A Squared: Homemade Veggie Tots [Toddler Friendly!]

Monday, July 17, 2017

Homemade Veggie Tots [Toddler Friendly!]

On balance, my 14-month old is a really good eater. Oranges, peas, salmon, meatballs, yogurt, and anything covered in marinara sauce are among her favorite foods. It's been really fun watching her try new foods and decide what she likes and what she doesn't. And as a mom that loves food, this can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time.


I have found that vegetables are some of the most challenging new foods to introduce to Hannah-- especially now that we are moving beyond purees and into finger foods. She's still not an adept enough eater for raw vegetables, but she also is a bit selective about the cooked ones she'll eat. Hannah loves peas and she'll also eat cooked carrots, corn, green beans, and asparagus. She only enjoys sweet potatoes or avocado when mashed and under no circumstances does she enjoy broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach... until recently.


On a whim at Whole Foods, I picked up a box of Dr. Praeger's Spinach Littles just to see if Hannah would eat them. And not only did she eat them, she LOVED them. I took a quick bite and quickly understood why: These little tots were super flavorful and you could really taste the onion and garlic in them, which was a nice surprise from a food made for kids because they're normally so bland. I loved that this was a different way to for Hannah to get some more vegetables in her diet and since she liked them, I decided to take a stab at making my own at home.


These homemade veggie tots are super easy. The active prep time is pretty minimal and this makes a big batch of 24 mini muffin-sized tots. The recipe begins with the leafy greens of your choice: I have used spinach and Swiss chard and both worked nicely. Fresh carrots, onions, and garlic (sautéed to mellow the flavor a bit), are added to the greens and pulsed together until the form a crumbly mixture. It all comes together with the addition of eggs, whole wheat flour, and a bit of shredded cheese. In addition to the flavor from the vegetables, I like to add a few dry seasonings to pump up the flavor in these tots. Hannah enjoys foods that are more seasoned and the combination of garlic powder, onion powder, and dry thyme is a nice way to incorporate a little flavor into your little one's meals.

These tots are perfectly portioned. Just add one or two to your toddler's meal for a big boost of vegetables (along with a little whole grain, dairy, and protein too!). They are also very freezer friendly. Once they're fully cooled, just store them in a freezer safe container and thaw as needed.


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups packed fresh greens *I have used Swiss chard and spinach
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup mild shredded cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a mini muffin tin with cooking spray or olive oil.

Put the greens in a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl, cover, and microwave for 1-3 minutes or until wilted. If you're using spinach, you'll need to use a clean towel to squeeze out the excess moisture once it has cooled.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes, continuing to stir often.

Combine the cooked greens, onions, garlic, and carrots in a food processor, cover, and pulse until finely minced.Transfer the mixture back into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until fully combined.

Scoop this mixture evenly into the mini muffin tins.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to remove them. You may use a knife around the edges and to gently lift them from the muffin tin. Refrigerate or freeze until you're ready to serve.

Editor's Note: Inspired by recipe by Sumptuous Spoonfuls.




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