Fourth of July Salad

Fourth Salad

Help your toddler learn the colors of the American flag this Fourth of July with this super-simple salad. It’s perfect for an Independence Day picnic or barbecue.

To start, add 1 pint raspberries, 1 pint blueberries, and 1 (5-ounce) container vanilla non-dairy yogurt to a bowl. I loved showing Veronika the three colors in separate piles first.

Fourth Salad (1)

Stir together for a red-white-and-blue combo that’s sure to be patriotic and delicious!

Fourth Salad (2)

Rainbow Pizza

This vibrant rainbow pizza, care of Veronika’s latest edition of High 5 magazine, is the perfect recipe to celebrate Pride Month. All of the ingredients below have no quantity, since the amount will depend on individual preference or the size of your pizza crust! Feel free to swap out the veggies below for your kids’ favorite in each color.

Ingredients:

  • 2 individual prepared pizza crusts
  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded non-dairy mozzarella cheese
  • Red bell pepper, chopped
  • Orange tomatoes, halved
  • Frozen corn, thawed
  • Broccoli florets, steamed and chopped
  • Snap peas, steamed and chopped
  • Red onion, diced
  • Kalamata olives, sliced
  1. To prepare the pizzas, spread the desired amount of pizza sauce to evenly cover each crust. Sprinkle with the desired amount of mozzarella.
  2. Arrange the veggies in rows, starting with the red pepper on the top of the pizza, followed by the tomatoes, corn, broccoli, snap peas, onion, and olives.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees F for 8 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

Stop and Eat the Flowers

This adorable idea from Highlights is one of those times when it’s perfectly okay to let the kids play with their food.

Just before Travis got home from school, I prepped a big platter of veggies and fruits that could be used to make a veggie “garden”. This can include almost anything, but we used an assortment of:

Celery

Snap peas

Cherry tomatoes

Baby carrots

Green beans

Broccoli

Green apple

Blueberries

I set out the plate, along with a cutting board for a “canvas”, and invited Travis to form the items into flowers.

There was so much room for variety here! The long green shapes like celery and green beans were perfect for flower stems. The slightly shorter snap peas could be grass.

Rounder shapes (cherry tomatoes, blueberries) worked nicely as the center of flowers, and we played around with ideas for petals, such as baby carrots or fuzzy broccoli trees.

This “flower” with a cluster of blueberries made me think of delphiniums!

Be careful though, because you’ll probably have garden “pests” who gobble up the flowers only moments after they’ve bloomed.

Make Pasta Noodles

Make Pasta (5)

I’ve tackled many homemade recipes with kids, but we’ve never properly made fresh pasta noodles. Today was the day to take the leap! Technically, I knew this recipe wasn’t going to turn out “right” with a toddler, but mostly the intention was for Veronika to have hands-on flour-y fun.

To start, I placed down several sheets of wax paper to protect the floor, then scooped out 2 cups flour. Instant fun! Veronika helped mound this into a volcano shape in the center of the wax paper.

Make Pasta (1)

I then whisked 4 tablespoons flaxseed into 12 tablespoons cold water for flax “eggs”, although honestly you could just use water. Veronika loves when we make vegan eggs like this, though, and is proudly in charge of the whisking.

Make Pasta (4)

Make a well in the center of the flour mound and begin adding the flax mixture, a little at a time.

Make Pasta (2)

Veronika loved helping stir with a fork after each addition; the flour begins to pull into the liquid in a way that’s quite neat to watch! Eventually you’ll need to start to using your hands, kneading until it forms a ball. I was so proud of Veronika for getting her hands right in there after a moment of hesitation.

Make Pasta (3)

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. While a pot of water comes to a boil, roll the dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin. Veronika “helped” with this part, although mainly by jabbing at it with the rolling pin.

Make Pasta (6)

At this stage, things turned more into sensory play, so I wasn’t able to cut the noodles as suggested by online sources like Parents magazine. But I did slice off little bits of dough that we cooked up in boiling water anyway, just to see! Cook for about 3 minutes (until they float to the surface), then serve warm with marinara sauce. The kids declared the noodles yummy, although a bit odd in texture!

Make Pasta (7)

Watermelon Pizza

This is a great recipe for kids to tackle solo, since it involves steps for early slicing and knife skills in the kitchen. Travis proudly made the whole “pizza” himself.

To start, I cut a section from a mini watermelon that was about 1 inch thick. First Travis needed to put on the pizza “sauce”. He slathered on raspberry jam, very carefully making sure to smooth out any lumps.

Next he cut a banana into slices and green grapes in half. These fruits are great for early cutting, since both are soft enough to cut through with a butter knife.

We pretended the bananas were mushrooms and the green grapes were broccoli! Place on top of the “pizza”, then cut into 4 wedges to serve.

Fruit Salad Trio

Here are three very different ways to whip up fruit salad, all delicious, and all quite different! I’ve arranged them in order from most parental prep to most kid-involvement!

Fruit Salad in a Shell

This one is all grown-up work, thanks to lots of chopping and a classic presentation in a scooped-out watermelon!

Ingredients:

  • 1 mini watermelon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped honeydew
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  1. To start, scoop the flesh from half of a mini watermelon. Chop the flesh to equal 1/2 cup and reserve the remaining watermelon for another use.
  2. Combine the watermelon pieces in the shell with the remaining ingredients, stirring gently.

