Baby Led Weaning (BLW) Round 2 and 2.5ish

I like to say “round” instead of stage or trial, since we’re in this for the long baby led weaning fight.  We’ll be patient and we’ll be diligent in our efforts.  I say “we” but it is really like a boxing match- it all depends on the other person (in this case: Bambina).  Even though I’m being a rebel by skipping all the purees and cereals, I am taking the usual 3-4 days in between introducing new foods in case there are any funky allergic-like reactions.

Sillyboy, as an infant, started having slight unhappy stomach issues when he had apples, but it was actually applesauce (we even tried sugar free) that did it.  We didn’t offer anything apple related and slowly figured out it was the sauce vs. whole apple slices.  Luckily he grew out of it and has both apples and applesauce often without any tummy troubles or allergies.

First BLW food: sweet potato spears (sauteed)

Second BLW food: bananas (raw, peel on- sliced like so, below).  See, you need to leave on the peel so baby has a handle or a grip to hold the mushy food.  She did hold the banana, take a little chip off- but then she was done.  I won’t say it was a #fail but after two days I decided to try something different in flavor and color.  We’ll come back to my beloved banana soon though.

Third BLW food: avocado spears (peel on).

Yes, absolutely with the peel on.  Those U.K. moms are so clever.  At first I was skeptical, so I sliced spear-shapes sans peel.  They lasted about 2 seconds as Bambina pummeled them into mush with her mighty baby strength.  I say pummel because I think she knew it looked squishy and was testing it out and decided to have a bit of messy fun.  Then I realized the error of my ways and gave her 3 or 4 slices with the peel ON.  And that’s when I like to say Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!  Because that’s what we do around here, and I am not exactly sure what it means except you have to say it loudly when something goes your way and is awesome sauce.

Bambina went to town and knew immediately what to do with the peel-on slices.  She didn’t even give the non-peel slices a second look.  She concentrated on picking up a piece- first with her left then with her right hand, and stuck it directly in her mouth and started gumming it.  I may or may not have cheered before quieting down to finish my meal and not make Bambina feel awkward at all.  The rest of the fam had sliced avocado in our salad, to be sure that she is really having something we’re having as part of our meal .

She ate and she smeared some and went right back to picking pieces up and eating some more.  It was a glorious she’s-never-done-this-before day!  Bambina did so well (and must have enjoyed the avocado a ton), she didn’t have many stray pieces or hidden crevices full of mushy greenness.

There you have it, round 2.5ish for the poor banana attempts, and a real round 2 for the avocado goodness.  We will carry on and give a few more rounds to different options- more colors and definitely up the texture and flavor variety.  With BLW, there isn’t a real timeline of what you should try when, except for fruits and veggies, then meats and grains.  Bambina seems to be up for it. Carry on.

Kid Approved Easy Pasta aka He Hates Spaghetti

I love almost all things FoodNetwork– the good, the bad, the artery-clogging butter, and spiteful dessert chefs that compete each week.  Luckily the kid does too!  Sillyboy’s favorite chefs include Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, and Paula Deen and always asks why my food and desserts never look like that. Or he’ll pick out the most complicated time consuming (albeit most delish looking) recipe and ask for us to try it.

“Ummm….maybe next time. We have to find those kitchen tools.”

I’ve convinced him he should be a chef himself so he can get paid to make all this stuff when he’s all grown up.  After a few viewings of Ratatouille (hey that Rat is somehow super adorable and I envy his passion for cheese), he’s convinced too.  So we work him into the nightly dinner routine, finding small things he can do.  He can wield a plastic knife with the best, play spin-cycle machine with greens in the sink, and dig for kitchen utensils in the farthest reaches of our tiny kitchen drawers. But stirring, stirring is somehow not cool to him and so he will only do so for about 10 seconds before wandering off to his Lego table.

Another thing I should mention about Sillyboy is that he loves ketchup, hates marinara. Hates anything spaghetti/tomato sauce related.  So 99% of any pasta dish I have is thrown together sans tomatoes.  Pesto is a great tasty alternative, but the kid can’t handle his garlic!  He totally didn’t get those taste buds from me, I daringly enjoy full cloves of marinated garlic in hummus. #nom  But I found a FoodNetwork easy recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis that he consumes plentiful.

