posted in Life & Home
Almost every mom I know wants her toddler to eat a balanced diet — but sometimes that goes against your toddler’s plans.
My first two children went through painful picky eating phases. But with my third, thanks to a combination of her personality and our experience, we’ve hit a home run. Valentina is 14 months old and she is just entering the toddler phase. When she’s hungry she makes her way over to her high chair and tries to climb in, clapping with delight every time I serve her lunch. She will eat anything we put in front of her. The trick?
I never give Valentina one main meal for lunch. Instead, I serve her an assortment of healthy and delicious fresh foods, served like a tasting plate. I stick to the same basic formula — more on that below — and there are a few staples that almost always make an appearance on her snack tray.
For one, I love to include milk as her lunch beverage. We just recently made the switch to Horizon Organic milk plus DHA Omega-3, and I love knowing that Valentina is getting 32 mg of DHA Omega-3 per serving to support her developing brain. It’s such an easy way to increase Valentina’s DHA intake, and she loves the taste. When I pour milk in her cup she immediately squeals and reaches out to grab it.
I also like to include a rainbow of fruits and vegetables throughout the week. If I give Valentina lots of green foods one day like spinach, cucumber slices, and pears, I try to include different colors the next day.
Here’s my lunch snack tray formula:
Protein or fat: We choose one from this list for its staying power. Otherwise Valentina acts hungry soon after a meal.
Examples: Boiled egg, rotisserie chicken, avocado, cannellini beans
Vegetable: I try to serve at least four to five colors of vegetables and fruit a week. If she doesn’t like something the first time I offer it, I don’t give up. Instead, I serve the same food many different ways. For example, Valentina disliked cooked carrots at first. But one day I steamed carrots whole until they were extremely soft and served them to her that way. She loved them and continues to love them.
Examples: Raw sliced cucumber, cooked whole carrots, red pepper strips, tomatoes
Fruit: Fruit has been the easiest thing to get each of my toddlers to eat, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. So when I find myself serving the same few fruits over and over again I go to the market and pick something completely unexpected to try that week, like papaya or kiwi.
Examples: Cooked apple slices, tangerines, watermelon, blueberries, cut grapes
Crunch: I include something crunchy in each lunch just because it’s fun.
Examples: Pretzels, cheese crackers, graham crackers
Creamy: Sometimes I include this, sometimes I don’t. I like to include something creamy so Valentina gets used to different textures. And sometimes I just need one more tasty thing to fill the snack tray.
Examples: Cheese slices, yogurt, sliced avocado
Milk: I serve a sippy cup of milk with each lunch. A cup of milk rounds out Valentina’s lunch nicely, and she loves how it tastes.
Here are a few of Valentina’s favorite lunches:
1. The Orange Lunch Bunch
Buckwheat pancake with almond butter for dipping, cooked whole carrot, tangerines, cheese crackers, and milk.
2. The Circle Park Lunch
Sliced boiled egg, sliced mini cucumber, blueberries, pretzels, and a cup of milk.
3. The Greek Dinner Lunch
Sippy cup of milk, cubed rotisserie chicken, a few sliced olives, sliced rolled American cheese, sliced grape tomatoes, and yellow watermelon wedges
Making Valentina her snack trays are a win-win for us — she gets the nutrition she needs; I get to feel good about the foods she’s eating. Oh, and family meals are peaceful and pleasant when my toddler loves her meal. Make that a win-win-win.
This post is sponsored by Horizon Organic. All thoughts and opinions are my own.