WEEK 34: The Best Place for Eating Pasta

And, where is the best place to eat pasta? Well, outside of course. At least, that is with my two boys. Pasta is a tried and true favorite, but it is also an obviously huge mess. So, when the weather cooperates, mommy and boys are both über happy. They get their pasta, the grass gets the droppings, and the boys get sprayed off with the hose. It’s a perfect mealtime for everyone.

This week, we also took the boys for their first dentist trip. I share this here, because I feel like good eating habits and oral hygiene go at least somewhat hand-in-hand. Does just over 18 months old and going to the dentist sound weird to you? Well, it did to me too, but our dentist even wants them to come in younger. He recommends when they get their first tooth. Well, that’s a little ridiculous to me, but we did go ahead and schedule since Wyatt seemed to be taking his sweet time getting his teeth and overall it was a fine trip, but I got reprimanded. Yes, in all my years, I’ve never had a single problem going to the dentist myself. Well, now I get in trouble for not having brushed my boys teeth well enough who have only been outside the womb for just over 18 months. I’ve learned my lesson and we’re on a strict teeth-brushing regimen from here on out.

One of my silly boys

showing off his only

4 teeth not too long

before his first ever

dentist visit.

Food Description

You’ve seen the mess before. I posted pictures of the boys eating pasta inside along with the pasta recipe. But, now here’s where the fun begins. Take the same, good ole pasta outside and what do you get? Well, it’s the same good ole pasta, but the mess stays outside!

Process

Chicken Sausage Pasta

You can find the recipe here. I’m just showing off the fruits of my labor with photos today.

What I Learned

I was reminded of how much I love being able to eat lunch outside (and dinner for that matter). This is a great time of year and a wonderful thing for mom and boys. One other tip that I’ve learned when feeding ultra hungry boys a favorite meal is to bring an extra dish to the table for seconds and thirds. It’s not always easy to get up with two ravenous 18 month olds, so I come prepared.

Reaction

The boys continue to love pasta almost as much as hot dogs and salmon! They made it through a whole round of thirds and I had to officially throw in the towel. Literally, I had to spray them off and throw a towel around them to clean them up…phew!

Summary

Remember to add-in those healthy vegetables into your sauce. Carrots and zucchini are a great place to start. Don’t forget the spices…make it tasty!

TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil


I was reminded recently of something I used to do with my purees. Add a little extra virgin olive oil as you purée. This will give a nice added flavor and help improve consistency, especially for freezing. The other thing you can do once you begin finger foods is to cook a while box of whole wheat pasta. Let it cool, then mix with a little extra virgin olive oil and separate into bags or containers for freezing. Keep the portions to a size that you will use within a few days of thawing. Once thawed, the pasta won’t stick together and has a nice flavor thanks to the oil.

Be sure to use high quality extra virgin olive oil and only apply after cooking as high cooking temperatures aren’t good for olive oil.  

Please share your thoughts and ideas.
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WEEK 11: Leftovers & Spinach Bites

This week was leftover week. I made a breakfast casserole in my crock pot and a large pan of baked ziti. The boys have eaten many lunch and dinner meals from those as well as new lima beans and nectarines. They liked both new introductions, but I think the nectarines are causing a yucky diaper rash.

FOOD DESCRIPTION
The baked ziti was a regular recipe using ground turkey and whole wheat pasta noodles. The breakfast casserole included sausage, hashbrowns, cheese, and eggs. On both of these, be careful with salt. I definitely wouldn’t add any if you’re planning to serve to your baby or toddler, but also look at the ingredients on any pasta sauces or other ingredients. I always use whole wheat pasta and used cottage cheese in the ziti.

PROCESS

  • Lima Beans I love, love, love these beans and can’t believe I haven’t introduced them to my boys yet. Just peal the shell, cut into smaller pieces if desired and let them go for it. I’m sure you could mash these for spoon feeding as well.
  • Spinach Bites These are a great way to get a green, mushy vegetable in tiny little fingers. This recipe yields about 48 bites.
  • 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained well
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (if you save old bread, you can make these yourself)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ or flax meal 
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 3  Large eggs (or 5 egg yolks) 
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Heat oven to 375°F
  2. Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix well. 
  4. Chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to help mixture set.
  5. Shape mixture and place on baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes.

I stored 12 bites in the refrigerator for upcoming meals and froze the rest in a freezer bag.

WHAT I LEARNED
The mixture was super messy when I first tried to make the shapes. This is when I decided to chill in the refrigerator which did help. I also think that I did not drain my spinach well enough, so be sure to do that.

Also, be careful with your olive oil as you don’t want them to burn.

REACTION
My boys ate the spinach bites up right away and loved them. I’m excited that we have so many more in the refrigerator and freezer. They also enjoyed the lima beans.

SUMMARY
The spinach bites are great to have on-hand in the freezer and could be good snacks or part of a wholesome lunch or dinner. Adjust the spices to make them your own and everyone’s sure to love them! The leftover casserole and ziti were also hits and wonderful to have ready-made lunches without having to prepare ahead of time.

Please share your thoughts or ideas.
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