So just to get it out there: I can’t cook for shit. I’m hopeless in the kitchen, like can’t even boil pasta. But it’s not because I actually suck at cooking, because I’ve never really tried enough to know if I suck. I just have never had the patience, and when I’m hungry, I’m generally far too impatient to wait to figure out how to cook something and then wait for it to cook. But since James has started eating (and we’ve basically tapped out most of the delivery options in our hood after two years), I’ve decided that I really need to learn to cook. It’s important to me that I feed James healthy, nourishing meals and it’s hard to do that when you’re not cooking the meals and watching the ingredients going into everything. I really want him to like fruits and veggies and I know that I’m going to need to get creative with them to keep him eating them. In the past, I’ve gotten too ambitious, bought all the ingredients for some elaborate meal, gotten exhausted just prepping to make it all and given up before I even started. True story, I’m that lazy about cooking. So I decided that I would start with my favorite meal and the easiest, and master a rotation of easy, healthy breakfast meals. I already know how to cook eggs, I actually like cooking pancakes, and how hard is it too mess up oatmeal, right? I know I can’t be the only one struggling to figure out what to feed my one-year-old, so I thought I’d share my first foray into cooking for my baby and share the recipes I’m adding to my rotation — all of which I can make before I head to work (often with rollers in my head (lol, I know, that’s a whole ‘nother post) or Crest Whitestrips).
I prefer steel cut oatmeal, but you can also make plain instant oats, especially if you’re short on time. I usually make it with water, but then I add some milk to it and a pinch of salt. James has been obsessed with bananas and blueberries, so I’ve been adding those. I also like honey, raisins or dried cranberries, walnuts, peanut butter, or pureed fruit. Warning: This can get messy, but James has been enjoying using a spoon to eat it and because it’s sticky there’s actually still some on the spoon by the time it gets to his mouth. When he’s older and being picky, I feel like oatmeal will be a fun choice he might actually eat if I leave out different toppings and let him choose his own and make it.
Parfaits are typically the kind of thing I buy, but I had some leftover Greek yogurt after making some healthy muffins (more on that later), and I realized what a fool I am for spending $15 on yogurt, fruit and granola. James really likes yogurt, so parfaits are a great way to add in a little fruit. Right now, he’s pretty content with berries and granola, but as he gets older, like the oatmeal, I can add in other fixings (or let him choose his own), and add a sprinkle of cinnamon, some honey, or some granola to give it a little sweetness and crunch.
James has been obsessed with smoothies lately. His nanny has been making him them, and he can’t get enough. We have a lot of frozen fruit in the freezer that we use to make ice pops during teething spells, so she’s been using them or leftover fresh fruit in them. I bought some frozen kale, broccoli, and spinach and asked her to mix in some greens, and he totally hasn’t noticed, so now it’s a great way for him to get some of the green veggies that he hasn’t warmed up to yet. For protein, sometimes we’ll add Greek yogurt or peanut butter, and you can add things like chia seeds. The cool thing is there are a thousand variations you can make — peach, banana, mango, berries, and really any combo of any of them. I’ll whip together a huge batch in the blender (or using our juicer we got for our wedding, but we legit never have used it even though it was the thing I was most excited to register for other than our Nespresso, which broke a few months later and still sits there broken because we sent it back and they sent us a new one and it broke six months later and I’m so pissed about it) so we have a few batches that we can freeze for an easy breakfast or lunch on the go or when he won’t eat any of the ten other breakfasts I’ve made him. Smoothies always work.
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
I love muffins and scones and really any breakfast bread, but as much as I try to fool myself by ordering the Chia muffin or one made with flax or quinoa or vegetables, I know they’re basically sugar-filled cakes. I was actually heartbroken when I found out that my favorite quinoa scones from Le Pain Quotidien (aka LPQ) were nearly 700 calories a pop, double a regular sugar-filled one. I’ve been looking for healthy versions of muffins I can make at home where I actually know what’s in them and can calorie and sugar and butter control, and my best friend turned me on to this delicious recipe from Tasty.They’re made with oats, bananas, eggs, and greek yogurt, plus, some cinnamon, honey, and fruit, so they’re pretty healthy and they actually taste amazing. James enjoys them as much as we do, and it’s sort of like oatmeal on the go. Plus, they are quick to make — it takes us no more than 15 minutes — and James loves helping.
