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.

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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.

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?

Add a Bit of Green… To Your Plate

Fast food. Convenience food.  It’s tough to be vegetarian or semi-vegan in the Midwest, namely the middle of Missouri.  It’s not like we have a dearth of organic, raw, fresh veg places to choose from.  In my zip code, we have like one of those- and sometimes it’s crowded and not that clean.   So I try to keep all of our healthy veg food coming from the best place ever- our kitchen.  But weekday evenings get busy, over-scheduled, and by the time all four of us make it home we’re exhausted enough to eat anything reheated in the microwave.  Drive-thru is a guilty pleasure, but while repeating my mantra of “which is better?” instead of “which is best?” helps in these times of weakness.  My husband and Sillyboy LURVE (that’s Love with some extra) chicken nuggets.  Up until recently – even with the white meat craze, a percentage of them were still made from pink slime.  But they don’t want to hear me preach about that while ordering at the drive up intercom.  I don’t control what my husband orders when I’m not with them.  He is simply not me.

My rule – is simple, but hard to stick to often, is that you get one fried thing off the menu.  If you don’t eat beef, it’s a real tough call.  This means no fries with chicken nuggets.  Sillyboy groans every time, but ends up completely satisfied at the end of his meal.

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Thank goodness for the $1 menu!  Here’s options they sometimes choose: nuggets and a side salad, grilled chicken sandwich and fries, grilled chicken salad with fries, salad with a soft-serve cone, or nuggets and apples.  Luckily, the nuggets still come in a Happy Meal.  I end up with a big salad- asking for the grilled meat on the side (which goes to either of the guys, or the dogs at home if they behave).  I used to omit the meat completely, but the price is still the same, and if someone else in the car gets the side salad, they don’t mind some sliced grilled chicken added.  For the few and far between fast food stops, it’s a win!  Adding a bit of green to your plate is always a good thing, despite the unhealthy options that dominate outside of the home.  Just beware of all that creamy dressing- raspberry vinaigrette is sweet enough for a kid’s taste.

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Radio Wave Lunch

Returning to work just 6 weeks after new baby Bambina arrived brought with it some routine adjustments (if not a thousand) for me on weekdays.  Before I was diligent about the Dave Ramsey budget plan (insert eye-roll or pat on the back here), I was really good about not bringing a lunch to work.  I was so good, I didn’t mind spending $10-15 for escaping from my office desk for an hour each weekday to unwind and indulge.  Indulge I did.  Besides cleaning out my wallet, I actually got bored with eating out.

So, now I’ve found a compromise that is both healthier for my well-being and my wallet (and that family “budget”).  I bring my lunch three or four days a week and buy lunch on the fifth.  After the U.S.’s BPA craze and plastics industry turn-around on all things labeled plastic and microwave safe, I still didn’t believe sending microwaves through my food through plastic was a good idea.  Some people can eliminate microwave use all together. That is on my future to-do list I’ll admit, but in the meantime, I reheat food in ceramic at work.  Nothing like a spicy black bean burger on a whole wheat bun smothered in hummus with fresh sliced tomatoes and a few radio waves.

From the looks of our shared office fridge, and the line for microwave at noon, most of my coworkers rely on frozen or packaged food for lunch.  All reheated in various “safe” plastics or non-recyclable containers.  It could be the superstitious Asian part of me not accepting that the radio waves are okay for the plastic, wrap, and the food.  Ah well,  How do you do lunch?

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