Friday, August 13, 2010

Homemade Baby Food Made Simple

When our daughter Lydia started being ready for solids, I read Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It was intimidating at first, but I got tons of great ideas from it (not just for baby food but cooking from scratch in general). Yaron teaches about the now very popular method of freezing large batches of homemade baby food in ice trays. I eventually realized that though Super Baby Food goes into a lot of detail about how to make and store food and many other things, the basic concepts are not complicated. I gleaned from it a very simple regimen that has really worked for my daughter and I.

1. Whole Grain Cereal ("Super Porridge") every morning.
2. Yogurt every day at lunch.
3. Veggies or any other food baby is ready for in the evening.

This is a big over-simplification of what the book recommends, but it really helped me step back and see the big picture in order to not be overwhelmed by the details.

As Lydia had problems with constipation at first, and Yaron believed that the fact that her kids never had constipation or diarrhea was a result of their diet, I decided to give it a try.

I tried grinding the uncooked brown rice in the blender as the book recommended at first, but just couldn't get the right consistency and having to use the blender so much and so long for so little yield was stressful as the blender always upset Lydia, so I tried the other method suggested, which was just saving extra whole grain rice already cooked and blending that with a little water. This worked great but I had to make A LOT of rice to have enough left over, and we have so many recipes that call for leftover rice it was hard to make enough. It's great to do from time to time, but not as an every day thing.

Finally I realized that our overnight oatmeal in the crock pot pureed would make a GREAT whole grain cereal for Lydia, and we make a lot at a time so it was very easy to take some of that, blend it up, and store it in containers for the week. This became Lydia's breakfast and the base of her diet. As time has gone on I've started added things to it, like mashed up banana, apple sauce, pureed blueberries, or pureed mango (whatever fruit is one sale). Sometimes I give it to her plain. I often add a little commercial rice cereal because it's fortified with iron.

For lunch, Lydia has plain yogurt. Sometimes I mix in the same types of things like apple sauce or fresh pureed fruit. If she still seems hungry I'll give her some veggies or some more oatmeal. I've made her yogurt once, but for some reason I can't seem to get it together to do that consistently yet. I'm trying so many new things that I can't put but so many into regular practice at a time! We have mom's old yogurt maker to make it easy though, so I have no excuse!

For dinner for the past few months Lydia has had some sort of veggie that we've pureed and frozen in ice trays. This is so easy...just a can or two a week thrown in the blender with a touch of water and frozen in ice trays. The most common are peas, green beans, and sweet potato. We also tried mixed veggies lately (corn, carrots, peas, and green beans). I usually add commercial rice cereal to this to thicken it up and because it is fortified with iron.For the sweet potato, I usually buy 3 every week or so and bake them all one evening for a side dish for Tom and I and one to be pureed and frozen for Lydia. Usually, a couple times of week I smash up a perfectly ripe avocado and feed that to her for dinner. She loves it! Because I use the whole grain cereal and yogurt as the base of her other two meals, the amount of veggies I have to prepare is very minimal and not too time consuming. I probably puree things on an average of 2-3 times a week.

Dinners for Lydia have begun to get much more exciting in the past weeks! She can now eat almost all foods, so thanks to the Food Mill by Kid Co., she has been able to share new and exciting foods with us!The first thing we shared this way was basic curry! Then she had some Chow Mein, complete with home grown bean sprouts! Among other things we've shared Lentil Barley Stew, and this week she had some Yakisoba. I love it that my baby is already eating foods inspired by cultures all over the world! I hope it helps her appreciate a variety of foods and flavors as she grows older. My good friend Shanna makes a delicious Turkish dish that I think would be great for baby food too, so I'm hoping to try it soon!

This is basically what I have come to in my endeavor to make my own baby food, but keep it simple. None of these things are time consuming, and flow naturally with what I'm already doing. The most work outside of cooking our oatmeal, which we would do anyway, is smashing a banana or avocado, dipping out some applesauce, or pureeing a few veggies or fruits in the blender.

