Family dinners are always challenging. First you make a salad, then a side dish or two, followed by a main course of some sort. Even before kids I couldn’t coordinate these pieces of the meal puzzle and I certainly don’t have time for it now. Needless to say, all-encompassing meals are my favorite way to cook. They are so much easier to make, and generally provide more time-saving left overs.
At the moment, my favorite meal to make (and eat!) is sweet potato tacos. It combines all of our favorite foods into one super, tasty package. They’re pretty much God’s gift to Taco Tuesday.
One of the best things about tacos is their versatility. You can add as much or as little of what you want, and these spuds are no different. I like to add lettuce, tomatoes (or salsa), and cheese, whereas, B strictly does a little meal and cheese with tomatoes on the side. To each their own, and they can with these tacos!
4 sweet potatoes
1lbs ground beef, ground chicken, or meat of your choice
2T extra virgin olive oil
½t ground black pepper
2T taco seasoning (or more to taste)
Whatever you like on your tacos (tomatoes, salsa, lettuce, cheese…)
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Wash sweet potatoes and cut off any undesirable spots (usually the ends).
- In a bowl, take the olive oil and apply generously to the potato skins. Add salt and pepper to the skins. Once the skins have crisped in the oven, you’ll be happy you seasoned the skins.
- Place fully oiled and seasoned potatoes onto a baking sheet. I use a jelly roll pan since the potatoes have a tendency to want to roll and no one likes fishing a rogue potato out of the bottom of the oven.
- Vent the potatoes, using a fork, and place baking sheet in the oven.
- They will remain in the oven, depending on size, between 45-60 minutes. We are looking for a well baked potato, so if at 45 minutes your potato is still resisting your fork, give it the extra time it needs to soften. I have found that most sweet potatoes I’ve made will bake for closer to the 60-minute mark.
- Once they’re ready, take them out of the oven and let them sit. If you’re still working on making the taco meat, you don’t have to worry about the potatoes getting cold. They hold their heat very well.
- Once you’re ready to serve, cut potato down the middle lengthwise. Open potato and smash with a fork. Now you’re ready to add your taco fixings.
Tip: If you are short on time, try prepping the meat with other meals requiring ground beef. Taco meat freezes beautifully.
- Brown meat and drain off excess fat.
- Place meat back into pan and add 1/3 C water with 2T of taco seasoning. Cover and let simmer while stirring occasionally (between chopping toppings) for about 10-12 minutes. If you are tired of forgetting the small packet of pre-made taco seasoning or are just looking for a better alternative, whole new mom has my favorite taco seasoning recipe. It is free of preservatives, added sugars, and dairy.
- Is your meat done? Well, you are ready to taco! Pile taco meat, cheese, and whatever else you like on top of the mashed sweet potato. With every bite, you will be hit with the salty goodness of the meat along with the molasses-sweet flavor of the sweet potato.
I hope you and yours enjoy the sweet potato tacos as much my family does.
I have found myself very passionate about making baby food for Little Man and I cannot wait to share ALL of the awesome, yummy baby food recipes I’ve come up with! Just to give you a little background: I do my best to feed Little Man as little processed food as possible and I do not like to have any kind of preservatives in my baby food. The way I keep my baby food from spoiling is by freezing it in the Fresh Baby Trays. I don’t really worry about them getting freezer burnt as Little Man does an excellent job eating them up in a timely fashion. With that said, I don’t go nuts and make more than a month’s worth of baby food at any given time for the simple reason that we just don’t have the space in our freezer.
This week I made a super tasty baby food recipe that is too good to keep to myself. It’s simple, took very little effort, and I had no problem licking it off my fingers when Little Man decided to share!
Special Kitchen tools you will need:
Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays (2)
1 Acorn Squash
1 Butternut Squash
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cut both squash in half the long way. Definitely use a large-bladed knife as you may need the cleaving power.
- When you’ve cut both squash in half, remove seeds with spoon and discard seeds and guts.
- After the squash are gutted, I recommend cutting the curved side of the squash as we will be placing the squash face up on the jellyroll pan. I have tried roasting squash both facing up and down and have found without adding oil (which I prefer to keep out my baby food), face up works best.
- All four halves of squash should fit nicely on one jellyroll pan. Once oven is preheated, place squash in oven on middle rack for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time will vary depending on your oven and size of squash. You will know they are done when they are easy to pierce with a fork.
