Well, we had a completely fun-filled, outdoor weekend for sure! The boys got to stay with their favorite babysitter, while we went canoeing with some friends. Then, we spent a day off with extended family… outside, of course! This week, I also embarked on a new adventure to make some soaked-grain breads for the freezer. The boys got to enjoy them for a snack and seemed to like them quite well. I still love making things for the freezer as they make life so much easier and a fun, holiday weekend more enjoyable without having to constantly eat out or eat packaged food.
Soaking really isn’t difficult at all. It is just an extra step to remember the day before you to plan to bake. I actually find that it makes the process easier by breaking up the time needed for preparation. I made blueberry muffins and banana bread this week. Both used whole grain flours soaked overnight.
You don’t see any grains or liquids in these pictures, because those are actually in the white bowls in the background with plates on top since they were soaked overnight.
Soaked Whole Grain Banana Bread
2 cups flour or more, depending on consistency, (I use spelt, kamut, or whole wheat) and dash of salt
½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
½ cup sour milk (you can use regular milk just add a few drops of vinegar to sour it)
½ cup warm water (only for soaking)
¾ cup raw honey
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts (optional)
The night before baking, combine the flour, oil, milk, and warm water.
Cover and leave at room temperature 12-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350.
Add honey and eggs and mix thoroughly.
Fold in the mashed bananas.
Quickly mix in the salt and baking soda.
Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Soaked Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 TBS kefir or buttermilk (for soaking)
water (for soaking)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup rapadura or sucanat
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 eggs, well beaten
The night before baking, combine the flour, oil, kefir or buttermilk, and just enough water to get all the flour wet.
Cover and leave at room temperature 12-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 400.
Add remaining ingredients to soaked flour and mix well.
Pour mixture into 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool.
What I Learned
Freezing is a great option for breads. Based on your needs, freeze in slices or in half loaves. Preheat the oven to 350 and reheat for 10-12 minutes. If you do loaves or half loaves, you will need to take them out of the freezer the night before.
The boys loved these, but they love anything in bread form.
I love, love, love bread. I am officially a carb lover and soaking the grains and using healthy ingredients like coconut oil makes me feel better about mine and my family’s grain consumption.
Posted by tntmck on Aug 22, 2010 in Grains, Beans, Legumes and Nuts
Well, I officially have 18 month old boys. I know everyone says it, but time really does fly! And, these boys really are on the move. They are getting faster and faster every day. We had well-visit checkups this week and they are 1″ different in height and 4lb 10oz different in weight. They also couldn’t be more different in every area of personality, looks, demeanor, and development. They really do everything different and have a different means to the same end for almost every task, except for one. They climb the stairs the exact same way: right hand, right knee, then left foot, left hand. It really is in perfect synchronization as we go up for naps or baths each day.
We didn’t do too much knew on the food front this week, but I did enjoy a few hours of mommy time as I left the boys home with dad to head out for a haircut. Anyway, we did introduce almond butter and the boys, of course, loved it!
We buy organic, raw, creamy almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but I think you can find various kinds at various stores.
- The obvious choice is to spread almond butter on bread or toast.
- For some added taste, include some slices of banana and honey. Local honey is best…try your farmer’s market.
- Almond butter is also yummy on vegetable sticks. My boys don’t eat raw vegetables yet as I’m not sure they would be able to chew them well enough, but this is a good lunch or snack for me!
What I Learned
I didn’t learn much except that neither of my boys is allergic to almonds…phew. I will soon have to introduce the dreaded peanut.
The boys love almond butter and seem to enjoy the stickiness of it all!
This is a great way to get some healthy fats into a quick and easy snack or lunch. I love, love, love having this new alternative for meals. Spreading a healthy nut butter on bread makes prep and cleanup super fast!
Posted by tntmck on Jul 25, 2010 in Weekly
Well, we had a very calm, normal week, but such a fun weekend that I thought I would share. I’ve posted many times about how great it is to have prepared foods for on-the-go, but this is just another great example of how taking food with you is easy, fun, and nutritious.
