Thank you guys for all of the wonderful feedback on my previous baby feeding posts! If you’re looking for them, this post is on Introducing Solids + Useful Tools (plus my thoughts on baby led weaning vs purees), and this subsequent post is Baby & Toddler Food Ideas, Part 1 along with a few more tools. Today I am rounding up a few more nutritious meal or snack ideas that Nori has been loving, including her favorite warm weather treat!
Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair: Quick Buying Guide
I also wanted to quickly touch on this high chair based on questions I’ve gotten, since all the add-ons and attachments can be confusing! I had bought Nori’s chair 2 years ago as three separate pieces at full price, because there wasn’t a white bundle at the time:
- Chair ($199). The wooden chair itself with adjustable seat and foot rest height. Older toddlers or kids can use the chair as-is, without any other attachments.
- Baby set ($79). The curved plastic seat with harness straps, for babies 6m – 3 years. Tip: for easy in & out, hook straps around the back of the seat, as pictured above, then stand behind the chair to slide your little one in.
- Baby tray ($49). Some families don’t need a tray as they pull the chair directly up to a table.
As mentioned before, in hindsight I wish I got a cushion ($49) too so that Nori could’ve started using this more comfortably earlier ~ 6 months. Here’s examples of a few bundle options, depending on which attachments you need:
- Chair, baby set, tray, cushion in colors like a gorgeous grey for $349 (savings of $30)
- Chair, baby set, tray on Amazon for $318 (cushion for sale separately here)
- Chair, baby set at Buy, Buy Baby and Target in white for $269 (small savings of $10)
Dairy-Free Substitution Ideas
Most of the dishes below are very flexible and can be made with dairy milk or cheese, or a non-dairy alternative. Nori has several allergies, so here are some of our favorite dairy-free, nut-free alternatives to use in recipes (I found these at Wholefoods):
- Violife cheese shreds. Great in melty dishes like pizza, pasta. Tastes better than several other vegan cheese brands I’ve tried!
- SoDelicious coconut-based yogurt avail. in unsweetened vanilla or unsweetened plain. Good sub for regular yogurt, sour cream, dairy based dips. We always look for unsweetened plain as there is a regular plain with loads of added sugar! We also do buy the sweetened fruit versions and just mix it with unsweetened for Nori.
- Chao cheese slices – tofu based. This brand came highly recommended by you guys!
Mealtime plates, covers & utensils
I also wanted to mention this bowl w/ cover set and these silicone stretch lids that I got for our existing plates and love! The covers are designed for this divided suction plate (one of the few that fit perfectly on our Tripp Trapp tray) and makes it easy for us to prep Nori’s meal directly on the plate in advance and refrigerate it for later. After washing her silicone dish ware, I leave them out on our windowsill or patio under direct sunlight to get rid of any food stains or odors! This trick also works wonders on high chair trays for colorful stains like tomato sauce!
PS – you can find more of our other mealtime tools on my Amazon page saved under the “Baby Feeding” category.
9 Nutritious Baby / Toddler Meal Ideas
1. Healthy Breakfast Popsicles!
Using mini popsicle molds is an easy way to make breakfast (or snack time) more fun, especially on a hot day! These molds are great with curved handles for little hands, and a drip tray that also keeps the popsicle from falling flat even when they put it down.
You’ll have to watch my Instagram video to see just how excited Nori gets for these! Served below with oatmeal (made with a lil’ 365 brand oat milk instead of dairy milk and chia seeds).
The easiest version is to just use your little one’s favorite yogurt, but it’s also a great way to get them to try new or less sweet flavors. Some other ideas we’ve tried frozen as popsicles:
- Mix unsweetened yogurt with a little sweetened yogurt or a leftover fruit puree pouch
- Mix unsweetened yogurt with pieces of soft fruits like berries + a little maple syrup
- Blend green smoothies (we like baby spinach, bananas, oat milk) for colorful pop
- Blend bananas with avocado and touch of coconut milk
- Plain frozen breastmilk is also great for younger/teething babies!
A tip with these Nuby brand molds – after the popsicles are frozen, I prepare a bowl of hot water and dip the popsicle tray almost fully inside for maybe 20 seconds. This will help loosen them up for easy removal, then I store in a baggie or container in the freezer!
2. No Sugar Added Banana Muffins
I shared the recipe for these super easy, 1 bowl banana muffins for adults in this post, but I’ve been omitting the sugar when using large, very ripe bananas and they still taste good! Sometimes I do add allergen-free chocolate chips (dangerous because then I end up eating half the batch). These have become our go-to for Nori’s egg / allergy challenge baked goods since they’re also easy to enjoy on the go – she devours them!
Banana chocolate chip muffins served with plain dairy-free yogurt, chia seeds & peach (I mix this into the yogurt).
