Friday, October 10, 2014

Easier Homemade Graham Crackers

My husband took Baby G downstairs to play while he works out. This means I get bonus time with my computer and a cup of coffee. Glorious!!

At first, I thought I'd just write updates and then realized I have a really awesome recipe and baking hack to share with you that I just prepared for a potential work project.

First, a few quick updates:
-Baby G is obsessed with my computer. She knows the office is Mommy's room so most tantrums are about her not getting to go into mommy's room.
-I'm thinking of getting one of those learned tower things so she can watch me cook. I have been putting her on a chair and she loves it. It's hilarious because I'm usually taking notes on a recipe and she will often grab my pen and take her own notes. This also means that I have trouble deciphering said notes because they are covered in scribbles.

Alright, so onto the recipe. This baking hack was derived because I was hungover. Yes, mom of the year right here folks. Too much wine plus Baby G up in the middle night because of teething, and I had to bake some graham crackers in the morning to get my timing down and all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch.

I love baking crackers, but the whole rolling out dough on a floured surface and then getting the crackers from the floured surface onto the cookie sheet, it's a pain in the butt. I decided to try rolling them out on parchment paper (no mess!) and then was trying to move the crackers on to the cookie sheet. They kept breaking. I was frustrated. I knew my time was limited so I thought, screw it. I'm not dealing with this. Instead of throwing the dough out, I took my rolled out, cut dough on the parchment, threw it on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven. After 15 minutes, I took the dough out and separated the crackers (so much easier!) and baked for a few minutes. Voila! They came out crispy and yummy and frustration free.

You're welcome.

Easier Homemade Graham Crackers



These crackers are a diaper bag staple. Unlike commercially made graham crackers, these don’t crumble and make a mess when you are out in public. All of the nutty taste of graham crackers (thanks to the spelt flour) without the chemicals. Extra bonus? If your little one is not yet a year old, then simply swap in maple syrup for the honey. The dough can sit in the fridge for up to 4 days, so make the dough during naptime one day, and don’t sweat it if you can’t get to it until later in the week.

Prep Time: 10 minutes to make the dough, 4 hours to 4 days to let dough sit in fridge, 5 minutes to prep the dough for baking

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Yield: 30 crackers

Freezer friendly

Ingredients:
1 [1/2] cups whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole-wheat flour
1 cup spelt flour
[1/2] cup dark brown sugar, packed
[3/4] tsp salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
[1/2] cup unsalted butter, cold
[1/4] cup honey
[1/2] cup milk or non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a food processor with a chopping blade, pulse together whole-wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add unsalted butter, and pulse until a coarse meal forms. Add honey, milk, and vanilla extract, and pulse until dough is formed.

2. Separate dough into halves. Spread out a piece of parchment paper. Place dough on parchment paper and use your hand to flatten the dough into a disc, approximately [1/2]-inch thick. Cover dough with twice the amount of plastic wrap. Invert dough onto plastic wrap and cover the disc. Repeat with second half of dough. Refrigerate wrapped discs for at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 dg(F).  Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Unwrap dough and place the plastic wrap over the dough. Roll out to [1/4]-inch to [1/8]-inch thickness (the thicker the dough, the more cookie-like the cracker). Use a pizza cutter to cut into two by three inch rectangles. Do not separate. Transfer the parchment paper to a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and separate crackers. You may need to re-cut using a metal spatula or a pizza cutter. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper to a metal cooling rack. Cool completely. Store in a covered container for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Variations: To make Cinnamon Graham Crackers: replace 2 teaspoons cinnamon with 2 tablespoons cinnamon.
Substitutions: If your little one is under a year old, she should not have honey as it can cause infant botulism. Substitute maple syrup for honey. Do not use artificial maple syrup.

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What are some of your favorite baking hacks?
Am I using this trendy term correctly? Sometimes I wonder if I have turned into the out of date aunt.... 



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creamy Fruity Protein Pops

Ice pops in late September? It might seem like I'm late to the party, but moms out there with a teething toddler can relate. For the last month, Baby G has been obsessed with ice pops, and I don't blame her.




It was a lot easier before she connected our freezer with her beloved pops. That plus her learning sign language has led to more ice pop meals than I care to admit. I am thrilled she can communicate, but every power has its price. After she went through a tray of nine pops in two days, I knew something must be done.

I made pops with spinach with hopes that it would slow down her love. She kept demanding them, but wouldn't finish them. To be honest, I felt kind of bad about the whole thing. I always swore I wouldn't hide greens in food and here I was deceiving on her on an already pretty wholesome snack. I mean, my pops are generally filled with fruit and ground flax seeds, is that really the worst thing I could feed her?

My goal with this pop was a little more nutrient oomph plus the same fruity goodness. We had some ridiculously ripe mango from the CSA that I needed to use so I combined that with silken tofu and frozen blueberries. Fresh fruit, vitamin C from the blueberries, and creamy protein from the tofu. 

For those of you not familiar with silken tofu, it's a less dense version of tofu that does not need to be refrigerated and has the power to create non-dairy creamy dishes and desserts. Vegan cooks know what's up. I have seen it used in everything from macaroni and cheese to chocolate mousse.

Creamy Fruity Protein Pops



1 cup fresh mango, diced

[1/2] cup frozen or fresh blueberries

6 ounces silken tofu (half the package)

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. This makes 9 small kid pops and 2 adult ones.

Allergy notes: If you are dealing with a soy allergy, try subbing in Greek yogurt. You'll still get a nice dose of protein. Dairy allergy, try a [1/4] cup of almond milk.  You may not get the protein, but you will get some added calcium provided that your almond milk is fortified.

Question for the moms: what snacks have helped your LO through teething?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Homemade Cereal Bars

Baby G is walking.


I hope this explains my absence the last two months.

This summer has been filled with early morning runs, park expeditions, yoga/wrestling matches (Baby G has mastered the body slam during my Shavasana), and lots of wine after G is down for the night. 

As the summer draws near, my writing work is ramping up and I couldn't be more excited. Next week I will be giving a talk in Verona on healthy after school snacks and I have some projects that are in development but I can't wait to share with you. First, this talk next week, I will be at Verona Chiropractic on Wednesday August 20th from 5:30-6:15 talking about healthy after school snacks and lunches. If you are interested, call 608-497-3000 to reserve a spot by Monday, August 18.

This is one of the recipes I will be sharing next week. It has been a major go-to recipe for us all summer. I developed it for my last cookbook, Homemade Snacks and Staples, because I lived on Nutrigrain bars growing up. Next time you are in the store, read the ingredients and you will see why I made my own recipe (spoiler alert: over 40 ingredients!).


I have been making these so often lately that I have developed some shortcuts. I thought it was easy when I first made it, but now I have it down to an assembly line science. This makes two dozen so I keep about six in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. It's a great little morning treat. If Baby G sees them, she has to have one. They are dangerously good.

