Chewy Granola Bars In a Flash

What: Relatively no-bake Granola Bars (unless you count quickly toasting the Oats and Nuts)  that are the perfect healthier treat for your picky toddler. Customize them to your liking with easy ratios of Nuts and Dried Fruit. You could even add in ground Flax or Chia to up the nutrition content.


When: This recipe comes together in about 15 minutes. Allow about an hour for them to firm up in the freezer before you cut them into bars.

How: You’ll need an 8 inch pyrex or small baking pan with high sides, some aluminum foil and a food processor or high powered blender. Toast Oats and Nuts in the toaster oven or conventional oven before you start the mixing process.

Why: Because Granola Bars are a good opportunity to add nutrition to your toddler’s diet. They’re handheld, chewy, and a little sweet – three things young children can resist. Still, I wanted to make the best of this opportunity and create an easy to make recipe that is as junk free as possible. That means less added sugar, and no ickies like tons of corn syrup or other sticky, nutritionally-vacant binders. Super tender Dates (we love Date Lady brand, also available on Amazon) do the trick to knit these bars together, and an hour in the freezer helps them set up. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and slice. You can wrap them in Saran  or in an airtight container in the fridge and use them for up to 4 days.

Easy Chewy Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

Adapted from Inspired Taste

Yield: Makes about 8 Bars or 16 toddler-sized Granola “sticks”


3/4 Cup very soft pitted Dates, finely chopped. If pitting yourself make sure you check them carefully after removing the pit.

2 Cups Organic Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup mixed, chopped Nuts of your choice (we used Pistachio & Walnut). For a nut-free option simply sub in the same amount of seeds such as Sunflower Seeds.

1/4 Cup chopped Dried Cranberries (or other dried fruit – i.e. Raisins, Apricots, etc)

1/4 Cup Salted Butter

1 teaspoon Honey

1/2 teaspoon good Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Light Brown Sugar


Preheat Oven or Toaster Oven to 350. Line an 8-inch pyrex plate or small baking pan with high sides with some aluminum foil. Mix Nuts with Oats on the foil. Toast Oats and Nuts for 5 Minutes. Take care not to burn. Remove them from the foil covered pan to a bowl and grease the foil with Oil, Cooking Spray or Butter.

Mix in Dates and Dried Cranberries.

In a small pan or the microwave, warm the Salted Butter Until Melted. Add Honey, Brown Sugar, and Vanilla Extract. Blend until all are dissolved.

Pour butter and sugar mixture over the oat/nut/fruit mixture, carefully incorporating. Remove mix to a Food Processor and process until Dates are incorporated as well as possible. You may need to scrape down the sides.

Press Mixture into foil-lined pan and remove to freezer for an hour. When ready to serve bring to room temperature, slice and enjoy!


Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Kebabs

What: A treat on a stick you can feel good about – today’s snack uses ingredients toddlers are unable to resist – Yogurt and Berries! Plus, have you ever found a food that comes on a stick that they don’t love?

When: When you have 5, count em, 5 minutes in which to craft your kid’s newest favorite treat. Just allow about an hour to freeze! These yummy mini pops are also a great, guilt free birthday party bite hat look impressive and take practically zero effort.


Why: I once promised you that this wouldn’t be the blog where you’d find cutesy things like mini chia puddings in frosted mason jars, or anything that takes more than a short time to toss together. Who has the time? Certainly not your impatient toddler. I was drawn to the idea of making these healthy little kebabs because they are ready in no time flat and can have as little as 3 ingredients.

How: I purchased Wilton Lollipop Sticks on Amazon because I was smitten with the fun colors and patterns, but you could certainly find something far more basic to use. Just try and be sure whatever sticks you choose aren’t too sharp so your little one doesn’t end up poking themselves. Once you’ve dipped the Strawberries in the Yogurt mix, sprinkle with topping of your choice. Get creative with it! I chose some chopped Nuts because my son has a peanut and nut allergy yet there are a few nut varieties he can eat without an issue. For this reason, we do our best to keep them in his diet to hopefully help him remain tolerant to them.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Kebabs

YieldL Makes about 12


One small cup, 5.3 Ounce Full Fat Greek Yogurt (for this recipe we chose Stonyfield for its consistency).

1 teaspoon sweetener of your choice – such as light Agave, Maple Syrup or our fave Honey *(Important note: Honey is only appropriate for children 1 year and up only!)

12 Large Organic Strawberries (they should always be organic where possible), hulled

Kebab Toppings of your choice- chopped Nuts, Coconut Flakes, Sprinkles, Mini Chocolate Chips

Parchment or Wax Paper

12 Popsicle or Lollipop Sticks


Line a plate or large tupperware container with parchment or wax paper

Mix your sweetener of choice in the Yogurt container

Place the Strawberries on their stick, inserting where they were hulled and continuing half way through. Don’t pierce the other end of the berry

Dip Gently into Yogurt Mix until coated, or spoon on if easier. Place on the parchment and sprinkle with toppings. Remove to the fridge for an hour and enjoy!



