Ideally toddlers should eat/be fed whatever is made in the household for adults.But any mother knows that is easier said than done.And you struggle more if you kiddo is not gaining weight appropriately or is a picky eater.This is my take on things in an effort to make a list here of all things you could keep handy in your pantry/prepare ahead of time/ prepare fresh to ensure a healthy and tasteful diet for your little one ( and rest of the family too).
In general, remember the basics of nutrition-
Carbs ( needed in most amount as give energy to play etc ,but easy to get in most foods),
Proteins ( crucial for growth, and difficult to find sometimes fir a vegetarian diet),
Fats ( long term energy storage,hormone production, healthy skin .Go for sources of healthy real fats like butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil , avocado, nuts,seeds like til ( sesame) ,other nut and seed oils. The myth about saturated fats being bad is getting busted.What you dont want to eat is margarine,shortening, palm oil, trans fats, gmo oild like canola and corn, and hydrogenated oils).
Micronutrients-vitamins snd minerals from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices -the so called superfoods.
In general-Without going insane about all the advice on the good and the bad, avoiding packaged foods, plastic containers (using glass or steel or ceramic containers/utensils) overall in your kitchen.
Colas/chips/cookies/candies/wafers can be an occassional treat.Choclates and ice creams you cannot really take away from kids but control the frequency again.There is no point in giving juice (unless you are freshly squeezing it ) plus they should eat the whole fruit which will be much better overall ( for your time and their health!).
Lets get started with our list which will keep growing hopefully based on input from more moms:
Snacks for on-the-go eating:
(Organic if possible) Whole Milk with Saffron,jaggery, sugar ,haldi, almond meal (esp in winters)
Enough Water-avoid bottled water.Just plain old clean/filtered water
Fresh Fruits (organic if eaten with skin, if possible)
Dried fruits-Raisins, apricots
Rice /millet puffs tossed with ghee
Makhane fried with ghee and salt
Greek Yogurt-can opt for plain or flavored ones Just make sure carbs ( sugar) in flavored options are not in crazily high amounts.Main reason for eating this should be proteins.
Nut butter -whole nuts are a choking hazard.Most toddlers dont like pieces of nuts that you sneak in.So nut butters can be used as a protein snack.Almond meal can be a part of cupcakes but it is coarse so doesn’t work if you add it to their milk.Almond flour can be added to milk.
Organic Egg -boiled egg is a lifesaver for any mom.If you have more time you can scramble it, or make in any way you like with a little butter.
Organic Cheese-(Do not get american cheese as it is in essence a processed food , not really a cheese.Can pick anything like swiss, mozarella, cheddar, whatever you like).
Things that can be prepared and kept ahead of time:
1.Cup cake-Using almond meal, banana/other fruits,oats, wheat/multigrain flour, eggs, butter, coconut, cocoa, jaggery, chia seeds.Actually its a good way to sneak in anything you want!
*A multi grain mix with wheat flour+oats ground into a flour+ almond meal+ flax meal can be used for cupcakes/pancakes.
2.Besan ladoo/Atta laddoo
Food items to be made fresh when you can:
1.Chila/appe -with suji, oats, besan ,grated vegetables ( again chunks of veggies will be picked out meticulously by many toddlers) folded in with buttermilk/yogurt to make a batter
2.Multigrain roti/spinach roti/grated veg paratha
*A home made multi grain flour can be made with whole wheat flour+Besan+ oats flour.( Not sure if ragi or buckwheat or quinoa flour can be added to it if making rotis/parathas.Again input is most welcome!)
3.Multigrain fruit (add berries/apples/banana) pancakes (cupcake mix) with honey
4.Idli-rice and daal idlis or rava idlis.(Still to try ragi idlis.Input welcome if any moms know how to make it)
5.Pulao-Veggies are at a risk of being picked out but if overall yummy and smells good, you stand a chance.
6.lentil pasta-because of high protein content
7.Daal-chawal:Rotate your daals/beans ( mung/ arhar or toor/ masoor/ rajma/chole/ lobiya/ kala chana)
8.Roti-sabzi:maybe made less spicy.Sabzi is still a challenge with my LO.
10.Pooris-Heard you can add beets puree (after boiling them) to the dough to make pink pooris!