Little kids like to munch, yet small tummies fill up quickly. That’s why toddlers thrive on regular zaps of power-packed nutrition. Now’s the time to train those mini taste buds for a lifetime of nutritious eating based on whole grains, high fibre, less added sugar and more fruit and veggies.
Home baking comes to the rescue! When you’ve measured and whisked it yourself, you are the boss of what’s inside — no hidden additives, preservatives or dreaded trans fats. Besides, these recipes are designed to travel. Pack ’em up, pull out the stroller and feel good about the stuff your little passenger is noshing on.
Go ahead and fiddle with those recipes! It’s possible to adapt most baking recipes into healthier versions. A few tips:
• Cut down on fat with puréed fruit. Substitute half the butter, margarine or oil a recipe calls for with applesauce or puréed apricots, pears or prunes (straight from baby food jars, if desired). This technique not only cuts fat, but adds natural sweetening and moisture.
• Total sugar can usually be reduced by at least one-third, without affecting a recipe’s performance — but it will taste less sweet! You can naturally raise the bar on sweetness while increasing much- needed fibre, by putting more whole fruit in recipes such as raisins, dates, mashed ripe bananas or diced apples or pears.
• Even home baking can contain trans fats if you aren’t careful. Use only non-hydrogenated margarine (stick margarine is a no-no) and opt for butter or lard instead of that trans fat monster shortening when making pies and other pastry.
• Use whole grains. All-purpose or soft whole wheat flour can be used instead of (white) all-purpose flour in most recipes. Small amounts of wheat germ, bran, oat bran, barley or buckwheat flour can be substituted for part of the white flour used in a predominantly white flour recipe.
• Use omega-3 eggs as a source of healthy fats.
• Trade in nuts (due to toddler choking and allergy concerns) for grated carrots, zucchini, squash and sweet potatoes.
• Start small. Don’t switch all the flour in a recipe from white to whole wheat the first try. Remember to use all-purpose or soft whole wheat because it’s designed for cookies, muffins and quick breads.