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Munchkin Meals: Taco Night!

1 Aug

We have taco night once or twice a month around here.  I love how easy it is to throw this meal together, yet how festive, fun, and filling it is! <–How’s that for alliteration?!  Best of all is that after laying out a variety of topppings, everyone can choose what they want, and I don’t feel like a short order cook.  We like traditional tacos, but it’s so easy to switch it up with different meats, toppings, and spices.  Is it a toddler approved meal? Yes! What kiddo doesn’t like scooping their own fun foods onto their plate? And heck, I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like tacos. Matty (now 22 months) is all. over. the. place in terms of eating.  Lately, he’s been really into breakfast–eating a huge breakfast, then wanting little else the rest of the day.  There’s still a few key things I can count on him eating, though–like tacos!

Of course, I add a few tweaks to make it healthier along the way.

Taco seasoning used to be a big fight around here.  Hubby swore he hated it, but he also complained that plain meat was too, well, plain.  He said the packaged seasoning is too salty, and he’s right (not to mention the MSG, preservatives, and in some cases artificial dyes).  So a few months ago, a friend pinned this recipe for DIY taco seasoning, so I gave it a shot.  It worked perfectly, though I did think it needed a bit more salt (weird for me to say since I don’t add salt to much)!

Healthier Taco Recipe

  • 3/4 lb. ground lean turkey
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef (**Just adding a bit of ground beef helps take away the turkey flavor, and gives it the appearance of typical ground beef.  This is important if you have a husband/kids who freak out about ground turkey for whatever reason ::cough cough, not pointing any fingers:: even though it’s healthier)
  • 1 c. finely chopped kale and/or spinach (this shrivels up nicely and you can pass it off as parsley 🙂 )
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded carrots (this isn’t as easy to pass off as “oh, it’s just seasoning…”
  • Brown meat over medium heat (add carrots during this step)
  • After draining, add greens and stir
  • Add 2 rounded tablespoons of seasoning and 1/2 cup water
  • Reduce heat, stir occasionally over a few minutes, then enjoy!

**I usually make 3-4 batches of this (since I use wonky portions of meat), then freeze it. It lasts for a few months (at least), and is easy to thaw in the fridge and heat back up in the skillet.

Serving Ideas

Don’t forget–a “topping bar” makes it even more toddler friendly!

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded Cheese (even just having a variety of cheeses could be a fun way to switch things up)
  • Lettuce (if you’re trying to cut calories, using a large lettuce leaf as a shell works well)
  • Corn (I like oven roasting frozen corn for about 10 minutes with olive oil and seasoning, but usually it’s just the microwave variety…)
  • Sour Cream (Hubby nor I are big fans, but Matthew tried some at Grandma’s and seemed to be a fan)
  • Hard or Soft Tortillas
  • Chips instead of shells
  • Rice
  • Beans (we’re partial to black beans cooked with a bit of cumin)

Pssst. I’m looking for a healthier taco shell recipe.  Preferably something super-quick, or something that can be frozen.  Any tried and true ideas?

Munchkin Meals is a link-up hosted by Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life.  Ever in need of a fun, healthy meal or snack for your kiddo? Click on over to find loads of ideas all put together by other Mamas.

Munchkin Meals: Combos

10 Jul

Munchkin Meals is a link-up hosted by Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life.  Ever in need of a fun, healthy meal or snack for your kiddo? Click on over to find loads of ideas all put together by other Mamas.

The theme for this month’s link up is “odd combinations”.  I feel that most meals are a hodge-podge. Ha!  He’s still a bit picky, so each meal usually consists of something I know he likes, something I’m working on getting him to like, and maybe something new.

Surprisingly, he did concoct this very appealing meal the other day. 🙂

strange combo

ham, sunflower seeds, granola, and carrots

His favorite not-so-strange but maybe-not-so-popular combination is graham crackers dipped in applesauce.  That’s right–I finally got him to try applesauce, and surprise surprise not so surprised, he liked it.

