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.

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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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Breakfast, Gluten Free

MIXED BERRY OVERNIGHT OATS

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For my boy, the day before Kindergarten:

This all felt like a lifetime away when you were teeny tiny and now, cliche as it sounds, it feels like it snuck up on me. Older folks will tell you ‘it goes by quickly,’ and when you are in those early years of parenting, it feels like no such pace. Yet, as we’re on the eve of the first day of kindergarten, and you’re trying on polo shirts and getting a larger lunchbox and reviewing how we handle conflict with friends that should maybe be a liiitttllleee less physical than how you bicker with your spicy little sister, and it truly does feel like a wildly quick, albeit full, five years.

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It likely all went unnoticed by you, but deciding where to put you for school this year has caused me all sorts of worry and stress and back and forth. Knowing that we have a choice in this shows immense privilege and I do not take that for granted. I hope one day you see that going to school with daily support from your teachers and parents to learn and grow is a gift not everyone gets. I will remind you of that when it feels hard to hustle out the door or do homework when you just want to play. I wanted to choose what would be best for you but I also see now that I was protecting myself, as well.

Should we hold him back? He cries easily. He’ll be the youngest.

Should we drive further to the better school? I want him to have friends close to our house.

Do we do this or that Spanish immersion school? It will be frustrating for him, different, more difficult, he’ll be behind.

I could talk myself into and out of each option on any given day. In the eleventh hour, we grabbed the last spot at the dual immersion school you are heading to and buddy, I feel really good about it.

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I am overly empathetic with you and your sister, and it is tough for me to rise above your emotions sometimes. As an adult, I hope that will read as an extension of my deep affection for you, but in these young years, I know that you look to me for stability. When you cry about getting a shot, I probably shouldn’t cry too ;) If you come home unhappy from school, I would blame myself for making the wrong choice, and I think I was trying to find some way to avoid that. But here is what a wise mentor reminded me: it is not my job as your parent to make everything easy and comfortable for you. A child who does not learn how to work through hard things themselves, how to rise to the occasion and figure things out, won’t have those necessary skills to handle difficult things as they grow up and out of our care.

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My job is to support and love you and encourage you - to protect you, yes, but not from a challenge. I want to step in when I see someone take your sand toy at the beach or your sister rages at you, but I also want you to be confident that YOU know how (or can learn how) to handle those circumstances on your own. It may not soak in until I am gone or you are a parent yourself, but I hope that you look back on your experience of me and see that I truly did the best I could to parent you. That doesn’t mean it will all look right by you, and I’ll be the first to say I’ve messed up, and will continue to, but I truly do delight in you. You are loved so completely by your family.

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I know that you are kind. I know that you are a good friend and will stick up for your people. I know that you want to be silly and make people laugh. I know that you are incredibly curious and so bright, Curran. From here on out, school will be a big part of your life and is just as much an education in people as it is in every other subject. Ask questions. Include people. Do your best. Choose grace. Speak up for yourself and others. “Cool” is temporary, “nice” leaves an actual impression - be nice.

Home is always here. You will forever have a cheerleader in me. I love you so much, my baby.

- Mommy

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MIXED BERRY OVERNIGHT OATS

Makes 6 small servings

I admit I am not really a fan of cold oats, but my kids love these. I did not invent overnight oats, but these are the ratios we’ve been using for a creamy, pudding-like texture. It will looks thin at first, but that liquid is absorbed by the oats and chia to thicken the situation. My kids love carbs; but this adds some fiber and protein and healthy fats so they don’t have a blood sugar crash.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups nut or oat milk
1 cup plain yogurt (dairy-free varieties work too!)
2 Tbsp. ground flax
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 lb. of mixed berries - blueberries, chopped strawberries, cherries etc.

for topping

yogurt
cocoa nibs
toasted coconut
toasted nuts
granola

instructions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, flax chia, maple and vanilla and stir well to combine. Add the oats, cinnamon, a big pinch of salt and mix. Stir in half of the berries. You could also just top with the berries, but I find my kids don’t try to pick at it if the berries are just non-negotiably in there.

Transfer the overnight oats into portioned containers and pop them in the fridge for two hours or overnight.

The next morning, garnish with remaining berries, more desired toppings and enjoy!
Oat cups will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.


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Entrée, Gluten Free, Summer

LENTIL-CAULI TACO MEAT

cauliflower and lentil tacos 'meat'

Ok. I had to double post on both SKCC and here because so many of you asked me for this recipe. The first time I made this, I was literally grasping at what was left in the fridge. It made a wet gross mush in a pot that I had no interest in eating, so I tried to save it by drying it out in the oven because I HATE wasting food. It had crispy edges and a deep tomato flavor and I ate it for three meals straight. To be honest with you, I cannot get it as good as it was the first time. Below is something pretty damn close.

My family does eat meat, but in an effort towards sustainability and health, we eat a lot of vegetarian meals. Love a good mushroom taco, or even some saucy tempeh, but this mixture has the crumbly, spicy, crisp edges I remember from the ground beef tacos of my youth. Chili, sloppy joes, tacos, hamburger helper, any other babies of the 80’s know that dinner rotation?

If you give it a whirl. Let me know your thoughts. I’ve used it in tacos, as shown, but also sprinkled it in a salad with avocado and peaches and pepitas, and put it in burritos for my wee ones. You could add rice and stuff it into bell peppers (there is a recipe in my story highlights). Anyway, you get the idea.



LENTIL-CAULI TACO MEAT

Makes about 4 cups / Serves 6

If you need to cut a corner, use the steamed lentils from Trader Joes. I actually prefer them - they are drier than the ones I cook at home. Keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven, and stir it around. We want to dry it out to get some crunchy edges.

Try it in tortillas with smashed avocado, cabbage and taco sauce below.

Quicky Taco Sauce

  • Blitz Together:
  • + 1 cup plain, whole greek yogurt
  • + 1 jalapeno
  • + 1 large garlic clove
  • + zest & juice of 1 lime
  • + small bunch cilantro
  • + salt & pepper

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. avocado or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a yellow onion, roughly chopped 
3 garlic cloves
1 (1.5 lb.) head of cauli, leaves and core removed, broken into florets (or 12 oz. fresh, not frozen, riced-cauli)
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt/ 1/2 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coriander
1 cup canned tomato sauce (I like Muir Glen!)
1 cup cooked lentils, drained

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 400’ and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Into a food processor, add the onions and garlic. Pulse a few times to chop well. Transfer to the pot with the hot oil and give it a quick stir. Put the cauli florets into the food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides every few times until it is in tiny rice-like pieces. Add it to the pot along with salt and pepper, sauté about 5 minutes until things soften and get golden in places. 

Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander (or about 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning) and stir. Add the tomato sauce and lentils, stir again. You’re going to think it looks like a soggy mess, but press on! Turn off the heat, let the mixture cool down. 

Transfer the cauli mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread it in an even layer. Let all the steam off, then bake it in the upper third for 35 minutes, stirring once or twice during the baking time. Turn the oven up to 450’, and cook another 5-10 minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the tray in there for another 10-15 minutes to dry it out further. The moisture level will be different per person because some cauli can be pretty watery, lentils can have different textures etc. It should look a little charred in spots. Stir it around to cool.

Assemble as you wish - into a taco or roasted sweet potato or room temp into a taco salad. We didn’t make it super spicy so it would be kid-friendly too. 

Store covered in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze for up to a few months.

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