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

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Dear Readers-
I wanted to let you know that I just fixed a glitch in my settings, and you should now be able to post comments. I would love to hear about what you are feeding your kids, if you've tried any of my recipes, and any comments or feedback you have about my posts! (Thanks to Paige for letting me know about this :)

Also, at the bottom of each post there are options to share it on Facebook, send via email, etc. Please, share away!

Thanks for reading-

Mama's Quinoa

Here are the new additions to William's food repertoire in the past month or so:
Pinto beans
Green beans
Egg yolk
Cheddar cheese
Olive oil
Cottage cheese

The most exciting new foods for William have been peaches, raspberries, cheese, lentils, blackberries, cottage cheese and quinoa.  I love when he gets excited about a new food.  It's amazing to see how much joy a baby can express without using any words!

Here are a few simple recipes inspired by William's favorites:

Mixed-berry Yogurt
Mash 2 raspberries, 2 blackberries and 1/2 a strawberry with a fork.
Stir in 2 Tbsp. whole milk plain yogurt.
Thicken with powdered baby cereal if desired.
(great with any fruit variation: peach-raspberry-banana is another favorite!)

Brown Rice & Lentils
(This recipe is from my favorite baby cookbook,  The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler)
Boil 2 cups of water in a small, covered pot.
Stir in 1/2 cup of rinsed, sorted lentils and 1/2 cup brown rice (I used organic long grain).
Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes.
(After being refrigerated, I rolled this into little balls for William to eat with his hands!)

Quinoa for Little Hands
(Quinoa is an amazing whole grain that cooks up quickly, is full of fiber and a surprising amount of protein!  It is somewhat like couscous, but much more nutritious.)
Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Mash or puree any type of canned beans (garbanzo, pinto, etc.).
Mix beans and quinoa together until you reach a thick, not too goopy consistency, and roll it into baby-bite-sized balls.
(you could also add mashed or chopped veggies, or substitute mashed avocado, banana or sweet potato for the beans).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Omelette!

After browsing through the "100 Baby-Led Weaning Recipes" included in my last post, I was inspired by the Scrambled Egg Yolks recipe.  Here is my version:

Oat & Spinach Omlette
1 raw egg yolk
a little brestmilk (or formula, water, juice, milk, liquidy puree)
2 chopped baby spinach leaves
about 1 Tbsp ground whole oats
a dash of fresh ground pepper
olive oil

Whisk these all together and cook flat like a pancake in pan with olive oil (or butter, canola oil) over medium-low heat. Flip once.

I cut the little omelette into 10 pieces.  For babies under the age of 1, a serving size is 1/2 a yolk, so at William's next meal I plan to give him 5 pieces of the omelette.  I'll let you know what he thinks about it. Looks good to me! If it didn't have breastmilk in it I'd eat it myself.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baby-Led Weaning

I just came across a very interesting concept in infant feeding/eating that I want to share with you: Baby-Led Weaning. The idea of it is to involve babies with family mealtimes from the start, and to give them "real" food from the start rather than thinned out purees, etc.  Here are the basic principles of how to get started with baby-led weaning:
* Sit your baby upright, facing the table, either on your lap or in a
highchair. Make sure she is steady and can use her hands and arms freely.
* Offer your baby food, rather than give it to her - put it in front of her,
or let her take it from your hand, so that the decision is hers.
* Start with foods that are easy to pick up - thick sticks or long strips are
best at first. Introduce new shapes and textures gradually so that your baby
can work out how to handle them.
* Include your baby in your mealtimes whenever you can. As far as
possible - as long as it’s suitable - offer your baby the same food as you
are eating, so that she can copy you.
* Choose times when your baby is not tired or hungry, so she can
concentrate. Mealtimes at this stage are for play and learning - she will still
be getting all her nourishment from her milk feeds.
* Carry on offering breast or formula feeds as before - this is still your
baby’s main source of nutrition until she is a year old. When your baby
needs less she will reduce feeds herself.
* Offer your baby water with her meals so she can drink if she needs to.
* Don’t hurry your baby or distract her while she is handling food -
allow her to concentrate and take her time.
* Don’t put food into your baby’s mouth for her or try to persuade
her to eat more than she wants.

This is from the leaflet "Baby-Led Weaning"
I see a lot of the philosophical elements of food introduction that I've been using with William included in this method, and I'm excited to learn more about it! I'll let you know what I discover.  In the meantime, go to the Baby-Led Weaning website for more information.

