Posts Tagged ‘
Tuesday Timesaver ’
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Thursday marks a major transition for us: Mason will begin daycare. Chris stayed home with him for the first six months of his life — I had to go back to work after three months — and then we found a nurturing nanny who stepped in when it was time for Chris to go back to work. Now that Mason is a year-old, he’s ready for more stimulation and socialization than a few play dates a week in our tiny apartment, so we’ve decided to enroll him in a daycare where he’ll enjoy art and music lessons, daily Spanish lessons, trips to the playground, and so much more. He’ll make friends with other kids his age, and he’ll be on a solid schedule. I won’t have to worry about being late for work because my nanny is late once again, and I can get to Mason in 10 minutes if he needs me during the day.
Despite all the positives, I’m super nervous about this transition. I’ve lost sleep over the logistics of just getting to daycare in the morning. Come Thursday my commute will go from a leisurely 10 minutes to a harried hour. Mason and I will need to stick to a strict routine instead of the looser one we generally follow in the morning. I’ll haul him in our borrowed Ergo up five flights of stairs to the subway platform, we’ll ride into the city, and then we’ll walk the remaining five blocks to daycare. If there were an elevator in my subway station then I’d bring the stroller, but the stroller I currently have is 25 pounds (the lighter one I ordered hasn’t arrived yet), and I’m not buff enough to carry that stroller with 18 pounds of toddler in it up all those steps. Then there’s the trauma of leaving Mason with someone new. I’ve met both of his caregivers, I like them very much, and the daycare has an excellent reputation, but I’m still going to worry until I actually see that Mason is happy and thriving in his new environment.
With our mornings becoming so crazy, I’ve been looking for some new fast and healthy breakfast ideas. I brought up the issue at my regular Sunday workouts with a group of other moms in my neighborhood. My friend Diane mentioned that her son Zann loves frozen multigrain waffles in a pinch. Worth a shot, I thought. I purchased a box of 7-Grain Kashi waffles on the way home. I’ve never tried them since I’m gluten-free, but I liked how healthful the ingredients were. The next morning I toasted a waffle, topped it with homemade strawberry-banana puree, and cut it in tiny pieces that Mason could feed himself. I’ve never seen anything disappear from his plate so quickly. He loved it. I served chunks of fresh cantaloupe and pieces of organic cheddar on the side, and breakfast was complete. So easy. Thanks for the great idea, Diane!
What are your fave breakfast shortcuts?
Fresh or frozen strawberries
Wash and slice strawberries. If berries are underripe, fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until bubbles are soft. Add strawberries and cook 3 minutes. Drain and rinse berries with cold water. Combine in a food processor or blender with banana (use 1 banana per every 6 strawberries). Puree until smooth. Freeze leftover strawberry-banana puree in airtight containers for up to three months.
Photo courtesy of Kashi.com
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Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Mason has loved feta cheese since we let him try it a few months ago at Cava, a restaurant in Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market neighborhood. He hadn’t had it in awhile so last night I decided to prepare him a new dish starring the tangy cheese. I cut the feta into small cubes and tossed it with chopped steamed spinach and cooked orzo. The dish was so easy to make and it’s super versatile: I can serve it plain or toss it with fresh tomato sauce. I can also mix in lots of other veggies (tomatoes, sweet pepper, carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower) as well as chicken, beef, or salmon. Mason tried the orzo with just the spinach and feta today at lunch and he loved it.
A few words of advice before you start cooking… I used frozen organic spinach, which seemed like a great idea until I steamed it and saw all the stringy stems. I spent 10 minutes picking through the greens and cutting off the stems, and I probably missed some (it was a tangled mess!). It would have been much easier to use fresh spinach and remove the stems before steaming, or at least use frozen spinach without stems. Then there was the mess. By the time I finished mixing all the ingredients together, orzo was everywhere–on the kitchen floor, stuck to the bottom of my bare feet, in the sink, on the counter. Granted, I’m a messy cook — at times frighteningly similar to the storybook character Amelia Bedelia — so if you’re neat in the kitchen this is probably a non-issue.
Try out our recipe — and let us know what you think!
Orzo with Spinach & Feta
1 cup orzo
3/4 cup fresh spinach
1/3 cup feta cheese
1. Wash and chop spinach. Remove stems and steam until wilted. Drain, pat dry with paper towels, and set aside.
2. Cook orzo in boiling water with a splash of olive oil according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3. Chop feta cheese into tiny cubes and toss with drained orzo and spinach.
