Baby Food Purees

I really love making baby food. When Turner was a baby, he was the only child AND I didn’t own a business. So he got only the best homemade purees. He never had store bought (insert gasp). I breastfed until he was a year and never gave him a drop of formula. He was “the first child” indeed.

Now I love Gracie to pieces, but life is a tad busier these days. I own a business managing 16 rental properties, have a toddler, and attempt to maintain a certain level of sanity. I adore making Gracie baby food and make most of it! But I need to plan ahead for that, and I do throw the occasional store-bought food in the mix. I also had all intentions of breastfeeding her a year, but with working and parenting a toddler, my supply wasn’t as good as with Turner. I ended up making the switch to formula at 9 months (more about that transition HERE). I did have some guilt with that but ultimately knew it was the best decision for all of us! 

Life has gotten exponentially easier since Gracie can now hold a bottle and feed herself using those pouch things! The pouches add to the convenience of feeding my baby, but I don’t want to use store-bought food all the time! So for the past few weeks I’ve used those reusable food pouches! I found a great brand that is easy to fill and clean so now I’m able to put her food in that. That helps alleviate the mom guilt just a tad! So here are some of our favorite purees these days. I peel, steam to fork tender, and puree.

 

Carrot & Golden Beet
Corn Plum Apple & Sweet Potato
Spinach Blueberry & Apple
Red Beet, Sweet Potato & Blueberry

There really aren’t measurements. I sort of just peal veggies, cut into small chunks, and steam on average 10 minutes. I DON’T steam the berries. I just make sure to wash them and buy organic especially when not steaming. For spinach and other greens, I throw them in my steamer basket for the last few minutes to soften and make them easier to digest. Then I blend it all up in the Vitamix. Add water, formula, or breast-milk to thin to your baby’s desired thickness. I don’t add water at this point because Gracie eats chunkier purees. But when she was a baby I would add the steam liquid at the bottom of the pot. Store in small glass jars in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays for easy prep for the rest of the week! I also mix in some baby oatmeal if I need to bulk it up a bit. I hope you like these! What are some of your favorite purees?

Starting Solids for Baby

It finally feels like spring here! It’s been sunny and in the 70s everyday. We can finally spend some time outside enjoying the fresh air after being trapped indoors with every cold known to man the past few weeks!

It’s hard to believe that Gracie is almost 6 months! I’m finding that my parenting is a bit different between Turner and Gracie. I feel like I was keeping close track of every milestone with him. Gracie seems to just do her thing and go with the flow. Suddenly I’ll realize something new that she’s doing, like rolling over, or sitting up. But I’m not waiting for it as much as I was with Turner.

Starting solids was a HUGE event for Turner (HERE is more on Turner’s solid food experience). I felt like it needed to be some big culinary event. For Gracie, it’s more like, wow she’s almost 6 months! Time to start solids I guess? Although in my mind it means more prep, more laundry, messier diapers, etc. So I’m not in as big of a rush I guess? Plus she’s not as hungry as Turner was, so I feel less pressure to start solids.

Since Gracie is a lot smaller than Turner was, I decided to start her on rice cereal. I skipped that step with Turner because he didn’t really need it. I bought a box at Whole Foods and tried it with her last week. She was NOT having it. I didn’t feel like she was missing much, so I moved on to real food instead.

I wanted to start with veggies since it’s harder to go back once they get the sweet taste of fruit! So I tried avocado (blended with water to make a thin puree) NOPE! Next I thought I’d do butternut squash (steamed and blended with water to make a thin puree) since it’s a bit sweeter but has a lot of nutritional value. I’ll let you see how that turned out for yourself…

So it looks like I just need to keep trying! I’ll do the butternut squash for a week and then move on to another food. It’s amazing how different siblings can be! But, one thing’s for sure, they are obsessed with each other! Happy spring!

Mini and Me Smoothie

The warm weather has gotten me in smoothie mode! And, since I don’t puree baby food for Turner anymore, I find that tucking secret ingredients into our smoothies is the perfect way to get his veggies in! I just make a big batch so I can have a full smoothie and he can have a mini one! This is our absolute favorite, as you can tell by Turner’s expression!




