Archive for the ‘Meals For Baby’ Category

I continue to refer to my toddler as a picky eater, but in reality I can honestly say I think most toddlers are picky.  As babies they happily ate up most anything you put in front of them.  As babies, everything is new, some new exciting texture, taste, and smell.  As toddlers, they realize they have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes.  Anyone with a toddler will tell you they are hardheaded, strong willed.  My toddler would personally live off graham crackers and milk all day every day if I gave him the ability to choose. 

 

I find myself often times frustrated at his lack of desire to try different things.  Toddlers like routine, and change is a hard concept.  For some it’s harder than others.  “They” say that toddlers take up to 3-4 times of seeing something new on their plate to try it.  Who is “they” anyways?  And “they” clearly haven’t tried feeding my picky eater.  So, being the creative mama I am I watched my sons eating habits, focused on things he liked and didn’t like.  He prefers to drink his food; he loves “shakey’s” also known as milk with some sort of protein powder.  He loves his milk, and prefers to drink his food rather than eat.  Who can really blame him, drinking takes less time than sitting down to eat, and his little busy mind has things to do and places to see!

I was worried he wasn’t in taking enough healthy calories because of his inability to try new things.  Some days it seemed like he would only eat a bite of bread and maybe 4 goldfish and call it a day.  I talked to his pediatrician who said he was thriving, and growing so to try not to worry, and continue to offer him healthy meals.  Out of desperation and frustration I started making him smoothies and shakes.  The options are really endless, with different fruits, juices, milk, almond milk, you name it.  He also is at the age where he loves to help.  Mixing and pouring can keep him busy for hours, so I put him to work helping to pour different fruits, milk, and juices into the blender.

I purchase a sugar free vanilla, or chocolate protein powder to add some healthy calories into his smoothies and shakes.  There are so many different options but I’d like to share a few of our favorite recipes below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or sugar-free carnation instant breakfast)

1 tbsp peanut butter (if your child is allergic you of course would want to skip this)

½ banana

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Another staple smoothie in our house is:

Berry Smoothie

1 cup milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or vanilla carnation instant breakfast)

½ cup mixed berries

¼ fresh spinach

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Like I mentioned above, options are really endless.  You can use mango, strawberries, add a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Experiment, and let your children experiment with you as well.  And most importantly enjoy these special moments with your children, they go much to fast!

Moms have a lot to worry about when it comes to nutrients and food for their babies. Scares about formula and tainted jarred food have become more and more common globally and even here in the US, but there are a lot of step that Moms can take to make sure that their little ones stay safe.

1: Before you buy any type of baby food ensure that the expiration date and seal on the jar is good. When you look at the jarred kind you can usually press down on the lid and if you hear or feel a popping sound pass on that jar. For the plastic containers squeeze the container, if one of them has a lot more or a lot less “give” than any of the others on the shelf it’s probably not been sealed correctly. High pressure containers usually mean spoilage and gases building up.

2: Check the color of the food. Usually the shelves are full with plenty of choices, so pick up two or three. Are they all the same color? Does one stand out more than the other? Do you see anything that makes you think mold, or bacteria?

3: Make sure that once your baby food has been opened it stays safe. You can keep baby food in its original container for up to 48 hours in the fridge. Any more than that and you risk the sugars breaking down even more and going bad. You can freeze baby food for up to three months, but remember once you defrost it, that is it, you can’t refreeze it.

4: Make sure formula that is prepared is fresh and stays that way. Quickly refrigerate any un-finished bottles, and make sure to sanitize your bottles and nipples. Take them completely apart and give them a boiling water bath, or run them through the hottest cycle in your dishwasher. Bottles that are half-eaten need to be tossed within 6 hours. Formula spoils quickly.

One of the best ways I find to escape the scares of processed baby food is to make your own. My son Spencer is 4-1/2 months old and we just recently got clearance from his pediatrician to start stage 1 foods, so after an unimpressive trip down the baby food aisle I made a beeline for the produce section and decided to make my own.


 HOMEMADE BABY FOOD
  

Raw You Will Need:
   1 large Apple
   1 ripe Banana
   1 ripe or barely ripe Pear
   1 handful of Green Beans
   1 large Carrot
   Baby formula and water to add additional nutrients and thin baby food consistency.

To prepare your veggies you have a couple of decisions to make. For fruits like apples and pears peeling the skin is best, because that skin is very hard to digest and will be tough on baby’s tummy. Carrots aren’t so bad, but you can still peel them if you prefer. Green beans you can go both ways and bananas you always peel. As always, thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies and make sure there are no bruises, damaged spots, or nicks or cuts to the skin.

