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Easy Meals for Busy Moms

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Can't find time to prep a healthy meal? The help you need is here! Join the conversation for personalized meal plans, time-saving tricks, and more. Led by Registered Dietitian, Vanessa Thornton.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Seafood recipes
SUSAN, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 11 MONTH OLD

Hi! Any quick go-to seafood recipes you’ve found successful for toddlers?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Yes! Fish is a great source of protein and essential fatty acids. It’s also a great way to add some variety to your weeknight meal routine. A few ideas:

BAKED FISH STICKS or POPCORN SHRIMP
Set up 2 bowls: one with a whisked egg and the second with Panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Cut cod filets into strips, then coat each strip in the eggs, then Panko. Place all the ‘sticks’ on a greased baking sheet and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes. The same recipe works with shrimp! Mix it up by adding old bay seasoning, lemon or Parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs.

SALMON CAKES:
Mix 1 can of Wild salmon with egg, bread crumbs and lemon. Adjust amount of all ingredients based on desired consistency and taste. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan. Once hot, pan dear the patties for a few minutes on each side. These can be served plain, on a bun, or cut into finger food to dip in condiments. You can also use fresh salmon filets if you have time- simply bake the use a fork to break into small pieces before forming parties. They freeze well, too!

HEALTHY TUNA SALAD:
Mix 1 can chunk-light tuna with mashed avocado or your child’s favorite hummus flavor. Mix to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or as a sandwich.

While fish is a great option, the FDA does recommend limiting intake to 1-3 servings for week for young children and pregnant women due to high levels of mercury. Some fish, like swordfish and shark, should be avoided completely. You can for more information on their website here: https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm393070.htm

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
One-pot recipes for the whole family
JULIE , PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi. Can you recommend any easy one-pot recipes that a toddler could also enjoy? I find myself making two different dinners - one for our toddler and one for us. I would be so happy to make things we can all eat. Thank you!

Vanessa
VANESSA

I love this idea! The sooner you can get your toddler eating the same foods the rest of the family eats, the better. There is no reason why toddlers have to eat chicken nuggets and other supposed "kid friendly" foods. Virtually ALL foods are kid friendly if you encourage this philosophy at home. A few basic ideas:
STIR FRY: Stir fry beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu with a teriyaki sauce or any other Asian marinade you like. Add a variety of chopped vegetables. (You don't have to make this in a wok if you don't have one- any standard pan will do.) You can also do this taco seasoning instead of Asian-inspired sauces and fill tortillas with the mix for easy fajitas.
PASTA: Buy pre-made meatballs or sausages in the refrigerated case at the grocery store (try chicken or turkey versions, too!). Heat them in a pan with a little olive oil. Add veggies half way through to sauté. Once done, add cooked pasta and stir in your favorite sauce to combine or drizzle with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
CROCK POTS: Beef stew, chili and BBQ chicken are all easy options. Just dump the ingredients in let your home fill with the delicious aroma of dinner all day.
OVEN ROASTING: Roasted vegetables are an easy and healthy way to prepare veggies. Kids usually love them because the roasting process brings out the sweetness of the veggies without making them mushy. Toss any veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet along with your protein- I like to do simple turkey, salmon or beef burger patties but plain chicken breasts or pieces of fish work just fine. Add some cubed red potatoes for a starch and let the whole tray cook at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until your protein is cooked through.
Enjoy!

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Breakfast tips
JEANNE, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

I'm so busy feeding, bathing and changing my baby in the morning, I often skip breakfast. Any ideas for quick and easy breakfast ideas?

Vanessa
VANESSA

B
reakfast is an important opportunity to fuel up in order to tackle the day. If you are breast feeding, it is especially important to keep your supply up. Overnight oats are my favorite! Put 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of milk in a jar and let it sit overnight in your fridge. You can also add a scoop of nut butter, nuts, dried or frozen fruit to the mix. Enjoy straight from the fridge or add sliced fresh fruit to top it off if you can find the time. If all else fails, invest in some bottled protein shakes or protein bars. Look for options with less sugar and made from natural ingredients.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Frozen foods
BEULAH, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

I've read that frozen foods are terrible for you, but they are so convenient! Do I really need to avoid them?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Frozen foods are usually extremely high in sodium. They also contain plenty of food additives that some families choose to avoid. Some brands are better than others- look for those labeled "low sodium". You can also scan the ingredient list- the best options are those with shorter lists and only words you can pronounce. Some frozen foods, like plain fruits and vegetables, can be a great way to quickly boost the nutrition of any meal. Even if you resort to frozen pizza for dinner, you can always add some steamed carrots or green beans on the side!