Friday, December 31, 2010

December Challenge: Cutting our Grocery Bill...Results

Well I said that I would post with how I did with our December challenge to cut our grocery bill by a further $130 and I just finished tallying our receipts. And the result? We beat our goal and cut $170 of our grocery bills (both food and other grocery items)! That means that since we started this endeavor to trim our grocery costs we have cut a total of $639.39. The best part about this challenge has been that we are still eating food that is healthy and tasty. 

The single biggest contributor to this drastic cost cutting has been more effective meal planning, and I can't emphasis its importance enough. It requires some time up front but cuts down costs, waste, and stress... plus it's a great creative brainstorming exercise. I am so pleased with how things went this month and we have the freezer and cupboards packed to give us a great start to January. 

Happy New Year to Everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Whole Grain Broccoli Biscuits

 I had a little broccoli left in the fridge and decided to make biscuits with them. These turned out well and Luc is going to have them tonight with some leftover beef stew. 


Whole Grain Broccoli Biscuits

- 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium nonstick skillet heat olive oil over med heat. Add broccoli and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute until broccoli is bright green and tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Transfer to a mini food processor or chopper and process until finely chopped. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine flours, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife or forks until well combined and the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Add broccoli mixture and cheese and then slowly add milk until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl. (You may not need all the milk)

Roll dough out to 3/4" thickness on a lightly floured surface and use a round cookie cutter to shape into biscuits (you could try making drop biscuits and skip this step if you prefer). Place on a baking sheet and back for about 12 minutes until golden, turning once halfway through. 

Makes about 1 dozen.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

It was a very busy holiday long weekend and that craziness coupled with some cooking misses, means that I haven't posted anything in quite a few days. I'm tinkering with a couple recipes that aren't quite there yet, but until I get them up to par I thought I would post a recipe for Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese from Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes, that has been one of Luc's favourite flavour combinations since he was 9 months old (it isn't recommended for babies under that age). When he was younger he ate it as a baby puree and now it works well as a tasty spread and a dip for the whole family. 



Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese
- 1 large red pepper
- 1 1/2 oz fresh pasteurized goat cheese (eyeball it)

Preheat the broiler. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the whole pepper on the pan and roast, turning every 3 minutes or so until evenly charred and blackened all over, about 15 minutes. (I usually roast a couple at once and then use some for pasta, grain salad, etc)

Remove from oven and place in a covered container or bowl with wrap on top so that the trapped steam with loosen the skin. Leave until the pepper has cooled enough to handle. 

Using your fingers, peel off the skin and then cut the pepper lengthwise and remove the stem and seeds. Slice the halves in half again and puree until smooth (a mini food processor is great for this). Spoon in the goat cheese and process with the pepper puree until it is blended and creamy. 

Makes about 1 cup

Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and it actually freezes well for up to a month.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunshine Smoothie

This is another oatmeal smoothie recipe that I've adapted from the Frugal Foodie Cookbook. I've been trying to incorporate cantaloupe into Luc and mine's diet (my husband however hates melons) since I learned that they are apparently another superfood. This fruit has concentrated levels of beta-carotene, folic acid, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium as well as some B vitamins and is antioxidant rich. This smoothie makes me think of summer...that lovely season where snowsuits don't have to be wrangled onto little squirming bodies. 

Sunshine Smoothie

- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ground into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup cantaloupe, diced
- 1/2 cup ice

Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth and yummy. If it is a little too thick, thin with a little water or pineapple juice. Sweeten to taste if needed. 

Makes two largish smoothies

* p.s. Luc started cry after he finished his smoothie this morning because it was all gone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Curried Chicken and Cheese Balls

These are super quick and easy when you have cooked chicken on hand (for instance, if you poached a whole chicken) as they require no cooking besides that. And, isn't everything more appealing for kids when it's in the form of a ball? These are great toddler eats, but would also be fantastic in a lunch box for an older child. 

Curried Chicken and Cheese Balls

1/2 cup cubed or shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tsp minced onion
1/8 tsp curry powder
tiny pinch sea salt, optional
3 tbsp wheat germ

Put all the ingredients, except the wheat germ, in a small food processor or blender and blend until you have a uniform crumbly texture. Try rolling into a ball, if it is too dry, add 1 tsp water. Form into small balls and roll gently in the wheat germ spread on a plate. Chill and serve.