Needless to say, the kids loved looking at this one almost as much as eating it!

1-2-3 Fruit Salad

For the next version we made, care of High 5 magazine, not only was Veronika involved, but she got to practice counting!

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons raisins
  • 3 tablespoons plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 4 grapes
  • 5 banana slices
  • 6 cantaloupe chunks
  • 7 kiwi slices
  • 8 strawberry slices
  • 9 blueberries

After combing all that in single-serving bowls, we gave the fruit salad 10 stirs! I loved setting out index cards for each ingredient, making this culinary math at its finest.

Veronika read me each number before we added that item, and I helped her select out the right number to plink into her bowl.

You can see that the tasting began before the counting was complete though!

Canned Fruit Salad

For this final version, Veronika got to be in charge! Purchase snack fruit cups of pineapple, peach, and pear pieces, and all your toddler has to do is dump and stir.

In a bowl, combine the canned pineapple, peaches, and pears to taste. Let your toddler use a butter knife to slice a banana, and add to the bowl, along with a (grown-up) chopped apple. Now spoon a carton of vanilla non-dairy yogurt on top as the dressing! Stir to combine.

Note: If you can’t find individual snack cups, simply purchase one can of each fruit. In this case, you will need to do some grown-up slicing!

Cheesy Hash-Brown Cups

Veronika has officially moved up from Hello magazine (the Highlights edition for tots aged 0 to 2) to the company’s High 5 magazine, aimed at 2 to 5 year olds. And that meant she was ready for her first recipe side-by-side with me!

To start, I did a little grown-up prep and chopped 1/4 cup green onions and 1/4 cup red bell pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, thaw 1 (16-ounce) package shredded hash browns. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl.

Time for Veronika to join in! She helped stir in the green onions and bell pepper, 3/4 cup shredded non-dairy cheddar, 3/4 cup shredded non-dairy Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Next, she lined muffin cups with cupcake liners, proudly depositing each one!

I helped her spoon some of the hash brown mixture into each cup, tamping each one down as needed (You can use your fingers or the back of a spoon for this step).

Finally, together we drizzled each portion with 1 tablespoon non-dairy creamer; the slightly nutty flavor of almond-based creamer was nice with the rest of the flavors.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, then let cool slightly before serving. These were fantastic as part of a breakfast-for-dinner night, including vegan bacon and breakfast burritos!

Animal Sandwiches, 2 Ways

Veronika recently loved helping make her own lunch so we tested out a few other fun ways to involve her with sandwich prep! For the first version, we made butterflies. Cut slices of bread in half so they form two triangles, then turn the points together to make them look like outstretched butterfly wings.

From here, the toppings are really entirely up to your child! We tried two versions: a savory and a sweet. For savory, I spread the “wings” with non-dairy cream cheese, and Veronika added slices of pickle. She ended up adoring the pickle and eating almost all of it straight off the wings, though!

For the sweet version, I spread the bread with peanut butter instead. This time she had raisins and banana slices for decorating, and even helped slice the banana with a butter knife.

This was a great chance for snacking, tasting, combining new tastes, plus squeezing in science since we could talk about the symmetry of the butterflies as we decorated and enjoyed.

A few days later, we turned to bigger animals for our sandwich play. First we used an assortment of cookie cutters to make animal shapes from slices of whole wheat bread. Veronika chose a cat, turkey, and owl.

She then helped spread non-dairy cream cheese on the animals, which was white “fur” on the cat, white “feathers” on the owl, etc., and a great way to talk about animals’ different coverings.

You can then add features like eyes or beaks with raisins and mini chocolate chips!

To be honest, Veronika never dined on these sandwiches, since it was more about sensory play, but she loved the experience!

Painted Toast

Here’s a cute way for a toddler help make his or her lunch! Before assembling a sandwich, your child gets to “paint” their own toast.

To set up, I poured 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk into each of two small dishes, and added food coloring to each. Veronika chose blue and green.

Using clean cotton swabs (or a clean paintbrush, if you have one), we dipped in the milk mixture and then onto slices of bread. Veronika loved seeing colors appear! I encouraged her to make dots and swirls. Meanwhile, I showed her how we could also draw more detailed pictures, like a smiley face.

Or a letter V for Veronika!

Once the design is to your child’s liking, toast the bread for 1 to 2 minutes in the toaster and the image will set. Prepare your tot’s sandwich of choice, and set out this happy lunch!

Quickie Cookies

Similar to a one-dish recipe like Dump Cake, these are cookies the whole family can help make! To wit, Veronika loved helping stir the ingredients, and big brother Travis took over for the final steps.

To start, combine just these three ingredients in a bowl:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 Ener-G egg

1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened

Veronika loves stirring everything together with a big spatula, although you’ll probably need some adult muscle power to combine the ingredients fully.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, there’s always just enough dough left over for Veronika to practice rolling and cutting. I hadn’t expected how proud Travis would be to swoop in and show Veronika how to make heart- and tree-shapes with cookie cutters, though. He insisted we bake these shapes up as a final batch!

You can leave the cookies plain or add decorations, as we did with a few Unreal candies.