Toddler Meal: Parmesan Risotto

Cynthia Dermody

Parmesan risottoRisotto looks so delicious when Emeril or Lydia make it on TV, but not when I try to make it in my kitchen. Most times it comes out the consistency of Floam -- not soft and creamy like it's supposed to be.

Which is why I can't wait to try this easy  Parmesan Risotto recipe from Mom2Brenden. She loves this dish because it's toddler-mama friendly -- only five steps and for the most part foolproof. Her 3 year old son, Brenden, who has developmental delays and speech apraxia, loves it because it sticks to his fork and makes for easy self-feeding. It's also super creamy and warm, which means less work to chew.

"Brenden eats a variety of foods, but it takes several attempts to get him to try a new one," Mom2Brenden says. "The risotto is a pale yellow/white color, so there are no color issues."

Parmesan risottoEver wonder why toddlers love white or pale food but won't go near a piece of broccoli with a ten-foot pole? Anthropologists believe that our fussy toddlers are acting on genes spurned from their neanderthal ancestors.

Little cavepeople discovered early on that beige and yellow colored foods tended to be safer to eat. Beige foods were (and still are) typically bland tasting (ever eat a bland red pepper?). So "bland" and "beige" came to register as "safe" in a little one's brain, as opposed to brightly colored or robustly flavored foods (think mold or poisonous berries).

But I digress, your kids need to eat. Here goes.

Parmesan Risotto

Prep time: 5 - 10 mins.

Cook time: 15 - 30 mins.

You'll need:

1 cup uncooked select arborio (risotto) rice

2 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. butter or margarine

1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

salt & pepper (optional)

Parmesan cheese (as much as you want!)

Make it:

1. Saute onion in oil and butter for 3 minutes. Omit this step if not using onion.

2. Add rice, stirring for about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in 1 cup of broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.

4. Gradually stir in remaining broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.

5. Stir in Parmesean cheese. Risotto becomes creamy and cheesy and smells delicious. Serve warm!

Tip: The cheese can also be substituted with a vegan choice (Galaxy Foods makes a vegan Parmesan sprinkle cheese that is GREAT in this recipe).

Tip: Pair it with Parmesan encrusted tilapia filets, or seasoned chicken strips for a quick, easy, and delicious toddler-friendly dinner.

Tip: The ingredients in this recipe can easily be substituted for organic varieties without sacrificing flavor. The risotto is creamy enough to "stick" to spoons and forks making it a great side dish for toddlers, but also presents itself perfectly for entertaining.

Check back next Thursday for another great recipe. Got a favorite toddler friendly meal or snack of your own to share with other idea-strapped mamas? Let me know about it and I may feature it here.

Past Toddler Meals:

Chicken Sausages

Easy Quesadillas

Barbecue Cups

Healthy Ketchup

Cinnamon Raisin Roll-Ups

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