Archive for the ‘ Veggies ’ Category

Juicy Strawberries, Peaches & Blueberries — Even in Fall

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Mason was a champion eater this weekend. It was awesome. I forgot how fun it is to watch him enjoy eating different foods. He’s been so picky lately that I’ve gotten used to coaxing him to eat even a few bites with a few of my go-to tricks and then picking up the rest of the food from the floor. (Muffins and mac ‘n’ cheese have been the rare exceptions, but baby can’t live on carbs alone.) Mason especially enjoyed the organic, fresh Fuji apple Anjou pear that we picked up at our local market. Both fruits are in-season right now and they were juicy and delish. Bug also enjoyed organic strawberries, peaches, corn, asparagus, and blueberries — all summer faves that I purchased frozen and steamed for him.

I frequently used frozen organic  fruits and veggies for my purees, and I’ve been thrilled to discover that frozen produce works wonderfully for finger foods, too. The challenge is getting the texture just right. The first time I steamed strawberries, I steamed them for too long and they became mushy. Mason wouldn’t touch them. The next time I was careful to steam the berries for about a minute — just enough to beat the freeze but still keep the texture firm. Mason gobbled them up. Then we tried blueberries, peaches, asparagus, and corn and he kept eating and eating…

There are several advantages to buying frozen produce, especially if it’s out of season. The quality is fabulous. I can steam small amounts of the fruits and veggies at a time, and I don’t have to worry about the rest spoiling.  It’s more affordable to purchase out-of-season fruits or veggies frozen than to purchase imported fruits and veggies. And the nutritional value of frozen produce is as good as fresh. As a rule of thumb, I avoid canned fruits and veggies; the veggies are generally filled with sodium and the fruits are often packed in sugary syrup.

Did your babe eat anything exciting this weekend?

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The Best Fall Fruits & Veggies for Your Babe & How to Prepare Them

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Rich in fiber and packed with vitamin C, fresh apples make wholesome applesauce that’s an ideal first first. Diced apples are a delicious and popular finger food for toddlers, who can dip the fruit in hummus or peanut butter.

Dazzle your babe with the season’s freshest fruits and veggies. They’re colorful, filled with vitamins and minerals, and fun to eat. Here’s what to buy and serve right now — plus directions for pureeing, mashing, or serving as finger food.

APPLES

Puree: Wash, peel, and dice apples. Cook for 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Puree for a smooth texture. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the fruit with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Sweet potato, red cabbage, butternut squash, pumpkin, pear, peach, plum, banana, beef, chicken

PUMPKINS

Puree: Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and save for roasting or discard.  Brush each half with olive oil and place skin-side down in a baking dish. To keep the flesh of the pumpkin moist, add a half-inch of water before baking. Bake at 450 degrees F until pumpkin is tender (about 45 minutes). Puree in a food processor or blender until you reach desire texture. Add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon, if you wish.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix it with: Apple, chicken, pear, chicken, beef, lentils

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Puree: Scoop flesh out of a roasted squash. Discard the skin. Puree squash flesh in a food processor. Add water until you reach a smooth consistency. For extra creaminess add a splash of pre-mixed formula, breast milk, milk, or plain yogurt. Add a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Apple, chicken, beef, peach, pear, carrot, lentils

SWEET POTATOES

Puree: Wash, peel, and dice sweet potato/potato. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree and add cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Smash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Peach, apricot, apple, raisins, peas, carrot, lentils, chicken, beef

BROCCOLI

Puree: Wash broccoli and remove stems. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree broccoli in a food processor or blender, adding cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency.

Dice: To serve as finger food, follow the cooking instructions above and then chop into tiny pieces.

Serve with: Sweet potato, raisins, apple, asparagus

CAULIFLOWER

Puree: Wash cauliflower and remove stems. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree cauliflower in a food processor or blender, adding cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency. For extra creaminess add a splash of pre-mixed formula, breast milk, milk, or plain yogurt. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Smash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Butternut squash, peas, carrot, green beans, apple

GRAPES

Dice: Skip this fruit for babies — it’s best for kids over age 1 because of the skin. Dice into fourths before serving. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Serve with: Banana, apple, chicken, beef

What’s your babe’s fave summer fruit? How do you like to prepare it?

