Healthy Toddler Finger Food Recipes
Recipes for Healthy Toddler Finger Foods
It can be challenging to find healthy finger foods for babies and toddlers...especially ones that they'll actually eat. Notoriously picky, toddlers can snub foods that you've spent a lot of time and effort to prepare. These recipes for toddler finger foods are not only easy, but nutritious and and tasty. The best part is that even if your child only picks at any of these foods, the rest of the family can finish it up because these recipes are yummy enough to appeal to older children and adults too.
Here you'll about finger food recipes for toddlers and babies will help you give your child more vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grains and/or expose her to a wider variety of flavors and textures. They're also easy to prepare - another plus for busy families. As a health-conscious mom, I was really thankful to find some good go-to recipes that helped make life easier and yummier for my toddler daughter. Hope that they are helpful to your family!
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/684915184/
Looking for Kid-Tested Finger Food Recipes? - From her own home 'test kitchen', a mom embarks on a journey toward feeding her child yummier and healthier food.
You're a parent, nanny, grandparent or childcare provider who's conscientious about what you feed your children, but sometimes there's not enough nutritious variety out there to tempt the picky palates of babies and toddlers.
I'm in the same boat. I definitely wanted to start my daughter on a trajectory of healthy eating for a lifetime by starting with a broad base of nutritious foods. After a few months, however, I felt like I was feeding my daughter the same few things every meal, and almost none of it was finger food....except Cheerios. Then a friend loaned me some cookbooks, and I started experimenting.
As a result, I found some big winners -- foods that were easy for my daughter to eat, that she gobbled up readily and provided extra veggies and protein that she needed. The nice part is that my husband and I liked these too. His verdict is out on the tofu 'fries,' actually, but I liked them, and our daughter did too. These home-run easy recipes are the ones I want to share with you to hopefully give you an easier time feeding your child well.
Along our path to yummier food and better nutrition, I did find some very helpful prepackaged foods that have become staples in our snack repertoire which I talk about on my Healthy Finger Foods For Babies and Toddlers website, but the page you're on now is all about the recipes, baby.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
I Wish My Child Would Eat More ______ - Famously picky, toddlers can have aversions to many different types of foods. What is your child picky about?
What type of food would you like to see your child eat more of?
Since kale is one of the 'dirty dozen' veggies that harbor the most pesticides, I tend to get organic kale. It usually tastes better than conventionally grown kale as well.
- Several large kale leaves or 1/4 package fresh chopped kale
- olive oil
- salt substitute or seasoned salt to taste
- Chop up kale leaves into small pieces, removing any large stems. In a large bowl, toss with enough olive oil to lightly coat. It's better to be a little too generous with the olive oil than a little too stingy. Sprinkle a little salt, salt substitute or seasoned salt over the kale, then mix together. Then, spread kale pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 min; then take out to flip leaves over/stir. Bake for an additional 4-6 min. or until leaves are crispy, but not burned. Watch closely with the oven light on near the end of the bake time.
- Let cool for a minute or so, then serve immediately.
- NOTE: the curlier the kale leaves are, the better they crisp.
- photo credit: BunnyFabulous
Nutritional Benefits of Kale
- The World's Healthiest Foods - Kale
A thorough description and analysis of the huge health benefits of kale. Pretty amazing how much nutrition is in one vegetable.
Baby and Toddler Finger Food Cookbooks
I found Annabel Karmel's books very helpful for thinking outside the box about what foods to try serving to my daughter as a baby and as a toddler. Annabel has both finger food and spoon/fork food recipes that my li'l girlie loves.
Recipe for Applesauce Bran Muffins - Absolutely yummy and helps keep everybody regular. The tastiest bran I've ever eaten.
These are a huge hit with my entire family. They don't last very long. This recipe is slightly modified from the Applesauce Bran Muffin recipe on CD Kitchen. The original recipe calls for a glaze, but for toddlers it's not necessary and the muffins are plenty delicious without it.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 30-35 min
Serves: 12 - makes a dozen muffins
- 1 1/2 cup (100% bran) cereal -- I use All Bran
- 1 1/2 cup applesauce -- all natural applesauce has the least amount of sugar
- 1 egg -- slightly beaten
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine -- melted
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar -- packed
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped raisins or prunes -- optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees; grease muffin pans. In a large bowl, mix bran, applesauce, egg, margarine and brown sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, blend flour, baking powder and cinnamon; stir in bran mixture just until blended, batter will be lumpy. Stir in raisins. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.
- These muffins freeze well, so there's no need to eat the whole batch at once....unless you want to. :)
Zucchini Muffins - Gluten-Free and Regular Versions - Another way for your baby or toddler to get their zucchini that's a tasty breakfast or snacktime treat for
Below is the my gluten-free version of Elise's Zucchini Muffins recipe on Simply Recipes. Especially when zucchini is on sale, this recipe is one that we make quite often since it's an easy snack that's full of vegetables. My husband and I enjoy them as much as our daughter does.
