Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Parmesan Pasta

A new favorite snack for mom and the girls is parmesan pasta.  The first time I made it out of a truce of desperation.  Kendall loves tomato sauce pasta and Seren does not.  I didn't want to make two dishes.  So I boiled up some spiral pasta and sprinkled parmesan on while it was warm, let it cool and served it up.  They weren't huge fans.  Then today I tried again with small shell pasta.  It was a hit and so easy.  I hate to say it but I'm in a rut for something easy to throw together for them during the holidays.  Next time I will definitely be adding real parmesan.

looked something like this (found here)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Few Favorite Food Sites...

I have been trying to research more solid finger foods and meals as the girls are quickly approaching one year old.  I am looking forward to getting expensive formula out of the equation but I am worrying as it's like my crutch and I know the girls are getting some balanced nutrition from it.  So in an effort to find healthy food that provides good nutrition I refer you to a couple of my new favorites:

http://www.designedtonourish.com/  (this is by Dr Brown's ; I found this on Pinterest and I am excited to try some of the recipes)

http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/making-baby-food.html  (I also like the recipes on this page).

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/default.aspx  (this page has links for sample daily menus (amounts, type of food, etc) for 8-12 and 1 year old...awesome!)

Basically I am thinking of making this my own personal link (and yours) to recipes I find online for babies and older children.  I am not crazy enough to think or claim I know enough about nutrition to lead anyone down that path but I do love sharing the information I find (plus organizing for my own purpose).  Enjoy these and if you try a recipe let me know how it goes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cheese Quesadilla

The girls have a new favorite finger food.  Yesterday I threw together a cheese quesadilla for them and they ate all of it (and in a hurry).  I don't know if it's the most healthy thing in the world but it is the easy to make and something we almost always have on hand at our house.

Cheese Quesadilla 
1 flour tortilla
1/4 cup or less of shredded cheese

Simply sprinkle the cheese on the tortilla.  Then heat it to melting (I microwaved it) and then fold the tortilla over itself.  Using a pizza cutter (or a knife) cut into strips and then cut the strips into little bite size squares.  Serve on the warm side but make sure the cheese isn't too hot.

*Follow the 4 day rule if your child has not been introduced to a food included in a dish

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Apple Cubes

We have been having lots of fun with finger foods lately and table foods (ie sharing foods we eat).  Tonight they enjoyed some gnocchi with a little alfredo sauce...they loved it.  I also boiled some apples that I had quartered while we were eating dinner.  Once our dinner was over I doused the apples in cold water to cool them off and then skinned them and cut them into small cubes.  The girls seemed to really enjoy apples in this form.

I am excited to also try some of the chunkier recipes out Annabel Karmel's book also.  I think we are going to be turning the corner with this blog into more of the creative side of food for kids and less of the instructional or whatever it may be right now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finger Food Tip...

This is just a simple tip I read on another blog (I can't remember which one now).  But basically you cut up your fruit into small pieces (fruits precooked or not needing cooking) and then you can coat it with yogurt and then some baby cereal.  This makes it so that your child can pick up the slippery fruit.  I tried this with mango today (something we had problems with before) and it worked great.  I didn't have any yogurt on hand though so that was left out and it worked fine still.  No problem getting it to their mouths and they loved it too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oranges

According to my "instruction manual" from the pediatrician it is okay to give babies oranges from 8-10 months.  I purchased some clementine oranges (I have a hard time picking sweet navel oranges and I wanted the first orange taste to be a good experience haha).  I peeled the orange and broke each wedge into a few pieces and placed it in front of the girls for finger food.  Kendall didn't seem to have any issue but I will report that Seren (my "stuff as much food in at one time" child; babies and children often "chipmunk" food in their cheeks too) had her first real choking experience.  Not fun.  She gagged and I could see from her reaction she couldn't breath (no whine, cry or cough and a look of panic).  The orange peels that were in my lap went flying and I reacted a lot faster than I thought was possible.  I had her out of the high chair and was ready to whack her on the back when she must have gotten it to the right tube and swallowed it.  What a relief to have her start crying.

**Just want to emphasize again...always keep an eye on your children when they are eating finger foods (especially new ones) until they are very experienced and even then don't allow children to run around while eating as this causes distraction and choking risk.  Take an infant/child CPR class (most hospitals offer community classes for FREE or a minimal charge) and if you ever feel foggy on the details take a refresher.  I can't imagine having to deal with a day like this thinking "man I wish I would have taken a class" and not knowing what exactly to do.**

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Give Me Texture Please...

I think my girls have finally hit the stage (or are at least fast approaching it) where they don't love purees anymore.  They still love the flavor of certain things as they will still gobble them up.  But recently they have been turning the other cheek (literally) to some of the purees I offer.  They do however love their finger food so I've been focusing on this and adding new things to try.

Last night I brought home a rotisserie chicken.  I cut up some of this chicken into little pieces for the girls.  They loved it.  They had cheerios and chicken for lunch again today (with their usual 6 oz bottle).  I gave them cooked peas the day before and tossed some carrot puree in the middle of it just for good measure.  They mostly played with this meal but it was great just the same.

I haven't found love for my food mill still.  But I am thinking that some beef stew (with some of their favorite veggies) thrown through the food meal might do the trick.  I think I'm ready...I think they might be ready...to basically just eat more of what we have (with a little help from my small blender or the food mill).  Looking forward to some fun and flavor.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Always Changing...

I was reading through my "owner's manual" we received at the girls 9 month appointment.  It seems you can never be 100% on top of things.  You do your best of course.  I noticed under the juice portion of the table for food that it now states that the AAP does not recommend juice until a child is 1 year old and older.  Interesting.  So I suppose we will be cutting out the apple juice and not planning on trying out other juice until next year now. It also doesn't recommend cheese beyond cottage cheese now until 10 months of age and older.  Another change I will probably debate on adapting too as the girls have been enjoying their cheddar and are less than a month away now anyway.  Anyway...I'll have to really compare them and see what else is different.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Letting Go...

(otherwise known as Here's Where It Gets Messy)

I am a pretty clean person.  No my house is not spotless.  I have twins and a life and as a friend once told me "happy kids are more important than a clean house".  So if you saw my house you would know my kids are happy.  But just the same I try to keep my girls pretty clean.  I don't like them covered in food at the end of a meal and I don't want to bath or change them two or three times a day.  But today I gave in and decided it is more important for them to learn to feed themselves than it is for me to try to keep them spotless (I was failing at it anyway haha).  Kendall is my neat eater and only ended up with food all over her mouth and hands.  Seren on the other hand...food in her hair and eyebrows as well as her mouth and hands.  We had cheerios, bananas and cottage cheese by the way.  They had fun and you know what...so did I.  Maybe next time I'll just make messy meal time right before bath time and strip them down to their diapers first.
 Seren
Kendall

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Constipation Cure Serum

I'm pretty sure that solids added to our constipation issues.  And I'm quite positive that finger foods have added to it even more.  Maybe I'm making it up in my head.  But Kendall has always had bowel issues and she was improving when the introduction of solids brought it back and then came the finger foods and she seems even worse off.  We give her an ounce of prune juice with her morning and evening bottles.  I try to give them some water or apple juice during the day.  And still she cries when she has to get it out and I feel so bad for her. She even had the smallest amount of blood the last time I tried to help her go (holding her thighs up to her tummy).  So...we're back to prune puree or what I'm starting to call our constipation cure serum.

