Let’s talk toddler food. Toddler lunches to be more specific. They ain’t easy. Abby is a remarkably good little eater, but either due to my lack of creativity or a shortage of cookbook consultations, lunches seem to stymy me every day. There is of course the sure-to-please option of grilled cheese (with extra cheese on the side) which I know would be happily consumed every mealtime if I allowed it; other hits are scrambled eggs, baked beans, or *gasp* cereal (Raisin Bran, minus the raisins). Another monkey wrench: since I eat a large breakfast and we have a well-rounded veggie/starch/protein supper, my go-to for lunches are pretty understated: a salad, a sandwich, some raw veggies, crackers. More snacking than sit-down eating and not always very versatile for a toddler palate.
A few months ago I came across a recipe for zucchini and spinach fritters, and I though “How simple. I could totally make these?” The next day I made a batch and bam – our love of fritters was born. These babies are a cinch to make, taste great, and freeze extremely well. I try to keep a small stockpile in the freezer for last minute, healthy lunches on the go. Feel free to consult the original recipe for more stylish pictures; see my slight variations below.
- 1 medium sized zucchini, grated
- a large handful of spinach, finely chopped (the recipe works fine if you eliminate the spinach)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or white)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use leftover bread/broken crackers/Panko…and pulverize in the blender)
- 1 t baking powder (optional; I don’t always use this, but do find it gives the fritters a bit more lift and fluffiness)
- spices to taste (I will toss in anything from curry powder to fresh green onion to Montreal Chicken Spice)
- oil for frying (I’ve used olive, canola, and coconut; canola seems to work the best, but would be the least healthy option)
- Shred zucchini, and squeeze out excess moisture with your hands or a cheesecloth (if you have the time, lightly salt the grated zucchini and place in a fine-mesh sieve, and it can “sweat” out the extra water content).
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed. I find it cooks best if the mixture takes on a “doughy” consistency, so depending on the size of the zucchini, sometimes I use extra flour or add an extra egg into the mix.
- Heat a generously oiled frying pan to medium-high heat. I use a small cookie scoop to divvy out ~2T sized portions. Flatten fritters with a spatula, and flip every 1-2 min. I generally reduce heat to medium after both sides are golden brown, and allow fritters to cook for an additional 5 minutes on this lower heat.
A few additional notes: this takes quite a bit of oil. Sometimes each batch will require a touch of extra oil in the pan to give a nice brown, crunchy exterior.
Watch carefully; these can burn pretty quickly.
When using frozen fritters, I find it best to thaw for 30 minutes or so at room temperature and then heat up on the stove (a microwave leaves them a bit soggy).
I have tried a few other variations with good success as well, the most memorable being shredded potato and carrot fritters – think potato pancakes; the only main difference with this was extended cook time (potatoes and carrots are much firmer than zucchini).