Designer Pancakes

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Today was Veronika’s first time at the stove! She’s not quite yet 2, so needless to say I supervised this activity very closely. But dripping pancake better is an excellent first stove-top activity, and will make toddlers feel like big helpers in the kitchen.

First up was whipping up a super simple pancake recipe, by whisking the following together in a big bowl:

1 and 1/2 cups almond milk

2 Ener-G eggs

4 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 and 1/2 cups flour

Toddlers can help with this part, too!

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I poured the batter into a liquid measuring cup and helped Veronika climb on a stool by the stove. Together, we held a big ladle and dripped the batter into a heated pan coated with cooking spray.

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When it’s your toddler’s turn, chances are the “design” of the pancakes will be completely random. But Veronika loved that she made “baby pancakes”, and we thought one looked like a caterpillar.

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Some of the small ones looked like little clouds in the sky.

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While she enjoyed sampling the first batch, I prepared a slightly more deliberate design: a pancake gingerbread man! Chocolate chips made eyes, a nose, and buttons.

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Veronika absolutely loved this activity, both the cooking and the eating of it.

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Mixed-Vegetable Stir-Fry

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Serve this dish with sesame tofu and brown rice for a well-rounded meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup thinly sliced bok choy
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger; cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onions, carrot, and broccoli; cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the bok choy and cabbage; cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until the vegetables reach desired tenderness for your child.

The kids love this directly over brown rice!

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Homemade Limeade

Homemade Limeade

This toddler-friendly version of limeade has just the tiniest bite from sour lime, and no added sugars. You can use the same method to make lemonade, too! Add 1 teaspoon agave nectar if your kids do want a little extra sweetener.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cups white grape juice
  1. Stir together the ingredients in a pitcher, and serve over ice.

BBQ Chick’n Wrap

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My kids devour this savory sandwich wrap. In other words, it’s the perfect way to refuel between in-person school mornings and remote afternoon learning sessions!

Ingredients:

  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 4 Gardein chick’n strips, cooked and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded cabbage mix
  • 1 tablespoon vegan ranch dressing
  1. Arrange the chick’n strips down the center of the tortilla, and drizzle with the BBQ sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, toss together the cabbage mix with the dressing. Sprinkle over the chick’n, then roll up tightly and cut in half to serve.

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Make Your Own Oat Milk

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As an extension to his Lunchtime Love recipes from Raddish Kids, Travis was excited to learn how to make his own oat milk today!

The idea here was to show a child how food goes from raw ingredients to finished product. Of course we had to skip the growing and harvesting of the oats, but we came home from the store with a bag of organic rolled oats that certainly didn’t look like milk yet.

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We first watched a few how-tos online to see if we could make the best oat milk possible. Tips include using the coldest water possible and blending for the least amount of time possible. Armed with that knowledge, Travis combined the following in a blender:

4 cups cold water

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Skip the vanilla if you don’t want the milk sweetened. We ran the blender for about 30 seconds.

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Travis was ecstatic that now it was white like milk!

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I don’t have cheesecloth, so the best we could do was strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. He immediately needed a big glass and a straw. Little sister wanted a taste, too!

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Well, he turned to me and said, “Actually… it’s not that good.”

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Bonus points for honesty! I guess we’ll stick to almond milk as a family. But now Travis is determined that we should make a homemade batch. Thanks Raddish!

School Milk Flipbook

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Travis helped make several lunches this month thanks to his Raddish Kids Lunchtime Love crate, a perfect theme for back-to-school in September. We finished up with this lesson plan.

To start, we played “I’m going on a picnic” to get thinking about different foods in a lunchbox, particularly those that travel well. A basket of toy food as prompts helped initially, but Travis was bored after a few rounds of back-and-forth. Instead, we turned to the web for the next part of the lesson.

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Raddish provided links for a read-aloud about how common lunch foods get on the plate. Because the book was heavy on dairy, we also watched vegan-friendly videos about almond milk and soy milk.