3. Pizza with Hidden Greens
We’ve been making pizza a lot at home lately, using our favorite “artisanal pizza dough” from Wholefoods’ fridge section or Trader Joe’s refrigerated dough when in a pinch. We always just cut a little hunk of dough off to make Nori her own personal sized dairy-free one, plus little ones can help add their own toppings!
A few tips we’ve found that help make pizza healthier but still toddler-pleasing:
- Dough: Roll or stretch the dough thinner so it’s easier for little ones to chew. Bake at a lower temperature than the dough package instructions to help the crust stay softer. We do around 350 for a little longer than the time on the instructions.
- Sauce: We use no salt added marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s.
- Veggies: We like to chop up baby spinach and mix it into the sauce.
- Toppings: To help toppings stay on better for little hands, put toppings UNDER the shredded cheese.
- Serving: Cut into whatever size pieces your child is comfortable with – some examples below.
4. Simplified Mapo Tofu Bowl
A one-bowl meal with protein & veggies that makes for super easy leftovers the next day. We love making Chinese mapo-style tofu, and just take out a portion for Nori before adding more seasoning and spice, although she’s been very into trying our spicy version lately!
You can easily make this vegetarian with diced squash or mushrooms, but we start but sautéing ground turkey with garlic and Chinese black bean paste (the traditional seasoning for mapo tofu – we get this at Asian grocery stores) and adding a little broth. In a pinch for Nori, I’ve also just used a dash of soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic powder.
Stir in peas and a box of soft tofu at the end (I much prefer soft tofu to firm!) and serve over rice with extra cooking liquid from the dish to help soften up her rice.
5. “Cheesy” Tex Mex Pasta
Basically a quick chili mac! We made this to introduce Nori to some new flavors like the spices in this dish.
Saute black beans (we buy the 365 brand no salt added black beans in a box) with a little tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, or whatever Tex Mex spice blend you have on-hand. Toss in cooked pasta, and shredded cheese.
Served here with mashed avocado (as a “guac”) and boiled corn.
6. Coconut Shrimp Salad
We always have a bag of frozen shrimp in our freezer, as it defrosts (in a bowl of room temperature water) and cooks super fast for those days when meal time sneaks up on you. Shrimp is also one of Nori’s all time favorite foods!
To make this egg-free shrimp salad (since traditional mayo typically contains eggs), we stir together gently boiled shrimp with coconut milk, lemon juice and a little bit of cumin (optional). I slice the shrimp in half or chop up small to make them easier for her to eat, and serve alone or with some veggies like cooked carrots pictured below.
We also like introducing colorful foods to her, so served here with mashed purple sweet potatoes!
7. Tender & Juicy Oven Baked Chicken
Our whole family loves this, so I often make it during Sunday meal prep for the week! I love it for myself in pesto or caesar wraps and salads. Nori’s is served here with frozen corn, coconut “creamed” spinach and rice softened with broth.
Tender & juicy baked chicken breasts:
- Line a baking dish with a generous sheet of foil or parchment paper, big enough to wrap around and cover the chicken in a “pouch.”
- Drizzle whole, large chicken breasts with olive oil (or butter) and lemon juice
- Season both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder or seasoning of your choice
- Cover with the foil or parchment paper and pinch it shut (the chicken will steam-bake inside to stay tender)
- Bake at 400 degrees until done, approx. 20-25 mins for 2 large chicken breasts. Use a food thermometer to cook safely and avoid overbaking.
- Always save the baking juices for serving!
When boiling corn in a pot, I also blanche baby spinach leaves for 2 minutes in the same pot, then chop them small with food scissors.
For the rice, Nori didn’t used to love regular rice, so I soften the regular white rice I cook for myself using some chicken broth. Here I just used some chicken juices from the baking pan (I never discard those liquids… great for adding flavor and for keeping the chicken moist when serving) and a little coconut milk from the spinach. These additions made the rice quite tasty, for adults as well!
8. Deconstructed Tacos
Toddlers will inevitably dismantle a taco themselves, so I figured save her the trouble and just serve it already deconstructed 🙂 This is an easy way to use leftover baked chicken and beans from the meal ideas listed above (again, for beans we like the boxed 365 no salt added brand from Whole Foods)!
9. Sardine & Avocado Toast
I know some people turn their nose up at sardines, but I wanted to expose Nori to this very nutritional food early on! We like Wild Planet brand sardines at Wholefoods (no salt added, canned in water) with Dave’s Killer Bread thinly sliced. Can also use leftover baked chicken in place of the sardines, or roll these up for more fun pinwheels per idea # 2 here!
Just a few benefits of sardines:
- High in Omega-3 fatty acids while low in mercury, esp compared to the more ubiquitous tuna
- Source of vitamins B-12, D, protein. & calcium (also great for those who are dairy-free)
Served here chopped small with food scissors and mixed with avocado, spread on toast.
I hope this post was helpful! Let me know what you’d like to see more of!