Ever since he was eating solid foods, I've tried to help my son feel like he was part of the Thanksgiving Dinner experience. The problem, of course, is that most Thanksgiving foods are not so great for our littlest eaters. These two recipes have worked for my little one - they are easy to eat and combine sweetness with nutrition. The best part is, they can double as side dishes for adults, too!
MASHED SWEET POTATOES WITH CINNAMON
3-4 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of milk or substitute (I use soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (approximate amount - I sprinkle it and then do a taste test)
Optional: 1/4 brown sugar (or to taste)
You can make the sweet potatoes several ways. You can peel, cube and boil them in about 10-20 minutes (do a fork check - it should go in very easily). You can also roast them in the oven for about 40-45 minutes on 400 degrees. Check on them periodically after the 30-minute mark, since it depends partly on the size of your sweet potatoes. They should cook until they are very tender so that they are easy to mash but still hold some substance.
Once your sweet potatoes are cooked and peeled, place them in a bowl and mash them with a masher or a fork. Add the milk gradually while you mash so that they don't get too runny. The consistency should be soft and moist but not too liquified or too sticky and thick. Add more milk if it's the latter - but again, do it gradually. I actually add more milk when I defrost the leftovers, just to revitalize the consistency.
Sprinkle the ground cinnamon on the mashed sweet potato and mix it in. Again, do it gradually and do taste tests as you go. The little ones won't like it if it becomes too spicy from cinnamon.
Since I use soy milk, I don't need to add any more sweetener. The cinnamon also brings out the sweetness of the potatoes. If you feel the need for more sweetness, however, you could add some brown sugar, to taste. Some recipes I've seen call for a 1/4 cup.
MASHED BEETS AND APPLES
2 large beets
3-5 apples (depending on size). I like to use fuji apples
Optional: a dash of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets individually in foil (no stems or leaves, just the round beet part) and place on a baking sheet. Roast for about 50 minutes, but check on them every 20 minutes or so. They are done when you can easily slide a fork or knife all the way into the center.
While the beets are roasting, peel, core and slice your apples and place them in a pot with just enough water to barely cover them. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the temperature. Cover the apples and let them simmer until soft (a fork goes in easily), or about 8-10 minutes. Check often so that the water doesn't evaporate and the apples burn. Save the liquid from the apples.
Put the apples and beets in a food processor, then add in a little bit of the apple water to help them blend smoothly. Process them down to the consistency appropriate for your child's age - pureed smooth for babies but maybe slightly chunkier for toddlers (don't leave it too chunky or they may reject it). You can add a dash of cinnamon for an extra little kick.