When you're cooking dinner for kids, it's easy to get into a spaghetti and mac and cheese rut. Kids tend to like those foods. And, when they go through bouts of pickiness (for some, those bouts last years), it's easier to cave in than fight.
I combat this nutritional challenge with preparing what I call Pasta Bombs in advance of these fall back meals. Pasta Bombs make any kind of pasta dish an incredibly easy and healthy meal.
I've mentioned that I subscribe to the puree method of cooking for kids - basically hiding the veggies if you've read the cookbooks. It started with my Beaba Babycook and Leighton's very first foods. I made all of her baby food (until mish mashes or pureed snacks came about). And, I've continued to cook, steam and puree food for both kids well into the toddler years.
For single baby food meals, I generally start with sauteed shallots or onions. I make a starch separately. Chop veggies, steam them and blend everything together with milk or chicken stock and cheese. I pour the mixture into silicone cupcake molds (Wilton has starts, hearts, pumpkins etc.), freeze them, and then pop them out into freezer bags labeled with each meal.
I've modified this for what I call "Pasta Bombs" which is basically all the veggies thinned with chicken stock. I leave the dairy and starch to be added at meal time.
For example, let's say we've had a busy day and Ryan and I will be eating late. Our nanny makes spaghetti for the girls at 5pm. She boils the noodles, drains them, adds pasta sauce from a jar, and throws in a frozen pasta bomb. The pasta bomb takes this meal from starch and very few vitamins to an iron rich, vitamin infused and balanced meal. Add parmesan cheese. Done.
For this particular recipe, I used:
1 Butternut Squash
4 Small Organic Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Organic Shelled Peas
2 Large Shallots
2 8oz Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 Cups (or Big Handfuls) Fresh Spinach
1/2 Cup Butter
Organic Better Than Bouillon Mushroom Base
Penzey's Sunny Paris (the greatest spice combination ever created) to Taste
Babycook, food processor or blender
Silicone cupcake molds
Chop and sautee the shallots in butter. I used half a stick at this point, but it doesn't really matter. It all ends up in the same place. Add a teaspoon of the Mushroom Base and a teaspoon of Sunny Paris. When the shallots break down, add spinach. Stir so spinach is covered.
Remove from heat when spinach is fully wilted. Once cooled, blend it in the Babycook, blender or food processor. I use the Babycook and a small, two speed processor until all large chunks are gone.
Mix your veggies purees together to desired taste. I kept everything relatively separate at this point because the shallot mixture is incredibly potent and I wanted to add it gradually. I ended up adding everything together, but an extra cup of peas I had originally used.