My new finds…

Hi all. Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s been a crazy month. As I’m sure many of you understand, time is not always on our side. Even during this crazy busy time, I still have managed to cook for my family most nights. Although, we still order out or have eaten out of course once or twice a week 🙂

Especially with the economy the way it is right now, it is on all of our minds, how can I be more frugal? I have started meal planning for the week. This is something I never thought I would do. I used to be the one who went to the grocery store and bought what looked good and what was on sale regardless of what I had a home. Now I have taken stock of what I have in my pantry and freezer and decide on a menu for 5 nights, then I go shopping.

I also used a gift card my husband’s grandparents gave me for Christmas at Macy’s and spent one wondeful afternoon off in the kitchen section of Macy’s. I came across the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook, Deliciously Deceptive. It is amazing! Now, I have to admit I have a daughter who loves her vegetables, but mommy doesn’t always like to eat them 🙂 The recipes that I’ve tried so far have been big hits. One is tortilla cigars – mix cream cheese (I used the low fat neufchatel cream cheese), with some shredded cheese, carrot purree and sweet potato purree and whatever you have leftover, like chicken or pork. I also added some black beans. Roll in a wheat or multigrain tortilla and bake for 5-10 min. Soooo good! I cut them in half and Karina ate it all! She loves it.

Seinfeld’s cookbook just gave me alot of ideas. I also used a modified version of one of her recipes and made mashed potatoes but just added a cup of purreed cauliflower. Again, sooooo good! Another good tip is to add some purreed vegetables (I’ve been buying canned pumpkin) and adding that to soups. I made a chicken and brown rice soup the other day and just added a 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin to the broth. It adds flavor and nutrients, sooo good! Karina loved it!

The other new discovery I’ve made is barley risotto. Oh my. It was sooo good! I have become the person who makes risotto in my rice cooker because its easier, but I saw a recipe somewhere for using barley instead of aborrio rice and wanted to try it out by hand. I added some parmesan, sage and canned pumpkin. It used alot more liquid than aborrio rice, about twice the amount actually. Next time I’ll try the barley risotto in my rice cooker, but I don’t know if its big enough for all the liquid.

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Post-Holiday pressures…

We all have pressure around the holidays with travel, entertaining and this year with all the snow days. After the holidays the pressure seemingly goes away, but now its keeping new year’s resolutions, getting organized and turning a new leaf. Cooking for your family should not be another source of stress, although I know for many it is. I hope through this blog to help make it less stressful by pointing people in the direction of easy recipes and providing tips from my (and my friends’) experiences.

I have a few new blog ideas “cooking” (pun intended) for this year: helpful substitutes (recipe calls for marsala wine and you don’t have it in the house or don’t want to use alcohol, so use…), bringing food with you while your traveling by plane, train or automobile, my go to cookbooks (not specifically for kids) for making weeknight meals and many more!

One of my New year’s resolutions is to stop impulse buying at the grocery store. I have been successful so far this year in not buying items for the sake of buying them because they’re on sale or I may need them for a recipe in the future. That usually leaves me with a pantry and fridge full of items that don’t necessarily go together and makes me spend more than I need. So, now I am trying to take 10 minutes away from Facebook and instead I pick 5 recipes for the week that I will aim to cook those meals. Then I make a list of ingredients I don’t have, buy them and stick to my list, which is hard!

Some of the things I cooked this week: lemon cod (another one of my resolutions is to eat more fish) with potatoes and spaghetti squash, beef stew, potato leek soup, polenta and sauteed lima beans with roast chicken.

Lemon cod, fingerling potatoes and spaghetti squash: Take about a pound of cod (or other white fish) and 1st coat with mixture of 2-3 tbs melted butter with juice of 1/2 a lemon and then coat with mixture of about 1/3 cup flour, salt and pepper to taste. Put the covered cod into a baking dish and into a 400 degree oven, after dousing it with the rest of the butter and lemon mixture, for about 10 minutes or until flakey.

I bought the bag of fingerling potatoes that you get at Trader Joes, where you just cut the corner and microwave for 4-5 minutes. While they are cooking in the microwave, I put a couple of tbsp of butter in a large glass bowl with some fresh herbs (rosemary, sage are what’s left in my garden), salt and pepper and then put the hot potatoes in the bowl, cover with aluminum foil and shake to cover potatoes.

