Kid-Tested Grain Recipes

At Rainbow Bridge, I made mealtimes VERY predictable.  One of the ways that I did this was by having the type of food, and the texture of it, be very similar each day, even if the details were different.  So for our morning snack, it would always be some sort of fruit: apples or bananas were our staples, with other fresh fruits on alternating days.  If I felt like I wanted variety, I would make fruit salad, or I would bake the apples or make apple crisp.  This was enough of a difference to be “interesting” while still being familiar to the kids.


For lunches, I made a different hot grain each day.  I’d usually throw in some red lentils to make a complete protein, and some veggies.  Here’s what our rhythm was:

Monday: Rice

Tuesday: Barley

Wednesday: Millet

Thursday: Quinoa

Friday: Sweet Porridge (made with whichever grain I wanted: usually rice or millet; sometimes oats)


I’ll give you some “real” recipes that I use, but let me tell you generally what I do:  I put the grain in the rice cooker, along with some red lentils (usually 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of lentils as grain).  I’ll add twice as much water as I added grain AND lentils (so, 2 cups barley + 1 cup lentils = 6 cups water) and a cube of bullion.  Press cook.

If I have time, I’ll chop fresh veggies and sauté them up.  If I don’t have time, I just use frozen veggies.  About 10-15 minutes before the meal, I stir in the veggies (either sautéed or frozen) and a few flavorings, and voila!  Lunch is ready.  I make sure to chop the veggies up very finely, and it makes it difficult for the kids to pick them out.  Eventually their tongues get used to the taste and they give up trying.

Now for some recipes:


If I’m cooking brown rice, I’ll add 2.5 cups of water per cup of rice (plus the water for the lentils, and the bullion of course!).  For flavorings, here are some of my favorite combos:

-Veggies (any type), soy sauce or Braggs, & nutritional yeast.

-Costco has two types of organic boxed soups with re-closable lids: butternut squash, and roasted red pepper.  Here are some of my mixes:

-Butternut squash soup, frozen corn, parmesan cheese.  Sautéed onions if I’m feeling ambitious.  No butternut squash soup?  Throw in real butternut squash or diced sweet potatoes & corn, along with butter, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and a splash of milk if you drink milk.  Yum!

-Roasted red pepper soup, oregano, peas, maybe a dash of tomato paste (makes it taste like pizza)

-Can of black beans, can of stewed tomatoes, cilantro, a little tomato paste

-Sweet rice, which I’ll give the recipe for below.



Any of the rice recipes go great with barley as well.  Water is two cups barley, one cup water.



I do three cups of water for each cup of millet, and add at least half as much lentils as millet.  Millet expands a lot, so you might do: (1 cup millet + 1/2 cup lentils + 4 cups water, + bullion)

-Curried millet: this is one of our favorites.  Use any veggies, although I like cauliflower  & onions best.  Stir into millet with a few dashes of curry powder, quite a bit of milk, some lemon juice, salt, apple sauce and a handful of raisins.  Yum!  The kids love this one.



Any of the rice recipes.  I often make the “pizza” version with frozen peas, mushrooms, tomato paste, oregano, a bit of lemon juice and some Mrs. Dash seasoning.



Use any grain + lentils.  Chop up an apple (I leave the skin on) and put it into the rice cooker with the dry rice, along with a handful of raisins and a cinnamon stick or a dash of cinnamon.  After it’s cooked, stir in some milk, some unsweetened apple sauce or a squirt of agave, more cinnamon if you want.  Yum!  This one is always a hit.


As you can see, I don’t have hard-and-fast recipes, but will just see what we have available and throw it all together.  However, the warm mushy consistency with small veggies stirred in make it similar enough each day that the kids always accept it.  When I have a new child who has never eaten stuff like this before they may object at the beginning, but that’s what’s for lunch every day, and we’re all eating it together, and soon it’s being gobbled up.



  1. Brandy Nichols says

    How would you handle a very picky eater? Would you just keep serving the grains week after week and hope they begin to like them? Some grains, of course, are easier to adapt into the family meal rhythm than others.

    • Brandy, yes! I would serve it more frequently until it becomes “normal.” And make sure that you’re eating it too! When everyone’s eating and that’s what there is, it’s hard to resist for long. I general found that I needed to serve a food five times before pretty much everyone would eat it.

      Depending on how your mealtimes are a structured, you can also put a medium amount of what they like, and a small amount of the new food, and let them know that they can have more of anything they want once they’ve eaten everything on their plate. Then it’s completely their choice whether to eat it or not, but they just can’t have any more of the thing they want until they eat the new bite. This works really well with some kids and less well with others; the trick is that it’s “the rule,” and you can be sympathetic if they don’t like the rule.

      • Brandy Nichols says

        Eating the disliked item in order to have more of something liked used to work, but now she’s happy just to skip eating anything else. 🙁 I think I’ll just have to try normalizing the grains and see how that works. I sure wish I could get a re-do button and start over with when she was a baby. We did baby led solids with our last two and they, so far, love food and variety.

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