The China milk scare…

All the news over the last week or two about all the kids in China getting sick from powdered milk is so sad. I just hope that would not happen here. I guess it did before the turn of the century (according to a story I heard on NPR on Friday) except it was not plastic being added to the milk, but rather, water, which was the impetus for many regulations to follow in the U.S.

I looked a little closer at some of the labels on Karina’s snacks and foods. I noticed that her Baby Mum Mum rice crackers are made in China. So, I e-mailed the company asking them if there were safety standards in place to ensure that there is no melamine in these snacks. Here is the response:

“Thank you for the email regarding Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk. We understand your concerns about the milk powder problem in China. The reports state that the Chinese government has identified the source of the problem to be contaminated Chinese fresh milk which was used to make milk powder in China. Since Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk is made from New Zealand origin skim milk powder, it is not related to the problem in China.

I hope this is helpful.

Please feel free to contact me again should you need further clarification.


Donald Kha
Amyson Pty Ltd (Australia)

I have followed up with a few questions and will let you know what I hear.

Rebekah Denn, food writer for the Seattle PI had this to say on the subject:

Avoid Chinese imported foods with milk, says prof

The melamine-in-milk scandal goes beyond baby formula — and goes beyond China. Professor Marion Nestle, one of the most respected and most no-nonsense voices in the world of nutrition and food politics, notes that Chinese candies imported to New Zealand have been found to have traces of melamine. (Ranch 99 has pulled that candy from its shelves, says USA Today, though it was still on some shelves in Seattle Wednesday.) If a product comes from China and has milk as an ingredient, Nestle wrote, send it back.

Melamine is an issue she’s been tracking. I was initially surprised when I heard Nestle was writing a book about pet food, (out this month), but the title’s starting to sound remarkably prescient: “Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine.” It’s about last year’s melamine-in-pet-food scandal and how “what begins as a problem merely for cats and dogs soon becomes an issue of tremendous concern to everyone.”

Posted by Rebekah Denn at September 25, 2008 10:12 a.m.
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NY Times Articles about Cooking for Kids

The NY Times had a series of articles last week about cooking for kids. Here is the main article:

New York Times, September 15, 2008
6 Food Mistakes Parents Make
HARRIET WOROBEY, a childhood nutrition instructor, knows firsthand that children can be picky eaters, but even she was surprised by a preschooler last year who ate a mostly chocolate diet.

“Chocolate milk, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip pancakes — it was unbelievable,” said Ms. Worobey, director of the Rutgers University Nutritional Sciences Preschool in New Brunswick, N.J. “His mother just thought, ‘That’s what he wants, so that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”
While most parents haven’t resorted to the chocolate diet, they can relate to the daily challenge of finding foods that children will eat. Although obesity dominates the national discussion on childhood health, many parents are also worried that their child’s preferred diet of nuggets and noodles could lead to a nutritional deficit.

Fussiness about food is a normal part of a child’s development. Young children are naturally neophobic — they have a distrust of the new. Even the most determined parents can be cowed by a child’s resolve to eat nothing rather than try something new. As a result, parents often give in, deciding that a bowl of Cocoa Puffs or a Pop-Tart, while not ideal, must be better than no food at all.

“I think parents feel like it’s their job to just make their children eat something,” Ms. Worobey said. “But it’s really their job to serve a variety of healthy foods and get their children exposed to foods.”

A series of simple meal-time strategies can help even the pickiest eater learn to like a more varied diet. Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.
Sending children out of the kitchen With hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives at hand, it is understandable that parents don’t want children in the kitchen when they’re making dinner. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University studied how cooking with a child affects the child’s eating habits. In one study, nearly 600 children from kindergarten to sixth grade took part in a nutrition curriculum intended to get them to eat more vegetables and whole grains. Some children, in addition to having lessons about healthful eating, took part in cooking workshops. The researchers found that children who had cooked their own foods were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds, than children who had not had the cooking class.

