Homemade Baby Food: Feeding Your Toddler

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As homemade baby food week comes to a close, I wanted to touch on feeding your toddler. Because the whole point of feeding your baby is so they will become a toddler, right?

And then you end up with a two year old on your hands and some days you wish you were still getting pureed peas thrown at your face. 

Liz from The Lemon Bowl is here to give us 5 tips on feeding your toddler and ending up with a (hopefully) healthy and not a picky eater. 

Thanks for helping me out this week, Liz! 

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As a mother of a 21 month old with a second baby boy on the way this fall, I was thrilled when Rachel invited me to guest post for her series on feeding babies and toddlers. As a healthy food blogger who cooks for a living, you can imagine that I get asked this question by fellow moms on a regular basis. In fact, it is one of my favorite topics to discuss because eating food for nourishment is one of my passions in life.

To give you a quick background, The Lemon Bowl was started over 3 years ago after I successfully reached a weight loss milestone. Whenever you lose a significant amount of weight, people want to know how you did it. Since I love to cook and have always been a foodie, people wanted to know what I was eating to achieve this healthy lifestyle.  Fast forward to today and I’ve kept the weight off for over 5 years. The Lemon Bowl is my way of paying it forward, one recipe at a time.

When my son turned six months last year, I couldn’t wait to start experimenting with solids. Now that we’ve successfully graduated to everything from kale to toasted nori seaweed wraps, I want to share my Top 5 Tips for Feeding Toddlers:

 1. Flavor Makes Food Delicious: Adults don’t enjoy steamed Brussels sprouts without salt or butter so why would your toddler? Instead of steaming vegetables, try roasting them in the oven with olive oil. During the roasting process, the natural sugars in the vegetables caramelize which creates a subtle sweetness that makes the vegetables irresistible.

To Try: Garlic Roasted Italian Sausage with Winter Vegetables

Garlic Roasted Sausage and Winter Vegetables - The Lemon Bowl

2. Variety is Key: So often we get in the habit of buying the same fruits and vegetables week after week in the grocery store. It’s an easy pattern to fall into but I encourage you to shop seasonally instead. Summer is here which is the perfect time to stock up on eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes at your grocery store or local farm stand.  Fall means apples, pumpkins and hard squash. When winter rolls around, citrus fruit and pomegranates are in season. In spring months, load up on asparagus, peas and radishes. Not only does eating seasonally ensure that you’ll get the maximum flavor but it also provides your family with a variety of vitamins and nutrients because you’re not eating the same steamed green beans 52 weeks out of the year.

To Try: Roasted Eggplant and White Bean Dip

Creamy Roasted Eggplant and White Bean Dip - The Lemon Bowl

3. Lead by Example:  If you aren’t exposing your children to a variety of whole grains, vegetables and fruits on a regular basis, you can’t expect your children to eat them on a regular basis. My son pretty much wants to eat whatever we’re eating – even if he’s already finished his own meal! One evening we were eating stir-fry with toasted nori seaweed sheets. He saw us gobbling them up and heard the crunch of the seaweed and immediately wanted in on the action. Now he eats it with us every time we have stir-fry and it thrills me to no end since seaweed is an excellent source of iron and B vitamins.

To Try: Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Turkey  Note: Feel free to dial down the spice in this dish by eliminating the chili garlic paste.

szechuan4. Invite Toddlers on Food Experiences: Growing up, I have vivid memories of joining my mother on her weekly trip to the local farmer’s market (the same one I take my son to today!) When traveling on family vacations as a kid, I remember sampling authentic Mexican food in Tucson and eating dim sum in San Francisco. My parents loved to travel and our travels always involved the local cuisine. Now that I have my own family, I continue this tradition. To this day we rarely dine in chain restaurants and we love to travel. Not only are ethnic joints often quite casual and affordable but the food is full of flavor.  You simply won’t find the same nutritional value in Americanized kids menus found throughout the country. Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to expose your children to new food experiences.

5. Spice it Up: Spices such as cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and black pepper are loaded in health benefits and antioxidants. More importantly, they make food taste good encouraging your children to eat what you’re serving them! Every morning, I add fresh ginger and ground cinnamon to my son’s smoothie.  It emphasizes the flavors of the fruit and sneaks in a dose of antioxidants. Our family is Middle Eastern so many of our savory dishes are made with warm spices such as cinnamon, all spice and za’atar. When making chili, I don’t worry about a bit of heat from chipotle peppers or cayenne.  Parents often ask me if their kids can eat spicy foods. Of course they can! Babies in India eat spicy curries practically from birth and the same goes for many cultures around the world. Of course, I’m not suggesting you serve your toddler sliced Serrano chilies but don’t be afraid of a little spice.

To Try: Strawberry Mango Chia Smoothie

Strawberry Mango Chia Smoothie - The Lemon Bowl

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10 comments

  1. What a great post Liz! I definitely agree on the “Lead by Example,” since they always want what the grown-ups are having. I’ve actually found that my toddler will get the most adventurous when he sees another kid eating something new. Power of positive peer pressure! :) Thanks for these great ideas!

  2. Thanks so much for having me Rachel!! Such a great idea for a week long series!

  3. Thanks Liz for the advice! I have a VERY picky eater on my hands, and am always trying to find ways to ensure lunch doesn’t end up on the floor.

  4. Making your own food for children gives us control over nutrition and puts them on the right path for healthy eating. Thank you for the tips.

  5. the blender giveaway is great — I think the first thing I would make is a chocolate malted!

  6. I would use the blender to make a green smoothie! I’ve been trying to get into eating more healthy and this would be awesome!

  7. Love these tips, Liz! Especially #1. No one wants boring food, especially not new eaters who are trying things for the first time! I’m not afraid to use a little fat/salt and yummy cooking methods to make things tasty & more appealing. So worth the positive eating experience.

  8. Pingback: Tips for Feeding Your Toddler - The Lemon Bowl

  9. Pingback: Homemade Baby Food: The Basics - Rachel Cooks

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