Monday, February 28, 2011

Mandarin Vanilla Super Shake

Luc is still sick although seemingly on the mend and hasn't vomited for about 48 hours and his fever has broken. However, understandably he has no appetite and the only thing he would eat was a couple crackers in the last few days. He is uninterested in the usual bland sick foods and all he keeps asking for is milk and fruit. 

I didn't want to give him dairy while his tummy was still very sensitive, so I made this shake which is dairy-free but still creamy and a little fruity.  It was also delicious! Luc actually wanted to drink it and it stayed in him. We will be making this tasty shake, which is full of protein, iron, whole grains, and vitamin c, whenever we have mandarins on hand!

Mandarin Vanilla Super Shake

- 1 mandarin orange
- 1 half-pack (150 grams) soft tofu
- 1/2 cup ground rolled oats
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp mandarin orange zest
- 1 tbsp agave nectar 

Grate the 1 tsp of zest off your mandarin orange, then peel and section. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor (I used a beaker and immersion blender) and blend until smooth and creamy. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Appeasing Picky Eaters

I am still going nuts stressing over finding day care, however I said I would take a spot at one, and while it's not ideal I guess we'll see how it does since I start my new job March 8th and frankly I'm out of time and don't want to get caught without a spot. Also, Luc has a TERRIBLE bug and....well...let's just say we've had to roll up the rugs. So since life is still too crazy to come up with anything great of my own to share with you I'm going to share a great post written by someone else!

If you have a picky eater in your house, head on over to Makes and Takes and read some great tips here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The end of a SAHM

I want to apologize for not posting for the last little while. I just got a new job so I will no longer be a stay at home mom :(. It's a job that I wanted so I'm happy but I'm also so anxious and feel guilty about leaving Luc. Since I found out I keep spontaneously bursting into tears! The only good thing is that he will be in daycare only 4 days a week instead of 5...anyway, I keep telling myself that that makes it better.

Because I didn't know when I would be returning to the workforce, I am not on any day care waitlists so I've spent all my time the last several days frantically calling places and asking everyone I know for leads. I don't want to get stuck with a place that I don't feel comfortable with because that's all I can find. I'm finding the whole thing pretty stressful. 

If it doesn't work out with Luc in daycare or if it doesn't work out for me with him there, then I won't stay at my new job. It is however, a good opportunity which will benefit our whole family in the long run. We'll see how it works out....

Finding good quality care for Luc is my top priority right now, but I'm working on some new posts, so stay tuned...

Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gingered Sweet Potato and Carrot Puree

What a crazy busy week this is turning out to be. I even have a job interview tomorrow! Who knows, I might not be a full-time SAHM much longer...I'll let you know how it goes!

Anyhow, this is a great vegetable baby puree that takes plain old sweet potato and carrot up a notch with very little effort. Luc even ate a bowl of it although he generally won't touch anything that's a puree at this stage (unless it's pudding of course!). A nice gentle introduction to some Asian flavors for munchkins 6 months plus.

Gingered Sweet Potato and Carrot Puree

- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 medium carrots
- 4 slices fresh ginger (peeled and sliced into coin sized slices)
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander

Peel the sweet potato and carrots and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Boil sweet potato, carrots, and ginger slices in a medium saucepan in plenty of water until soft. 

Drain, reserving the cooking water. Remove the ginger slices. 

Puree, adding the ground coriander and enough reserved cooking liquid to reach baby's favorite consistency. 

*Makes about 10 cubes
*Keep up to 3 days in the fridge or freeze up to 3 months 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Wishing everyone a day life filled with love.


DIY Baby Wipes

I had been meaning to try making my own baby wipes for ages. Not only are commercial wipes expensive, but they are made from mostly polyester fibers that take at minimum 300 years to biodegrade, and the majority of them contain ingredients that are questionable (i.e. parabens) especially for having around your little one's most delicate bits. 

