At nearly 14 months old I think it’s safe to say we’re entering toddler territory. Land o’ sippy cups, snack traps, tentative steps, first words, and new foods. We’ve been feeding Lincoln more “real food,” aka foods Ben and I eat for our meals, than ever before but it’s also fun to come up with new toddler recipes that are perfect for little hands, like Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves.
Despite his tiny size, Lincoln takes after his Mama in that he LOVES to eat. Like, this child must have a hollow leg because I swear he eats more than I do and that’s saying a lot.
One of his favorite foods to devour are these Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves which are so simple to whip together, gluten-free, dairy-free, freezer-friendly, and packed with protein, iron, healthy fats, and fiber.
I created the recipe several months ago when we were ready to quit feeding Lincoln oatmeal (or should I say battling with him to eat his oatmeal – he got over it quick!) but wanted to make sure he was getting enough iron. He eats fortified bread (he does not eat gluten-free,) and lots of beans and greens, but I wanted an easy go-to that I could make in a big batches then freeze and easily reheat. Mini meatloaves for toddlers totally fit the bill!
Ground turkey breast and thighs are mixed with cooked green lentils, frozen veggies, an egg, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of seasoning then baked in a mini muffin tin so they’re the perfect size for little hands.
At 13.5 months old, Lincoln will eat 3 for dinner (cut into hunks for now,) paired with maybe steamed sweet potatoes, pasta tossed with extra virgin olive oil, some sort of fruit (mandarin orange, cut grapes, sliced blueberries, etc.) and Cheerios for dessert, of course. It’s a well-rounded meal that keeps him full all night long.
(Shedding a tear for his long baby hair – we got it cut for the first time 2 weeks ago and now he looks like a teenager!)
Start by cooking some green lentils. You’ll need 1/2 cup cooked green lentils, which is about 1/4 cup dry lentils. They usually take 25-30 minutes to cook but follow the directions on your individual package for the best results.
I rarely if ever cook with lentils but was perusing Trader Joe’s a few months ago and randomly decided to pick up a bag. After doing some research upon my return home I was thrilled to learn that they’re packed with fiber, iron, vitamin B, and protein. Perfect for my growing toddler!
You could use any color lentils you like, but green have a reputation for holding up well to cooking without turning to mush. By the way, although you only need 1/2 cup for this recipe, I always cook more then freeze the leftovers which are great for adding to pasta sauce and soups.
Ok, turkey time. I use a mixture of 1/2lb each turkey breast and turkey thighs. Dark meat has more iron and B vitamins than white meat, plus it adds flavor, so I like the mix.
To the turkey add the lentils and 1/2 cup frozen vegetables. I use the classic frozen trio of carrots, corn, and sweet peas. Ultra-convenient and no need to thaw, either.
Next add 1 whisked egg and 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Love the boost of protein and healthy fats!
Finally add 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning for a little flavor. You know your toddler best – if you don’t think they’ll like the seasoning, don’t add it!
Mix the ingredients until just combined then scoop into a nonstick sprayed 24-count mini muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until cooked through. If you don’t have a mini muffin tin, you can use a regular muffin tin. Baking time will be more like 25-30 minutes.
To freeze, cool the Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves completely then place in a freezer bag and freeze. To reheat, simply microwave for 30-40 seconds!
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Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves (For Toddlers!)
Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves are packed with protein, vitamins, and iron. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and freezer-friendly too, these bites are the perfect size for little hands!
- 1lb ground turkey (I use half ground breast and ground thighs)
- 1/2 cup cooked green lentils
- 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (do not thaw)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
- salt and pepper (if making for grown ups!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl then mix until just combined. Spray a 24-count mini muffin tin very well with nonstick spray then scoop mixture to the top of each mini muffin cup. Place tin on top of a baking sheet then bake for 16-18 minutes or until cooked through.
- To freeze: cool baked mini meatloaves completely then place inside a freezer bag and freeze. Microwave for 30-40 seconds to reheat.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Something I’ve learned is that toddlers might not like something the first time they try it, so if your toddler isn’t interested in their Mini Turkey-Lentil Meatloaves the first time, keep trying! If all else fails, add a dollop of ketchup. Works every time. ;) Enjoy!