- Once your squash are ready to come out of the oven (you will likely notice the skins beginning to brown and edges will curl slightly), remove from oven and let them sit for 20 minutes. Once you can comfortably handle the squash, feel free to move on to the next step!
- Peel squash with knife, or if tender enough, scoop out contents with a spoon. There’s no need to keep the squash in any particular form. If you end up with it chunked, that’s perfectly fine. It all ends up in the food processor anyway!
- Once peeled, take half of acorn and butternut squash and place into food processor. Process until smooth.
- Empty squash from food processor into a bowl and repeat step eight with the remaining squash.
- At this point, peel and pit a ripe peach and add to food processor. Process until well incorporated into squash puree.
- Pour the remaining puree from food processor into bowl and stir.
- If Freezing*** pour puree evenly over the Fresh Baby Trays and freeze for at least 6 hours. Don’t worry if the puree is still warm when freezing. The Fresh Baby Trays are BPA and phthalate free!
Tip: Since I have two Fresh Baby Trays, I usually have some left over puree. I recommend storing the rest in the fridge and using that up first. I found that it is usually gone within three days, so there is no additional need for other forms of preserving.
After waking up several times a night, the last thing any mommy wants to do is get up for the day. No matter how hard you will yourself out of bed, there’s always that little voice telling you to crawl back under the sheets and stay there. Those nights are rough and happen much more often than we’d like, but moms don’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Sadly, I cannot magically make your kids sleep through the night, nor can I silence your deepest desires to sleep the entire day away, but I can offer you an easy solution to your breakfast woes.
As a family that has three mouths to feed, we now collectively devour one super yummy, hydrating and healthy smoothie filled with all the nutrients we need to get our day off on the right foot. It’s not always the case that three people will like the same foods, but this smoothie is satisfyingly sweet and packed with plenty of fiber and nutrients found naturally in the fruits as well as a minimal-ingredient protein powder. We use Vega Protein Powder (vanilla flavor) which has proteins from plants rather than dairy or soy and tastes delicious! We used to take out a small portion for Little Man before adding the protein powder, but now recognize the health benefits the protein powder has for him too.
Here’s how we make our family’s breakfast smoothie and also an adorable testimonial photo from Little Man.
1.5 Cups Frozen Pineapple
2 Cups Frozen Strawberries
2 Cups Frozen Blue Berries
2 Cups Water
1 Scoop Vega Plant-Based Protein Powder
- In a blender, layer frozen fruit and banana. If you have a standard-size blender, this will likely leave you with just enough room to add the lid.
- Pour the two cups of water over the fruit. I found that adding the water all at once helps to get give the blender a little more to work with and does not run the blades without actually blending.
- Blend fruit until slushy and resembles desired smoothie consistency. I start with medium-high works well and increasing to high once the large pieces have been blended.
Tip: You may notice with this quantity of fruit may be a lot for your blender to handle. If that’s the case, make sure to stir with a wooden spoon as needed. If you are lucky enough to have a Ninja Blender, this won’t be an issue for you. This blender is at the tippy-top of my wish list!
- Pour one scoop of Vega Protein Powder on top of the blended fruit. And blend until evenly incorporated.
- Once done, you should have roughly five cups of smoothie, which you can then split among the family. We like to enjoy our smoothies with bendy straws because you are never too old for bendy straws!
So you have a baby and still want to impress people with food… Good news! Summer gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that! Fruit is in season and backyard barbecues are in full swing. What else could you ask for? To be honest, unless you get a babysitter, baking or cooking for friends will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean it is unattainable. There are a lot of crowd-pleasing dishes you can make that will impress your friends and they will not have a clue you had a tiny person clinging to your ankle the whole time!
One of my favorites is the strawberry crumble from Real Plans. This crumble seriously takes very little time and is extremely forgiving when it comes to how things are combined. There are no small steps that will ruin this dessert, which means you will continue to be reining champ of baked goods (we’ll let you keep thinking that). The best part about this dessert is that it is casual enough for a small friendly get-together but can also be dressed up for a much swankier event as well.
Please check out the recipe below, and if you like what you see, there is plenty more where that came from. Real Plans has plenty more crowd-pleasing dishes to offer.
Preheat oven to 350 F
- Wash and remove greens from strawberries. Once you’ve done that, you are set to place the strawberries (halved) into a mixing bowl.