Homemade Cereal Bars

 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
[1/2] cup quick cooking oats
1 [1/2] teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
[1/8] teaspoon salt

[1/2] brown sugar, packed
[1/2] unsweetened applesauce
[1/2] cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
[3/4]- 1 cup jam of your choice*

*homemade is best, but otherwise look for jams that have fruit as the first ingredient and no high fructose corn syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 (dg)F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan (or two 12-cup mini muffin pan).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture. You may need to use a wooden spoon and/or your hands to get it all combined.

4. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop dough into muffin pan (approx. [1/2] tablespoon of dough). Flatten dough into pan. Add a teaspoon of jam to each on. You can do two different jams if you'd like- I usually do apricot and blackberry.


5. Scoop another [1/2] tablespoon of dough for each bar. Then flatten into disk and seal the muffins.

6. Bake 18-25 minutes until tops are golden and starting to crack. 


7. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days, in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. To thaw, either take out and sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or put in microwave for 20 seconds- if you heat it up, the jam may be hot so be careful when giving it to your little one.

Enjoy!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Living with and Feeding a 1 year old: Month 1

It's been awhile since I posted, yet Baby G still eats. So what gives?

Baby G turned one. With that came a major milestone in eating, but also the sudden attachment phase which I have feared since I first heard murmurings among my more experienced mama friends. Suddenly, I am the coolest person in the world and no one else compares.  Not daddy, not grandma, not her adoring cousin Hannah, no one. Just mama. All the time. 

On one hand, I know that I need to enjoy what will probably be the only time in her life where she only has eyes for me. I know that once she gets a clue, she will realize that daddy is way more fun, grandma lets her do whatever she wants, and cousin Hannah is really the coolest person we all know. But this period is not without its challenges. Namely, there is no escape from her her chubby hands, sweet smile, and occasionally, shrill cries.

Suddenly, cooking time has vanished and yet, the other major milestone that comes with the first year is that she needs to get all of her nutrients from solids as we are no longer using formula. So I need to give her more complete meals. Throw in the fact that it's summer and we are running here, there, and everywhere, and I hope you can see why I haven't been posting much.

Life has been a little crazy.

I thought I would share with you what she has been eating and I would love, love, LOVE to hear what you are feeding your little one. I fear some days that I am raising Baby G on single girl food: veggie burgers, tamales, quesadillas, and hummus by the boat load. It's easy, it's not the worst food in the world, but it makes me sad that I am not all Donna Reed and whipping up these amazing family meals. It's just not how we live.

Breakfast Foods

There is not a lot of variant in our breakfasts. Once I introduced toast, there was no going back. Baby G recognizes the bread bag and the toaster. I still make my own bread, and I usually mix whole fat plain yogurt and a little jelly to make a topping. To tide her over while the bread is in the toaster, I have been giving her a squeeze pack of my yogurt mixture. I use these reusable pouches and love them. I bought them because they were out of the disposable ones and I didn't expect to like them. I highly recommend them if you are interested in making your own purees or yogurt mixes. They also make it easier to make yogurt bites like this:





I just fill the bag and then squirt little dots of yogurt onto wax paper and freeze them. Baby G loves these! I got the idea from another mama friend (Thanks Erin!)

Back to breakfast, I usually give her fruit and I am trying valiantly to get her to eat eggs. She is so not interested but I keep trying. I have tried scrambled them with cheese, with seasonings, and just plain. Moms, any tips on getting your kids into eggs? The closest I have come to success is giving her French toast and she loved that.

I found a recipe for banana oat bars that I wanted her to like, but I ate most of them. I found the recipe at Foodlets, a great whole foods family blog. She calls them cookies, but that's like saying kale chips are like chips. Why do healthy bloggers torment us so? 

For the not-cookies, you just mash two ripe bananas with a cup of old fashioned oats, scoop them out,  and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 dg(F).  



You can stir in [1/4] cup of mix-ins and of course, I stirred in mini chocolate chips for me. I love them with my coffee, Baby G is not so sure about them, but we will keep trying. If anything, it gives me a sweet, healthy treat with my cup of joe.

Lunch and Dinner

We are not as set in stone with lunch and dinners. In a perfect world, I would make myself a great, healthy lunch and dinner, then share it with Baby G. In reality, I usually drink a protein smoothie for lunch and dinners have been haphazard as both my husband and I golf a lot in the summer and aren't home together as much as we would like. When we are home, it's lots of veggies, sometimes meat (most times not), and a big salad.

For G, I try to follow a basic formula. Lunch and dinner always include: a protein, a dairy, a veggie, and a fruit. We are finally in CSA season, so it's been fun to experiment with new variations.


 Here are some of our protein standbys: 

-Some type of quesadilla: either pinto/black beans mashed with salsa and cheese in a wheat or corn tortilla, heated in a dry frying pan until the cheese melts, and then cut into bites by my new favorite tool, the pizza cutter.




Our other favorite variation is a veggie burger mashed with ketchup and cheese in a tortilla. If a tortilla is involved, Baby G is in. 

-Hummus and tortilla.This is her favorite, by far. I use Sabra roasted red pepper hummus because we all eat that in embarrassing amounts.

-Black bean or spinach and cheese tamales

-Baked beans.

-Tofu- we cook it in a sauce. She is still a little unsure about the texture, so we are still working on it.

She doesn't have much interest in meat, but I have had the greatest success with getting her to eat chicken enchiladas- I cook the chicken in a slow cooker with salsa, shred it, and then wrap it up in tortillas. She loves a little spice so I think she likes the salsa, salsa verde is her current favorite. 


And whenever applicable, we give her what we are eating or leftovers from the night before. 

Veggie standbys:

- raw, peeled zucchini sticks- I gave some to her on a whim, mainly because I needed a veggie. She loved them! I think it has a similar taste to cucumber, but the texture is easier for her to eat, more spongy.

-thawed frozen peas

-steamed green beans, asparagus, or carrots
  
-cooked red peppers

Fruit standbys-

Baby G is one of the only babies who is not interested in fruit. We have the best success giving it to her at snack time, usually with homemade cheese crackers.

-red or black grapes, cut in half (green grapes have not been popular!)

-thawed frozen blueberries

-fresh figs cut in half

-strawberries

We have tried peaches, plums, apricots, watermelon, cantalope, and mangoes, but Baby G isn't too interested yet. Hopefully I will have some updates on more fruits she likes as summer progresses. 

Dairy standbys

For dairy, we normally give her cheese and yogurt (sometimes in frozen bite form as pictured above). She is a little lactose intolerant, so she doesn't drink whole milk, but can eat cheese and yogurt. Because of that, we try to give her dairy at every meal and opportunity. For anyone living in the Madison area, you can buy diced cheese at Woodman's. Highly recommend it! It makes meal prep so much easier and it's a nice blend of a lot of cheeses. 

************

So, that's what we have been eating. What are some of your current favorites for your little one?
 

