Smoothies with a hint of vegetable

I bragged and bragged about my little baby-led-weaner who would eat anything under the sun from 6 months old. But then, around the 15 month mark, Avery became picky. She can smell a speck of spinach from a mile away, and will violently gag up an accidentally ingested piece of mushroom. She grimaces at tomatoes, she picks finely diced sweet bell peppers out of an omelette, and she squeezes zucchini through her fingers while glaring at us for trying to poison her with these multi-coloured harbingers of vomit.

Ok, maybe my interpretation is a bit dramatic, but she has definitely been refusing a lot of vegetables lately, and often with a dramatic flair of her own. So I decided to start hiding veggies in smoothies. So far carrot and beet were successes, cauliflower was not. I also threw one single leaf of spinach in a berry smoothie (not pictured here) and she spat it out. The fact that she’ll consume milk and yogurt when used in a smoothie is also a win, because she won’t drink cow’s milk from a cup and she’s getting less and less human milk as we slowly wean.

The vessel I use to feed her smoothies is the Squeasy (available on Amazon) and I LOVE THIS PRODUCT. I’m not an affiliate, not getting any money for clicks/purchases, but I don’t mind touting the product anyway. I find that smoothies clog up traditional sippy cups, and we’ve found the squeasy to be easy to suck smoothie from while also being spill-proof, as long as it contains a smoothie and not just water or milk. The liquid needs to have just a little viscosity to it. It’s also super easy to clean, and Avery loves holding it and squeezing it. It’s like those plastic puree pouches you can buy at the grocery store, but reusable (and more spill-proof than those). We love it.

Do you have any good smoothie recipes I should try? I’m on board with trying anything – even a little chocolate!

Carrot, peach, mango, milk, yogurt, date. 

Cauliflower, strawberry, banana, milk, yogurt

Beet (pre-boiled), blackberries, strawberries, banana, milk, yogurt

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30 Days of Blogging, Day 27

My sourdough turned out!! From the starter that was born two weeks ago, yesterday we had dough, and today we have bread.

The process was stressful because it was my first try and I didn’t want to F it up. But now that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to make another loaf. It just takes a little planning, and in my case, a babysitter… I started making the dough when Avery was in daycare in the morning, but by the time I needed to knead she was home and napping. Of course she woke up half way through the kneading process and whined, tugging at my legs, for the last 5 minutes before I could set it aside again.

It literally took an entire day, from 9am until 9pm to finish making the dough, even though its just a mix of starter, flour and water. There’s a lot of proofing, folding, waiting, flipping, kneading, and more waiting involved. Then it sat overnight in the fridge for the final proof, and took almost an hour to bake the next morning. It’s a great task for weekends, if only we weren’t away from home on so many of our weekends.

The starter was bubbly and ready to make some bread

Added flour and water to grow the starter to the amount I needed for the recipe and let double in size

Measured out 1 part starter, 2 parts water, and 3 parts bread flour and mixed gently

After 15 minutes of kneading by hand, the dough became smooth with a taut surface

After a couple of rounds of folding the dough into itself, it spent the night lightly covered with a kitchen towel in the fridge

It baked in a preheated dutch oven for almost an hour at 430°F

I’m loving the flavour of our wild yeast, captured right here in our own home. It’s mildly sour, the crust is crispy, and the crumb inside is buttery soft and airy. Wish the internet had smell-o-vision, because it smells like heaven.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 12

My new year’s resolution was to master sourdough bread making. Those who’ve been following me for a while know I’m interested in self-sufficiency when it comes to food. I grow a lot of our food in the garden, and I’m an official crazy chicken lady with my backyard chickens. I bake bread to feed my family almost every week, but I’d never dabbled in sourdough. Sourdough appeals to me because you can start with nothing more than flour and water and in the end you get a super nutritious and (hopefully) delicious bread. I also like the idea of catching wild yeast!

