Baby Food – To Go

Around here we have been getting excited for our upcoming road trip back east.

Did you catch that?  I already sound Midwestern.

I said “back east”.

I digress.

Beard and I are packing up our three kids in our new-to-us mini-van and driving half way across the country to see a lot  of family.  We are excited.  The girls are excited.  Heck.  Baby Brother is excited, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

Our girls are definitely no stranger to long road trips.  They had made the 8 hour trip between Virginia and my home state of New Jersey at least three times every year, plus they each made a few journeys out here to Wisconsin from Virginia.

There was this one crazy year where my husband and I drove to Wisconsin, stayed a week, then drove to New Jersey for my cousin’s wedding, then we drove back down to Virginia.  With a 15 month old Bitsy girl.  And I was 30 weeks pregnant.

That trip was made pleasant by our friends at Pepperidge Farm and their genius invention called the “goldfish”.

This summer will be Baby Brother’s first big road trip, and it is the first time I have brought a baby that still requires purees on a long road trip.  I have taken babies that exclusively nurse, and I have taken babies that can eat a lot of table foods.  Little Guy, though, is just not ready for much table food at all.  It means I have to be creative (and probably a bit industrious) about having enough for him to eat without relying on pre-packaged baby food.**

There are some foods that are no-brainers when it comes to feeding babies quickly, easily, and conveniently:

  • avocados:  I love feeding my babies avocados.  They are easy to mash up, have tons of good fats, and they are green.  What mom doesn’t love to have a baby covered in green mush?  At this point, Little Guy eats between 1/8 and 1/4 of an avocado in one sitting.  By replacing the avocado pit into the remainder of the fruit and putting the fruit, in its peel, in a sealed bag or container, I could feasibly keep an avocado for a few meals.  I highly doubt Baby Brother would like to eat avocado for 4-8 meals straight, so I eat some of it myself or pawn some of it off on his older sisters.  They ate the green mush as babies, too!
  • bananas:  Bananas are another of those foods that are easy to mash and come in their very own container.  Heck, I can slice off tiny slivers of banana with a baby spoon.  Bananas require no prep at all.  Like an avocado, Little Guy could probably eat 1/4 – 1/8 of a banana in a sitting, but bananas don’t keep as well as avocados once they are peeled.  Fortunately, those are also easy to feed to other family members.
  • applesauce:  I almost never buy anything that is packaged into individual serving sizes.  I will forego this rule with applesauce on road trips.  I can buy individual cups of sugar free, organic applesauce that make a very easy meal for a baby on the road.
  • watermelon:  This may be the first in this list where you think HUH?  If I buy a watermelon, or even half a watermelon, I can slice it up and put it in a large bag or container.  Little Guy can hold a slice of watermelon and gnaw on it while we are stopped.
  • hard-boiled eggs:  I have gotten Baby Brother absolutely hooked on egg yolks.  For the most part, he likes the liquid yolk from my hard-boiled eggs, but unfortunately there is not way I could bring those with us.  Hard-boiled eggs, on the other hand, are super easy to keep on a long trip, as well as easy to mash and eat.  Fortunately for me, I have a daughter that will only eat hard-boiled egg whites, so those won’t go to waste.

These are great foods to keep in the car for feeding babies while on a road trip.  I am, however, going to put together some purees to bring along in my favorite “baby food cubes” in a cooler.  I am working on a post about which purees to make and take and which are best left at home, as well as how to keep them frozen, and how to thaw them and feed them to baby.

Stay tuned!

Big Day for a Little Guy (And Something Else I’m Working On)

Baby Brother is rounding the corner to his half birthday, and in this house, that means he is able to start having some “solid” foods.

**I say “solids” because, let’s be real:  there is nothing solid about baby food.**

At about 2.5 times his birth weight, this guy has been better at gaining weight than his sisters were.  And at 5 1/2 months he was already sitting well unassisted.  Over the past couple of days, I offered him an empty spoon to see what he would do with it.

Of course he put it directly into his mouth.

Homeboy doesn’t play.

So this morning, just eleven days short of his sixth month, our little guy enjoyed some mashed avocado.

It’s too soon to tell whether he enjoyed it or not.  It seems each of our babies has made a face of disgust when tasting food other than breastmilk for the first time.