 
 









Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Homemade Sandwich Bread for Babies






Did you know that I had an adult cooking blog? Well, I do. It's called Badger Girl Learns to Cook. This is the blog that led to my cookbook, Homemade Snacks and Staples.  I just wrote a post on my homemade sandwich bread, you should go there to check it out. This bread is perfect for babies. Baby G devours it on a regular basis.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Finger Foods Volume 5

It has been awhile since I have done a finger foods post. It's nap time, so I am going to get right to the point.

We have finally found our replacement for puffs and Cheerios. Let me introduce to our new love:






3 Ingredient Cheese Crackers. I got the recipe from 100 Days of Real Food, an awesome whole foods family blog. I made one small change from whole wheat flour to whole wheat pastry flour, and that's really a texture issue (I think they dissolve easier with the pastry flour).

All you do is throw 5 tablespoons of cold butter (cut into chunks), 1 [1/2] cup of shredded/grated cheese, and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry (or whole wheat) flour into a food processor. Process for a few minutes (yes, it takes a few minutes) until it becomes a ball. Take it out and place on a long strip of wax paper and form into a log. You can either cut it into crackers right away or throw it in the fridge for awhile. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and firm, and you have the most amazing, EASY crackers for your little one.

I keep these in my diaper bag as my emergency snack. Baby G likes to put the whole cracker in her mouth so I usually break them into smaller pieces. These freeze well so if you don't think you will eat them right away or want to make a double batch, throw them in the freezer until you need them.

I can't even express how happy I am to have a whole foods "puffs" snack for Baby G. It's such a lifesaver and she loves them.

Enough cracker love fest, here is what else we are eating:

Thawed frozen fruit: I bought a big bag of mixed tropical frozen fruit and I always have blueberries in the freezer. I either take these out the night before and put them in the fridge, or an hour before and put them on the corner. The fruit has no additives and all of its nutrition, yet it is soft and easy for Baby G to eat. She particularly loves the blueberries.

Grated apples: This was a great tip from a mom in my playgroup (Thank you Stephanie!). Baby G loves apples but I am worried about choking. This gives her the flavor and some texture and is easy to do.

Cheese curds- I warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds and break them apart. G loves them!

Peas and Carrots- I buy the frozen ones, cook them in batches, and try to always keep them in the fridge. Such an easy no-mess finger food!

Beans!- G loves brown beans, light red kidney beans, and pinto beans.

Toast in various forms- I make my own bread using an adapted form of this recipe (I swap in maple syrup for honey and some bread flour for a few cups of whole wheat). I will do a separate post on bread, but if you have a stand mixer, you should try this recipe. So easy!
On our toast, we have had peanut butter and jelly, butter and jelly, yogurt and puree, and hummus. I also tried French toast but Baby G wasn't too interested.

Cheese- Cheese is another go-to for Baby G. This is a great on-the-go snack. I cut it up in little cubes and she loves them.

Things I want to try: Roasted baby carrots with spices. Roasting cauliflower with spices. Cutting up pears and apples, putting them in the freezer for 24 hours, thawing, and then giving them to Baby G as they will be soft and broken down. I will report back on what I learn!

*******
What are some of your favorite finger foods for your little one?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Apple, Carrots, Beans N Greens Puree

I am very happy to finally share with you another recipe. It's not that I haven't been trying. As you may have guessed from my recent posts, there has been a lot of angst in our household over feeding. Angst that I am sure will continue for the next 18 years.

Recent Challenges


In the beginning of the month, my husband and I got away on vacation leaving Baby G with my folks. They did a great job and even though I gave them the okay, they persevered and kept Baby G on an unprocessed diet. The only big change was my mom cut up all of her food into tiny pieces (I was giving her strips of steamed veggies) and apparently, she prefers small pieces so we have been readjusting our finger foods accordingly. Sounds like a small change, but it really threw us off at first.

Purees have been a bit of challenge since we got back. I was so excited to make her a green puree out of veggies she loves: asparagus, green beans, and snap peas. I thought it tasted amazing, Baby G took one bite and then clamped her lips shut. I think I was more upset that I "wasted" all that asparagus and then had to throw it out. I feel like our meals in the last few weeks have been one step forward and two steps back as we try to get back into a routine and keep food in the house that Baby G will eat.

Giving in to the Pouch

After a very messy outing on Tuesday, I decided to finally break down and buy the gadgets needed to make my own pouches. I was really resisting this which was really stupid, to be totally honest. I had this thing with not wanting Baby G to eat from a pouch. As I write it, I am embarrassed by how I was taking myself way too seriously. As my husband pointed out, at this point it doesn't matter HOW she eats, just WHAT she eats.  He also asked if I planned to go to school with Baby G and feed her off a spoon. Touche.

For this puree, I wanted to come up with something that could serve as a whole meal, so I wanted a protein, a veggies (or two), and a fruit.




Apples and carrots are two of Baby G's favorite things and they are sweet, so I knew they would be a winner. I had some leftover baby kale, so I thought I could sneak that in with some mild, creamy garbanzo beans. Because nutmeg pairs well with dark greens and apples, I decided that it would be a great spice to add sweetness and warmth. That's how I came up with this puree. Baby G loves it and I hope your baby does too.

Apples, Carrots, Beans N Greens Puree

12 carrots, ends removed and cut into 2-3 inch chunks
4 apples, cored and sliced
[1/2] teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup water

3 handfuls of baby kale or baby spinach

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1. Steam carrots, apples, and nutmeg. I prefer throwing them in the slow-cooker with a cup of water and cooking on high for 3-4 hours until carrots and apples are tender. Add kale or spinach for last 10 minutes.

2. Combine carrots, apples, nutmeg, kale (or spinach), and chickpeas in blender. Start by adding [1/4]- [1/2] cup water. Puree until you reach desired consistency. Add more water if needed.

3. Store in fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

*This makes a lot of puree! I filled 8 pouches and had enough for a few meals leftover.
 

Recipe Review

So far, so good. Baby G loved this the first night we gave it to her. The ground nutmeg adds so much to this puree. I highly recommend buying some whole nutmegs, like the ones you can see in the picture below.

 

Freshly ground nutmeg is so much better than the already ground stuff you normally see. Store them in the fridge and just grate them as needed. They last for a long time and pack a ton of flavor. 

I used kale in this recipe because we had some on hand, but you could also substitute in spinach. Both are leafy greens that add a nutritious punch to your diet. In addition to being a great source for calcium, spinach is also packed with antioxidants and vitamin K.  Kale also provides antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. (Click the links to learn more about their health benefits).

A Note About Pouches

I am using the Infantino Squeeze Station to make our pouches. I have to be honest, I didn't do a ton of research on them, but I am really happy with it so far. We are doing the disposable bags because I am too worried about not cleaning the reusable ones enough and let's be honest, it's easier to do the disposables.

Anyone else making their own pouches? What do you use? Any recommendations on where I can get more bags? Any reasons I should reconsider the reusable pouches?