The spaghetti squash, I cut in half, take out the seeds and put about an inch of water in pan. Place the squash rind side up and poke a few holes with a fork. Cook in a 425 degree oven for at least 45 min. When done, scoop out squash with a fork and mix with butter and fresh herbs.

Beef stew: Take about a pound of stew meat (good deal at Fred Meyer this weekend) and mix it with salt, pepper and ground coriander to taste. Dice one medium size onion (yellow, white, red, whatever you have on hand), peel, dice 2-3 carrots; dice one leek and a couple of handfuls of fingerling potatoes (probably about 1/2 lb of potatoes -diced) [you can ad lib for most veggies you have on hand. Use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes or add some frozen green beans]. In microwave safe bowl mix about 2 cups chicken stock (or beef or veggie stock, whather to you have on hand) with a few dashes of worchestershire sauce and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. Microwave sauce for about 3-4 minutes until hot. Take a small bowl and mix 1-2 tbsp corn starch with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Pour back into sauce and mix. Place stew meat, veggies and sauce into slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. If sauce is not thick enough mix 1-2 tbsp cornstarch with 2-3 tbsp of softened butter (using a fork), until blended. After cornstarch and butter are blended, add mixture to stew and stir.

Leeky Potato Soup: 2-3 tbsp butter, 1tbsp olive oil, 3 leeks chopped, 1 shallot chopped (you can use a white onion as well), 1tbsp minced garlic (I buy the already minced garlic in jars from the grocery store, great time saver), 1/3 – 1/2 bottle white wine (or about a cup of white wine vinegar), palmful of coriander, 1 tsp lemon pepper, lemongrass (I buy the tubes from the grocery store and used one squeeze), salt to taste, about 6 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced thin or diced), 3 1/2 cups veggie stock (or chicken stock) and a bay leaf. Melt butter and olive oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Add leeks, shallot, coriander, lemongrass, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add wine and reduce for about 5 min. Mix stock and bay leaf in microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 3 -4 min. Add potatoes to soup pot and cook (stirring ever 3 min or so) for 12 min. Add stock and bay leaf mixture to soup pot and cook for about 25 min, stirring occasionaly. When pototoes are cooked, use an immersion blender (or transfer to blender or food processor) and blend until smooth. Mix in more stock or spices to reach desired consistency and taste.

Roast chicken: melt 3 tbsp butter in microwave. Mix salt, pepper, coriander, lemon grass with butter. Rinse chicken, pat dry with papertowel. Insert one onion (cut into 5- 6 sections) and 2 tbsp chopped garlic into cavity of bird. Rub butter and herb mixture all over the chicken. Place into 400 degree oven covered with foil for about an hour (I had a 3.8 lb chicken) and cook uncovered for 30 min. Let rest under foil outside the oven for about 15 min before serving. Here is a link for safe handling/cooking of poultry.

Polenta: I buy the tubes (Safeway or Trader joes) and cut it into cubes cook it with butter, milk (keep adding until desired consistency, 1/3 cup or more). Keep stirring until smooth, then add shredded parmesan for flavor.

Sauteed lima beans: I usually keep a frozen bag of lima beans to make in the microwave for Karina (a great source of fiber!), so I used what was left and put in in a non stick pan with some butter, olive oil, fresh herbs (I had sage on hand) and salt and pepper. Sautee for a few min until cooked. Serve immediately.

Best wishes for stress free cooking for the new year!

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More book reviews (all books from the Seattle Public Library)

Here is a list of books that are available from the Seattle Public Library on cooking for infants and toddlers (as well as some for older kids). There are usually wait lists for these books, but don’t be discouraged! Just put yourself on the list and they will contact you when the book is at your local library.

Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron. 2nd Ed. Revised. ISBN0-9652603-1-3. Very informative book. “Absolutely everything you should know about feeding your baby and toddler from starting solid foods to age three years.” A little on the judgmental side (except for one paragraph in the introduction on page 3). Not all of us have the time, energy or inclination to make of baby’s food from scratch. But she makes a good point that it is simpler than most think. Check our pg. 7 for a reference chart on prep and storage of food for infants. There is great insight into starting your baby on solids. As with any advice though, keep in mind that every baby is different. There are also tips on introducing finger foods, self feeding with fork and spoon and travel foods. Then there is a month by month summary schedule for introducing foods in the baby’s first year, methods for freezing and thawing foods and then recipes, recipes and more recipes! Don’t forget to check out the appendices!