Starting solid foods brings a whole host of new things into the job of caring for baby:

  1.  You always have to make sure you have baby food on hand.  I have made all my babies’ foods except for the odd squeeze packet bought on a road trip here and there.  I intend to continue this trend by making and storing all of our own baby foods for Baby Brother.  This morning the girls helped me prep three different kinds of puree, and in addition to these I always have bananas and avocados on hand for easy mashed baby food.  I find once I get in the hang of making baby food, the process goes quickly, and I make purees in large enough batches that I have at least 10-20 1 Tbsp servings to put in the freezer.
  2. Babies who get solid foods need water.  This is pretty simple to take care of.  I had to grab a couple boy-colored sippy cups for Baby Brother.  Not that he couldn’t use the pink ones I had from the girls, but they had already been used for two kids.  The plastic spouts tend to wear from use, and if I’m buying new ones anyway, Little Guy can get blue.
  3. Solid foods in, solid poops out.  Now, this doesn’t happen immediately.  Thank.  Goodness.  But once solids become an established part of Little Guy’s diet in a few weeks, I will no longer be able to just toss his whole cloth diaper in the wash any longer.  I’ll have to actually put solid waste in the toilet, then put the diapers in their bin.  It’s not that painful of a process, but it does take an extra step.  An extra messstep.
  4. More laundry.  Is that even possible?  I’ll be washing more bibs, more of Little Guy’s clothes, more of my own clothes, plus a few more cloths that I use to wipe up spills.  It doesn’t sound like much, but in the course of a week, it can really add up.  I would say I am adding an extra load of laundry per week when I have a a baby eating baby foods.

Regardless of the extra work, introducing a baby to foods for the first time can be so exciting.  I’m thrilled to be doing this all over again, and I can’t wait to find out Baby Brother’s tastes.

In other, almost related news.  I have been working on a new project.  I am creating a downloadable menu plan that is both healthy (think whole foods) and inexpensive (about $50/week depending on how big your appetites are).  Having lived on one income for the vast majority of our marriage, our family is very accustomed to stretching a dollar in the grocery budget.  I have learned a few tricks along the way that I’d like to share about how to eat healthfully without breaking the bank.  Stay tuned for this menu plan to be available within the next two weeks!

Fun Finger Foods for Toddlers

(I am tagging this entry as “silly Beard moment of the week”, when in fact it is awesome Beard moment of the week.  I apologize for any confusion.)

I have posted before about Bitsy Girl’s wonderful eating habits.  She really has never been a picky eater, and she has always loved the most random but nutritious foods like sweet potatoes and avocados.  Recently, though, she has grown a bit pickier about the things she puts into her body, especially things with different textures.  I know this is natural in toddlers her age; she is becoming so aware of colors, tastes, textures, and temperatures, and it only makes sense that she would prefer some over others.

Although I understand this change in her eating habits is natural, it is still a little frustrating.  Bitsy Girl has been pickier about what vegetables she will eat, and if given the choice between multiple foods, she will always pick the carbohydrate, then the meat.  Oh boy!  A meat and potatoes kind of girl.

A few weeks ago, Beard and my good friend’s husband were watching all of our children (so my friend and I could spend the day at IKEA; score!).  The two men were better at feeding preschool age children than I had expected.  It was that particular day that Beard taught our little toddling Bitsy Girl how to enjoy raw vegetables with dip!

Apparently dipping foods and eating them is very fun for young children.  Who knew?  Our daughter loves dipping baby carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, and even some broccoli in ranch dip.  Both Beard and I eat veggies like this often, and I think that is part of the novelty for Bitsy Girl; she feels like a big girl who can dip and eat her veggies.

I know this method of serving veggies won’t necessarily work for all picky eaters, but it is worth giving a try.  So far we have only tried ranch dip, but I plan to try hummus and maybe even peanut butter (which I use to dip baby carrots in).  I could probably try other vegetables as well.

What methods do you know for getting picky eaters to eat their veggies?  Anything tried and true?

Breakfast, Ole!

The other morning I was craving an over easy egg because, well, I love them.  Unfortunately in my current state (with child) I am not advised to eat runny eggs.  To that I say “pooh pooh”.

But I still comply for fear of birthing a three-headed salmonella baby.

In order to satisfy my craving, though, I had to be a bit creative with my breakfast:

I started by making some oatmeal.  It’s got so many great nutrients and lots of fiber, so it’s perfect for pregnancy in general.  I have it more mornings than I probably should.  Just to amuse myself, I threw in a tablespoon of flax seed.

Now comes the egg-cellent part:  I cooked an egg over well (I didn’t break the yolk, but I cooked it all the way through).  This gave me the separation of yolk and white that I love so much.

All I needed was something to bring my two parts together.  And I always say, what brings things together better than salsa.

That’s right, nothing.

So I topped my oatmeal and egg with some salsa.  Then some asiago cheese.  Because really, folks, you cannot go wrong with asiago cheese.  For those of you that haven’t yet experienced it’s goodness, it is like parmesan cheese but a bit softer.  It has less of a sharp taste, but it is just as flavorful.  Basically, it’s epic.

