Feeding Babies

Feeding Babies

Little Sprouts, an e-cookbook

We wrote an e-Book!

Writing that makes me feel very modern, even though I’m still not sure we’re doing this right. I feel like maybe I should have taken a course on this or something?

I enjoy cooking and I really like eating, but we have two kids with opinions… about everything, actually. Feeding them can be tricky. I think there is a lot of angst from parents around their kids and food, and I want to take up space in that conversation.

 

“Are they eating enough?”

“Ok, but are they eating enough vegetables?”

“I am embarrassed by how often they eat pizza or mac n cheese.”

This e-book gives a handful of ideas to add vegetables into foods that you find they already like, hopefully making meal time less of a strain on you or them. I wrote two cookbooks before we had children and my cooking has evolved so much since then. Evolved because of them and because of myself, but this piece feels like I am handing a collection of favorite recipes to a friend. Nothing to prove, no effort to impress you with my creativity - just real food that I have on regular rotation for our kids, and it feels like it may help someone else trying to do the same. Perhaps an excerpt from the book’s intro will help that feeling make sense:

“Before I had children, I forecasted they would eat everything my husband and I enjoy - big vegetable lovers, lots of color and seasonal produce, requesting green smoothies (hold the banana, add extra kale, mom!), beyond their years in taste given what I do for work. Then they actually existed in my life, and I realized I may have built an unrealistic expectation. I cook constantly. For over a decade, I have been writing recipes for our food blog (Sprouted Kitchen), have published two cookbooks, freelanced for other food publications, and most currently, run a meal planning subscription service (Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club). I know my way around making a meal, but having kids at the table feels like it complicates the ease of which that once was for me. I make most of our food from scratch, but my kids, who are 3 and 5, cannot be persuaded with any amount of convincing nutritional information to choose broccoli over a hot dog. So, how do we settle somewhere between those things? I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. I love seasonal produce, home cooking, and general wellness, but I refuse to make meal time a battle. We have to eat for energy and nutrition, but also for the pleasure and practice of having a moment to sit down together at a table. My job is to provide nutritious food and a loving environment; it is their job to eat if they are hungry and no, I am not a short order cook. Those convictions are easier to put on paper than hold to at dinner time. I get it.”

It is a collection of 30 recipes (a few are favorites from here on SK and SK Cooking Club) that focus on getting more produce into your wee ones. I can’t guarantee they’ll like everything in there, but it’s adult-friendly too so you have that! The recipes are geared for ages 2+, and they are simple and easy to follow. Most of them are gluten and dairy-free, and when they’re not, notes are made to help accommodate. While it’s not exclusively vegetarian, most of the recipes do lean that direction, while many of the breakfast recipes include eggs.

(I like to be as clear as possible so ya’ll know what to expect!) I understand that you can flip through a book at the bookstore and here you cannot. The e-book is divided by breakfast, snacks + lunch, and meals. I may be biased (having birthed the children in most of the photos), but the imagery is beautiful too ;)

Whether you buy this e-book or not, I hope you know you are doing an excellent job. Parenting is hard and food is a sticky subject. If some days everything they eat is some shade of beige, they’ll be ok. I hope getting more color into your babes doesn’t feel defeating, and if it does, may I make that seem more accessible with Little Sprouts. xo


ROASTED BUTTERNUT + BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS

From Little Sprouts
Makes 4

My children would eat bean and cheese burritos every day if given the choice. It doesn’t always work, but adding vegetables into things I know they already like, is helpful. Here, we are adding taco seasoned squash and a handful of greens (whatever you can pull off - cilantro, baby kale etc.) in with the refried black beans and cheese. I smash the squash down so they melt in with the cheese a bit. I’ve also had luck with shredded zucchini in the summer.

QUESADILLAS_07.jpg

Batched Taco Seasoning:

Mix all of these spices together and store them in an airtight container.

  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea saltdash of cayenne, to taste

I am including a recipe for a homemade taco seasoning, but we also like the one from Thrive market because it isn’t too spicy.

