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Eating Wisely

Fun Foods for Babies and Toddlers

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 6, November-December 2003, pp. 227

With the various holidays and colder weather creeping up in many parts of the world, it's not uncommon for families to overindulge in food during this time of the year. Between friendly gatherings, social activities, and everyday life, it can be difficult to find time to cook or control who eats what in your family. As Margaret Kenda, author of WHOLE FOODS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS, writes, "As always, when you make your own food, you hold the advantage. You can control the ingredients. You know what's in the food you serve. You can watch out for allergies, indigestion, or other unpleasant reactions. You keep track of what's happening."

Preparing healthful whole foods for the entire family—including your little ones—can be easy for you and fun for everyone with the right information. The following recipes are from WHOLE FOODS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS (Available from the LLLI Online Store).

Colorful Veggie Salad

Toddlers often don't like the texture of lettuce. Here's a colorful salad that they may favor instead. Include onions and tomatoes only if your child already tolerates them well.

Green pepper
Red pepper
Yellow pepper
Lemon juice

  1. Wash and cut the peppers into strips. Chop the onion and tomato.
  2. Toss with a bit of lemon juice. Or adults may prefer a vinaigrette dressing.

Rice and Cheese Dinner

Make this ahead of time, and then bake it in four or five individual custard cups, ramekins, or other small ovenproof dishes. Then you can freeze the dishes, and get out a convenient one serving to reheat any time you wish. Or else use a regular medium casserole dish.

2 1/4 C. (540 milliliters) water
1 C. (240 ml) brown rice or 3 cups (720 ml) leftover cooked rice
1/2 C. (120 ml) grated cheddar or other natual cheese
1/4 C. (60 ml) chopped green pepper, if you wish
1/2 C. (120 ml) chopped fresh or canned tomatoes, if you wish

  1. If you are preparing the rice fresh rather than using leftovers, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly, stir in the rice so that the water continues to boil. Lower the heat. Cover the pan and let simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the rice absorbs the water.
  2. Stir in grated cheese, and continue to simmer until it melts.
  3. If you wish, stir in any pieces of green pepper and tomato.
  4. Pour into individual custard cups or a larger casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes.

Baked Apple Crunch

This is a traditional crunchy-apple dessert. Toddlers like it when they begin to like experimenting with different textures.

About 8 apples
1 C. (240 ml) rolled oats
1/2 C. (120 ml) brown sugar
1 t. (5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 C. (120 ml) hot water
1 t. (5 ml) lemon juice

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples to make about four cups (1 liter).
  2. In a small bowl, stir together rolled oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. Arrange about half the apples in a 1 1/2 quart (1.5 liters) casserole dish or in an 8- x 8-inch (20- x 20-centimeter) baking dish.
  4. Spread a layer of about half the oatmeal mixture.
  5. Arrange the rest of the apples on top.
  6. Spread a layer of the rest of the oatmeal mixture.
  7. Pour on hot water, and sprinkle on lemon juice.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for 40 to 45 minutes.

Safe Cooked Eggnog

People love eggnog, especially during the holidays. But raw egg is not safe for anyone. There is too much risk of salmonella contamination. Also, raw egg whites are more liable to cause allergies than are cooked eggs. But this is not a problem when you can mix up eggnog and cook the egg at the same time.

1 C. (240 milliliters) milk
1 egg or egg yolk
1/4 t. (2 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 t. (2 ml) nutmeg, if you wish

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat to just below the boiling point.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a wire whisk or fork
  3. Continue beating constantly, and at the same time add the egg to the hot milk in a slow, steady stream.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat.
  5. Chill in refrigerator. If you wish, add vanilla extract and nutmeg.

Variation: Add some extras to the cold eggnog. Blend in 1/4 C. (60 ml) orange juice and 1/4 C. (60 ml) cooked carrot slices, until smooth. Or blend in 1/4 C. (60 ml) pieces of fruit, such as banana, apricot, peaches, or strawberries.

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