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About cookingfortots

Thank you for visiting Cooking for Tots! My name is Samina and I’m Registered Dietitian and mother of two. I use my love for cooking and nutrition expertise to create fun, healthy and delicious dishes for my family and I’m here to share it all with you!

Baked Garlic Shrimp Served with Pasta in Low-Fat Alfredo Sauce and Broccoli

Do you ever have those days when you get the kids fed, dressed and off to school (for me, that’s just my older son right now) ON TIME, then during school hours, buy the groceries (OK I use @instacart but it’s one of the best things technology has offered me aside from the iPhone so yes I use quite often and love it), do laundry and even manage to fit in a little ME time….then to pick up the little one(s), provide a healthy after school snack, play with them for a bit/read books/homework AND then manage to cook up a quick and healthy dinner THEN get the kids cleaned up, read a story and in bed at a reasonable time?  Oh and forgot to mention, with husband working late so no extra hands.  When I made this dinner, that was one of those days and it felt GOOD!  I felt a great sense of supermom accomplishment but it’s definitely not always that way and over time I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself when I just can’t do it all.  After being sick this week, then taking care of two sick children back to back, I’ve had to let a lot slide…..and our days still went on and whatever had to get done, got done eventually.  I even took a much needed break from social media.  I guess sometimes things do happen for a reason and I think in this case, something was telling me to SLOW DOWN and breathe…and I listened and that also felt GOOD!  Do you ever have those moments where you’re forced to slow down and relax? How do you manage it with kids when you’re ill?

Now about this dish, I’ll be giving you two recipe here and they are in rotation with a handful of other easy, healthy recipes that I make for my family.  I promise you will love this easy alfredo sauce and these perfect shrimp—such a good combo!  Broccoli really rounds out this dish too and taste great in the alfredo sauce.  I usually use a gluten-free pasta like brown rice or chickpea but if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, feel free to use whole wheat breadcrumbs for the shrimp and whoIe grain pasta instead.  I can’t wait to hear what you think!

BAKED GARLIC SHRIMP

Ingredients 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange the shrimp in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  
  3. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and parsley over the shrimp and artichoke hearts; sprinkle lemon juice over the crumbs.
  4. Heat unsalted butter with garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; drizzle over the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the crumbs and cheese brown lightly and the shrimp turn opaque and orange-pink in color, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot.

EASY LOW-FAT ALFREDO SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour (or use regular all purpose flour if no allergy/intolerance to gluten)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese + extra for optional topping
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute.
  2. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon,1 minute.
  3. Whisk in the milk and dash of salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the Neufchatel and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the chopped parsley.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen.
  7. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with parmesan (optional) and black pepper (optional).

Farro Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Have you ever cooked with farro?  Since I’ve been working on an article about ancient grains, I’ve been intrigued to make a dish with it.  This Italian born grain dates back to ancient Rome and is super versatile, easy to make and truly delicious! Farro is rich in minerals like iron and magnesium and contains about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per one cup cooked. While farro is not gluten-free, it’s said to contain less gluten than modern day wheat and may be more tolerable for anyone sensitive to gluten.  Chop the veggies in advance and you’ll have this dish on the table in no time!

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Dressing:

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  3. Add the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.

Austin’s Favorite Banana Bread

Aside from my family, it’s the little things in life that make me happy.  Like a new kitchen gadget, cooking tool or creating an amazing recipe with an ingredients I’ve never used before (on the first try too which rarely happens!)  You’re looking at one of my 2 year old’s (and my own) favorite things to eat- BANANA BREAD.  But this is no ordinary banana bread.  It contains ground flaxseed for a boost of healthy fat and fiber, is free of refined sugar (I only used 2 tablespoons of 100% pure maple syrup for the entire loaf which you can leave out if you have super ripe bananas) AND it’s my first recipe using SPELT FLOUR.  Have you heard of spelt?  If not, here are the details in a nutshell.  Spelt is an ancient relative of durum wheat that has never been hybridized, which basically means that it retains many of its original characteristics like complex flavor and whole grain nutrition.  Also, because of its high water solubility, its vital nutrients are quickly absorbed into the body.  It’s important to note that spelt is not gluten-free however, people with wheat intolerances can usually tolerate spelt due to that fact that it’s easily digested compared to other forms of wheat.  High in fiber and a good source of iron, spelt makes a great substitute for most recipes that call for wheat and because I struggle with digestive issues (and still can’t believe its taken me so long to bake with spelt) it will definitely be a new staple in my home!