Prune Puree
I buy the semi-dry prunes in the canister at Walmart.  I throw it in my blender and put enough water to just cover the prunes.  Then I puree until it is lump free.  Then I probably add about another cup of water.  I puree it until it's a semi-runny puree (like yogurt).  Then instead of pouring into ice cube trays I just put it in one big tupperware.  When I'm ready to dish some out I use a metal spoon to scoop it (somewhat like ice cream) and then heat it up in the microwave.

We're going to try prune puree for breakfast and prune juice with bedtime bottle and see where we stand.  Then if it's runny we will just go to puree.  We will also be bringing this up again with our pediatrician at their 9 month appointment on the 30th.

Update:  The prune puree and prune juice were a little too much combined.  I have her at a little less than a tablespoon of prune puree for breakfast and the last two days have been going well so this might be the spot for us.  They say to try things for a few days before adjusting usually.

**From my college Biomed courses (human biology and physiology).  When our body gets ready to excrete waste the last amounts of water are absorbed from the waste through the colon.  So when a person (or baby) holds in waste (or has a "slower" gut) and doesn't rid their body of it when the sensation occurs then it leads to additional water or moisture being wicked out therefore causing harder stool**  So although Kendall's stool isn't necessarily like adult constipation it is pretty firm.  I really believe that she hurts when she does go that she gets anxious about the next time and so she holds it in and it gets more firm and adds to the problem.  So we will be working on getting it super soft or even runny again for a while until (hopefully) she doesn't hold it in anymore.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finger Fooding It

I recently posted about finger foods and the cues to know when your child is ready for finger foods and what foods you might try.  But I thought it would be appropriate to post about the finger foods we have been enjoying trying out.

Cereal Puffs
-yep I'm a sucker.  The girls first exposure to a "finger food" was Cheerios so this seemed like the next logical step.  Plus they reportedly dissolve quickly in their mouth so I felt like it was a safer bet for the nervous mom I was (or am).  The girls loved them and loved feeding themselves but due to expense we have since gone back to Cheerios (more for the money and they still love them).

Toast
-simply toasted bread and then broke it into very small bite size pieces.  They loved this one too.  Also when the mango didn't really turn out I used the food mill to mash it up and then spread it on the toast.  The mango toast was also a hit.

Scrambled Eggs
-Thoroughly cooked scrambled eggs and split into small bites.  This was not a hit.  Perhaps it would be more popular next time.

Mangos
- I used frozen mango (the type used for smoothies) that we had in our freezer.  They reheated nicely but were difficult for the girls to pick up.  This would probably be a no-go at this time.

Bananas 
-I cut them into 1/4 and then sliced them.  They had an easier time grasping these but they were still slippery.  They also seemed to enjoy them.

Cheddar Cheese
-I cut up small bite size pieces (similar in size to a cheerio) and then served them on their trays.  They didn't seem to know what to do with it at first.  Then Seren went after it and enjoyed it.  Kendall took her time and chewed each piece for quite a while.

Cottage Cheese
-I gave them a couple tablespoons of large curd cottage cheese.  They weren't sure how to pick it up but seemed to catch on and get it into their mouths.  I thought it was interesting that when first introduced to cottage cheese (that had been through the food mill) they did not like it.  This time they really liked it.  Maybe texture is a big role player at this age as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Foods to Try - 8-10 months

Foods I want to try within this range:
-scrambled eggs as a finger food
-artichokes
-asparagus
-mushrooms
-zucchini
-eggplant
-blueberries (again?)
-grapes (cut up - with teeth?)
-cantaloupe
-cherries
-tofu
-turkey
-beef
-cheese (cottage cheese, colby, jack and cheddar)

HOLY COW!! Can we say that is A LOT to get through.  It looks like they can have most things I have ever thought of giving them...minus the forbidden list (honey, certain dairy, nuts, raw eggs, etc)

As we enjoyed some watermelon over the weekend I was thinking...watermelon for baby?  I gave them some and they enjoyed it.

Notes on what I read:  Melons can generally be given from 8 months of age on.  Some believe it can be introduced earlier.  Some babies will develop a rash but from what I was reading this is more likely due to acidity of the melon (never thought of them as acidic myself) and not due to an allergy.  As always use caution just the same and consult your pediatrician prior to any concerning food choices or reactions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Incredible Edible Egg

Scrambled Eggs
We started off the morning with some scrambled eggs.  I made sure they were fully cooked (no runny or "shiny" egg) and also made sure to cut them into small pieces with the spatula.  Then I let them cool a little and served them to the girls.

Rating:
Kendall - 3 stars (not so much a like or hate but she's been under the weather so giving her a 3)
Seren - 4 stars (but she had trouble grabbing or stuffing too much in her mouth and then gagging)

*always keep an eye on your child when giving them finger food (especially unfamiliar ones).  Also I think it's best to take an infant CPR class before even starting finger foods and refresher courses too.  I'm thinking of doing another refresher myself.  Most hospitals offer community classes on CPR for free or a small fee.

Update:  I asked about eggs at our 9 month appointment.  I had read that eggs should be cooked fully and I had read that only yolk should be given.  Well per my pediatrician egg whites should not be given until after age one due to risk of egg allergy.  They can be cooked into other items but alone eggs white whether fully cooked or runny should not be given at all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Combination 2.0

Just a list of some new combinations we've tried and how they have gone over.

Broccoli, Beans and Ham (2 cubes broccoli, 1 cube beans and 1 oz ham)
Ratings:
Seren - 3 stars
Kendall - 3 stars

Butternut Squash and Broccoli (3 cubes squash and 1 broccoli)
Seren - 4 stars
Kendall - 3 stars

Carrots and Parsnips (2 cubes carrot and 2 cubes parsnips)
Seren - 4 stars
Kendall - 4 stars

Yams, Beans and Ham (2 cubes ham, 1 cube beans and 1/2 oz ham)
Seren - 4+ stars
Kendall - 4+ stars
*they LOVED this...they were whining and wiggling for more

Yams and Beans (2 cubes of each)
Seren - 4 stars
Kendall - 4 stars

Mango and Blueberry (2 cubes mango and 1 cube blueberry)
Seren - 3 stars
Kendall - 3 stars

*to be continued......(keep in mind my mixing ratio is for two kiddos so you can shrink it down)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beans

So I finally got around to making the beans that sat on my shelf.  I tried to make one type first and after following the directions on the bag (ie cooking 1 1/2 hours is all) decided this was not the way to go (that pot of beans went in the trash).  The next attempt I decided to cook the beans on low for hours (estimating 8 hours) but not sure.  This finally seemed to cook the beans to a tender state that could be pureed.  I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt because I figured beans would be very bland.  In the future I wouldn't do this.  They didn't need it.