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Chicken and Veggie Tots

I am on a mission to create clever ways to stuff my child FULL of vegetables! So far, so good. Here’s an amazing recipe that I can almost bet your finicky child will love!! You can call them whatever you want to appeal to your little one. But, rest assured, they are chock full of VEGGIES!! 
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They are a bit labor intensive, but the recipe makes about a million so they last for quite a while! I make about 40 and freeze the majority. Turner eats 4 or 5 in one sitting, so I just take out what I know I’ll need and pop them in an airtight container in the fridge the night before!

I start by prepping all of the veggies. In a food processor, I shred the carrots. I leave half of the carrots in the food processor, and set remaining carrots aside. Then, I dice the apple, onion, celery, and red pepper. I set the veggies aside.

Then, I cut the chicken breast into chunks and add them to the carrots in the food processor fitted with blade attachment. I pulse 4 times to break the chicken into small pieces.

In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, I sauté half the onion until it softens, about two minutes. I add half the shredded carrot, and all of the red pepper, apple, kale (or spinach), and celery to the sautéed onions. I season with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme. I sautée for another 2-3 minutes until veggies soften. I turn the heat off and set that mixture aside to cool.

Meanwhile, I add the remaining raw onion to the food processor. Pulse to combine, about four times.

Then, I add the sautéed veggies to the food processor. I pulse to combine, about 10 times, scraping down the sides with a spatula.

Finally, I add the egg and breadcrumbs. I pulse to combine. Then it’s time to form the meatballs!! I use a mini ice cream scoop to make the balls and drop them onto my oiled skillet.

I cook them for about 3 minutes per side. I turn them and make sure to cook all sides until browned and cooked through. This process takes about 10-15 minutes. I cook them in batches, making sure to coat the pan with oil for each batch! Then it’s time to dig in!



As you can tell, Turner is a HUGE fan of these babies! Little does he know, he’s getting his veggies in with each and every bite!

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Carrot Almond Butter Snack Bites

I found a delicious recipe months ago that I’ve been meaning to try. I finally had some time to test recipes this morning and came up with a little spin on these Carrot Almond Butter Bites. I kept it pretty similar. I just changed up a few ingredients and blended it up in the food processor so it’s extra “toddler friendly”. 


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Frittata Cups

Life has been a bit busy lately. I feel like I haven’t had time to plan a solid meal for any of us! I definitely always have frozen purees on hand for Turner, but he’s getting a bit picky when it comes to food! He LOVES peanut butter sandwiches, anything with sweet potatoes, bananas with avocado, and oatmeal. Those are pretty much the staples around here. But, in an effort to keep him NOT picky, I’m committed to making him different foods that will peak his interest.

I made a batch of Frittata Cups this morning. He loves them and they’re perfect for “make ahead” healthy meals. I keep them in the freezer and just take one out and put it in a container in the fridge the night before! They couldn’t be easier to make. I start by cooking the frozen potatoes until they’re browned, about 5 minutes. Then I add a diced zucchini, and cook one more minute until it’s softened.

I pour that onto a plate to cool while I prep the rest of the ingredients. In a large bowl, I whisk together the eggs, water, yogurt, salt & pepper. Once that’s combined, I stir in the veggies and cheese.


Finally, I use a quarter cup measure to scoop the mixture into a muffin tin lined with silicone baking cups.
  I cook them for 30 minutes at 350F until they’re nice and firm. YUM!

Stew and I actually eat them too. They’re great for him because he leaves early in the morning for work. So he just pops them in the microwave and has breakfast on the go!

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Food Prep

This was a weekend of major food prep! This is a “chemo week“, so I like to get as much done in advance as possible. We have Supper Club (Standing Rib Roast Recipe to come!) tonight, so yesterday was the big “prep day”.