Whether you’ve used spelt before or intrigued to try it, let me know in the comments below.  and I hope you get a chance to try it with my recipe- I promise you will love it and will not miss the huge dose of unnecessary sugar that many bananas breads have!  While Austin enjoys it plain, I love it drizzled with almond butter as shown here…truly beyond delicious!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

1/4 cup finely ground flaxseed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (depending on how cinnamon-y you like it)

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ripe bananas, mashed well

2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup*

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, whisked

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that some of it sticks out on the sides like handles.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine spelt flour, cinnamon, flaxseed, baking soda, and salt and whisk until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine mashed bananas, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and applesauce.  Whisk well and add to dry ingredients.
  4. Whisk batter just until wet ingredients are well incorporated into the dry, but do not overmix.
  5. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 55-65, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into center of loaf.  Lift the loaf out of the loaf pan using the parchment paper sticking out from the sides and let it cool completely on a cutting board or cooling rack before cutting.  Enjoy!

*if using super ripe sweet bananas,you can omit the maple syrup if you choose.

Banana-Berry Carrot Oat Muffins (Blender recipe)

Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake with my kids. 👩🏻‍🍳 👦🏻👦🏻Once you have a basic muffin recipe, it’s totally customizable to include many colorful fruits and veggies which also add natural sweetness without adding sugar 🍏🍐🍑🍌🥕🍠. When Austin and I made these muffins, I used my banana oat muffin recipe and added in finely shredded carrots and blueberries. The result was pure deliciousness! I used full fat greek yogurt to replace milk, which made them SO MOIST!! As with dairy in general, greek yogurt has naturally occurring sugars which also enhance the flavor as well.   Another way I add flavor to muffins without adding sugar is with vanilla extract-I’ll usually add in 1 to 1.5 teaspoons to a basic muffin recipe.

Bonus: they are made in a blender!  making for super easy clean-up!  Another way I save on the clean-up is by using muffin liners.  My absolute favorite is by  “If You Care”- the price is great and they never stick to muffins!! Even those that have no oil or butter like these beauties 🙂 I hope you enjoy this recipe which is totally gluten-free!

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free oat flour (about 2 1/2 cups rolled oats that are finely ground to a flour-like consistency).

2 small ripe bananas

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

1/2 cup finely shredded carrots

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. Line a muffin tin with liners and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender except for the blueberries and carrots.
  3. Blend until well the dry ingredients are mixed completely with the wet ingredients, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Fold in carrots.
  5. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each no more than three-quarters of the way to the top. Sprinkle some blueberries on each muffin and mix into the batter with a small spoon.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Note: they will deflate a bit but still taste delicious!!!

Vanilla Banana Chia Pudding

Cha-cha-cha-chia! Sorry I just had to say it.  Every time I see the word chia, I can’t help but remember those chia pets from the 80’s (please don’t tell me I’m alone here).   Chia seeds have gained a ton of hype over the past few years and for good reason.  They may be tiny, but chia seeds pack a major nutritional punch as they are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients such as fiber, calcium and phosphorous which promotes bone health. They contain a higher amount of omega-3s per ounce than salmon and more calcium by weight than milk! They can also absorb many times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel (that makes for a perfect pudding consistency), which can help you feel fuller longer and more hydrated.

Always speak with your child’s pediatrician first, but generally speaking chia seeds are a great for toddlers (while I wouldn’t recommend it for infants as it may pose digestive issues).  In fact, when my now 5 year old was 2, I would mix chia seeds into his yogurt which I found really helped with constipation and digestion.  I still use them in recipes like energy balls, smoothies and this delicious make-ahead VANILLA BANANA CHIA PUDDING.  This recipe will take you less than 5 minutes to prepare is one of my go-to breakfasts when I’m in the morning rush with getting my littles to school.  It’s filling, satisfying and really SO SO GOOD!  Here are the details:

ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla non-dairy milk (I use Ripple foods nutritious pea milk or almond milk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (or use 1/4 teaspoon if using plain unsweetened non-dairy milk)
  • 1/4 cup sliced banana + more for topping
  • optional toppings: 2 tablespoons strawberries or other fruit, 1 tablespoon chopped nuts or a drizzle of nut butter

 

directions:

Combine all ingredients in a glass container with a tight fitting lid in this order: milk, vanilla, 1/4 cup sliced banana and then the chia seeds.  Stir or whisk to help it gel evenly. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight and in the morning, top with fruits or other healthy toppings.