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Peace with Our Palate

It's been awhile since I last posted. I wish I had some great new recipes for you and some new ideas for finger foods.

Instead, I am going to write about something that has been under my skin for awhile.

I don't like cooked spinach or kale.

I don't like smoked salmon or really any kind of salmon at all.

I know I should like prosciutto and melon, but all I can hear is my mom exclaiming during wedding planning, "you want to serve our guests ham and cantalope...together?!!!" And I can't get past it either. It's kind of weird if you think about it.

There are a lot of foodie foods I just don't like.  And, as I have learned, Baby G doesn't either.

I wanted more for her. I wanted to develop a foodie palate that would overstretch mine. Instead, I am finding she is a lot like me and maybe that isn't so bad after all. And, at what point do I mention she is just 10 months old?

Yes, I have been having these internal wrestlings over a girl who has only been eating for about 4 months. I worry that she only likes the sweet stuff- carrots, peas, bananas, fruit, and carbs- bread, oatmeal, more bread. I guess she's not an idiot, right? Sweet is better than bitter cooked spinach and fishy salmon spread. Bread, especially my homemade bread, is awesome. She's not into meat, but I went through several vegetarian stages in my life. And really, after 4 months, I should probably just be happy that she gets food into her mouth, even if it is just to spit it out.

And yet....

I worry. A lot.

I question myself. A lot.

I hear other moms talk about their adventurous eaters and I feel a pang of jealousy. I watch Baby G make a terrible face after I give her some pureed chicken enchilada soup and I feel like I must be doing something wrong. I swear she was open to more tastes when we first started solids and now I already have a picky eater.

She's getting most of her nutrients from formula which I have to keep reminding myself, and we have plenty of time, a whole lifetime really, to develop her tastes. I didn't even have asparagus until I was in college.

Anyone else dealing with these type of worries? Any words of encouragement from the more experienced mamas out there?



Monday, March 31, 2014

How much organic do you buy?

Today was the weekly trip to the grocery store. This is an event that is always plagued with a certain amount of guilt and anxiety. I am torn between buying the best possible produce for my baby and making it out of there without blowing half of my grocery budget on one visit.

The simple answer and the answer I would love to tell you is that there is no price on my baby's, my, and my husband's health. Being a food writer, a healthy food writer at that, that is what I feel like I should tell you. I have read all of the articles on how pesticides are slowly killing us and what's more, I believe them. I think chemicals are causing most, if not, ALL of our health problems today.

And yet....

I still don't shop 100% organic.

From mid-April to November, a CSA provides the bulk of our family's produce. During those months, I would say we eat 80-90% organic.

From November until the CSA starts, we are scrambling to find the best produce for our family. I love eating seasonally and locally, but we live in Wisconsin and I don't like squash or other typical winter produce. It's a problem.

With a small child, I don't have the time or the energy to drive all over town to do my shopping. We go to one store (Woodman's) for the bulk of our groceries and get our meats from other places (the CSA, Costco). I hear of other families driving to 3 or 4 different stores to get all of the organic stuff they need and I have to admit, just hearing about it wears me out.

My husband and I made the decision to raise our family on whole foods. We don't buy anything processed. No chemicals, no pre-mades. No Cheerios, no rice puffs. We take it a step further and also try to limit her grains and eventually, we will not give her cow's milk though she does eat other dairy (cow's milk is for baby cows). These are all choices we have made based on our lifestyle and how we want our family to live.

And when I get to the store, I am filled with self-doubt. Would it be better for me to buy organic pre-mades? Am I hurting her by giving her produce that may have been treated with pesticides? Should I be driving all over town to get specialty stuff?

And when I start to think about that, I start to think, how long could I keep it up? Do we really want to spend THAT much money on organic food that doesn't always taste as good as the regular stuff?
Yes, it's true. I have spent way more money than I want to admit on green beans, mangoes, and apples, only to have them taste like nothing. And trust me, that does nothing to get Baby G excited about fruits and veggies.

For us to maintain our lifestyle, we have to make decisions that will aid in our success. In short, we don't want to set ourselves up to fail. So, if we are going to continue feeding our family a whole foods diet, it's not going to be 100% organic 100% of the time.

I would say we are moving towards a 50/50 split on organic/regular produce during the off season. During the summer, that may change, but I am not sure we will ever be 100%. And I think I am finally okay with that.

This is how we break it down:

Meats, dairy, and eggs: organic

Celery, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, spinach: organic

Apples for Baby G: organic.

Apples for us: Varies.

The rest: depends on what we find at the store.

I would love to hear from you. Do you buy organic? What are your must-haves? What influences your decision? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finger Foods Volume 4

Baby G revolts!



No longer will she allow me to feed her, no, she must do it herself. Every other day or so, she relents and allows me to give her a few spoonfuls, but it's just a tease. As soon as I am lulled into complacency, she presses her lips together and demands to hold the spoon, usually just long enough to send it flying across the room. 

On top of that, her method of eating is to take a bite, suck on it, and then spit it out when I am not looking.  The good news is that I am not as worried about her choking, the bad news, it's pretty gross to see.

It's been a challenge to say the least.

I am trying to come up with a template for each meal, like a protein, a fruit/veggie, a dairy, etc. I hate to say we are falling into a rhythm because I always jinx myself, so I won't.

Here is what we have been eating:


-Black beans- she loves them! I make them from dried so they have a little kick and I don't have to worry about BPA or sodium (and for easy directions on making beans from dried, check out this post on my grown-up blog). She sucks on them, manages to get the meat out of the bean and then spits the skin out. It's super appetizing to watch...Reminds me of our childhood dog who could crack pistachio nuts and would leave the shells everywhere.



Two notes here: we didn't purposefully give the dog nuts, she would find them in the cupboard. And yes, I realized I just compared my daughter to a dog. Sorry Baby G. Mama loves you.

Pieces of cheese- Sometimes I leave it as a slice and sometimes break it into small pieces. It dissolves in her mouth. So far we have stuck to white cheeses because I want to stay away from orange coloring.

Slices of raw pear and apple: I think she likes them for teething. I think she is just sucking on them and gumming small pieces, because most of it, she spits out.

Strips of ripe mango

Hard-boiled egg yolks- These are super messy, but she is starting to eat more than she throws.

Steamed veggies (broccoli, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, sweet potato, baby carrots, regular carrots, parsnips)- We tried cauliflower but she wasn't a fan.

Beets!- You can buy cooked organic beets with no additional ingredients in the produce section. These are super messy but she loved them. It didn't help that I dropped the open package in an open drawer....

Cooked strips of chicken

Pieces of bread- I have been tearing off little pieces. I have given them to her plain and put purees on strips of bread to get her to eat the purees when she won't let me feed her. I make my own bread that is an artisan loaf so it's a little heftier than sandwich bread.

Strawberries- she is loving these! I usually cut them in half and that gives her enough to hang on to.

