Your toddler or preschooler is probably not that daring when it comes to meal time. If you'd like to broaden his horizons and cook something ethnic, many Venezuelan dishes are healthy and appeal to the picky tastes of your little ones. Quick and easy meals are ideal because you can get food on the table in short order while dodging a small child under your feet at the same time.
If you, like most moms, want your child to eat a healthy and well-rounded meal the main dish is the one to sell to his tastes. Arepas are a common appearance at meals and are basically a corn cake made with cornmeal, water, butter, a pinch of salt and small amount of oil. The cakes are grilled and stuffed with shredded beef, pork or scrambled eggs and topped with cheese and shredded vegetables. Sometimes they are rolled around a chunk of cheese. Venezuelans also eat a lot of seafood, so make a mild white fish, such as tilapia, the center point of your meal. Pasta is also big in Venezuela, so you can't go wrong with a plate of spaghetti noodles topped with tomato sauce.
Plantains, often known by their Spanish name of plantanas, are a yummy side dish served with many Venezuelan meals and appeal to many young children. They resemble a banana. Peel and slice plantains, season with a pinch of salt and bake so they are crispy. Serve with beef or fish. A yo-yo is popular and is simply a piece of cheese sandwiched between two plantain chips. Steamed rice and black beans are also common side dishes in Venezuela. Serve both with a warm tortilla. Or, scoop some alongside beef, fish or scrambled eggs. Avocados are also served with many traditional Venezuelan meals. Simply peel and dice for an easy and healthy side dish.
For most toddlers and preschoolers, a meal isn't complete without a sweet ending. Dessert in moderation is appropriate, but most are high in sugar, fat and calories, which isn't healthy for your little one. Keep portions small. Cannolis might sound Italian, but are very popular in Venezuela, as well. Boil pasta tubes until cooked, but still slightly firm. Mix ricotta cheese with chocolate or honey and fill each pasta tube with the mixture. You can also take leftover aprepas and wrap them around whipped cream and sliced berries for a healthier dessert.
No meal is complete without a drink. Many traditional Venezuelan beverages appeal to little ones. Try frescavena, which is an oatmeal, sugar and milk drink, is high in fiber and so easy to make. Simply place oatmeal and a pinch of sugar in the blender and pulse to create a fine powder. Mix a spoonful or two into a glass of milk. You can also add cinnamon for a different flavor. Batido is a thick, smoothie-type drink made with fruit and water. Blend your little one's favorite fruits with a small amount of water. The drink should be thick.
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