4. Freeze leftovers for up to three months.
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Yield: 10 two-ounce portions
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
Last weekend while we were in Charlotte, North Carolina, I hung out my cousin Tracey. I’ve always adored Tracey but now that we’re both moms we’re even closer. At one point Tracey mentioned that her 2-year-old son Ethan has become a pickier eater as he’s gotten older. Mason will eat just about anything right now but it’s entirely possible that he’ll follow in his big cousin’s footsteps. Many kids turn into picky eaters as toddlers and the boys could be brothers with their blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes. (Watching them play together made me yearn to follow in Berit’s footsteps and try for #2!) Tonight I came up with a super easy veggie side dish that I think both boys will love. It’s a medley of cooked veggies tossed in a homemade cheese sauce. I chopped up the veggies then stirred together the cheese sauce as they were cooking. So simple and you can also puree it if your babe isn’t eating chunky food yet. The entire dish came together in just 20 minutes. I’d love to hear what you think if you try it out. What are your go-to side dishes?
2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli, stems removed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Shredded cheddar cheese
Milk, formula, or breastmilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1. Wash veggies. Peel carrot and chop into tiny pieces. Chop broccoli into tiny pieces, removing stems.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat until bubbles are soft. Cook carrots and broccoli for 10 minutes or until tender. Add peas to the water for the last 5 minutes.
3. As the veggies are cooking, prepare cheese sauce. Set aside to cool.
4. Drain veggies and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess water.
5. Combine veggies and cheese sauce in a medium-size bowl. Mix well until veggies and sauce are combined. To puree, dump it all in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
6. Divide veggies into 2 ounce portions and freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
Yield: 8 two-ounce side dish portions
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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
We dig fresh tomatoes in our household and now is the best time to enjoy them: Peak season for harvesting tomatoes in most areas is late July to early September. Mason enjoys raw tomatoes chopped and drizzled with olive oil so I thought he would enjoy tomato sauce on veggies or pasta, or as a base for chicken and brown rice mixed together. I wanted something very simple so I tried out the Fresh Tomato Sauce published in the August issue of Better Homes and Gardens (I’m the magazine’s senior digital food editor but I didn’t develop the recipe). I liked that the recipe only has 5 ingredients — that way if Mason didn’t like it I wouldn’t feel like I had wasted a lot of money on groceries. It’s also fast to make; you can cook it in 3 minutes in your microwave or 5 t0 7 on your stovetop. I made one batch of plain sauce and a second batch with veggies. You’ll find the basic recipe and veggie mix-ins below. Mason loved both variations — hope your babe enjoys it too. Let us know what you think. Share your top tomato sauce recipe, or dish on your babe’s fave way to eat tomatoes!
Fresh Tomato Sauce
3 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. packed brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
To add veggies:
1/4 cup each of chopped spinach, shredded carrot, and shredded zucchini
Place tomatoes, onion, and ginger in microwave-safe bowl; sprinkle with vinegar and brown sugar. Cover loosely. Micro-cook on high (100% power) for 3 minutes or until skins burst and tomatoes are soft, stirring once. (Stovetop directions: Simmer 5 to 7 minutes in a medium saucepan or until skins burst and tomatoes are soft.) Serve warm or chilled.
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Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
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Brown rice is a healthy, easy way to get babes used to food with texture as they transition from smooth purees to chunkier purees to finger foods. I use brown rice to make Mason’s fave cheesy casserole with peas and it’s a great side with so many dishes, including veggie-filled meatballs, baby cheese sauce, chicken-apple soup, and roast chicken. Rice is certainly a snap to make but I was delighted to discover this whole-grain brown rice that heats up in the microwave in 90 seconds — perfect for those nights when I’m really tight on time. It’s all-natural and it packs 5 grams of protein per serving. The caveat is that it has more sodium than the boil-in-a-bag variety from Uncle Ben’s, but Mason only eats about 2 ounces at a time so the amount of sodium that he’s getting per serving is still very low. We generally have four Mason-size servings left so I freeze the leftover rice. It thaws overnight in the fridge and keeps in the freezer for up to three months. What are some of your fave ways to serve rice to your babe?