Magic Pancakes – 3 Ingredient Breakfast

What: The easiest Pancakes you’ll ever make, in personal, kid-sized batches.
When: When you’ve got ripe or overripe Bananas or just feel like making your little one the simplest and most delicious breakfast ever.
Why: While I am generally skeptical of any recipe that uses the word “magic” in its title, I thought the deliciously light breakfast you see below was deserving of such a designation. With just one more ingredient than it takes to make a humdrum bowl of cereal, you too can have Magic Pancakes. Trust me, you’re not going to believe how well these work.

Easiest Pancakes You’ll Ever Make, and healthier too! Photo: NK

How: Banana is the secret ingredient giving this light as air pancake it’s heft without adding heaviness from extra carbs. Something tells me you’ll be stealing these off your toddler’s plate. You can blend the three ingredients together in no-time flat and you’ll have one batch of just enough for 1/5-2 toddler servings or one modest adult-sized breakfast nosh.

Make Magic Pancakes if:

You love an easy 3-ingredient breakfast perfect for 1 but easily multiplied for a family
You like the idea of a lower carb (thanks to less Flour) pillowy-light, fluffy pancake
You’ve got nice ripe or even overripe Bananas that would otherwise go to waste (even slightly underripe Bananas will work).

You’ll be a believer too. Enjoy!

Magic 3 Ingredient Pancakes 
Per serving (about 3 four-inch pancakes)


1 medium to large mashed Banana, 
2 tablespoons any kind of Flour (regular, whole wheat, coconut or other gluten free types, etc), 
1 lightly beaten Egg. 
(Optional Butter or light Cooking Spray)

Mash Banana in a bowl, add beaten Egg and Flour. Blend – this can remain a little lumpy and it will still turn out fine. 

Pour batter onto a hot skillet (you can lightly butter or spray it if you prefer) and flip carefully when Pancakes begin to get golden. Finish and serve.

Better Spaghetti-Os

What: Another junk food makeover of a kid’s classic that busy moms and dads can feel good about. Today’s recipe is a healthier yet still easy take on SpaghettiOs without the BPA lined can (though I applaud Campbell’s for phasing out BPA come 2017), excess sodium, and low-quality ingredients.

When: When you’re looking for a  guilt free sure bet – something your kid will greedily gobble down over and over. No toddler tantrums with this meal!

Why: Growing up in an Italian household meant that the idea of a poor imitation of pasta and sauce from a can was nothing short of sacrilege. Yet even though I’m glad my mom fed me wholesome, mostly homemade dishes, I’ll admit that I couldn’t help but be intrigued those few times I sampled SpaghettiOs at another kid’s house. Their tomatoey, cheesy flavor paired with fun, ring-shaped pasta was undeniably appealing to the younger me.

Just like during my own youth, you won’t find much in the way of pre-fab food on my son’s plate. Still, I make some exceptions. Consumers today are lucky to have more health conscious off-the-shelf products available to them, and busy moms and dads can benefit accordingly. Many of the recipes here are will help you do just that!

How: Store bought ring-shaped pasta is your starting point, but the real shortcut to it all is a healthy canned favorite – Amy’s Organic Cream of Tomato Soup (Light In Sodium version). It has just the right consistency and tomato flavor to evoke SpaghettiOs, and when paired with melted Organic American Cheese, (the other secret ingredient), the similarities in taste are uncanny. Best of all, you’ll spend under 20 minutes prepping a large batch of this sure-to-please dinner.

FullSizeRender 7
Melted American Cheese gives it that cheesy goodness.

Better SpaghettiOs

Makes Six 5-6 Ounce Servings


8 Ounces Ring Shaped Pasta such as Anelletti or Anellini

5 Ounces Frozen Peas and Carrots, we prefer Cascadian Farms

3 Slices Organic American Cheese Singles, we prefer Organic Valley

1 Can Amy’s Organic Cream of Tomato Soup (Light In Sodium version)

Pour Frozen Peas and Carrots into a small bowl with a little bit of water. Microwave until defrosted and steaming. Set aside.

Boil water and prepare the Ring Shaped Pasta According to Package Instructions until just under al dente (pasta will cook more later). Drain and return to the pan. Add Peas and Carrots and stir in can of Amy’s Light In Sodium Tomato Soup.

Turn a medium-high flame back on the pan and get the mixture quite hot, about a minute or two. Tear up 3 slices of American Cheese and add to pan one by one, stirring vigorously until Cheese dissolves. Cool a bit and serve!

Super Green Veggie Patties

What: Easy do-it-yourself veggie patties modeled after a popular grocery brand.

When: When you’re looking for a  fun and clever way to get nutrition into your toddler and you’ve got about 40 minutes to spare (with very little active time). It’s also never too early to get them used to all things green.

Why: Kids just love handheld food, and if it comes in fun shapes, all the better. With today’s recipe, you’ll get more for your money and use leftover greens wisely. And don’t be afraid to try out new flavor combos using this method – my son enjoyed these both with Yams and White Potatoes. Also take the opportunity spice these up according to your little one’s preferences.

