The BEST Dinner for a Picky Toddler

If your toddler is as picky as mine, you know it can be really hard to get them to actually eat AND enjoy their dinner. My daughter will eat fruits all day long, but nothing else really makes her just enjoy what she is eating mike fruits do.  Until I found the following recipe: Moroccan Style Lamb & Chickpeas.

As I mentioned in a previous post, our dietitian stressed the importance of zinc and iron in a child’s diet who has as many dietary limitations as my daughter does and she thus recommended adding lamb to her diet.  Well, my daughter does not really like meat… unless it’s bacon, or turkey in broth smothered in Tony Chachares.  So I wanted to try something new with the lamb; something sweet.

This recipe is much different than anything I would normally cook for myself because it is a sweet type of meal, but sweet is what toddlers usually like, right? Not to mention, it’s packed with nutrition. It’s a complete meal (just add a grain, like rice).  And it’s actually really easy to make.

So I tried it. The only differences were that I used:

Avocado oil instead of olive oil to add some extra fat

Sliced grapes instead of raisins (I was out of raisins)

Regular chicken broth instead of fat-free

And I cooked it a little longer at the end so the cilantro would cook down and not be a noticeable texture

Here is how mine looked:

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After I made this dish mostly according to the recipe, I mixed in a little bit of white rice, and served it to my one and a half year old, and sure enough, she LOVED it! She ate this dinner like it was the best dinner she has ever had!  Of course, I was gleaming at this point with utter excitement because this NEVER happens!

So, for those parents whose kids have food allergies–that have as hard a time trying to find good, enjoyable food for your little ones as I do; try this recipe! It’s easy to make, and I hope your child will enjoy it as much as mine did!

 

Thanks for visiting, and if you need more ideas on what to make for that sensitive little one, please check out my recipes and ideas tabs to the right. Thanks!

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Breakfast Ideas

Here are some breakfast ideas for a toddler that cannot have wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, or nuts. This list is based off of experiences with my daughter coupled with recommendations from her dietitian.

One thing to note, per the dietitian: adding in bacon and sausage to a toddler’s are great ways to increase zinc, iron, and fat. Unlike adults, high cholesterol from red meat is no cause for concern for children (if it is at all.. that is all being re-thought according to her. Who knows on that front.). All the fat and cholesterol children eat goes to their brain development; so do not be afraid to add lots of red meat to your little one’s limited diet. We were advised to do that–to “pull out all the stops” as the dietitian put it.

I am always experimenting and changing things up, meaning I will continue to add to this list, so don’t forget to check back later.

Compliment these breakfast ideas with a cup of 1/2 rice milk, 1/2 hemp milk (has more calories than just rice milk), 1 cup of enriched rice milk, or a cup of enriched orange juice.

 

BREAKFAST 1:

1 large Pancake (here is an example recipe)

4 small slices of uncured, allergy friendly bacon (Natural Choice is what we use),

A few small apple slices and some grapes

 

BREAKFAST 2:

Homemade hash browns (peel and grate a red potato, soak in ice water and a little salt for about 5 minutes, drain, dry off with paper towels, sprinkle with salt & pepper and fry in avocado or canola oil until crispy)

1-2 links of pork sausage (check the ingredients to make sure it is GF, DF, etc. We use Walmart’s Great Value pork links. See pictures here)

A few slices of pear & some blueberries

 

BREAKFAST 3:

1 Grape Muffin (or more, but at least one)

1 big piece of turkey sausage (again, Walmart has an allergy friendly one, see picture here)

1/2 banana & some pieces of avocado

 

BREAKFAST 4:

1 thick slice zucchini bread topped with this mixture: 1/4 a banana, about 1/4 a small avocado, a couple tablespoons or so of cooked pumpkin. Mash them all together and spread on the zucchini bread & drop your child’s favorite fruit on top (my daughter loves blueberries)

1 large piece of turkey sausage

 

BREAKFAST 5:

1 Savory Veggie Waffle (I do Belgian waffles, so 1 is plenty, but more is okay too. My daughter sometimes eats 1 & 1/2 to 2 of them)

3 slices of bacon (you could even break it up and serve on top of the waffle)

A few orange slices & some papaya

 

BREAKFAST 6:

1 Chocolate chip muffin broken into pieces, topped with applesauce, strawberry slices, and orange slices

2 pork sausage links

 

BREAKFAST 7:

1 Cinnamon waffle topped with honey syrup (1 tablespoon honey, 4 frozen blueberries, 1 slice of frozen peach: microwave in a small bowl for 3- seconds, mix, slice fruits into small pieces)

4 slices of bacon, dipped in honey syrup

Fresh sliced peach & some grapes

 

These are examples of breakfasts that I feed my daughter fairly regularly. Obviously, balance out their snacks with what breakfast you feed them. For example: give a chickpea cake slice for snack with Breakfast 3, fruits and grains with Breakfast 5 (the waffles are half veggie), etc. And get creative!