The first few chemo treatments, Stew was sick for a solid 4 days, so I didn’t worry too much about food. It was mainly chicken soup and saltines all week. But since he started his acupuncture and chinese herbs, he is a hungry beast (yay)! Now I actually have to plan meals for the week! On top of that, Turner is eating me out of house and home! This kid could eat NON-STOP!!!

Needless to say, I have to have healthy snacks on hand for him AND Stew (and me, of course)! So This was what I made yesterday:


Banana Raspberry Muffins (My changes: No sugar. Half whole wheat pastry flour and half spelt flour)
Pumpkin Muffins (My changes: No sugar, no frosting, honey could be replaced with maple syrup)
Zuchinni Tots (My changes: quadrupled recipe to freeze them, used LARGE muffin cups, and added a large shredded turnip to the mix)

This morning, I made breakfast burritos to freeze so we have a quick and healthy breakfast when we’re on the go! Here is my recipe.






Freezer Breakfast Burritos:
Makes 5 burritos

5 tortillas
6 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 Applegate frozen turkey breakfast sausage links
1 cup Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, peppers and onions
2 Tbsp salsa, plus extra to top
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra to top
1 Tbsp goat cheese

Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. Cook potatoes and sausage according to package instructions (basically until softened and browned). Slice sausage into bite size pieces and return to pan. Whisk eggs, salt, and pepper up in a bowl. Add eggs, salsa, goat cheese, and cheddar to the pan. Let eggs set for about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to move eggs around the pan, about every minute, until they are cooked through.

Divide egg mixture into 5 even sections. Lay out one square of foil and lay tortilla on top. Spoon one section of filling onto the tortilla. Top with extra salsa and shredded cheese. Tuck the sides in and roll up (seam side down). Roll the foil up around it. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Place tortillas in a large ziplock bag and freeze.

To re-heat in the morning: Remove foil, wrap burrito in paper towel, microwave, using the quick defrost button, for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Time and setting will vary depending on your microwave! If you have more time, you can always keep the burrito in foil and warm in the oven.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Healthy Baby Pancakes

This is our go-to healthy pancake recipe. Perfect for a cold rainy morning like this! I always have them on hand for Turner. Everything I make him has a healthy spin on it. I’m not ready to give him anything that will upset his perfect little system!

It’s just like any other pancake recipe, but with a few substitutions. Sometimes I’ll use buttermilk or goat milk instead of almond milk. I also substitute apple sauce for the banana if I don’t have them on hand.

I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, filled halfway, to pour the batter onto the skillet.

Once they start to bubble, about 3 minutes, I flip them and cook for another minute or two.

They come out perfect! I make a bunch so I can freeze some to have on hand at a moment’s notice. Although, he eats them like crazy, so they don’t last long! Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Healthy Baby Pancakes
Makes 18-20 small pancakes

1 1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/4 cup Spelt Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 ripe banana, mashed
3 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
coconut oil

Mix together both flours, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, mash banana and whisk in eggs, milk, and syrup. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until combined.

Preheat your skillet over medium heat. Use a paper towel to spread a thin layer of coconut oil on your skillet. Use a 1/4 cup measure, filled up halfway (about 2 Tbsp), to scoop out batter and pour onto skillet. Cook pancakes for about 3 minutes, or until bubbles start to form. Flip and cook about 2 more minutes. Serve warm or let cool completely, and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Fall Is In The Air!

It hit me today, as I perused Pinterest, that I’m not the ONLY person getting excited for fall!! There are so many pins for fall meals and decorating  scattered throughout the pages. Although it’s still hot and humid here in Charleston, the mornings are cooling off a bit. Turner and I are actually able to sit on the front porch in the mornings without breaking a sweat!

Fall is my favorite time of year. The food is comforting, the bugs start to retreat, and I can pull out all of my boots! Fall also means more crock pot meals. As you know, Stew and I plan our menu on the weekend and do all of our grocery shopping for the week. This makes preparing dinner way less stressful. Stew usually gets home by 6 on week nights, and I have dinner ready so we can eat, go for our walk, and get Turner in the bath by 7. Lately, I’ve been finding that I’m just not in the mood to cook once 5:00 roles around. So, this week, I’m planning things that I can just throw in the crock pot or prep ahead so I don’t have to do much each night. I’ve had a few requests to share my menu and grocery list, so here we go!