Raw Sweet Pepper Strips- There was a mini discussion (aka me and my good friend, E) on the Facebook page a week ago or so about giving babies sweet peppers. We were at the in-laws last weekend and my mother-in-law an amazing spread of salad fixings. I was sharing with Baby G and she loved the sweet pepper strips. Now, some babies have problems with peppers, so approach with caution, or at least don't plan any solemn outings afterwards where toots would make you blush.  But if your baby is like Baby G, he just might like them!

Pieces of tamale- I am convinced that tamales are a great kid food: they are bland, they are soft....okay, that's it, bland and soft. I also love them. I found a brand with no chemicals or lard, Texas Tamale Company, and got the black bean variety. I am loving them, Baby G still has reservations.

Sun-dried tomatoes- My husband loves sun-dried tomatoes and hummus. I thought I would try it with Baby G, and what can I say? Like father, like daughter.



Our store has sun-dried tomatoes in the produce section are really soft. If you buy some that are tough, try soaking them in hot water for a few minutes.

Pickles- Consider it a special treat, I know they have a lot of sodium so it won't be a regular habit. I was snacking on one and Baby G was really interested. She liked it...but not as much as that tomato.

Other news....

We are still saying no to Cheerios. When we went to the doctor, I expected them to say something and they were totally fine with us abstaining from cheerios and rice puffs. They seemed okay with her practicing her pincer grip on beans and other small pieces of food. I guess I am on the defensive since it feels like everyone else uses them.

In April, I need to have a weeks worth of food and meals ready for Baby G. My parents are babysitting for a week and I just realized that I need to have food ready for them to make it as easy as possible. And of course, I realized that in the middle of the night. I'm a little nervous and would love to hear if you have any good ideas for prepping whole foods meals for a baby.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kale, Sweet Potato, and Apple Puree

As a society, we are obsessed with making our children eat kale.

I overheard some mommies discussing desperate attempts to get their children to eat kale. Kale chips, covering it with cheese and calling it dinosaur food, blending it into smoothies.

All of these sound terrible to me.

I love healthy food and even I struggle with kale. I don't think it was even on my mom's radar when I was little. We saw it at the grocery as a garnish for all fresh produce and I don't even think it occurred to us to put it in our mouths.

So, why bother? Why not just leave it as salad bar garnish and move on our with lives?

According to webmd, it is one of the most healthiest vegetables on the planet.

1 cup of kale = 9% daily value of calcium, and over 100% of Vitamin A, C, and K.


Probably not the worst thing to feed our kids, right? And even better if we can find ways to actually make it taste good.

And let's be honest, I bought a huge bag for another recipe and didn't know what to do with it.

I took a tip from from Rachel Ray and included some fresh ground nutmeg as it is supposed to pair well with hearty greens like kale. My next tip was from Baby G who will eat anything with sweet potatoes and ditto for apples. So, essentially I was trying everything I could to make kale palpable. And I think it worked....


Kale, Sweet Potato and Apple Puree





[1/2] large sweet potato or 1 small sweet potato, sliced

1 apple, sliced

2 generous handfuls of kale, stems removed

[1/4] teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg or ground nutmeg

1-2 tablespoons water (from steaming)


1. Steam sweet potato and apple for 2-3 minutes. Add kale and steam for additional 2 minutes.

2. Combine, sweet potato, apple, kale, ground nutmeg, and a splash of water from steaming in a blender. Puree until you reach desired consistency.


3. Store in fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Beyond the Puree

This is a very sweet puree. It would be good paired with a strong cheese- goat or blue cheese and some steamed kale in a quesadilla or mixed in with some steel cut oats for a sweet twist on breakfast.

Recipe Review
 
Even I was surprised how much Baby G liked it. I became one of those annoying moms smirking over her precious daughter eating kale. Then I had to remind myself how sweet it was with the sweet potato, apple, and warm nutmeg. This puree tastes so good that it's really not an accomplishment that your little one is gobbling kale....or is it?

The ground nutmeg really does complement the kale nicely. So much that I don't think I will be able to think of kale without it ever again. 

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What do you think about kale? Yay or nay? How does your little one like kale?



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Report Back on Traveling

I really wish I could open this post with how easy it was to prepare clean foods (unprocessed, homemade) foods for Baby G while we were traveling. I was excited to share all my tips and tricks with you and hopefully inspire you to try eating clean on the road, and maybe I still will, let's hope!

I will say it wasn't difficult, but it also wasn't easy, or more accurately, it wasn't as easy as I thought.

It started out well: I put two frozen purees in some tupperware containers and threw in a bag of banana bread sticks in my carry on. When we got to Dallas and our 3 hour layover, we set up shop at a TGI Fridays (it's amazing what GREAT salads they have there!), ordered some steamed broccoli with no oil or salt for Baby G. She was a very happy traveler and this red solo cup and her banana bread sticks kept her occupied until the broccoli came out. PS-I will now always try to remember to bring a red solo cup to restaurants- great toy!


Broccoli was truly steamed with nothing else. She gummed the broccoli, threw it on the floor, and devoured her pureed carrots.

I realized that the second puree wasn't going to make it with us to Donna, TX (our final destination) so I got rid of it, but luckily had packed an avocado that she could have dinner.

Dinner that night was hectic as we got in past her bedtime. She gummed some banana bread sticks, had a little avocado and then went to bed.

At breakfast, I realized I really had nothing for her. I grabbed some instant oatmeal and some blueberry yogurt from the continental breakfast and she was fine. I then managed to lose the rest of the banana bread sticks in my parents' pantry. Doh! I just hope they don't try to bite into one when they find them. I will not be held responsible for chipped teeth.

I went to the store with JP and my dad. It's there I realized how much I depend on my freezer full of purees at home. Three and a half days and I was starting from scratch. Here is what I bought:

-Sweet potatoes

-Pears

-Plums

-Canned tomatoes

-Can of black beans

-Cumin

-Greek yogurt

-Broccoli

-Mild Cheddar Cheese

-Mango

I decided to make two purees and then give her broccoli, sweet potato strips, mango, and cheese as finger foods. I don't have any pictures of the purees, but here is what they were (roughly):

Pear/Plum Puree: 1 pear sliced, 1 plum sliced, handful of craisins (in my mom's pantry): all steamed together. Pureed with steaming water and cinnamon. Baby G LOVED this puree. 

Black Bean/Sweet Potato/Tomato: Steamed sweet potato slices pureed with [1/2] can black beans, [1/2] can tomatoes, sprinkle of cumin. Baby G wouldn't touch this puree with a 10-foot pole. Though it did make a pretty good bean dip for us.

I ended up mixing the pear/plum puree with instant oatmeal in the morning (from our continental breakfast) and with yogurt at lunch. At dinner, I gave her steamed broccoli, cheese, and mashed sweet potato.

It was a lot of repetition and I tried to use the finger foods to change things up. I discovered she likes cheese a lot, and I think for us, cheese will be our puffs. It disintegrates in her mouth and she really likes to gum it. I started breaking it into small pieces and she liked grabbing it.

