A couple of weeks ago I posted a Baby Puff recipe that was pretty filling. It also required a bit of chewing (with gums at least, teeth not required). In fact, they were really more snacks than they were your traditional puff.
Sometimes you want a snack that isn’t going to ruin your baby’s dinner. Or maybe you want a puff that melts in your mouth like the store-bought puffs. Here’s a recipe that will dissolve in your mouth and not fill you up:
Melty Puffs (adapted from Mommy-Opinion)
Mix all ingredients together to form a dough. One handful at a time, roll dough into long, pencil sized ropes and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Bake at 325F until they begin to brown. They will be soft, not dried out.
Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for longer.
*Try not to eat all of these yourself and save some for baby!
Frances started daycare this week and she will be there for lunchtime. The kids have to feed themselves, so I’ve been trying out different finger foods for the last month. It is not going well. Aside from fruit and cheese, everything else gets handed back to me: chicken, pork, tofu, vegetables. Basically, anything good for her that isn’t sweet.
I’d like to send her with something more substantial than just fruit, and more exciting than puffed grains (which she starts to throw like confetti when she’s bored of it). I’m not a big fan of store-bought baby-puffs, even the good kind. They are made using a process called extrusion that destroys most of the nutrients, and contain preservatives and fillers like white rice. Plus, they’re more of a snack than a meal and I wanted something that would fill her up, if necessary.
So I set about finding a recipe for homemade puffs that would be filling, nutritious and tasty. After a little adaptation, here’s what I came up with. They happen to be gluten-free and paleo, if you’re into that:
Coconut Bites (adapted from Coconut Mama)
Combine all ingredients and mix to form a dough. One handful of dough at a time, smush into a long rope about as thick as your pinky (or smaller). Cut into bite-sized pieces and scatter on a baking sheet. If you want tiny little puffs, use a clean Play Doh Confetti Maker like I did.
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, tossing half way through to redistribute, until they begin to brown. Turn off oven and let puffs sit in oven 5-10 minutes until they have dried out.
Franci loves to put a couple of these in her mouth, get them all soggy and then swallow. If she sees a jar of them on the table, she won’t eat anything else, so beware!
I hate to waste food, but I’m not willing to eat it myself. (I can’t believe she even ate them to begin with). Rather than toss it in the trash, I’ve been exercising my creativity trying to come up with ways to sneak the food into Franci’s mouth.
I have tried a lot of different flavorings, like curry paste, marinara sauce, bbq sauce and even teriyaki sauce. None of these were a hit. I tried vinegar, salad dressing and coconut. Still no home runs.
It turns out there is no magic flavor that peaks her interest, but I’ve narrowed down a few that almost always work (although some days she refuses even these). If I dip the puree in salsa one bite at a time, she will eat a whole bowl of it. The spicier the salsa, the more she likes it. On days she won’t eat the salsa version, I dip the spoonfuls in greek yogurt. The trick is to dip the spoonfuls instead of mixing the flavor in.
Another success resulted from desperation. I had tried diluting the puree with butternut squash, a finger food that she will sometimes eat. She was having none of it. The salsa trick wasn’t working, and we were out of yogurt. Since the puree was already thawed and I didn’t want it to go to waste, I spread it out in a thin layer on a lined baking sheet and put it in the toaster oven on 300F. “Who knows?”, I thought, “Maybe she will eat it if it’s crispy.” Yes, yes she will. So instead of snacking on puffs and granola, sometimes she snacks on nutrient packed “veggie crisps”.
I know that our food journey is long from over, and I would love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
What creative food successes (or failures) have you tried?
I have quite a few baby food books that I never open because Franci is still content to eat my super-purees. Most of the finger food I put in front of her gets handed back to me, or she just holds it in her hand while opening her mouth for another bite off the fork.
Last weekend I decided to pick out a couple recipes to try and with a few modifications, this one I liked. Frances was ambivalent and preferred to feed her bites to me rather than to herself, but I think she’ll like them in the future.
These fritters are good on their own sprinkled with a little salt, dipped in yogurt, smothered in salsa or marinara, or with a few splashes of hot sauce.
Sweet Potato and Zucchini Fritters Adapted from Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious
Heat a quarter inch of oil in a cast iron pan on medium-high heat.
Put sweet potato and zucchini through the grating attachment on a food processor (or use a box grater). Large handfuls at a time, put in a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Transfer to a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix into grated vegetables.
In another small bowl, whisk egg and milk together. Add to vegetables and mix to combine.