Blender Baby Food, Nicole Young. ISBN 978-0-77880118-4. Great recipes for infants (purred veggies, fruits and grains) and even older kids (smoothies and dips). There are meal planning charts as well that are useful. This one had the longest wait list at the library, so definitely a favorite of moms around here.

Easy Gourmet Baby Food, Chef Jordan Wagman & Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, RNCP. ISBN 978-0-7788-0182-5. Some good advice in the introduction from the Chef and also from the Nutritionist. The Chef talks about variety being one of the best ways to introduce foods and set the stage for a non-picky eater. If your child doesn’t like sweet potato steamed, try giving it to them roasted. The Nutritionist talks about the importance of whole foods and fresh ingredients and gives her list of the 12 “Consistently clean” (least contaminated by pesticides) fruits + veggies: onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and eggplant. The “Dirty Dozen” (most pesticide residue): peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes (imported), pears, spinach, potatoes. There are recipes for starting solids (6-9 months) like roasted Banana puree, roasted beat puree and avocado, carrot and cucumber puree. Recipes for Establishing Preferences (9-12 months) include: Mediterranean Fried Eggplant, Roasted Onion Soubise, Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Leeks. Food for Toddlers (12 months +) includes recipes for: Citris Fruit Salad with Fresh Basil, Best-Ever Barbecued Corn, Warm Barley with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan Cheese and Pacific Salmon Cakes. The last two sections are Snacks and Desserts and “Not for Adults Only” Reading through this book made my mouth water! Definitely for those who love to cook and experiment.

Fun Food from Williams Sonoma. 25 Recipes that children can cook. ISBN: 978-0-7432-7856-0. Great first recipe book for kids and its broken up into: kids classics, after school snacks, oodles of noodles,, put on your oven mitts, don’t forget the veggies and time for a sandwich. Good step by step instructions to teach kids how to cook and get them involved and interested in food!

The Baby Food Bible, Eileen Behan. ISBN 978-0-7432-7856-0. Great informational/reference book. Its a good one to give you ideas on what to give your baby, how to prepare it and how to store it. There are also recipes for the ingredients discussed.

Better Baby Food, Daina Kalnins, RD CNSD + Joanne Saab, RD. ISBN: 0-7788-0030″Canada’s Complete Source”Good information on feeding newborns(breast milk/formula) through toddlers. There is a great chapter on Nutrition facts discussing recommended amounts (US and Canada) and foods which are good sources of vitamins and minerals. For example children from 1-3 years old need 40mg of Vitamin C/day (according to Recommended Dietary Allowances for U.S.) and can be helpful in enhancing iron absorption. Its found in fresh fruits like mangoes, oranges and strawberries and lesser amounts in fruit juices. Then there are chapters of great recipes, organized according to meal. For example – Scrambled eggs with cottage cheese for breakfast, French Toast cheese sandwich for lunch, Chicken Pad Thai for dinner, Tangy salsa for snack and fall fruit compote for dessert…among many more.

The Everything Cooking for Baby and Toddler Cook Book. Shana Priwer and Cynthia Phillips. ISBN 978-1-593337-691-8. A book full of recipes for 4months through 36 months. Great place to get some ideas and mix things up. There are simple recipes for mashed sweet potatoes to recipes for the more adventurous like homemade bagels. An intersting recipe too for tomato risotto…hmmm…I’m going to have to try that one.

Homemade Baby Food, Pure and Simple. Connie Linardakis. ISBN: 0-7615-2790-7. Seems like a good book although I was unfortunately turned off with the first chapter. (Feel free to ignore me up on my soapbox) My issue with it is that in the section on breastfeeding, she makes it sound like you either choose breastfeeding or formula, that it is black and white. While this may be true for many, I know many mothers (myself included) who physically cannot solely breastfeed (even after trying everything!) and must supplement with formula or do not have a choice but to solely provide formula. Making it seem like a black and white choice for all perpetuates the pressure and guilt that new moms feel, especially those who have trouble with breastfeeding. It does not come easily or physically possible for all. (I’m off my soapbox now) The recipes in the book however are good and definitely give you more variety to choose from, so its worth checking out.

