Tag Archive for real food for kids

Real Food Meatballs

Making kid food from real food ingredients gives them the most health and nutrition possible. I’ve been working on a new menu for the kids this fall, and these meatballs are a new item we are going to put on it. We made a tester version of them and the kids LOVED them! If you want to see how to simplify menu planning, click here

homemade meatballs

Kids love foods they can hold like meatballs. 

Meatballs are similar to meatloaf, but i made these in small balls for less hassle and waste. These meatballs are two per serving for a 3-4 year old. They are easy to divide, easy to serve seconds and all the kids gobbled them up. 


delicious homemade meatball

I love feeding my kids foods I know are nutritious AND well liked.

Click here to see our new empanada recipe and watch the blog for our new hot pocket recipe coming soon. All of these items have been well loved here at Little Sprouts. I have included the recipe for a single batch of meatballs AND the recipe for a quadruple batch so you can make a huge batch and put a bunch in the freezer for the next time like I do. If you are going to make a mess and cook, you might as well really get something done. 

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If you want to read more about how to get picky kids to eat healthy foods, click here.

Don’t forget to pin this for later! Real Food Meatballs

Real Food Meatballs
Kid Friendly meatballs (tiny meatloaves) made with real food ingredients.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb meat
  2. ½ chopped onion
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. ¼ c. bread crumbs
  6. ½ c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. ¼ c. grated cheese
  8. ½ c. tomato sauce
  9. 1 tsp. thyme
  10. 1 tsp. parsley
  11. ½ tsp. salt
  12. ¼ tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup for the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 20 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Real Food Meatballs x 4
Multi batch of kid friendly meatballs made from real food.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 lb ground meat
  2. 2 chopped onion
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 4 cloves garlic
  5. 1 c. bread crumbs
  6. 2 c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. 1 c. grated cheese
  8. 2 c. tomato sauce
  9. 4 tsp. thyme
  10. 4 tsp. parsley
  11. 2 tsp. salt
  12. 1 tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup to top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 80 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/

Sausage, Cheddar and Potato Empanadas-Real Food, Kid Friendly Freezer Meals

I am working on a new menu for my Little Sprouts and I needed to come up with some new items. I decided to add empanadas to the cycle. Menu planning can be daunting. It’s hard to find enough things that are affordable, well liked, and not too time consuming.

One great way I avoid spending a ton of time in the kitchen every day is by making things ahead and freezing them. I make huge batches of muffins, pancakes, homemade bread, cookies, and other menu items and freeze them. I place enough of the item to feed us for one meal and store it in freezer bags.

Searching for some new kid friendly delights that can be made ahead, I came across the idea of an empanada. Empanadas are like hand held fried pies. They have pie crust for the container and you fill them with savory items and bake them in the oven. They can be sweet as well, but for the purpose of a main dish for the childcare menu, I was looking for savory items.

I looked all over the internet and most empanada recipes used pie crust or a corn meal crust, so I went with pie crust in order to make it as simple as possible with what I had on hand. I looked at all the fillings. Most of them were ground beef with tomato of some sort. I really don’t care for cooked tomatoes, and they are messy, so I made up my own recipe with diced potatoes, sausage and cheese. I made a bunch of them up, baked a tester batch, and froze the rest for baking later.


stuffing empanada dough with sausage, cheese, and potato empanadas

The kids LOVED them. At first they were like, say what? After I started eating mine, I told them they were sausage because I know how much they love sausage. Then one kid tried a bite and said yum, and in a few minutes, everyone was eating. That’s pretty unusual to have 100% participation on the first try, so I call that a giant victory.

I supplement many of my recipes with green powder. It’s a powder I made from taking any greens from the garden, such as arugula, Swiss chard, carrot tops, radish tops, leaves from broccoli, spinach, kale, or whatever we are growing that we didn’t get a chance to eat.

I dehydrate it and blend it into powder in the blender. I put it in jars and sprinkle it into food. About 2 tablespoons of green powder is a serving of greens. They have so much moisture, a lot of them shrinks down very small. No one can detect them. They look like herb flakes and you can’t taste them. Click here to learn how to make them. 

I add them to scrambled eggs, casseroles, soups, sauces, spaghetti, and many other dishes. It adds nutrients without anyone knowing. For four batches of my empanada recipe, I added ½ cup or 4 servings of greens. Nutrients add up. 

I have wanted a Ninja for years and have been saving up for one. I didn’t even have a food processor before I got this. I am so excited to use it to save myself time. I used it for several steps of the recipe and it worked great.

I peeled the onions and cut the ends off and tossed them in the ninja food processor, I cut the end off the hot peppers and threw them in. I was able to throw the garlic I whole.

If you wanted to add some carrots or other veggies into the meat mixture for more nutrients, you could process those as well. I didn’t have to dice all of that up AND kids don’t like texture as a rule as much as adults, so it helped the onions and stuff disappear into the filling more.

