Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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Healthy Cookies for Toddlers with Date Paste!

These “cookies” are so easy and healthy!  They are more akin to granola bars but we call them cookies.  I’ve posted about them before but since they are such a hit with my toddler I am posting about them again.  The secret ingredient is date paste.  You can mash and puree your own dates or just buy date paste.  A little bit goes a long way.  If you can’t find them in the baking section of your grocery store, then purchase them online.  I start with about 1 cup of date paste, the add 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cherries, apricots, peaches, apples, etc.), and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (optional).  Then you can add whatever is available in your pantry, such as pumpkin sees, chia seeds, coconut, granola, etc.  It takes awhile to mash everything together but be patient and let your toddler help.  Then mold the cookies or bars into whatever shape you want.  You can harden them a bit in a dehydrator or the oven on low or just leave them out on the counter for a few hours.  I love cookies that you can’t mess up!

The “cookies” in these pictures are made with date paste, rolled oats, apricots, raisins, pumpkins sees, and chocolate chips!

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Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

Our homemade fruit roll-ups were a hit.  B (25 months) loves them.  “Eat, eat!”  They are easy to carry around and pretty healthy.  One batch consisted of 2 cups of homemade applesauce (or store-bought unsweetened applesauce) and 1 cup fruit smoothie.  The fruit smoothie I made this time consisted of bananas, strawberries, mangos, peaches, spinach, and ground chia and flax seeds.  I poured the mixture into the top of my dehydrator with the plastic pan down and let is run pretty much all day (about 10 hours).  The roll-ups came off easily with a spatula.  I cut them into strips and stored them in the frig.  I’m excited to try other flavors!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use a baking sheet and plop them in the oven.  I’ve supplied a few links to other recipes using an oven.













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Getting Your Greens

Looking for ways to get your greens?  How about hummus with kale or kale applesauce?

Here is a healthy lunch idea for you or your toddler:  1.) cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries with low-fat plain yogurt sprinkled with wheat germ and low-fat granola; 2.) kale hummus on toast; 3.) scoop of kale applesauce and 4.) WATER!

When you make applesauce and hummus at home it’s cheaper and you can easily add greens such as spinach, kale, or parsley.  Your toddler will never know.  My toddler LOVES hummus and applesauce!  A change of color – green – even better!  You can also try pumpkin or sweet potatoes in your hummus or peaches and strawberries in your applesauce.

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See also Save Money Making Homemade Hummus; Homemade Nutbutters and Applesauce; Healthy Toddler Breakfast.


Spinach for Toddler by Millsap Farms

Frizzy Cabbage “Noddles” by Kid Tested Firefighter Approved

Green Vegan Pancakes by Weelicious





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One Pot Meal: Couscous, Bulgur and Peas

What’s for dinner?  My go-to dinner is a one pot meal of couscous and bulgur with peas.  Both these grains are fast cooking and healthy.  Boil about 4 cups of veggie or chicken broth, reduce to a simmer and add 1 cup of couscous and 1 cup of bulgur.  Couscous is a light, fluffy grain when cooked and bulgur is dark and heavy, so they work well together.  It only takes about 10 minutes of simmering before the grains have absorbed all the broth.  I usually have to add another 1/2 cup of broth to make it moist and fluffy.

I usually add about 1 to 1.5 cups of frozen peas after the grains are cooked.  I detest overcooked, discolored peas.  Mixing in the frozen peas at the end to sit in the pot with the lid on (burner off) is usually enough to warm up the frozen peas sufficiently.  If you so choose, you can add in some leftover meat.  Here I added some chopped up rotisserie chicken from the night before.  This is a picture I posted on Instagram last week.  I stirred in the chopped chicken at the end along with the frozen peas.

This meal is very simple, cheap and toddler approved.  Worst case, they pull out the chicken and peas!  This meal was also hubby approved and I think he’s more picky than my toddler.  The next morning, I heated the mixture up with a few scrambled eggs and parmesan cheese in the frying pan.  You can also add a few tablespoons of olive oil, patty the mixture into couscous cakes and pan fry them.  Keep it simple my friends.