***An added bonus: 100 Baby-Led Weaning Recipes!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NEW: Play With Your Food Store

<----Take a look to the left of the posts: I just added an online store through amazon.com, designed by me.  I will hand-select products that I have used and recommend to you to be available through the "Play With Your Food" aStore.  It is a safe and trusted link, with all of the security features of online purchasing through Amazon.com. Enjoy!

I Love My Splat Mat

I "accidentally" spent way too much on a  SugarBooger ABC Jumbo Splat Mat back when William was approaching 6 months of age. I knew that early feeding and eating would be a messy experience, but a plastic tarp might have worked just fine.  I'm actually glad I invested in it though, because it is thick, heavy and sort of sticks to the floor, so when I wipe it down on my hands and knees four times a day (yes, that's right, William now eats four meals a day!) it doesn't crumple up or move around.

The past few days, things have become much more messy around here!  William has been showing a lot of interest in feeding himself. He has always put the spoon in his mouth independently, but now he would rather use his hands alone (he has been looking at the spoon with disdain, or turning his head away in avoidance).  I think his blossoming fine motor skills are the driving force behind this change.  So, I've had to get very creative with foods he can eat independently that meet his nutritional needs.  I like to give him foods that are nutrient-dense and unprocessed.  They need to be not too slippery, and not too small as small pieces get lost in his chubby fist!

Here are some things I've offered him that worked out very well:
Fresh raspberries, broken into about quarters
Sweet potato, cooked in the microwave, cut into 1/2 -inch slices, peeled then cut into large chunks
Avocado, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, then large chunks
Brown rice cakes, broken into large chunks
Roasted cinnamon apple wedges (Peel, cut into thin wedges, toss with cinnamon, bake)
Shaved raw apple (long strips made with vegetable peeler)
Steamed spinach leaves (steam in microwave, then mush into little balls)

He did not particularly enjoy the following:
Shaved & diced raw carrot (long strips with vegetable peeler, then chopped into small squares)
chunks of baked white potato

Do any of you readers have other great ideas for finger foods??? Please share!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Got Yogurt?

I want to share with you a great customer rewards program that I've been using for the past few months: Stonyfield Rewards.  If you don't already know, Stonyfield is an organic dairy company (the largest of it's kind, featured in the documentary Food, Inc.).  They produce organic yogurt, drinkable yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt and milk.

Now, we eat a lot of yogurt in our house. A lot.  I eat at least one serving a day, my husband does too (he even keeps Stonyfield yogurts in the fridge at work!).  William is now eating about 4 Tbsp. of yogurt a day as well (from either the 32 oz. tub of Plain Cream Top or the YoBaby Plain 4-pk of 4 oz. cups). Once or twice we've also indulged in a Stonyfield ice cream ("Vanilla Chai" is good, and the "After Dark Chocolate" is ridiculous.).

My favorite type of Stonyfield yogurt is the 6 oz. cups of Smooth & Creamy Lowfat.  I love the Cherry-Vanilla, the Strawberry-Pomegranate, and the seasonal flavors: Maple-Vanilla and Mango-Honey!  I also occasionally buy a 32 oz. tub of Lowfat Banilla for myself.  My husband likes the Fat-Free French Vanilla Probiotic or the 6 oz. cups of Lowfat French Vanilla (I mentioned before that he's a "picky eater," right?).

All you have to do is register for "My Stonyfield Rewards" at stonyfield.com, then enter codes from your containers of Stonyfield products. You earn points toward very practical rewards, like free yogurt! You earn one point for a 6 oz. cup, and more for larger containers/multipacks.

In the three-ish months since I registered, I've earned 2 free 32 oz. containers of yogurt, a free 4-pk of Yo Baby Yogurt, any 2 Happy Baby products free and a subscription to Kiwi magazine.  We eat yogurt anyway, and prefer to eat organic dairy, so it's a great deal!

Yuck Face

Today William gave his first true "yuck face" while eating. He's done it before, when mouthing a fuzzy stuffed animal or rogue paper towel, but never before as a reaction to food! He has looked quite serious when contemplating a new food on his palate (spinach, asparagus, peas and broccoli), but never shown such a look of disgust.