So I took the first step. I’m working on making a sourdough starter, using organic whole wheat flour and water. I’m on day 2 of feeding it and I haven’t seen any bubbling showing that its active, but it still smells and looks good, so I’m hopeful it will soon become home to a healthy colony of yeast and in a couple of weeks I can try making a loaf with it! 

And while I’m on the topic of self-sufficient food culture, here’s an egg pic  ❤️ 

 

6 Baby-Led Weaning Meal Ideas for CAMPING! 

We went on our first camping trip with Avery. She turned 10 months old while we were there, and between her crawling everywhere, separation anxiety that has been making bedtime super challenging again, and her dietary needs now that she’s no longer exclusively breastfed, we had our work cut out for us. It was only a 2 night stay, which was ideal to get our feet wet. 

In this post I’m going to share what we brought for meals. Most of these are links to the original recipe that I snagged off of Pinterest. I also sucked at documenting our food in photos because I needed both hands and all of my attention to get through meal times in the great outdoors. 

We wanted to bring things that were tasty, easy to pack/transport, and easy to cook/re-heat, of course, but we also wanted at least MOST of our meals to be Avery-friendly so we didn’t have to come up with double the meal ideas. I love cooking, but I hate having to come up with what to cook. We planned ahead for this trip, and it made life easier while balancing cooking over the camp stove with watching an increasingly mobile baby. 

1. Friday dinner

Hobo burgers

Avery loves burgers. In fact, ground beef is probably her favourite food in the world. The only problem with grilling burgers like we traditionally would for ourselves is that they get a hard crust on them (a delicious, hard crust). We find that she struggles to chew the crusty deliciousness, and so we either give her the insides of a burger, or we steam them. The hobo burger is essentially steamed in its own juices, and it includes potatoes and whatever else you want to eat in the same steamy pocket of beef juicey goodness. I made the tinfoil packets in advance and threw them on the grill at the campsite. This was a perfect meal for baby-led weaners. The only issue with these is that they take at least half an hour to cook. 

2. Saturday breakfast 

Breakfast sandwiches and cheerios for the baby

For this meal we decided not to eat baby-friendly food, because we love a good breakfast sandwich on the weekends and didn’t see why camping should stop us from having that. I pre-cooked bacon, and we cooked eggs on our camp stove and stacked them on some bagels. 

The baby-led-weaning-friendly meal idea for this breakfast was cheerios (soaked for just a minute in almond milk). This meal was super easy to pack and super easy for Avery to eat. I remember one of my favourite meals when camping as a kid was mini boxes of cereal. You’d cut the box open, pour in your milk, and eat on the go. Ahh, nostalgia. 

3. Saturday lunch

Chicken quinoa burrito bowls

I pre-made this beauty of a hearty salad and it was delicious, filling, and baby-friendly. I made pulled chicken (instead of the chunks in the original picture here) and brought guacamole as a garnish to add at the time of eating. This was ideal for camping because it didn’t even require heating, but this also made it kind of lame for camping because it wasn’t a special camping meal. Either way, Avery loved it and we’ve been eating the leftovers all week for lunches. 

4. Saturday night dinner

Make-Ahead Lentil Chili and Campfire Skillet Cornbread 

I actually took a picture of this meal. The chili was warm and cozy on a chili evening and only required heating up on the camp stove, and the corn bread was the perfect side and actually enabled me to do a tiny bit of cooking, instead of just reheating. I packed the dry ingredients, mixed, in an oversized Tupperware, and the wet in a smaller container. I used the bigger Tupperware as a mixing bowl to blend the dry with the wet at the campsite, and just poured it into the skillet. 

5. Sunday breakfast 

Skillet Oatmeal with Fruit

You don’t really need a recipe for this, but here’s the pin that inspired me. We made quick oats in our cast iron skillet and added packaged fruit cocktail as a topper. And the adults got copious amounts of maple syrup. 

