The Easiest Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups

These Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups are baby- and toddler-approved, but great for the whole family! Make them in advance and stick them in the freezer to have a healthy, nutritious breakfast ready to go on busy mornings.

A cooling rack of freshly baked Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal Cups.

I don’t know about you, but our toddler always wakes up hungry and ready to eat. It seems like we can barely get a clean diaper on her before she’s begging “Food! Food!” Breakfast also so happens to be her favorite meal of the day, and she eats far more in the morning than she does for lunch and dinner, so we always try to have healthy, quick options on hand for her.

We’ve been big fans of baked oatmeal in our household for a while now. I love that it’s jam-packed with nutrients (especially with the right mix-ins) and that it’s handheld, resulting in much less of a mess than classic or even overnight oats make. While traditional baked oatmeals (in baking pans or dishes) are great, turning your baked oatmeal into single-serving cups ups the convenience factor and makes it really easy to only defrost what you need.

Here’s how this easy and tasty recipe is done!

What You Need

The good news is – not much! Most of the ingredients you’ll be using you’ll already have on hand, especially if you’re making this in the fall.

Rolled oats

I love getting the big bags from Trader Joe’s (these ones also happen to be gluten-free if you need that.)

Pumpkin purée

Buy the can OR make your own with this super simple homemade pumpkin purée recipe!

An apple
Milk

Any kind!

An egg
Maple syrup

And pantry staples like…

Baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice

As far as equipment, you’ll just need a cupcake pan (we love these silicone ones *affiliate link*), a couple of bowls, a couple of measuring cups, and a whisk!

An overhead shot of Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups cooling on a rack.

How to Make Baked Oatmeal Cups

Once you get the basic process of these Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups down, you’ll be able to create tons of different variations.

Simply whisk together the dry ingredients, whisk together the wet ingredients, combine the two, and bake. Easy as that!

Other ideas for flavor combinations might be:

Banana and chocolate chip
Sweet potato and orange
Zucchini and raisin
Peanut butter and apple
Cinnamon and berry
Vanilla and peach

The possibilities are endless.

A straight-on look at a freshly baked batch of Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal Cups.

How to Store Baked Oatmeal Cups

Once the cups are baked and cooled, place them in a gallon-size Ziploc and freeze for up to three months.

When you’re ready to serve, simply microwave however many you need for 30 seconds to a minute (maybe more if you’re defrosting a bunch at once.)

Just like my Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins or my Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies, these cups are a great on-the-go option for busy mornings, or even a great travel snack when you’re on the road. 

Read on for the recipe and, if you want to learn more of my tips and tricks for feeding toddlers, be sure you’re signed up for my weekly newsletter!

A stack of Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups leaning against a pitcher of milk.

Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

These Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups are baby- and toddler-approved, but great for the whole family! Make them in advance and stick them in the freezer to have a healthy, nutritious breakfast ready to go on busy mornings.

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: after-school, apple, baby-friendly, baby-led weaning, breakfast, freezer-friendly, meal prep, oatmeal, pumpkin, toddler
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 114 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (Use canned or follow the link in the Recipe Notes to make your own)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup diced apple
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray cupcake pan with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oats, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, egg and vanilla.

  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Whisk in diced apple.

  5. Using your 1/4 cup measure, scoop mixture into prepared cupcake pan.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until oatmeal is set.

  7. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before transferring to Ziploc for freezer storage.

Recipe Notes

Here's the recipe for homemade pumpkin purée!

28 High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes for Toddlers

Many toddlers are picky when it comes to eating meat, even if they’re not on a vegetarian diet. Here is an ultimate roundup of high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, featuring quinoa, beans and lentils as primary ingredients.

When it comes to toddlers’ picky eating habits, one of the food groups I hear most about is meat. Meat can be tricky – it needs to be prepared a certain way that makes it easy for little ones to eat, and the texture can sometimes be offputting. While it’s important to continually expose your child to animal proteins (if your toddler isn’t on a vegetarian diet), there are tons of other ways to ensure your babe is getting this vital nutrient.