ONE POT MEAL: Couscous, Bulgur and Peas

4.5 cups of broth (veggie or chicken)

1 cup of bulgur

1 cup of couscous

1 to 1.5 cups frozen peas

*chopped cooked chicken (or any cooked leftovers)




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Dinner: Pierogis with kale and mushrooms

Last time I posted about healthy breakfast meals.  Here is a healthy (relatively) dinner for the family.  I say “relatively” healthy because everyone have different standards.  I like pierogis because my grandmother used to make them.  They are basically potato-filled pasta that you can buy frozen.  My toddler LOVES them!  Very easy to make too.  I first boiled the pierogis in water and then added them to a frying pan with sautéed onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  I then added kale and heated it until the kale become soft.  On the side, we had steamed broccoli (nothing added).

Now here is the trick, at least this works with my toddler, I serve the veggies (in the case broccoli and kale) first.  But I don’t push for him to eat the veggies, I just give him some time and then add the other food.  I sit down with him and eat my plate of food just like I want him to eat.  Then (and this seems to never fail) I read some books that he loves.  I will read a few pages and then eat some food.  Sometimes I prop the book up or just let him know we are taking a break to eat.  You can sneak some new foods on the plate while they are engrossed in a story.  I don’t force food but I will introduce it many times in many different ways.  Less stress!

What meal/dinner habits work for your toddler?  Do you read during meals or something else?



Healthy Toddler Breakfast

What is your typically breakfast?  For me, breakfast is the most challenging meal of the today.  My toddler (21 months) has inspired me to rethink breakfast.  B does not like to eat first thing in the morning and he can often eat slowly.  This means it’s better if we get up early and don’t rush breakfast – NOT EASY!  I also want to make sure he gets protein in the morning to last him until lunchtime at school.  My little guy goes to a Montessori school three days a week.  I have more flexibility when he’s home with me because I can give him snacks and we don’t need to get to school on time.  I say all that to show, as most parents know, that breakfast is the most challenging and important meal of the day.

My goal for the New Year is to make more hot, healthy breakfast meals!  To me this means the breakfast must contain: 1) protein 2) a green veggie 3) whole grains and 4) fruit.  This does not happen every day but I’m getting better!  Here is B’s favorite breakfast so far that meets all my requirements and is pretty quick to prepare.  Oh yeah, it’s good for me too!

B’s favorite hot, healthy breakfast:

Scrambled eggs with cheese and chopped up kale;

almond/wheat bread with PB;

smoothie with variety of frozen fruits and either spinach or kale;

although not in the picture we almost always have berries or banana in the morning (B loves blueberries!)

and I always serve water with meals too.


We don’t usually serve B juice but I will give him smoothies sometimes.  I use about 1:4 ratio of smoothie with water.  It’s really all about getting him more greens.

Since B was born and even during pregnancy, I have determined that diets don’t work.  It’s much for effective for me to focus on what I can and want to eat instead of what I can’t eat.  I try to eat at least one green veggie a day (kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, parsley, etc.) and two veggie at dinner.  I also try to drink as much water as I can.  Sticking to just a few goals makes things much easy.  And these goals fit perfectly with my hot, healthy breakfast goal!

Do you have food goals for 2014?  What is your toddler’s favorite, healthy breakfast?  How do you manage the stress of the morning rush to school?

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Butternut Squash Pasta with Pine Nuts and Kale

We love butternut squash pasta!  Last night I combined the pasta with kale, squash, beets, and pine nuts!  The only seasoning was a salt and sage.  DO NOT dump in the entire sage bottle as my little toddler did when he was “helping.”  Sage is actually spicy in large quantities.  Otherwise, very yummy and healthy.  I first boiled the beet in a pot of water for about an hour (I had a large beet).  You can do that the day before.  After the beet is soft, leave it in the refrigerator to cool.  Then the skin will come right off.  I used an orange-colored beet.  After cooking the pasta and setting aside to drain, I used the same large pot and added some olive oil, sage and pine nuts.  (This is the point at which you DO NOT add the entire bottle of sage – only a pinch.)  Ounce the pine nuts were lightly toasted, I added sliced squash and cut up kale leaves.  After the kale and squash were hot, I added the diced beet.  Then I threw the pasta back in and mixed it together.  Very easy and healthy.  Cheers!

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