Shockingly, this reaction was to one of my favorite foods, mashed potatoes. OK, it was mashed potato with whole milk plain yogurt, broccoli, dill and sea salt.....I found it to be delicious, but somehow the combination didn't work for my little guy.  So, you ask, what did I do about it?  Here are the steps I took:

1. Validate his reaction: "Oh, you're not sure about that? That's OK."
2. Offer him another spoonful and see if he takes it. (He turned his head away, clear communication that he did not want any more in his mouth at the moment!)
3. Let him explore it in another way. (I placed a blob of the potatoes on his high chair tray for him to explore however he wished. He wished to pick it up and drop it over the edge of his chair onto his splat mat. Satisfying *plop* sound achieved.).
4. Later in the meal offer it again. (He had two spoonfuls and was done).
5. Put it away and offer it again at the next meal (He finished the serving.), or the next day, the next......

This is a great way to help any baby become more comfortable with a food, be it new or old.  Exploring a food's texture and other qualities with the senses of sight, smell and touch first make it easier for sensitive little palates to adjust.  Don't give up on a food if your baby rejects it at first; it can take many, many exposures before a baby is comfortable eating something new! Imagine if someone told you "Close your eyes and hold your breath. I'm going to put something you've never tasted before in your mouth." Now, get your mind out of the gutter and feel some empathy for that novice palate!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Golden Zucchini & Vidalia Onions

I picked up some absolutely gorgeous organic golden zucchinis on sale at Whole Foods Market the other day and came up with some great recipes this evening: one for baby, one for the rest of the family!

For baby: Savory Golden Zucchini Puree
Wash, slice thinly and steam 2 golden zucchini with a few slices of sweet Vidalia Onions.  Allow to cool, then puree, using cooking water to thin to desired consistency.

Mine is cooling in the refrigerator as I type, waiting to be pureed and frozen in my brand new Green Sprouts Eco-friendly Silicone Freezer Tray, Green.

For the rest of the family: Grilled Pizza!!!
This is my new favorite summertime grilling recipe!
*1 bag pre-made pizza dough  (white or wheat), divided into 4, floured and rolled out thin.
*Desired toppings (I used jarred tomato sauce, very thinly sliced golden zucchini and Vidalia onion, chopped fresh basil, mozzarella and romano cheeses, fresh cracked pepper.  My husband? Sauce and mozzarella.).
1. Oil one side of the dough with olive oil and cook for just a minute or so over high heat on the grill.
2. Take off the grill, oil the uncooked side, flip over and arrange toppings as desired on the already cooked side (what I love about this part is that each family member can design their own pizza: so fun for kids! Well, for everyone really!).
3. Put back on grill over low heat for a few minutes (until cheese is melted at least!).
You may want to turn off the grill after a couple of minutes, but allow the pizza to sit in there, covered to allow toppings to cook a bit more. We've burned the crusts just a little bit both times we've done this recipe- it takes practice!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Delicious (Online) Deal!

Earth's Best Organic 2nd Fruit Variety Pack (12 jars) is on sale for $8.99 on amazon.com! Spend $25 in qualifying purchases for free "super saver shipping." William loves the peach-oatmeal-banana blend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fast Food for Babies - On The Road!

Sorry my friends- It's been a while since my last post! William and I were on Cape Cod, visiting my parents and grandfather. William had so much fun at the beach, in the baby pool and at the playground!  Packing for even just four nights away with a baby is a huge job; add in the need for solid food and it's even more challenging! Obviously, there are stores on the Cape, but I wanted to be sure I brought the basics.

My mom stocked up on fresh produce: avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, peaches and pears. She grows fresh basil, and had garlic powder, cinnamon, sea salt and pepper available of course.

I brought some staples of William's diet: ground oat powder, multigrain baby cereal, 2 cups of YoBaby plain whole milk yogurt, 2 pouches of roasted butternut squash, a little jar of flax oil and six jars of fruits and veggies.  I also brought William's favorite spoon, the one that comes with this set: Danesco Bowl with Silicone Spoon Baby Set - Green; one of these spoons: The First Years Take & Toss Infant Spoons One Pack of 12, 4 Month +; but no bowls, as ceramic ramekins are the perfect baby bowls (and the safest to microwave in)!  William ate very basic meal combos during the trip, and I didn't introduce any new foods since we weren't near our pediatrician (per advice of one thoughtful and loving Grandma!).

