When it was time for our oldest to start eating solid foods, I was very frustrated that he wasn’t eating baby food like he was “supposed” to. I went to so much effort buying baby food books and making my own food, then he would only eat a few bites here and there. I heard some friends talking about something called Baby Led Weaning, which is a strange name for something people have been doing…forever I think. It basically means, let your kid learn to feed himself from the beginning, no spoon feeding. I knew my kid wasn’t into being fed and it made more sense to allow him to feed himself. With my second, we did a combination of both baby food (store bought this time), and self feeding.
Immediately after learning about BLW, I started researching finger food recipes. I needed food at home, and he was going to daycare 2-3 days per week and I needed lunch for that as well (although I do remember he ate some baby food at school, where he was more cooperative). I can’t remember where I found the recipe, but somewhere, someone created recipe for little vegetable cakes. I made them one evening and he gobbled two up for lunch the next day. From then on I made a big batch of veggie cakes every couple of days and kept them in the freezer. He got them everyday – lunch, dinner, if we went to a restaurant, etc. I made them with all kinds of veggies – beans, peas, lima beans, corn, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus. I made them with different cheese – cheddar, colby, monterrey jack, mozzarella. In other words, you can do no wrong with these. You can even bake them in a toaster oven if you don’t want to heat up your kitchen in the summer. Been there!
They eventually fell out of favor when his new classroom didn’t have a microwave (they don’t taste good cold), so I stopped making them. Then, I dusted off the recipe and I have been making them for the toddler since summer of 2014. Today is the first time I have tried to document my process and ingredients, and I had the advantage of cooking in the daytime, with a helper. There is a lot wiggle room with these. The amount of cheese and bread crumbs can be varied, just like meatballs. I hope your kiddos enjoy them as much as mine have!
- Start with veggies. I use an entire bag of mixed vegetables. Sometimes I throw it other veg I have in the freezer. I haven’t seen bags of organic mix veg here, so I buy the store brand. Other stuff you need: egg, breadcrumbs, cheese (any kind). You can also add spices if you are trying to get baby used to the spices in your cooking.
- Steam the veggies in a steam basket for a few minutes. Just until they are soft.
- Pulse a few times in a food processor, scrape the bowl, pulse a few more times. We’re not making a puree here, it’s ok to leave the mixture chunky. But, small chunks.
- Scoop out the veggies and put in a food processor. I usually have a few peas and carrots fall overboard during this step. Then I forget to clean them up, and someone steps on a pea.
- Pour the veggies in a bowl and while still hot, grate in some cheese. Maybe 2oz, or so. Or less. It’s good to do this step while the veggies are hot so the cheese will melt.
- Add an egg. I remember separating the egg and only using the yolk when they were both little, not sure if that is the suggested practice anymore. Now I add the whole thing.
- Add some breadcrumbs – just enough so you can make a little patty out of the mixture. I buy bread on sale and pulse in my food processor, and keep in the freezer.
- Put the patties on a greased pan (I hope yours looks as awesome as mine) and cook at 350 for about 10 mins. Then, flip the patties over and cook another 7-9 mins. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on them during the second cooking time. They will still be mushy after the first round, but they can dry out during the second. You will know when they are done.
- Take ’em out, let ’em cool, and either serve or keep in the fridge for a few days or freeze. I take one out of the freezer every night and pack in the toddler’s lunch, and they get warmed up for a few seconds at school. He had one tonight at dinner, so I know he still likes them!