Makes about 10 balls

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tofu, Peanut Butter, and Banana Spread

This easy no-cook, super healthy spread is soooo delicious! I used really soft silken tofu because that's what I had, but if you could find a semi-soft silken tofu that would work better, so that it wouldn't be quite so runny for a spread. I rolled some up in a whole wheat tortilla for Luc today and it was quite a mess, but was eaten in record time! This would also make a great dip for waffle strips, a topping for pancakes, or a pudding on its own (I ate some as a pudding). Due to the inclusion of peanut butter and honey, this spread is suitable for babies over 1 year. It will turn a little darker in the fridge, but it will still taste just the same.

Tofu, Peanut Butter, and Banana Spread

- 1/2 package soft (or semi-soft)tofu
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter (unsalted)
- 2 tsp lemon juice

Puree in a blender or food processor until ingredients are fully incorporated and it is nice and smooth.

Makes about 1 cup

Pizza Muffins

When I saw this recipe for Pizza Muffins over at Happy Healthy Mama, I knew I had to try them. Not only are they healthy but they seem really appealing to both toddlers and big kids. They turned out pretty well and Luc seems to like them too. Next time, I will cook them at 350 degrees fahrenheit instead 400 and I think I will add some chopped black olives because Luc loves them. Thank you to Maryea at Happy Healthy Mama for this great meal on the go recipe! Be sure to check out the recipe here.

Luc's New Favourite Snack: Pomegranate Seeds

For some reason I had never thought of giving Luc pomegranate seeds. But, a couple weeks ago we were in a store that was giving away fruit samples on small plates and since he was getting a little fussy I grabbed one for Luc. He INHALED all the pomegranate seeds that were on the plate. Sure, they're a bit of a pain to seed, but it's like unveiling rubies, they are so beautiful. Super healthy, great for fine motor skill practice and makes an alternative to raisins.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Staple Recipe: Poached Whole Chicken

For some reason, it took me until this year to poach my first whole chicken. I had used the technique with breasts but never the whole bird, as well as saved up my bones in the freezer for making broth which is much the same technique. After I realized what a great way to cook poultry it was and how incredibly far I could make one chicken go this way, I felt like a total dumbass for not getting with the poaching program earlier! Not only do I get enough chicken meat for 4 or 5 family meals, but I also usually get around 20 cups of delicious homemade broth. I usually freeze all the broth in two cup portions, except for what I will use in the next couple days, in either containers or baggies put in a large freezer bag. The chicken you can use in literally hundreds of ways. I like to cut off at least one chicken breast and slice over a salad and toss the whole deal with dressing for when I'm in a big rush. The rest of the chicken I usually shred with my hands and freeze in one cup portions to use in any recipe where cooked chicken is called for. you can even save the chicken fat if you'd like, its good to make Matzo balls and it also tastes good in savory breads. 

Some easy uses I like for the chicken include: quesadillas, White Chili (this is an excellent one), chicken pot pie, chicken curry, etc etc etc. I hope that if you aren't already in the habit of poaching whole chickens that you will love this technique as much as I do! You will need your biggest stock pot with a lid to make cook this in.

Whole Poached Chicken

- 1 whole chicken, 5-6 pounds
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into big chunks
- 2 stalks celery, cut into big chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 lemon
- big handful of fresh parsley, stems and all
- small palmful of peppercorns
- any other scrubbed vegetable scraps you have hanging around, I usually keep them frozen in a bag to add to this, such as leek, fennel, parsnip, etc. If I have some on hand, I also throw in a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.

Place everything into your stockpot. Fill with water until the chicken is covered by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. During this time, skim off any of the gross grey stuff that comes to the top. 

Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken poach in the hot liquid for 1 1/2 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the stockpot, letting the juices drain, making sure that they run clear (which tells you that it's done, if juices are pinkish it isn't cooked, heat to a simmer and turn off and let sit 1/2 hour more). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool. Strain out the vegetables from the broth and discard. Let the broth cool. Once it is cool, transfer it to the fridge. 

Once the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones, shredding with your finger, discarding the skin and bones. Either keep the breasts whole or shred it all. Pack up the chicken to store in the fridge or freezer. 