Menu
Saturday: Grilled Chicken w/ Winter Slaw
Sunday: Mongolian Beef w/ Barley
Monday: Frozen Fish with Sweet Potato Fries
Tuesday: One of my frozen meals (My friends and I exhange frozen meals once a month at our supper club so we each have 3 homemade meals in the freezer that we can pull out at a moment’s notice. It’s a life saver!)
Wednesday: Turkey and Black Bean Tacos
Thursday: Chipotle Beef Chili
Friday: DATE NIGHT!

**NOTE: I cut the recipes down if they’re for a large group! Also, some items I already have, so I don’t add them to my grocery list.

Baby Food: I make two big batches of veggies and fruit for Turner’s lunch and dinner for the week. In addition to his pureed food, I give him finger foods like local cheddar cheese with his yogurt in the afternoon, whole grain waffles with his oatmeal for breakfast, and even some bites of grilled cheese. This is what his week will look like.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. I peel and cut up an apple into tiny pieces and boil it for the last few minutes. Then, I stir in some cinnamon.
Lunch:  Grilled Cheese bites with Eggplant, Pear, & Plum Puree.
Snack: Local Greek Yogurt (sold at Whole Foods)
Dinner: Pureed butternut squash with apple and cinnamon (peeled, cut up, steamed, and blended).

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Grocery List:
Frozen Tilapia Filets
Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Ground Turkey
Stew Meat
Kale
Riddichio
Brussels Sprouts
Lemons
1 Eggplant
2 pears
2 plums
1 bag organic granny smith apples
1 Butternut squash
1 Green Pepper
1 onion
Yogurt
Cheddar Cheese
Tortillas
Seeduction Bread (Whole Foods)
1 can low sodium black beans
1 can low sodium pinto beans
1 can low sodium red kidney beans
1 28 OZ can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can chili in adobo

Happy eating and enjoy your holiday weekend!

PicShells

 

Eggplant, Pear, and Plum Puree

My lovely friend, Cara, and I were trading baby food recipes a few weeks back. She said that eggplant and pear was a favorite in her house. I never thought of that flavor combination! I bought an eggplant and a few pears the other day. We had some plums in the house that were starting to get soft, so I decided to mix them in! It turned out delicious. I’m seriously thinking of starting a baby food business!

Whenever I make baby food, I always use organic. Turner has such a perfect little system, I don’t want to junk it up! To me, it’s worth the extra few bucks. I also have a little potato brush that I use to clean all of his fruits and veggies before I peel them. I like to be extra safe.

My recipe calls for the pear to be steamed. I only did that because it was hard as a rock! If it was super ripe and soft, you could just peel it, cut it up, and throw it in the blender with the cooked eggplant. The plums were very soft. So I just peeled them, cut them up, and threw them in the blender without cooking them. I really think your little ones will love this! Let me know what you they think!

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Eggplant, Pear, & Plum Puree 
Yields 2 cups
1 medium eggplant, washed, peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pear, washed, peeled, and cut into chunks
2 plums, washed, peeled, and cut into chunks

Fill a large steamer basket with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, peel and chop the veggies and fruit. Place the eggplant and pear in the steamer basket (Note: if you have a very ripe pear, you don’t have to cook it. You can just peel and blend once you’re done cooking the eggplant. My pear was rock hard, so I steamed it). Cover and let boil for 15 minutes, or until eggplant is easily pierced with a fork. Pour the cooked veggies and fruit into a large blender (I used a Vitamix). Add the plum pieces and blend until smooth. I blended it on high so that the little seeds in the eggplant were pulverized. Hope your munchkin enjoys!
*Remember to introduce one new fruit or vegetable at a time for at least 3 days to ensure that there are no allergies.