If you'd like the regular recipe for these muffins, just use Elise's Zucchini Muffins recipe as-is. NOTE: she says you don't need a mixer for this recipe. I beg to differ. It's much easier with a mixer.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
- 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
- 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 cup sugar -- I use turbinado or sucanat (natural cane sugar) that are slightly healthier
- 2 eggs - beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups Pamela's All-Purpose Baking Mix
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup pulverized walnuts (optional) -- I food-process them until they're a coarse powder
- Preheat the oven to 350Â°F (175Â°C). In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the zucchini mixture and mix in. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir these dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture. Stir in walnuts if using
- Coat each muffin cup in your muffin pan with a little butter or vegetable oil spray. Use a spoon to distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups, filling the cups up completely. Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick or a thin bamboo skewer to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin let cool another 20 minutes.
- Note: If you are including walnuts, you will likely have more batter than is needed for 12 muffins.
Another Nutritious Muffin Favorite - Appealing taste and muffin texture, and it includes bananas, squash, carrots and oat bran
- Toddler Muffins
I've made this recipe for my daughter as a preschooler, and it went over well with her as well as the rest of our family. These muffins are freezer-friendly too, so it's easy to have them on hand for quick snacking.
Baking Gluten-Free for Toddlers - Whether a family member has celiac disease, your child deals with allergies, or any number of reasons, you may want to bake gl
Here's some help for baking delicious gluten-free finger foods for your child and the rest of your family.
Since I have a wheat allergy, I've baked with most every gluten-free flour and baking mix out there, and nothing holds a candle to Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake mix. It's very versatile and can be used cup-for-cup to replace regular flour in the vast majority of recipes. You do have to cut down significantly on any baking powder or baking soda that a recipe calls for since Pamela's already incorporates these into its mix, but that's pretty easy to do. I've baked cakes, muffins, pies, biscuits, coffee cakes, banana bread and more with this mix, and my non-gluten-free friends have given them rave reviews. They never suspected what they were eating was gluten-free.
Salmon Cakes Recipe - Yummy Finger Food for Babies - These are my take on Annabel Karmel's Salmon starfish recipe from the 2004 edition of her book, First Meals
These delicious little cakes are a good introduction to salmon and are an appealing texture for older babies and toddlers. For everyone else in the family you can double or quadruple the recipe to make enough for everyone.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 25-30 min
Serves: 6-8, depending on the size you make
- 1 lb red potatoes - mashed
- 2 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg - lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
- 3/4 lb cooked salmon fillets - flaked. For best nutrition use wild-caught salmon
- 3 tbsp panko (Japanese bread crumbs) - plus extra for coating
- a little melted butter
- olive oil (optional)
- Mix the mashed potatoes together with the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, egg, and green onion. Mix in the salmon and 3 Tbsp of the panko. Shape the mixture into flat cakes. Use a cookie cutter or your hands to form into fun shapes, if desired. Coat each fish cake with bread crumbs, and brush lightly with melted butter.
- For baking: set fish cakes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Transfer to a preheated 350-degree oven and cook for 4 min. on each side.
- For sauteing: Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add salmon cakes and saute several minutes on each side, until golden brown.
- Personally, I prefer making these sauteed, especially since olive oil has good fats in it. However, the baking method does have less fat.
Tofu 'Fries' - Go ahead. Give it a try even if you're not a tofu fan. It may change your mind.
This is an idea I got from Foods Toddlers Will Eat that ended up being a winner at our house.
- 1 package extra-firm tofu
- 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
- low-sodium soy sauce to taste
- Drain extra firm tofu then cut into thin, small french-fry (or smaller) size pieces. Heat the olive oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the tofu and soy sauce and stir fry until golden brown and the outside has a bit of a crust.
Frozen Fruit Popsicles - Ok, so these technically aren't a finger food, but you still eat them with your hands. Have your child wear a bib or dark-colored cloth
The dark purple of grapes and either blueberries or blackberries hides the green of the spinach, and the sweetness of the grapes and juice makes the spinach taste undetectable as well, especially if you blend the mixture very thoroughly. My daughter asks for these for dessert. I love that she views this fruit and vegetable popsicle as a treat!
Prep Time: 5-10 min.
Total Time: 10-15 min.
Serves: varies on size of popsicle molds
- 1/2 cup spinach leaves - washed
- 1 'adult' size 100% juice grape flavor juice box. Approx. 3/4 cup juice.
- 1 cup red grapes -- the sweeter the better
- small handful of blueberries or blackberries if desired for color
- little bit of honey or other natural sweetener - to taste
- In a high-powered blender, add all ingredients. Blend thoroughly to make the mixture as smooth as possible, adding additional sweetener if necessary, for taste. If you have really sweet grapes, you probably won't need the sweetener. Pour into popsicle molds; freeze.