NOTE: Pediatricians have different opinions about when babies should try specific fruits and vegetables. Consult your pediatrician before starting your babe on a new fruit or veggie.

 

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11 Things I Can’t Believe Mason Enjoys Eating

Thursday, September 8th, 2011


His smile was cute but Mason’s behavior was not at dinner on Tuesday. He rejected most of his meal, played with his sippy cup instead of drinking from it, and put his feet up on his high chair tray (gross!).

I’m thrilled that my 12-month-old has such an eclectic palate, but that doesn’t mean mealtime is always easy for us. In fact we’ve had several finicky and frustrating mealtimes at our house lately (see exhibit A above). Take Tuesday. I picked Bug up from daycare and his teacher told me had been a champion eater all day — oatmeal, various fresh fruits, lasagna, whole-grain muffin. I was psyched, I get so excited when he eats well. Then we got home and I offered him six different finger foods he’s loved in the past, in the spirit of Dr. Sears’ advice, and he spit every option out. He even rejected yogurt with fresh peach puree, one of his faves. What did he finally eat? Plain macaroni noodles by the fistful. So. Annoying. All of this is normal, according to Sears, since kids tend to get picky once they turn a year old. But it’s still frustrating.

When things get tough –  like dinnertime every night so far this week  — I can take comfort in all the times that he’s eaten things we swore he’d never like. Here are the foods that I’m amazed he enjoys so much. What about you? Is there anything that your babe likes that you can’t believe he/she enjoys so much?

1. Lobster Ravioli. This one made me nervous (What if he has a shellfish allergy?!), but Chris gave Bug his first taste of shellfish with winning results.

2. Gazpacho. We let him try this bold summer soup because he kept sticking his fingers in Chris’ bowl. Mason has enjoyed it ever since, including at his birthday dinner.

3. Garam Masala. My friend Jeanne convinced me that my then-nine-month-old would probably like her curried lentils, which feature a tiny pinch of this strong Indian spice. She was right.

4. Broccoli. My first experience with babies and broccoli was traumatic, but fortunately my kid likes his “trees.”

5. Vanilla milkshake. Only a dad would dare give a shake to a one-year-old, but Bug tried a few drops of this rich and creamy treat at a Washington, DC, diner and loved it.

6. Green beans. Mix this healthy veggie with Greek yogurt and fresh pear puree and you have Bug at the first spoonful.

7. Feta cheese. It was love at first bite and now Mason enjoys this tangy cheese tossed with orzo and spinach.

8. Edamame. I didn’t even know what it was until I was until college, but Bug eats the protein-rich bean several times a week.

9. Kalamata olives.  Tangy and delish, Bug can’t get enough of the stuff.

10. Peas. Green veggies are usually a tougher sell than yellow ones — they’re not as sweet  — but if you mix peas with Greek yogurt and curry powder, Mason can’t resist them.

11. Pesto. It looks years for me to acquire a taste for this pungent sauce but Bug loved it when he tried it on chicken and pasta at daycare last week.

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Picky Eater Solution #1: A Yummy Finger Food Spread

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

crankys2Mason and Zann, at Cranky’s in Long Island City, NY, playing with toys and spoons while they wait for their lunch.

Mason and I had a pool and lunch date today with my friend Diane and her 15-month-old son Zann. The pool was gorgeous — it’s situated outdoors, on the ninth floor of Diane’s apartment building, and it offers a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Most of our neighbors are out of town for the holiday weekend so the place was virtually empty. Mason usually cries when I take him into the pool but today there were no tears. He loved being in the water and he giggled his way through “Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall” (baby sits on the wall, we sing, and then baby “falls” into mommy’s arms in the waters). Today was Zann’s first time in the pool and he seemed to enjoy it, too, once he got used to the water. Before long, the boys were sitting in the shallow end together, splashing each other and us. After an hour or so we dried them off and headed out for lunch.