On the way back, I froze the remainder of the pear/plum puree. We ordered steamed broccoli again, but it was definitely salted. Good thing JP and I love broccoli!

So, what did I learn?

1. Bring an insulated lunch box. If I would have had one, I could have brought more with me from home and for on our flight back, as well as her beloved cheese. 

2. Have a better plan for what you are going to make. The bean puree was supposed to be like this one that she devoured. I shouldn't have tried something new (the tomatoes) while on the road. It was really disheartening that she wouldn't eat it.

I will also say that it made me re-examine why I was doing this. At the store, I couldn't find much organic stuff and I felt bad that I wasn't giving her organic. I almost bought some pre-made stuff. So what held me back? I want her to taste what real food tastes like and I don't believe the pre-made, processed stuff is real food. My husband and I don't eat packaged foods and we don't want to raise our family on packaged food. It's something very deep-seated in us. I can't even always explain it. It's just how we live. And we don't always eat organic, though we do try to when possible, so it's realistic that she will not eat 100% organic.

So, the trip wasn't easy and I was down about it, but my husband reminded me how hard it was for us to travel at first. Don't get me wrong: we are not rude people. We eat what is served and we don't question it or even address it. But when we travel, we always buy our own snack food and treat our hosts well because they are putting up with us, we take them out, we try to prepare food for them, etc. We also work out every day, even on the road, and try to maintain our lifestyle as much as we can. It's what we do. It's become so much of what we do that we don't think about it anymore, but it was hard at first.

I am hoping it will be the same way with preparing food for our kids. It will get easier. We will keep learning what works and what doesn't work. And we will keep not freaking out if everything is not perfect.

Now, because I droned on and on, I will share with you one of my fave pics and another reason I am not too upset that Baby G's food didn't work out as planned. Clearly, she doesn't have very discriminating taste because here is what her favorite thing to eat on vacation was:


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Have you traveled with your baby yet? Any good tips?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cranberry Pear Applesauce (and Traveling with Baby)

We are getting ready to leave for our first trip with Baby G. We will be flying for the first time so there are piles throughout the house. I can't believe how much stuff a little person needs! Before I leave, I wanted to share with you our current favorite recipe, but first a few notes on traveling clean....

Eating Clean While Traveling


This is our first real eating challenge as we are still determined to keep her off processed foods while we travel. Believe me, I've been tempted in the last few days. We are lucky in that we are visiting my parents so we will have our own kitchen in our hotel suite as well as all of their gadgets at their place, namely a really nice blender so we can make our own purees. It also helps that we are going to Southern Texas where the produce is cheap and plentiful. I am packing my Pampered Chef microwave steamer and I made some banana bread sticks that are great teethers and snacks for her (recipe will be posted when I get back). I have frozen purees that I am going to pack in my OXO containers for the airport. Other than that, we will rely on produce we can find at the airport and when we get there, we will make a trip to the grocery store for some puree and finger food ingredients.

To cut down on packing, I ordered feeding bibs, spoons, bottles, and some other baby supplies (diapers, sunblock, swim stuff) on Amazon and because of our Prime account, it's free shipping. We will have that stuff waiting for us when we get there. Anything to make it easier!

I will be tweeting about our adventures in feeding, so follow me to get our updates.

Cranberry Pear Applesauce

I read about using cranberries in purees in Anni Daulter's book Bountiful Baby Purees. She talks about not being afraid of giving baby's sour food and despite her kind warnings, I was still nervous. Would she really like cranberries? Would she purse her mouth and turn away?

Not. At. All.

Baby G LOVES this puree. The pears and raisins give it some added sweetness, but don't get me wrong, this is tart. She has been gobbling it up since I made it up. Cranberries are a great source of Vitamin C. With its refreshing taste, it's a particularly great puree during cold and flu season.

I made it in the slow cooker, but feel free to make this in a regular steamer. I just wanted a hands off method as Baby G is now mobile and I have less time to monitor anything besides her.





Ingredients:

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen

3 small apples, sliced

2 small pears, sliced

[1/2] cup raisins

[1/2] cup water

3 cinnamon sticks
 
1. Combine all ingredients** in a medium slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until pears and apples are tender.

2. Remove cinnamon sitcks and transfer to a blender. Puree until you reach your desired consistency. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

**The cranberries made a bit of a mess in the slow cooker. To avoid the mess, you could add them for the last 1-2 hours. Or, if you are like me, just soak the slow cooker over night before washing it. If I did it again, I'd live with the mess because it requires less thought.

Recipe Review:

We will definitely be incorporating cranberries into more recipes. I love the idea that Baby G is being exposed to a wider variety of flavors and cranberries are so good for you!

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Have you made any sour purees yet?

Any tips for traveling with a baby?



Monday, February 10, 2014

Finger Foods Volume 3

As we continue with our finger food series, I want to make something very clear. Most of the time when I give Baby G finger foods, it looks a lot like this....



And only occasionally does it look this....





I guess I view this period as major experimentation. Experimenting new tastes, new textures, and for Baby G, new ways to make messes for Mommy.

Here is what we have had in the last week or so:

Green Beans

Steamed red pepper strips

Pieces of crumbled veggie burger

Pieces of a whole wheat quesadilla

Pieces of scrambled eggs- we got the okay from my doctor and eggs don't seem to bother her.

Blood orange slices (with peel)  She really loved sucking on the orange and I loved watching her expression of surprise each time she got a taste. Oranges are acidic so if you notice your baby starts to get a diaper rash after eating them, stop and wait.

Tofu Bites- Recipe below, she liked smashing them more than eating them. I actually thought they were pretty good!

Tofu Bites




 1 carton of firm tofu, cut into rectangular pieces****

[1/4] cup wheat germ OR wheat flour

1 teaspoon garlic pepper OR garlic powder

****-This would make a lot of tofu bites! Keep this ratio and only make amount of bites you want for that meal or maybe for two meals. Save the rest of the wheat germ/garlic mixture.

1. Preheat oven to 425 (dgF). Lightly spray a cookie sheet.

2. Whisk together wheat germ and garlic pepper.

3. Dredge tofu rectangles in wheat germ mixture and place on prepared pan. Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

Review-

To me, these tasted a lot like chicken nuggets, especially when you dunk them in ketchup. I admit, I am a tofu fan so I may be biased. I thought they had a similar texture and that comforting bland taste of chicken nuggets. 

Baby G just liked smashing them on the table, the floor, the chair, her hair, etc. I look forward to serving these as she gets older and I am glad I can introduce tofu right away.

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What have you been feeding your little one in terms of finger foods?




Monday, February 3, 2014

Pumpkin Berry Patch Puree

I hesitate to refer to any of my baby foods as Baby G's favorite. At only 8 months old, I have a hard time getting my mind around the idea that she has a favorite. There's so much that she hasn't tried and this whole eating thing is brand new. How do I know if she likes or doesn't like anything? Sometimes she seems to prefer eating her toes, but I wouldn't guess that she likes how they taste.