6. Snacks

Even at 10 months, Avery is already accustomed to two snacks a day in between her 3 square meals. For snacks, I brought a bunch of bananas, baby puffs, and a little resealable baggy of pre-diced fruit. We also relied heavily on her Klean Kanteen to keep her hydrated because she was often too distracted to nurse. 
*

We ended up having an amazing time camping with our 10 month old. If you’re contemplating going camping with a baby but haven’t gotten up the nerve, JUST DO IT. It’s really not that hard (I was expecting much worse) and you make memories that last a lifetime (maybe not for the baby, yet, but for you!). I’ll probably write more about our experience, but if you want to know more, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments! 

Food Blog Friday: baby-led weaning edition 

I missed last month. I’ve been cooking dinner almost every night of the week, but it has been boring stuff and I haven’t bothered to get the camera out during dinners. But this month, Food Blog Friday is back with a Baby-Led Weaning special edition! 

I’m including two recipes here that I made for Avery recently. They’re a little more “recipe” than our usual basic steamed brocolli or mini meatballs, but they’re still ridiculously simple. 

Recipe 1: Brown Rice Balls

Served here with liver pâté balls (from previous post)

Ingredients

  • Rice (I used brown basmati, but use whatever you’re comfortable cooking with) 
  • Drizzle of rice vinegar
  • Drizzle of maple syrup*
  • Tumeric (optional) 
  • Sesame seeds (optional) 

Directions

  • Cook your rice, covered, until it is slightly overdone. I find my rice is at its stickiest when the bottom layer starts to crust to the pan. 
  • Stir in just a dab of maple syrup (maybe a tsp per 2 cups cooked rice) 
  • Stir in a drizzle of rice vinegar (roughly 2 tsp per 2 cups cooked rice) 
  • Roll into balls just big enough for baby to eat it in 2 bites 
  • Optional: toast sesame seeds and mix up with a dash of Tumeric. Roll balls in this mixture. 
  • Refrigerate or serve warm. If refrigerating, wrap up tightly in cling film and put in an air tight container so they don’t dry out. You can also drizzle a sauce of your liking on them to rehydrate. We had some homemade beef gravy leftovers that we used for one meal of rice balls and that went over well. 
  • *Note: the maple syrup is something I saw on another recipe online and I assume it is needed to help hold your rice together. I didn’t try without, but true sticky rice shouldn’t need that, I wouldn’t think. If you try this without a sugar added let me know if it turns out. 

Recipe 2: 4 ingredient banana oat pancakes

I got this recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • 2/3 cup milk (or milk substitute – I used goat milk) 
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chia seeds (these act as a great egg-like binder and have more oméga fatty acids than you’ll ever need in a day) 
  • Coconut oil (or your oil of choice) for frying them up in the pan

Directions:

  • Throw the first 4 ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. 
  • Pour batter into preheated and oiled pan in a size your baby or toddler can handle. 
  • Cook like regular pancakes. Flip when  browned on one side, remove when   browned on other side. 

So. Easy. These actually taste good to me, too. Avery only likes them cold, and she only likes them as a snack when she is playing. She’s not a fan in general of grains that are formed into a sheet (like bread or pancakes). It’s a texture thing I think. But she is willing to eat these, I think because they taste like banana. 

Oh and a bonus recipe – the jam in the picture with the pancakes. 

Recipe 3: “Jam” 

Directions:

  • Lightly steam frozen mango and frozen cherries (or whatever yummy frozen fruit mixes you have). About half a cup. 
  • Put in a container with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. 
  • Pour in some of the steaming water from the bottom of your steamer. About 1/4 cup of liquid. 
  • Give the container a shake and let sit for an hour or so. Shake it again and let sit again. In a couple of hours the chai seeds will become like gelatin and the fruit/berries are like jam. This stuff is tasty on its own, or spread on these pancakes! 