This folks, was breakfast:

(With a prenatal vitamin on the side, of course.)

It was delicious!  If you like a savory and hearty breakfast, try it sometime. 🙂

Breakfast, Ole!

1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 – 1 cup water

1 tbsp golden flax seeds

1 egg

1-2 tsp oil

1/4 cup salsa

2 tbsp shredded asiago cheese

Combine oats and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 – 1 1/2 minutes, or until desired consistency of oatmeal.  Add flax seeds and stir.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add oil to hot pan.  Crack egg into pan and do not touch for several seconds.  When bottom of egg is cooked and solid, flip egg to ensure it is fully cooked.

Place egg on top of oatmeal and flax seed mixure.  Top with salsa and asiago cheese and enjoy!

*(Note:  If I wasn’t pregnant I would make this with an over easy egg.  To do this, heat your pan to medium high and let the egg cook just until barely solid on the bottom, then flip and turn off the heat.  Remove the egg from the pan after 30 – 45 seconds for maximum running yolk goodness.)

 

Want to Enjoy Homemade Bread?

And perhaps you haven’t been able to make it at home or simply don’t have time?

Well, I’ve finally come up with a solution that may help!  I will be selling homemade bread through my blog.

I have previously posted my recipe for whole wheat bread, which will of course be for sale  but in a few variations.  I am able to substitute white or brown sugar or agave nectar for the honey, as well as substitute vegetable oil for the butter.

I will also be selling cinnamon swirl bread (both white and wheat varieties) as well as French bread.

I’m excited to be sharing my bread with all of you!

Please use the ordering button on the right side of the page below the “Donate” button.  Include in your notes if you would like a sweetener other than honey or oil instead of butter.

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It’s Going to Be a Green Monster Kind of Week

First, let me explain what a green monster is, then I’ll tell you why I’ll be drinking these all week.

I first read the term “green monster” on the blog  Oh She Glows.  This blog is written by a very creative vegan baker and blogger.  She has some of the best tasting and most innovative recipes I’ve seen on the web, and they’re pretty darn healthy, too!

Now, if you’ve been reading long enough, you’ll know that no one in the DP family is vegan or even vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the occasional healthy vegan recipe, including, of course, green monster smoothies.

A green monster is a smoothie that is made with a few cups of greens (usually spinach or kale) in addition to the usual fruit, ice, milk/yogurt, etc.  Green monsters are almost always very green in color (thus the name) but have little to no taste of the greens in them.  They are an excellent way to get your  daily dose of greens!

Why will I be drinking these things this week?

Since college I have been eating a green salad for lunch almost everyday during the warm months (and soup in the cold months).  I am one of those people that just loves veggies dressed in olive oil and vinegar.

I know there are those readers thinking “yes, yes, me too!” and then there are some of you thinking “ugg, I knew there was something I didn’t like about this lady”.

In the past week or so, though, (approximately weeks 11-12 of this pregnancy) I have not, for the life of been, been able to eat a green salad.  Which is weird.  Beyond weird.   But, of course, being the huge fan of Sam’s Club that I am, I bought the giant container of fresh baby spinach this week (which for the record, I go through by myself in a week and a half with no problem.

So my problem is that I have tons of spinach and no appetite for it.  And my husband is not about to dig into a green salad either.  Because of this, I’m embracing the green monster smoothie, both to use up my spinach and also to get it in my body in the least offensive way possible.

One of my go to green monster smoothie recipes is this:

DP’s Go To Green Monster Smoothie

(makes 2 servings)

2-3 cups spinach

1 banana

1/2 cup milk or yogurt

3-8 fresh or frozen strawberries (depending on size and mood)

2-4 tbsp flax seed (depending on how things are “going” that day)

1 cup of ice

I throw this in my blender on high until it’s smooth, then pour into two small Mason/Bell jars.  I’ll keep the second serving in the freezer if Beard isn’t feeling a smoothie; it’ll thaw just by taking it out and sitting on the counter at least a half hour or more before you want to drink it.

 

As a treat, sometimes I’ll look up some crazy delicious sounding green monster smoothies, and this is one I loved from Oh She Glows:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bomb .

I did alter the recipe quite a bit when I made it because of what I had on hand:

  • I didn’t use tofu
  • My spinach was raw
  • I used extra cocoa powder instead of carob powder and Chocolate Infusion powder
  • I used cow’s milk
  • I used no oil
  • I used flax seeds instead of chia seeds (which DON’T do the same thing, but I just wanted flax in there)

The smoothie is a delicious treat!  Try it. 🙂