So, I won't say this is her favorite. I will say she consistently eats it. And these days, that is saying something.

Why pumpkin?  Pumpkin is a great super food. It is high in fiber, low in fat, and 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree has 3 grams of protein. And it's packed with beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is great for the eyes.

And because I had a whole bunch of canned puree leftover from some recent cookie baking. Sometimes reality is a little less sexy....

Pumpkin Berry Patch Puree


[1/2] cup mixed berries

[1/4] cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree

[1/2] banana

dash of ground nutmeg

1. Combine all ingredients in the blender and puree until you reach your desired consistency. It makes approximately 1 - 1[1/2] cups.

2. Store in the fridge in a covered container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Beyond the Puree

This puree has a nice sweet taste to it. It would be great swirled in yogurt.

Combine this with some cream cheese and spread on a half tortilla. Fold it over and cook it in a dry frying pan to make a sweet, dessert quesadilla. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side and 1-2 minutes after you flip it.

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Does your baby have any favorites or strong likes/dislikes? How can you tell?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finger Foods Volume 2

In an effort to keep track of what Baby G is eating, I thought I would share another volume of finger foods. I also wanted to mention my favorite new book: Feed Me, I'm Yours

If you are making your own baby food, I highly recommend Vicky Lansky's Feed Me, I'm Yours! It is filled with great ideas from baby to little kids. It feels a lot like getting advice from your mom- it's a no frills book and it keeps things easy. That being said, if you are uber organic parent, you may want to pass. It's not a perfect book and it's not a holier-than-thou-my-child's digestive-system-is-made-of-gold type of books. It's the kind of book that gives you tips on better ways to cut hot dogs and uses some processed ingredients. I say, you don't have to follow every recipe, but it sure has a lot of great ideas.

Finger foods this week:

-Lightly steamed veggies- this week, we have done broccoli (Baby G's favorite by far!), cauliflower, green beans, and little tiny finger potatoes.

-Thick slices of cheese. To my surprise, Baby G loves cheese.

-Slices of under ripe pineapple.

-Strips of mango

-Steamed apple slices- This is another one of her favorites: I leave the peel on and slice them about [1/4] to [1/2] inch thick. 

-Homemade Teething Biscuits. This is a recipe from Feed Me, I'm Yours. I was working from an old copy which has since been revised. The recipe I used was: 1 egg, 2 [1/2]cups flour, and 1 cup sugar. Beat the egg, add the sugar, and gradually stir in the flour. Roll out to [3/4] inch thickness, and cut into round shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 hours (to dry out) and then back at 325 dg(F) for 40-60 minutes until brown and hard.

In the new addition, she has a recipe that just calls for 2 egg yolks instead of whole eggs, and recipes that don't include eggs.

My doctor has given the green light for eggs, so I was fine with the old recipe. The biscuits are really hard and Baby G doesn't really eat them. She gums on them, it doesn't crumble, and she hits it on the table (still doesn't crumble). It's an activity rather than a food, and it's one that I have been happy with so far.

We have also tried beans, but they are still too small for her to grab.

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What is your favorite baby food book?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pear, Raisin, and Ginger Puree

Many know how much my husband loves spinach, but few people know he loves pears just as much, if not more.

Baby G is just like her daddy.

This is the one puree she will always eat, and I don't blame her, it is tasty!

Steaming Via Slow Cooker

I love my slow cooker, and I love it more when it does all the work for me. You could steam the pears and sweet potatoes on the stove or in the microwave. If you're home and you have a slow cooker, just throw them in there and go do something more important.
 

Pear, Raisin, and Ginger Puree

Did you know that the skins of pears contain at least 4 times the amount of phytonutrients (aka really healthy things like antioxidants and anticancer nutrients) than the flesh?  Keep the skin on if you can.


 4 small pears, cut up

[1/3] cup raisins

[1/4] teaspoon ground ginger

[1/4] - [1/2] cup water

1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 2 hours or until pears are tender.

2. Transfer all ingredients to a blender. Puree until you reach the desired consistency.

3. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipe Review

As I said, this is a clear favorite of Baby G. It is a little runnier than the other purees I made, so it's good to combine with yogurt or you may want to use just a [1/4] cup of water (I used a [1/2] cup). The raisins add a nice sweetness to the mix.

The ginger was a perfect match, spice-wise. It's a classic combination, so why not start baby off right in her foodie palate? 

Beyond the Puree

Let's say your baby moved beyond purees, and you still have some in the freezer or fridge, or maybe your baby didn't like it and you don't want to toss it. Here are some other ideas for using this puree:

This would be amazing if you heated up and poured it over ice cream. So amazing that I might make another batch just to do that.

You could also serve it with pork, similar to how you may serve applesauce with pork.

Swirl it into your morning yogurt.

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Have a wonderful weekend! I would love to hear from you. If you haven't already, introduce yourself and your baby. :)

 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Black Beans, Spinach, Sweet Potato, and Garam Masala Puree

You can't judge a puree by its looks.

Let's just put it out there now: this is not an attractive looking puree.



I did my best to make it look appetizing, but even I have to try and look past it.

What makes this puree so unique is the Garam Masala seasoning. Garam Masala is an Indian spice. It translates (loosely) to warm mixture of spices. It's not "warm" in that it's hot and spicy, but just warming flavors: cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, cloves, and pepper. It's a great sweet and savory spice and with its cinnamon undertones, I thought it would be great in a puree.

Black Beans, Spinach, Sweet Potato, and Garam Masala Puree

 

1 cup frozen organic spinach,

1 medium sweet potato, sliced and ends removed

1 cup black beans, cooked

[1/4] teaspoon Garam Masala seasoning*

[1/4] - [1/2] cup water

1. Steam spinach and sweet potato in the microwave: place them in a glass bowl with a few tablespoons of water and cover. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.

2. Combine all ingredients (starting with [1/4] cup water) in a blender. Puree until you reach the desired consistency, adding more water if need.

3. Store in fridge for up to 5 days and in freezer for up to 3 months.

*Don't have Garam Masala? Try cumin or coriander.

Recipe Review:

I wasn't sure what Baby G would think of this. I knew I liked it, but was it too much? She loves it. I don't know if it's the cinnamon quality of the Garam Masala or the sweet potatoes, but she gobbles it up. Not only does it expose her to new flavors, but it's packed with protein from the beans and iron from the spinach. Even I snack on it when I am hungry and feeding her.

Beyond the Puree:


Let's say your baby moved beyond purees, and you still have some in the freezer or fridge, or maybe your baby didn't like it and you don't want to toss it. Here are some other ideas for using this puree:

This would be great in a quesadilla with a mild, white cheese and maybe some mango chutney as a dipping sauce.

Would also be good tossed with rice or scooped up with Naan bread with some Greek yogurt and diced cucumbers.

