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Here are some easy vegetable recipes for babies and kids (and the rest of the family) – quick and easy, fun and delicious! Let’s steam, roast, and steam roast!

We all know veggies are good for us. But getting our babies and toddlers (let’s not forget older children as well as adults in the family) to enjoy them can pose quite the challenge. And as a dietitian, I would tell you to keep offering even if they get no love because exposure is everything!

Of course, we sure would like to see them eating their veggies sooner than later. While preparing vegetables that our little human beings will enjoy may seem like a daunting (nearly impossible) task, it doesn’t have to be!

Simply switching up the cooking method or flavoring agents can make a world of a difference for picky eaters! Let me show you!

on the top broccoli in a large pot and roasted broccoli on a baking pan right bellow broccoli in a baking dish half covered in silicone mat
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Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Vegetables make for a wonderful baby led weaning first foods along with iron-rich and high-calorie sources.

First, start with vegetables that are fresh and seasonal.  And then comes the fun part – mix it up! Eating the same vegetables prepared the same way day in and out would be boring for anyone.

I put together this post to encourage you to get creative and switch up your cooking methods, experiment with different flavoring agents – oils, herbs, spices, vinegars, butter… Endless possibilities!

Vegetables prepared using any of these methods below will make for the easiest side dish and will make a great accompaniment to just about any meals.

You’ll notice that there are no exact measurements of ingredients here. That’s because how much oil and flavoring agents you use will depend on the amount of vegetables you’re cooking and your taste preferences.  

So have fun playing around with it. You just don’t know what deliciousness you’ll stumble upon!  And of course, the result might not always be up to your liking, but hey! You never know until you’ve tried.

My biggest advice, don’t be afraid to experiment!  

How to steam vegetables for babies

broccoli florets in a large pot with steaming basket

This method is great for getting the vegetables really soft for the baby, which is especially important when first starting solids.

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The Basics

  1. Cut vegetables into uniform pieces. If cooking different types of vegetables together, cut the longer-cooking ones into smaller pieces than the quicker-cooking ones.
  2. Add water to the pot and insert the steamer basket. The surface of the water should be under the basket. Pour some out if need be.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Add the vegetables, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to simmer.
  5. Set the timer. Check periodically so you don’t overcook them.
  6. Once done cooking, you can then add various flavoring agents to build flavor.

The Benefits

  • Doesn’t require oil
  • Preserves color, natural flavors, nutrients
  • Great for achieving soft texture

Drawback

While you can add oils, herbs, spices, etc. once the vegetables are done, I personally find that the flavors are too overpowering. You might not. Again, experiment!

How to roast vegetables for babies

broccoli florets on a silicone baking mat

I personally  prefer this method over steaming. It’s SO true that magical things happen once the vegetables go inside the oven!

The dry heat of the oven caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables, resulting in this incredible depth of flavor! And adding the flavoring agents PRIOR to cooking helps those flavors to get better absorbed into the veggies. YUM!
 

The Basics

  1. Set the oven temperature pretty high: 400- 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the vegetables into pieces about the same size and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, silicone baking mat, or foil for easy clean up.
  3. Toss the vegetables with oil and various flavoring agents. Massage the flavors into the veggies using your hands until they’re completely coated.
  4. Spread the vegetables out evenly onto the baking sheet.
  5. Cook to desired texture, tossing the vegetables halfway through cooking. Harder vegetables (like winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets) will take longer to cook.

Tips

If roasting multiple vegetables together:

roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes on the left and beets on the right
  • roast similar ones together – like broccoli and cauliflower; sweet potatoes and parsnips
  • roast in stages. Start with veggies that take the longest  to cook and then add the other vegetables to the same pan halfway through cooking. As an example, if cooking sweet potatoes and bell peppers, start cooking the potatoes first and then add the bell peppers to the pan. Cook until they both reach the texture you desire.

Don’t skimp on the oil if you want your vegetables to cook evenly and crisp up. Use enough to coat the veggies but not so much that they’re drowning in it. I normally use about a tablespoon or so.

These are the oils I like to use – olive, coconut, avocado, walnut oil. Unlike with steaming, I love that you can add oil with this method as it will be a great source of healthy fats. Babies and toddlers NEED them.