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Next Travis got to be an author! The assignment was to make a flipbook about the journey of an almond from the tree to the carton at the store. I encouraged him to put on his imaginative cap and pretend the story was from the point of view of the almond, although this was a bit of a stretch for my first grader.

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He concentrated more on just drawing the pictures, and I added words.

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There were also fun videos to watch on school lunches around the world. Big kids can extend the lesson much further, here, perhaps by designing an international menu for their school cafeteria

For a hands-on extension, we returned to an old favorite: growing new vegetables from kitchen scraps. This works fantastically with green onions, so after we used a bunch from the store, we placed the bulbs in a small dish of fresh water. You should see new growth by morning!

Regrow Food Scraps

Finally, Travis was in charge of designing his own perfect after-school snack in Raddish’s Create-a-Snack Challenge. I showed him the list of possible ingredients, and he selected: hummus, cheese slices, tortillas, strawberries, and tomatoes. The possibilities were growing already.

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After a trip to the store, he created the following: Hummus-Cheese-Tortilla Bites.

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I loved watching him turn into a little chef as we layered hummus on small squares of tortilla, topped each with a piece of Violife cheddar, and then topped that off with tomato.

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He got fancy and added strawberries to a few. An interesting flavor combination!

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I haven’t seen him enjoy snack so much in ages, so this was a great activity on the part of Raddish.

Grilled Cheese with Squash & Corn Puree

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Take grilled cheese to the next level with this easy upgrade.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 4 slices vegan smoked provolone (such as Violife)
  1. To prepare the puree, combine the squash, corn, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 8 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  2. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the sandwiches, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spread 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Earth Balance over each bread slice. Spread the other side of each slice with 1 tablespoon puree; reserve the remaining squash puree for another use.
  4. Place two slices of bread in the skillet, buttered side down. Top each with 2 slices provolone, then cover with the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes on each side.

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You Pick Popcorn Mix

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Kids can mix and match to make the version they like best for this fun popcorn snack mix. It packs up great for snack at school, or just keep it on hand at home if you need to fuel through a marathon Zoom session.

Before even eating, this recipe was so fun to make. First, Travis loved watching the bag of popcorn pop in the microwave. I fooled him into thinking we had a dud bag in the first minute, until all those pop pop pops began, and then he was ecstatic.

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Now add mix-ins to taste, using a ratio of 1 cup popcorn to 1/3 cup nuts or seeds, 1/3 cup dried fruit, and 1/3 cup healthy sweets. Here were the four variations that we tried.

Version 1: 1 cup popcorn + 1/3 cup peanuts + 1/3 cup dried cranberries + 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips + 1 tablespoon melted butter

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Version 2: 1 cup popcorn + 1/3 cup sunflower seeds + 1/3 cup banana chips + 1/3 cup coconut flakes + 1/2 teaspoon salt

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Version 3: 1 cup popcorn + 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds + 1/3 cup raisins + 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips + 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

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Version 4: 1 cup popcorn + 1/3 cup slivered almonds + 1/3 cup dried cranberries + 1/3 cup coconut flakes + 1 tablespoon melted butter

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You can even throw in a few math problems as you nosh so this counts toward math home school of the day! For example, count the number of kernels in 1 cup of popcorn, then multiply that by a factor of 2.

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Big kids can try making up their own equations! And the littlest kids can just enjoy the taste.

Hummus Veggie Wrap

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This quick wrap makes the perfect lunch on a school day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 1/4 cup chopped or sliced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons sprouts
  • 1/2 cup avocado
  1. Spread the hummus evenly over the two tortillas.
  2. Divide the tomato, sprouts, and avocado evenly down the middles, then roll up tightly and cut in half to serve.

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Butterfly Pasta Salad

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Butterfly-shaped farfalle pasta add a whimsical touch to this easy lunch. With my son home from in-person school by lunchtime now, we’ll be making lots of new midday recipes in the weeks to come!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 cup vegan Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Combine the pasta and water in a large skillet. Bring to a boil; continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Add the mixed vegetables, Parmesan, and olive oil, stirring to combine. Let cool before serving.