I was rereading part of Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron and she lists the “Super Green Veggies” as kale, broccoli, greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus, swiss chard, okra, peas, and spinach. She suggests that babies and toddlers (and the rest of us, too, I suppose) should have at least one serving of vegetables from this group everyday. I have to be honest and say that Meghan only eats three of those vegetables on a somewhat regular basis (broccoli, asparagus, and peas) and she definitely doesn’t get at least one serving a day. I was inspired to try to accomplish this feat, however, and decided to try to create a kid-friendly recipe that included spinach. I include spinach in my own cooking all the time, but Meghan doesn’t usually want any part of the leaves. This recipe for spinach nuggets was a success. The nuggets were crispy and tasty. These are perfect for a toddler, but would also be great for a healthy snack for older kids. I was able to do all the prep and get them into the oven while Meghan watched Sesame Street. They cooked in the oven and were ready by the lunch time. While they were cooking I decided a fun dipping sauce would be appropriate, especially since Meghan seems to love dipping her foods lately. With just a few simple ingredients, making the sauce is quite easy, and Meghan enjoyed “helping” me. You can make the dipping sauce, or just use ketchup. 🙂
1/4 cup sliced almonds*
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs, divided
1/4 cup flaxseed meal**
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar, but any kind will be fine)
*If you haven’t introduced nuts to your toddler yet, try to substitute extra bread crumbs. I started introducing nuts at age 1 with Meghan and haven’t had any issues.
**If you don’t have flaxseed meal on hand, you can use extra breadcrumbs here as well. Flaxseeds are nutritional powerhouses, though, so I highly recommend you keep flaxseed meal on hand. It’s easy to sprinkle in to most any recipe or snack. I currently use Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Place the almonds in the food processor and process until they turn into a fine crumb.
Add the two handfuls of spinach and pulse until you have a green crumb-like mixture. Set aside.
Add the spinach-almond mixture, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, the flaxseed, basil, oregano, and cheese and mix until evenly incorporated.
Place the remaining cup of breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Using your hands, form a small portion of the spinach mixture into a ball and roll it in the breadcrumbs until it is fully covered.
Put it on the cookie sheet and press it down to form a nugget shape. Repeat with remaining spinach mixture and breadcrumbs. You should end up with 15-20 small nuggets.
Bake for 25 minutes, turning the nuggets over halfway through the cooking time. Allow to cool and serve.
Yogurt-Thyme Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup yogurt*
1/8 cup tahini (sesame paste)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
*I used full-fat yogurt as fat is extremely important for the developing brains of babies under 2. If you have an older child, you may want to use low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
Here is Meghan enjoying her nugget. Please excuse the crazy-baby hair. She was in a I-don’t-want-to-keep-my-bow-in kind of mood. She ended up enjoying the dip a little too much and eating the rest of it with her hands. I didn’t mind since the ingredients were healthy.