We went to the science museum this weekend. And, no, this is not your typical quite, walk through and read plaques type museum. This is one filled with fun games and interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. I wasn’t the boys would really enjoy much at 17 months old, but boy was I wrong. They had a blast with their cousins and grandparents and we stayed 3 full hours. I’m posting here though, because the museum does not serve any food, but they do have a room with tables and chairs where you can bring your lunch, which of course is exactly what we did.
Lunch at the Museum
chicken (see picture – roasted on the smoker)
cottage cheese (with a spoon)
I had everything prepared and cut into pieces on plates with lids. We took a cooler and there was a microwave for warming before serving. Jonathan and I had huge mango-strawberry smoothies and almond butter sandwiches.
4 TBS Kosher Salt
4 TBS Rapadura (or your choice for sugar)
2 TBS Ground Cumin
4 TBS Chili powder
2 TBS Black Pepper
1 TBS Ground Cayenne Pepper
4 TBS Paprika
2 TBS Ground Thyme
Combine all ingredients together. You may choose to use a food processor or blender, which might help heat the spices, blending the flavors together without burning.
What I Learned
Getting started with lunch was not the most welcomed event of the day. We sat down to eat an hour late than usual and the boys were having such a good time running around and exploring that stopping for food wasn’t necessarily high on their priority list. However, it was past time to eat and we sat them down and served up the food. It took a while, but soon they were scarfing down all of their food, our smoothies, and finishing off the cousins hot dogs and bread, too.
Getting started with lunch was not the most welcomed event of the day. We sat down to eat an hour late than usual and the boys were having such a good time running around and exploring that stopping for food wasn’t necessarily high on their priority list. However, it was past time to eat and we sat them down and served up the food. It took a while, but soon they were scarfing down all of their food, our smoothies, and finishing off the cousins hot dogs and bread, too. So, in the end, the museum was a hit, lunch was devoured, the cousins and grandparents were the heros, and we headed home for some much-needed afternoon naps.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the smoked chicken was absolutely delicious! The rub was previously made for brisket, but it was amazing on this young 4lb chicken.
We will be doing this and many more fun adventures again soon! And, it’s great to know that you can always have yummy, healthy food with you when you’re out enjoying the many things your town has to offer.
Posted by tntmck on Jul 18, 2010 in Weekly
Well, I’ve always felt this way about food, but I think my boys had a fun-filled food week this week. It just seems that we let loose a little and they enjoyed a few things that are just plain fun to eat. Overall, I had a couple of big dinner eaters on my hands this week. These were those meals where you get up from the table to get seconds, thirds, fourths, and have to just “call it” once the food runs out. I couldn’t get food fast enough and definitely watched them out-eat both me and Jonathan at the table for dinner.
From the usual roast, salmon, fruit, and broccoli to pasta, smoothies, and a trip for ice cream, everything was a big hit this week and we enjoyed some beautiful messes along the way.
Chicken Sausage Pasta
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup spinach
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
4 chicken sausages
8 ounces dry pasta
Slice sausages into bite-size pieces.
In a large pan, heat garlic in oil.
Add sausage to heat through.
Add spinach, tomato sauce, and seasonings.
Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add pasta and mix well.
1/2 cup dairy ONE (choose one: whole yogurt, kefir, cow’s milk, or goat’s milk)
1/2 cup dairy TWO (choose one: whole yogurt, kefir, cow’s milk, or goat’s milk)
1 TBS flax seed oil
1 TBS raw honey
1/2+ cup fruit ONE (dominant flavor, usually a berry)
1/4+ cup fruit TWO (underlying flavor, usually pineapple, mango, or second berry)
Blend well in blender, adding extra dairy or ice cubes to thin as needed. I like to use frozen fruit with mine so the smoothie is more like a milkshake or ice cream consistency and not runny. The smoothies of choice this week were strawberry-pineapple and strawberry-mango. Each contained half and half of kefir and yogurt along with a splash of cow’s milk. Yum! You can always add kelp or spinach for a green smoothie or include other healthy additions like wheat germ or egg.
What I Learned
Those big messes are what make life fun with little ones. We had pasta on stuck to the table, the highchairs, and the floor. At least nothing hit the wall, was smeared in hair, or went flying across the room. We did go straight upstairs for baths which was a smart move, but upon draining the tub, I had to clean it as well as it looked like a pasta bowl of leftovers as well.