Cooking Beans -general direction-
1 1/2 to 2 cups beans
The package said to spread them out and remove foreign particles so I spread them out and looked for anything unusual but found nothing (but I'm sure it's a safe measure).  Next, I submerged them in water, covering and then an extra inch.  I put this on my stove with a lid and cooked it on low for most of the morning and afternoon.  I think I finally got around to pureeing them in my large blender that evening when they were soft.  They tasted salty to me but my husband said they just tasted like beans to him (maybe it's just the red bean flavor I'm not familiar with).

Cook/Prep Time:  8 hours / 5 minutes to prep and 5-10 minutes to puree
Servings:  40 oz (2 1/2 ice cube trays)
Cost:  $1.25 (estimate)
Notes:  I was tempted to go with canned beans but after reading Wholesome Baby Food's advice determined as always that "fresh is best".

Ratings:
Kendall - 4 stars (red beans)
Seren - 3 stars (red beans)

*black beans are my favorite so we'll see how they like those a few days from now*

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ham

I have meaning to introduce more protein to my girls since they turned 8 months.  We introduced chicken back around 7 months (I think) and this has gone over better recently now that the texture isn't such a problem to them.  Now that the chicken has been polished off I thought we should add another meat into the mix.

From my reading on making ham for baby food it states that it should be "natural" ham...I'm assuming this means ham that isn't cured (extra salt) and isn't lunch meat or some other processed type ham.  I purchased a small smoked ham and cooked it in the oven for lunch/dinner the other night.  It was the type that came with a honey/spice glaze.  I waited until the ham was cooked according to directions, sliced off what I planned on making into baby food and then added the glaze to the rest of the ham for our adult enjoyment.

With the ham that I cut off I removed most of the rind and fatty edges.  I broke it into smaller pieces and then tossed it into my small power blender with some water and blended away.  I blended it until it was mostly puree but this did leave some smaller texture also.  I then used GladWare 4-Ounce Containers to package the ham and freeze it.
Cook/Prep Time:  50 minutes cooking / 5-10 minute prep
Serving:  six 4 oz containers (24 oz)
Cost: approximately $15 for 5 lb ham (I used about 1 to 1 1/2 lb on the baby food ; $3 or $4)
Notes:  I would probably try to freeze these in ice cubes trays in the future as the frozen 4 oz block of ham is hard to break apart and I would like more control over how much ham I use.

Ratings:
Kendall - 3 stars
Seren - 4 stars

Hammy Yams


I mixed 3 cubes of yams with about 1 oz of ham.  Tossed it in the microwave and heated until it was piping hot and then allowed it to cool down before feeding.  The girls liked this combination.  I plan to use ham as a mix in for the most part at this time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baby Food Mill and Cottage Cheese

So I made my first Food Mill purchase.  I went with the Green Sprouts Baby Food Mill.  It was cheap and I didn't want to invest money in something I didn't see using for a long time and from reviews it supposedly ground into bigger textures.  Also it had a deeper bowl and so I figured I could feed both girls with one grinding (I hope) based on this.  No other real logic to it than that.  Side note:  Can I just say how much I am loving my free Amazon Mom subscription (no marketing intended really).  But I love it...you get two months free prime shipping and then when you purchase from Amazon Mom you can add on months to this benefit (one additional month for every $25 you spend) and it's free two-day shipping on any Amazon Prime item (not just baby stuff)...nice!
Green Sprouts Baby Food Mill, Green
Green Sprouts Baby Food Mill (BPA free and "green" friendly)
 
Anyway back to the Food Mill.  I received it in the mail yesterday and was excited to try it out.  So I washed it and decided to throw some cottage cheese into it.  I loaded it wrong (yes I skipped reading the directions) so I then started over and voila milled cottage cheese.  What did the girls think of it?  Kendall liked it and swallowed most of her few spoon fulls and Seren...well not so much.  She gave me the look of "what is this putrid thing you put in my mouth?" and spit most of it out.  Oh well...maybe next time.

Cottage Cheese 
I only did a few tablespoons/ounces and milled it through.  Then just used a baby spoon to feed them right from the bowl.

Serving:  3 tablespoons (approx 3 ounces)
Prep/Cook Time: 2 minutes (super easy)
Price:  approx $4 for a 3 lb tub at my bulk store and I love cottage cheese so it's basically always on hand in our house.

Rating:
Kendall - 3 stars
Seren - 1 star

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Sippy Cup

Bottle Weaning and Sippy Cups.  The age to start you baby on a sippy cup is dependent on the child.  It is recommended to wait until at least 6 months.  There are many types of sippy cups.  Some are free-flow style and some have a valve so that the child has to suck or bite on it.  Others may have spill resistant design.  Which style you chose is up to you and ultimately up to your child liking it or not.  We went with a spill resistant style at first.  Then a style that had slits which required minimal sucking.  We also introduced the sippy cup to our twins very soon after 6 months of age.  I figured it was best to introduce it early on so they didn't get attached to their bottles for drinking and also they were showing interest in drinking out of our cups as well.
Munchkin 2 Pack Mighty Grip Spill-Proof Cup, 10 Ounce, Colors Vary Vary
 We started with something like this
The First Years Take & Toss With Removable Handles, Pack, Colors May Vary, 7 Ounce
...then moved on to something like this.  However our twins don't seem to have a preference so we still switch it up quite a bit so they don't get settled into one or the other. 

I have also read and heard from family that it's best to keep formula in bottles and juice, water and other liquids in the sippy cup.  That way the child associate the bottle with other liquids besides formula and doesn't expect formula when given a sippy.  Also, when the time comes to drop the formula you simply drop the bottle all together and go to the sippy cup (probably a free-flow style at this point but it probably doesn't matter).  I've also read that if you want to give the child formula in the sippy that it is best to introduce the sippy with formula first and then other liquids.  It's really all trial and error I'm sure.

Tips to introducing a sippy cup:
-Wait until a time when your child is rested and in a good mood.  Introducing a sippy cup to a child who is tired, hungry or thirsty may lead to frustration and tears (for both parties).
-Be prepared to try different types of cups.  Don't give up if your child doesn't like the first style you offer them.
-If you are using the valve type and your child has difficulty try removing the valve.  Be aware that this makes the liquid flow fairly quick and your child might need help.
-Demonstrate (without actually drinking from) how the sippy cup is used and making appreciate sounds or slurping sounds to clue your child into the purpose of the cup if they don't seem to understand what is inside.

Water down juice to reduce the sweetness factor and also offer water frequently in the cup so there isn't an expectation for juice.  Don't offer or send a child to bed with a sippy or bottle as formula and juice can cause tooth decay.

Weaning

I am definitely not an expert here as I've never even gotten through weaning one child yet.  My only knowledge is from what I've read, what I believe and of course experienced parents who have done this a number of times.