The MOST IMPORTANT tip I can give you is FREEZE the food you make! Muffins, zucchini bread, waffles, bacon.. I freeze everything and just take out one serving at a time and microwave or cook it. That way I have plenty of food options that I don’t have to worry about going bad if we don’t eat them fast enough.

I hope this list is helpful! If it is, please let me know about it, and please check out my other Food Ideas on the menu to your right, and my recipes!  For more food ideas or nutritional guidelines, check out my resources tab or Recommended Resources. Thanks for visiting!

Recommended Resources

I do not have many resources to offer, since I had a hard time finding any information myself (which is why I created this blog), but here is a great resource to add to your library for help with food allergies.  It was recommended by our dietitian.

This website (www.CHOC.org/eoe) is for kids that are on a 6 food elimination diet for a completely different diagnosis than my daughter’s (not the same as a developmental allergy diet), but the nutrition guidelines and food ideas are fantastic!

Here is a sample nutrition guideline for a 1200 calorie diet that is SUPER helpful: Sample Nutrition Guideline, 1200 calorie diet

And another nutritional guideline for children 1-3: Nutritional Guideline Ages 1-3

Information on wheat-free grains and carbs: Wheat-free Alternatives

(Above are the sheets my daughter’s dietitian recommended specifically from the CHOC’s website–to roughly follow)

 

Also, if your child is having issues like mine (see Leaky Gut? Food Allergies? Why Does my Baby (and Toddler) KEEP Having Diarrhea?? for more info), please see your local pediatric GI doctor!  Ours has been a great resource, and the dietitian we have worked with is in his office, so again, a great resource!

When I find more resources, I will add them to this list. Thanks!

Fall Apart Zucchini Bread (GF, DF, EG, NF, SF)

I made this with a little buckwheat, and if you are familiar with the stuff, you know that it has somewhat of a strong flavor. My daughter loves this bread and adding buckwheat is a great way to get more nutritious grains in your little one’s diet along with the protein from the garbanzo flour mix.

BUT, if your child does not like that type of “nutty” flavor, you can just use the gluten free flour mix. For extra grains, you can also try adding amaranth flour. I have not been able to find this in our grocery stores yet (these are recommendations from my daughter’s dietitian).

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups GF all-purpose flour (I use a garbanzo, tapioca, sorghum, fava bean mix)

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 TBS cinnamon

1/2 tsp Allspice

3/4 cup avocado oil

3/4 cup honey

1 whole banana (mashed)

1/4 cup ripe avocado

1 TBS vanilla extract

2 cups peeled, grated zucchini

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the first 7 (dry) ingredients together in a large bowl (I used a handheld mixer, which I use for the whole recipe).

In a small bowl, mash the banana, add in the avocado and mash both together. It’ll look something like this:

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Then, in a separate bowl (or just do this whole step in a larger bowl and save on the dishes), add the banana avocado mixture, honey, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a handheld mixer until smooth.

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My betta, Edna is my kitchen buddy. She watches everything I do. 🙂

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Now, add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and beat together for a good minute or so, until it is well blended and smooth. Gluten-free flour mixtures need more mixing than wheat flour, or they just will not turn out fluffy and moist.

Add in the zucchini and mix until blended. Now let the batter set for at least half an hour before baking. Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Grease a loaf pan (9 x 5 or 8 x 4) with canola oil, then pour the mixture into the pan.

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Bake for about 40-45 minutes. I baked mine for 42 minutes and it came out perfect, but ovens vary, so just watch for the crust to be nice and brown (the toothpick test does not work for gluten free baking… the inside will be a little wet until it sets out for a few minutes).

Let the loaf sit in the pan for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a cookie sheet or cutting board to let cool.

