Quick & Healthy Toddler Meals #2: Salted Edamame with Cheese and Fruit

Salted Edamame with Cheese and Berries

Nothing in the fridge? Head to your freezer for this quick toddler meal.

This is one of my favorite quick toddler meals to throw together when I am in dire need of a trip to the food store, as I tend to always keep a bag or two of edamame in the freezer.

While I’m not a giant fan of giving soy to toddlers, edamame is such a nutritional powerhouse for a “I have nothing to feed you” kind of day, that I reserve it for those desperate times. A great balance of protein and carbs, it is also high in folate, choline, vitamin K, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese. Edamame also provides each of the essential amino acids, meaning it is a complete protein food.

Another bonus: Faye loves squishing the beans out of their pods. If you have a toddler who isn’t a fan of sitting at the table, this “activity” might help to settle them down. Continue reading

Quick & Healthy Toddler Meals: #1 Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Green Beans

Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Green Beans

A healthy toddler meal in under 15 minutes

Multiple times a week I am faced with trying to create a healthy meal for Faye in less than 15 minutes. Sadly, I’ve been hesitant to share because the limited time I have before a meltdown (from hunger, exhaustion, or a combo of both) occurs doesn’t allow for me to set up for a nice photo shoot.

After coming to my senses, I decided that a non-ideal photo was a ridiculous reason to not share these ideas and recipes with other time-crunched caregivers.

Last night’s dinner is a pretty good example of what Faye gets when I am cramped for time: a well seasoned protein and a flavorful vegetable. (I limit non-nutritious carb heavy foods like pasta and rice, and sugar in every form except whole fruit is never offered.) She sits right up against the table in a Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair, a dishtowel secured around her neck with one of these clips, and serves herself from main dishes.

This is the first recipe in the series, but I’ll try my best to load it up as often as possible. Please let me know if you find recipes like these to be helpful!

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The Best “Cheezy” Kale Chips

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The best kale chips in the world.

Kale chips. You either love them, or hate them. Like with most of my food, I am fickle about kale chips. Spending close to $10 for 3 leaves of kale coated in a mild-tasting vegan concoction doesn’t have me jumping up and down the isles in the grocery store for joy.  This recipe, on the other hand, has me (and my family, and friends and their toddlers) doing backflips.

These cheezy kale chips will change your world. They are hands down, by far, my absolute favorite discovery from my vegan/raw days. Bursting with intense flavor, these chips kick all other chips’ asses. I’m not kidding–even kale/veggie haters gobble these suckers down like they are going out of style.

Whether you are trying to incorporate more greens and nutrients into your daily life, attempting to replace junk food with a healthier but phenomenal tasting alternative, or looking for a nutritional powerhouse of a snack for a toddler, I urge you to try the recipe below. You will not be disappointed.

Did I mention they are also great for your milk supply?

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Arts & Crafts: No Mess Baby Acrylic Painting

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Faye working her magic as she crawls across the canvas.

Who doesn’t love baby art? Me. That’s who.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore a child’s efforts and thoroughly feel loved when a kid creates something for me, but so often I feel that we either give them materials that are too cheap or too temporary (or worse, a sad combo of both) to warrant a place of honor in our houses.

This is especially true when it comes to arts & crafts for babies and toddlers who are still putting items into their mouths. Edible paint is usually either too thick to manipulate on paper properly, or if watered down to a more manageable consistency, too transparent. Colors tend to be a bland muddied pastel. Worse still, they mold after a week or two. Edible all-natural crayons leave light colored, barely noticeable marks, even when wielded by an adult.

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I find it difficult to watch as my daughter struggles to compose a gift for a loved one using these hideous supplies. Therefore, I did what any artist and mom would do, I concocted ways for her to enjoyably compose colorful, malleable, striking, and permanent art work using traditional art materials.

For Father’s Day last year I decided it would be great if Faye could make a permanent painting that captured her current physical abilities. That narrowed it down to pressing, crawling, and dragging. An idea quickly emerged. Off to the art store we went to gather student grade acrylic paints, a large pre-stretched, pre-gessoed museum canvas, and a very large Filbert brush. We also stopped at a home improvement store for a large roll of clear plastic tarp and blue painter’s tape. Less than an hour work later we had a beautiful painting and a memory that would stick with us (or maybe just me) for a lifetime.

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I’m not going to lie – it was an expensive endeavor for a baby’s art project, but the investment was completely worthwhile. The stunningly colorful 3′ x 4′ painting has a place of honor on our kitchen wall. Whenever someone inquires as to the artist, they are floored to learn it was Faye at only 9.5 months old. The best part though, is that every other week or so Faye will point to the painting and tell us with a huge smile that it is her painting, that she made it.

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The final result drying outside.

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Fried Eggs with Spanish Chorizo and Potatoes

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It tastes 1000x better than it looks – and it looks pretty delicious.

I absolutely adore José Andrés’ original recipe for Huevos Fritos con Chorizo y Patatas and thought in celebration of the day of love, I would make a less spicy version for Faye so that she too, could bask in the glory of its tastiness. (The original dish doesn’t use black beans and calls for regular white potatoes.) Using sweet potatoes in place of the white potatoes definitely cuts the spiciness of the chorizo enough so Faye will eagerly scarf down her portion.

As the original and this adaptation may be the best brunch dishes that I’ve ever eaten, I highly recommend that next weekend you grab yourself some friends, some eggs and chorizo, and enjoy one of the best breakfasts in the world. You are very welcome. Continue reading

Indian Jamaican Stew (baby-friendly!)

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Warning: Your house will smell incredible when making this dish.

I came across this recipe years ago when I was searching for vegan meals that didn’t suck, and even though we now eat meat it’s been a fall and winter staple ever since. Although it takes about 45 minutes to cook, the prep time is short–especially if you buy the butternut squash peeled and cubed–and clean up is quick. Leftovers taste even better as the flavors have time to meld. It’s definitely a winner in my book. It also happens to be vegan and gluten-free, so is a fabulous dish to put together for mixed diner company.  

To make future Tracy’s life easier, I like to fill up two or three small bell jars with the stew and freeze them. That way, Faye has a healthy meal when I don’t have any time or groceries in the house. Continue reading

DIY: Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings

Thanksgiving Handprint Turkeys

Handprint Turkeys for Thanksgiving. Add a little wired ribbon and they become napkin rings. How cute are these?

While some may view my Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings as a cute trinket, I view it as a major success. This is the first started and completed craft project in seven months! Not only that, but I finished with 36 hours to spare on my deadline. Whoo hoo! I am so ecstatic, I can hardly contain myself.

I love handprint crafts, but hate that 99% of them are impressions of handprints in a circle or square block of clay rather than the actual hand. Once the kids get to be around 18 months old, their hands are big enough without adding the additional bulk of empty space that impressions require. Lucky me-I just happen to have a background in casting and had almost everything I needed for this project in the basement.

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These napkin rings are a hostess gift for my parents. I wanted to make enough of them to support breakage and ended up casting 14 handprints in all. I used one quart of Smooth-Cast 300 for this project.

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