As for the effects on the digestive system, so far the only time Lydia has not been regular since I started this regimen is when I'd run out of yogurt and had to give her something else for lunch. The only time she's had loose stool is when I ran out of oatmeal, and fed her probably too much yogurt. So I'm with Ruth Yaron! Things seem to go along smoothly as I stick to this! ;)

The challenge has been having food to take when we go out and what to do when we run out. We haven't been buying jars, and I have had issues with getting in a pinch. I did discover that oatmeal travels great and is not messy and great for taking in the diaper bag. However, we finally decided to buy a couple of jars each week to have for back up.

Bummas and ChicoBag Giveaways Ending this Weekend!

Don't miss the opportunity to enter these great giveaways ending Sunday, 8/15! Just 3 more days!

Bummas Cloth Wipes, Ends 8/15/2010ChicoBag Produce Stand Starter Kit, Ends 8/15/2010


-A great friend and great blogger at Big Dreams for a Simple Life, is giving away a $50 CSN Stores GC! I'm becoming a huge fan of CSN Stores as I just received two items for review from them. My first dealings with them as a consumer left me pretty impressed. So stop on by Big Dreams for a Simple Life and enter the contest!

-Are you a fluff addict? If so, you might want to stick around! See left side bar for buttons and dates of upcoming CLOTH DIAPERING EVENTS! Stay tuned for cloth diaper and wet bag giveaways coming soon as well as chances to get early entries on event giveaways!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More about Sprouts and Menu Plan Monday

A couple of weeks ago I posted about growing lentil sprouts. Well, this coming Tuesday evening we will be hosting my brother in law and his new wife from Japan. While browsing through More With Less cookbook in search of a main dish to prepare, I found a recipe for Yakisoba, a Japanese recipe. I noticed that it called for bean sprouts and was a little disappointed not to have thought of it earlier so that I could grow my own again. I decided to look on line however, to see if there were other methods to grow them that might go faster. I'm not sure about the faster part, but I definitely found some additional methods, and began to learn a lot more about sprouts.

This time I will be using a colander to grow the sprouts. After looking seeing a variety of other possibilities, I've concocted the following plan:

Soak lentils overnight.

Place a wet cloth over the bottom of a colander.

Rinse beans and place them on the cloth in the colander.

If you place them in a dark place, they will be more white, like what you see in stores, but you can just leave them sitting on the counter.

Rinse beans a couple times a day and replace them in the colander.

We'll see how it works! I will report next week. This search led to some reading about why sprouts are healthy. That coupled with things I started reading as a result of searching to see if pre-soaking brown rice would make it cook more quickly and be softer has led me down a path of discovery that's a little overwhelming in regards to soaking and sprouting grains, a subject I had intentionally been avoiding because I was already learning so much and didn't want to get too overwhelmed. I'll be writing about that in coming weeks.

This weeks Menu Plan:

Monday: Baked Chicken in the Crock pot.

Tuesday: Yakisoba

Wednesday: Left over spaghetti

Thursday: Creamed Chicken over rice

Friday: Chicken Curry

Saturday: Maybe chicken crescent rolls (that I didn't get to last week)

Sunday: ?

*This past week was horrible as far as sticking to the plan. I've taken on too many responsibilities that happen at the end of the month. This week was particularly difficult because we also had a family emergency and a trip out of town. I have a new plan for the coming month to try to keep things from getting too stressful at the end. So, once again, there will be some trying again on the menu this week. Here's to trying again...again.

Choices, Choices, Choices at CSN Stores!

I'm excited to have the opportunity to review a product from CSN Stores. As a frugal mom, I have a list of things that it would be nice to have, but that are not essential. We have to make decisions about what things are worth saving up for and getting, and what things we just put on the wish list for times like, well this (if ever :)! We had a crazy week, but I finally have a moment to browse through CSN stores and decide what to review. CSN stores has anything has anything from dinnerware sets to furniture to office supplies to name it!

I've been leaning towards a garlic press,

or a pasta maker, as both would help out my from scratch endeavors a whole lot, but then again, a small white bookshelf has been on the wish list for the nursery for sometime.

Hmmm...Decisions, decisions. Stay tuned for a review of whatever we end up choosing to review!