Baby Food. Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers. ISBN: 0-439-11017-3. This is not a recipe book, but rather a cute book with great pictures of animals made out of vegetables, like the whale calf made out of an eggplant, the baby monkey make out of a couple of kiwis, the baby giraffe made out of a banana and a lion cub out of a potato. Very cute!!

The library also has boxes available for different subjects. The baby food or “
Let’s eat” box contains a printout of finger plays i.e.
“Pancakes” to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” – One little, two little, three little pancakes, etc… It also contains a couple of board books – Let’s Eat/Vamos A Comer, ISBN 0-671-76927-8, with pictures of different foods and food related items with the English and Spanish words; Max’s Breakfast, Rosemary Wells, ISBN 0-8037-2273-7; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle. ISBN0-399-22690-7; and I smell Honey, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, ISBN 0-15-200640-0. There are three other books as well: Eat up Gemma, Susan Hayes, ISBN 0-688-08149-5. Pancakes for Breakfast, Tomie DePaola, ISBN 0-15-259455-8 – no words, just pictures and make up your own story; and Games to Play with Two Year Olds, Jackie Silberg, ISBN: 0-87659-169-1.

Ok, a long post, but hopefully it has some useful information for you. This selection of books from the library is better than what I’ve found in book stores.

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Holiday eating…

With all the food, shopping, and rushing around it can be hard to make sure the little ones get the nutritious food they need. I’ve been buying more and more prepared food. Earth’s best makes frozen whole wheat waffles (I found them at Ballard Market). I’ve been giving those to Karina for breakfast made in the toaster oven with peanut butter (or almond butter – found cheapest in the organic section of Fred Meyer, still more expensive than peanut butter though) and then some cut up banana. Easy and fast.

She has been shunning meat these past couple of weeks. Maybe the turkey leg was too much 🙂 The only meat she seems to eat are sausages. So I’ve been buying some chicken sausages and turkey sausages. Karina has really taken to polenta. I buy the already made polenta in tubes that you can by in the grocery store. I chop it up, put it in a saucepan with some milk (keep adding until its the consistency you want), a little butter and then a handful of shredded parmesan. On a bath night, I put some of the polenta on the tray with some shredded beef mixed in and started scooping it up with a spoon! Of course some of it was thrown on the floor and walls, but she ate it.

Using frozen vegetables is such a timesaver! Especially in the morning when we are putting Karina’s lunch together to bring to childcare. While she’s eating breakfast, I just put some frozen lima beans in a bowl, cover them with water and microwave for 2 minutes. Include that with some whole wheat toast, leftover chicken or sausage and you have lunch! For snacks I’ve discovered the Safeway Organics vegetable crackers (in the baby section), which Karina loves. Those along with a cheese stick and some cut up apple or grapes and snacks are all set.

I’ve been giving Karina tastes of other foods when we go out or are at a party. She loves to taste the different kinds of cheese (especially brie), loves olives and even pickles! Giving her different tastes and texture hopefully will open her palate to eating a wide variety of foods. It seems to go in waves – what she will eat and what she won’t, so if your little one isn’t eating something, keep trying, they may eventually decide they like it. Happy Holidays!

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Happy Thanksgiving!



Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Karina sure enjoyed the turkey 🙂 She wouldn’t eat the little pieces we put on her tray, but gave her the drumstick and she went to town! She also enjoyed some mashed potatoes, stuffing and squash soup. I put the squash soup in a sippy cup (thanks Adriane for the tip) and she loved it! I think I am going to try to make her a smoothie in the morning and put it in the sippy cup (a cup without a valve) for her to enjoy.

With the turkey leftovers, I am going to make turkey enchiladas tonight. Some store bought mole sauce, shredded cheese, turkey, fresh salsa, cilantro, sour cream and whole wheat tortillas. Heat the sauce in a skillet, put some of the shredded turkey in. Wrap some of the turkey with mole in a tortilla and put in baking dish. Repeat until done with turkey. Leave some mole sauce to pour over the top and then cover with shredded cheese. You can also put cheese inside the tortilla. Bake in the over for about 30-45 min.

Salsa recipe:

1 large can of whole tomatoes

1 jalapeno (take out seeds and chopped)

about 1/2 a red onion roughly chopped

cilantro (to your taste – I usually grab a handful)

salt

pepper

about a clove of garlic, minced.

Put ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix until it is the consistency you want. Less if you like it chunky and more if you want it smooth.