Lemon Spaghetti recipe

There’s only 7 ingredients, and instead of spaghetti noodles, I used cellenteni because it’s a fun pasta shape (corkscrews) you could eat with your fingers if need be and we usually don’t have regular long pasta around since we don’t dine on noodles/marinara.  Sillyboy uses our cheapy (Dollar Store) self-juicer after I’ve halved the lemons, and gets to cranking on the black pepper grinder.  I think we normally use about 3 lemons but it’s so yum- and really great even cold for a few days afterwards as leftovers.  It’s not vegan, but it’s vegetarian and I haven’t met anyone who’s tried it and didn’t enjoy.  What’s your go-to pasta dish that doesn’t include tomatoes?  Is it easy or does it maybe require a lengthy sauce?  Can your kid chip in to help and how?

P.S. Counting down the days (and perusing more BLW Youtube vids like this one) and getting sweaty-palmed as we venture forth with NO baby food for Bambina.  Only a few days ’til she’s officially 6 months old.

Upcycled Banner for Kid’s Room

Sillyboy is getting smarter, older, bigger, (wiser?), and just growing up so fast.  He’s long made the jump from toddler bed to his personal twin size bed as well.   His taste in toys has jumped from Thomas the Tank Engine to Cars, and then to Star Wars and recently Lego Ninjagos.  So this all effects his decorative walls in his bedroom often.

We had a pile of picture book sleeves lying around- you know, the glossy full cover paper flaps that supposedly “protect” the book while advertising its pictures on the front.  I thought I could keep them for something or other (mod podge craft time!) since they were a futile attempt to keep the books beautiful forever, and besides, where’s the fun in that?

Using a few of these book sleeves, an empty wrapping paper tube, a yard of random yarn/ribbon, and a bunch of masking and packing tape, we created a banner to hang in his room.  Here’s the backside:

It isn’t very pretty from that view, but it is a project that is kid-friendly.  He selected the book sleeves, helped tape them together, and decided the layout.  It is something he can proudly point at, talk about, and display in his room because we’ve read these stories many times.  And now he’s reading them all by himself!  I don’t know how much longer he’ll enjoy our cheap/easy art adorning his walls, especially since his new found love of Harry Potter is only growing, but it’s a nice way to keeps his favorites in mind.

 

Every time I look at it, I want to read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree all over again!  (sorry for the crooked picture!- still using my phone as the no. 1 resource currently).  What do you do with your bookcover sleeves?  Anything creative?

An Easy Way to Find Green at Breakfast

I challenged a 6 year old.  They love challenges, but I this was a tough one.  I challenged him to eat something green every day.  Unfortunately, green eggs and ham don’t count because A.) he’s already had that as part of a meal during a week long school author-study, B.) He doesn’t eat ham (or any beef/pork products), and C.) they didn’t grow “green” that way. The vegan version is so green, it kind of freaks me out anyways.  Ideally I would love to have him eat something green at every meal, but we’re working with baby steps here- and a pretty stubborn almost-first grade kid.  So we tried to think of foods he likes that are green: green beans, peas, kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, avocado, and kiwi.   Fruit for the win!  Lucky him- and lucky momma, he enjoys Greek yogurt (though the husband does not in the least), too.

Green things Sillyboy does not like: cabbage, honey dew, brussel sprouts (I think he gets that from me), and mustard greens (ditto).

Here’s our super-easy healthy breakfast – with a bit-o-green:

1. Organic granola- we can’t get enough of the Cascadian Farms versions (U.S. grown and certified organic).

2. Fage Total 0% (full-fat) Authentic Greek yogurt (it’s actually made in Athens, Greece).

3. Pack of Ripe & Easy kiwis

Spoon in as much Greek yogurt as you love, sprinkle some granola on top, and add sliced kiwis.  Sillyboy will eat two bowls of this with two kiwis each on a wakeful weekday.  There you go- some green for breakfast.  Does anyone have other green ideas for breakfast?  The green smoothie route was short lived already, so we defeated that fad.  Not that they aren’t great, we just need a more substantial breakfast in our house of heavy eaters.  What are some other kid-friendly and time easy ideas for breakfast?

Small Salve Step

A friend of mine (who isn’t tired of my lengthy “green” fact-fests) asked what type of baby or small-steps she could take without freaking out and reading every label.  Over-analyzing our lives is already work itself, no need to complicate things, I agree.  While I was finishing up my morning routine, I found just the thing.  Replacing this petrolatum product with this green salve.

