Works For Me Wednesday: Feeding Toddlers Rice Without the Mess

It's my first ever Works For Me Wednesday post! Go check out Shannon's blog for tons of tips. Here is mine.

Rice was my mashed potatoes growing up. I think it might be a Louisiana thing, but rice was our Default Dinner Starch. Midwesterners have mashed potatoes and gravy. We ate rice and gravy.

So, what with my husband's inordinate love of Japanese food and my cultural heritage, rice is a seriously comforting comfort food at our house.

Of course, the comfort of a big pile of rice can be severely compromised by having to clean up a million little grains from the tablecloth, your napkin, the floor, the toddler's napkin, the toddler's chair and the toddler's hair.

I suppose I could have just not served them rice, but both my kids LOVE rice, and they are picky enough that if there's a non-junk food they will eat with any consistency, I'm not going to withhold it. But the question remained: how to let them eat it without the mess and without them getting less than a tablespoon in them even though they spent the whole meal trying to cram it down?

Then I discovered yaki onigiri: grilled rice balls. They are a huge comfort food in Japan.

I learned about them from Biggie at Lunch in a Box. She is the queen of bento and often packs yaki onigiri for her preschooler's bento lunches.

So what are they? They are plain rice, compressed in molds or just smashed between your wet palms (my method of choice), and grilled-- or, in my case, cooked in black sesame oil in my cast-iron skillet. You can flavor them almost any way you want by mixing in a bit of the appropriate stuff-- a dribble of soy sauce or a squeeze of ketchup are our favorites. Properly made, they hold together wonderfully and a perfect finger food for little people (and big people!). My little guys snarf them faster than I can make them.

There you have it: yaki onigiri-- easy, tasty and TIDY. It works for me!


Misty said...

We love rice--my husband is Chinese, and we serve it quite frequently. Thank you so much for posting this--I have an 18 month old and now I can enjoy dinner so much better knowing I don't have to pull rice out of her hair...This is a lifesaver!

Sue said...

In spite of being half Japanese, and born and raised in Japan, my two older kids never were very crazy about yaki-onigiri. I guess they prefered getting all sticky.

You have inspired me to try them out again with my younger two -- one who has eating issues, and the other who is a toddler. I guess I'll find out if this yaki-onigiri aversion thing is genetic!