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Cookbooks for kids


I was surprised at how few cookbooks there are on the shelves of various bookstores around the city. Most of the books (and baby/toddler food websites too) are from the UK. Online I found a lot more books, but how much time do us moms really have to go through cookbooks and find recipes? Not much, but there are those days when the little one’s (or ones’) nap lasts longer than usual and we find ourselves with a few minutes of time to ourselves. My passion is cooking, so I take that time to write this blog or go through my cookbooks (or search the web) and find some recipes (or watch Sex and the City on demand 🙂 ).

These are the cookbooks I have that I either bought or was given as a gift:

– “Wholesome meals for babies and toddlers: healthy foods your kids will love to eat” Parragon Books, Ltd, UK. ISBN: 1-40546-845-9. This book categorizes recipes by 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-36 months, 3-4 years and 4 years plus as well as an introductory section and a sample meal planner for a week on each age group.

-“What to Expect the First Year,” Babies First Recipes, pp748-755. ISBN-13: 978-0-7611-2958-8. I’ve made the lentil stew, which Karina loved and we could eat it too. It has some great quick tips and also has a recipe for a first birthday cake with cream cheese frosting. (I had grand plans of making Karina’s first cake, but time was not on our side, so I bought Trader Joe’s vanilla cake mix and made buttercream frosting. She loved it! But was way too neat!)

-“Kid Favorites Made Healthy.” Better Homes and Gardens, ISBN 978-0-696-21750-0. This is pretty good, with healthy recipes for older toddlers and kids, but be sure to talk to your doctor before you start giving your child low fat, or non fat milk products. I am going to try the Turkey-Apple Sausage patties on pg26 this weekend!

-“Mom-a-licious: tasty. easy. healthy.” By Domenica Catelli. ISBN: 978-1-933754-14-7. This book is great. I have found some good tips. It has “reclaiming the pantry” + “facing the refrigerator”+ “facing the freezer” sections, telling you what to kick out and keep in that is healthier. Take it with a grain of salt. Everything in moderation! I definitely keep alot of frozen veggies and fruits on hand for quick additions to meals. My new favorite breakfast comes from pg. 29 – “skylar’s stinky cheese breakfast sandwich” – eggs with herbs with brie, camembert or Taleggio on wheat toast! Mmmmm. Karina loves it too! This book (and my friend Adriane) inspired me to use Almond butter on Karina’s toast, which she loves! I also put it on banana slices. Very messy, but good. I’m still dying to try the one dish dinner on pg. 84 – lemony chicken with vegetables and Parmesan and the sesame and soy-roasted fall vegetables on pg. 111. I did make the gingered rice and edamame on pg. 114. Soooo good! I keep frozen edamame on hand because it is a great source of protein too!

-“Yum-o! The Family Cookbook.” by Rachel Ray. ISBN 978-0-307-40726-9. Great, easy recipes that get the kids involved! Including some recipes submitted by moms and kids on her website. They are healthy and her aim was to make them cost conscious. I just got it, so haven’t made anything from it yet.

-“Cooking for Kids Bible.” ISBN-13: 978-1-4127-2346-6. This has some fun recipes, especially good for kids parties, classroom treats and if you want to take dinner fun! It also has tips for cooking with kids and teaching your kids to cook!.

-Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, Copyright 1957. This was given to Karina from her Ya Ya. It was her grandfather’s when he was a kid (aka Far Far). It has party ideas circa 1957 and even gives kids ideas on how to surprise mom for Mother’s day or Valentines day 🙂

There are many other books. (Look soon for my reviews on baby food books I got at the library – long wait lists…must be popular!) I also just use the “adult” cookbooks I have along with “google” and try to give Karina what we eat. We’re lucky she usually is a great eater. Tonight she was not, however. I took my luck too far 🙂 She ate all of her toast, but did not like the lamb and raita I made 🙁 she ate a little bit of the lamb when I mixed it in with some brown and wild rice (trader joes sells a great mixture). She didn’t like the cucumber, but liked the yogurt (mixed with lemon zest and greek seasoning – mint, oregano, and something else I can’t remember). I sauteed the lamb chop (which are on sale at Safeway right now) covered with coriander, cumin, greek seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. I started a tradition tonight. On nights that Tim bowls I am going to make a “special meal” for me and Karina, that hopefully as she gets older, she will help me with (and we can eat things like lamb and scallops that Tim doesn’t like).

