I have a hard time defining what a “kid-friendly” food really is these days, especially in the realm of paleo eating. In my early days of teaching daycare I would have immediately said that all babies automatically needed to go through a process of eating canned purees, that children naturally preferred basic foods with a salty or sweet taste and that it was just typical for little kids to be “picky”. However, as I have ventured further and further into the realm of ancestral eating and real food I have been amazed at how untrue so many of my old assumptions were. I have witnessed the process of baby led solids and been amazed at how instinctively young children can teach themselves how to chew, swallow and pace their food intake without someone regulating it for them on a neon colored plastic spoon. I have seen babies refuse to eat sugary pureed fruit but gobble up cooked egg yolks and bone broth and I have had toddlers beg me for “bucha (kombucha) and plantain chips. The more I see the difference inherent in raising up a child on real food the more I am amazed at how our culture has really done our children a huge disservice by literally training them to believe that food is meant to be simple, carb heavy, processed, and in most cases sweet. Think about it, if a child goes directly from milk or formula to store bought pureed fruit (which is way sweeter than normal fruit, taste it for yourself) to cereal to chicken nuggets to macaroni and cheese to graham crackers, that is literally all they will have ever known food to be, for years. They will have never tasted something acidic and sour like a fermented food, they will never have experienced the different textures of meat, they will not enjoy vegetables unless they have been covered in something that amplifies the flavor (like ranch dressing) because their pallets have been trained to interpret a very narrow set of flavors as being food. This leads to pickiness and for some people, a lifetime of bad eating habits.
But what is a parent to do when they are walking down the grocery store aisles and it is the cereal that is covered in pictures of TV characters and the macaroni and cheese that has their favorite Frozen character on the front of the box? There are no commercials for broccoli on Nickelodeon. Real food just isn’t fun. So, I guess that is the basic answer to today’s question. Food and parenting ideologies aside, we are going to have to contend with a world that says that “kid food” needs to be cute and fun. So, to help you in that quest I came up with a new little version of an old kid classic, the tater tot. These are very simple to make and were a big hit with the kids in my life. They make a great after school snack or a side dish on your next burger night. If you really want to begin to nurture an appreciation for real food in your children at a young age this is also a great recipe to have them help you make. It is amazing how kids become so much more willing to eat new foods if they play a role in making them!
Sweet Potato Tots (AIP/Paleo)
2 large sweet potatoes
2 TBS coconut flour
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel your sweet potatoes and cover them with water in a medium pot. Bring them to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes or until they are beginning to get tender, but are not yet too soft. Grate your potatoes, either by hand or, preferably with a food processor grater attachment. Grate your onion also and combine them in a large bowl with the rest of your ingredients. Mix them well. To form them into tots use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out the potato mixture and then form them into small balls or cylinders with your hands. Set them on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until they become more firm on top and slightly golden brown. Allow them to cool for a minute or two and then serve.