Saturday, January 14, 2012

Toddler Mini-Meals: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Feeding a toddler 5-6 times a day is exhausting. What to give her? Will she like it? How messy will it be? Is she going to choke? Is it good for her? How long is this meal going to take, from preparation to clean-up?! There's a million things that go through my head each time my daughter sits in the chair to eat. So, I feel your pain if you too are feeding a toddler.

I learned some time-saving tricks early in my daughter's life of eating solids.  I can count on one hand how many baby jar foods she ate.  At first, I literally SLAVED in the kitchen coming up with wholesome "baby" foods for her, steaming and grinding foods a few times a week.  Then I got into batch cooking.  I spent one morning a week preparing ground foods and froze them. At meal time, I popped them out of the container, thawed them in the microwave, and served immediately.

Now that my daughter is eating finger foods and has a few teeth, I still want to save time but can't always give her raw fruits and vegetables straight out of the fridge. I find myself skipping the raw fruits and veggies that are too hard for her!  A fruit I don't want to skip is an apple, so I will steam a bunch, peel, and chop them into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, and I have a week's worth of a quick go-to fruit that's already prepared.

And here's one meal my daughter LOVES with these apples:

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

2 apples (sweet ones work best!)
1/2 cup prepared oatmeal (see description below for 2 good toddler choices)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cut apples in 1 inch pieces, and steam until soft (about 4-6 minutes).  Prepare 1/2 cup oatmeal* with whole or breast milk.  When apples are soft, let them cool a few minutes, peel, and chop into bite sized pieces. Mix together 1/2 cup apples, oatmeal, and cinnamon, and serve with a cup of milk. You will have another 3/4 - 1 cup apples to save for another meal. Use within 3-4 days.

Dairy: 1 cup milk to drink, and milk used to prepare oatmeal
Grain: Whole oatmeal
Vegetable: N/A
Fruit: Steamed Apples
Protein: (oatmeal provides 2-5 grams!)

*Here are my choices for oatmeal:
 The Gerber brand is sort of like formula, and has iron, DHA, and probiotics.  I like the iron because my daughter isn't a huge fan of meat.  If I do not have this, I use 100% Natural Rolled Oats-- to make it easier on her tummy, I like to grind the oatmeal into a coarse powder before preparing.

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