- Juice Lemon into a small bowl then once you are sure no seeds managed to make their way into the bowl, pour lemon juice over strawberries
Tip: If you are frugal and don’t see the point of a lemon juicer like myself, I would recommend just using a regular fork. “How,” you ask? Hold lemon in your palm, insert fork, and squeeze and twist lemon. It does the trick for me.
- Combine strawberries and lemon with tapioca starch, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Place bowl contents in any 9” baking dish. I personally used a pie pan, but shape is not important.
- Combine almond flour, sea salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup until contents look like a heavily textured liquid.
Tip: We made the mistake of adding more almond flour because we felt the topping looked too thin. Having the contents thin will allow for a more even topping on the dessert.
- Place topping evenly over the strawberries then place in oven. Allow the dessert to bake for 30 minutes or until topping turns crispy golden and strawberries are bubbly.
- When taking the dessert out of oven, make sure to allow it to sit for 10 minutes to let the dessert set. This will make it much easier to serve.
When my husband and I were first discussing having babies many, many years ago, his biggest reservation was that babies turn into toddlers that always have jam-covered fingers. Fast forward seven years, it turns out once you start feeding a child ANYTHING (no matter the age) they have sticky, grimy fingers! Though my husband is not thrilled about Little Man’s grimy mitts, we do enjoy his adorable face smeared with whatever we decided to feed him that day. The good news is, we know exactly what it is that we are feeding him because we make our own baby food.
Why on Earth would I go through all the time and hassle to make my son’s food? To be honest, it is super easy and really does not take very much time at all. I also really appreciate knowing how his food is preserved (freezer!) and making sure that he is being fed food that I’m comfortable with. I will walk you through how I make Little Man’s baby food (sweet potato puree, yum!) so that it is as easy to follow and can be done even with a rambunctious baby in tow.
Here are some tools you will need:
- Food Processor
- Stock Pot
- Potato Peeler
- Sharp Kitchen Knife
- Cutting Board
3 large sweet Potatoes
4 Cups of filtered water (for cooking veggies)
- Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. If you have your kiddo in a carrier, I would recommend always having them facing inward whenever working in the kitchen for safety reasons.
- Once the potatoes are peeled, I rinse them again to avoid any residual dirt from the peeling process.
- Start a pot of water filled with roughly four cups (roughly one liter), or enough water to cover the potatoes. Place the temperature to medium-high heat.
- Cut sweet potatoes into pieces that are roughly two-inches thick.
- Place cut pieces of sweet potato into the water that is not yet boiling.
- From here, I like to wait until the water starts to boil and set a timer for 12 minutes. This should leave your potatoes tender enough that a fork can pierce them.
Note: In case your kiddo decides that it’s nap time or has prevented you from being able to tend to the sweet potatoes for any time after the water starts boiling, do not worry! Little Man decided he needed to take a nap right in the middle of making his last batch of sweet potatoes, and they turned out perfect! All I did was turn off the burner with the pot still on the burner and left it covered until I could come back to it.
- Once your potatoes have passed the fork test, strain them in a colander or remove them piece by piece with slotted spoon. This step I do with my son on a blanket on the other side of the kitchen to avoid any burning injuries. Though I am careful in the kitchen, hot liquids seem to be the easiest to screw up so why take the chance?
- Place the potatoes directly into your food processor with the rotary blade setting. I personally like using my metal rotary blade, but I would imagine plastic would be fine as well.
- Turn on the food processor until you no longer see any chunks. I found it took roughly one minute for my food processor to get the job done.
- Place into storage container of your choosing. I personally use the Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Storage Trays for portioning purposes. I personally like these trays because they are made from biodegradable plastic, and are BPA and phthalate free! In the case of the sweet potatoes, the contents will be hot when going into the storage container, so it is important to have a BPA free container for that purpose.
- Freeze and call it a day!
- Once the food has set, I transfer them to freezer bags so that I can make more baby food without needing more freezing containers.
I enjoy making Little Man’s baby food because there’s just something about knowing exactly what I’m putting into my child’s mouth that gives me peace of mind. There is so much to worry about as a parent, so I eliminate that concern by doing it myself. An added bonus is that most baby food can be easily made alongside your regular daily cooking. I am constantly juggling tasks so having something I don’t have to watch closely is right up my alley.
I hope these instructions make preparing your own baby food a little less scary and a lot easier! Happy parenting!