The Mother of all Blenders - Makes amazing popsicle mixes and smoothies - It's big. It's powerful. It completely hides vegetables in smoothies and frozen fruit
Don't be afraid of the price tag, especially if you do a lot of blending. I admit I was totally skeptical when my husband suggested getting this blender, but now that we have one, I am so thankful for it. Your smoothies and popsicle mix will be incredibly smooth. Even the little seeds in blackberries and strawberries get pulverized and you can add huge amounts of vegetables like kale, carrots and spinach to fruit smoothies and not even notice. No more little particles clogging up your straw. We make smoothies nearly every morning, so the blender's self-cleaning action makes quick clean-up. You just put a little bit of dish soap and warm water, blend, then rinse and voila -- clean blender. The Vitamix is so powerful it even cooks soup. Yes, you read right. Put in soup ingredients, turn the blender on high for 4-5 minutes, and the friction heats the soup. If this is truly out of your price range, though, get the most powerful blender you can.
Popsicle molds - A necessity to make delicious and healthy ice pops. I personally like the smaller sizes for young children, but sometimes it's just easier to m
Cheesy Spinachy Scrambled Eggs Recipe - Eggbeaters make this even quicker and easier to prepare than with a regular egg.
Chunks of scrambled egg are easy for little fingers to pick up and eat, and both eggs and cheese provide protein. This recipe is an example of how minor tweaks to taste and/or texture can make or break a food. My li'l girlie won't eat plain cooked eggs, but add some cheese and she loves it. This is also a great way to get her to eat spinach -- mixed with one of her breakfast favorites
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 egg or 1/4 cup eggbeaters
- 3 -4 spinach leaves - finely chopped
- 1 -2 Tablespoons cheddar cheese
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add eggs or eggbeaters and spinach, stirring often to scramble. When the eggs are close to being fully cooked, add cheddar cheese and keep scrambling until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked through. Cool slightly before serving. This recipe easily doubles, triples, etc. depending on how much your child will eat.
More Toddler-Friendly Recipes
I'm not an overacheiver. I don't make up all of my own recipes, or tweak them all for that matter. Here are some other goodies I found on the web.
Another favorite of mine is Pumpkin Spice Hippiecakes. Pumpkin, fiber and protein in a little cake-like thingy with no added sugar? Yes, please! For toddlers, you may need to omit the walnuts unless they are finely chopped.
Or, for more of my culinary picks for adults and toddlers, please
Which Toddler Finger Food Recipe Will You Try? - Hope at least one of these recipes has inspired you to try it at home.
Which one of these recipes are you most likely to make for your child?
Introducing New Foods to Your Toddler
Here are some tips and suggestions from experts and from my own experience.
* If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Your toddler may hate his first, third, and ninth exposure to cauliflower, but the tenth time may be the charm.
* Try new food when you and your toddler are at your best - when you're both well rested, in good spirits, and healthy.
* Your child will be more open to a new food if he's hungry (but not overly hungry), so give him his new food first.
* Don't stop feeding your child if she makes a funny face - it doesn't necessarily mean that she doesn't like what she's tasting. She may just be reacting to the distinctly different taste. Even now, my daughter will sometimes grimace and then say that she likes a food.
* Try to keep your facial expressions positive, even if you're serving a food you detest. Likewise, keep your comments about the food positive as well. Don't preface introducing a new food by saying 'Here's some avocado, you may not like it.'
* On the other hand, some children may get their guard up if you make a big deal over a new food. Keeping things normal and low key tends to work better.
* Let your toddler see you eating the same food he's eating. He loves copying you.
* If your child gives you the thumbs-down on a particular food (closing his mouth, turning his head, throwing it), don't force it. Try again in a few days and he may surprise you by eagerly eating it. Forcing food or showing your frustration may turn mealtime into a negative experience full of power struggles.
* Switch things up. Your toddler may tire of eating bananas at every meal and give up on them entirely. Plus, a varied diet is more nutritious for your growing child.
* Try the food in a different form. My daughter never liked carrots in their pureed or mashed form, but as an older toddler, she loves crunching on the thin 'twigs' of matchstick-sliced carrots.
photo credit: BunnyFabulous
Learn More About Healthy Foods for Your Baby or Toddler
- Nutritional Guidelines for Toddlers
A list of daily nutritional guidelines for 1 to 3 year olds by Susan Gilbert, MS, Nutritionist on iVillage.com.
- Foods That Can be Unsafe for Your Baby or Toddler
Babycenter.com's compilation of foods to avoid for different stages of your child's development from birth to 3 years old.
- The American Diatetic Association's Nutritional Guidelines for Babies/Toddlers
Includes information on getting started with eating right as well as avoiding food allergies.
- Self Nutrition Data
A comprehensive site containing nutrition facts for a multitude of foods, compare nutrients in foods, and many more tools for nutrition, weight loss and overall health.
- Healthy Finger Foods for Your Baby or Toddler
More great healthy finger food ideas, including types of fruits and vegetables to feed your baby or toddler as well as suggestions for healthy packaged snack options.