As usual, both boys enjoyed food this week. The pasta was a hit as you can see and the smoothies were mesmerizing and delightful through a straw. Our trip to the Nolensville Feed Mill again this weekend offered my boys another taste of the sweet strawberry ice cream which they loved again thanks to Mimi.
Summer is fun. Eating is fun. 17 month old boys are fun.
Posted by tntmck on Jul 10, 2010 in Batch
This was a busy, hot week, but I planned Friday to do some freezer cooking for family meals. It’s hot and I don’t prefer in the kitchen heating up the oven this much, but it does save me some hot kitchen time down the road. The boys are continuing with their utensils and do eat every meal straight from their plates without any issues. We do still use the catch-style bibs to save a little floor cleanup, but not as much food is going in there these days and nothing is put on the table or chair for which I’m extremely grateful.
It is no secret that I like to make food in batches. Whether it be for initial baby purees, baby and toddler finger foods, or family meals, I prefer to knock out more than one thing at a time. If I’m going to be heating it up in the kitchen, why not make the most of it?
My focus for this Freezer Friday was 3 main dishes. I made meatloaf, chicken nuggets, and chicken divan. This made a total of at least 6 family meals sure to each have leftovers.
Chicken Nuggets A yummy alternative to those preservative-laden frozen store-bought nuggets.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup bread crumbs (save bread ends and make your own)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Pound chicken to tenderize, then cut into 1″-2″ pieces.
- Put melted butter in BOWL ONE.
- In BOWL TWO, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and spices.
- Dip chicken pieces into BOWL ONE and then BOWL TWI. Put on lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer. Cook about 12 minutes (20 if not freezing).
- Let cool and store in freezer bags with date and final cooking instructions below.
- Remove from freezer and cook at 400° for about 8-10 minutes.
Freezer Meat Loaf A super easy, simple meat loaf for the freeze
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 3-1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup minced onion
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBSP sea salt
- 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, getting messy and really squishing everything together well with your hands.
- Divide into two 9″x5″ loaf pans.
- Wrap, label with date and cooking instructions below, and freeze.
- Remove from freezer and unwrap 3 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° and cook for 2 – 2-1/2 hours.
Try this spinach meatloaf perfect for a wholesome toddler meal.
Chicken Divan A easy, creamy, green-filled complete meal in a dish.
- 40oz frozen broccoli (cooked)
- 4 cups cooked chicken, sliced into pieces
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1 cup whole cream
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 TBSP mustard
- 4 TBSP minced onion
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- In one large or two smaller casseroles, place cooked broccoli and top with chicken.
- In a large pan melt butter. Gradually add flour. Once thickened, add milk, stirring until combined. Once smooth, add remaining ingredients, stirring until heated through and cheese is melted.
- Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli.
- Allow to cool, then wrap, label with date and cooking instructions below, and freeze.
- Remove from freezer and unwrap 2-1/2 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° and cook for 2-1/2 hours.
WHAT I LEARNED
I’ve had some people ask me how I do this with little ones at home and there are two things that I would say. Preparation and timing are key. I spend time preparing the meals I will prepare, making grocery lists, and then scheduling. I schedule the process from start to finish, including prep and cleanup and plan my cook time during long afternoon naps. There are times when I will do some prep the night before or finishing on a Saturday when dad can watch the kids. Either way, I know exactly what I will do when because of the initial planning and scheduling.
I can’t attest to the quality or taste of any of these meals yet as we have not thawed and enjoyed any of them yet. However, I can say that my husband commented on how nice the freezer looked with all of the blue plastic wrap.
I really, really, really cannot say enough about how much I enjoy freezer cooking. I do it to fill in meals during the week and especially on weekends. I like to mix it up with quick, fresh-cooked meals for nice variety and a good break from the kitchen in the week.
Posted by tntmck on Jan 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
spicesWe added spinach this week and various spices. Spices make food preparation fun and I can see the boys getting closer to eating the foods we do. I have added cinnamon to cereal and apples for a while now, but just this week included nutmeg and garlic powder.