I’ll start with the bananas because that is by far the easiest to make. Peel your banana, cut it into thumbnail size chunks, and put the whole thing into a blender or small food processor. The blender I got from Williams Sonoma  gives the best consistency to my baby food, and it’s really easy to make small batches. My food processor blends just as well but I find that a lot of the baby food gets sprayed everywhere and I lose a lot scraping it out. Anyway, after you puree the bananas you can add a teaspoon of formula to the mix for thicker consistency or add water and formula to thin it, depending on your baby’s tastes. The formula adds nutrients and helps to ease gas when first starting new foods.

Next up is your more solid fruits and veggies. We’ll use the apple as the model. Chopped

-Peel and slice your apple into uniform chunks, being careful to remove any seeds and debris.  (In the picture I left the peel on so you could tell the difference from the pears, but after I steamed the fruits soft the skins came right off.)
You can just puree a raw apple, but usually you end up with a cranky gassy baby and a whole lot of diaper rash. Softening them is quick and easy, and is especially beneficial to a younger baby.

-After the apples are soft, blend them right up, add a little formula or water to desired thickness.

Boil or steam your apples so that they are soft to the touch and slightly browned. This breaks down some of the harsher sugar bonds in the fruit structure that causes gas and fussiness.

-Repeat this process for the pears, carrots, and green beans.

After you’ve processed your foods you need to figure out a way to store them. Ziploc or Glad containers work great, especially the smaller ones, but I find that ice cube trays really are the way to go. You can freeze what you’ve made, transfer the cubes to a plastic bag, pop out enough for a meal, microwave it on medium until warm and then stick everything else back in the freezer. Williams Sonoma also offers these neat little serving size trays for baby food made by Beaba. You can check them out HERE. 

Ready to FreezeUnfortunately I have an ice maker in my fridge, and “someone” had tossed all of my ice cube trays. I made enough food for just one or two servings for Spence, so little Glad storage containers work, but long term use definitely requires ice cube trays. Here’s what the processed stuff looks like, and I’ll tell you what, it SMELLS a whole lot better than some of the jarred kind.

Clockwise: Green Beans, Pears, Carrots, Bananas. (*Note: The bananas, carrots and pears had already frozen by the time I finished the green beans, and I forgot to take a picture of the apples. I  LOVE my high-efficiency freezer. They are a lot smoother when defrosted.)

The last step in making the baby food is presenting it to your baby. There are a few recommended way to go about doing this, but the normal baby will usually be ready to start trying more solid foods around 4-6 months of age. Yes, there are “Councils” out there that say don’t give your baby anything but formula until he/she is six months of age, which I don’t disagree with, but as always; ASK YOUR PEDIATRICIAN


If you get the go ahead to try solids, use the 4-day system
. Start baby out with a spoonful or two of one type of food that is slightly warmed. There are a variety of different baby spoons available and a lot of them have a very nifty coating that changes colors when the temperature of the food is too hot. Of course a small spoon is just fine to use, but baby spoons are usually coated with soft silicone or rubber to be easy to feed with.


Babies that are very young do not “know” how to eat from a spoon, and this takes practice. In the beginning gently pressing the tip of the spoon to the lower lip will get baby to open his or her mouth, but there WILL be mess. I recommend a bib and a whole bunch of paper towels until baby can recognize “ok, here comes the spoon, I gotta open my mouth and swallow”. For Spence I started with green beans, because I don’t want him to get used to sweet fruits without trying and enjoying other stuff. Tastes in young babies change all the time, so try whatever you are comfortable with.


During the first serving, see how they like it.
Most of the time you will get the “scrunched up face”, because baby does not recognize the taste and different texture. This is where adding formula to the mixture helps, because it is recognizable to baby, and more comforting. Keep trying the food for four days, and watch your baby closely for allergy symptoms like redness, swelling, hives, or extreme fussiness.


After the four days are up, with no symptoms or problems, try a different food
. Make sure that baby gets a lot of different tastes and textures, it will help you in the long run with picky eating, and you will get a feel very early on for what baby does and does not like. After a few different types have been tried you can blend different foods, try adding sweet potatoes or another common type of baby food, and experiment a little bit. As always, keep your pediatrician updated on your progress, or keep a little journal, to track possible allergies, when you started a new food, babies’ reaction to new foods, whether or not tummy could handle it, and how you made them.