Using a quarter cup of batter at a time, pat into a flat patty. Make sure they are well compacted and that there aren’t a lot of vegetable strands poking out. Place in hot oil and cook about three minutes a side, flipping after it’s well browned. If the fritter is floppy and hard to flip, it hasn’t cooked long enough on that side.
I had to add more oil to the pan after cooking half. The original recipe calls for very little oil, like cooking pancakes, but I didn’t find that to be sufficient. Use refined coconut oil if you are concerned about how much oil you are using.
These fritters are a little sweet, thanks to the sweet potatoes. Next time I think I’ll add a little curry and turmeric to the dry ingredients for a middle eastern twist.
Most of you have probably heard of Amazon Prime, but have you heard of Amazon Mom? It gives you all the perks of a Prime membership (free 2-day shipping, access to the Kindle lending library, and free instant video streaming) plus 20% off Subscribe & Save orders of five or more.
(For those of you not familiar with Subscribe & Save, here’s how it works: Whatever items you’ve subscribed to are delivered by the first of the month at a 5% discount. You can cancel at any time, skip deliveries or have items delivered every two months, or six months, or whatever you decide. If you don’t cancel the subscription for an item, it is automatically delivered on the schedule you’ve set but you get a warning email with plenty of time to postpone or cancel subscription items.)
The thing about a Prime membership is that you kind of have to work for it. If you order a couple things a month, it’s probably not worth it. But if you’re like us and live in a smaller city where we can’t buy a lot of our preferred items, it’s possible to make it a good deal. We’ve been Amazon Prime members for years now because we order so many household items online that our UPS driver knows us by name.
You don’t have to be a mom to sign up for Amazon Mom, but you do have to have enough space to store whatever you buy. You often have to buy cases, or at least packs of two. The trick is to be creative and thorough about figuring out what you can order through Subscribe & Save and making sure you have at least five orders each time you choose to have a delivery. Sure you can order dishwasher detergent, but keep in mind you might end up storing a few bottles.
This also means you have to be good about keeping your subscriptions up-to-date so you don’t receive too much organic baby food or too many OxiClean Max Force Gel Sticks too often. (Then again, if you have a baby you can never have too many of these.) When the end of the month approaches, I log in to see what items are scheduled for delivery and arrange things so that I hit the magic number “five”. I may have an extra case of Chlorine Free Diapers or a bottle of Multi-Vitamins to store, but it’s worth it. If I’m close to five subscriptions but not there, I can always round it out with coffee or tea or toothpaste. You get the idea.
While Amazon Mom may not be for everyone, it’s worth it for moms who love a good deal but are too busy – or too tired – for the store.
I’ve been worrying, as only a mother can, about the variety in her diet. Since she’ll eat just about anything, I’ve been pureeing every vegetable I can think of into a thick paste with some sort of meat. I keep a fish version, a lamb version and a chicken version in the freezer and alternate which one she eats each day.
Although she is not picky in general, she is particular about what she eats at which time of day. For example, her afternoon meal has to be fruit, and she won’t eat savory food at dinner. So I can’t feed her a vegetable-meat puree at any other meal but lunch. She has a strong preference for oatmeal at dinner, to which I add pumpkin or squash, yogurt and a little fruit all pureed together.
She’s been eating probably two dozen bananas a month, and after a couple months of this I’m thinking it’s time to switch things up. The problem is, it is so cheap and easy! I buy a bunch, and by the time we run out, it’s time to go grocery shopping again any way. It takes less effort to mush a banana than anything else I’ve found (with avocados close behind, which is the one food she will not eat).
How do you mix things up? It’s hard to get out of the habit of making a big batch of oatmeal, since I know she likes it. Maybe it’s time to switch to another grain? Maybe buckwheat or quinoa or farro? Maybe all three at once? Do I add in lentils or legumes? It seems like making my own baby food is a slippery slope since there is an endless combination of ingredients to use. It can drive a mom crazy!
How do you keep your sanity while providing a variety of fruits and vegetables? How do you decide what “super-foods” to include versus “convenience foods”?
On our recent travels, we found ourselves out of fresh food but still on an air plane. Luckily I had packed a backup meal for Frances: a Peter Rabbit Organics Puree. The 4 oz. serving was a little small for Franci’s appetite, but it was so easy to just squeeze it into her mouth and not worry about spoons or bowls or ice packs.
There are several choices out there for organic food pouches, like Happy Tot, Happy Baby, and Earth’s Best to name a few. Some, like Earth’s Best, have added minerals. Others, like Happy Baby, have ascorbic acid. I chose Peter Rabbit because the only “preservative” used is lemon juice.