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Curry anyone?

This is a posting with an article on bland baby food from the Ballard Moms listserve that I thought would interest everyone…I’ve tried mild curry and even turkey chili with Karina. She wasn’t too keen on the curry, but LOVED the chili. Thanks for the article Sheri!

“I came across this article this morning, and thought it might be of
interest to some folks. It’s an article from the AP from a couple of
years ago about how the western culture has trained its babies to have
bland palate, but that is a recent development and not universal.

Sheri, mom of 2″

HEALTH LIBRARY

(AP) — Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for
enchiladas, curry and even — gasp! — hot peppers.

It’s time to discard everything you think you know about feeding
babies. It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants
onto solid foods — even from pediatricians — is more myth than
science.

That’s right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut
butter doesn’t have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering
fruits before vegetables won’t breed a sweet tooth. And strong
spices? Bring ’em on.

“There’s a bunch of mythology out there about this,” says Dr. David
Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. “There’s not
much evidence to support any particular way of doing things.”

Word of that has been slow to reach parents and the stacks of baby
books they rely on to navigate this often intimidating period of
their children’s lives. But that may be changing.

As research increasingly suggests a child’s first experiences with
food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and
improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and
broadening babies’ palates.

It’s easier — and harder — than it sounds. Easier because experts
say 6-month-olds can eat many of the same things their parents do.
Harder because it’s tough to find detailed guidance for nervous parents.

“Parents have lost touch with the notion that these charts are
guides, not rules,” says Rachel Brandeis, a spokeswoman for the
American Dietetic Association. “Babies start with a very clean palate
and it’s your job to mold it.”

It’s easy to mistake that for a regimented process. Most parents are
told to start rice cereal at 6 months, then slowly progress to simple
vegetables, mild fruits and finally pasta and meat.

Ethnic foods and spices are mostly ignored by the guidelines –
cinnamon and avocados are about as exotic as it gets — and parents
are warned off potential allergens such as nuts and seafood for at
least a year.

Yet experts say children over 6 months can handle most anything, with
a few caveats: Be cautious if you have a family history of allergies;
introduce one food at a time and watch for any problems; and make
sure the food isn’t a choking hazard.

Parents elsewhere in the world certainly take a more freewheeling
approach, often starting babies on heartier, more flavorful fare —
from meats in African countries to fish and radishes in Japan and
artichokes and tomatoes in France.

The difference is cultural, not scientific, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia,
a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ nutrition committee
who says the American approach suffers from a Western bias that fails
to reflect the nation’s ethnic diversity.

Bhatia says he hopes his group soon will address not only that, but
also ways to better educate parents about which rules must be
followed and which ones are only suggestions.

Rayya Azarbeygui, a 35-year-old Lebanese immigrant living in New
York, isn’t waiting. After her son was born last year, she decided he
should eat the same foods she does — heavily seasoned Middle Eastern
dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush.

“My pediatrician thinks I’m completely crazy,” says Azarbeygui, whose
son is now 13 months old. “But you know, he sees my child thriving
and so says, ‘You know what, children in India eat like that. Why not
yours?”‘

How to introduce healthy children to solid food has rarely been
studied. Even the federal government has given it little attention;
dietary guidelines apply only to children 2 and older.

In a review of the research, Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at
Baylor College of Medicine, found that many strongly held assumptions
— such as the need to offer foods in a particular order or to delay
allergenic foods – have little scientific basis.

Take rice cereal, for example. Under conventional American wisdom,
it’s the best first food. But Butte says iron-rich meat — often one
of the last foods American parents introduce — would be a better
choice.

Grain cereals might be worst thing Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s
Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some
studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals
actually could be among the worst foods for infants.

“These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to
formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising
blood sugar and insulin levels” and could contribute to later health
problems, including obesity, he says.

The lack of variety in the American approach also could be a problem.
Exposing infants to more foods may help them adapt to different foods
later, which Ludwig says may be key to getting older children to eat
healthier.

Food allergy fears get some of the blame for the bland approach. For
decades doctors have said the best way to prevent allergies is to
limit infants to bland foods, avoiding seasonings, citrus, nuts and
certain seafood.