When children are involved in meal preparation, “they come to at least try the food,” said Isobel Contento, professor of nutrition education at Teachers College and a co-author of the study. “Kids don’t usually like radishes, but we found that if kids cut up radishes and put them in the salad, they love the radishes.”

Pressuring them to take a bite Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire.

Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward. In one study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers asked children to eat vegetables and drink milk, offering them stickers and television time if they did. Later in the study, the children expressed dislike for the foods they had been rewarded for eating.

“Parents say things like ‘eat your vegetables and you can watch TV,’ but we know that kind of thing doesn’t work either,” said Leann L. Birch, director of Penn State’s childhood obesity research center and a co-author of the study. “In the short run, you might be able to coerce a child to eat, but in the long run, they will be less likely to eat those foods.”
The better approach is to put the food on the table and encourage a child to try it. But don’t complain if she refuses, and don’t offer praise if she tastes it. Just ask her if she wants some more or take seconds yourself, but try to stay neutral.

Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

In another Penn State study, researchers experimented to determine whether forbidden foods were more desirable. Children were seated at tables and given unlimited access to plates of apple or peach cookie bars — two foods the youngsters had rated as “just O.K.” in earlier taste tests. With another group, some bars were served on plates, while some were placed in a clear cookie jar in the middle of the table. The children were told that after 10 minutes, they could snack on cookies from the jar.

The researchers found that restricting the cookies had a profound effect: consumption more than tripled compared with when the cookies were served on plates.

Other studies show that children whose food is highly restricted at home are far more likely to binge when they have access to forbidden foods.

The lesson for parents? Don’t bring foods that you feel the need to restrict into the house. Instead, buy healthful snacks and give children free access to the food cabinets.

Dieting in front of your children Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. A Rutgers study of parent and child food preferences found that preschoolers tended to like or reject the same fruits and vegetables their parents liked or didn’t like. And other research has shown girls are more likely to be picky eaters if their mothers don’t like vegetables.

Given this powerful effect, parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating. In one study of 5-year-old girls, one child noted that dieting involved drinking chocolate milkshakes — her mother was using Slim-Fast drinks. Another child said dieting meant “you fix food but you don’t eat it.”

A 2005 report in the journal Health Psychology found that mothers who were preoccupied with their weight and eating were more likely to restrict foods for their daughters or encourage them to lose weight. Daughters of dieters were also more likely to try diets as well. The problem is, restrictive diets don’t work for most people and often lead to binge eating and weight gain. By exposing young children to erratic dieting habits, parents may be putting them at risk for eating disorders or a lifetime of chronic dieting. “Most mothers don’t think their kids are soaking up this information, but they are,” Dr. Birch said. “They’re teaching it to their daughters even though it doesn’t work for them.”

Serving boring vegetables Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables. Adding a little butter, ranch dressing, cheese sauce or brown sugar to a vegetable dish can significantly improve its kid appeal. And adding a little fat to vegetables helps unlock their fat-soluble nutrients. The few extra calories you’re adding are a worthwhile tradeoff for the nutritional boost and the chance to introduce a child to a vegetable.

Giving up too soon Ms. Worobey said she has often heard parents say, “My kid would never eat that.” While it may be true right now, she noted that eating preferences often change. So parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

Sibling dynamics and friendships can also change a child’s eating habits. Dr. Birch of Penn State noted that her first child was always willing to try new foods, but that her second child was not. “Part of it was just him defining his place in the family,” she said. By the age of 10 or 11, he didn’t want to be outdone by his sister and was far more willing to try new foods.

Susan B. Roberts, a Tufts University nutritionist and co-author of the book “Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health,” suggested a “rule of 15” — putting a food on the table at least 15 times to see if a child will accept it. Once a food is accepted, parents should use “food bridges,” finding similarly colored or flavored foods to expand the variety of foods a child will eat. If a child likes pumpkin pie, for instance, try mashed sweet potatoes and then mashed carrots. If a child loves corn, try mixing in a few peas or carrots. Even if a child picks them out, the exposure to the new food is what counts.

