Munchkin Meals: Taco Night!

We have taco night once or twice a month around here.  I love how easy it is to throw this meal together, yet how festive, fun, and filling it is! <–How’s that for alliteration?!  Best of all is that after laying out a variety of topppings, everyone can choose what they want, and I don’t feel like a short order cook.  We like traditional tacos, but it’s so easy to switch it up with different meats, toppings, and spices.  Is it a toddler approved meal? Yes! What kiddo doesn’t like scooping their own fun foods onto their plate? And heck, I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like tacos. Matty (now 22 months) is all. over. the. place in terms of eating.  Lately, he’s been really into breakfast–eating a huge breakfast, then wanting little else the rest of the day.  There’s still a few key things I can count on him eating, though–like tacos!

Of course, I add a few tweaks to make it healthier along the way.

Taco seasoning used to be a big fight around here.  Hubby swore he hated it, but he also complained that plain meat was too, well, plain.  He said the packaged seasoning is too salty, and he’s right (not to mention the MSG, preservatives, and in some cases artificial dyes).  So a few months ago, a friend pinned this recipe for DIY taco seasoning, so I gave it a shot.  It worked perfectly, though I did think it needed a bit more salt (weird for me to say since I don’t add salt to much)!

Healthier Taco Recipe

  • 3/4 lb. ground lean turkey
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef (**Just adding a bit of ground beef helps take away the turkey flavor, and gives it the appearance of typical ground beef.  This is important if you have a husband/kids who freak out about ground turkey for whatever reason ::cough cough, not pointing any fingers:: even though it’s healthier)
  • 1 c. finely chopped kale and/or spinach (this shrivels up nicely and you can pass it off as parsley 🙂 )
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded carrots (this isn’t as easy to pass off as “oh, it’s just seasoning…”
  • Brown meat over medium heat (add carrots during this step)
  • After draining, add greens and stir
  • Add 2 rounded tablespoons of seasoning and 1/2 cup water
  • Reduce heat, stir occasionally over a few minutes, then enjoy!

**I usually make 3-4 batches of this (since I use wonky portions of meat), then freeze it. It lasts for a few months (at least), and is easy to thaw in the fridge and heat back up in the skillet.

Serving Ideas

Don’t forget–a “topping bar” makes it even more toddler friendly!

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded Cheese (even just having a variety of cheeses could be a fun way to switch things up)
  • Lettuce (if you’re trying to cut calories, using a large lettuce leaf as a shell works well)
  • Corn (I like oven roasting frozen corn for about 10 minutes with olive oil and seasoning, but usually it’s just the microwave variety…)
  • Sour Cream (Hubby nor I are big fans, but Matthew tried some at Grandma’s and seemed to be a fan)
  • Hard or Soft Tortillas
  • Chips instead of shells
  • Rice
  • Beans (we’re partial to black beans cooked with a bit of cumin)

Pssst. I’m looking for a healthier taco shell recipe.  Preferably something super-quick, or something that can be frozen.  Any tried and true ideas?

Munchkin Meals is a link-up hosted by Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life.  Ever in need of a fun, healthy meal or snack for your kiddo? Click on over to find loads of ideas all put together by other Mamas.

Munchkin Meals: April

I tried to focus on meals that included most of Matty’s favorites right now.  It’s amazing the difference a month makes!  He’s added quite a few new foods to his “approved list”, however, we’re far from being a great eater.  Oh, and we’re definitely in the “broken food” stage, i.e. broken crackers are unacceptable and bananas that break in two cause meltdowns. I don’t think I can handle this stage…18 months is too early for this crapt, right?

Breakfast

  • fried egg with spinach
  • nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, roasted sunflower seed kernels) LOVES THESE!
  • apples (diced AND sliced…because, you know, you never know how he’ll want them today…)
  • peanut butter for dipping (we’re really working on liking dips around here…)

Breakfast stays about the same.  Occasionally we’ll have eggs on toast or a waffle.  Lately we’ve been having egg sandwiches because he’s really into eating sandwiches “like daddy”.  If I’m really tired, we might just have Raisin Bran (Post brand has no HFCS) with almond milk.  Sometimes he just eats a banana.  He’s really, really random as to what time he wants to eat in the morning and how much he wants to eat. This depends on if he nursed in the morning or not (he’s experimenting with cutting out various nursing sessions…)  He’ll usually have a very small glass of orange juice with breakfast (I’m talking a few ounces), then water the rest of the day.

One random trick I’ve found to get him to eat more is to really talk about the food on his plate.  I’ll point everything out, talk about it a bit, and then ask him to show me the eggs, or toast, or chocolate cake (kidding!).

Lunch

(including afternoon snack)

  • chicken noodle soup 
  • strawberries
  • baby carrots and celery
  • peanut butter for dipping
  • graham crackers
  • Cheez It letter crackers
  • dried apricots

This was a meal I packed for the sitter’s house.  He’s usually hungry for lunch at a different time each day (surprise!), and it’s sometimes very difficult to figure out what he wants to eat.  I’m always worried about sending enough food, or the right food, or the food that Matty might possibly maybe kinda sorta be in the mood for that day.  Thankfully, he seems to be a lot less picky there; maybe because there’s another kid to show off for, or maybe because I’m not there for him to appeal to.

Dinner

Absolute hands-down favorite meal: brown rice & black beans from Chipotle.  He’s always eaten this, and probably would eat it for every meal if we’d serve it.  I’ve started adding a little cheese, and he also usually eats a piece or two of chicken and tortilla off of Hubs’ burrito.  I tried adding some tomato salsa a few times, but he’s not a fan…yet.  I think his favorite part is dumping the rice and beans out of the little cups.  Recently, he started using his chips to scoop with.

This month has been racked with sickness, so we’ve eaten a lot of Chipotle.  Since it’s a half hour drive both ways, we usually treat him to an apple juice for being a trooper in the car.  They use pretty much all organic ingredients, so it’s one fast-food I’m on board with. He now asks for beans by name, and a few weeks ago we drove by Chipotle without stopping and he freaked out yelling “my beans, my beans”.  And we miiiiight have taught him the infamous “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart” song…we’re awesome parents.

Pssst. I’m linking up @ A Healthy Slice of Life for Munchkin Meals.  Click on over for other great ideas for feeding Wee Ones.