Weaning is the process of introducing an infant to what will eventually be it's adult diet.  "Starting solids" is also a common phrase.  It is also the process of increasing the solid intake and lessening the breast milk or formula intake.  It does not mean taking away the formula or breast milk from baby's diet.  Many mother's breast feed until close to two years old (some even longer).  Typically a formula fed baby is switched over to milk at one year.  I always thought this was supposed to be whole milk but recently read that if a child is predisposed to obesity or overweight for their size already that 2% milk can be given (I'm sure this would be determined by your doctor).  Some parents also chose to go with soy milk or other types of milk.  This should also be discussed with your doctor in case supplements are needed to provide full nutrition.  Do not cut out breast milk or formula with the introduction of solids.  As my doctor put it when I asked about when it was appropriate to replace a meal fully with solids...formula (or breast milk) is important for your baby because it provides the full nutrition they need whereas solids are only providing bits and pieces at this point.

From a handout my pediatrician gave me:  Infants 0-4 months should have 5-10 feedings a day (16-32 oz).  Infants 6 months of age should have 4-7 feedings a day (24-40 oz).  Infants 6-8 months should have 3-5 feedings a day (24-31 oz).  Infants 8-10 months should get 3-4 feedings a day (16-32 oz).  Infants 10-12 months should have 3-4 feedings a day (16-24 oz).  A feeding is breast milk or formula and does not include the amount of solids your child is eating.  For more information on solids and amounts to give refer to your doctor.  This is simply a guideline I was given and is not meant to substitute medical advice.

Baby Led Weaning.  Many parents also practice or use baby led weaning.  I hadn't heard of this until I started reading up on solids.  Basically it is allowing your baby the opportunity to express interest in the food you are eating and to not introduce solids or food before this point.  Some parents just start offering the same food that they are eating (probably pureed or put through a food mill for texture depending on the age of the child).  This would also include age appropriate food that isn't at a high risk for allergens.

Finger Foods

Never underestimate your kids.  And I guess never underestimate their desire to do things.  Their desire to move.  Their desire to talk.  Their desire to connect.  Their desire to feed themselves.

I wasn't planning on introducing any finger foods until around 10 months.  I had read that introducing them too early can lead to frustration for baby with self-feeding and a negative impact in the long run for self-feeding.  But then we went to Florida and my mom broke out the Cheerios for them.  And what happened?  They LOVED them.  We broke them in halves and thirds at first to prevent choking and then by the end of the week we were giving them whole cheerios.

When we returned home I got out the baby cereal puffs that I had purchased and let them try these.  They couldn't get enough of them.  Then today I put one into Kendall's fingers and she quickly put it to her mouth.  She missed the target once or twice but quickly learned to pick them up and stuff them in her mouth (one at a time mind you).  Seren also caught on quickly, although she would often fist her's and had some issue getting it into her mouth from there but not for long.  So after several minutes of my husband and I playing with them and teaching them to pick them up I moved them to their high chairs, put the tray with a few puffs in front of them and viola.  They were feeding themselves.  And having a ball with it.  Seren was giggling and smiling and Kendall was going for puff after puff (swallowing in between) and whining when she ran out.  I guess I was wrong on my timing for starting finger foods.  We definitely will move into the bigger and harder to eat stuff with caution for choking but I think they love being able to do something for themselves finally.

Finger foods can be introduced (from what I've read) around 8 to 10 months of age.  It really depends on the child and their coordination.  A lot of the factory finger foods will label these for as "crawler" stage.  The most important thing of course is the pincer grasp (food between thumb and forefinger).  Other big indicators it's okay to try finger foods include:  ability to sit upright without support, ability to crawl and making a chewing motion.  I have also heard that having teeth can be an indicator although neither of my dears have any teeth yet and they have done just fine with these.  Obviously with chunkier food or foods that require biting teeth would be important.  Like everything else it's on a child-to-child basis so only you really know when your child might be ready.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pumpkin Puree

This is the only puree that I'm aware of where it is completely acceptable (maybe even encouraged) to purchase canned goods.  Just make sure that you buy the 100% pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie mix.
I purchased Libby's 100% Pumpkin (29 oz can) and mixed it with formula to get the right consistency.  I'm trying to decide how to start storing thicker or more textured purees but in the meantime I want my ice cube trays to work.  Also with the pumpkin I was tempted to add in nutmeg or allspice (especially now that the girls are 8 months) but thought it best to just mix these in when I heat it up so I could obey the 4-day rule and also so if they hate it I haven't wasted anything. 
Prep/Cook time: 5-10 minutes (literally opening the can and mixing it up)
Servings: 36 oz to freeze and 4 oz fresh to eat;  40 oz total
Cost: $
Cost Comparison:

Ratings:
Seren - 3 stars
Kendall - 2.5 stars

2nd try with cinnamon:
Seren - 4 stars
Kendall- 3 stars

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Traveling With Baby...

We recently made a trip to Florida to see my parents so I thought I would share some of the things I learned while preparing and while flying with the girls and all of their gear.  Most of these tips are regarding air travel.  Check with your airline and also check with TSA's website for tips regarding travel with children also.

Baby Food - during travel
1.  You can bring pre-mixed formula bottles through security but you can not bring water alone through security (at least from what I read).  I always fed the girls a few hours before our take-off and then made a hot bottle of formula to put in the diaper bag.  It cooled enough to feed them at take off.  Security / TSA never had issues with the bottles, baby food, juice or formula (although they did some extra testing on the formula that they had us observe).

2.  Feed your child at takeoff and descent to avoid earaches or pain.  You can also use a binkie, teething rings and toys they like to gnaw on if you have bad timing.  I brought juice as a "bribe" for my girls to drink if I needed them to.  We fed them at take off but didn't seem to have issues with landing although I had diluted juice at the ready if needed.

3.  TSA security allows for baby food, formula, breast milk and juice for your child in reasonable quantities.  Their site advises on travel with children.  There is not specific measurements only "reasonable quantities" for your need of travel.  I brought a small 8 oz canister of formula, two small 4 oz juices, two 4 oz containers with my homemade baby food inside and some baby cereal with no issues whatsoever.  I also had two 8 oz bottles of premixed formula and 6 extra bottles for feedings.  I found TSA agents to be extremely helpful with our travel.

4.  Be organized and prepared for TSA security check.  Make sure your liquids (including baby food) are pulled out of diaper bags or carry-on luggage.  I packed a separate thermos type bag just to simplify things for myself with the baby food items.  Use your quart size bags and know where you place these in bags for quick pull out and inspection.

5.  Need to make bottles...think Starbucks (or at least we did).  We simply got a small hot water and a larger cold water and mixed them together.  The hot water was scalding though so be careful in the water temp before feeding your child.  Also many other restaurant and eatery style places were happy to provide water if needed but we liked the control over the temperature with Starbucks (plus you can find one in every airport and frequently too).

