Make healthy meals

A nutrition expert and mom shows how to cook for your toddler

Between sleep deprivation, diapering and little-person drama, it’s tough to find the time and energy to plan and prepare healthy homemade meals. So we come to rely on commercially prepared jars of our babies’ first foods, and reach for frozen chicken nuggets to feed our toddlers on busy weeknights. Yes, packaged foods have come a long way, with a number of healthier and even organic choices for little ones available in most mainstream supermarkets. But Lianne Phillipson-Webb is convinced it’s just as easy — and cheaper — to make your own.

A registered nutritionist as well as mom to five-year-old Logan and three-year-old Hadley, she has literally made it her business to cut through the confusion about nutrition and help tired, stressed parents cook healthy meals for their little ones. Strategy is key: “Try to cook in the evening while the babes are in bed, or enlist friends and family to help out on the weekends,” she suggests. “Or do a trade with friends; you make four ice cube trays of sweet potato, and a friend does the same with squash or pears. This is a great thing for a moms’ group to start. It’s a real motivator and ensures you are getting great variety with less work and shopping.” Want to keep the kids interested? Add flavour (and nutrients!) by incorporating herbs and spices such as cilantro, thyme, garlic, ginger and cumin. Just hold the spicy stuff until after baby’s first birthday.

Phillipson-Webb teaches Mommy Chef classes in the Toronto area, providing the organic ingredients and recipes for six weeks’ worth of food you can feel good about, and that’s tasty enough to double as dinner for mom and dad too. (Don’t live near Toronto? Phillipson-Webb has released two instructional videos; check out her website, sproutright.com, for buying info.) Turn the page for a taste test of three dishes you can make today, plus more tips on cooking with kids underfoot.

Safe prep tips

Bring your sling or carrier into the kitchen so you can keep your baby close while you get some peeling and chopping done. For safety’s sake, have small babies face inward; for older babies facing out, slip your apron over both of you, wrapping it around baby’s whole body to keep curious little hands away from the knife.

When you’re ready to purée or use the stove, put your baby down in a safe place. Keep her entertained with kid-sized cooking utensils and by talking to her about what you’re doing.

Mommy Chef

Don’t you wish you had an extra pair of hands? For moms and dads who take six-week Mommy Chef courses in the Toronto area, it’s a reality. Set up like the popular assembly-line meal-prep chains, the classes provide the ingredients and recipes. “If a child gets fussy, other moms and dads pitch in to finish up your batch of food,” notes teacher Lianne Phillipson-Webb (centre).

For similar services in your area, go to easymealprep.com and click on Store Finder.

Healthy recipe ideas

• Lovely Lentils with Brown Rice
• Bean Burgers
• Organic Rice Crisp Surprise Squares

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