My Little Chef
Little Chef

Mornings are tough on any family, especially when it’s the beginning of the school year and routines are still hard to settle into. Finding the time to make a healthy and delicious snack that you know your kids will love is almost as hard as finding the socks that your dryer eats. Thankfully, most kids not only love, but beg for cereal in the morning, and there are hundreds of quick and easy ways to make great snacks and even full meals using just a few handfuls of your favorite morning munchable.

Cheerios of any variety and Cinnamon Toast Crunch has been a staple in my house for years. Something about the wholesome goodness of those little O’s and the sweet warm crunch of the cinnamon squares just makes every day a little brighter. These next two recipes will inspire you to go far beyond the traditional bowl, milk and spoon, with plenty of  tweaks to customize for picky eaters and allergens.


Cinnamon Nut Crunch
French Toast

This recipe is perfect, and because it take just 10 minutes to bake, you can be up, fed and out the door in no time. The sweetness and texture of the cereal and nuts over the soft warmth of the whole grain bread soaked in egg is just incredible in the morning, and I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like French toast. This recipe makes enough to serve 3 people but can easily be doubled or tripled.

You Will Need:
3 eggs
¼ cup of milk
½ tsp ground cinnamon
5 or 6 slices of whole grain bread
1-3/4 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1/4 cup of sliced almonds

Heat oven to 450*. Beat eggs, cinnamon, and milk together in a shallow bowl. Pour the  cereal and sliced almonds into a small Ziploc bag and crush gently, a fun task for the youngest in your family.

Coat both sides of the bread in the egg mixture and then press the cereal mixture into the bread. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and line up the slices of bread on the sheet. Bake the French toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cereal and bread is golden brown.  Serve as you would regular French Toast with syrup or honey and butter.

ALLERGIES: WHEAT, ALMONDS, EGGS, MILK, CINNAMON

Some pretty obvious changes that you can very easily make to this recipe; substitute a different kind of nut for the almonds or eliminate them altogether. Sprinkle brown sugar over the freshly baked Toast. Use a French baguette or challah bread for a more classical variation.
The whole grain bread and almonds will help to keep your kids focused and alert during the school day, and the super easy addition of the yummy cereal makes a good breakfast a great one. This is a recipe that your kids can easily learn to prepare themselves with just a little help from mom with the oven.

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Cheeri-ola

My mom made every variation of this snack since I was old enough to pick up a Cheerio and put it in my mouth. We called it Cheeriola because it wasn’t quite Cheerios and it wasn’t quite Granola. It can be made in huge batches on Sunday night, prepackaged for the whole week Monday morning and save you lots of time when assembling school lunches or thinking about a scrumptious after school snack. It’s also a great recipe to show your kids, teaching them the use of a mixer, a cookie sheet and a timer.

You will need:
1 egg*
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups of Cheerios any variety
½ cup of chopped nuts
½ cup of instant oats (optional)
1 tbsp honey

*To get started, let me show you a great way to quickly and easily separate egg yolk and egg white, because this recipe only requires the egg white. Crack your egg, but keep the two halves upright with the contents of the egg split between them. Over a bowl, carefully switch the egg yolk back and forth between the two halves of shell until all the white is in the bowl, and only the yolk is left in the shell. Toss the yolk, or do what my grandfather use to do, swallow it whole…. :-/

Anyway, first thing you have to do is make the coating for the Cheeriola. Preheat your oven to 350*. With your mixer on high speed, beat the egg white until it is frothy, meaning a whole lot of bubbles. When it reaches that stage you can slowly beat in the brown sugar and salt and cinnamon.

Keep beating at a high speed until the mixture is a beige color and very smooth and glossy looking, it doesn’t take very long.

Gently add the cereal, nuts and oats into the egg mixture, and mix until everything is evenly coated. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or very lightly spray it with cooking spray.

Spread your Cheeriola in the thinnest layer possible onto the wax paper and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. After it is baked take the entire sheet of wax paper with the Cheeriola still on it and set it aside, away from the heat. Drizzle the honey over the top and let it cool for 30 minutes.

The end result is a slightly browned and sweet smelling snack that is delicious any time of the day, and great for after school because it will fill you up until dinner.

 This is so simple to make, and if you keep it in a sealed container in the fridge it can keep for a week. You can mix other things with it like candy pieces or whole nuts and use it as trail mix, or even pour warm milk over it and eat it like oatmeal.

Allergies: EGGS, WHEAT, MILK, NUTS, OATS

If you like the little glass cups that I use to measure and display ingredients click HERE for a look at Williams-Sonoma’s site. I also bought my mixer from them.

For more great recipe ideas and cereal nutrition info click HERE.