Baby Food and Needs - at your destination
1.  If you have someone you are visiting it is to your advantage to have them pick up things ahead of time if needed (diapers, formula, food) so that you can save trips and pain when you arrive.  If you don't have someone it is still easier to purchase these items upon arrival (especially as you realize you run out of pack space and weight limit quickly).

2.  I packed ice cube trays and travel containers.  We purchased a few of their favorite foods and made enough to last a week using my parents blender.  You can also purchase take-n-toss type styles that are cheaper.  I brought take-n-toss sippies to the airport just due to concern that security might not allow for the amount of extra bottles and containers that I was bringing (they did with no problem).

3.  I have heard of people using little bags to keep outfits together in their diaper bags to reduce the need to dig for items.  I didn't do this but just packed coordinating clothes for any accidents.  I also changed the girls immediately prior to take off and during layovers while in the airport to avoid changing them on the plane.  For longer flights you would obviously want to change them on the plane and in the facilities on the plane.

4.  Purchase new toys that your children haven't seen or played with.  Also take away their favorite toys for a week prior to travel so that they seem new and exciting again (or at least they are sure to appreciate them).  I chose toys that were quiet and not annoying to show courtesy to our fellow passengers.  I also chose toys that could be used with links or strapped on with binkie tethers so that if my girls tossed the toy or dropped it I wasn't on my hands and knees looking for it.

Other Tips:
- If you are traveling with multiples or more than one child and planning to use "Infant in Arms" (where a child can fly for free on your lap until the age of 2) then I would strongly suggest calling a reservation assistant and also locking in your seats if possible.  I arranged our seats online far ahead of time and everything was fine until we showed up to check in and all of the sudden our seats were not compatible with the air mask capacity of where we were assigned.  My belief is that an agent moved our seats next to each other without checking our special needs (ie Infant in Arms).  We had to hassle the gate agent to arrange our seats closer together as all of our packing was based on sharing a diaper bag and being within arms reach of each other for this purpose.  We also had trouble with this on the flight home when our first flight was cancelled and our new flight was not arranged with Infant in Arms in mind.  Check your seats and check with your gate agent to confirm your seats prior to boarding.

-Bag your car seats or rent them.  If you are renting a car at your destination I have heard you can also rent car seats.  We didn't rent a car or seats but I like the idea and if we travel again I would consider this (depending on the fee).  You can check car seats for free with most airlines.  Also you are allowed to gate check them and if there is a free seat in your row you can also be permitted to use the car seat if it is approved (this does come with the hassle of car seats through security and the airport for a small chance of using them).  I recommend just checking them if you did not purchase a seat for your child(ren).  We double bagged ours in large black trash bags and then used duct tape over the top to wrap around the handle and sun visor of the seat.  Worked like a charm.  Pack extra bags and throw your duct tape in your checked bag for the return flight and you're set.

**some of this is really simple and some of it won't apply to your situation.  I probably missed some things. But how I wish someone would have layed out the basics for me so I didn't have to hunt down the best strategies...therefore here I am laying it out the way I found most helpful**

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beans Beans The Magic Fruit...

Beans aren't a fruit.  Perhaps it should be "beans beans the magic legume" but I suppose it doesn't have the same ring and it doesn't rhyme with "toot" either.  Anyway we went to have some Mexican food the other night and the girls had their first experience with a real high chair. The kind with nothing but a strap between their legs to keep them from falling out.  They didn't seem to mind.  Out came our food...holy cow this place makes the best Mexican in the state. I can even stand to eat the refried beans at this place.  I tasted them and they were mild (no spice I could really taste...though probably salt) so I decided to give the girls a bit to try.  Oh how they loved them!  They opened their mouths and leaned in for more and fussed when it didn't come immediately.  I hope there wasn't too much seasoning or salt in them but something had to make them ultra delicious.  Or maybe it was that mommy was eating it so that meant it had to be good.  Either way it was adorable to see them diving after food.  I hope they like my beans just as well.  We'll see.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recent new foods...

Yogurt
We have been trying a little bit of yogurt recently (only 2 or 3 times).  I purchased a StonyField Whole Fat organic yogurt.  I have mostly been introducing it with fruit (apricots and mango) and once with a little avocado.  The girls haven't loved it  but it's not their least favorite thing either.  I suppose it could be mixed in with many things and after reading Wholesome Baby Food ideas on yogurt (ie sweet potatoes, green beans and carrots; besides just fruit) I am definitely going to be experimenting with this addition to make food more creamy and smooth.  So far they don't love yogurt though.

Multigrain cereal
We have also introduced Multigrain baby cereal in the last few days (not yogurt and this at the same time).  The girls seem to really enjoy the multigrain and it doesn't take convincing them much to eat it, like rice and oatmeal seemed to.  I like the idea of introducing this so that we can get a feel on pasta and bread later on as finger foods.  I don't plan to actually introduce finger foods until 9 or 10 months and probably leaning more towards the latter.  I have read about early introduction of finger foods causing frustration for baby and a negative experience with self-feeding so I want to make sure they are ready.


Next on the menu:


Beans.  I purchased bags of dried beans.  Black beans, kidney beans and red beans.  I am excited to give these a try but will likely wait until after our upcoming vacation.

Pumpkin.  I also purchased a can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) which is sitting in my cupboard and awaiting it's grand entrance into baby food land.  I imagine this will be another food that gets some yogurt mixed into it.

Also to come in the 8-10 month range:  Eggplant, Mushrooms, Eggs (scrambled or hard boiled), Beef, Pork, Turkey, Tofu, Cottage Cheese and Fish, among other things.

*it is always crazy how much the next age range opens up so many new dishes and flavors.  I don't know if I'll make it through so many of these and others that are options*

**as always check with your pediatrician on the introduction of food and especially if there are foods that concern you.  It is always okay to put off food until later on.**

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Organic Broccoli Puree

Sorry for my slacking.  I think I've reached the point of some boredom with pureeing...again.  I don't mind making it but posting about it is not as fun.

Organic Broccoli Puree
I used 3 stalks of broccoli florets.  I cut off the florets and put them in my pot steamer basket.  Steamed for about 8 minutes.  I tossed them in my large blender and added some water (add water slowly...I put too much in so this batch will be more of a mix-in than a stand-alone).  Since it was so liquid though it did make it really easy to pour directly from the blender to the ice cube tray.

Prep/Cook Time:  15 minutes
Servings:  approximately 20
Price: $1.54 sale ($1.66 regular) @ Smith's
Note:  This was pretty runny when I reheated it from the freezer.  I've been using it as a mix-in with other vegetables and they seem to like it.

