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ball shaped food

My 12 month old is a picky eater but she loves rice balls and would pick up and eat anything rolled into rice ball form. I would like to vary it a bit though and wonder what other foods could be rolled up as a finger food. (Preferably not deep fried even though I suspect she would love falafel balls). Would it be possible to do something with polenta? Is there a way to turn mash potatoes or lentils into finger food?

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  1. Many things that can be fried can also be baked.

    1 Reply
    1. re: melpy

      So true! Including falafel balls. Turkey or chicken ground meat balls, rice balls can be made with farro for a different take.

      To the OP, how would your 12 month old enjoy a flat round of zucchini, grated white or sweet potato or even corn done pancake style? Tempura veggies in just a small amount of oil can be made as finger food.

    2. Mashed potato balls are a common dish -- there are lots of recipes one can find via google. Most are variations on mixing eggs with potatoes (some add cheese, bacon, etc.). Just use fresh potatoes and chill well before frying.

      1 Reply
      1. re: travelerjjm

        I would stick some finely chopped steamed broccoli and cheddar or some peas or something into the potato balls. Or just mix in some baby food vegetables.

      2. Red lentil-rice cakes: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/red-l... - just make hers into balls rather than pancakes - and even better, one meal for the whole family! :) (You might want to cut back on the red bell pepper, onion, and/or fennel, as the seasonings are definitely noticeable in the lentil cakes.


        How about meatballs, assuming all the ingredients are things she's already eating? These are our standard Italian meatballs: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... - but I make about 4lbs at a time (half pork, half beef) and bake them in the oven (20' at 350 for 1.5" meatballs).

        1. Since you're rolling rice balls, you could make different flavored rice balls! They're called onigiri in Japanese and come with a variety of different fillings that could help mix it up for your picky eater.

          Filling suggestions on this onigiri thread:

          1. You could try using a melon baller for various fruits, vegetables and cheese. Maybe even tuna balls on a cracker?

            1. A melon baller will be your best friend with items that are firm, like cooked, regrigerated polenta or cold mash potatoes.

              1. Fried mac and cheese balls (I've never tried these... http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/be...) Maybe they can be baked?

                They do something like this with spaghetti, too, at the Minnesota State Fair (and then serve it on a stick of course).


                And all kinds of dim sum dumplings might appeal, har gow and siu mai (forgive my poor spelling), etc.

                The only thing I would watch out for is that these food items aren't choking hazards, the same way you wouldn't give her a whole grape. Make them big enough and crumbly enough that she has to bite them. I wouldn't, for instance, give her melon balls which are slippery and small enough that she could accidentally swallow them whole.


                1. As melpy has mentioned, lots of foods that typically get fried can be baked- including falafel.

                  I'm thinking that crabcake or tuna cake recipes could easily be made as balls.

                  Papas Rellenas is a variation on the mashed potato ball idea that might be worth considering. They're typically stuffed with a meat mixture. Flexible idea, though- you could fill them with whatever you choose. You can make mashed from sweet potato or winter squash too. Even cauliflower.

                  Many years ago I had a vegetarian friend who used to make spaghetti and nutballs; they weren't bad. I'm sure there's a nutball recipe out there you can use.

                  Finally, I'd suggest getting yourself a portion scoop or two from a restaurant supplier. They're like ice cream scoops and come in various sizes. Many firm casseroles could be scooped into balls for her, and mealtimes would be easier if you could all be eating the same thing.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eclecticsynergy

                    The spring-release style ice cream scoopers are handy for portioning muffin/cupcake batter and cookies, too. They are numbered, reflecting the number of scoops per quart, so the higher the number, the smaller the ball. Here's a chart:

                    I'd suggest scattering an occasional "roll" in amongst the balls she eats, by which I mean something like a sandwich rolled up jelly-roll style in a wrap or crustless slice of bread, then cut into half-inch thick pinwheels. If she accepts this shape, it gives you many more options, including using fresh produce (butter lettuce, for example) and cooked (eggplant slices) to roll around a variety of fillings.

                  2. Use a melon baller on summer squash. It makes for a fun kid friendly presentation.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Matzo balls, meatballs, Chinese dumpling balls, melon balls, ice cream balls, cheese balls, malted milk balls, have a ball! But be on the alert if your one year old begins to develop a good throwing arm.

                      1. Duchess potatoes? Usually piped with a startip though.

                        1. I pat out mashed potatoes into small pancake size and bake them till they've formed a light crust; no eggs, just leftover mashed. You could easily form these into balls . It's easier to do when they're cold.
                          I do this with sweet potatoes, too.

                          1. Have to say that, from the subject line, my first thought was Rocky Mountain Oysters. But as I dig deeper into your concerns, that seems less promising.

                            1. it's fried but you might look up "Okinawan doughnuts" or more properly, andagi.

                              Ive had some potato balls made by mixing mashed potatoes with egg and shredded cheese sometimes some herbs and spices, then rolling in breadcrumbs and either baked or pan fried. Note, too much cheese and they flatten out. They are basically a form of croquette, lots of on line recipes.

                              Of course there are 'russian tea cookies' also known as melting moments that are basically spherical cookies dusted in powdered sugar.

                              And of course dozens of varitions on 'meatballs'

                              1. Search recipes for arancini.

                                1. Google "Kurdish carrot fritters". They are not deep fried but pan fried and it is not very messy.

                                  1. Ice cream

                                    Fish balls



                                    Char siu bao

                                    Xiao long bao

                                    Hard boiled egg

                                    Scotch egg

                                    1. "Is there a way to turn mash potatoes or lentils into finger food?"

                                      Sure, just beat in egg to bind, add grated cheese, spices, herbs, veggies, or meats if you want, roll into whatever size or shape a 12-month old wants, bread if you like, and bake or saute until heated through. Beans are good mashed up a bit. Google things like bean cakes or potato croquettes for recipes.

                                      Also note that lots of veggies can be grated, tossed with a little binder like flour, and sauteed into pancakes that can be eaten as finger food: beets, carrots, zucchini, etc.

                                      1. Polenta balls would basically be hushpuppies. They're usually fried, but I'd think you could spray them with a little oil and bake them.
                                        I've done baked felafel, and they're a little dry, but you can always make something to dip them in.
                                        My ex used to love the turkey croquettes his mom made when he was a kid. You can do them with ham or chicken, too.