Ingredients

4 cups cubed (about 1”) butternut squash (from roughly one small squash)
1 Tbsp. avo or olive oil
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
Salt, as needed
4 whole grain tortillas
1 13 oz. can refried black beans
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups melty cheese - a Mexican blend, white cheddar or non-dairy sub
Coconut or avocado oil, for cooking

instructions

Preheat the oven to 425’. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. 

Pile the squash cubes onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with the oil, taco seasoning and another sprinkle of salt. Toss everything to coat and spread them in an even layer. Roast for 25 minutes until edges are browned and squash is tender. Remove to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, spread the beans over the top of the tortilla. Add a few spoonfuls of the cooked squash and use the back of a fork to smoosh them down a bit. Sprinkle the top with a handful of cheese and a generous amount of cilantro. 

You can pan-fry them, or to do a batch all at once, placing the open-faced quesadillas on a baking sheet and heating them in the oven for 10 minutes to warm through, then just fold them over.

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Feeding Babies, Gluten Free, Dessert, Snack

OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES

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We have this “breakfast cookie” recipe going out to our Cooking Club members this week and I wanted to put the recipe here too. The feeding babies section is a crowd favorite, and my kids plow through these. Healthy-ish, grab n’ go, and what not - that’s what ya’ll seem to love about the kids recipes I’ve included around here. It’s tough to find a cookie or muffin that hold together that are both gluten and egg-free, but these work. Report back if you make them, or let me know what you changed. I love seeing your photos!

Our son turned FIVE this weekend. It felt like a big birthday - every increment of five does to me for some reason. My mom always made a big deal of birthdays and I thought it was so fun - I love making him feel like the star of the weekend and the one to make all the calls. We packed the weekend with Legoland, camping with cousins in San Clemente, rocket launching in a field, Chuck-e-Cheese with grandparents, meals of his choice, sprinkle cupcakes etc. etc. It sounds like a lot because it was :)

I feel like we were chin deep in both baby and toddler-hood at the same time for the past few years, and seeing Curran now as an almost-kindergartener is wild. Like we’ve been treading water, and now we can swim. He is thoughtful and emotional and smart and empathetic - LOVES his dad, lights up with the company of friends, is ALWAYS the first person to wake up in the morning with a full tank of energy, very into building things, collector, can recall specific memories in full detail from way before I thought was possible (“remember when I choked on that frozen mango?”…you were one, how do you remember that?!?!). He has figured out that throwing clothes in the hamper is quicker than folding and putting them away which I find both annoying and clever - for some reason it’s a nod from toddler to kid - those little things that feel different.

Curran and I had a tough time with each other during his 2-4 age because he is pretty sensitive, and it would touch on an insecurity of my own - both of us then upset, neither bringing calm to the situation. I thought I was self-aware enough to not ride my toddlers emotions but I did… do, sometimes still. He’s better lately, and I am too, far from perfect, but it feels like we’ve grown in that area together. Perhaps that makes me sound like an immature parent, but little refines us and highlights our weak spots like our own children. Anyway, finding a better rhythm with him has been so special. I used to want time to speed up, I didn’t want to tread water anymore, but the swimming? Now I want to stop time! Curran and I have put together more lego sets in the past four days than I care to have floating around the house but he LOVES them, both the building and the company, so bring on the Legos.

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SIDENOTE: Hugh made a short pdf of quick food photography tips which is now available on our SHOP page. For a limited time, it is available for $1.99, which will be the best couple bucks you’ll spend this week. It is not a full photography course, but the concise and simple tips will absolutely make a difference in the way you capture your food. I’ve learned so much from Hugh, and this guide boils down the handful of important things to think about when you take and edit a photo of your food. Let us know if you have any questions!


OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES

Makes 18 small

These are delicate, as there is no gluten or egg helping to bind them. If you are looking for something to pack in a lunchbox, and can tolerate eggs, add one in to the mashed banana step to help make them more sturdy. Raisins feel slightly more virtuous, but chocolate chips feel slightly more delicious. Take your pick. Keep them small either way.