Ratings:
Kendall - 2 stars
Seren - 2 stars
*I mixed it in with some squash for dinner and it improved the ratings to 3 stars*

Monday, August 1, 2011

Goodbye Organic Store...Hello Smith's

I made my second trip to the organic store near my house to (hopefully) pick up some broccoli, sweet potatoes, pears and apples.  Their produce selection was a disappointment to say the least.  The only items they had were apples, pears, oranges and some sad looking vegetables that weren't even on my radar for baby food (ever).  I decided to get some pears and apples as these are always favorites at our house.  I asked the cashier when they expected to get more produce and got thee lamest excuse ever.  He told me he didn't know and that they ordered it and then the supplier brought it when they could (and if they did) and that the big box stores were probably getting their produce.  Oh boy!  Really?  The big bad box store is stealing your produce?  Can't you just admit you don't know because generally I think people get what they order (if they pay for it).  I hate Walmart just like everybody else but I still shop there.  Although I've looked for organic produce there and with the exception of carrots haven't had much luck.

So I headed over to Smith's to check out their produce and discovered they have an organic section in their produce department.  Sweet!  I will be making stops here more often with this new found knowledge.  They had as good of a selection as the organic store and prices were also comparable.  So if you are interested in anything organic try your local Smith's or keep an eye out at other large grocery store and let me know what you find.  Thanks.

** I am not 100% organic so I'm sure there are benefits to shopping at these stores if you are.  Also I would love a Whole Foods close by but have no such luck in my area **

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yummy Yam Puree

So by default I accidentally bought yams instead of sweet potatoes.  My local grocery store has labels above some of the produce instead of directly by each item and I made an educated guess and got it wrong.  But I cooked the yams as I did the sweet potatoes and blended them up.  They were a little more orange but the girls loved them just as much.  I love that sweet potatoes and yams stretch far for what you pay...probably because you have to add so much water or formula to thin them out.  Sorry no price comparison or serving comparison on this one...very similar to sweet potato though.

Rating 
Kendall - 4 stars
Seren - 4 stars

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jar Heads

*disclaimer:  I've never seen the movie Jar Head though I think Jake Gyllenhaal is generally a good actor*

This morning after the kiddos had filled up on 5 oz of formula and an ounce or two of oatmeal and prunes respectively (Seren gets oatmeal and Kendall gets prunes)...they seemed to want more.  Being that I wasn't interested in heating up cubes that might not be eaten, I broke open my first jar of baby food.  It was one that I had gotten from Beech Nut (4 jars for free) and was thinking about using on a future air travel trip.

The reaction...I don't know if they were actually full or just didn't like it.  I poured out half of the 4 oz jar and put the rest in the fridge.  It was a new flavor so I'm sure that threw them for a small loop but they still were just not eager to eat it.  It was fruit so I thought it was a safe bet.  We ate the rest for lunch and they seemed to do a little better.  I guess they don't see what the big deal is with jarred food.  It is convenient for sure but I think we'll travel with some of the homemade stuff so we can guarantee they eat it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Constipation Aggravation

My poor little Kendall has issues with her "poop chute" as we tend to call it.  She has since she was a baby.  She started out with some jaundice as a baby.  I don't know if this is what has made it hard to move beyond but it definitely caused her difficulty back then.  When she didn't go for almost 4 days we called our doctor and got the go ahead to use some glycerin suppositories (non-prescription but behind the counter at the pharmacy).  The doctor told us to cut them into 1/4 as they were intended for 2 years of age and older.  I think the suppository was suggested due to it being such a time.  From there on out we began using prune juice in her morning bottle on occasion (not the most consistent) and she began getting better.  Then the solids came and constipation reared it's ugly head again.  So....

We tried prune juice in her morning bottle and bedtime bottle.  This helped at times and at times almost seemed to make it worse.  Our doctor suggested giving her prunes in baby food form.  It seems to do the trick better than the juice (I hope).  So far so good.

Prune Puree

First batch:  I bought dried prunes and mixed them in with quite a bit of prune juice and a little bit of apple juice and blended them up until it was a puree.  It was pretty syrupy (that's where the apple juice came in).  I spooned it out to freeze and it didn't freeze so well.  I called it "prune sludge".  I suppose I'm going to try mixing it with another constipation friendly food and see if this helps.

Second batch:  This time I pureed the prunes with all water.  I added more water until it was a little runnier than the first batch.  It froze a little bit better but still didn't pop out in cube form like I desired.  I ended up just storing the prune puree in a small tupperware in my freezer.  I scoop out what I need and throw it in the microwave and then serve it.  No more ice cubes for this one.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Constipation in babies is common with the introduction of solids.  Constipation typically means fewer bowel movements (usually 3 or 4 days between) and when there is one it is firm or even pebble like.  It often distresses the child (think crying and screaming;  grunting and some straining is typical of normal bowels for a baby) and can cause pain.  The pain then compounds the problem as the child may hold it next time, which allows the body to absorb more water as it waits and this then makes the stool more firm causing another painful movement to occur.

From what I have read most recommendations include adding diluted prune juice (either with water or with the child's formula).  Some also recommend apple juice or white grape juice.  Our doctor advised also to not overdue it with starchy food such as carrots, bananas, apples, potatoes and rice (we had already dropped rice cereal for oatmeal).  It was not to avoid these foods as they have their benefits but to use them within reason.  Foods that may help constipation are pears, peas, plums, prunes, green beans, oatmeal and fiber rich food.

In my research and questions to my pediatrician it was recommended not to add too much prune juice or other juice as the formula or breast milk is most important for you baby to get nutrients from.  Also my pediatrician did not recommend the prunes to help with constipation until 6 months.

**As always seek advice of your pediatrician if this a problem that you are having with your baby or child**

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Plum Puree

I have been slacking off a lot lately.  Not on making baby food (I still am adding new things to the menu quite frequently) but I've kind of grown bored of posting  "steam this fruit or vegetable and then puree" repeats.  Some of the new things we have added and plan to try soon are:  plums, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes (as soon as they ripen in my garden), pumpkin and yogurt.  I'm also interested in trying pasta bits and cottage cheese once the girls get a little better at texture.  That's the other plan is to add more texture (they still don't love it).  Seren loves almost everything I throw her way and Kendall is inclined to all the veggies and the sweet fruit (apples and pears) but nothing tart (peaches, apricots, plums, etc).

But for now here are my pureed plums:

Plum Puree

I prepare this like I do with peaches and apricots.  I cut it in half around the pit and then take the pit out and boil the fruit until the skin starts to peel off (approx 5 minutes).  Then I douse it in cold water and let it cool before taking the peels off.  Then into the small electric blender and frozen in ice cubes.

Plums all pitted and ready to boil
 Ready for the freeze 
Ready for the taste test 

Prep/Cook time:  15 minutes
Servings:  14 oz  (11 oz to freeze and 3 oz  for eating)
Cost:  $0.98 per pound (I think I bought 1.5 lbs but I lost my receipt) ; $1.47
Cost Comparison:  $0.11 per ounce (vs $0.13 with Beech Nut and $0.16 with Gerber)

Tools:  paring knife and small electric blender 

Ratings:  
Kendall - 2 stars (she is starting a pattern of not liking tart things)
Seren - 3 stars 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mix n' Match

Lately since my freezer has been stocked full of frozen purees and I haven't bought more to make due to vacation coming up we have been doing a lot of mixing of what we have.  I thought I would share what I have tried and what has gone over well and what hasn't.

