As we coast into the season of mashed potatoes, cookies, eggnog, and pie, I figured it was more important than ever to share a few easy meals that are healthy yet filling–and might even provide some leftovers for an at-the-ready meal another day.
The source of this fun spin on a favorite takeout menu item may surprise you. Though it might not strike you as typical toddler fare, this recipe (save a tweak or two) is part of a comprehensive collection of baby and toddler food included in Sonali Ruder’s latest cookbook, Natural Baby Food.
Sonali is a longtime friend of mine who has successfully balanced and artfully connected two seemingly different careers. She is an ER doctor and the culinary school-trained voice behind The Foodie Physician blog. As if this fabulous mother and wife doesn’t have enough to keep her busy, Sonali is also an author several times over.
Her latest book contains over 150 nutritious recipes for babies and toddlers, but many of the toddler meals will appeal to the whole family. In addition to the recipes, which range from homemade baby purees, easy pick-up foods, wholesome dips, and uncomplicated dinners, Sonali provides reliable information for every stage. This book is perfect for first-time parents wondering when and how to introduce solids, how much to feed, what foods avoid, and what are the best sources of protein, carbohydrates, iron and calcium.
The following recipe used uses leaner Canadian bacon in place of the traditional strips and nutrient-rich quinoa instead of rice. Eggs add protein and a few choice veggies contribute eye-catching color as well as added nutrients. As I mention below, there are some easy ways to adjust this recipe based on what you like and have on hand. But however you make it, it’s likely to please the big eaters at the table as much as the little ones!
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and well drained
- 4 teaspoons safflower, peanut or other neutral-flavored oil, divided use
- 3 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- 4 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 cup frozen peas (I’ve also used frozen shelled edamame that was mostly thawed)
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free), plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1-1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 12-15 minutes until done. Cool the quinoa, ideally overnight in the refrigerator.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wok (or 12-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet) over medium high heat. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork and add them to the pan. Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs until they are mostly cooked but still glossy. Chop the eggs into pieces with a spatula, and transfer them to a plate. Wipe out the pan.
Heat the remaining 3 teaspoons oil in the wok or skillet. Add the Canadian bacon, and cook until lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites, and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add the peas (still frozen is fine) and cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through, stirring often. Add the cooled quinoa and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, scallion greens, cooked egg, and optional Sriracha and stir to combine well. Garnish with scallion greens. Cook and stir another minute or two until the quinoa is warm and everything is fully mixed. Serve with an additional drizzle of soy sauce, if desired.