Here’s a roundup of 28 fantastic high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, broken down by meal. Seriously, though, there is so much inspiration here! And if you want more tips on how to deal with a picky eater, check out these 9 Easy Ways to Combat Picky Eating in Toddlers.

Without further ado…

BREAKFAST

1. PB&J Quinoa Bowl

Just hold the crunchy almond slivers!

Two PB&J Quinoa Breakfast Bowls complete with toppings, sitting atop striped dish towels.
by CaliGirl Cooking
2. quinoa berry breakfast bowl instant pot
An overhead shot of two Quinoa Berry Breakfast Bowls.
by Green Scheme
3. quinoa blender pancakes
by The Saucy Fig
4. 5 Ingredient eggy quinoa cups
A pan of 5-Ingredient Eggy Quinoa Cups.
by Kidgredients
5. crispy vegan waffles with lentil protein
A plate of Crispy Vegan Waffles with Lentil Protein topped with berries and powdered sugar.
by My Pure Plants

LUNCH

6. baked zucchini, feta and Quinoa Bites
A board full of quinoa bites.
by Whole Food Bellies
7. broccoli cheddar quinoa bars
A stack of two broccoli cheddar quinoa bars.
by Served From Scratch
8. lentil falafel with lime yogurt
A cast iron pan of lentil falafel with lime yogurt dip.
by Greedy Gourmet
9. Veggie Bean Burger
A close-up shot of a veggie burger.
by Spice Cravings
10. easy 15-minute quinoa bites with peas
A stack of 5-ingredient quinoa bites.
by Bite-Sized Kitchen
11. black bean salad with avocado
A bowl of Black Bean Salad with Avocado.
by Dancing Through the Rain

SNACKS

12. roasted cauliflower hummus with rosemary and garlic
Roasted Cauliflower Hummus with Rosemary & Garlic | CaliGirl Cooking
by CaliGirl Cooking
13. easy basil lentil dip
A close-up shot of a bowl of Easy Basil Lentil Dip surrounded by chips.
by The Missing Lokness
14. lemon tahini lentil hummus
An overhead shot of a bowl of Lemon Tahini Lentil Hummus surrounded by fresh rosemary and lemons.
by Bucket List Tummy
15. 5-Minute pumpkin curry hummus
This 5-Minute Pumpkin Curry Hummus takes your average Mediterranean dip and kicks it up a notch with a ton of added flavor. The perfect appetizer or side dish for your next dinner party!
by CaliGirl Cooking
16. kid-friendly quinoa fritters
An overhead shot of a bowl of quinoa fritters with a bowl of marinara dipping sauce.
by Wendy Polisi

DINNER

17. goat cheese quinoa and broccoli casserole in the instant pot
An overhead shot of a bowl of Goat Cheese, Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole.
by Whole Food Bellies
18. vegan white bean mac-and-cheese
A bowl of Vegan White Bean Mac and Cheese with fresh vegetables.
by Rhian’s Recipes
19. pasta e fagioli
A spoonful of pasta e fagioli.
by Christina’s Cucina
20. Instant Pot Lentil Stroganoff
An overhead shot of Instant Pot Lentil Stroganoff.
by Nourish Nutrition Co.
21. enchilada quinoa casserole
A finished dish of Enchilada Quinoa Casserole.
by My Kitchen Love
22. cheesy lentil bake
A finished pan of Cheesy Lentil Bake.
by Love In My Oven
23. one-pot black-eyed peas and spinach rice in instant pot
A bowl full of Black-Eyed Peas and Spinach Rice.
by Piping Pot Curry
24. 15-minute lentil sloppy joe stuffed sweet potatoes
A Lentil Sloppy Joe stuffed sweet potato ready to be devoured.
by Lemons and Zest
25. lentil pizza crust
A sliced pizza featuring Lentil Pizza Crust.
by This Healthy Kitchen
26. lentil tacos
A plate full of Mexican Lentil Tacos.
by Recipes From a Pantry