Blueberry Cereal (just oatmeal with blueberries)
Kendall : 2 stars (she doesn't like blueberries)
Seren: 4 stars

Blueberry Pears (1 cube pears with a teaspoon of blueberries)
Kendall:  2 stars
Seren: 4 stars

Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips (1 cube of each)
Kendall:  4 stars
Seren: 3 stars

Apricots and Pears  (1 cube of each)
Kendall: 2 stars
Seren: 3 stars

Pears, Apple and Mango (2 pears, 1 apple and 1 mango)
Kendall: 4 stars
Seren: 4 stars

Pears and Plums (3 cubes of pear and 1 cube of plum; trying to sneak the plum in on my picky eater Kendall)
Kendall: 3 stars
Seren: 4 stars

Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans (2 cube sweet potato and 1 cube green bean)
Kendall: 4 stars
Seren: 4 stars

*see the trend of who is being the picky eater.  Kendall loves sweet food and veggies but doesn't seem to like anything that is a little tart (ie peaches, apricots, blueberries or her teething pain aid that is cherry flavored)*

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Batch Day

I decided to have a "batch day" a few days ago.  I made the rest of my organic purchases:  pears, apples and acorn squash.  The process for apples and pears were the same as before.  The acorn squash was done the same as butternut squash with the exception of time cooked being 1 hour (I would reduce this to 45 minutes in the future or cover them with foil as my skins were charred thus browning some of the squash).
 *88 ounces of home made goodness*
*fridge is stacked full*


Batch Schedule
9:25 am - 10:00 am  
Acorn squash prepped and put in the oven
Pears prepped, boiled and pureed
Apples prepped and left to boil on the stove for approx 15 minutes (I pulled it to cool but didn't count the cook time on my schedule as I was out of the kitchen feeding babies)

10:30 am - 10:40 am
Pulled squash from the oven to cool
Pureed apples

11:10 am - 11:45 am
Dispensed pears into ice cube trays
Dispensed apples into ice cube trays
Dispensed acorn squash into ice trays
Kitchen Clean Up

Total Time Spent : 80 minutes
Total Ounces Made:  88 ounces

Cost Comparisons:
*Apple and Pear added to the prior posts

Organic Acorn Squash


Prep/Cook time:  prep 10 minutes and cook 45 minutes
Cost:  $2.98 for 2.16 lbs (one medium to large squash)
Cost Comparison: $0.10 per ounce (vs $0.13 per ounce with Beech Nut and $0.16 per ounce with Gerber; non-organic types) *some say that FDA regulates baby food to have no pesticides or chemicals also so buying organic for this reason alone may not be necessary*

Ratings:
Kendall - 4 stars
Seren - 3 stars

Butternut Squash

Wash your squash and then cut in half length wise.  Scoop out the seeds and "squishy stuff" with a spoon (similar to a pumpkin).
Place face down on a cookie sheet or baking sheet with water.  Place in oven at 400* F for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours depending on size of squash (I did 1 1/2 hours for a somewhat large squash).
*I have to note that this a small cookie sheet (about half size)*
You'll know it's done when the meat of the squash is soft and starts to peel away from the skin.  Remove from the oven once cooked and allow to cool.  Scoop out the remaining contents from the squash (leaving the skin) and then throw it in a large blender and puree.  Dispense into ice cube trays and freeze.
Prep/Cook Time:  Prep 10 minutes Cook 1 1/2 hours
Servings:  45 oz for a large squash (3.18 lbs)
Cost: $4.61
Cost Comparison:  $0.10 per ounce (vs $0.13 for Beech Nut and $0.16 for Gerber)

Ratings:
Kendall - 4 stars
Seren -  3 stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blueberry Smoothie

This morning I made myself a smoothie and ate it while holding Seren.  She was completely interested and seemed to want some.  But being the genius common sense mother that I am, I realized it had raspberries and blackberries in it among other things that were a no-no for my girls.  But I did figure why not make them a smoothie as it is a warm day and with possible teething the cool might feel good on their gums.  I introduced blueberries on this one as I've read that blueberries do not fall under the same rule as strawberries and raspberries (even though those rules are changing somewhat too).  I have read conflicting information on when to introduce blueberries.  Some books say 6-9 months is okay while others push the mark back to 8-9 months, being more cautious if your child has issues with allergies.  Based on no family history of allergies and a somewhat functional memory (I recalled 6 months at the time I made this) blueberry smooth was a hit with the girls.

Blueberry Smoothie
1/4 cup blueberries (these are Dirty Dozen)
1 cube frozen peaches (they've done fine with these although it's not their favorite)
1 cube frozen mango (one of their favorites)
1 regular ice cube
apple juice

Put all the frozen stuff in the small power blender  first.  Then poor enough apple juice (diluted if you wish or other fruit juice can be used also) to cover the frozen stuff.  Blend all the chunks and ice down til smooth.  Serve.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings:  approx. 1 cup (you could freeze it but I chose to drink what they didn't eat)


Ratings:
Kendall - 3 stars
Seren - 4 stars

*Note:  Seren did get a diaper rash after having blueberries.  I don't know if it was the undigested skins irritating her or not.  We have put off further blueberries until later.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Organic Apricots

Cut apricots in half and take the pit out.  Submerge in water and boil for about 5 minutes or so.  Allow to cool after boiling and then peel the skins off.  I wish someone had told me about this trick with peaches!  It worked awesome.  Once peeled simply toss them in your blender and puree.  These mash up fairly well also but my girls were still not having anything to do with texture.


Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings:  18 oz (16 frozen storage and 2 fresh)
Cost: $2.98 for 2.16 lbs
Cost comparison:  $0.17 per oz (vs $.13 per oz with Beech Nut and $.16 per oz with Gerber) Unsure if apricots are available in the jar.  Also price comparison is with regular baby food not organic, although according to some things I've read buying organic baby food in jars is not necessary.


Tools:  paring knife, small electric blender, ice cube trays


Ratings
Kendall - 2 stars (moving to 1 star...first just pulling face but then started crying)
Seren - 3 stars
*I thought apricots were more mild then peaches but these were still pretty tart*

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Organic Prices...I fear you no more

I made my first trip to the organic store.  With the girls no less.  Can I just say I still love my Double Snap-n-Go stroller because it fits and works in small store places.  I kind of don't want to officially get rid of it until the twins grow out of their car seats.