Once the broth is cold, you can skim off the fat and either discard it or save it for another use (it also freezes well--I freeze it in Baby Cubes). Divide the broth how you'd like, and store it in the fridge or freezer. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Sauce

Our whole family loves anything made with pumpkin, both sweet and savory,which works out great since it's so healthy, containing 236% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A among other vitamins and antioxidants. This pasta sauce recipe is a great easy one for babies, toddlers, or anyone else. It is also super quick, which is why I made it today as this has been a very busy week with exams, redecorating our bedroom, and Christmas shopping on top of all the usual busyness! You can puree the whole meal with the pasta for younger babies (from 8 months) or use tiny pastina.The sauce also freezes well for up to three months.

Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Sauce

- 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
- 1/2 small onion, very finely chopped
- 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp applesauce or apple puree   
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- tiny pinch cinnamon
- freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium-low heat and cook onion until it becomes fragrant and starts to soften, about a minute. Add pumpkin puree, applesauce, sage, cinnamon, and broth and simmer about 5 minutes to let flavour combine. Add more broth if the sauce needs a little thinning. If choosing, stir parmesan into the sauce now, or serve on top. Spoon onto your munchkin's favourite pasta. 

Makes enough for roughly 5-6 baby servings or 3-4 toddler servings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PB &J Oatmeal Smoothie

This is my adaptation of a recipe from The Frugal Foodie Cookbook: Waste-Not Recipes for the Wise Cook. Everyone in our house loves smoothies and Luc especially goes nuts for them. The oatmeal in this smoothie, while it sounds weird, lends a nice texture and makes this smoothie really a breakfast in a glass. It also makes a great mess-free snack if you put it in an insulated cup for when you are on the go. I grind a couple cups of oats at a time and keep in a container in the cupboard, making this really quick to throw together. This recipe is suitable for babies over age one due to the inclusion of nuts and milk.

PB & J Oatmeal Smoothie

-1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ground fine in a coffee grinder or food processor.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until yummy. Sweeten to taste with honey or agave nectar (it will vary depending on how tart your berries are). Makes 2 toddler servings. You can keep it in the fridge but you may have to thin with a little extra milk before serving as it thickens up a little.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rice Cereal not Recommended for Baby?

 I just read this article by Dr.Alan Green, and I thought it was interesting. While I'm skeptical of the strength of the link between feeding infants white rice cereal and childhood obesity (versus other factors), feeding baby white rice cereal never made sense to me. I don't understand why it would be encouraged to feed babies, as their first taste of food, a refined grain that health-conscious adults avoid in favour of the goodness of whole grains. I only fed Luc brown rice cereal because that just made more sense to me personally. All of the brochures that I picked up from his doctor's office however, advocated traditional white rice cereal -- it seems at least that some doctor's are on board and maybe the established guidelines are changing?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recipe Shout Out:Spinach Ricotta Bites

Since I'm working on a couple of things at the moment (as well as studying for two exams) I am posting a recipe shout out instead. These Spinach Ricotta Bites are one of the only ways that my son will eat spinach -- and my husband likes them too! I am greatly appreciative to Catherine over at Weelicious for posting this recipe. Check them out here (you won't be disappointed!):

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Camembert Grilled Cheese with Carmelized Apples and Onions

This is a perfect seasonal winter sandwich for your kids and yourself. It's also as frugal as it is yummy since it seems that Camembert and brie are on sale at every grocery store as we near the holiday season, and apples and apples and onions are always affordable (I got a 3 lb bag of organic local apples for 1.99 and a 5lb bag of local onions for .99 ). I used my homemade half whole wheat, half white bread for this sandwich but you could use whatever you have on hand. My loaf was large though, so while I got one big sandwich from these amounts, it would make two with more modestly proportioned bread. This recipe would also be great for the panini press, but I'm not lucky enough to own one. :(

Camembert Grilled Cheese with Carmelized Apples and Onions

- 4 slices of bread- thin slices of Camembert, enough to cover two of the bread slices
- 1 apple, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 small onion, sliced into thin rounds and rings separated
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- black pepper, to taste 

 In a large skilled place 1/2 tbsp butter and the olive oil and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned. Take off the heat and add black pepper. 

While the apples and onions are cooking, prepare your bread by spreading the rest of the butter on one side of the bread slices. Top two of the slices with sliced Camembert. Top both sandwiches with the onion and apple mixture and top with another slice.

Wipe out the frying pan of any excess oil, and then add the sandwiches. Press down with another pan or plate to flatten. Cook until golden, flip, and do the same. 


