Sunday, January 31, 2010

Toddler food cubes


Most baby food books talk about food cubes and I was skeptical at first. The time saving factor and variety of foods available at each meal totally convinced me. Now I have two freezer shelves full of food cubes all the time. I know exactly what cubes to throw in to make them eat if they are fussy. I make lots of food cubes - vegetables (carrots to hearts of palm) fruits (apples to guava) chicken, turkey and lamb.

My secret tool here is the pressure cooker. It allows for cooking with minimal loss of nutrients. If you use a container to put the vegetables in, instead of directly in the cooker, you don't need to add any additional liquid to the vegetables - the water in the bottom of the cooker will suffice for the steam to build.

Vegetables cook for anywhere from 15 minutes (broccoli, cauliflower) to half an hour (butternut squash, cabbage) and then get mashed with a potato masher. When the twins were younger, I would puree them in a food processor but they can handle more texture now. I let fruits ripen as much as it is safe to and then either mash them with a potato masher or grate/puree in a food processor.

Meats get fine chopped and go into the slow cooker and the cooking liquid is vedge from Bolthouse Farms. Afterwards I fork mash them till my hand hurts! Fish is poached in a little stock or tomato broth or vedge and fork mashed.

The final step is spooning them into ice cube trays and popping them into the freezer for 24 hours. For thawing vegetables and meats I just use the microwave. For fruits I take the cubes out the night before and thaw them in the refrigerator.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Goat milk yogurt


Come to think of it, I have not introduced the twins to goat milk yet. The goat milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farm was a big hit with both of them. It was as described on the container - silky and light. My daughter actually smacked her lips and giggled after her first spoonful!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Australian style yogurt


Australian style yogurt is thinner than regular yogurt and has less sugar - less than 20g for a 6oz serving. Wallaby organic offers unique flavors like orange passionfruit and key lime (tried both, the twins loved it) and dulce de leche (looking for it everytime I go to the store.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swiss yogurt by Emmi

The slightly higher protein content (also pink grapefruit flavor - had to try that) attracted me to this yogurt. Also that it was 'Swiss' - sometimes Iam sucker (and yes, biased) for stuff from certain countries/places/cultures.

So I went online and found that swiss yogurt is actually a blended custard. The yougurt did taste artificial and I did not like any of the flavors that I bought. The kids of course ate it up - what with 27 grams of sugar! I really should start looking at sugar content - when I buy yogurt with the kids in mind that is one of the things last on my list. I am looking for protein, calcium, live cultures, fat content, real fruits etc.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Icelandic yogurt aka skyr, soft cheese

With 16 gm of protein per 6oz serving this icelandic yogurt from Siggi's caught my eye in the grocery store. I looked it up and found out from wikipedia that it is probably Norwegian in origin and is technically a soft cheese. I give it to the twins on days they vehemently reject milk. For now they lap it up but in the future if they make a fuss all I have to tell them is that this is Viking food!

I tried the orange & ginger flavor and found it to be a bit 'artificial' tasting. Pomegranate & passion fruit is next.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Greek Yogurt

I think of Greek yogurt as a concentrated form of regular yogurt. I have tried the pomegranate and fig flavors from Greek Gods and the twins liked both of them.

I also use plain greek yogurt to fortify bread and to reduce the sweetness of flavored yogurt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cranberry bars

I bought these bars for the cranberry part. The stuffing has dates, raisins and cranberries according to the ingredients list (I wish they would list how much of each!) which made me go hmm…….. and althoughI could not really taste the cranberries it was impressively tart. I thought the twins would be turned off by the tartness but they did not seem bothered by it in the least bit. Even though they don't like them as much as other snacks they will eat them if I don't offer anything else with the cranberry bars.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Steel cut oats in under 10 minutes!

Cooking steel cut oats can take more than half an hour and who has the time? Not getting into the nutritional aspects of the different oats, (rolled, quick and steel cut) I like the nutty flavor and moreover the kids had been eating overcooked rolled and quick oats for some time already. I started adding oats to their dinner because of the high satiety value, hoping they will sleep through the night and not wakeup because of hunger.

Trader Joe's Quick Cook Steel Cut Oaks have the nutty flavor and do cook in under 10 minutes. The cooking instructions have microwave directions but I have not tried it. The kids did not seem to be bothered by the chewier texture which I was concerned about.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Baked crackers - pizza flavor

I picked up these classic pizza baked crackers by My Family Farm to introduce a new flavor to the twins. They both enjoy tiny bits of pizza - only the part without any topping though. My daughter took to them immediately but my son chocked/gagged on it and went on to throw up everything he ate before that, which was his entire lunch. I will reintroduce the pizza crackers when they are 15 or 16 months old I think.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Home made bread


Having kids changed me. A lot. In many ways. One of them is looking at food labels on the products I buy - not just the basic nutritional information but scrunching my eyes and reading the list of ingredients. So when I started looking at bread, it blew me away how many chemicals went into enhancing and preserving the look and freshness of a loaf of regular bread. And if I wanted to buy organic/no-sugar-added/somehow-better bread it cost more than I could justify.

