I know it's a cliche repeated God knows how many times, but really, kids grow sooo fast!! Time literally flies.. I still vividly remember taking that first pregnancy test at home and having butterflies in my stomach, a lot of questions on our mind and a broad smile on our faces :) I can not believe that moment was close to 3 years ago! Seriously, where did the time go?!
So before it's too old and out of my mind, I want to jot down some of my favorite baby/toddler meals.
As regular readers of Ginger & Garlic know, I have a pretty consuming job (which I love btw so no complaints there!) so by the time I come back home, I would rather spend remaining free time playing with little one or taking her to park or reading books with her. As a result I am always looking for quick, fresh and easy meals which are toddler approved.
Most days our little one eats whatever we are eating. I am blessed with a foodie daughter, I must say! She loves trying out everything and with the exception of Karela (bittermelon) has liked each and every dish offered to her so far (touch wood!). But we do eat lots of left overs at our home. I cook few different dishes on Sunday and we eat them through Wednesday. Little one also eats some left overs but I generally don't feed her left overs more than a day old. So on such days, she gets a special freshly cooked meal for herself!
My favorite toddler meals have few things in common: 1) my toddler must like those dishes - a lot! 2) healthy dishes with seasonal vegetables and no canned or prepared items 3) Ideally quick cooking but if not quick cooking then >80% of hands-off cooking time and takes no longer than an hour from start to plate on table.
And here are some of my favorites:
1) Simple rice, lentil and vegetable khichadi: simply put 1/4th cup rice and 1/4th cup lentils (moong daal is my favorite for this khichadi but any quick cooking lentils such as pigeon peas or small brown lentils will work). Add any chopped vegetables - I usually add carrots and spinach. 1.5C Water, salt, turmeric and pressure cook for a soft liquidiy khichadi. Let cool, add a little ghee or butter, sprinkle some lime juice and watch your toddler gobble it all up.
I bought a kiddie size rice cooker recently and it has come in very handy on many a busy nights! 5 minutes of hands-on time and 30 minutes of hands-off cooking time is all it takes.
2) Another favorite meal (toddler and elders alike) any day of year is freshly steamed idlis. Making idlis seems such a time consuming task, until I heard about these microwave idli makers. You can make batter over the weekend or buy prepared batter from Indian grocery stores (Shasta brand is our favorite) and it takes <10mins to put this idle and chutney dinner on table. Chutney is just beaten yogurt with salt, cumin powder and torn mint leaves or coriander leaves or grated cucumber or zucchini.
3) I never considered pasta to be a quick cooking meal - I mean you need to make sauce and cooking dried pasta takes about 15mins of hands-on time too. However, at our home noodles are the busy weekday quick throw together meal. They only take a few minutes at most and variations are endless! We make vegetable noodles with whatever you have at hand - tofu, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, soy sauce and ginger. On cold winter nights, we also make a noodle broth - just make a quick broth by simmering large onion, carrot pieces and grated ginger with water. Once broth has simmered for 15 minutes, add Japanese noodles. Garnish with green onions!
4) Soups! Soups are not quick cooking unless they are roasted vegetable soups and you do all the roasting on weekends. On many weekends, I roast few seasonal vegetables for weeklong eating - red peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots etc and keep in fridge. Then on a weekday, you can just blend roasted vegetables, add some cream, salt & pepper to taste and soup is ready. Warm it up on stove or in microwave and serve with bread of choice for a quick dinner!
5) On the same track of roasting, we also roast a large batch of yams or sweet potatoes often in fall and winter. Bake them at 375F for between 45 minutes to an hour and they literally become as sweet as candy. We bake them whole with skin on (after cleaning the skin). And then on a later day, just pop one potato in microwave for one minute, cut open the skin and eat the sweet flesh inside! This is my little one's favorite winter
breakfast at home!
6) Baked chickens are always winners! Requires some prep ahead to marinate the chicken in the morning so they can be put into oven first thing in the evening - they do need around an hour to cook and cool but almost all of it is hands-off time.
If you are a busy mom of a little toddler, which are some of your favorite meals?