Makes 2 sandwiches (one for the munchkin and one for you!) 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creamy Tropical Puree

This puree has been Luc's favourite from the very first time he had it and I have recommended it to other moms and their babies have liked it too. This is one baby puree that Luc will still eat -- he seems to think it's a treat. This is another super easy no-cook baby recipe. Suitable for babies over 8 months (due to the coconut), or you can just make Banana and Avocado Puree for those 6-8 months. 

Creamy Tropical Puree

- 1 med banana
- 1/2 avocado 
- 1/4 cup or so coconut milk

Mash banana in a bowl with avocado and add coconut milk until the mixture reaches your baby's favourite consistency. 

* can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. Just make sure you cover with cling wrap that is pressed against the surface to reduce browning of the avocado. 

* can also be frozen, but will discolour somewhat, although it won't affect the taste

About 5 baby cubes

DIY Non-Toxic All-Purpose Antiseptic Cleaner


This is a non-directly food related post but while you are preparing healthy food for your children, you may want to "green" your cleanup. Non-toxic all-purpose and kitchen cleaners can be pricey. This recipe literally costs pennies to fill a spay bottle. I have have tried at least a half dozen different formulations and I have found this one adapted from Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond is the most effective homemade all-purpose solution. This is a great cleaner for everything from wiping down kids stuff, to crayon marks, washing baseboards, and countertops. Just let sit a few moments on crusty kitchen cleanup to let it do its work before wiping up.

DIY All-Purpose Antiseptic Cleaner

- 1/2 tsp washing soda (you can also use baking soda, but it isn't as alkaline and so won't be quite as effective)
- 1 tsp borax
- 1/2 tsp liquid soap or detergent 
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 tsp total antiseptic essential oil (i.e. I like 3/4 tsp lemon and 1/4 tsp rosemary but you can also any combo of: sweet orange, lavender, tea tree, thyme, rose, cinnamon, eucalyptus, or birch) 
Add washing soda, borax and soap to a clean spray bottle. Pour in the hot water and essential oil, cap, and shake until the minerals are dissolved. Give the bottle a shake each time before using. 

Makes 2 cups.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Potatobaga Mash and Carsnip Mash

These are both great easy side dish alternatives for mashed potatoes and also make a great puree for babies over 8 months who enjoy a chunkier texture. Rutabagas are a good source of vitamin C, folate, and fiber and I think they get underused. Plus both of these mashes use produce that's in season in the winter.  

 Potatobaga Mash 
-1 lb good mashing potatoes, peeled and chunked
-1 lb rutabaga, peeled and chunked
-3 tbsp butter 
-1/4 cup vegetable broth 
-1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
-sprinkle of black pepper
(adults may want to add a little salt) 

Place rutabaga in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Rutabaga takes longer to cook than potato so add potato just when the rutabaga is just starting to get tender, roughly 10-15 min. Continue cooking until both are tender.

Drain well in a colander, then return the chunks to the saucepan. Heat vegetable broth in the microwave and let the butter melt into it. Once melted, add to the vegetables along with the nutmeg and black pepper and mash until smoothish.  

Carsnip Mash: Substitute parsnips and carrots for the veg but otherwise follow the ingredients and directions as above, except only cook the parsnip for 5-10 minutes before adding the carrots.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tex-Mex Chicken Quesadilla (and Veg Version)

This simple quesadilla is one of the only ways I can get Luc to eat chicken since he isn't thrilled about it. I also pretty much always have cooked chicken on hand or in the freezer from poaching or roasting a whole bird.

Tex-Mex Chicken Quesadilla 

1 small whole wheat tortilla
3 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped green onion
2 tbsp finely chopped cooked chicken
chili powder, sprinkle.

(* I don't actually measure anything for these, this is just a rough idea)

Assemble the quesadilla. Only put toppings on one half of the tortilla and then fold it over. I like to put some cheese both first and last to make sure the whole thing melds together as it melts. 

In a frying pan on med-low heat, melt a tiny pat of butter (or you can spray the the pan with cooking spray,  but it doesn't taste as good). Press the quesadilla down occasionally as it cooks to flatten to make it easier for little mouths. Cook until golden, melty, and yummy. Allow to cool somewhat before cutting to keep the goodness from escaping. I usually make myself a couple at the same time.

Vegetarian Version: Substitute black beans or pinto beans for the chicken. Mash them with a fork and use like a spread to prevent them from rolling out of the quesadilla.

Spiced Apricot Snack Bars

A sweet (but still relatively healthy) treat for everyone over 1.