Could make a Naan flatbread: spread this on the Naan, sprinkle with feta cheese, bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes until heated through and crust is crispy, top with diced cucumbers and fresh tomatoes.

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Have you tried beans yet with your baby? What kind?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Finger Foods Volume 1

This week I began experimenting with giving Baby G more finger foods. Rather than coming out of a decision that I should be doing it for some abstract or baby book reason, it came out of a need. I needed a little more time at lunch time and thought it would be good to get her playing with her food. 

I am happy to say that I gave her sticks of ripe bananas and she happily played with them and even tried eating them. Thank goodness, she's not a banana hater after all!

As I began to experiment with finger foods, I realized that I wasn't sure what to give her. We are not doing Baby Led Weaning in the sense I am not just giving her everything we eat, but she does like to feed herself and I like to encourage it. I thought it might be helpful to share what we have been doing in terms of finger foods and I would love to hear what you have been doing. Keep in mind that we are not doing processed foods, so no Cheerios, no rice puffs. It makes thing a little more difficult and I plan to keep revisiting this topic as we add more foods to our repertoire.

This is a good place to address that I am not a doctor or an expert of feeding babies. I don't have a professional opinion. I am working on a certificate in Nutrition, but I am not a nutritionist. I am just a mom who does not want to feed my family any processed foods. I ask a lot of questions and keep my pediatrician's office on speed dial.

So far, here is our list of finger foods:

Bananas- Cut in 3-4 inch long pieces, and then quartered. These are long enough for Baby G to get a good hold, but soft enough that I am not worried about her getting a bite. 

Diced Avocado

Hard Boiled Eggs- At first, I was just giving her egg yolks and she was doing her best Levron James' impersonation.

She would grind it to a pulp in her hands and then throw it dramatically over her head.

It's much cooler when a NBA star does it with chalk dust in an arena than a baby with egg yolk in your kitchen. Just saying....

The next time, I chopped up pieces of egg yolk and egg white, and it was a lot less messy. She's not too into eating it yet, but it was worth a shot!*
*I should mention that I got the go-ahead from my pediatrician to give her eggs.

Cold (whole wheat) spaghetti noodles- This was a tip from another mommy. The spaghetti noodles are good practice for the pincer grip babies at this age (7-8 months) are developing. The noodles are soft enough so I wasn't worried about choking but I don't think any noodles actually made it to her mouth.

Cold steamed slices of sweet potatoes- On a recent phone call to the pediatrician office, I had a good chat with one of the nurses, Nurse Fairy Godmother. She told me that any vegetables that Baby G had via purees, I could give her soft pieces of those veggies as finger foods. I steamed some quarter inch slices of sweet potato and let her gum on them. She really enjoyed them.

Apple slices???- After talking to another mommy, I thinly sliced some apple to give to Grace. The first time was fine, she loved it and pretty much sucked on it. The second time, she got a piece and started coughing. She was fine. I was a mess. May try again with cooked apple slices that are nice and soft, but won't be doing raw again soon.

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What are some of your favorite finger foods for your kiddo?



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cherry-Apps and Cloves Puree

We eat a lot of spices in our house. Spices as in, mouth-watering-forehead-sweating-get-me-water-now spice and spices as in I have two cupboards full of sweet and savory goodness.

When we first started purees, Baby G was more interested in her socks than in eating.



Oh, let's be honest, she was more interested in ANYTHING than eating. It was almost insulting. Then I started reading a book by Anni Daulter, Orgnanically Raised, and I realized that maybe my purees were just too boring. Daulter talks about how it's important to keep flavor in mind when we are feeding our babies.

We never eat plain food so why should I expect Baby G to like it? When I was pregnant, I craved spicy food and when I was breastfeeding I ate everything you weren't supposed- curries, garlic, broccoli, jalapeno peppers, she never minded.

When I started spices to my purees,  suddenly Baby G was more interested in eating than her socks. That's not saying much, but it is saying something.

A Note About Equipment

There are a lot of ways to make purees.  In this recipe, I steamed the fruit in the microwave for this recipe. Is that the best, healthiest way to do it? Nope. For me, it's easy, and steaming my fruit in the microwave is better than buying store-bought. Feel free to steam on the stove if that's your wish.

My husband likes to say that we bought a Vitamix so I could make baby food. That is a blatant lie. We bought a Vitamix because he always wanted one, we both make smoothies every day, and we have a blender graveyard downstairs. However, I do use it occasionally for baby food. Because we have a high powered blender, I don't peel anything. I make sure it's super clean and I buy organic, but Baby G gets rustic purees. Depending on what you are using, you may want to peel the apple.

If you haven't noticed, I use as many shortcuts as I can. For me, this whole making my own baby food is about setting myself up for success. Just because you spend a lot of time, effort, and energy on food does not necessarily make it taste better. Especially when we are dealing with purees.

Cherry-Apps and Clove Puree

Age: 7-8 months

Ingredients:

[1/2] cup organic frozen cherries, thawed

[1/4] cup dried apricots

[1/2] cup hot water

1 organic apple, sliced

pinch of ground cloves*

[1/4] teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Place apricots in hot water. Let seep for 10-20 minutes until tender.

2. Place apple slices in a glass bowl with 2 tablespoons of water (or a good healthy splash). Cover with a plate and microwave for 1-2 minutes until apple slices are tender.

3. Combine cherries, apricots, apple slices, ground cloves, and cinnamon in blender or food processor. Add 2 tablespoons to [1/4] cup apricot water. Puree until you reach your desired consistency. You may need to add more water depending on where your baby is at in terms of feeding.

*Don't have ground cloves? Try ground nutmeg. Or omit altogether and just use ground cinnamon.

Baby G's Review

The flavors are a little strong in this puree, but mama blends it with yogurt or another boring one ingredient puree and usually, I gobble it up. That is, unless I am wearing particularly cool socks. I really like socks. 

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Have you tried any spices in your purees?





Monday, January 13, 2014

A New Blog for a New Life

Hello!

I am so thrilled to start this baby/mama-centric blog on clean eating.

I knew that I would make my own baby food, but that's all I knew when Baby G turned 6 months old. I had visions of a freezer stocked with purees. Of a happy, smiling baby gurgling her way through a rainbow of food. I would be the mama who would boast of a child who ate anything I gave her from spinach to berries to smashed bananas. We would be epic! Other mamas would hush when we walked in the room whispering about the baby who loved snacking on artichokes and kale.

In short, I was delusional.

Baby G is the only baby in the world who does not like bananas. Spinach is questionable and berries are a crap shoot. 

Some of the time she eats, some of the time she is more interested in pulling her socks off, and most of the we are both covered in baby food and I'm lucky if Baby G swallowed a spoonful.




It's cute, but it can get frustrating.

On this blog, I look forward to sharing with you some of our recipes, our tactics, and how we are leading our whole family in a whole foods, unprocessed diet.

I would love to hear from you, so please don't be shy. Introduce yourself and if applicable, your kiddos. Let me know what you would like to see in terms of recipes and topics.