Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick and Easy Pasta Meal for Picky Eaters

Jonah is a pretty picky eater, so I try to fit extra nutrients in wherever I can! Something that has helped me boost the health of his meals tremendously is substituting items typically made from wheat and other grains, with items made from quinoa. Quinoa is actually more of a leafy green than a grain, botanically speaking. But if it is prepared correctly, it takes on the same cooking properties as other grains. For those on a gluten-free diet, quinoa is a large dietary subsitute for grains. It provides calcium, protein, iron, vitamin E as well as B vitamins. When I was a vegetarian, quinoa quickly became a staple in my diet. Now, it is easier to find not only quinoa, but items such as pasta that are made with quinoa. I didn't have it so nice fifteen years ago as a vegetarian!

So when my young toddler began dismissing meats and other important foods, I turned to my old staple to sneak in some vital nutrients. This meal is not only healthy for Jonah, but it's fast and easy (something else essential in meal-planning for toddlers!) and I found all the ingredients at my local Giant Eagle.

Butter and Herb Pasta with Carrot Coins:
1/4 cup Quinoa Pasta (I found it in the organic section of my supermarket, with the other organic pastas)
a few cherry tomatoes quartered (use your judgement on how many tomatoes your little one will eat)
1/4 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp butter
Oregano to taste
garlic powder to taste
basil to taste
(if you want SUPER quick and easy, use one of the Italian Herb mixes, or Pasta Sauce spice mixes)
1 carrot, washed peeled and sliced into bite size peices

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and boil for about seven minutes, or until tender. Note that Quinoa pasta is a bit more dense then pasta made from flour, so the consistency may seem different to you when it is done.

While the pasta is cooking, place the carrot slices into a microwavable bowl and cover with water. Heat on high in the microwave for about five minutes, or until soft.

When pasta is done,turn the heat off on the stove. Drain the water and place the pasta back into the pot. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Add the olive oil, butter, tomatoes, and herbs while stirring. The heat of the pasta will continue to cook the tomatoes and melt the butter.

Serve the carrots along side the pasta

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