TREATS

27. Healthy quinoa almond date truffles
A plate of Quinoa Almond Date Truffles.
by Ministry of Curry
28. oatmeal quinoa chocolate chip cookies
A gooey quinoa chocolate chip cookie broken in half.
by Served From Scratch

If you have or come across any other great high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, please let me know about them in the comments below! xo

How to Do a Food Segue With Your Toddler

A “food segue” is a great way to get your picky toddler used to foods and flavors that he or she won’t normally eat. Here’s your step-by-step guide for how to do it!

Toddler eating celery on a kitchen counter, title image.

I hear it all the time from all you mamas out there, “I wish I could get my toddler to eat [fill in the blank]!” One- to three-year-olds are notoriously picky eaters, and getting them to eat certain foods can be a never-ending battle. After all, this is the age when they start to realize (and assert) their own independence, and testing the limits is a huge part of that. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to minimize the struggle and, yes, get your toddler to eat foods that he or she has turned his or her nose up at in the past.

If you’re curious about some of the other tips I’ve shared in regards to feeding toddlers, be sure to check out my past posts on the best ways to introduce NEW foods and things NOT to say, but today I’m going to tell you about one super-effective method for working those historically unfavored foods into your little one’s diet, and that’s with a food segue! Using this method, you’ll start with a food your toddler already really enjoys, and work just a little bit of whatever new food you want to get your toddler used to into it. Then, you’ll slowly increase the amount of the new food – using a couple of different meal preparations – until eventually your toddler is eating the new food on its own without batting an eye.

Don’t worry, I’m going to get to a couple of examples in just a minute, but before that, there are a few things you’ll want to remember.

Things to Remember with Food Segueing

It’s a slow process.

It’s not all going to happen overnight. It may take days, weeks, or months to get your toddler to eat the new food. The idea is to slowly work it in, and only move onto the next step once you’ve succeeded with whatever step you’re on.

You’re going to need to be creative.

Toddlers love novelty, so the more creative you get with your segue, the more successful you’ll be. You’ll need to put on your thinking cap to serve the new food in dishes that are not only already well-liked, but also lend themselves well to whatever the new food is. More on this in the examples, but if you’re ever stuck with how to segue something, feel free to drop me a line!

Consider any other factors at play – and don’t get frustrated!

When working on a food segue, it’s important to remember that other factors can play a part in your toddler’s eating success. If you’re introducing a food segue dish, it’s helpful to also observe things like how tired your toddler is, if they’re teething, perhaps not feeling well or having a bad day. If any of these factors are limiting your toddler’s success, try the same segue again another day.

How to Do a Food Segue

Let’s talk about how a food segue is done. I think the easiest way to show you how is with examples, so that’s what I’ve got for you. I’ve got two examples for you (only one example with photos) but I’m going to show them to you side-by-side so you get the idea of how you can segue with two very different foods. Because most mamas express trouble getting their toddlers to eat (1) vegetables or (2) protein, we’re going to talk about segueing into carrots and turkey, respectively.

STEP 1

Okay, so your goal is to get your toddler to eat carrots. First, you’ll want to think of something that he or she already loves that you could mix a small amount of carrots into that your little one will hardly be able to taste. Let’s say an orange-carrot smoothie. If your babe drinks the smoothie down no problem, you’re ready to move on to Step 2. If not, wait a few days and try again.

An overhead shot of two orange-carrot smoothies in Mason jars.
TOP: Orange-Carrot Smoothie, light carrots BOTTOM: Orange-Carrot Smoothie, heavier carrots

For turkey, let’s say your toddler already LOVES pasta with red sauce. A great first step here would be mixing a small amount of ground turkey into the red sauce.