I made a batch of bulk foods this week. The only new food was spinach, but I also made carrots and white potatoes. I made all of my food one night after the boys went to bed and was able to complete about 2 weeks worth of food in only a few hours.
- Carrots I bought these already peeled in a bag. Then, rinsed and cut into small pieces. I had quite a few this time, so I used my large stock pot with steamer insert to steam them for about 20-30 minutes. I cooked them a little longer than usual (avoid overcooking vegetables to retain as many vitamins and minerals as possible) because I wanted to save a few small pieces to try for finger foods. Once fully cooked, I added fresh water (don’t use the cooked water from carrots to avoid nitrites) and pureed in the blender with a few dashes of nutmeg. I froze these in a few 4oz. and 8oz. bowls which I then placed inside freezer bags.
- White Potatoes I bought a bag of organic russet potatoes. Preparation only involved rinsing and cubing all potatoes. Then, I boiled them (as you would to make mashed potatoes). Instead of using the blender (this tends to make potatoes rubbery, but I did do this earlier on to get a smoother consistency), I mashed them by hand with whole milk and froze in bowls.
- Spinach I bought frozen organic chopped spinach in a bag. Since there was only a small amount, I used my Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker. I mentioned this in my post about getting started and my suggested tools. We do not own a food processor, so I felt I needed this additional tool before I started making babyfood. I compared and debated on buying a small food processor or this baby food maker and ultimately decide on the Beaba. I’m not much of a kitchen gadget person and had a hard time making this decision. I have an old blender from my mom’s work lost-and-found bin, an old hand mixer from college and don’t have a stand mixer or food processor. If you do have a food processor, then I wouldn’t suggest buying any other tools. But, if you don’t, then I think the Beaba Babycook is a great buy! My only negative is that it doesn’t make much food at a time. But, it is super easy to operate and a cinch to clean, which is a plus! Since there was no preparation necessary, I just put the spinach in the basket with the appropriate amount of water in the reservoir, turned on the machine and let it cook. Once it finished cooking, I transferred the cooked spinach from the basket to the cup and pureed it quickly. I then added some garlic powder and mixed together with a spoon. I stored in a bowl in the refrigerator for immediate use.
WHAT I LEARNED
There are a few things to note with this week’s preparation.
- I am starting to freeze more in individual containers because of the quantity of food the boys are eating now. The food cubes from ice cube trays are great to start with, but they are only 1 oz. Since, you have to fill them all and freeze overnight, then release and store in bags, this is a longer process than just filling a bowl to freeze immediately. The boys are eating 3-4 oz. of vegetables at lunch and dinner so these bowls work perfectly to thaw overnight for the next day.
- As I mentioned in WEEK 01, I’m making the boys food chunkier and they’re doing great with it. However, my potatoes were way too much for them to handle. I thought leaving the skins on the potatoes would be a nice addition as the skins are nutritive and I enjoy this type of mashed potato. But, the skins were just too big and didn’t mash small enough. So, every time I feed from these bowls, I’m having to pick through the skins. Don’t make this mistake.
The boys liked the addition of the nutmeg to the carrots and LOVED the spinach with garlic powder. My husband did mention that night that they did have bad breath. I admit that I may have overdone it a little on the garlic.
This week was another success, even with the learning experience from the white potatoes. My husband did mention the night the boys had the spinach that they did have bad breath. I admit that I may have overdone it a little on the garlic, but I’m a garlic lover. This is where I would say to make sure you are feeding your baby what you like. You want them to learn the tastes that you enjoy and will be preparing for family meals in the future.
With the addition of spinach, I have to admit that I just can’t the theme song to “Popeye” out of my head. Where is that cartoon anyway. It seems like so many of the old good ones have come back, but I haven’t seen this sailor pop back up.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
Posted by tntmck on Jan 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
I only added one new thing to the menu this week, but we’re focusing on weaning to cups and I have quite a few thoughts on that.
We started what I consider “traditional sippy cups” a long time ago. I offered a cup with water around 7-8 months old in the afternoon with a snack. It wasn’t an everyday event to start, and was definitely not successful for a while. One of my boys liked to grab the handles and hold on, but would not drink much. The other would drink if I held the cup for him, but wasn’t much for holding on. Oh well, we kept going with it. I should mention that these are the types of cups with spouts, handles, and no-spill valves on the inside.