“As parents, you’re going to make decisions as to what you want to serve,” Ms. Worobey said. “But then you just have to relax and realize children are different from day to day.”

There are a few other articles and list of recipes on the site. Check out the NY Times for more info and the recipes. I will post more info as I test out some of the recipes. Send me an e-mail or post a comment if you try something out.

Coming soon…cook books for kids. Send me your favorites and I’ll add them to the list!

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From the farmer’s market….

So I decided to try something new recently. Goat. I had seen it a couple of times at the Ballard Sunday Farmer’s Market and finally convinced my husband that we should buy some. So I bought a pound of stew meat. I looked online for some recipes. Most of the ones that sounded really interesting involved peanut butter or something else that I figured was probably not a good idea to give Karina (yet! only one more month and she’ll be a year old!) and I really wanted her to try the goat 🙂

I ended up cooking it in the crock pot when I worked from home one day last week. I just put some salt, pepper and coriander on the goat meat, cut up some potatoes and yellow zucchini squash (from Tim’s boss’ garden), and added about a cup and a half of liquid (beef stock, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce) to the pot. After 3 and a 1/2 hours on high, it was done! Karina loved it! She usually goes for the squash first, but this time ate all the goat meat, then the squash and then the potatoes. I guess I’ll have to make it again 🙂

Tonight she really enjoyed some roasted cherry tomatoes from Pike’s Market. I just roasted them in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (about 8-10 min for a pint of tomatoes). She ate those before the chicken and potatoes. (Chicken: olive oil, salt, lemon pepper, rosemary and thyme – seared in the pan and then cooked in the oven for 8-10 min + leftover mashed potatoes from when I made shepard’s pie earlier this week).

Last week I made homemade mac-n-cheese for the first time. It is intensive, but was worth it. I also roasted a spaghetti squash. I had a friend over with her two kids (6 and 2 years old). Her new mealtime habit is to put her hands in her hair 🙂 We taught her to put her hands in the air when you ask her how big she is…since she gets such a great response from that, she likes to do it when her hands are covered in food and really work the food into the back of her hair 🙂 Needless to say she has been getting many more baths this week.


My Shepards Pie: For the mashed potatoes: I usually use yukon gold potatoes. Stick them with a fork and cook in the microwave on top of a papertowel. When they are cooked, I thrown them into my Kitchen Aid Mixer, with salt, pepper, milk, butter, neufchatel cream cheese and then turn it on.

For the meat, I tend to use ground turkey. I don’t tend to plan ahead enough to have defrosted turkey ready when I want to cook, so I cook it straight the freezer. First, I saute some onions, garlic and herbs (coriander, sage and pepper) in a skillet (with a cover). Second, I put the frozen turkey straight into the skillet and put the cover on. A few minutes later, I use a wooden spatula to scrape some of the defrosted turkey off the top, turn the turkey over, scrape the cooked turkey off the bottom and repeat until all the turkey is cooked. Then add some salt and other herbs to taste. Third, I put a little sour cream (or cottage cheese and a little milk, if no sour cream). If I don’t have any dairy or don’t want it, just leave this step out. You can also add a can of peas or other veggies if you have them on hand. Fourth, layer the baking pan (I use a pampered chef stoneware deep dish pie plate or lasagne pan), turkey and then potatoes, and repeat. On the top layer of potatoes sprinkle a little paprika and then cook at about 375 for 30-45 min.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

***Bread Crumb Topping*** [Instead of making this, I used plain store bought breadcrumbs]

6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality), torn into rough pieces

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold) — cut into 6 pieces

***Pasta and Cheese***

1 pound elbow macaroni [I used whole wheat rotini]

1 tablespoon table salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) [I left out the cayenne]

5 cups milk (see note)

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese — shredded [I used havarti instead]

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese — shredded

1 teaspoon table salt


For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Recipe Notes It’s crucial to cook the pasta until tender–just past the “al dente” stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.