Spiced Apricot Snack Bars

-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp ground cardamom
-1/2 cup orange juice
-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 tbsp coconut oil
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-2/3 cup dried apricots, snipped into tiny pieces

In a bowl mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, soda, and cardamom. In another bowl, mix together orange juice, applesauce, coconut oil, and egg; add to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the apricots. Pour into an 8x8 pan lined with a sling of parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool on a wire rack and when cool carefully lift using the parchment sling and cut into bars.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Challenge: Cutting Our Grocery Bill...Again

Over the past several months we have made serious efforts to cut our grocery costs (including things like baby supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc) for two reasons. Firstly, we had gotten lazy and stopped keeping track and when we finally added up one month we were SHOCKED by the amount we had spent. Secondly, since going on one salary it is no longer a choice, but a necessity that we cut our costs, and since we live very frugally in every other regard, the only place left to really cut back was on our grocery/household bills. 

So, since August we have managed to cut $470  off our monthly grocery bills. Sounds great, right? But we are still overspending and still spent $130 dollars more than our monthly budget last month. I am absolutely determined that for the month of December we WILL be on budget. 

But it isn't so easy. We are determined to still eat healthfully and well and I  have basically run out of ideas to creatively cut back. So I think it will just come down to brute determination and keeping track of how we are doing throughout the month. I find that the biggest challenge is that it takes more time to be so careful and plan everything so that little goes to waste and we still eat a balanced and varied diet, and time is something I seem to have very little of between looking after Luc, going to school part-time, cleaning, volunteering, taking care of the dog, etc etc etc. 

 I will post with how we have done at the end of the month! 

Some of the ways we cut out $470 so far:

- I bake all our bread (works out to be about 50 cents a loaf plus I can make what I feel like plus its preservative and additive free)
- Switched to store brand diapers
- Make even more DIY cleaners than before
- Eat less meat and use less pricey cuts
- Freeze anything that can be frozen and might otherwise go to waste
- Carefully plan out weekly menus 
- Started shopping at cheaper stores (although the customer service certainly leaves something to be desired...)
- Buying more items in bulk
- Shopping sales
- Shopping local seasonal produce (not just for financial reasons but ethical ones as well)
- Only buying organic items for those which are most contaminated (this is the only one so far that has bothered me but it necessary for the moment) 
- Making all my own broths and stocks
- Switching brands on some toiletries 
- Using more coupons

and quite a few more...any other ideas would be very welcome!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Staple Recipe: Luc's Favourite Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe adapted from The Baby's Table by Brenda Bradshaw and Lauren Bramley and just a fantastic easy recipe for baby. After 10 months of age I tried several tomato sauce recipes and this was by far Luc's favourite and I have been making it regularly ever since. It is extremely versatile and easy to make and can be used on pastina, pasta (by itself or with add-ins), as a dipping sauce, as a tasty puree by adding a little to a pureed vegetable + cheese of your choice, add a little to a stew -- the possibilities are endless. I try to always keep a little frozen in Baby Cubes to have on hand. 

Tomato Sauce

- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 plump shallot, finely diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 14 cup water
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

In a frying pan, heat olive oil over low heat; saute shallot until translucent. 

Add tomatoes, tomato paste and water; bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the basil. Simmer, partially covered for 30 min. stirring occasionally. 

Makes 5ish baby cubes

* some brands of tomato paste are gluten-free, some aren't, if that's a concern 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cookbook Review: Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook

 Organic Baby & Toddler Cook Book: Easy Recipes for Natural Foods by Lizzie Vann

Overview: This book presents 80 recipes for babies just beginning solids up to preschoolers, emphasizing natural and organic food choices and easy recipes that anyone could master.

The Good:
-Well layed-out
- Attractive book with beautiful photography
- Inspiring introduction on the importance of organic and healthful food and the benefits of making baby food at home
- Includes produce seasonality chart

The Not-So-Good:
 - Claims that contradict current APA guidelines (and pretty much any other guidelines) on virtually every page, such as starting solids at 4 months, offering tomatoes and corn from 4-6 months, etc, etc, etc
- While some of the recipes were tasty, out of the 5 I tried: 1 failed completely, 3 needed some work in order to be successful (i.e. amounts for liquid way off, cooking time much too short, etc), and 1 was very good as written
- Most of the recipes are sized for one serving. This is good if you are just trying it out to see if your child likes it but results in some pretty intense math when you try to convert the recipes to larger sizes for batch cooking

The Verdict: Not Recommended/Recommend with reservations

While there are some good ideas for flavour combinations and while the recipes are nice and easy and some are definitely decent, it seems as though many of the recipes were insufficiently tested and the nutritional and food introduction information is simply awful. I would be frightened is this was someone's only baby cookbook and if they were following the guidelines layed out within. This book is really only appropriate for older babies and toddlers if you already have a solid basis of information and are just looking for some new recipes and ideas, and in that case, borrow a copy from the library instead of buying this book.

