These lentil recipes for toddlers are full of protein, fiber, iron and other micronutrients, and should give you ideas for serving lentils for kids!
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Lentils refer to edible seeds, and they are part of the legume family.
Kid friendly lentil recipes don’t have to feel intimidating – they can be quite easy and palatable for all.
Just like these quinoa recipes for kids, lentil dishes for toddlers are out there and they are GOOD.
And I’ve chosen some of the best kid friendly lentil recipes I could find from around the web, including baked lentil veggie nuggets, quick and easy lentil recipes and more.
I don’t think kid friendly bean recipes or lentil recipes get the credit they deserve in our culture.
While they are a popular staple in other countries, like Morocco and Turkey, I feel like many of us don’t think of them often.
But we should! Lentils are a great base for easy and quick family-friendly recipes.
Hopefully, with these ideas, you’ll feel more inspired for serving these lentil recipes for toddlers and even when you serve lentils to baby.
And if you haven’t introduced beans or lentils by 9 months, use this to instill confidence and introduce these nutritious legumes!
So many fun blw dinner ideas for 9 months can be made with them.
Nutrition Breakdown of Lentils for Kids
With kids, I never want to lead with calling a food healthy.
This is how I promote intuitive eating for kids. They don’t care about nutrition, nor should they.
We want them to see foods morally, be open to trying new foods, and have a diet that encourages variety.
They don’t need to be hearing words like “healthy,” “nutritious,” etc.
However, as parents, we do care about nutrition for our family and babies.
You’ll find lentils in the canned beans or grains aisle in the grocery store, and there are several varieties.
They each offer slightly different nutrition and may convey different tastes and textures.
Some common lentil varieties are:
- beluga (black)
Tips for Serving Kid Friendly Lentil Recipes
Here are some tips for serving lentils to kids:
- If they’ve never had lentils before, be patient! You often have to introduce a food several times before kids may feel comfortable around them.
- Start small – Lentils have a different taste and texture than other foods they may be used to.
- Serve them with other familiar foods. For example, if your kids love pineapple or broccoli, serve these as sides. That makes the lentils feel less intimidating.
- Substitute them in other recipes kids like – toddler mac and cheese? Great! Pasta? Easy! Lentils are so versatile and easy to throw in many dishes, from meatloaf, to burgers, to meatballs, breads and more.
- Make sure you’re talking about lentils neutrally or positively, and eating them yourself – Kids are our biggest imitators. If your children have never seen you eating them, they may not be very excited or thrilled to try them the first few times.
- Let them help pick them out and prepare them – There are several colors of lentils (a great talking point with toddlers). Perhaps you let your child pick which color he/she would like to try first? Involve them in the cooking.
- Play with them – Lentils are a great sensory item for age-appropriate kids. Put them in a sensory bin with dry beans or rice and let them feel them and play with them. Hide toys or shapes in there. Talk to them about lentils. Tell they that you’re looking forward to cooking with them soon!
While not all of these tips will work for every family, many of them are involved in helping your toddler or child feel more comfortable around (new) foods.
These tips are how to get toddlers to eat more veggies, too! The same principles apply.
Lentils for Babies
Many of these lentil recipes are great for babies, too!
When serving lentils to baby, I often pair them up with these easy sweet potato baby led weaning recipes
While you really only need a simple lentil recipe for baby (with no salt), as they grow, these lentil recipes for babies can help expose them to new flavors and tastes.
As baby led weaning goes, as your baby adapts, you continue offering new foods, food groups, and even combinations.
So, perhaps your first lentil recipe for baby is simply cooked lentils, or mashed lentils on a corn tortilla.
And then, as baby adapts and becomes more adept, they may be able to spoon feed themselves, or enjoy lentils as part of a soup or chili.
You can even add them into baby led weaning meatballs.
Easy and Fun Ways to Serve Lentils
Stuck on how to serve lentils? I used to think they were boring, dense and dry, but that is FAR from the truth!
There are so many options for a healthy kid friendly lentil recipe in this roundup!
Here are some easy ideas:
- Lentil soup: Lentil soup is a classic and a great way to introduce them to your child. You can make a simple lentil soup by cooking lentils with chicken or vegetable broth and adding carrots, celery, onions, and any other veggies for flavor.
- Lentil tacos: Cook lentils with taco seasoning and serve them in a taco shell with shredded cheese, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. This is a fun and easy way to introduce lentils to your child.
- Lentil and vegetable stir-fry: Cook lentils with your child’s favorite vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas, and serve over rice. This is a great way to introduce your child to new vegetables while also adding lentils to their diet.
- Lentil dip: Puree cooked lentils with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to make a tasty dip for vegetables or crackers, similar to hummus. Many kids love dips and this is a fun way to get your child involved in the kitchen and introduce them to new flavors.
- Lentil and cheese quesadillas: Cook lentils with cheese and serve them in a quesadilla. All kids love bread with cheese, right?! The lentils will add more depth (and nutrition, of course).
Now, enjoy these other family-friendly lentil recipes for toddlers!
Many have cultural routes, which is a great way to introduce new foods and flavors to kids.
As dietitians, we preach doing this early (when possible) and often to help expose their palates.