Here's an amazing recipe for grown-ups and bigger kids that I discovered by accident, and made for my parents and grandfather during our visit. A couple of weeks ago I meant to buy a head of green leaf lettuce at the store, but in the haze of mommy-brain ended up bringing home escarole. We tried it in a salad, but it was quite thick and bitter, so I looked up some recipes and was inspired (specifically by Bobby Flay's "Braised Escarole With Garlic and Lemon" recipe) to make the following:

Braised Escarole over Parmesean Polenta
Prepare 4 servings of "cereal" style (soft) polenta according to package instructions.  I love the Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits/Polenta (yes, grits and polenta are the exact same thing!): great texture and flavor.  When done cooking, add 4 Tbsp butter and salt and parmesean cheese to taste.
Serve topped with the braised escarole.  Great with a simple protein, like roasted chicken or grilled shrimp on the side!

A meal for an infant could quite easily be made based on the same ingredients, just leave out any elements that aren't yet in his/her repertiore, unless you'd like to introduce a new one. For example, I could have fed William the polenta (minus butter and cheese because they aren't yet a part of his diet) with the escarole (a new food) simply steamed and pureed. A meal the whole family can enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Semi-Homemade" Baby Food

Have you seen that show on the Food Network where the woman who hosts adds things to store bought items to make them a into more "gourmet" meals? That is the approach I take to preparing William's food on a daily basis. He is not eating home made, fresh organic food exclusively!

I use a combination of jarred, frozen and pouches of prepared items, mixed with some fresh ingredients, herbs and spices. Here is a sample menu, which is exactly what he ate today:

Strawberry-banana yogurt: 2 Tbsp Stonyfield Whole Milk Cream Top plain yogurt mixed with 1/2 mashed ripe strawberry and about 2 inches of banana, mashed.
Mango Oatmeal: 1/4 portion of oats (from the Wholesome Babyfood website) mixed with 1 pouch of Bella Baby Mango puree.

Avocado With Garbanzos: 1/4 mashed ripe avocado mixed with 1 oz. pureed canned garbanzo beans. Sprinkle of garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. flax seed oil.
Green Beans: 1 pouch Bella Baby Green Bean puree
Carrots: 1 jar Earth's Best carrots

Herbed Avocado: 1/4 mashed ripe avocado with black pepper and finely chopped basil.
Creamy Apple & Apricot: 1/2 jar Earth's Best Apples & Apricots mixed with 1 Tbsp Stonyfield Cream Top plain yogurt.

1 Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusk while out on a "coffee date" with buddy Evan. Thanks for sharing, Evan!
Another Rice Rusk while Mama and Dada ate their dinner.
A few sips of water here and there, Mama's water bottle (Nathan flip staw stainless water bottle) being the favorite source! William also has his own adorable water bottle, a Green Sprouts Straw bottle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


William eats three meals a day, at around 7:30 am, 12 pm and 4:30 pm.  Then the poor little guy sits there and watches my husband and I eat dinner around 6 pm, signing "eat" repeatedly!  (Yes, he uses sign language- but just that one sign!) I've been giving him a few cubes of banana or another finger food during "family dinnertime," but have been searching for something better.  Something not at all filling (so he'll still have room to nurse well before bed), but that he'll enjoy eating independently.

So, just hours ago William and I bought a box of Hot-Kid Baby Mum-Mum Original Rice Rusks at Whole Foods.  It seems like there's always something I need at Whole Foods......

Some of my lovely mom friends who we have a weekly playdate with had recommended Baby Mum-Mums several times, and since William is showing more and more interest in finger feeding, I thought we'd give them a try.  First of all, they taste good (just like any rice cracker you might buy, airy but crispy, salty and quick to dissolve). They are long, flat oval shapes, perfect for chubby little fists to hold on to.

William loved these right away (after I touched it to his lips, and signed and said "eat" so that he'd know it was food), and devoured one in a couple of minutes.  These have absolutely no nutritional value (well, 15 calories of pure carbohydrates for 2 rusks, and 2% daily protein) but are great for self-feeding practice! The box says "You may give Hot-Kid Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks to your baby as soon as he or she is ready for solid food."

Self-feeding is an important skill for babies to work on early.  Later in the feeding/eating relationship, independence can become a major issue that changes the dynamics.  Many toddlers use mealtime as a time to assert their independence (which is perfectly age-appropriate, and an important stage of development!), so establishing a sense of self-confidence and degree of independence early on may reap benefits (in the form of less "feeding issues") later!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peaches & Strawberries & Finger Foods, oh my!

Since my last post, William has tried peaches and strawberries, and is showing a lot more interest in finger foods.  He's always loved the smear/suck method of finger-feeding, where Mama puts a blob of something on the tray, William smears it around, then sucks it off his hands with accompanying slurps.  Avocado is a particular favorite, as its thick texture sticks to the hands well, and it makes a great hair conditioner!