But Butte’s review found no evidence that children without family
histories of food allergies benefit from this. Others suspect
avoiding certain foods or eating bland diets actually could make
allergies more likely. Some exposure might be a good thing.

And bring on the spices. Science is catching up with the folklore
that babies in the womb and those who are breast-fed taste — and
develop a taste for — whatever Mom eats. So experts say if Mom
enjoys loads of oregano, baby might, too.

That’s been Maru Mondragon’s experience. The 40-year-old Mexican
indulged on spicy foods while pregnant with her youngest son, 21-
month-old Russell, but not while carrying his 3-year-old brother,
Christian.

Christian has a mild palate while his younger brother snacks on
jalapenos and demands hot salsa on everything.

“If it is really spicy, he cries, but still keeps eating it,” says
Mondragon, who moved to Denver four years ago.

That’s the sort of approach Bhatia says more parents should know
about. Parents should view this as a chance to encourage children to
embrace healthy eating habits and introduce them to their culture and
heritage.

“So you eat a lot of curry,” he says, “try junior on a mild curry.”

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Frozen veggies and the protein question…

The kids cookbook blog is coming soon, I swear! It is taking a little longer than I thought to gather all the research and write it in my spare time 🙂 But I didn’t want too long to go by before I posted again…so here is what we are up to:

A couple people have expressed concern with running out of ideas for what to make for their babies/toddlers (around 1 year old), especially when it comes to figuring out how to get protein into their diet. I have been trying to give Karina some of what we eat (chicken, lean well cooked steak, beans, eggs, morningstar veggie patties, tofu, and ground turkey). From my reading on nutrition and talking to others, our little toddlers are not going to eat everything from all the food groups they need to everyday, but as long as it evens out over the week or two weeks then we shouldn’t worry about trying to get everything in every day. (Of course always talk to your pediatrician if you have worries that your child is not getting the nutrients they need). I found a good website with some pointers: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/toddler/feeding_your_toddler.html.

My new time saving tip for getting veggies into Karina’s diet. A friend recently gave me this tip, buy frozen veggies (they have organic ones in most grocery stores too) and just steam/heat in the microwave for a minute or two (depending on how much) and serve! The other night I cooked the last steak that my parents’ brought from Nebraska, mashed potatoes and some frozen cauliflower. The steak just had some salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce on it and pan seared it (3-4 min on each side) and then put into a 425 degree oven for 8 minutes). The mashed potatoes – bake the potatoes in the microwave (after putting wholes in them with a fork), throw them in the kitchenaid mixer with a little butter, neufchatel cheese, milk, salt and pepper. The cauliflower – put 1/4 of bag in glass bowl with an inch or two of water and cover with plastic wrap and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Karina really enjoyed the mashed potatoes…She wasn’t too sure about the cauliflower, but mixing it in with the mashed potatoes, she gobbled it up!

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Gourmet Baby

Karina has been very adventurous and we are very lucky that she eats pretty much everything (except for terriyaki flavored baked tofu). So as she approaches a year old, I’ve been giving her more and more of what we eat. She loved the caprese salad we had the other night. I just cut the tomato, basil and mozzarella in to smaller pieces for her and left the balsamic vinegar off her portion.

She also enjoyed a breakfast of wheat toast with melted brie, diced avocado and diced mango.

I think I’m going to try to give her some blue cheese and see what she does with it.

Here is the follow-up message I got from the folks at Baby Mum Mum. A friend who has worked in the product production industry, said it is common for places to manufacture their product in a cheaper location, while using their own or other imported ingredients.

Hi Marie,

You can contact the US distributor on the following email: janinesibley@nationalimporters.com

The Baby MumMum rice rusks that is sold in the US is also made using New Zealand origin skim milk powder.

Although the rice rusks are manufactured in China, only the best ingredients are used in the production.

New Zealand milk products is well known to be amongst the best in the world and that is why it is used.

The New Zealand milk powder is directly imported by the manufacturer of Baby MumMum rice rusks and each consignment is accompanied with relevant documentation to assure the origin and quality.

I have cc Janine from National Importers into this email and I am sure she will add more details for you if I have missed out on any information.

Regards,

Donald Kha
Amyson Pty Ltd (Australia)

I have not contacted the U.S. importer yet. The Mum Mums may be fine, and I’m not usually one to be paranoid, but she doesn’t seem to miss them, so I haven’t added them back into her repertoire.

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