Veggies For Breakfast – Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Life is continuing on here in much its usual way. Toys are played with and strewn around the apartment, hide-and-seek is played at least fifty times a day, and vacuuming is done over and over again, as are dishes and laundry washing. We go for daily walks and spend as much time as possible digging in dirt, looking for bugs, an picking dandelions.

All this busy time playing and exploring the world requires some good fuel. If Lewis had his way he would still be mainly fueled by constant breastfeeding sessions (in between digging in the dirt, playing in the sink, and carpeting our apartment with a random assortment of objects.) He still chooses to nurse several times a day, but I need some real food to fuel my part in all the activities, and he does a pretty good job of eating his share of real food as well.

Breakfast was the last meal we started giving him regularly, because he just wasn’t interested for a long time. Even now he can still take it or leave it depending on what’s on offer. However, oatmeal is one thing that I can pretty much always count on him to eat a good portion of and fill up his little tummy.

A big bowl for Mama, and a little bowl for baby.

A big bowl for Mama, and a little bowl for baby.

Often I go the easy route of cooking it in the microwave. Yes! Real oatmeal can be cooked in the microwave! It’s just as easy as those packets of “instant” oatmeal, and you get to avoid all that extra salt, sugar, and other unpronounceable ingredients. Just mix your oats, water, and whatever extras you want and microwave for 1 minute at a time, stirring in between until you reach your desired consistency. (But do keep an eye on it because sometimes it likes to mysteriously overflow from the bowl.)

Some days I feel like putting a little more effort in and actually cook our oats on the stove top, adding some extra ingredients to make it a little more fancy and give it an extra boost of nutrition. I think it was on The Kitchn website that I first saw the idea of adding an egg to oatmeal, although I can’t find the post now. It makes the texture of the oatmeal a bit lighter and creamier, plus adds a little extra protein and whatever other good stuff is in an egg. And of course I’m always looking for ways to add more veggies into all of our diets.

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Mmmm.

This recipe is inspired by carrot cake, although to be honest it doesn’t quite taste like carrot cake. it would need a lot more sugar for that, and the texture is completely different, but it is still very yummy! The measurements here are all approximate since my cooking style involves mixing together a handful of this, a pinch of that, and a good shake of the other thing.

“Carrot cake” oatmeal (2 servings)

1 cup oats

1 carrot finely grated

1 egg

1 1/2 c. water (sometimes I substitute in some juice or milk instead – juice adds a little sweetness, milk makes it more creamy)

1 handful raisins

2 -4 T shredded coconut

2 t brown sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

1/8 t each ginger and nutmeg

 

Mix oats and grated carrot. Whisk in egg until well mixed. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil on medium heat, turn down heat and simmer stirring occasionally until done.

Optional toppings: Chopped walnuts, more coconut, a splash of milk or cream, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup. And if you are Lewis, an extra handful of raisins on the side!

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So good I could wear it!

The oatmeal has some visible orange flecks from the carrot, but this doesn’t seem to deter Lewis at all. Yum yum!

 

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Allergy Friendly Banana Oatmeal Bites

Pretty much from the beginning of when Lewis started eating foods, I have been on a quest. A quest for just the right food/recipe. Something healthy and filling, but easy to grab, easy for a little one to eat, non-messy, portable. Something that could be used for a quick breakfast or a snack, eaten on-the-go either just while playing at home or while out and about. 

There are plenty of pre-packaged baby snacks that fit the bill for this, although the level of healthfulness is debatable with many of them. Since we did Baby Led Weaning with Lewis he never had any purees or anything, and we never got in the habit of buying him those “pouches” that a lot of people use when out and about. For a while our go-to snacks where Cheerios and those Gerber Cereal Puffs, although we quit that habit sometime over the summer. We also found apples/apple slices and freeze dried fruit work pretty well for on-the-go munching. 

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

Sprinkled in between giving these fall-backs, I have been trying recipes to find just the right thing for him. I wanted something homemade both for cost reasons (baby food/snacks are expensive!) and it seems so much more healthy and wholesome to know exactly what I am feeding my little one. There are a lot of recipes out there for baby snacks, granola bars, muffins, etc. but most of the ones I tried seemed to miss the mark. 

When he was younger Lewis had a delightful habit of spitting out a lot of his food rather than swallowing it. Cheerios and Puffs both got reliably swallowed, which was part of why we stuck with them, but many of the other things we offered he would decide were too much work and so would partially chew/gum and then spit back out. My family was all greatly entertained by watching him “eat” watermelon in this way over the summer. Thankfully we are past that stage and he now swallows pretty much everything he eats. 

Also, since he does only eat a small amount he isn’t going to eat up a full batch of anything I make, so I need to find recipes that are yummy for me as well since I will be the one eating any “extra.”

There have been a few recipes that we had good success with. Over the summer when zucchini was plentiful I made several batches of these Zucchini, Banana, and Flaxseed Muffins, using only about half as much sugar, which both Lewis and I enjoyed. I have also made some homemade granola bars from my own recipe which were pretty good, although the recipe may need a bit of tweaking before I post it. We tried these Carrot Cake Bars a few weeks ago which were alright but nothing amazing – they were a bit on the bland side and I didn’t really like how the texture of the oats turned out although Lewis seemed fine with them. They definitely could have used more spices, maybe a little sugar/honey and more moisture (maybe some added applesauce?)

No Sugar Banana Oat "Cookies"

No Sugar Banana Oat “Cookies”

Anyway, there is another recent recipe that I tried that actually turned out really good and both Lewis and I enjoyed them for breakfasts and snacks. The original recipe calls them “No Sugar Oatmeal Cookies” and while they are cookie shaped they really don’t have what you would expect for a cookie texture. The flavor was quite good though (maybe could use just a tiny touch more spices) and they made me think of chewy oaty little bites of banana bread. I will definitely be making these again, and plan on playing around with the recipe, maybe trying some with pumpkin in place of the banana. 

They are “no sugar” since all the sweetness comes from the fruit. When I was making them I realized they are also gluten free (if you use gf oats), egg free, and depending on the type of milk you use can also be made dairy free and/or nut free. 

Breakfast of oatmeal "cookies" and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

Breakfast of oatmeal “cookies” and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

No Sugar Banana Oatmeal Bites:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I used part applesauce and part oil since I somehow only had a few Tablespoons of applesauce.)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional, but recommended. Could substitute other types of dried fruit or some chocolate chips.)
  • 1/4 cup milk (Original recipe calls for almond milk, I used whole milk. Use whatever fits your diet/needs.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (might be good with an additional sprinkle of ginger and nutmeg.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and grease your cookie tray or line with parchment paper. (I didn’t do this and the cookies stuck a bit since they aren’t high in fat like traditional cookies.) Mix all the ingredients and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges start turning golden brown. Enjoy warm, or store in an air tight container.