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. 


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