STEP 2

For the next step in the segue, you’re going to want to make the same smoothie, just up the amount of carrots involved. This will impart more of the carrot-y taste on your toddler’s palate, but will be a bit easier on them since they’re already used to (and enjoying) the way you’re serving it. Just as in Step 1, if your little downs this without a problem, move on to Step 2. If not, try again in a few days.

For the turkey, you’ll want to once again serve the pasta with red sauce, but simply increase the amount of ground meat in the sauce.

STEP 3

Time to move onto a new preparation! Hopefully, by now your toddler has gotten a little more used to the taste of carrots. Since we blended carrots into a smoothie for the last two steps, let’s try mixing carrots into something in their more natural form. I know most toddlers love grilled cheese, so let’s make the next preparation a grilled cheese with some shredded carrots mixed into the shredded cheese. This is great because carrots and cheddar cheese are the same color. Also, the cheese and the carrots are prepared in the same way – shredded – which will make them more easily blend together. As always, keep trying this preparation every few days until you see some success. And feel free to mix in some Orange-Carrot Smoothies on the days in between!

With the turkey example, a great next step would be serving pasta with diced tomatoes and ground turkey (rather than the tomato and turkey mixed together in a sauce). This gets your toddler used to seeing the ground turkey on its own while still having all of the same flavors as the first two preparations.

STEP 4

Now that your kiddo is hooked on grilled cheese and carrot sandwiches, the next step would be to take the cheese and carrot combo OUT of the sandwich, and just serve grated carrots covered in melted cheese.

Enough with the ground turkey already, time to move onto sliced turkey breast. BUT we’re still going to keep some similar flavors and – instead of serving the turkey with pasta and red sauce – we’re going to serve it with ketchup to dip it in! Because what kid doesn’t like ketchup? Or dip?!

STEP 5

Okay, time to move on from the cheesy stuff. The next step would be to serve the grated carrots with an alternative dip or topping, like ranch dressing or hummus. Use your judgment as to what your kiddo will like best.

Clockwise from top left: a grilled cheese in the shape of a heart, grated carrots with melted cheese on top, grated carrots with ranch dressing, carrot sticks with ranch dressing.
Clockwise from top left: Clockwise from top left: a grilled cheese in the shape of a heart, grated carrots with melted cheese on top, grated carrots with ranch dressing, carrot sticks with ranch dressing.

As far as the turkey goes, it’s time to see if your toddler is ready for the full segue and serve turkey breast on its own!

(OPTIONAL) STEP 6

Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty happy with the strides your toddler has taken in learning to like a new food. But if you want to take it even further with the carrots, the next step would be serving them as sticks with the same ranch dressing.

Most food segues won’t take more than five or six steps, but of course, there may be instances where you’ll be fine with fewer or need to add a few more – use your best judgment!

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget about a food you’ve segued once you’ve gotten your child to eat it. Keep exposing him or her fairly regularly, so he or she doesn’t forget all of these new taste associations.  And keep experimenting! Your child may surprise you with what they’ll eat if you keep exposing him or her to new things.

And if you’d like even more tips on how to deal with a toddler who’s a picky eater, be sure you grab my free download with sooooo many more tips and tricks!

Six different stages of serving carrots in food to introduce new flavors to your toddler.

4 Things NOT to Say When Speaking to Your Toddler About Food

When it comes to feeding toddlers, what you SAY can have just as much of an impact on how they eat as what you do or serve. Here’s a list of four things NOT to say when speaking to your toddler about food to set him or her up for success right now and in the future.

Title image for 4 Things NOT to Say to Your Toddler When Speaking About Food.

If you’re a parent, you know it. Feeding toddlers is tricky with a capital “T”. Chances are that at one point or another your toddler has wanted to eat the same three things over and over again, and/or has completely refused to eat anything of any nutritional value, and/or has liked something one second only to loudly exclaim “no like” the next. It’s a tough road to navigate, and it takes a lot of psychological manipulation to successfully do so.