 

Parmesan Zucchini Pancakes

Do you have any recipes that are an old favorite and for whatever reason you stop making it?  Maybe it was because you made it too often and taking a break to try other recipes (usually the case for me) or your kids just no longer ask for it (also often the case for me).   But a friend recently reminded me of how good zucchini pancakes are and I immediately whipped up my favorite PARMESAN ZUCCHINI PANCAKES.  When Ethan was two years old, I would make him these veggie packed pancakes all the time.  It was a total mom win for me because he was getting in some veggies and enjoying every single bite!  Not to mention this recipe is super easy, made in ONE BOWL and takes minutes to make once the zucchini is grated.  Then as I started to explore other healthy recipes and I didn’t make these as often.  While Austin, my 2 year old, refused to try these, Ethan loved them as he once did and my husband and I gobbled up whatever the kids didn’t eat because eating the kids leftovers is just what parents do right?

These zucchini pancake are gluten-free and full of zucchini which is a powerhouse of antioxidants and rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber!   Try this recipe, I think your family will love it.  Let me know if you try it and for those who have children or kids in the family, I can’t wait to hear what they think too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, grated using the large grating side of a box grater
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white, whisked
  • 4 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur gluten free all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil for the pan

Directions:

  1. First, squeeze out excess liquid from the grated zucchini using paper towels or a kitchen towel.
  2. Place zucchini in a bowl and whisk in the onion and eggs. Stir in the flour, parmesan cheese, baking powder and a dash of salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter in the pan (or heat the oil if using). When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. You may need to smear out the batter a bit to create a flat circular shop.
  4. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a plate lined with a paper towel (to soak up any excess oil or butter)  Continue same steps until all the batter is used. Enjoy!

 

Meatless Mushroom Meatballs over Chickpea Pasta

When I was in college for my second degree in nutrition, an incident in my Anatomy & Physiology class really turned me off to meat for a while…a little over 4 years to be exact.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I started to eat meat again.  But when I was vegetarian, I relied a lot on soy products with little variety in my diet and it was then that I learned the importance of balance in the diet and how it’s never good to eat too much of a good thing-including the super healthy stuff.   These days, I have way more variety in my diet and eat chicken, turkey and fish but still like to prepare meatless dinners for my family at least 1-2 times per week with recipes that have a creative vegetarian twist on some common meat dishes like these MEATLESS MUSHROOM MEATBALLS!  Ahh these meatballs are so delicious, easy to make and gluten-free.  Perfect for getting little helpers involved, my kids love mixing the ingredients and making the balls and I don’t have to worry about them touching raw meat.  Recipe adapted from one that I found on allrecipes.com a few years ago and have been making ever since.  Thanks to mushrooms, these meatballs have a great texture and get beautifully browned.  I usually pair them with my fav Banza chickpea pasta which has 2x the protein and 4x the fiber of traditional pasta, making this dish nutritionally complete and satisfying! and serve with a side salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • dash of salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, packed
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 cups pasta sauce
  • olive oil cooking spray (for parchment paper)
  • **if you do not have a gluten intolerance, you can use whole wheat breadcrumbs and oats that do not specify “gluten-free” on the packaging.

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to the hot oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook and stir until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated. Stir butter into mushrooms, reduce heat to medium, and cook and stir mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir onion into mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir garlic into mushroom mixture until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix oats into mushroom mixture until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in parmesan cheese.  Add bread crumbs, parsley, and eggs.  Then add in a dash of salt, pepper and oregano.
  4. Mix together with a fork until crumbly. Mixture should hold together when pressed.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. For best flavor and texture, refrigerate overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  7. Form mixture into small meatballs using a 2-tablespoon scoop. Roll meatballs lightly between your hands until smooth, if desired; arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until meatballs are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once (turn very carefully as meatballs may stick a bit to parchment paper).
  9. Bring pasta sauce to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat to low. Gently stir meatballs into sauce until coated. Simmer meatballs in sauce for about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl over pasta of choice and enjoy.  
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