(I forgot to snap a picture before I began slicing and then froze this loaf, so here it is after storing! What can I say? I’m a busy mom!)

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To store: I wrap the whole loaf in freezer paper, put it into a ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. When I give some to my daughter, I simply pull it out, cut off a slice with a serrated knife, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave it for about 30 seconds.

If you enjoy this recipe, please leave me some feedback; I’d love to hear about it! Thanks!

Leaky Gut? Food Allergies? Why Does my Baby (and Toddler) KEEP Having Diarrhea??

Is your baby having bloody streaks (or full on blood) in their diapers? Is your toddler having constant bouts of diarrhea with chunks of undigested food and mucous? Gross, yeah I know. This article is about poop.  So if you have a weak stomach, it may not be for you. But my husband and I had QUITE the experience with our little girl and I wanted to share our experience so it may be helpful for others going through similar situations. We did find some answers, and my hope is that this will give others some answers, or at least somewhere to start!

Intestinal Issues from Birth 

When my daughter was a newborn she lost A LOT of weight in the hospital. So much so that they had us give her the breast milk bank (or whatever it’s called) milk almost as often as I nursed her.  This helped her gain enough weight to leave the hospital, but she was still far below her birth weight, she was not sleeping well, and she was ALWAYS fussy (colicky they called it).  Then came the bloody streaks in her stools. I don’t know about you, but being a new mom–I FREAKED out when I saw blood! I was so afraid something was wrong with our little girl, so I brought her in right away and talked to the doctor.

The doctor recommended that I stay away from dairy because the dairy protein is not easily digested by some babies. So I tried that for a couple weeks. During those couple of weeks, there were still bloody streaks in her stools (which were green–also a sign of diarrhea), but they told me to wait at least two weeks to allow the dairy to get out of my system.

Well, after the 2 weeks were over, my daughter had more blood than usual in one of her diapers over a weekend, so we took her to the ER. Once again, the doctor’s said it was probably the dairy, but they said to cut out all soy also because the soy protein can be just as hard on a baby as dairy.  They also gave us some formula that had broken down dairy proteins because she was still under her birth weight.

We tried the formula that night when we got home. After a couple hours, I changed my daughter’s diaper and there was so much blood that it was basically half blood, and half poop. An hour later she had another bowel movement that was mostly blood. Once again, I FREAKED out. Back to the ER…

This ER doctor said that she must be so sensitive that even this special formula is bothering her stomach, so stop using the formula and just continue not eating soy or dairy. She said it probably just needed more time to get out of my system and that I was probably eating dairy without realizing (SO frustrating when you KNOW you are being way too careful for that to happen!!).  So we stopped giving her the formula, and saw her doctor the next week. He agreed that it may be the dairy and soy, but referred us to Pediatric Gastroenterology anyway.

Anwsers from GI

After a few weeks of waiting for an appointment (and a few more weeks of diapers with bloody streaks, no matter what I tried), we finally got in to Pediatric GI, and boy were they helpful!

The GI doctor finally explained to me what the issue was and why: Basically, my daughter’s intestines were not developed enough to digest the 5 major proteins (wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts). The cells had not formed close enough together yet, so the proteins were making their way through, causing inflammation. He called it “Allergic Colitis.” Now, I may have butchered that explanation a little bit (I’m no doctor), but you get the idea.  He also said that I should keep those things out of my diet until she is at least 8 months old, and then try adding in one thing at a time. But he believed by age 1, she should be able to even eat all of these things on her own.

So, my instructions were to stop eating wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts as long as I am nursing her and to give her a non dairy formula (we used Puramino with great results). Yep, you heard that right, no soy, wheat, eggs, dairy OR nuts! I had NO idea what I would eat, but a mother will do anything for their children, so I managed to do so.

After a couple weeks, she was a COMPLETELY different baby. She finally got some sleep, her diapers were normal, and she gained a POUND a week! Finally, at 2 months old, she made it over her birth weight! She was smiling and happy; it was just like night and day. Clearly what he said was spot on and did the trick! We were so happy and so thankful! I continued on this diet until 8 months, when I was able to add in all of those proteins with no problems.

Then Comes the Confusing Toddler Feeding

I waited until my daughter was a year old before trying to give her any of the foods listed, that caused her allergic colitis as a baby. Once that time rolled around, I started experimenting with many foods. She had diarrhea without fail with dairy, and off and on with everything else. I switched and tried different things, and finally thought I found what works for her. No major proteins, except wheat.