That’s right, today I’m here telling you to psychologically manipulate your child. It sounds strange to flat out say it like that, but it’s the truth. What we say to our toddlers now when it comes to food and eating will lay the foundation for not only their current eating habits, but their relationship with food in the future. It’s just as important, if not more so, than HOW we feed them or WHAT we feed them.

Having studied psychology – and having gone through my own rocky relationship with food – I’ve made it my mission to raise my daughter to have the healthiest, most positive relationship with eating that she can. This means countless hours studying the research, perfecting my own relationship with food, and practicing all that I’ve learned with my little girl. Throughout everything, I’ve been able to glean what really works and what doesn’t when it comes to speaking to your toddler about food, and that’s what I’m here to share with you!

A toddler sitting on a kitchen counter eating blueberries with a quizzical look on her face.

Read on to learn the four things to watch out for when speaking about food with your littles, along with ways to rephrase what you say for optimal results:

Presenting things as “black and white”

One of the main things you want to watch out for when speaking to your toddler about food is presenting it as “healthy” or “unhealthy” or “good for you” or “bad for you.” This presents things as more “black and white” or “yes” or “no” to your child, where the real goal is to teach him or her balance and everything in moderation.

Rather than using these phrases, try focusing on other aspects of food and eating, like how the food tastes, how it makes our bodies feel, or how the food looks.

Some examples of this would be:

“Mmmm don’t these mashed sweet potatoes taste nice and creamy?”

“Doesn’t this broccoli make you feel strong?”

“How fun are all these colors on our plate? Are they making a rainbow?”

Your own negative self-talk

Toddlers are sponges, and they absorb more than we think. Be mindful of how you speak about your own body image or eating habits when you’re around your toddler, because it will most certainly rub off on him or her. Never make comments in front of them about needing to lose weight or not being able to eat something because it’s not on your diet, or saying you need to lose 10 pounds before you can wear a bikini. In a similar vein, be wary of your comments about THEIR size.

Here are some great POSITIVE examples of things you could say instead:

“I love eating lots of fruits and vegetables because they make me feel happy and energized.”

“Let’s put on our swimsuits and go swimming!”

“You’re so strong!”

A toddler and mom baking together at the kitchen counter.

Forcing

I talk about it a lot, but forcing your child to eat something will only lead to resentment and resistance and potentially set them up for disordered eating in the future. The secret is to continuously introduce new and different foods to your toddler, while allowing him or her the autonomy to choose what he or she will or won’t eat. If you offer enough healthy options, your little one will find SOMETHING he or she loves. Perhaps the greatest way to overcome the feeling of needing to force is to lead by example! If your child sees you eating healthy food on the regular, he or she will want to do the same (see my above note about toddlers being sponges).

Dwelling on the negative

Perhaps one of the biggest things we can avoid when communicating with our toddlers about food (and related to #4) is dwelling on the negative. Don’t focus on what they didn’t eat, or how little they ate. Instead, celebrate the wins and encourage positive behavior! If your child tastes something they’ve never tried before, let them know how proud you are of them. If they ate a well-rounded meal, exclaim to them how good they must feel. Kids love positive reinforcement, so dole that stuff out on the regular.

This is just my quick summary of what NOT to say or do when speaking to your toddler about food, but there’s a lot more where that came from! If you want to learn more about feeding your little one, click here for my free cheat sheet on dealing with picky eaters AND to get on the list to be notified when my next Feeding Toddlers: Unlocked! comprehensive course kicks off. I can’t wait to see you there!

A mama holding her toddler in the kitchen and giving her a big kiss.

5 Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Toddler

Use these five tips to consistently introduce new foods to your toddler – in a way that will actually get them to eat them! These pointers and strategies will help expand your little one’s palate and turn him or her into a healthy, adventurous eater for life.