I know that most granola types would promote using reusable cloth wipes. In a perfect world I would use cloth diapers and cloth wipes. However, we have a tiny washing machine and a terrible dryer and I am already completely overwhelmed with laundry, which is often a twice a day event around here. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

Most of the instructions that I came across for homemade baby wipes involve painstakingly removing and then folding sheets from an entire roll of paper towel into a box. Who has the time? Then I happened upon instructions at White House, Black Shutters that literally take 5 minutes to make. But best of all, they work amazing. You do have to use Bounty paper towels just as Ann Marie says...I tried a couple others that were good quality but they were still total fails. While Bounty are expensive, I got mine on sale for $5 off. When I did the cost comparison calculation, I can make 1680 homemade wipes for the cost of 477 commercial ones!

The only changes I made from the original instruction was to make only one container at a time...just to ensure that I would have no issues with mold and to add a couple drops of tea tree oil to the solution to stave off diaper rash.

Check out the full instructions here!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blueberry Banana Mini-Muffins

These are the tastiest mini-muffins I've made so far that are healthy enough that I feel comfortable sharing with Luc. They make a great and portable snack (for moms and dads too) or can be part of breakfast, just add a side of fruit salad and some milk. These muffins are suitable for toddlers over age one. I adapted these from a recipe in the Baby and Toddler Cookbook.

Blueberry Banana Mini-Muffins

- 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 lg eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup ripe blueberries (fresh or frozen, I use frozen this time of year)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

In a separate medium-size bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until pureed. Add the eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla. Blend together. Stir into flour mix until combined. 

Gently fold in the blueberries. Line your mini muffin pan with liners and spoon enough mixture to come flush to the top of your liners. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until risen, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 36 mini-muffins

* Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to one month.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe Shout Out: Ranch Dip

I made this fabulous and healthier ranch dip from Catherine over at Weelicious using my homemade yogurt. It was easy and delicious and steamed carrot sticks and green beans were gobbled up with this dip. Check it out here!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Staple Recipe: Homemade Yogurt

Although I've always been meaning to try, for some reason I have always been a little intimidated by making homemade yogurt...I somehow think I'm going to poison us all! When I've looked into making it before, I've encountered so many different methods -- thermos, oven, slow cooker, yogurt maker, etc, etc that I had the impression that it would be time consuming to find what method would work well. 

Then I  read a recent post on making homemade yogurt over at Dinner with Julie and I finally decided to give it a try using her directions since her method needed nothing more than a pot, a jar and a towel for equipment coupled with minimal effort. 

It could not have been easier or turn out better....all on the first try! It was thick, creamy and just plain good and we've been enjoying it all week. I'm so excited about having added this new staple to my home cooking arsenal.

  If you've ever toyed with the idea of trying to make yogurt at home, or even if the thought hadn't crossed your mind until now...check out Julie's instructions won't be disappointed!

UPDATE: I have found that to get thicker yogurt, just simmer for 10 minutes rather than the 2 minutes in the instructions.
Is there anything that you're a little intimidated to try to make yourself?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal

Yum. Chocolate is a bit of an unusual add-in to oatmeal but it really is delicious and a nice change. This breakfast is suitable for babies over 1, due to the raspberries. Enjoy!

Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal

- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice)
- 1 tbsp butter

Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan.

Cook on low approximately 20 minutes until the oatmeal is thick and creamy. 

Serve plain or topped with milk, cream, or vanilla yogurt.

* Makes 4 adult sized servings
* Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Photo of the Day

A picture of Luc eating was featured over at Spearmint Baby as the photo of the day! It's a great blog with kids design, crafts, products and general life with kiddos. Check it out here if you get a chance.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pork and Baked Apple Puree

This is an adaptation of a recipe from The Baby's Table, but made with baked apples instead for a deeper and more palatable flavor. This recipe is suitable for babies from 6 months, as some current recommendations (including Canada's Nutrition for Healthy Term Babies Guide) suggest offering baby iron-rich foods including meat and meat alternatives as first foods. And if you aren't raising your baby vegetarian, meat is a great choice as the iron from meat (heme iron) is more easily absorbed.

Many parents seem to think that their young baby might not like the strong taste of meat. I can only speak from personal experience, but this puree was one of Luc's early favorites and he preferred it when it was made with stronger tasting naturally raised heritage breed pork (Tamworth). So give your munchkins the benefit of the doubt, they might surprise you! 

