Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Toddler Tuesday: Have Fun with Food

   More than anything, I want eating to be for Meghan what it should be for everyone: a pleasurable experience.  Sure, there are times when I get stressed that she is refusing to eat as many vegetables as I think she should or when I wonder if she is eating enough at all.  But I always try to hide any anxiety I have from my toddler.  I don't want to create a negative association with eating.  So when it's meal time, I try to keep the mood relaxed, and even have a little fun.
  Here's the little man that greeted Meghan for her lunch a few days ago.  There's so many ways you can turn food into a face or animal and your toddler (especially older toddlers) will think it's funny.  And maybe it will even help entice him into eating something new.  Here's what I did for the man face: 

I started with a half of an Arnold Sandwich Thin.  Have you seen these things? I recently discovered them and love them!  They give a perfect flat, round surface for the head.  I spread it with a little Sesame-Nut Spread (which I totally just made up as I was making lunch).  Here's what I used in equal parts: 
peanut butter, tahini (sesame seed paste), and goat's milk yogurt (any plain yogurt would work).  One teaspoon of each in bowl, a quick mix, and I had a spread for her sandwich.  Then I added the shredded carrots for the hair, beans for the eyes and nose, and some green beans made the smile.  The verdict? 

She ate the beans right away, smiling when I said, "Ooooh, you ate his eyes!  Oh, there goes the nose!" Yep, I'm such a dork.  But I love making her smile.
Then she ate a few of the green beans.  

    She soon realized how tasty the spread was.  She kept dipping her finger into the spread and eating it. She did not touch the carrots.  I have the hardest time getting her eat orange veggies.  Her favorites are the green ones.  Eventually I tore the bread into pieces for her and she gobbled that up.  

   The next day I made a heart-shaped sandwich for her using similar ingredients. (Can you tell I was trying to use up certain things from the fridge?)  Such an easy way to make meal time a little more fun. Cut the sandwich into whatever shape you think your toddler will appreciate.  
Since Meghan will usually eat sandwiches well, I decided to try to made a hearty sandwich spread with the carrots to see if she'd eat it that way.  She liked it!  Woo hoo!  

     For this one, I put 1 tablespoon shredded carrots, 1 tablespoon white beans, and 2 tablespoons tahini, and a small pinch of sea salt in the food processor and processed it until it was of a spreadable consistency.  (A blender might work for this, too)  This is what it looked like when I spread it on the bread: 

Then I just put on a top and cut it into a heart shape (she doesn't usually eat the crust anyway).  

Heart is one of the shapes she knows, so she was so happy that she could identify it.  Here she is eating the sandwich:

She ate about 3/4 of the sandwich.  I finished it for her. :-) 

  Tahini is a cool ingredient to use with toddler food.  It has a sweet-ish, nutty taste to it, which I'm sure is why Meghan enjoys its flavor.  It is a good source of protein, healthy fat (essential for brain development!), fiber, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.  It's a great base for sauces, dips, and spreads.  
    So, how do you have fun with your toddler's food?  


  1. Very creative and cute! I think will try the bean, carrot, and tahini blend today for lunch.

  2. Tasty! I had to use black beans since that is what I had on hand. Also, I just happened to have those Arnold Selects. Calvin, 9months and eats mainly breast milk, was my first to try. He ate 1/4 sandwich. I too, enjoyed the combination. My older two will have their sandwich when they get up from their naps.
    Thank you:)

  3. So glad you liked it Lydia! I enjoyed it, too.