I call my toddler my little teenager. He seems to always have his head in the refrigerator and he loves to eat! I have been working hard to give him nothing but the highest standard of healthy that I know of and now I cannot help but to get a little smile on my face when he closes the fridge door holding a cucumber saying, “peese, peese?!”
In his first two years (he will be 2 in a couple months), I have been training his little developing taste buds to enjoy healthy food choices. [You can find some info on solid food introduction here.] I have introduced him to a wide variety of colours, textures, and tastes and have kept him away from sugar, candy, fast food, processed foods, dairy and wheat. So far he will eat just about anything I give him, which I am so grateful for, and he is growing into a strong boy with no health concerns to speak of!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison
Here are a couple of great tips on how we can encourage our toddlers to eat well. And remember the “golden rule for happy meals”: you decide what food is served and when it’s served and your toddler decides whether they’ll eat and how much.
The following is a list of some of my son’s favourite snacks or lunches. I hope you will find it helpful when trying to appease your little one’s appetite!
- Fresh fruit and veggies of all shapes, sizes, variety, and colour!
- Fresh juice – a deliciously sneaky way to get those greens in!
- Apple, pear, citrus, melon, carrot, ginger, beets, greens, mint…
- Frozen berries, mango/peach/pear/banana, spinach/bok choy/kale/swiss chard, water/coconut water/cashew milk/hemp milk
- More add ins: avocado, coconut cream, raw cashews soaked overnight, nut butter, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut oil, powdered probiotics, gelatin…
- Homemade Bread or Rice Crackers with spreadable goat cheese or nut butter or bean or hummus dip (see below)
- Hummus or Bean Dip or Sweet Potato Mash:
- Blend in food processor 2 cups black beans or garbanzo beans, 1 clove garlic, 2 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP each of fresh lemon juice, tahini, 1 nutritional yeast (optional), and water, pinch of salt
- Or blend butternut squash with 1 cup garbanzo beans, 1 TBSP tahini, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 TBSP maple syrup, 1/2 tsp salt
- Boil sweet potato chunks with red lentils and apple chunks until soft. Serve as is or mash together with salt, tahini, cinnamon, and maple syrup
- Note: you can add in cooked greens to these as well!
- Healthy homemade zucchini/carrot/beet/nut bread (example)
- Banana Crisps
- Puree 2 small ripe bananas, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and half of a lemon squeezed
- Bake for around 30 minutes, flipping partway through, at 300 degrees F or until hardened and browning
- Dehydrated fruit or fruit leather
- Slice bananas, apples, or strawberries thinly
- Or make a fruit puree with a touch of lemon and honey to taste (no honey if your child is under 1 year old)
- Place slices or spread puree about 1/8-1/4 inch thick onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper
- Dehydrate in oven at 170 degrees F overnight with the oven open a crack or for about 8-10 hours. Slices may need to be flipped.
- Frozen fruit drops
- Drop pureed fruit by the teaspoon onto parchment paper and freeze
- Frozen fruit juice/puree pops (I make mine in these silicone molds)
- Frozen fruit ‘ice cream’
- Blend frozen berries/banana/mango/peach until creamy
- Gelatin gummies, fruit snacks, or pudding
- Sardines (packed full of protein, B vitamins, selenium, omega 3, and calcium!) -remember, even if you don’t like them, it doesn’t mean that your toddler won’t!
- Boiled egg – simple, easy to pack for a snack away from home (assuming no allergy)
- or egg fried with goat cheese, spinach, leftover rice…
- Root Veggie Wedges (potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, beet, carrot)
- Peel and slice veggies into wedges
- Mix in large boil with olive oil and spices (ex. salt & pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, or cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, turmeric, etc.)
- Place spaced out on baking sheet covered in parchment paper
- Cook at 375 for about 15-20mins, flip and cook another 10 minutes or so – until both sides are crisp (cooking time depends on size of slices & type of veg so watch carefully!)
- Kale chips
- Wash and dry torn leaves (no stems)
- Mix in bowl with olive oil and garlic powder and salt
- Cook on baking sheet covered with parchment paper at 375 F, flipping once, until crisp (time varies – watch carefully)
- Toasted Chickpeas
- Rinse and drain chickpeas, season with olive oil and Herbamare (or your favourite spices), cook at 450 degrees F on baking sheet covered in parchment paper for ~15-20mins (a sweet variation: oil, honey, and cinnamon) (no honey if your child is under 1 year old)
- Power Balls
- “Cheesy” Potatoes – or sub out the potatoes for cauliflower!
- Toddler mac n’ cheese – or make noodles with spaghetti squash, or shredded zucchini/carrot
I’m sure that I will keep revising this list as I go, but for now there are some ideas! I would love to hear what some of yours are too – please share below!