (and your!) next best option: homemade granola. This version is made with protein-packed oats, grains, and seeds. And unlike store versions, it's not full of crazy amounts of added sugar. It's also crunchy (a win with kids!), full of filling fiber, and made with and nuts and seeds for healthy fats to give the brain a big boost. But best of all, it is delicious.
Think of this recipe as a blank slate: If you don´t have all the ingredients, feel free to skip some or replace other nuts, dried fruits, or seeds. Best of all, this keeps well in the freezer, so you can make a big batch and always have it on hand.
My kids and I eat it with wild blueberries, ½ banana and low fat yogurt. You could also pour it into an old cereal box (shhh!) if you really want them to love it.
Makes 4 cups (I usually double it since it goes fast in our house)
1 cup rolled oats ¼ cup wheat germ ¼ cup flax seed ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds ¼ cup chopped raw almonds ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds ¼ cup dried unsweetened grated coconut 2-3 Tbsp. canola or olive oil 2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey ¼ cup water ½ cup of mixed dried berries like raisins, apricots or cranberries
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax seed, coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
In a small bowl, mix together the oil, honey or maple syrup, and water in a small bowl. Pour the liquid into the oat mixture and stir until it is well incorporated.
Spread the mixture the mixture on the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes, mixing occasionally so everything cooks evenly.
Let the mixture cool completely on the baking sheet, then return the mixture to the large bowl and stir in the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (it'll last for at least a few weeks) or transfer to the freezer.
One thing is for sure at this time of year: You're going to be eating a lot of apples. Here in November, apples are the only fresh fruits left at the farm stand, and that fruit (along with pears and bananas), will be what my kids survive on until citrus season begins this winter. Happily, my kids LOVE apples--our family goes through at least a dozen a week!--but it's also nice to change things up a bit.
This recipe for baked apple chips is so simple, and it's the perfect project for a rainy homebound weekend day. All you have to do is slice the apples nice and thin, let the kids sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon, and then set them in the oven on low for an hour. Your home will smell wonderful all day, and you'll end up with sweet and crispy chips that are perfect for snacking by the handful or packing into lunch boxes.
Cinnamon Apple Chips
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sugar
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Core the apples. With sharp knife, slice off 1/2-inch from top and bottom of apples and discard. Saw gently crosswise into very thin (1/8-inch) rings
Arrange apples on the baking sheet in a single layer. Place the sheet on the middle shelf in oven, and bake for 45min-1 hr until apple slices are lightly browned and almost dry to touch.
Let chips cool on racks completely before storing in airtight container.
With all the adorable treats there are to buy and make (and eat!) on Halloween, it's refreshing to have something that you can serve that feels slightly redemptive. Especially if you're a parent like me who likes to steal their kids' Halloween candy in the name of safety. As in: "Hmm, that Butterfinger packaging looks iffy. I'm going to have to confiscate that." This pumpkin hummus has all the feels for something that looks super spooky (it's orange, after all!). And you could serve it with black tortilla chips and baby carrots, or even top it with plastic spiders!
Plus, with 5 simple ingredients and 2 minutes to pull it all together, it's totally doable to make despite the chaos of the crazy day. We promise it's worth it!
In a food processor, add 1 garlic clove, 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1 cup canned pumpkin, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin. Puree until completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Seriously, does it get more beautiful than this? This recipe, which uses roasted beets in place of traditional chickpeas, makes a show-stopping spread (seriously, what little girl wouldn't love a PURPLE dip?) and is a great use for leftover roasted beets. I love adding this to a crudite platter alongside pita and veggies at a part--it adds a great pop of color
This recipe calls for 1 pound of roasted beets, but if you're starting out with our beet baby food ( Get the recipe here) you'll want to set aside about 1 cup of pureed beets to make this recipe in place of the cooked, roasted beets below. Add the pureed beets and follow the rest of the recipe as is.
Roasted Beet Hummus Ingredients: 1 lb cooked or roasted beets, quartered OR 1 1/2 cups beet puree 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (optional) 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 tablespoon tahini 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 garlic clove 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt Directions: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Taste throughout and adjust the balance as you see fit. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro, if desired.