* Do you have any cookbook recommendations? I'm always on the lookout for great inspiration!

Mango Lassi (Smoothie and Puree Versions)

Mango Lassi (Smoothie and Puree Versions)

A great Indian beverage/smoothie for toddlers, big kids, and adults. Alternatively, you make the same ingredients into a puree and introduce the same great taste for the younger set (8 months plus due to dairy and spices).

Lassi (Smoothie)

- 1 large very ripe mango, peeled and cubed (or use frozen cubed mango for ease - approx. 1 cup) 
- 3 cups plain yogurt (full fat for the munchkins)
- 1 cup milk (same deal)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp rose water (optional but I really recommend)
- 1/8 ground cardamon 

Blend until thick and yummy. Taste for sweetness (depends on your mango) and add sugar, agave nectar, or honey to taste. Serve with ice. 

Makes 3-4 servings

Mango Lassi Puree

- 1 cup cubed mango (fresh or thawed frozen)
- 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt
- tiny sprinkling ground cardamon

Puree and serve. 

Both versions will keep refrigerated up to three days, but are not suitable for freezing. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cinnamon Sweet Potato “Fries”

This take on sweet potato fries make a great snack or breakfast side dish for toddlers, big kids, and adults. The ingredients make them suitable for babies over 8 months (consult your pediatrician). If they are too big for baby, you can cut the fries into little bites, or alternatively, make the same recipe into a puree by roasting the sweet potato and then blending it with the virgin coconut oil and the cinnamon. Virgin coconut oil is very healthful and adds a great coconut flavour. 

You can also add a dipping sauce for toddlers and kids who prefer everything with a dip by blending plain yogurt, nut butter of your choice, and a touch of honey (also makes a great dip for waffle strips).
Cinnamon Sweet Potato “Fries” 

1 med sweet potato, peeled and cut into narrow matchsticks
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place matchsticks in a bowl and toss with oil and then cinnamon (it will look like a lot of cinnamon) until evenly coated. 

Bake for 25 minutes or so, depending on the size of your matchsticks, flipping the fries halfway through. 

1 potato makes roughly 1 toddler portion plus one parent portion. This recipe is easily increased to make enough to be part of a breakfast for the whole family. The fries can be reheated, but don't taste quite as good. If making the puree, you can freeze it for up to three months.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Munchkins Eating Paper? Make it Nutritious!

OK, so it's not exactly paper, but Nori is paper-like and a novel and easy toddler and kid snack, especially, if like me, you have a toddler who can't seem to resist putting paper in his mouth. You can snip it into strips or cut it into fun shapes. According to Wikipedia, Nori is a source of vitamin A, B, C1, iodine, protein , fiber, and carotene. It also contains a great deal of calcium and iron. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing magazine pages don't have quite the same nutritional profile!

Chocolate Tofu Pudding (with variations)

A super easy no-cook recipe. Cocoa is rich in antioxidants and tofu is a great source of iron and when you make it yourself you control the sweetness, making this one dessert/snack you can feel good about giving to munchkins. This recipe and its variations are appropriate for babies over one year (but as always, talk to you pediatrician). For Tofu Pudding recipes, I use the two-pack soft (silken) packages available at some stores (I use Soyganic brand) because I find it’s the perfect size as one half makes two toddler-sized servings. You can use a large package if that’s all you can find and use the other half for something else, or just double the recipe.

Basic Chocolate Tofu Pudding

One half of two-pack soft (silken) tofu package
2 tbsp pure cocoa powder
1 tbsp agave nectar (taste for sweetness, you may need a little more)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend everything in a beaker with an immersion blender or toss in a mini food processor or blender and blend until silky. Can be served immediately or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not freeze.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Tofu Pudding: add 1 tbsp natural peanut butter (regular varieties contain hydrogenated oils)

Chocolate Coconut Tofu Pudding: add 1 tbsp coconut milk (great when you have a little left over from another recipe) and 1/2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
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