Hello! For a change of pace this week we are sharing a tasty and nutritious favorite from Lindsay’s kitchen:
Now, those of you who are longtime podcast listeners might know that I claim to be a great food lover. I strongly endorse organic, local and whole foods. I love to cook everything from classically simple to extremely complex foods. I am personally a very adventurous eater…yet I resort to sneaking vegetables into my kids’ mouths.
The reason for the trickery is, having a child with sensory challenges has forced me to find ways to punch up the nutrition in the foods my picky eater does like. I have tried and will continue to try to instill in my children a love of all shapes, colors, sizes, styles and flavors of foods. However, for one of my children trying a new food is frightful, anxiety-provoking and can be the source of great frustration for all of us. For her, eating certain textures of food causes gagging, choking and sometimes vomiting – and many of the foods she is most averse to are nutritiously-valuable vegetables and meat proteins. The process of working on her food acceptance by continuously offering healthful and varied options is a slow one. I have to accept that there may never be a day when she will happily sit down to eat whatever is placed in front of her. So, while one hand is mixing up the cheesy sauce she so loves on her macaroni, the other is slipping in some pea and edamame puree.
This oatmeal recipe is a family favorite. My kids love the taste of this oatmeal and I love that it is healthful and can be a quick warm breakfast (or lunch or snack!) because I have small portions frozen and ready to heat up in seconds. As I’ve mentioned on the show before, I have made baby food for both of my kids using the simple and instructive So Easy Baby Food Cookbook. I started off using their apple puree recipe with oatmeal but added raisins for more flavor. I also played with different fruit and spice options over the years and found some hits and misses. I recently started incorporating recipes and ideas from Deceptively Delicious, which gives recipes for incorporating hidden veggies into foods like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and even brownies and cookies. It was from this cookbook that I got the idea to add sweet potatoes my kids’ favorite apple and raisin blend. I made a batch recently and it was a hit! So, I’m sharing this yummy hybrid recipe with you.
Fruit & Veggie Oatmeal
2 cups (dry) Old Fashioned Oats, cooked with water and salt according to package directions
1 tsp vanilla
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 – 1 cup water
1/2 medium sweet potato, baked
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
Medium saucepan with tight-fitting lid
Spatula or wooden spoon
Blender or Magic Bullet
Ice Cube trays or baby food trays
Zip top bags
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean the sweet potato and prick it with a fork in a few places to allow steam to escape. Bake in the center of the oven on a baking sheet until tender, about 50 minutes. When finished, allow to cool and scoop out into a blender. Add water (start with ¼ cup) and puree. If blades are not blending, add small amounts of water until blender is able to work, creating a non-lumpy thick puree about the consistency of mashed potatoes.
The recipe only requires ½ medium sized sweet potato, or about ½ cup puree. You can cut the cooked potato in half and puree only half, or divide the whole finished puree into 2 parts and freeze the unused portion (or mix into mac & cheese!).
Alternative method is to peel and cut the potato into small pieces, which can then be steamed. I prefer the oven method since it can be cooked alongside any other foods in the oven. You can also mash the sweet potatoes and water with a potato masher, though it is a bit harder to remove all of the lumps.
To make the fruit puree, place the diced apples, raisins, cinnamon and water in a medium saucepan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Water should cover the bottom of the pan and rise about ½ -1 inch. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the apples are soft, about 6-8 minutes. To avoid burning the fruit, make sure there is always liquid covering the bottom of the saucepan. Allow apples to cool slightly, then place all ingredients in blender. If necessary to blend, add small amounts of water until a puree the consistency of applesauce forms.
While the apples are cooking, cook the oatmeal according to source directions in the large pot. When finished cooking, add the vanilla and gently stir in both fruit and sweet potato puree until a consistent mixture is formed.
Serve some immediately and freeze the remainder using ice cube trays covered with plastic wrap or baby food trays. After labeling, store in zip-top bags or freezer-safe airtight containers in freezer.
Heat and serve 2-4 frozen cubes for a toddler portion. Enjoy!
If you have ever considered making your own baby food – stop thinking about it and steam some food, blend it and serve. It really is that simple. My kids are almost 2 and 4 and I still make purees to use as mix-ins for many meals. This is also a great way to use up extra produce, especially in summer growing season. Freezing in the ice cube tray portions allows you to later use only what you need. My favorite use of the fruit and veggie cubes are to blend them into smoothies, eliminating the need for ice while adding nutrition. If you’re worried about your kids noticing the taste of veggies in their smoothies, use blueberries or blueberry juice which will mask almost anything.
- Use dried blueberries or cranberries instead of raisins in fruit puree.
- Add wheat germ to oatmeal when cooking for more protein and fiber.
- When serving, add ¼ cup yogurt (we use Yo-Baby cups) to the oatmeal for more nutrition and flavor – this is also a way to introduce this hearty oatmeal to a young child who likes yogurt.
- For a little more sweetness, add 2 Tbs of brown sugar or maple syrup to the apples when they are almost finished cooking.
- Pumpkin puree can be used in place of sweet potatoes for a autumn variation.