Isn't it amazing how summer feels so long ago already? Even though school JUST started, those lazy summer days get so quickly replaced by hectic mornings, weekend soccer practices, and back to school event... after event... after event.Read More
When you’ve got a chocoholic kid who’s a pro at spotting and eliminating any green speck (ahem, my 5 year old), these muffins save the day with their yummy double chocolate goodness and zucchini that blends right in.Read More
Children loves granola bars, but many brands you'll find on the shelves contain as much sugar as candy bar! But healthy packaged ones do exist, and they're a great snack to have on the road or on those days that you simply don´t have time to make your own. When I buy granola bars at the grocery store, I look for these numbers on the nutrition panel:Calories: around 150 Sugar: less than 10 gram Fiber: more than 3 grams
Here's a list of my favorite granola bars that I feel good about giving to my kids.
Made good granola bars. A great choice for the school or camp since they are nut free and free from the most common allergens. They come in 4 delicious flavors AND are made with vegetables. 1 bar has 7 grams of sugar and 90 calories which is a good snack size especially for toddlers and prek aged kids.
Junkless Chewy Granola Bar: All four flavors are made with fewer than 8 ingredients, which is a refreshing shift from the lines of unpronounceable ingredients often found in store-bought bars. Our two favorite flavors are Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Chip.
Cascadian Farms Organic, Oatmeal raisin granola bar. Lower in sugar than their other flavors with only 7g of sugar and 80 calories, this is also a great option for toddlers.
Kashi Chewy Granola Bar in Trail Mix Flavor. This contains nuts, so while it might not be a good option for school or the park, it's a great snack for safe environments and contains a filling 3g fiber.
Kind Cinnamon Oat Bars. Not all Kind Bars are low in sugar and nut-free, but these are, which make them a great choice for school. With only 5g of sugar and 2g of fiber, these are a healthy and filling choice.
Lära bars. Made exclusively with dried fruit and nuts (so not school friendly), these are high in good fats and natural sugars from the fruit. I have my kids split a bar.
If time was never an issue and groceries magically appeared in our fridge, our kids would live on a diet of all homemade food all the time, but in reality, we do a mix of fresh foods, homemade snacks, and packaged ones. Here are our go-tos: 1. Organic popcorn
2. Sliced veggies like red peppers, cucumbers, and baby carrots with mini to-go hummus. These don't require refrigeration--perfect for on-the-go.
4. Store brought granola bars: Check out our post on our favorite granola bars!
5. Apple slices with peanut butter or sunbutter
6. Applesauce pouches.Look for ones that have apples and water as the only ingredients and steer clear of ones that have fruit concentrates (another word for added sugar). We do Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce .
7. Yogurt sticks. We love the Siggis brand for being low in sugar and high in protein. The kids love these frozen.
8. A bowl of cereal with milk. Check our our post on our picks for the healthiest cereals
9. Mini whole wheat bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter
10. Cheese and crackers
11. String cheese. Our kids love the new character string cheese (and often fight over whether I should buy Spiderman or Paw Patrol!)
12. Whole fruit--apples, bananas, peaches, plums. They're so portable and can stay for a day or two in your purse or in your car.
13. Chopped fruit, like watermelon, cantaloupe, and raspberries and blueberries, which double as a hydration for hot summer days.
14.Harvest Snaps Pea Crisps. The kids LOVE these, and I love how they have natural protein from the peas.
15. Homemade trail mix. We make ours nut free with Cheerios, raisins, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds.
Delicious when peaches are in season and when they're not (buy frozen slices), this salsa is delicious served with fresh pita chips or as a tropical topping for grilled fish, chicken, or tacos. Add a scoop to your toddler's high chair for a fun and colorful finger food. It's a crowd pleaser! Plus, peaches pack a nutritious punch. Click here to read all about the health benefits of peaches, plus the best ways to pick 'em and store 'em!
Easy Peasy Peach Salsa Ingredients 1 pound tomatoes, diced 1 bell pepper, seeded and finely diced 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced (optional) 1 medium red onion, finely diced 1½ pounds peaches, diced * ½ bunch cilantro, chopped 2 Tbsp. lime juice 1½ tsp salt, or to taste ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least a half hour (or up to 2 days) to allow the flavors to develop.
*I liked the slightly larger dice for peaches to give them more of the center stage in this salsa. No need to peel them. You won't notice the peels and the color is prettier with the peel on.