Cook-ing, Little Man

BLW Tools, Tips, & Recipes

As promised, I wanted to follow up with my first post about Baby-Led Weaning. If you missed this post, pop over and read it before you continue! This is a somewhat lengthy post, but I wanted to include everything so that you lovelies wouldn’t have to jump around too much to find the information!

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BLW is really fun and easy, and one of the biggest perks is that it doesn’t require fancy equipment. When I was pregnant, I knew I would opt out of buying store bought baby food because I wanted to save money and experiment with making my own. Then I learned about BLW and realized that I could actually cook for my baby without all of the specialized equipment, or hassle of pureeing everything. The only items I needed to start were the following.

Tools:

Steamer– you can buy a specialty steamer, but it’s really not necessary. There are many alternatives. You could buy steaming bowls that nestle inside your saucepans; you could also just use a saucepan with a tiny bit of water at the bottom, covering it with a lid to create steam. If you don’t mind microwaving, you could get an inexpensive microwave steamer. In a pinch, I have even used a microwave safe glass bowl, put a little water in the bottom, covered with press and seal, and poked some holes in the top for a DIY steamer! Works like a charm. Whatever you decide, you will need a steamer to soften fruit and vegetables so that your little one can easily break it apart without any teeth.

Sheet pans– one of my favorite ways to cook fruits and vegetables is to roast them in the oven. They soften, caramelize, and take on a completely different flavor than when they are steamed. Now, I know all of you who do even minor cooking have sheet pans lying around. I have found it useful to have half sheet pans and quarter sheet pans. Half are great for roasting a lot of vegetables at once, so they have room to be spread out in a single layer. Quarters are convenient for smaller portions. The ones linked are my favorites.

A simple food processor– I know what you’re thinking, I thought you just said you don’t puree foods! I use my food processor for making dips and spreads that can go on things like toast, rice cakes, english muffins, and fruits and vegetables. The Kitchenaid model that I got as a wedding gift fits the bill, but if you are looking for a less expensive option, I also love my compact Cuisinart Smart Stick.

*I am not a fan of specialty food equipment, or things that only serve one purpose. I like the idea of having tools in the kitchen that I can use in multiple ways. A steamer, sheet pans, and food processors will be used in my kitchen, baby or no baby, for years to come!

High chair– one of the principles of BLW is for the child to be apart of the dining experience. This means they sit at the table with the family and eat the same food. In doing this, they learn the important social aspects of mealtime. We own the Trip Trap Highchair by Stokke, and absolutely love it.

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It was an investment piece, and it will adapt with Eli as he grows. There are less expensive options that provide the same experience. Two of my favorite alternatives are the Keekaroo Height Right and the Inglesina Fast Table Chair.

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Bibs– stock up on a lot of these, you will need one for every meal. I would recommend making a few of your own that don’t attach with velcro, Eli figured out how to pull his velcro ones off after a few short weeks!

Splash Mat– you can buy these online, or do what I did and purchase a $2 shower curtain liner. BIGGER SURFACE AREA. I’m thinking about making my own cuter splash mat, so lookout for a DIY post in a few weeks.

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Tips:

1. When preparing meals, think “finger” shaped. This shape is the easiest for babies to manage in the beginning.

2. Buy organic when you can, and rinse all fruit and vegetables before cutting them.

3. Leave the peel and skins on fruit and vegetables, this makes even the slipperiest foods easier to grasp. You will be amazed at how they manage to eat around it. Examples: avocado, banana, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, cucumber.

4. Give your baby more than one option to choose from at meals. A variety is best.

5. Don’t be afraid to introduce herbs and spices. Eli has tried just about every fresh and dried herb, and loves cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Avoid salt.

6. Wait until your baby reaches a year old to introduce allergy prone foods such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish, and cows milk.

7. Read up on choking hazards, and know what to do if and when your baby chokes. When they are first learning, they tend to swallow things too quickly. This is normal, and they will learn how to manage quantities better in a few weeks.

8. Rinse their mouth with water. This is the perfect time to introduce a sippy cup if you haven’t already.

9. Be prepared to get messy! This is how your baby is learning and exploring, embrace it!

10. Be patient. Your baby will most likely need between 20-30 minutes to enjoy a meal. An hour before Eli takes a nap, we eat. This gives him 30 minutes to eat, and 30 minutes for me to get him cleaned up, changed, and nursed before nap.

11. Enjoy the process. Don’t be offended if your little one doesn’t gobble up everything you prepare. Introduce it later and see if they have changed their preferences. Know that it is normal for babies to eat a lot one day, and not much the next. They are “weaning” and learning how to regulate how much they need or want to eat. Trust them. Just continue with milk feedings.

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Now for the fun part! Here are a few recipe ideas to try with your little one! I tried to combine flavors, textures, and colors that go well together. Who says babies should have bland, boring meals? I hope you find them helpful. Some of these recipes are more appropriate once your baby has gotten the hang of swallowing and using the pincher reflex. I have noted those below.