I made a quadruple batch for my freezer. I figure if I’m going to get out the mess, I might as well make a lot. This saves so much time on clean up. If you’re getting everything out, get in it for the long haul. I am adding the recipe for one batch of empanadas and the recipe for 4 so you don’t have to figure up the ingredients if you want to fill the freezer with empanadas for your family.

butter for empanada dough

empanada dough in the ninja

My empanadas did not turn out cute, I call them ugly empanadas, but they taste amazing. Taste is all that matters. If you make them 6 inches, the recipe makes about 10-12, but that’s a huge serving for a kid, so I made mine about 3-4 inches. I got about 20 per batch.

using ninja to make empanada dough

I got up early and made all of the filling before the kids got here. I rolled out one batch and baked them for lunch, and then rolled out and filled the rest at nap while they slept. I sat those in the freezer on a baking sheet. When they were frozen solid, after 2 hours, I put a dozen in each bag and put them back in the freezer.

Sausage, cheese and potato empanadas

Emapanada dough made in ninja

stuffed empanada

I hope you enjoy these empanadas and make some for your family. You will love them. 

Sausage, cheese and potato empanada

Sausage Cheddar and Potato Empanadas-Single Batch
Small, hand held meat pie. Delicious!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. sausage
  2. ½ C. Shredded cheese of your choice (I chose cheddar)
  3. ½ lb. potatoes diced in ¼ inch dice
  4. ½ tsp salt
  5. 1 chopped onion
  6. 2 cloves garlic
  7. 1 tsp thyme
  8. ½ tsp pepper
  9. 1 small jalapeno or other mild hot pepper
  10. 1 batch pie dough
Instructions
  1. Place onion, garlic, hot pepper, salt, pepper, and thyme in skillet and cook until onions are soft.
  2. Add sausage and cook until brown.
  3. Remove mixture from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving sausage fat.
  4. Add diced potatoes to the pan and cook and stir until potatoes are soft.
  5. Add them to the meat mixture.
  6. Let mixture cool.
  7. Add cheese and mix ingredients well.
  8. Make pie dough and roll as thin as possible.
  9. Cut dough into 4 inch circles or squares.
  10. Place two tablespoons of filling in each piece of dough, leaving ½ inch of dough around filling.
  11. Fold dough over filling and fold dough over and pinch about every ½ inch until the entire empanada is sealed.
  12. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crust is browned.
  13. You can brush them with an egg wash for a shiny crust.
  14. 1 egg with 1 T. water whisked well.
  15. If you wish you use the empanadas later, you can freeze them on the cookie sheet for two hours.
  16. Take off sheet and place in tightly sealed container.
  17. Bake frozen at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Sausage Cheddar and Potato Empanadas-Four Batches
Bulk freezer batch of handheld savory meat pies.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 lb. sausage
  2. 2 C. Shredded cheese of your choice (I chose cheddar)
  3. 2 lb. potatoes diced in ¼ inch dice
  4. 2 tsp salt
  5. 4 chopped onion
  6. 8 cloves garlic
  7. 4 tsp thyme
  8. 2 tsp pepper
  9. 4 small jalapeno or other mildly hot pepper
  10. 4 batches pie dough
Instructions
  1. Place onion, garlic, hot pepper, salt, pepper, and thyme in skillet and cook until onions are soft.
  2. Add sausage and cook until brown.
  3. Remove mixture from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving sausage fat.
  4. Add diced potatoes to the pan and cook and stir until potatoes are soft.
  5. Add them to the meat mixture.
  6. Let mixture cool.
  7. Add cheese and mix ingredients well.
  8. Make pie dough and roll as thin as possible.
  9. Cut dough into 4 inch circles or squares.
  10. Place two tablespoons of filling in each piece of dough, leaving ½ inch of dough around filling.
  11. Fold dough over filling and fold dough over and pinch about every ½ inch until the entire empanada is sealed.
  12. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crust is browned.
  13. You can brush them with an egg wash for a shiny crust.
  14. 1 egg with 1 T. water whisked well.
  15. If you wish you use the empanadas later, you can freeze them on the cookie sheet for two hours.
  16. Take off sheet and place in tightly sealed container.
  17. Bake frozen at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Pie Dough
Flaky, tender pie crust for savory or sweet pies.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ c. Flour
  2. ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  3. 1 tsp. Salt
  4. 2 sticks (1 C) Butter
  5. 5-6 T Ice Water
Instructions
  1. Place flour, baking powder and salt in food processor
  2. Pulse 3 times to mix
  3. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse until mixture is like coarse sand.
  4. Add water 1 T. at a time until dough just begins to come together.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and work dough into a ball with as little kneading as possible.
  6. Wrap tightly and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Continue with empanada instructions.
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
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Sausage, Cheese and Potato Empanadas-Real Food, Kid Friendly Freezer Meals