I do not usually stock quick-cooking oats, but you can blitz old-fashioned oats in a food processor for a similar texture, or I’ve used Seven Sundays muesli with success (Target or Costco sell the big bags). If you need these to be nut-free, I have a report that sunflower butter works fine.

Ingredients

1 medium, extra extra ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup smooth, natural nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats you’ve blitzed in the food processor a few times to get smaller bits)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. flaxmeal
1/2 cup raisins (chop if they’re jumbo), or mini chocolate chips

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana with salt, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil and stir to combine. Add the maple, nut butter, chia seeds and stir again until smooth. Let the chia seeds absorb for a moment. 

Stir in the oats, baking powder, flaxmeal, raisins and let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350’ and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. 

Roll the dough into balls of about 2 Tbsp. worth of dough. Arrange them on the baking sheet with a little space between, give them a gently press down, they don’t spread much. 

Bake on the middle rack for 12-13 minutes. Remove to cool completely - they’ll hold together better once cooled. 

Store in an airtight container. Cookies will keep for three days. 

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Bread, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Feeding Babies, Snack, Summer

GLUTEN FREE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

gluten free zucchini muffins

Loves! I posted about this zucchini loaf/muffins I've been working on over on Instagram and you were like hungry little wolves insisting that I post the recipe asap. So, here we are, a few weeks later, which is as asap as it'll get around here. 

Because most of the cooking I do is simple assembly and layering basics rather than advanced skills and technique, the dishes I write for work *usually* turn out by the second time I test them. I can often run this success rate with baking by just tinkering with other recipes and changing the flavor profile. However, I have made about 8-10 rounds of zucchini carrot muffins, all edible, but certainly not eligible to post on the internet with my name on them. I tried to make them maple sweetened (too much moisture), all almond flour (too heavy, also wet),  I squeezed the moisture out of the veg and still, resembling a frittata more so than a muffin, and so on. I mentioned in this peanut butter oatmeal entry a couple weeks ago that my kids are all about baked goods, so I will not rest until I can pack vegetables in them!

I'm not going to say what we have here is perfect but I am happy with where they are and I need the tweaking to just be done. I have a painter friend who says sometimes she just needs to call the piece finished. Lacquer it, take a picture, and move on, even when she knows she *could* keep working on it, because she can end up ruining it instead. I listen to podcasts of entrepreneurs who suggest to put things out there; let people see them and use them and respond, instead of keeping your project quiet, hoping you get closer to perfect. So, if you do make these, tell me what you did or what you would change. I love chatting about food in this space with ya'll, so if you have tips, share them with others in the comments.  

gluten free zucchini muffins - shredded zucchini

GLUTEN FREE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

Makes 10

I have used super fine brown rice flour in a baking before and many of you noted that it is a bit tricky to stock. I buy it here, but there are alternatives. If you do not need these gluten free, simply use unbleached all purpose flour in its place. I would still suggest using the almond flour or meal in combination, as it keeps the muffins more tender. These are on the low end of the sweet scale, if you want them more of a treat, add a few more tablespoons of sugar. 

The timing is written for 10 muffins, and I find their delicate nature is best in that format. You can bake the batter in a greased loaf for closer to 45 minutes, sticking a toothpick in the center to make sure it isn't too wet.
This muffin tin is my favorite forever and ever.

Ingredients

2 eggs
1/3 cup avocado or coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup superfine rice flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup grated zucchini, about 1 medium/large
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks

turbinado sugar, to finish, optional

Instructions

Start by grating the zucchini (I do a blend of small holes and large holes on a box grater because I can't decide). Put them in a fine mesh sieve and press out excess water. Preheat the oven to 360' and grease a muffin tin. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla, vinegar and buttermilk or yogurt, until well combined. Add the almond flour, rice flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar and stir until combined. Add the zucchini and chocolate and fold it in.

Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 full (they don't rise much) and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top, if using. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until golden around the edge and a little tap on the center bounces back at you. 

Remove to cool completely. Keep covered at room temperature for 2 days, or in the fridge any longer than that.

A split and toasted muffin is the best muffin, but straight out of the hand is delicious too. 

gluten free zucchini muffin
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