You can still prepare this meal as your child grows older and transitions to finger foods, just serve the pork as cubes and cut the baked apple pieces in halves or thirds and serve on the side with something green.


Pork and Baked Apple Puree

- 1/2 lb stewing pork, cubed
- 1 cup water
- 3 or 4 good baking apples, depending on size (i.e. Golden Delicious, Macintosh, or Cortland)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quarter the apples, and cut out the cores. Spray or lightly oil a baking sheet and place the apple quarters skin side down. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until soft and fragrant.

Meanwhile, put water and pork in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until tender.

Remove pork from water and let cool; reserve cooking water. Once both apples and pork have cooled somewhat, puree pork and apples adding the reserved cooking water until puree reaches desired consistency. 

Makes approx. 6-7 Baby Cubes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Staple Recipe: 50/50 Bread

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which is an excellent read if you've never read it), I was inspired to try regularly making bread at home. I had tried making bread by hand using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method before Luc was born, which worked great, but I had trouble sticking with it.

I didn't have great memories of my mother's attempts with her bread machine. It usually ended up with bread that if you dropped it on your foot you could injure yourself and that wasn't very tasty. So, I was surprised that Barbara Kingsolver's husband used the bread machine to make their bread in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But, I figured it would be worth a shot. Turns out my mom still had that bread machine packed away, so I borrowed it. My first attempts were terrible. 

So I borrowed a bunch of books on bread machine baking from the library, and set to work trying to learn how to produce edible bread. Turns out it is possible to make really good bread from a bread machine and we haven't bought bread since I started using the machine 4 months ago. These two books: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook and Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand were indispensable to me in becoming a bread machine convert. 

This half white, half whole wheat bread recipe is our daily bread. It took me a lot of tries to get it how we like it (like 15+!). It goes with everything and makes great toast. Please note that this bread is unsuitable for the delay timer setting. 

(I'm still working on a 100% whole wheat bread that isn't too heavy and also isn't too sweet tasting)

50/50 Bread

- 1 1/4 cups water, room temp
- 1 lg egg
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour (or Canadians can also use all-purpose)
- 3 tbsp dry buttermilk powder*
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp gluten*
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

 Place all of the ingredients in the pan, except yeast, in the order listed. Make an well with your finger in the dry ingredients and add the yeast. 

Set crust on medium and program for Basic (White) or Whole Wheat cycle (my mother's bread machine made it better on Whole Wheat Cycle, my new one works better on Basic; try both).

Remove immediately from pan when done. Let cool before slicing. Can also be frozen. 

* makes one 1 1/2 lb loaf

* you can find dry buttermilk powder and gluten (also called Vital Wheat Gluten) at bulk goods or health food stores as well as some better stocked grocery stores.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sorta Portuguese Fish Skillet

We have all been struck by a terrible cold, so I am finally getting around to posting. This is an easy and healthy family meal, that can be enjoyed by any babies over 10 months, just salt adult individual portions instead. For younger babies, you could just take out a few of the potatoes before adding them to the skillet and puree with whatever you have on hand to make them tasty.For this dish, you can use any kind of white fish, I used pollock because that's what I had, but cod wold be more traditional and haddock would also be really good or even tilapia.  I apologize for the terrible picture. My husband was anxious to actually eat it rather than look at it.

Sorta Portuguese Fish Skillet

- 2 cups canned tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups potatoes, sliced to 1/4" thickness
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery
- 2 medium onions, halved and thinly slice into half-moons
- 1 lb fresh or thawed frozen white fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 sliced pitted black olives
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- crumbled feta, to garnish

In a medium saucepan, cook potato slices in boiling salted water until just starting to get tender. 

Put the tomatoes and butter (or olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat and bring to a boil. Break the tomatoes up as they cook with the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Add celery and onions; simmer until the onion have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fish, salt, pepper, olives and potatoes. Stir to mix everything well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until fish is cooked and flakes with a fork. Stir in the parsley. Serve garnished with crumbled feta cheese to taste. 

Makes 4 adult servings
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