I know there are lots more choices out there, but since we’ve hardly have an occasion to use one until now I’m still new to the different options. Franci can no longer be satiated with just breast milk, so it’s good to have a backup plan.
Do you have a favorite baby food pouch? Are there any that you just don’t like?
Happy New Year everyone! It’s time for me to take stock of the deep freeze and see how we did. We didn’t manage to eat all the freezer food, but we came pretty close. Like most yearly goals, all we needed was another few days!
Here’s the run down: The door used to be full of side dishes and lunches, and now it’s full of breastmilk, so I don’t really count that. The middle shelf has quite a bit of baby food at the moment, but the way Franci eats it will be gone quickly.
The bottom shelf used to be full of meat, but now it contains butter, nuts and nut flour, and chocolate. Basically, things that don’t have to be refrigerated but since a full freezer is an energy efficient freezer, I might as well store them there. [While technically I am stockpiling baking ingredients, I can't bring myself to count them as such since I can't go out and buy them at a moments notice (being specialty items).]
The one question I get most often is whether or not we got sick of the meals. I chose some pretty good recipes that our family considers comfort food, like Lasagne and Chicken Pot Pie. So the answer is No, with one exception. I’m sick of roasts! I think the shelf would be empty if not for the roasts. I’m not a fan of pot roast, and it seems like any related cut tastes the same to me once you slow cook it with carrots, potatoes and onions. And it is surprisingly hard to come up with recipes that don’t end up tasting the same! I tried one Asian version, and it was a failure. So if anyone has a recipe for slow cooked beef that might be less traditional, please share!
I may have failed my goal of finishing the freezer meals by the end of the year, but I feel pretty good about the progress. I hope I’ll be able to declare victory by the end of the month!
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As much as I liked the first book, On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep this one fell short for me. It really shouldn’t be its own book, and I almost feel like the used price I paid (a couple of bucks, shipped) was a rip-off. Why not just append it to the first book, since it’s really more of a pamphlet, any way?
Despite the typos, overtly christian themes, and repeated tips, there were a few nuggets between the covers of On Becoming Baby Wise II: Parenting Your Pre-Toddler Five to Fifteen Months. “Begin as you mean to go” is Ezzo’s big tip, meaning that you should start correcting “wrong behavior” the minute it starts instead of waiting until the child is older. Even if your infant can’t understand why she can’t throw her bowl off the table, she shouldn’t be allowed to do so.
The reason I picked up the book to begin with is because Frances has taken up the habit of yelling loudly during dinner time. If I’m not feeding her fast enough, we’re treated to a very long and loud vocalization. We’re going to take the advice from the book and not feed her another bite until she’s quiet. And if she doesn’t comply, we’ll remove her from the situation and try again later. It’s worth a shot!
Since I’ve been getting into baby sign language, I was especially sensitive to Ezzo’s suggestion that you only introduce one sign at a time. Other material I’ve read says to use as many signs as you can. I mean, research shows you shouldn’t limit the number of spoken words said to your infant, so why limit the number of signs?
I also don’t necessarily agree with the suggestions for introducing solids. Ezzo is still in the “cereals first” camp, while we think it’s best to start with vegetables, fruit and meat. We already combine different vegetables together, and often feed Frances whatever we’re having for dinner, like Indian food or spicy Mexican. Also, I feed Frances solid food first and follow up with breast milk. I figure she might not even notice when we wean if she’s used to filling up on solids first.
Basically, I’d skip this book. I’ve heard On Becoming Toddlerwise is worth picking up, which I’ll do at some point.
THE BABY FOOD CHRONICLES
I’m afraid to admit that the deep freeze became even more full this month. Well, I don’t feel too bad about it since September is when the growing season in Nevada reaches its peak. Now that there have been a couple of nights where it threatened to freeze, the harvests are in and I’ve managed to stash away some goods from my parents’ garden.
The main reason the freezer is fuller than it was last month is because I pulled out the Babycook my sister-in-law passed down to us. I know that the Babycook is small so you’re encouraged to make food fresh every day, but the garden produce is getting older by the minute so I’ve been making a full batch of puree every day and then freezing the leftovers.
Then I remembered what our pediatrician said about infants not getting enough iron, and I decided that Frances needed some red meat in her diet. I read somewhere that lamb purees up better than beef, so I made a batch of lamb for her. She doesn’t eat much at a sitting, so into the deep freeze it went.
Once I’ve preserved the rest of the fresh produce, maybe we’ll make more progress on decreasing the stockpiles. Then again, a smart squirrel stashes away nuts for the winter!