Mashed Potato Sculpture

Mashed Po Sculpture (2)

This is a great sensory activity… and a way to get your kid to try mashed potatoes!

Start with instant mashed potatoes as the base. Yes, you can bake and mash your own, but the instant stuff has a sticky quality that makes it better suited to this “art” project. I whipped up a batch using almond milk, Earth Balance butter, and the potato flakes, and then let it cool completely.

Mashed Po Sculpture (1)

When Veronika was finished with lunch, I spooned a huge heap of this onto her tray. She looked instantly delighted!

Mashed Po Sculpture (3)

Set out a few props to encourage the artistic process. Veronika received a measuring cup and spoon, and soon was scooping, digging, and poking holes in it.

Mashed Po Sculpture (8)

I showed her how to make a few “sculptural” elements, including round balls and little snakes.

Mashed Po Sculpture (4)

I tried for a little mashed potato snowman, but Veronika didn’t let him last long!

Mashed Po Sculpture (7)

And of course she discovered that little bites of the stuff was delicious. Eager fingers kept digging in for more, both to eat and to play!

Mashed Po Sculpture (5)

 

Rotini with Bolognese Sauce

Rotini Bolognese (2)

Serve this easy vegan bolognese with whole wheat pasta or any of the new chickpea or lentil pasta on the market. It’ll pack a big protein punch for little eaters.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 12 ounces meatless crumbles (such as Lightlife)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Rotini pasta
  • Vegan Parmesan sprinkles
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Dice the onion and celery and add to the pot; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the meatless crumbles; cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste; cook for a final 3 to 4 minutes, until heated through.
  5. Meanwhile, cook your favorite rotini pasta according to package directions. Serve the sauce over the pasta, and sprinkle with the Parmesan to taste.

For little ones who are Baby Led Weaning, you can serve piles of the sauce next to pieces of cooked pasta for a more deconstructed version.

Rotini Bolognese (1)

 

 

Vegetable Barley Casserole

Veg Barley Casserole (3).JPG

Cooking barley in the oven, almost like an oven-baked risotto, makes a no-brainer out of this warm fall casserole.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 and 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  1. Wash the kale and remove the stems from the leaves. Place the leaves in a blender, along with 1/4 cup water, and pulse until you have a paste. Set aside.
  2. Peel and dice the carrots. Dice the onion.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the bouillon cube and stir until it dissolves.
  4. Combine all of the ingredients in a 3-quart casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 75 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

Veg Barley Casserole (2)

The kale will have formed a green layer on top; give it a big stir and reveal the perfectly cooked barley underneath. Yum! If you want to add a little extra protein, stir in cooked and chopped Gardein chick’n strips.

Tofu Avocado Spread

Tofu Avocado Spread

Tofu can be too dry for babies if just cubed or sauteed in oil. This avocado spread is the perfect way to make it creamier. You’ll sneak in protein, potassium, calcium, and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup firm tofu
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mash with a fork until desired consistency is reached.

Toddlers might enjoy this best spread on whole wheat toast. My baby prefers to pick up big handfuls of it plain!

Baked Cinnamon Donut Holes

Cinnamon Donuts (7)

These adorable cinnamon-sugar donuts are the perfect baking project for a fall afternoon!

Ingredients:

For the donuts:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.Cinnamon Donuts (1)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flaxseed in the water to make 1 flax egg. Add the soy milk, canola oil, and vanilla.Cinnamon Donuts (2)
  3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. You’ll notice that Travis was eager to lick the spatula, the best part!Cinnamon Donuts (3)
  4. Divide the batter evenly among 24 greased mini muffin cups, filling about half full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 9 minutes; a wooden pick inserted in the centers should come out clean. Transfer to wax paper.Cinnamon Donuts (5)
  5. To prepare the topping, microwave the butter until melted. Stir together the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Working with 1 donut at a time, dip in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Return to the wax paper.Cinnamon Donuts (6)

The perfect afternoon snack!

Yogurt Berry Parfaits

Yogurt Parfait

If your kids wants a novel twist on yogurt for breakfast, try these easy fruit-filled parfaits! We like them best with almond milk yogurt. Wheat germ adds an extra healthy kick.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (5-ounce) vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon wheat germ
  • Mixed berries to taste
  1. Stir the wheat germ into the yogurt in a small glass.
  2. Spoon berries on top to taste, and serve!

Note: You can also alternate layers of yogurt and berries, for a pretty presentation.

Jiggly Rainbow Cups

Jiggly Rainbow (8).JPG

Here’s a cute way to “taste the rainbow”, as the old slogan goes! You’ll need jel dessert in all colors of the rainbow. Jell-o of course comes available in everything from red to purple but is not vegan. Instead, I prepared a big batch of Lieber’s clear unflavored jel dessert. We divided it among 5 cups, and used food coloring to make:

  • red
  • yellow
  • green
  • blue
  • purple

This was a great refresher on color mixing, since I only had food coloring in primary colors!

Jiggly Rainbow (2)

I also had Simply Delish’s orange flavored jel dessert, so we used that for the orange layer.

Jiggly Rainbow (1)

Now you’ll need to layer your dessert. We spooned a layer of purple into a cup and placed in the freezer for about 15 minutes to speed up the setting process.

Jiggly Rainbow (3)

Continue adding layers and freezing briefly until you have a full rainbow.

Jiggly Rainbow (4)

Unfortunately our three dark layers (purple, blue, green) and three light layers (yellow, orange, red) sort of blended in with one another. Shining a flashlight helped reveal the distinction!

Jiggly Rainbow (6)

Meanwhile Travis thought this was just the best dessert ever. Of course there was the obligatory poking and squishing that must happen with jel desserts.

Jiggly Rainbow (7)

Then it was time to spoon through the layers, and he kept me updated on his progress: “Mom, I’m up to the yellow!”

Jiggly Rainbow (9)

A super fun way to play with rainbows.

Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes

Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes

This two-ingredient recipe will introduce your baby to a taste of the tropics!

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut into wedges. Arrange in a small baking dish.
  2. Cover the sweet potato with the pineapple chunks and drizzle with any juice from chopping.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender. Best served warm!

Tic-Tac-Yum

Tic Tac Yum (3)

Here’s a novel way to play tic-tac-toe… and to have a healthy snack. Winner takes first bite!

To set up the game, wind yarn around a flat mirror until you’ve divided it into 9 squares like a tic-tac-toe board. Secure on the back with tape.

For the Os, cut celery hearts into slices in the shape of a C. For Xs, cut chunks of non-dairy cheese and then make a slit so each piece looks like a V.

Tic Tac Yum (2)

Once arranged on the mirror, Travis was delighted to find the C was now an O and the V was now an X!

Tic Tac Yum (1)

I challenged him to a match…

Tic Tac Yum (4)

…but it wasn’t long before the Vs began disappearing as a snack. Tic-tac-yum indeed!

Tic Tac Yum (5)

 

Organic Farmer’s Pie

Farmers Pie b.JPG

This toddler-friendly recipe has enough flavor and heft to please the whole family. I like to use the California burgers from Amy’s Kitchen, but swap in your favorite brand to customize the taste!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 3 cups cooked and crumbled veggie burgers
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and transfer to a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil; continue to cook for 10 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, zucchini, and carrot; cook for 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the veggie burger crumbles. Spoon the mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
  4. Drain the sweet potatoes and return to the pan. Add the yogurt and salt; mash with a potato masher until smooth and spread over the top of the burger mixture.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through.

Farmers Pie a