Drawback

When not prepared correctly, the exterior of the vegetables can get too crispy or even burnt before they soften. While I personally LOVE the crispy, slightly charred edges that result from roasting, this texture isn’t ideal for babies.

How to Steam Roast(aka best of both worlds)

broccoli florets in a baking pan half covered with silicone mat and spices and vinegar in small bowls above

Just as the name suggests, it combines both methods into one easy step. Because you’re steaming and roasting on the same pan, you’re saving time, effort, and will end up with less dishes! Music to my ears!

The secret is in covering the baking pan tightly. The hot oven plus the moisture from the veggies create steam, allowing for vegetables to soften. But by roasting, the flavors become more concentrated.

To cover, I like to use this when making a large batch or this one for the toaster oven.

The Basics

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut the vegetables into similar sized pieces and place on a baking pan.
  3. Toss the vegetables with oil and various flavoring agents. Massage the flavors into the veggies using your hands until they’re completely coated.
  4. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil or silicone baking mat.
  5. Place in the oven and cook until the vegetables reach your desired texture.
  6. Once your baby is able to handle more texture, you can go a step further. Remove the foil or baking mat and continue cooking the vegetables in the dry heat until the exteriors caramelize and brown.

Related: Broccoli for babies

Cooking Demo

a screenshot of KidFriendly.meals Instagram profile with arrow to steam roasting in the story highlights

 I know it can be confusing so if you’d like to see a video of how to cook the veggies using all 3 of these methods, head on over to my instagram @kidfriendly.meals (click here) and tap on “Steam Roasting” in the story highlights!

General Cooking Times

chart showing cooking times for steaming and roasting for different vegetables

As I mentioned, there will most definitely be some learning curve to this as you try to figure out what cooking temperature and time works best for you. Keep in mind every oven is different. I wanted to share what’s been working well for us in hopes that this will give you a good starting point.

Flavor Combinations

green divided baby plate with sandwich and veggies on the left and the same plate with eggs and veggies on the right

Here are some ideas to get you started! You certainly don’t have to get all of these dried herbs and spices. Start with ones that appear in a lot of this list and then build your spice pantry as you wish ;).

  • Asparagus: basil, dill, garlic, ginger, curry, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, citrus (zest and/or juice)
  • Beets: basil, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon
  • Broccoli: basil, curry, garlic, ginger, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, vinegar (balsamic, rice)
  • Brussels sprouts: butter, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemon, nutmeg, miso, balsamic vinegar
  • Cabbage: coriander, curry, dill, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, thyme, vinegar (apple cider, rice)
  • Carrots: cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, miso
  • Cauliflower: basil, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, lemon
  • Eggplant: basil, garlic, ginger, oregano, cilantro, curry powder, cumin, lemon, miso, parsley, balsamic vinegar, tahini
  • Parsnips: basil, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemon, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, turmeric
  • Potatoes: butter, cilantro, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, lemon, nutmeg, mustard, parsley, rosemary, thyme
  • Winter squash: basil, curry, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, curry
  • Sweet potatoes: cinnamon, cilantro, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, miso, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, rosemary, balsamic vinegar
  • zucchini: basil, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, mint, parsley, oregano, rosemary

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About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

8 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing!
    How long do they keep for in the fridge? And when serving do you reheat in microwave?

    1. At most 3 days. It will get too soggy afterwards. I actually serve them cold straight from the fridge. But if you want to reheat, then yes microwave or toaster oven for very briefly!

  2. Love this! Would steam roasting be possible with frozen veggies? I find I don’t have a ton of extra time to chop fresh veggies all the time, so we do a lot of frozen veggies when we can.

    1. I actually haven’t tried but this is a question I’m getting asked a lot so will def give it a try soon and share in my Instagram stories!

    2. Is it OK to freeze steam roasted veggies after you cook them? Bit of the reverse question here. Thanks!

      1. I actually don’t recommend freezing cooked veggies as they will get really soggy during the thawing process

  3. This is so helpful! Especially the list of flavor combinations!! This is really going to help me mix things up on the veggie front for our whole family. Thank you for putting this together!