Anyway I was scared to see organic prices.  I have seen very little organic produce at my local stores.  But once inside the organic store I was surprised that it wasn't far from my non-organic prices (at least from what I can recall).  Here is my receipt:

Organic Pears  $1.05 lb - 2.68 lbs for $2.81
Organic Apricots $1.89 lb - 1.81 lbs for $3.42
Organic Avocado $0.94 each
Organic Butternut Squash $1.45 lb - 3.18 lbs for $4.61
Organic Fuji Apples $0.79 lb - 1.73 lbs for $1.37
Organic Acorn Squash $1.38 lb - 2.16 lbs for $2.98

I think the selection on produce must be a little better at certain times of day because it looked a little thin. (note to self: new produce on Thursday typically) They had sweet potatoes that were gone (sad) and some other items I saw prices for that were vamoose.  I did also check on some other things (frozen peas...yikes $4.99 for a small bag) and some other prices were a little out of range for what I'm willing to do.  But heck if you are lucky enough to have kids hitting solids during summer and produce prices are reasonable then why not.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chicken Meets Blender...or is it really called a Chicken Puree?

I read somewhere that baby's can digest chicken from around 6 months of age.  Will they necessarily like it? Most likely not is my experience.  But since we were grilling chicken and had a spare small piece I told hubby to grill it up with no spices and I'd let the girls have a shot at it.

The chicken was cooked thoroughly and without season.  Then I cut it into little pieces (both to check that it was cooked and for easy blending) and threw it in the small electric blender.  It blended fairly decent and became what I would describe as "chicken sand" with tiny little grains.  I put this into three small containers (two in the freezer and one in the fridge).


The next day for lunch I added it to some sweet potatoes (something they love and I figured would ease the transition for them) and heated them up.  The verdict:  They didn't mind it all so much but the dish was not polished off.  I think we will put off further introduction until they are closer to 7 months.
Sweet potatoes with my "grain-size" chicken mixed in.

*Note:  If I were to puree chicken again I think I would mix it with some water or juice to get a smoother consistency.  Although now at 7 months the girls don't seem to mind the texture.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Papaya Puree

Another simple puree.  This is a non-cook puree.  You simply buy a ripe papaya, cut it in half and remove the seeds.  Then scoop out the meat of the fruit and mash it up or blend it if you like.  I think mine (a Carribean Red papaya) was a little less then ripe so the blender and a little heat worked better.  How to buy a ripe papaya?  I have actually never tried papaya before...I think it tastes somewhat like cantelope or a melon...I didn't really care for it (not very sweet...once again maybe because it wasn't ripe enough) but Seren seemed to really dig it.
Clean out the seeds and then scoop out the meat of the fruit
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Servings:  8 frozen and 3 set aside for eating (11 oz)
Cost: $3.98
Cost comparison:  $0.36 per oz (not available in jar that I know of; also not super cost effective.  I may have gotten more out of it had it been more ripe)

Tools:  small power blender and ice cubes trays

Ratings:
Kendall - 2 stars
Seren - 3 stars

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When to Spice Things Up?

One more thing I love about making my own baby food is the ability to add variety.  Trust me, they don't offer parsnips, turnips, papaya, pumpkin and many other foods in a jar on the shelf (at least not that I've seen).  My girls have loved meals that a jar fed baby (or even adult; I know I'm a case in point there) may have never tried.

Yet another way to add variety to your baby food is spice and herbs.  **You should still wait 4 days in between a new food or new spice**.  But what a wonderful thing to let them try.  It is recommended not to add salt, pepper or sugar to your baby's food until they are a year old (pepper bumps back to 18 months).  Most pediatricians recommend waiting until 8 months of age to introduce spices but if your child is doing well with foods then some will tell you to jump right in.  Use caution and parental instinct I think.

So, I had read about spices and had always wanted to add a little dash of cinnamon to their cereal or apples. And yesterday I did just that...a very small dash of cinnamon to their apples.  The verdict...they LOVED it.  I could not get the previously "could care less" apples into their little mouths fast enough before they were wiggling and whining for more.  Now that I've read the 8 month recommendation I think I will put off on anything else for a couple months but so far so good on the cinnamon (no issues have been witnessed).

Here are some spices to consider:
vanilla 
garlic - minced or powdered 
basil 
rosemary 
dill
oregano
lemon zest 
ginger 
cinnamon
mint
nutmeg
anise

allspice 
curry powder (also use caution as it can cause diaper rash)
combination spices (clear individual ingredients first and skip the salt, sugar or pepper blends)


**also noted in some reading was the concern of purity in some spices. More info on that here.  The synopsis is that some manufacturers add colored corn starch and dyes to their spices;  look for the ISI or AGMARK certification and clearly mention the dates of manufacture and expiry on sealed packets. Avoid buying unbranded and non certified products sold loose**



*Certification Symbols or Trademarks;  Images are copyrighted by such*

Here are some combinations that WholesomeBabyfood.com recommends:

Fruits:
Apple(Sauce): use cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, ginger
Pears: use ginger, cinnamon, a drip of vanilla or even mint
Bananas: use cinnamon, ginger, allspice, vanilla
Dairy:
Plain Yogurt : use with mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, allspice, cardamom
Vegetables:
Sweet potato: use with nutmeg, cinnamon and/or cardamom
Pumpkin: use with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and dash of vanilla
Carrots: use with basil & garlic - baked cinnamon carrots are yummy too.
Green beans: use with garlic powder
Mashed potatoes(white) : use with dill weed or garlic
Winter Squash (acorn, hubbard, butternut etc.): use with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger
Cereals/Grains:
Pasta: use oregano, garlic, basil
Oatmeal or other cereals: use fruits, cinnamon & nutmeg, dash of vanilla
Rice (sweet) with cinnamon, nutmeg, dash of vanilla, cardamom, ginger
Quinoa (sweet): use cinnamon, nutmeg, dash of vanilla, cardamom, ginger for sweet
Quinoa (savory): use garlic powder, pepper, onion powder, basil, oregano and others
Meats:
Chicken/Turkey with cinnamon and/or coriander
Chicken/Turkey with garlic powder and basil
Chicken/Turkey with lemon zest and pepper
Chicken/Turkey with basil & oregano
Chicken/Turkey with garlic and pepper
Chicken/Turkey with sage, rosemary and thyme
Beef with garlic and pepper
Beef with onion powder and pepper
Beef with Orange Zest

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dirty Dozen and Buying Organic...

I am not a health nut or a conspiracy theorist or anything like that.  But I do believe that food has become contaminated by the need to produce more and "better" products.  To this end and after reading an article on Parents.com I have decided to try to be a little more organic.  Not an organic freak mind you but to be a little more cautious about the food I'm making and giving them.  Here is an overview of the article:

What to Buy Organic :

Milk
Potatoes
Peanut Butter
Baby Food (or what you make it out of)
Apples
Ketchup
Beef

The Dirty Dozen
These earn the distinction as the most contaminated by pesticides; buy organic when possible!

* Peaches
* Apples
* Sweet bell peppers
* Celery
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Cherries
* Lettuce
* Grapes (imported)
* Pears
* Spinach
* Potatoes 



**for more info on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 check out EWG's  Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in 
Produce 


**I have read that jarred baby food is FDA regulated not to have pesticides, antibiotics and chemicals in it.  So buying organic versus regular jarred baby food may not matter or be worth the extra money...depending on your reasoning.