This recipe from CDKitchen for Classic Macaroni And Cheese serves/makes 8

Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, butter, herbs, salt, pepper, water.

Cut the squash in half + removed seeds. Place cut side down in dish. (I used a lasagna dish). Cover the bottom of the dish with water. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes (time depends on size of squash). Once soft, use a fork to take the squash out of the rind in spaghetti strands. Mix in a tablespoon or two of butter (to your taste). Add salt, pepper, a sprinkling of fresh herbs [I used sage] and serve.

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Most of us don’t even have time to eat breakfast ourselves in the morning, but having a child now means that we have to get breakfast together for them at least, even if we still don’t eat it:)

Karina’s favorite breakfast by far is eggs. I just stir up an egg with some shredded cheese and then add in whatever we have in the fridge (leftover chicken, green onions, or sliced tomatoes), put it in the microwave for a minute and breakfast! I give her a little wheat toast and some blueberries and she is a happy little girl. I put her high chair in the kitchen, so I can watch her while I get the rest of her food and bottles ready for the day.

She also eats oatmeal mixed with cut up peaches and yogurt (yes all together) or cottage cheese with cut up plums and blackberries. I’ve stopped giving her Zwibak biscuits right now because she keeps biting large chunks and choking on them.

We’ll have to try those again when she has a better command of how big of a bite she can handle. Right now she loves to shove as much food in her mouth as possible.

I found a couple of more sites that may be helpful in the quest to find more options for kids. There are not that many out there, so if anyone has any suggestions e-mail me and let me know.

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She’s turning into a real little comedian. Which is great, just not during meal time 🙂

We’re very lucky she is such a good eater, but the other night, for the first time, she refused to eat. I made a lasagna (which the adults all liked) but she just wasn’t interested. She loved the penne and meatballs we gave her last week (Dad cooked for her – frozen Trader Joe’s meatballs, Classico 4 cheese sauce and some whole wheat penne). My friend, Adriane, suggested I give her some fruit to get her interested in the food. I put a little cut watermelon (one her favorites) and she ate that and started to eat some of her dinner, but then gave up again once the watermelon was done. So I gave her some cubed cheddar and rosemary bread which she ate along with some more of the lasagna.

[Recipe for my lasagna – saute a diced onion (medium sized) with some garlic and olive oil, add ground turkey (I start it frozen and cook it with the cover on the pan for a few minutes and then flip the turkey until it all is cooked). Then I added some coriander, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. After that I added 3 cans of diced tomatoes and some tomato paste with a little more of all the spices. In a separate saute pan, I cooked some diced yellow and green zucchini with garlic and rosemary. After it was cooked, I tossed it into the sauce with the turkey and let it simmer while I mixed the ricotta with some fresh herbs and an egg. Then unfortunately I realized that I did not have any shredded mozzarella. So I started layering the sauce with no bake noodles, and ricotta. I ended up topping the lasagne with some parmesan and a little smoked gouda and then baked for about 45 min. covered]

Adriane also gave me a good time saving tip for pasta. Buy the Annie’s mac n cheese from Trader Joe’s and you have wheat macaroni in 3 minutes in the microwave! I didn’t use the “cheese” that came with it, just mixed in some cooked squash and parmesan instead. The “cheese” that comes with it is better than most instant mac n cheese, but has a lot of sodium.

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Eating what we eat

Karina is now eating mostly what we eat. No more double duty! Sometimes the timing just doesn’t work however (mostly when I can’t get dinner ready early enough). The other night we were getting ready to go to a friend’s house for dinner (not until 7pm), so I was trying to figure out what to give Karina for dinner. We hadn’t gone grocery shopping and the fridge was pretty bare. I was wracking my brain, then thought, “what do I usually do when Tim and I don’t have many options = quesadillas! So I found a can of black beans in the pantry, put some shredded cheese, diced up a little tomato and a little cilantro on a flour tortilla and put it in the microwave for 30 secs. I cut it up into bite size pieces and Karina loved it! Later at our friend’s house she tried some pulled pork and sweet potato. Also a big hit!