Food Blog Friday: Vegan Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I’m strictly following the CMPA diet for Avery’s dairy and soy allergy, and I’ve now thrown eggs into the do-not-eat list. Desserts are my new obsession because I want what I can’t have (i.e., pastries, chocolate things…). I dug up this old recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes that my wife made for me when we first started dating, about 9 years ago. I was a vegan back then… typical granola lesbian. Unfortunately I don’t have the original source of this recipe, as its been written out on an index card in our recipe box for that long. But the buttercream frosting is a recipe I freshly googled and can credit, because the frosting recipe that was OK for my vegan self 9 years ago had soybean oil in it (shortening and margerine). Not OK for my breastfeeding, allergic baby.

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:

These cupcakes are better than non-vegan cupcakes. That’s my opinion, and the only way for you to know for sure is to try them yourself. They are moist, chocolatey, light, fluffy, perfection.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 3/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt

Directions 

  • Mix milk & vinegar, let sit until curdled(ish) 
  • Mix all ingredients, including curdled milk, in no particular order
  • Fill muffin cups 3/4 full
  • Bake at 350°F for 18 – 20 min

Makes 1 dozen
Vegan buttercream icing

Ingredients 

  • 2tbsp coconut cream (you can scrape the set layer off of the top of a can of coconut milk that hasn’t been shaken) 
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2tbsp non-dairy milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups non-dairy butter (I use soy free earth balance) 
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions 

  • Mix coconut cream, vanilla, salt, milk
  • Beat the butter until smooth (I use my stand mixer) 
  • Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time 
  • Add coconut cream mixture and whip on high for 2-3 minutes or until it gets glossy. 
  • Refrigerate until hard and then whip it again quickly before piping. (I piped it on without refrigerating and it worked fine for my level of piping skill. If you want to make it look really pretty, probably wait till it’s chilled.) 
  • Store the iced cupcakes in the fridge or the icing will get a bit melty and flat. 

The icing recipe makes way more than you NEED, but if you want to do a fancy piping job that sits high and pretty on top of your cupcake, you might need it all.
Definitely try these if you are vegan (or following a milk/soy/egg-free diet for another reason, like me). I also recommend trying it if you’re not vegan, but you would have to source ingredients you don’t normally use (like vegan butter), so it may not be the most practical recipe for those who can eat dairy. 

If you try these cupcakes, let me know what you think! 

Started Solids

I was going to save this for the 6 month update coming later this week, but we’ve been having so much fun with food that it deserved it’s own post.

Avery’s first solid food experience was on Feb 8th (5 1/2 months old). On a whim when she got home from work one evening, my wife decided to try feeding her some brown rice cereal we had in the cupboard. She LOVED it and immediately took to eating off the spoon and swallowing. I was fully expecting this attempt to involve pushing the food around in her mouth and spitting it out, but nope, she devoured it. 

She’s also had bananas mixed with breastmilk, and prunes, which were suuuper messy but apparently delicious.

Since those purées, we’ve also started a combination of spoon-feeding and baby-led feeding. We can’t seem to time it right (or have the right food on the menu) for her to sit with us while we eat and try what we’re eating (we had the timing right with crêpes with dulce De leche, but that felt a little too decadent for her first baby-led weaning experience…). We do want her to be able to feel the food in her hands and decide if/how much she wants to shove in her mouth. I’ve let her gnaw on a banana that I was eating and we gave her some avacado to chew on. She successfully mashed the food with her gums (and two teeth!) and seemed to enjoy making a supreme mess. Although her face in the avocado picture looks a little grossed out, she really did LOVE the avocado. She polished off everything you see on her tray here. 

While it has been sooo much fun watching her learn new tastes and textures and learn to swallow, I just want to point out that it can be incredibly scary, too. 

Everytime she coughs while eating, we panic. With food covered hands we grab her and attempt to rip her from the booster seat to give her the Heimlich maneuver (so thankful we both took that infant and child first aid course when I was 9 months pregnant). But every time she has been totally fine. I think coughing, or “horking” as it can be more accurately described, is all a part of learning to eat and learning to swallow something lumpier than breast milk. 

So we’ve created a food monster. I can’t eat a piece of fruit without her grabbing at it and crying when I don’t give it to her. I hope she continues to love her journey into the world of food! It’s so much fun for all three of us!