Feeding small children can be… a challenge.
Picky doesn’t even begin to describe how complicated it can be. My kids have their favorites, but are the meals balanced? Are they getting enough protein? How about fiber? Is it too high in sugar? Or sodium? Oh, and that thing that they loved last week and ate for just about every meal? They hate it now. And their younger sibling never would touch it, and probably never will. He or she has another whole set of food criteria, and it’s an even narrower list.
My older son is currently on a taco kick. It all started with the Doritos Locos Tacos, from Taco Bell, that he saw being advertised in between his favorite cartoons. I’m actually kinda psyched that he’s open to this, since it does seem to be a pretty balanced meal (as far as kid food goes), and I’ve managed to bring him around to the idea of homemade tacos, instead of the fast food version (winning!). But they are kind of a pain to put together, and messy, and his preschool doesn’t heat up lunch so I’d prefer to be able to put something in a thermos for him.
I recently saw this on Pinterest, and thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t lead to an actual recipe, so I had to get creative. C and I worked together in the kitchen developing our version, and we both love it!
Begin by boiling the pasta in salted water (for a minute or two less than the package directs), and browning the ground turkey, chicken, or beef in a skillet, along with some grated onion, garlic, tomato paste, and the fragrant spices.
**It’s very important to C that I differentiate “fragrant spice” from “hot spice.” ”Hot spice” = NO/ “Fragrant spice” = Ok.**
If your meat is very lean, you may need to moisten it with a half cup or so of chicken stock or water.
Grease an oven safe baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
After the pasta and meat are cooked, drain them and combine them in a big bowl, along with the greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, and beaten egg.
Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish, and top with crushed up corn tortilla chips.
At this point, you can put a tight cover on it and freeze or refrigerate it for another day! Or, if you just can’t wait to dig in, bake it for 25 minutes covered, then take the cover off and broil on low for another five minutes, to crisp up the top.
Garnish with finely shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes. The grownups might enjoy a little cilantro… Guacamole would also be great!
- 2½ cups dried pasta, such as Rotini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef
- 1 onion, grated or finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¾ teaspoon sherry vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup chicken stock or water (optional)
- 2 cups greek yogurt
- 2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips
- 1 heart of Romaine, shredded
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
- Boil the pasta in salty water for two minutes less than the package directs.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the ground meat, along with the onion, garlic, and tomato paste.
- Stir in the vinegar, agave/sugar, and spices.
- Add the chicken stock/water, if necessary.
- In a large bowl, combine the drained pasta with the taco meat, greek yogurt, cheese, and egg.
- Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased, 9×9″ oven safe baking dish, and bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Remove the cover, top with crushed tortilla chips, and broil on low, for another five minutes.
- Serve, topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.
Is it “a challenge” getting healthy meals into your kids? What kinds of foods do your they enjoy? Do you think they might go for something like this?