5 Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Toddler Title Graphic

Ohhhh feeding toddlers. The never-ending challenge. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever met a mama who doesn’t have at least one thing she’d like to change about her toddler’s eating habits. You’re not alone! It happens to everyone. Heck, I’ve spent the better part of a year consuming all of the research and techniques under the sun for this and I STILL sometimes wish my toddler would just eat whatever I give her with no resistance or complaint.

But there are a lot of things I HAVE learned in all of my research that have made the adventure of feeding my toddler just a little bit easier, and I’m sharing my top five tips with you today! Read on to learn some of the best ways to introduce new foods to your little one.

And if you’re ready to start introducing new foods but feel you need some accountability partners, I’d love for you to sign up for my Three New Foods Challenge. In this challenge, I personally walk a small group through the entire process of introducing three new foods over the course of a few weeks via a private Facebook group. It’s so much fun and is a great way to stay accountable (and meet some other mamas in the process.) Click here to learn more!

Now, let’s get on with these tips

Tip #1: If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying

If you introduce a new food to your toddler and he or she refuses it, don’t give up! Toddlers are discovering their newfound autonomy and will often go through phases of refusing something “just because.” Continue to introduce a new food at least once a week – perhaps prepared a bit differently (see #2) – and you may find that your toddler eventually comes around. To put things into perspective, it can take 30-40 exposures to a certain food before a toddler will eat it!

Tip #2: Try the same food prepared a different way

If your toddler refuses a food once, try preparing it in a slightly different way the next time you serve it. For example, if your little one isn’t into mashed sweet potatoes, try serving them as fries with a “dip” the next time, or prepare the sweet potatoes with different spices. Toddlers are into novelty, so anything that’s “new” and “exciting” to them is more likely to be a hit. Flex your creativity muscles!

A toddler enjoying a healthy lunch.

Tip #3: Serve the new food with a food they already love

If you have a toddler, chances are he or she is obsessed with one food or another. Use this to your advantage and work a new food into the food he or she already loves! Ease into it slowly, baby steps are great. For example, if your child loves grilled cheese and you want to get him or her to eat carrots, try throwing a few grated carrots into the grilled cheese the next time you make it. Don’t go overboard, remember, baby steps! Once they eat the little bit of grated carrots in the grilled cheese, you can slowly increase the amount. When your child is into eating carrots this way, try next serving grated carrots on their own but covered with melty cheese. If this continues to be successful, slowly ease off of the cheese at each serving. Before you know it, your little one will likely be ready to eat grated carrots on their own.

Tip #4: Model the desired behavior

We all know it – kids at this age are little sponges! That’s why, if you’re trying to get your toddler to eat a wider variety of foods, it’s important that you lead by example. If you want your little one to eat broccoli, be sure they see you eating broccoli. If you want him or her to not think twice about eating a tomato, let them see you eating tomatoes. Your toddler will eventually want to mimic you!

Tip #5: Don’t react negatively if they don’t like something

If your toddler tastes something and doesn’t like it, or flat out refuses a new food, be sure not to have a negative reaction. Forcing a certain item or speaking negatively to your little one about food will only foster resentment and rebellion, and may also cause your child to grow up with a negative reaction (in general) to eating. The important thing is to continue introducing things and modeling the desired behavior, without worrying so much about your little one actually clearing his or her plate.

A mama and toddler giggling at each other after a delicious meal!

I know how challenging it can be to get your toddler to try new foods (speaking from experience), so I hope these tips were helpful to you and gave you the extra boost of confidence you need to get in the kitchen and whip up something new and exciting for your little one. If you’re stuck in a rut and need some ideas when it comes to new foods to introduce to your toddler, be sure to check out my favorites for 12- and 18-month olds, plus my post on Creative Baby and Toddler Lunch Ideas!

I’d love to hear how these strategies worked for you in the comments below, and don’t forget to click here to learn more about my Three New Foods Challenge if you’re looking for a little extra support and motivation! Xoxo