How: If you have a microwave for defrosting the spinach and baking the yam, the prep for these Patties will be super-fast. Just have your food processor ready to go to blend the baked yam and greens together. I like to make large batches Veggie Patties and freeze them. Use cookie cutters to turn these tasty green nibbles into fun, kid -friendly shapes.

Super Green Veggie Patties 

Yield: Fills about 1 8×8 square baking pan – cut into the shapes and sizes you wish


10 Ounces Frozen Organic Spinach, defrosted and squeezed as dry as possible using a colander or dish towel

1 Large Yam, pierced all over and microwaved in a wet paper towel for 7 minutes until flesh is very soft.

Garlic Granules or other spices (Cinnamon is good too) as desired

1 Egg

1/8 teaspoon Salt

4 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour

Parchment Paper

8 inch square baking pan or pyrex glass dish


Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare Yam as above in the microwave. Scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the defrosted Spinach and blend until smooth.

Add Egg, Salt and Spices. Blend for another 10 seconds.

Remove blended mixture to bowl and stir in the Flour as gradually as possible.

Line your baking pan with Parchment so that there is some overhang on all sides. Press Parchment into the corners of the pan.

Spread the mixture evenly into the pan – it will be about an inch thick.

Cook for 20 minutes until firm but not dry and toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool a bit and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Freeze or serve warm or room temperature!

No-Bake Veggie Pasta Casserole

What: An easy layered pasta casserole that’s packed with veggies, and you won’t have to turn on the oven.

When: When you have odd amounts of vegetables or leafy greens to use

Why: Because you should never miss an opportunity to get your little ones used to greens. I like this dish because it incorporates vegetables without trying to hide them – it’s the same idea as our Mac ‘n Greens from a few weeks ago.

How: Slightly overcooking the pasta and assembling it while hot helps bind this casserole together. I recommend using small glass Pyrex covered dishes to store or freeze in several portion increments.

No-Bake Veggie Pasta Casserole

3-4  Kid-sized portions 


1 Cup Dry Orzo or other small pasta

2 Cups Lightly Packed Baby Spinach

1 Cup Broccoli Florets (frozen and defrosted or fresh)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Salted Butter, cut into dots

1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano




In a food processor, blend Spinach Leaves and Broccoli with the Olive Oil until finely minced. The results should be a spreadable paste, loosen with a little water if needed. Set aside.

Prepare the Orzo in Salted boiling water, according to the package instructions. Cook an extra two minutes over recommended time. Drain.

To prepare, press a half inch of Orzo into the bottom of a glass container. Top with a thin layer of the Vegetable Mix. Sprinkle with Pecorino. Repeat, adding another layer of Orzo, Vegetables, and the Pecorino Romano. Dot the top of the casserole with the bits of Butter, pressing into the surface so that Butter Melts.

Allow casserole to set in the fridge at least a 15 minutes before scooping out portions with a spatula or spoon. Warm in the microwave or heat the glass serving dish before portioning.


Sweet Potato Waffles


What: Delicious Waffles that help get healthy veggies into your kids. Also, since we are family dealing with several food allergies, these have a reasonable amount of Egg in them, so they’ve been a useful vehicle to get our son to, slowly but surely, tolerate it in a baked format.

What makes these extra wonderful is that they are free of added sugar and just one Waffle is quite filling so they make for a comparatively low-calorie adult breakfast. Just pop in the toaster or toaster oven. I have to thank my coworker, Lara, for sharing her recipe adaptation of these tasty and very satisfying waffles. I admit it – I love them as much as my son does!

When: Whenever you’ve got about 30 minutes to make a big batch – 6 waffles, just over three minutes each on the waffle iron.

Why: Because you don’t want to miss a chance to sneak more nutrients into the foods your kids already love. These Waffles freeze well and can be toasted up from frozen in just a minute or two. They’re a great portable work breakfast for moms and dads on the go!

How: All you need is a preheated waffle iron and the below, easy to find ingredients. If you cannot find BPA-free Canned Organic Sweet Potato, you can always prepare and mash your own Sweet Potato ahead of time. Alternately, canned pumpkin makes a great substitute.

Healthy Sweet Potato Waffles

Recipe Yields 6 Large Waffles which can be split into four quadrants (24 pieces)

One 15 Ounce Can Organic Sweet Potato Purée

1/2 Tablespoon Melted Unsalted Butter

2 Medium Egg Whites Lightly Beaten

1.5 Cups 2% Milk

1/2 Cup Flour

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Nonstick Vegetable Spray (or extra Butter for greasing iron)

Maple Syrup, for serving


Preheat waffle iron. In large bowl combine Sweet Potatoes, Butter, Egg White, Milk. Beat well with a whisk until well blended. Add both kinds of Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Vanilla Extract and Cinnamon.

Grease waffle iron  with spray or Butter and pour batter on. Cook until golden, crispy, and easily removable from the iron.*See note below.

*Note: We had the best results cooking these longer but on lower heat on the waffle iron- Exactly 3 minutes and 30 seconds on a moderate heat – (position 3 on a Cuisinart Iron). Cut Waffles into quadrants for your little ones, serve and enjoy!!!