I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, as I often get asked about Vijay's food preferences. Feeding little ones can be difficult. There are so many factors to take into consideration: their finickiness, what they can/ can't chew, if you have time to make homemade food in the midst of the madness. So I thought I offer a few tips, and recipe ideas that work well for us...granted, I am not an expert, there are plenty of nights we order pizza, and my little guy, much to my dismay, knows and loves french fries and chocolate chip cookies (thanks to his fathers sneakiness!). However, I do my best to strive for a healthy, balanced diet, full of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. We try to eat seasonally, which is hard, because Vijay could eat berries for every meal and be happy. However, we make do in the colder months with the fruit that we froze throughout the summer (lots of berries, and peaches). We also have a vendor at our winter market that offers grapefruits and oranges from their families Florida farm- not local, but we make that exception. When I get anxiety-ridden about the fact his diet isn't perfect, I try to remind myself that it's all about doing the best you can, not about being perfect. And who doesn't love the occasional chocolate chip cookie, warm from the over?
Breakfast: I am a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here are a few of Vijay's favorite ways to start his day...
*plain yogurt with fresh fruit, granola and a dash of honey
*whole grain toaster waffle dipped in apple sauce
*eggs and turkey bacon, with half-a-slice of whole wheat toast
*homemade pancakes studded with fresh fruit (or frozen fruit in the winter)
*homemade french toast (great use for that stale loaf of bread you didn't get around to eating!)
*toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
*egg and vegetable omelet
Snacks: After breakfast, we head out for a morning activity; the park, library, children's museum, music class or a playdate. After about two hours of playing, it is snack time. Vijay LOVES his snacks, but as long as they are healthy, I don't mind snacking. Here are a few favorites:
*Japanese rice crackers with hummus
*Thinly slices veggies with hummus
*Apples with almond butter
*Orange, or grapefruit
*Trail mix (I make my own with puffed rice cereal, dried fruit, nuts and pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sometime I throw in chocolate chips for an extra treat)
*Homemade granola bars (or on occasion, Lara bars)
Lunch: This is Vijay's smallest meal of the day because he is usually still a bit full from his morning snack. Regardless, it is a good chance to get in a nutritious, sit-down meal before his long afternoon nap. Usually, lunch consists of leftovers from the previous nights dinner, as well as cut-up fruit and veggies. When we don't have leftovers, here are some choices:
*Soup (he loves homemade soups: lentil, turkey chilli and black bean are a few of his favorites)
*Veggie burger or turkey burger cut up with ketchup and mustard for dipping
*Amy's mac and cheese
*Rice and beans
*Half of a turkey sandwich
*Sliced chicken sausage
Dinner: Vijay has always been an adventurous eater, so these days, he just eats whatever I cook for dinner. I don't make him his own special dinner because frankly, who has the time?! However, I do set aside some small chopped veggies for him before I throw the into our salad. Dinner is when I try to get in a green vegetable- broccoli, green beans, peas or spinach.
*Indian food: his favorites include dahl (lentil), briyani (rice and meat), and tandoori chicken
*Mexican food: open faced soft tortilla with refried beans, wild rice, shredded chicken, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, or my famous
*Pasta with veggies, or tomato sauce (very light on the sauce, he doesn't love tomato)
*Soups, stews, and chilli
*Salmon or white fish (either with mustard sauce, teriaki, or breadcrumbs)
*Wild rice casserole with chicken and broccoli
*Chicken (I cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker- so moist and tender) with mashed potato or sweet potato
(obviously the list goes on, but you get the idea)
So this picture above is what a day in the life of Vijay looks like, in no particular order-
Top row: granola and yogurt, waffle with apple sauce, grapes
Middle row: sliced apples, lamb briyani, lentil soup
Third row: sliced red pepper, popcorn, trail mix
A few notes:
*You might notice that I use a lot of little ceramic and glass bowls instead of one plate. There is a method to my madness. I like small bowls because they help me portion out the perfect amount. Also, it makes mealtime a bit more fun, since Vijay loves discovering what is in each bowl. Finally, I have discovered that my little guy is a bit picky about his food mixing, and if he doesn't like something, he wants it off of his tray. If all of his food were on a plate, it would be tricky to take away the offender, but with bowls, if he tries it and doesn't like it, I simply take the bowl away. I don't like using plastic, and Vijay has learned (the hard way, by shattering a bowl here and there) not to drop or throw his bowls!
*Finally- a word about fluids. Vijay drinks mainly water, as well as 2-3 small glasses of organic whole milk per day. On special occasions, he might get juice- like apple cider when we visit the orchard. He probably only drinks juice once or twice a month- I just find it to be an unnecessary exposure to sugar. An exception is made for freshly squeezed juice that I make at home. He also loves decaffeinated iced tea- like peach, berry and other fruity flavors. This is a great way to get him to drink more water!
Okay- let's share ideas! I'd love to hear what you're feeding your little ones!