...from baby food to toddler food to family food!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Recipe for the Entire Family!

Well, at least those over 8 months old.......

If you haven’t discovered quinoa yet, it is time! This tasty seed cooks up like a grain, and is safe to introduce to babies starting around eight months of age.  It is a wonderful source of nutrition for pregnant and nursing women, as it is very high in protein, as well as fiber, calcium, iron and folate.
Here is a recipe the entire family can enjoy!

Quinoa Pilaf
1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ of a medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
¼ of a green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ stick of celery, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.  Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for one more minute, then add the cup of quinoa and mix it in. Raise the heat and stir the mixture, to "toast" the quinoa (this helps prevent it from getting mushy when cooked in liquid) for another minute.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.
Cover tightly and simmer on low for about 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed.
Serve and enjoy!

This is great as a side dish, but is nutritious enough to be a meal in itself! I love the texture of quinoa: it has just a little bit of crunch from the seed hulls.

A Recipe for Cooking With Your Toddler

A Recipe for Cooking With Your Toddler

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cooking Together!

As William approaches age two, he really is mostly eating meals along with me and my husband. "Eating" being a loose interpretation of rejection, throwing and squishing at times....
So to enhance his relationship with food I've now started putting my energy into finding ways William can help cook! It is often said that when children are involved in preparing meals, they are more likely to taste and enjoy the food.

Here is a recipe for home made granola that is delicious, healthy, and safe for toddlers to help prepare. Try letting your child help measure the ingredients, dump them into the mixing bowl, and stir everything together.

William's "Gagona"

Stir together:
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (optional)
1/4 cup golden flax seeds (or sesame seeds)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashews (or other nuts)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or other nuts)

Warm in a pan:
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or another vegetable oil)
2/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Stir sauce into the dry mixture, then spread in thin layers on cookie sheets or in pans.  Bake in oven at 225 degrees for about an hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it toasts evenly.  Stir in 1 cup dried fruit if desired after removing from oven (we used dried figs).

William loves this as a crunchy snack, or on top of his yogurt at breakfast. I like it on top of my coconut milk ice cream!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Baby's Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth

by Gretchen Cuda-Kroen
August 8, 2011

Want your child to love veggies? Start early. Very early. Research shows that what a woman eats during pregnancy not only nourishes her baby in the womb, but may shape food preferences later in life.
At 21 weeks after conception, a developing baby weighs about as much as a can of Coke — and he or she can taste it, too. Still in the womb, the growing baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid daily. That fluid surrounding the baby is actually flavored by the foods and beverages the mother has eaten in the last few hours.
"Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother's milk," says Julie Mennella, who studies taste in infants at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. In fact, Mennella says there isn't a single flavor they have found that doesn't show up in utero. Her work has been published in the journal Pediatrics.

The Scent Of Amniotic Fluid
To determine if flavors are passed from the mother to the the baby via the amniotic fluid, researchers gave women garlic capsules or sugar capsules before taking a routine sample of their amniotic fluid — and then asked a panel of people to smell the samples.
"And it was easy," says Mennella. "They could pick out the samples easily from the women who ate garlic." The sense of taste is actually 90-percent smell, she added, so they knew just from the odor that the babies could taste it.
Mennella says she got the idea from dairy farmers, who in the 1960s and 70s were doing research on how the diet of the dairy cow impacted the flavor of the milk. She says cows that graze on wild garlic and onion, or who live in stinking barns, produce milk with distinct flavors.
But Mennella says that not only is the amniotic fluid and breast milk in humans flavored by food just like cows, but memories of these flavors are formed even before birth. That could result in preferences for these foods or odors for a lifetime. In other words, if you eat broccoli while you're pregnant, there's a much better chance your baby will like broccoli.
Mennella says this had already been observed in rabbits, so she decided to test it in human babies — with carrots. Pregnant women were divided into three groups. One group was asked to drink carrot juice every day during their pregnancy, another during breastfeeding and a third to avoid carrots completely. Then when the children began to eat solid food, researchers fed them cereal made either with water, or carrot juice and videotaped their responses.
Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother's milk.

Introducing Babies To Food Culture
"And just like the European rabbit, the babies who had experienced carrot in amniotic fluid or mother's milk ate more of the carrot-flavored cereal," says Mennella. "And when we analyzed the video tapes they made less negative faces while eating it."
This makes a lot of evolutionary sense, says Mennella. Since mothers tend to feed their children what they eat themselves, it is nature's way of introducing babies to the foods and flavors that they are likely to encounter in their family and their culture.
"Each individual baby is having their own unique experience, it's changing from hour to hour, from day to day, from month to month," says Mennella. "As a stimulus it's providing so much information to that baby about who they are as a family and what are the foods their family enjoys and appreciates."
That very idea got Matty Lau thinking 'how is it that kids in other cultures eat foods that are spicy, bitter, or have pungent flavors?' She's a Chinese-American who had a baby in late July and recalls growing up eating foods most American kids she knows would never touch.
"My parents are great cooks — and so they'll cook things like preserved oysters. I always wondered how it was that I was able to grow up eating bitter vegetables like kale and mustard greens and things like ginger," says Lau.

Instilling A Love Of Chinese Flavors Before Birth
While she was pregnant, she consciously tried to provide her baby with the flavors she loves from her native Chinese cuisine. She the hopes that when her baby is older, it will share her love of flavorful food.
"I was really concerned that my child enjoy food as much as the rest of my family," says Lau.
University of Florida taste researcher Linda Bartoshuk says babies are born with very few hard and fast taste preferences. She says Mennella's work shows that very early exposures to flavors – both before and after birth — make it more likely that children will accept a wide variety of flavors. And when those early exposures are reinforced over a lifetime, Bartoshuk thinks they might have far-reaching implications, even promoting good eating.
"To what extent can we make a baby eat a healthier diet by exposing it to all the right flavors — broccoli, carrots, lima beans, et cetera? Could we do that or not? My guess is we could," says Bartoshuk.
Menella acknowledges that many toddlers will still make a sour face when given broccoli, no matter how much the mother ate while pregnant. And maybe they will never like it. But she says parents should keep exposing young children to these flavors because they can eventually learn to like them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Soup!

I threw together a basic blended vegetable soup the other day in order to use up some extras from my organic produce delivery.  I tried to keep it light, but very flavorful! This soup is great chilled or warm, and William gives it rave reviews ("mo SOOP!").

Summer Veggie Soup:
1 32 oz carton vegetable or chicken stock
Enough roughly chopped fresh veggies to fill to top of stock (I used asparagus, broccoli, carrots and corn)
1/2 small onion
2 cloves garlic- smashed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Fresh (or dried) herbs (I used fresh dill and thyme from our "urban garden," which is a pot)

Sautee the roughly chopped onion and smashed garlic cloves in the olive oil in a soup pot until fragrant. Season with a bit of salt and pepper if desired.  Add the carton of stock and enough roughly chopped veggies to reach the top of the stock, but still be submerged. ring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until all the veggies are soft. 
Allow to cool, then blend with immersion blender (stick/wand) or in a food processor or blender. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed, then blend in fresh herbs to taste.  Serve chilled or warm.

This recipe would work well for a baby who is new to eating solid foods.  It is a great introduction to fresh herbs, as well as onions and garlic!