I tell you all of that to now tell you that I’m not a fan of this type of cup. I guess this is one of those first time mom learning events, but I wish I had never introduced this type of cup with a spout. Why? Well, do you ever drink out of a cup with a spout? Is it a skill that needs to be learned? No, of course not. You either drink from a plain cup, a travel mug or cup with a lid and hole, or a cup with a straw. I’ve also heard that these types of cups inhibit speech and language development. So, I recently purchased some child cups with straws. Yes, they are still spill-proof, but were labeled as appropriate for 2 years+. Well, my boys aren’t even 11 months old, so what am I doing? Well, I have read and heard from others that babies are born with an instinct to suck from a straw and that you can successfully introduce a straw as early as 4 months. Wow! I really wish I had seen this fact earlier. I started the straw cups once a day this week and it was hugely successful. I’ve tried two kinds and am officially a fan of the Munchkin Mighty Grip Flip Straw Cups.
We continued with existing foods this week, but added a tastes of a bagel a couple times.
There was no new food preparation this week. I tore off small bits of the bagel I was eating at breakfast to offer the boys.
WHAT I LEARNED
I didn’t learn anything new about making foods this week, but am more open to offering food from my plate.
Both boys were fine with the bagel, but did “chew” on the pieces for a while before swallowing.
This week was good for feeding. I’m still looking forward to growing our options.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
Posted by tntmck on Jan 8, 2010 in Uncategorized
Well, I’m beginning to think about my boys getting older and have recently started making their pureed food a little thicker and chunkier. At 10.5 months old, neither of my boys has refused a food. Yes, they have made some faces and yes, they’ve been slow going on a few things. But, after a few bites, it’s always a go. This has been one of my main goals with feeding and making their food. So, with that in mind, I’m ready to add some new items to the menu. Before we do that, though, I’d like to give a summary of what I’ve made and introduced so far.
Listed generally in order of introduction. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or a food expert and you should always consult your pediatrician when choosing food for your baby.
With so many foods in just over 4 months, I can truly say that we have been busy. It has also been hard to make sure they are getting a good variety and keep tasting all of these foods. It is very easy to get through an introduction and forget about it for a few weeks or a month. As I’m typing this, I can’t remember the last time I bought a kiwi or plum.
Now, with each weekly post, I plan to describe the food made as well as the process briefly. Then, I will mention anything I learned as well as the reaction from the boys. I will summarize with any notes and how much they’re eating.
We continued with existing foods this week including rice cereal, oatmeal, tahini, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, apples, yogurt, carrots, avocado, and kiwi.
I have been using the Earth’s Best Rice Cereal Rice since the boys were 5 months old. I tried making my own by grinding organic brown rice, but it always came out super pasty. Like I mentioned at the opening of this blog, I’m not a super cook. For me, the instant organic from the box works just great! I also use the Earth’s Best Oatmeal Cereal and it is great as well.
WHAT I LEARNED
I didn’t learn anything new about making foods this week as we did not introduce anything new. I have realized that it is time to go to my resources and find some new foods to add to the list.
Both boys still love the baby cereals. I know many babies refuse it at this point, but they love it plain, sticky, mushy, mixed with fruits, or any way it’s given to them. One thing to note is that I mixed the avocado and kiwi this week. It sounds like a strange combination, but kiwi is one of the few things that both boys have kind of wrinkled their noses at when fed alone. So, I used what I had and just mixed it with avocado. They ate it all. All of the other foods this week were still a hit and nothing new was introduced.
I still had plenty of pre-made frozen food this week from my bulk preparation before Christmas. We were having family in town and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to worry about preparing any baby foods. I was able to simply defrost anything I wanted overnight in the refrigerator and was good to go the next day. For days that we were out of the house, I took jarred organic foods like Earth’s Best Organic Jars or Gerber Organics. This is what I have typically done, unless I’ve been going somewhere where I knew I could travel with my bowls of food in an insulated bag with ice packs. I just find it easier to travel with the jars. That being said, we typically eat meals at home.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.