I used to always spend the night at my best friend’s house growing up because Saturday and Sunday mornings, they would make blueberry pancakes from scratch, and there was honestly nothing better. I loved that tradition so much and have tried to recreate it. While we do this most often when upstate, occasionally, I’ll whip up some yummy breakfast at home. Sometimes I’ll use a multigrain, flaxseed or oat bran mix, but I also really love this recipe from The Seasoned Mom that uses mashed bananas instead of flour. They’re delicious and James doesn’t know the difference.
Multigrain French Toast
I actually find French toast easier to make than pancakes, or this version at least. Instead of Challah bread, which admittedly makes the best, more indulgent French toast, I’ll use Ezekial bread or another multigrain bread, dipped in a mix of eggs, splash of milk, cinnamon, and touch of vanilla extract and salt. Then you just toss it on the griddle or in a pan and cook. It’s an easy way to use up bread before it goes bad, and it takes 10 minutes. I’ll toss some fresh fruit on top and make a little bowl of maple syrup for dipping, which James is really into right now. Not only does James like it, but Andrew does as well, which is saying a lot for a man who is allergic to anything that “tastes healthy”.
My sister in law will make pancakes and then freeze them to quickly reheat in the mornings. We don’t have a waffle griddle (although we could easily buy the attachment for our Cuisinart Griddle that we love for making sandwiches), but honestly, I just use the multigrain waffles from Trader Joe’s, which I love and are easy to pop in the toaster. I also love Flax seed ones from Nature’s Path. I’ll toast them and then coat them in peanut butter to make a sandwich that I can cut up for James to grab. Sometimes I’ll even slip in some thin slices of banana in there.
Scrambled Eggs with Cheese and Veggies
Scrambled eggs are hands down the easiest thing to make. All I have to do is whip three egss, a touch of milk, some cheese, and any veggies I have available together and then toss into a frying pan and a few minutes later, I have a delicious breakfast James will eat and I can share with him. When I have time to prep ahead, I’ll make eggs in a muffin tin, bake them, and then freeze the leftovers to heat up in the mornings. This egg muffins recipe is super easy and they’re great to take on the go too. I like to toss in some veggies like broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, or spinach to sneak in some extra veggies into James’ diet, although he often picks them out, I figure I tried and maybe a few bites of veggies snuck in.
Peanut Butter and Fruit Rollups
This one is super easy. I’ll take a multigrain wrap, coat it in almond butter or peanut butter, and then put some fruit on top like raspberries or banana slices, and roll it up. It’s easy for James to eat from his high chair or from the stroller on the way out the door, and I’ll grab one on the way to work too.
This is such an easy way to get in some veggies for breakfast, and makes the toast soft without being as sticky and hard to swallow as peanut butter, so James will actually eat it. I usually just smash some avocado and spread it out on Ezekial bread and then cut off the crust for J. You could also add spices like paprika, pepper and salt, other veggies like tomatoes and onions etc., but James and I both actually prefer the blandness of plain avocado tbh (I’m not big on spices or flavors, weird, I know). But sometimes, I’ll just buy non-spicy guacamole and do that. It’s the same, has some additional veggies, and James enjoys it just as much.
So those are my go-to meals so far and what I can actually make at these early stages of my adventures in cooking. I know it’s only a matter of time before James is over all these, and I’m always looking to expand my skills (within reason), so let me know any of your favorite healthy (EASY!) breakfast recipes. Plus, any dinner or lunch ideas that are toddler friendly — that’ll be next in this series.