 

First difference: the size of the product.  How long do people hold onto a jar of Vaseline anyhow? I couldn’t find an expiration date on mine, which could be good or bad depending on your opinion of the twinkie effect.  You literally use a dab of the salve, without adding a thick layer of greasiness.  The smaller size makes it just the thing to toss in a purse or pocket- even for a quick trail hike.

 

Next: actual effectiveness.  The reviews are hands down 5 out of 5 stars attesting to the Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment.  You can use this for anything you would normally use petroleum jelly for- and more even, like bruises and poison ivy.  The natural oils are absorbed by your skin to help heal.  We have a strict “no blood, no band-aid” rule in our house.  It’s easy to think a band-aid can fix everything, but if a paper cut or a small knick is bothering Sillyboy- he can just dab this on himself.

 

And, of course: it’s green.  Green all around.  The salve comes in a small metal green tin.  The salve itself is dark green color. And the ingredients inside are green- the first two ingredients are sweet almond oil and olive oil.  The ingredients on Vaseline= petrolatum is the active ingredient, and… nothing else is listed.

 

All in all, just try this small salve step.  If you can’t remember how old your petroleum jelly is, toss it anyways.  After my experience with spraying ethanol around the house, that is one less product I need to slather on.  What other baby steps can you take to turn one thing in your life into something green?

Product Purge

I keep reading and hearing the same advice: Start small. Don’t overdo it, because you will drive yourself crazy and give up.  When clearing out closets, drawers, and old bins of whoknowswhat- I’ve decided it’s better in waves.  That way I can get used to the idea – or completely forget about- the things I’ve banished to the garage to be donated and never seen again.  Things don’t come back from the garage!  Taking another cue from Healthy Child Healthy World, I’ve decided to go through all cleaning products and purge away.

I pulled everything out from under the kitchen sink, on shelves in the garage, and both bathrooms.  Then I’d toss it in a box if it a.) wasn’t used in the last month b.) was starting to separate or leak (note the rusted aerosol can below) or was c.) toxic. I ended up with this box of un-needed products:

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There is some wood varnish from early ’11 in there, some shoe polish from ’06, etc.   One product I was unsure about putting in the box was a spray bottle of room re-freshener.  You know, the type that kills the smelly particles and leaves the room fresh, while being pet and baby-safe.  Those claims are labeled on the front of the bottle along with scented “clean.”  Then I read the back of the label- “contains % of ethanol.”  Huh.  I’ve been spraying odor-killing, clean-scented ethanol on my couches, curtains, and pet beds?!  Insanity.

I’ve now got two bio-friendly cleaning products under my kitchen sink and am surprised (delighted!) how well they clean up baby-kid-dog-cat-mom messes easily.  No scary residue to worry about: Scotch-Brite botanical wipes, and Honest multi-surface cleaner.

ImageTake a look at what/how you clean your home- especially if you have kids and/or pets.  What do you use the most?  Can you replace it with a more green friendly product?  What can you do without?  Start small.

Fried Sweet Potato

We are definitely a potato family, I just try to steer us away from french fries. But since nightshades aren’t all that glorious (another reason french fries are the devil, besides all that grease), the better- and way healthier option is sweet potatoes. I haven’t found a sweet potato I don’t like. Not to be confused with yams- which aren’t a nightshade, but also aren’t grown in the U.S. I try to come up with different ways to serve sweet potatoes, including mashing them with a bit of orange marmalade (great idea from Rachel Ray), baking fries in the oven, and sauteing them with some sesame oil as a dinner side. But another super easy kid friendly way, is just to fry them them in pan.

We grabbed a large sweet potato, scrubbed, and peeled it. Then I sliced it into thin, flat rounds.

Then in a small bowl, I combined some salt, black pepper, and about a 3/4 cup of flour. We added some water and mixed, just enough to get a good moist batter. If you’re not worried about the vegan route and prefer a crispier batter- use 1 egg instead. Dipped each slice in and fried it a lightly oiled pan.

Each side cooked for about 3 mins. and then rested for a minute before we scarfed them down. It’s a great way to get some more vitamin A and C in your system, especially instead of drive thru french fries. And the sizes are perfect for a non-fancy finger food at snack time.  If you ever get to eat tempura battered appetizers at Asian restaurants, this recipe is pretty similar with a few less steps (and less heavier batter).  Now, if we could just get rid of the oily part completely….What’s your favorite battered-at-home recipe?