Kaitlyn (12 months) is my sweet little peanut. She is a busy little thing that is consistently on the light side of weight percentiles. She eats, but she is more particular about her food and loses interest quickly (she’d rather be running around). Because of this, I’ve become really focused on squeezing as many nutrient-packed calories into each bite as possible. So for this month’s Munchkin Meals post, I wanted to share some of the tactics that I’m using to max out on calories.
Behaviorally, I notice a few things make a difference with how much Kaitlyn will eat at any given meal. Because of this, I do my best to be consistent with the following:
- Sit down and eat with her. When Hailey was a baby, she’d sit and eat happily while I worked in the kitchen, but Kaitlyn does much better if we sit down at the same time and eat similar food. This isn’t always easy, but I’m making it more of a priority because it makes a difference.
- Give meal times proper attention. Again, not always easy as we are busy running around playing or running errands, but I’m working on making sure breakfast, lunches and dinners are at home and together. I work the timing so it’s about an hour or so after she nurses to make sure she isn’t too full for food.
Other basics food prep techniques I like are:
- Utilize her favorite flavors. The girl follows in her Papa John’s footsteps (and mine!) and loves marinara sauce. It almost guarantees a food will get eaten, much more so than sweet flavors.
- Add healthy fats whenever I can. I add a little olive oil to sauces, stir in chia seeds to full fat yogurt, melt butter on her vegetables, spread cream cheese on her toast. You get the idea.
- Use the full fat version of everything- milk, yogurt, cheeses, etc.
And now to a few of our current favorites!
No Bake Peanut Butter Oat Bites – These are quick to make and keep for a week in the fridge. They are easy to snag as a quick, hearty snack or as part of breakfast.
- ½ cup natural peanut butter
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups oats
- 2 Tbsp ground flax
- In a bowl, mix together peanut butter and syrup until blended.
- Stir in ground flax, then oats until well combined.
- Spoon out tsp sized amounts using a greased spoon and place on parchment paper. Put in fridge for 30 minutes, then transfer to a glass tupperware for fridge storage for up 5-7 days.
Avocado smoothies- In fact, I like to add avocado to a lot of things.
They make a great thick texture for older kids to sprinkle granola on and use a spoon with. If you child prefers to drink it, add more whole milk. You can add it to almost any smoothie you like, or here is a good recipe if you need it! I just always make sure I am using whole milk, full fat yogurt and usually add some greens in there too.
Mini Meatballs- Kids love dipping and these simple little meatballs are perfect for small hands. You could add grated vegetables (like zucchini or carrots) if you like, or keep it basic and serve with pasta and veggies on the side.
- ½ lb grass-fed beef
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup Italian Style bread crumbs (recipe)
- salt and pepper
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times until well combined.
- Form into Tbsp sized balls, then pan fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through.
- Drain on a paper towel then serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
I love using my food processor for these. It makes evenly distributing the ingredients so easy.
What are your children eating lately?
***This post is intended to share our unique experience and should not be a substitute for medical advice. Each child is different and if you have any true weight concerns, please seek input from your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian.***
Have you ever had to focus on more calorie-dense foods for yourself or for your kids?
What are some of your favorite calorie-dense, but nutritious foods?