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so I’ve been trying out some different jarred food. I tried to give Karina soup. Here is the result:

I don’t know how soon we’ll try that again…Good thing it was bath night 🙂

Karina also enjoyed a great steak dinner one night (thanks to Ouma and Oupa for bringing us some steaks from Nebraska). We grilled some steak (med rare) and then cut the end pieces that were cooked through for Karina. She also ate tomatoes and some baked sweet potato with rosemary.

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Weekend Trip

Taking a (almost) 10 month old on a road trip and figuring out what to feed her (and yourself) can be stressful. We took a last minute trip up to Whistler for a much needed long weekend away. We left at about 5:00 on a Friday afternoon and came back on Monday.

I packed a few jars of food, some cheese, formula and bottles of water, figuring I would feed Karina jarred food when she wasn’t eating what we were eating and then buy some fruit once we got there.

Friday was a looooooong night. Karina slept for the first hour and a half or so, when we stopped and got McDonald’s for us and gave her a jar of Earth’s Best Vegetable Beef Pilaf. She had a little water and then was good to go for about another 30 minutes when we had to stop again to give her a bottle. Then she luckily slept for the rest of the trip 🙂

The next morning we got up, gave her a bottle and then went to the base of Blackcomb mountain. We found a great little breakfast place and sat her in the high chair. I ordered a couple eggs (scrambled) with wheat toast, home fries, sun dried tomato sausage and some fruit. I forgot her placemat that sticks the table in the car, so I had to hand feed her some of my breakfast, because if I give her a plate, she just picks it up and turns it over. She loved the sausage! She even tasted her dad’s pancakes.

Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating, so we couldn’t enjoy the hiking trails around Whistler Village. We went shopping instead 🙂 and watched some of a mountain biking competition. For lunch Tim and I had pizza and gave her a jar of baby food and some cheese. We went to the grocery store to get some food for dinner. We bought rotisserie chicken, premade butternut squash ravioli with pesto, some watermelon, french bread and hummus. We had dinner in our condo. Karina love the pesto and loved the watermelon even more!

The next day it was cloudy again, so we went back to Whistler Village and explored a little more. We gave Karina breakfast before we left (some Earth’s Best oatmeal mixed with jar of apples and bananas) and some cheese of course 🙂 We had some hummus, bread and prosciutto. For lunch we decided to sit down at the base of Whistler mountain, so we could watch the mountain bikers come down the mountain. They didn’t really have anything healthy for Karina on the menu and ordering an entire child’s meal for her is too much at this stage, so we gave her a jar of food and a Zwiebak biscuit while we ate our sandwiches and fries. She tried some fries too and loved them of course 🙂

For dinner we decided to have a nice meal out. Unfortunately the restaurant we chose was not so nice. It had good reviews, but when we got there they were out of almost everything! I was going to order a steak with a potato and steamed veggies, so Karina could share with me and Tim was going to order a roast chicken entree, but they were out of both! Instead, we got a couple of appetizers and gave Karina jarred food again along with a couple pieces of Tim’s shortribs.

Breakfast the next morning made up for it! The sun came out (of course on our last day) and we had an amazing breakfast outside. I had a steak hash with poached eggs. Mmmmmm….Karina enjoyed the steak and potatoes along with some of Tim’s french toast 🙂

We drove to Vancouver for lunch. I had sushi and Tim had steak terriyaki. We’ve had dinner a couple of times at sushi places and Karina has had plenty to eat. I give her the tofu from my miso soup (cooled down of course) and Tim gives her some terriyaki, rice and veggies from his meal. She loves it!