Here are some favorite finger foods:
Sweet potato
Baked apple
Ripe pear
All cut into small cubes, which are slimy and very difficult for chubby little hands to get a hold of! Most of these end up in William's bib pocket or lap, but it's good fine motor practice.

Just yesterday I gave William a very thin slice of ripe pear, and he found this much easier to grasp! He could hold it in his hand, and instead of it becoming lost in his fist like the little cubes, it stuck out the top and he could actually get it into his mouth. Be sure the pear is very ripe and soft if you try this with a new finger-feeder!

I've used the peaches and strawberries very simply so far, just mixed with yogurt, or mashed or cubed/sliced on their own as finger food. Tomorrow I'll try something a little different for breakfast:

Creamy Herbed Berry Oatmeal
1/4 portion of prepared oats ("Oatmeal Baby Cereal") mixed with 1 Tbsp whole milk plain yogurt, 1 mashed ripe strawberry and 1 finely chopped fresh basil leaf.

Basil is surprisingly delicious with summer fruits like berries, mango, pineapple, melon, etc!

A side note: I've been enjoying using my Wean Machine as a quick, easy tool to mash soft foods.  I'll do a product review soon, after I've tried it with a variety of different foods.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July! Today we took William to a fun event: ""Picnic in The Park" in Concord, MA. There was a live bluegrass band, a bouncy house, sponge toss game, fire trucks, a game where the kids got to spray a "burning house" target with a real fire hose, and lots of food!  Definitely geared toward families with young kids! I had a poopyseed bagel with cream cheese and lox followed by home made apple pie with ice cream.  William's dada had a hot dog, a hamburger and fried dough. Although William loved looking around and playing in the grass, he couldn't partake of any of these things! Can't wait to take him back next year......

William's newest food addition is zucchini, a great seasonal vegetable! I got an organic one at the Arlington Farmers' Market, steamed it and pureed it in the mini food pro.

Creamy Zucchini & Squash
1 oz pureed zucchini, 1 oz pureed squash, 1 Tbsp whole milk yogurt, sea salt and pepper optional.

"Italian" Zucchini
2 oz. pureed zucchini, tiny sprinkle of garlic powder, 1/2 finely chopped fresh basil leaf.

One of my closest friends has a "big boy," who is now about 19 months old, and she told me that she wished I'd post some big-boy recipe ideas, so here you go my dear! I haven't tried these yet, but you can bet that I will when William is a big boy!

"Circles" Saute
Cut a small zucchini and a carrot into thin slices.  In a pan, heat 1 tsp. olive oil. Saute the zucchini and carrot until they begin to soften, and add a little crushed garlic or garlic powder, sea salt and pepper optional.  This would also be great with little cubes ("sqaures!") of marinated tofu or chicken for protein.

Summer Pasta Primavera
In a pan with olive oil, saute finely chopped zucchini, carrots, peas,  and spinach (sea salt and pepper optional).  For the last minute of cooking, add some crushed garlic and fresh basil.  Toss in your favorite cooked pasta.  Before serving you can mix in some mozzarella and/or parmesean. For protein, the addition of already cooked chicken or shrimp would be delicious.....Yum, I want this for dinner tonight!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Basil and Mango

Yum, these two ingredients actually go very well together! But they are just the two new foods William has tried since my last post.....

We live in a very urban neighborhood, but are lucky enough to have a great backyard. It is small, so our "garden" consists of two large plant pots, both of which are filled with herbs (basil, parsley and thyme.).  William and I also planted a few beans, and have so far harvested four. Four beans. We'll deal with them later.

How have we used the basil and mango so far you ask?

Italian Avocado:
1/4 ripe avocado, mashed with 1 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt. Stir in one fresh basil leaf, finely chopped, and a tiny sprinkle of garlic powder.

Herbed Rice:
1/4 portion brown rice (recipe) mixed with 1/2 oz. spinach,  1/2 oz squash and one finely chopped basil leaf.  Sea salt and black pepper optional.

Mango Breakfast:
1.5 oz mango puree (I like Bella Baby) mixed with 2 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt.  Sprinkle in multigrain (or rice, or oatmeal) baby cereal (Earth's Best  is what we use) to desired consistency.

Now to mix the two together! I think tomorrow we'll try a mango-yogurt-basil combination for breakfast.......