Recipes:

Breakfast

Rice Cake with Cottage Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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Strawberries, Banana in Peel, and Oatmeal Balls

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*Oatmeal Balls are best for more experiences eaters.

Tropical Fruit: Mango, Kiwi, and Pineapple

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Whole Wheat English Muffin with Blueberry Cream Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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*Toast the muffin to make it easier to grasp. Combine 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup blueberries in a mixer until blueberries are smooshed and distributed evenly.

Egg Yolk Omelet, Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, and Potato Wedges with Chives

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Only use the egg yolk, and cook completely. I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they cook quickly and have a buttery flavor.

Lunch

Roasted Vegetables

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*Cut into finger shapes, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Stir every 5 minutes.

Toasted Breadsticks with Hummus and Orange Slices

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*Hummus Recipe

Flaked Salmon and Dipped Cucumbers

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the salmon, and bake at 350 degrees until slightly firm when pressed in the center, about 10-12 minutes. Flake with a fork. Green Herb Dip (omit salt and pepper).

Cheese Toast with Steamed Apples

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*Place a slice of all natural deli cheese (I like Sargento) on a slice of bread. Toast at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bread is toasted, about 5 minutes. Apples are great sprinkled with cinnamon.

Dinner 

Fusilli Spaghetti with Steamed Broccoli

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*Pasta best for more experienced eaters. Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix in an organic spaghetti sauce, such as Muir Glen. Top with fresh basil and parmesan.

Rice Cake with Black Bean Dip and Avocado

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*Black Bean Dip (omit the pumpkin seeds and salt)

Basmati Rice and Red Beans

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Simply drain and rinse the beans, then smoosh them with a fork.

Pesto Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Peas

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*Best for more experienced eaters. You can make your own pesto, or buy a jarred sauce. I prefer Classico brand because it does not have nuts. Saute mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, 5-7 minutes until soft. I use frozen peas and mix them with the pasta once cooked; it thaws them perfectly. Top with shredded parmesan.

English Muffin Pizza

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*Slice a whole wheat english muffin and spread with an organic pasta sauce, such and Muir Glen. Top with all natural shredded mozzarella, such as Sargento. Sprinkle with dried italian seasoning, or other dried herb of your preference. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and muffin is toasted.

Favorite “Quick Snacks”

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*You can purchase all of these at target.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share any meals that your little one enjoys! I love to get new ideas!

 

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Sunday Morning Oatmeal

My husband Drew travels most weeks. On those days, his meals consist of things you would expect a traveling man  to consume-granola bars and deli sandwiches. The thought of this makes my heart hurt. I have always believed that food has the ability to heal us from the inside out. There is something about a warm, homemade meal that makes you feel loved, taken care of, and at peace. So, on the weekends, I try to make up for the lack of food love he gets on the road.

I have to be completely honest, the past  months have been challenging for me to commit to cooking amongst the chaos and business life brings. But more recently I have been workin’ my little kitchen’s tail off, loving every minute of  it, and I have to say…so does Drew. This is one of those recipes that came about based on what I had in my pantry a few weeks ago, and it has now become a requested staple in our house. You have got to try it!

Oatmeal

 

YEILDS: 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups water

pinch of salt

1 cup oats

1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup whole pecans (I prefer honey roasted or salted)

1 banana, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup golden raisins

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Directions:

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.

Off the heat, stir in the sugar and syrup.

Serve topped with pecans, banana slices, and raisins.

*If you have a little one, these oatmeal balls are a perfect for them to handle right at the table with Mom and Dad! Eli loves them.

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Using the package directions on the oatmeal, prepare a serving size of 3 instead of 2. After the oats are done cooking, let cool slightly, then scoop balls using an ice cream scoop.

ice cream scoop

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Sprinkle with cinnamon, and store in the refrigerator for a few minutes while you prepare the “grown up” oatmeal. Once cooled, serve them up and enjoy watching your babe make a mess!

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Salad Challenge: Days 4, 5, and 6

I did it! I successfully came up with 6 unique salads (the 6th being inspired by one of my restraunt favorites). I hope you enjoy trying them out!

P.S. I am down 2 pounds just from modifying my lunches to soups, and dinners to salads for 1 week! Hooray!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Click photos for printable recipes

 

 

 

 

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Salad Challenge Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone needs a good Asian salad recipe in their  stash. This sweet/tangy mix makes you feel nice and healthy as you chew, chomp, crunch! Been to a hibachi restaurant recently? This dressing tastes just like the one they put on their appetizer salad!

 

*Click photo for printable recipe

 

 

 

 

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Salad Challenge: Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This salad is divine. The sweetness from the strawberries and dressing pairs beautifully with the tangy, creamy gorgonzola. The walnuts add crunch, and the cinnamon adds a little spice that makes you go, what is that?!

 

*Click photo for printable recipe

 

 

 

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