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Cooking for Toddlers: Healthy Tomato Cheese Pasta Recipe

Have you ever read the label on a can of SpaghettiO’s?

I am very picky about what goes into my kids’ stomachs, and I have been making almost all of my son’s baby food myself since he started solids at six months old.

Once he started to approach one year, I realized that I couldn’t feed him purees forever, and he increasingly wanted to get his hands into his food and feed himself. So, I set about finding simple recipes that wouldn’t upset his tummy, and wouldn’t introduce “junky” ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup, into his system.

I wanted him to have the same fun foods that all toddlers love, but the healthier ready-made options are expensive, and the cheaper products include ingredients I just don’t want him to eat yet.

Following is a tasty and easy pasta recipe that I developed as a homemade Spaghettios substitute, which my little boy gobbles right up! Use whichever age-appropriate pasta shape you prefer. I have used wheels and pasta rings, but other shapes would also work great.

This recipe contains no added salt (beyond what is found in the cheese), and no sugar. It is appropriate for children who have mastered Stage 3 baby foods, and it’s tasty enough for grown-ups to enjoy, too!

Homemade Spaghettios Recipe

Healthy Tomato Cheese Pasta recipe

Healthy Tomato Cheese Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A healthy recipe for toddlers, but bigger kids and grown-ups will love it, too!
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 6-ounce Can Tomato Paste (with tomato as only ingredient)
  • 5 Cups Water
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • ½ Pound Pasta Wheels (or pasta shape of choice)
  • 4 Ounces Mild Cheddar Cheese, freshly shredded
  • ¼ Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Basil (fresh or dried)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together tomato paste and minced garlic with 5 cups of water.
  2. Heat on high until boiling. Add pasta, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes (or until pasta is soft), stirring frequently to prevent sticking. The liquid should reduce down significantly. If it reduces too much, just add more water.
  3. While pasta is cooking, grate the cheddar cheese.
  4. When the pasta has finished cooking, remove from heat. Stir in the shredded cheese until melted, then add the milk, butter and basil. Stir gently until combined.

To save time, I like to make large batches of food for my son and then freeze the leftovers — feeding from the freezer is just about as convenient as popping open a jar! I freeze the food in regular ice cube trays covered with plastic wrap, then pop the cubes into a freezer bag to be used as needed. This recipe freezes and warms up very well.

To reheat, simply add a small amount of water and warm up in the microwave or on the stove.

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