We stopped on the road to give her a jar of Tender Chicken and Stars from Earth’s Best. I think its her favorite or she was really hungry.

We are very lucky that Karina is not picky! My parents were visiting last week and she tried salmon (I made pesto with basil, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil and lemon zest, slathered the salmon with it, enclosed in foil and cooked on the grill), halibut (from fish and chips), and boerevors (a South African farmer’s sausage- which you can get at Uli’s in Pike’s Market). Her favorite food is cheese. No matter what you give her, cheese is always the first to go. So far, I’ve given her feta, parmesan, cheddar and aged gouda. Just like her mom, she hasn’t found a cheese she doesn’t like 🙂

Please write me with comments or tips you have for traveling with little ones!

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Green light on everything except shellfish and peanut butter!

Karina had her 9 month appointment last week and the doctor gave me the green light to give her any food except shellfish, peanut butter and no whole milk to drink yet. Now I don’t even know where to start! Here is a menu of what she ate over the weekend:

Breakfast: whole milk yogurt with blueberries + cheerios
Lunch: cheddar cheese cubes, left over grilled chicken (cubed) and some peach (cubed)
Dinner: mini pasta shells with squash (leftover frozen puree – thawed in the microwave) with parmesan + some blueberries for desert.

Breakfast: Her first meal ordered in a restaurant! I ordered one egg scrambled and some turkey sausage. We kept her occupied while waiting for the food with a Zwiebek biscuit. She loved it!
Lunch: yogurt with peaches
Dinner: mini pasta shells with squash, a couple of cubes of cheddar cheese and some leftover grilled chicken cubed. Blueberries for dessert. I couldn’t find the strawberries I had set aside for her in the fridge.

I set them aside because I made a great, simple dessert the other night. I saw this on the food network, Barefoot Contessa I think. Take some fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries) pour a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar over the fruit and a couple tablespoons of sugar. Mix together and let sit while you eat dinner. After dinner, spoon into dishes with whipped cream or cool whip and some fresh mint if you have it. Soooooo goooood!

Karina tasted her first soft serve ice cream. Her face I’m told was priceless. I had her in a front carrier, so couldn’t see 🙂 She wasn’t too sure of the cold, but seemed to love the taste and asked for more.

She is still taking about 3-4 8oz. bottles a day. She has been a big drinker for a while now, but I was thinking this would slow down because she is eating so much food! But not yet…Karina is only 9 months though, so I’m sure this will start to slow down at some point.

I haven’t tried salmon yet..probably later this week when my parents come to town.

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Another successful “Google” meal

The way I usually cook is to look in the fridge, see what I have, what I’m in the mood for, then Google a couple of ingredients until I find the right recipe that will give me an idea for a meal. I had defrosted steak and my husband, Tim, wanted pasta. I typed “steak and pasta” into Google. While Karina took her pre-dinner nap, I searched through a couple of recipes until I came across one on (which I frequently use for ideas and for info on how long to cook things, since that is not one of my strengths) for Maitre d’hotel butter. It gave me a great idea. My husband grilled the steak (salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder). I made some orzo pasta (the kind that looks like rice, my first time using it). For the sauce, I melted about 1/4 stick of butter, 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic together in a saucepan. I poured that over the pasta when it was done, added some shredded Parmesan (I guess about 1/4 – 1/2 cup), salt, lemon pepper, chives, fresh herbs (on hand I had rosemary, basil, lemon thyme and sage) and cut up an on-the-vine tomato (no salmonella!). It turned out great. I used the leftovers the next night as a pasta salad when some friends came over for dinner.

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Fitting cooking for you and baby into your busy schedule

Cooking doesn’t always fit into our busy lives. It takes time and energy to cook and there are some days you have it and some days you don’t. No one should feel bad about ordering takeout or using Trader Joe’s frozen meals (or jarred baby food). But making a home cooked meal can be easy and quick (and cheap!). There are so many resources on the internet to help you find that “30 minute meal” or simple go to dishes. For example, tonight I didn’t really have the energy to cook and stood in the middle of the kitchen looking into the fridge, while Karina jumped in her jumper, wondering what I was going to make for dinner.