Other Foods He’s Loving at 21 Months Old

  • deli style ham
  • cheese on crackers
  • cheese quesadillas, or plain tortilla
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • celery
  • apples (especially green ones) sprinkled with cinnamon
  • watermelon
  • strawberries (especially the ones from Grandma’s garden!)
  • oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
  • eggs
  • waffles
  • bacon (love doesn’t begin to describe this relationship…)
  • mac & cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • this allergen free “ice cream”
  • and of course pizza and Chipotle

In other meal related news, he’s eating much better!  He still doesn’t eat a huge quantity of food, but it’s not just mouse nibbles anymore either.  The variety of food is increasing everyday, and he’s usually pretty game to try something once.  He’s even started drinking small cups of almond milk. Maybe it’s because mealtime has become a lot more fun? 🙂

Munchkin Meals: Veggie Plate

6 Jun

It’s Munchkin Meals time again! The unofficial theme this month is how much your munchkin eats.  Considering the before and after from my little nibbler wouldn’t be much to look at, I decided to share a little tip that has been working really, really well for us this past month: the dinner-prep veggie plate.

toddler meals

What’s that you ask? A brilliant solution thought of no one ever before? No. But I always laugh when I realize how it really is the simple things that work best.  Meal-prep is hard for a lot of people, and we are no exception.  Hubby doesn’t get home from work at a consistent time each day, sometime fluctuating by hours.  Wee One never seems to really want to eat at the same time each day.  By the time I finally get around to cooking dinner, there are 3 cranky people marching around the kitchen. (Yes, I’ve tried feeding Matty first, but he just asks for Daddy and holds out until he gets home.)

A few weeks ago, I was chopping veggies for a dish, and Eric and Matthew kept snagging veggies off the tray.  Forget it, I thought, just take it!  So I handed it over, and they both sat happily at the table, eating an entire tray of fresh veggies, while I cooked the rest of the meal.  I think Eric and I were even able to have a full conversation during this time! 🙂

So each night I’ve been putting out a veggie (and usually a little fruit) tray, and each night I have two happy boys sitting quietly at the table. 🙂  It’s usually just carrots, celery with ranch, green or red peppers, and cucumbers. Matthew has eaten 2 entire cucumbers by himself over the past month!  I’ve also been tossing some diced apples, pears, strawberries, and frozen blueberries on.  I’ve started prepping these earlier in the day, and it really takes a lot of the evening stress off.

I really have no problem if everyone wants to fill up on fresh veggies and fruit.  I think the greatest thing is that Hubby and Wee One are eating tons more veggies than they do when I cook them, and it’s even easier than actually cooking them! Wins all around.

Questions:

Any little tips that make big improvements to meal-prep?
What are some other good pre-dinner veggie choices?

Psst. I’m linked up @ A Healthy Slice of Life for Munchkin Meals.  Check it out!

Munchkin Meals: Muffins!

2 May

Fruity Muffins

A few weeks ago, I finally figured it out.  What’s “it” you may ask? “It” is why my little guy has been going into the pantry, pointing at a sack of cornmeal, and begging to eat.  Over and over, I would reply with, “that’s not a snack, that’s for cooking.” After a particularly bad crying fit, I finally lifted him up, and told him to show me.  He jabbed the sack of cornmeal. Over and over, with a look on his face that said, “Mom, it’s obvious. Don’t you get it?” And I finally did.  There’s a picture of a muffin on the sack of cornmeal.

Me: OHhhhh, you want a muffin?
Matty: Thinks for a moment about the meaning of muffin. Yah, a MUFF!

Needless to say, I felt so bad about denying the poor kid the pleasure of a muffin for so long that we had an afternoon Mommy-Son date at Panera…complete with muffins and juice.

So obviously, someone is on a muffin kick around here.  When I noticed this week that we had two bunches of overripe bananas (seriously, how does that happen?), I scoured Pinterest for uses.  Combining a few ideas, I came up with these:

Fruity Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 c white, 1/2 c whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned or quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup  honey (I was a bit short, so I added a little pure organic maple syrup, mmmm)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated (I used a green delicious because Matty had eaten a slice earlier and I needed to use it.)
  • 3/4cup -1 cup diced strawberries
  1. Mix dry ingredients 
  2. Whisk wet ingredients (including fruit)
  3. Slowly add dry mix and stir until combined
  4. Spoon into greased muffin tin or tin lined with muffin papers

Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes (though I used the toaster oven, which tends to cook faster…). Makes 12 standard size muffins, filled to full.

You could also make a ton of mini-muffins, which apparently most toddlers like.  But my kid prefers muffins that are as big as his head, so yeah.

I made these after Matty went to bed, and I was certain he was going to wake up to come see what the delicious smell was!  I surprised him with these for breakfast the next morning, along with some scrambled eggs and apple-carrot juice (orange juice was causing some serious tummy problems, but he still wants his juice to be orange–so hello carrot juice!).

Pssst…I’m linked up at A Healthy Slice of Life for Munchkin Meals.  Click on over to find other great toddler eats!

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