Health  |  Parenting

Avocado Toast, Chicken Meatballs, and Lasagna: What a Nutritionist and Her One-Year-Old Baby Eat in a Day

As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, Kate Burt has spent a lot of time thinking about how to eat well. But a little over a year ago, when she became a mom for the first time, she was faced with a new challenge: how to get her baby, Ellis, to eat well too.

“I had high ambitions when my son was six months old and we were starting solid food,” says Burt. “As a registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist, the pressure was on—everyone was expecting me to make gourmet baby food and have a baby who ate it all.”

Kate Burt with her son, Ellis. All photographs courtesy Burt.

But even though Burt had high expectations for herself, she knew she also had to be realistic as a full-time working mom. Rather than shoot for perfection, she came up with a list of goals for herself:

1. “Eat (or not) by Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility—I’m responsible for what is served, when it’s served, and where it’s served, while my son is responsible for whether to eat and how much to eat,” says Burt. “I knew I wanted to offer a variety of foods at each meal but if he refused to eat something, I wasn’t going to continue to make food until it was something he liked.”

2. “Model the behaviors I want my son to to learn,” says Burt. “I resolved to always sit, facing him, engaging during the meal (no cell phones), and trying to encourage him to try things.”

3. “Try new things! I try to serve at least one food that he doesn’t like or is hesitant about at every meal,” says Burt. “It can take trying a new food about 15 times for a child to warm up to it. So, I try to offer something he doesn’t like fairly often.”

4. “Accept that I will serve some processed food. It happens—regularly,” says Burt. “In a perfect world, it wouldn’t; everything I make would be from scratch and none would go to waste. But he’s a baby and I’m human.”

While Burt knows she has to be flexible with a 14-month-old baby who likes throwing food on the floor, she seeks to feed him a well-balanced diet. To see what a typical day in their diet looks like, take a look through the photos below.

Breakfast

“I happened to have ripe avocados (which happens VERY rarely). Eggs are a weekend treat in my house,” says Burt. “So, I had a slice of whole wheat bread with avocado toast and an egg with some black coffee. Ellis had some whole milk, avocado citrus yogurt and a small handful of multigrain cereal. We shared strawberries and tomatoes. He loves finger foods and foods that he bites pieces off of, so the cereal and whole cherry tomatoes and large chunks of strawberries serve multiple purposes.”

Lunch

“We had some friends over for lunch, so it was definitely not the ideal model of a complete meal. I chopped some vegetables (cucumber and bell peppers) to dip in hummus, eggplant and tomato salad, and a garlicy cucumber yogurt. We also had a few different types of cheese, olives, and purple grapes. However, since there were fats, proteins, and carbohydrates on the table, I don’t feel too guilty about it,” says Burt. “Ellis loves hummus, cheese, and the eggplant and tomato dip with crackers. He also enjoyed some grapes but is a little young for raw vegetables (he only has two molars). I wanted him to have more vegetables, so I also served him some tomatoes and guacamole (not pictured).”

Dinner

“Our friends stayed later than expected, so I haphazardly put together a dinner lasagna with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and lots of spinach. The ‘no boil’ noodles are GREAT for last minute meals. Since I used frozen spinach, and jarred sauce the only ingredient I really needed fresh was the cheese,” says Burt. “Ellis had a small portion of spinach lasagna (he only ate about half of what’s there) and some leftover roasted sweet potatoes. The other things on the plate include an organic basil-chicken meatball, some roasted yellow beets, and a carrot-pea patty. He devoured the meatball and carrot-pea patty but wanted nothing to do with the beets. I added a small portion of sugar snap peas for myself. For dessert, we were each going to have an apricot but they were very hard and unripe so instead, we shared chunks of watermelon. Not pictured in this day is all of the water and about 20 ounces of whole, organic milk that Ellis has daily.”

Have a Food Diary you’d like to share? Email ccunningham@washingtonian.com.

Consult with your doctor before beginning a new diet. Washingtonian does not endorse any diet without the supervision of a medical professional. 

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.