I like hearty meals. I’m definitely a meat and potatoes gal. I hadn’t defrosted any meat and didn’t have my usual bag of frozen shrimp from Costco in the freezer so couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. I was thinking it was about to be a Mac-n-Cheese night when I saw it! Kielbasa! I bought it the last time I was at the grocery store thinking I could use it for a quick meal then forgot about it 🙂 That left the starch…Sweet potatoes! I bought them to cook for Karina. Then I “googled” kielbasa and sweet potatoes and looked at a couple of recipes on, which also called for apples, which I didn’t have but I ended up making a new favorite meal! Here’s what I did while Tim gave Karina her dinner (veggie burger made in the toaster oven with cheese and cooked carrots we had for dinner the other night).

  1. Microwave 3 medium size sweet potatoes for about 9 minutes.
  2. Cut potatoes in half, scoop out middle and put into my Kitchen Aid mixer. [saved 1/2 of one sweet potato to use for Karina for meals]
  3. Add a little garlic (I buy the garlic in a jar already minced, saves time), ginger (from a tube), low fat yogurt, 3-4 tbsp butter, salt, pepper and apple juice. Then I let the mixer do the work.
  4. Slice up the kielbasa.
  5. Spray Pam olive oil spray into a brownie pan.
  6. Spoon the mashed sweet potatoes into the pan and cover the top with the sliced kielbasa.
  7. Bake covered at 425 for 15 minutes
  8. Take cover off and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes

While it was baking I made a tomato and cucumber salad with dill and red wine vinegar. This only took about 30 minutes. Some nights this works and others it doesn’t. I’m trying not to get fixated on a schedule because I will just end up frustrated. Some nights we’re successful and eat with Karina, so she gets used to that, but other nights we eat after her or after she goes to bed.

Karina’s dinner was really easy (Thanks Adriane for the tip!). I just put a Boca burger I had frozen in the fridge, into the toaster oven, then melted some cheddar on top of it and cut it into bite sized pieces. She ate about 1/3 of one. The other night when I some friends over for dinner and had the oven on, I squeezed a pan of carrots into the oven to cook for Karina. I roasted them whole and then just sliced them and cut the larger pieces in half. Great finger food! Karina didn’t seem too keen on the carrots, but LOVED the veggie burger with cheese. Of course she’s my daughter, so she LOVES cheese. Her lunch today was leftover grilled chicken (cubed), cheese (cubed) and some cantalope (cubed). She also has been enjoying yogurt with bananas or blueberries and biltong (a South African beef jerky…mmmm).

I started to give her pasta as well. I bought some smaller sized pastas (mini farfalle, mini penne) and rigatoni (which I cut after cooked into bite sized pieces). One of Karina’s new favorite meals is cubed grilled chicken with butternut squash (I still have some purees in the freezer) and shredded parmesan. If my husband liked butternut squash, we’d be eating that for dinner too. Now Karina and I outnumber him though, so maybe we will starting having it more once she can state her preference:)

We shared another meal together last week: Grilled chicken and rice. Easy and quick. I think I’m going to have to try to get an indoor grill for the rainy fall, winter and spring here in Seattle.

Another great food I discovered recently (thanks to Chris!) are Zwieback Toasts. They are a great finger food for the little ones. It looks like biscotti and just melts in their mouth, so lessens the danger of them biting a piece off and choking. It is messy, but keeps Karina entertained for a good 20 + minutes. Which is helpful at a restaurant or just for us to be able to eat in peace and quiet at home.

My next ventures for Karina are going to be ground turkey and salmon…I’ll let you know how it goes. We have her 9 month appointment this week and I’m going to ask her pediatrician some questions and then I will hopefully feel less inhibited by what I can give her 🙂

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