Except for the occasional bouts of diarrhea and constipation, she mostly seemed to be doing pretty good. And then one day she had a few episodes of diarrhea and then it just never stopped. For three weeks, she would go from 3-5 times a day (mostly 5). Her stools had mucous and chunks of undigested food, some were soft, some were runny; but literally, what she ate, was coming right back out again.

I tried putting her on a bland diet, and finally I decided I would try to take wheat out of her diet just in case while I was waiting to see her doctor. Sure enough, the diarrhea slowed down and then stopped. I told her doctor about it and he said he believed it was “Leaky gut.” Most doctors (especially GI doctors) will not use that term because of all the modern-day connotations attached to it, but he explained it the same way as Pediatric GI. Basically, her intestines still had not developed enough to digest those proteins yet, but he wanted her to see the GI doctor again to be sure.

So, back to GI we went. And sure enough, he had the same explanation. Only this time he said this may last for quite some time. Apparently children who have as severe of a reaction as my daughter sometimes need to be on a limited diet all the way up to age FIVE. Yep, THAT long without eating normal food!

Hopefully that does not end up being the case for her, but in the meantime, we have had some very helpful advice from our dietitian who works with Pediatric GI, and I have had to do A LOT of experimental cooking to find foods that my daughter actually likes.

If your child is having these problems, PLEASE ask your doctor about allergic colitis or leaky gut, whatever you want to call it! A simple diet change may help!  And if you need tips or recipes, please check out my recipes or lunch Ideas) that’s why I created this blog, and I am always adding more to it!

Let me know if this information is helpful for you! I want to hear from other parents who have similar experiences! Thanks!

 

 

Lunch Ideas

Here are a few of my daughter’s favorite lunch combos that work great for a picky toddler with a sensitive tummy:

(Check out my post Food You Can Buy (GF, EF, NF, DF, SF) for pictures of some of the things listed here that I buy.)

 

LUNCH 1:

1/2 large link of Aidell’s chicken & apple sausage (or at least 4 mini links)

1 small slice of zucchini bread w/ pumpkin (cooked & mashed), mashed banana, and avocado mixed together and spread on top

A few peeled cucumber slices

 

LUNCH 2:

2 slices of Lunch meat broken in pieces

1-2 southwest hash brown patties (or kale tater tots)

Zucchini and cherry tomato slices mixed with avocado & Daiya ranch dressing

 

LUNCH 3:

Zucchini slices topped w/  homemade hummus (I use cooked chickpeas, sweet peas, and navy beans blended with canola oil, garlic, and herbs)

Turkey meat in broth (my daughter LOVES pieces of turkey in the broth with some Tony Chacheres seasoning. I just cook a turkey breast in the crock pot and then give her small pieces in a bowl with the broth and Tony’s)

1/2 slice homemade GF, SF, EF, DF, NF bread (recipe to come) spread with olive oil, sprinkled w/ Italian seasoning and garlic powder, toasted

 

LUNCH 4:

Turkey wrap

About a handful of quinoa and plantain chips mixed

A couple tablespoons or so of sliced green or black olives

 

LUNCH 5:

Fried burrito (My daughter’s favorite: heat a corn tortilla in a hot skillet for 30 seconds each side until it becomes soft, top with allergy friendly refried beans, avocado, chopped spinach, Daiya ranch dressing, fold like a burrito and fry in avocado oil on each side until crispy and browned)

Olive slices

honey roasted carrots

 

LUNCH 6:

Elk meatballs

Raw broccoli (my daughter loves it raw)

Cucumbers

Sweet potato chips

Crispy potatoes (peeled, chopped red potato tossed in avocado oil with salt and pepper, and baked until crispy)

 

Lunches are hard for me, because I’m always in a hurry, so some of these are thrown together things that my daughter just happened to really like! But these examples are basically the type of lunches that we do. My daughter’s favorite, by far, is the fried wraps. It doesn’t matter what I put in them, she loves them (especially dipped in her ranch 🙂

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For more information on nutritional guidelines, or more ideas, please see the “Resources” tab to the right of this page.  For recipes please check out my recipes page, and keep checking back! I am always adding more.

If this information is helpful for you, please like, share and comment. Thanks for visiting!