At Cranky’s, a cozy local coffee shop, we situated the boys next to each other in high chairs and gave them each their own disposable place mat (best invention ever). They snacked on organic apple puffs while we looked at the menu. Diane was part of the email chain last week, in which a group of local moms and I discussed our 1-year-olds’ annoying eating habits, so we decided to try out Dr. Sear’s advice and create a well-rounded buffet of finger foods for them. They drank whole milk and split an omelet filled with tomatoes, spinach, turkey sausage, and cheddar cheese with a side of whole wheat toast. They also shared a bowl of sliced fresh bananas, oranges, red grapes, blueberries, and cantaloupe. When the food arrived, we cut everything up into small pieces, gave them each a little bit of everything, and then let them pick and choose what they wanted to eat.

pool2Mason, drying off at the pool. His skull-and-crossbones rash guard kept him from getting a sunburn on his tummy.

Turns out, serving 1-year-olds an assortment of finger foods (rather than two or three at a time) really works. Mason binged on the toast a bit, which Dr. Sears says is normal, but overall the boys ate well and were well-occupied. Both Diane and I  felt good knowing they were getting such a nutritious lunch. We also enjoyed our meals and we had a blast watching the boys enjoy all the different flavors and textures (we got so caught up in how cute they were that I forgot to take a photo of their buffet to share with you! Apologies, next time for sure….) This finger food strategy worked so well for us that it’s going to be a model for how Mason eats in the months to come. Stay tuned as we report back on the combos of finger foods that work for us — and please share your babe’s faves with us!

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Feeding Mason During Hurricane Madness

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Mason’s Hurricane Irene eats: A mix of homemade food, crackers, puffs, and formula

Hurricane Irene is expected to hit New York City tonight. We’re not in a mandatory evacuation zone, we don’t live by the water, and our apartment building isn’t a highrise, so we’ve decided to ride out the storm at home instead of leaving town. Hopefully we don’t regret that decision. Chris taped up all the windows and brought our furniture in from our balcony. But before we hunkered down, I insisted on one last run to the grocery store. Although we stocked up on essentials yesterday, I needed to pick up a few extras — and I was desperate for one last excursion before hurricane-imposed house arrest in our 800-square-foot apartment. God help us if we have to stay indoors beyond Sunday. Mason will be crawling up the walls, and I’ll be ready to pull my hair out.

The store was packed. It’s in the part of our ‘hood that is a mandatory evacuation zone, but everyone there looked totally relaxed. “It’s like a block party in here,” a guy next to me in the pasta aisle remarked. He was right and I felt like staying there as long as possible. Mason and I cruised slowly up and down the aisles and picked up hummus, cut up veggies, crackers, jam, whatever caught my eye since I was suddenly starving. Chris rolled his eyes at my collection of “necessities,” he was on to my game. He tried to hustle me along, I stalled for as long as possible. While Chris stood in line to pay for the groceries, Mason and I hung outside. The sky was gray and angry-looking clouds were already gathering overhead but the air was warm and there was a lovely breeze. Mason giggled as a Doberman Pinscher named Max circled his owner’s legs and a few people stopped to chat with us. Babies are a great conversation starter.

Back home, I took in our stockpile of food. Mason’s set for days. Our freezer is stocked with two different kinds of homemade applesauce (regular and blueberry), as well as banana, strawberry, and peach purees for yogurt and oatmeal. I also have frozen portions of veggie lentils, chicken with brown rice and homemade tomato sauce, and cheesy veggies, not to mention five kinds of cut up frozen veggies.  Some of the food is thawing in the fridge; if the power goes out Mason can eat the thawed food right away and then the frozen stuff later. If there’s a lengthy power outage, Chris and I will resort to a diet of canned tuna, pickles, dried Italian sausage, beef jerky, bread, tortilla chips, bottled water, red wine, and dark chocolate. And we have lots and lots of candles, which could be romantic  — unless the storm turns into a rager.

Here’s to hoping Irene stays a category 1 storm and doesn’t pick up any more steam as she makes her way up the coast. Are you on the East Coast as well? If so, what foods did you stock up on for your family?

What Chris and I will eat if we lose power for a long time

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