In my previous life I rolled my eyes at people who made their own bread. At the time, in my book they were either anal, had too much time on their hands or were just plain pretentious. Well now I make my own bread and it takes less than 5 minutes to toss the ingredients into the bread machine. About 3+ hours later the machine calls you to come get your fresh loaf and with the timer option you can actually wake up to fresh bread.

The Zojirushi 1-lb bread machine has been worth the higher price tag and I have no complaints. I use unbleached whole wheat flour, and honey (instead of sugar) and fortify the bread with 2 to 3 tablespoons each of greek yougurt, wheat germ and almond meal. Iam constantly experimenting with different fruits and vegetables. Really - spinach/pineapple and potato/banana breads have been my most successful hybrids so far.

I actually have to hide the bread bin from my daughter at meal times. She will eat it for breakfast, dinner, lunch and snack on it all day if I let her. My son will eat it but he is not crazy about it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Swamp juice


Bolthouse farms makes the perfect swamp juice. Named 'Green Goodness,' it is a fruit smoothie that has apples, banana, kiwi, mango, pineapple, spinach, broccoli, garlic, artichoke, algae, chlorella, spirulina……….. oh yes it so totally looks like the swamp juice, at least according to my imagination. If it was a clear bottle I probably would not have bought it - but after I opened it and braved a sip (after all I was going to try it on my kids) I knew they were going to love it. I add a few tablespoons to their breakfast and the first time my daughter actually requested (and by that I mean shouted the house down) I feed her a few spoonfuls directly.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hummus and Tahini

When the twins turned a year old their pediatrician OK'd all nuts and seeds except peanuts. So I have started adding a heaping teaspoon of hummus or tahini to their lunch. Both of them love the hummus but my daughter gagged on the tahini. I have backed off the tahini for now but will reintroduce it in a couple of months.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Enjoy Life Cookies

I picked up these cookies by 'Enjoy Life' because they were nut free when the twins were still under a year old. More than the lively lemon, their snicker doodle cookies are my kids absolute favorite. My son will laugh out loud and giggle in happiness when I give them to him.

Quinoa in 90 seconds!

There is a little mom-and-pop kind of organic store where we live and some of the finds there are amazing. These quinoa flakes for one, they cook in under 2 minutes. For variation I add them to their lunch or dinner cereal - the first time I tried to feed them a whole quinoa dinner I dealt with some really unpleasant diapers the next day. So for now in moderation only.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Multigrain hot cereal with flax and soy

The omega-3 oil in this multigrain cereal from Hodgson Mill made me buy it. Apart from flaxseed and soy, it has whole wheat, wheat germ & bran and oats.

For now, the twins get cold cereals in the morning and hot cereals are their source of carbs for lunch and dinner. It took me a while to get over my mindset of cereals-are-for-breakfast-hot-or-cold. I skimmed through Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron and her super porridge gave me the idea of hot cereals for lunch and dinner.

So far the kids haven't rejected any of the multigrain hot cereals I have offered them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cherry pomegranate toaster pastries


I have this thing for the not-so-regular fruits and vegetables. I figure the kids are not going to be eating much of them once they take over their own feeding. Hopefully when they are older and wiser they will be open minded about food and its infinite varieties. Also having a nutrition major around stressing the importance of micro-nutrients, I seek out the 'weird' and 'offbeat' to feed my kids.

I found toaster pastries by Nature's Path with cherry and pomegranate in the mom-and-pop store and decided to try them even though they were frosted. Surprisingly, they have only 17grams of sugar per serving and are not too sweet. My daughter ate everything but my son carefully picked out and ate the bits with frosting only.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kashi honey sunshine cereal

Kashi honey sunshine cereal is great finger food to keep the twins occupied while I am scrambling to fix breakfast. Even though the little pillows are crunchy, they are very fragile. As soon as they had 4 teeth each, the twins could handle the cereal and if the pantry door is open they will point to it at any time of the day they are hungry and munch on them. Since they are made with 7 whole grains and sesame, and all organic ingredients, I let the eat as much as they want.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yogurt

The twins don't like milk. They are not lactose intolerant or allergic to it - they just plain don't like it. At first I thought it was the sippy cup, so I changed different types of cups, gave up and gave it to them in bottles and they still wouldn't drink it. I tried different brands and fat % too. So now I just give them more yogurt and cheese to compensate.

As long as I can get away with it flavored yogurt will be my kids dessert. They get 'dessert' at lunch and dinner everyday and love it. I try to buy whole (vs. lowfat) yogurt with live cultures and real fruit and mix it with some plain lowfat yougurt made at home (fortified with non-fat dry milk powder) so they don't get used to 'dessert' that is too sweet.

I have so many little containers of flavored yogurt at any given time that I actually considered starting a blog on flavored yogurts! Before my whole kids-don't-like-milk problem I had no idea that there were that many flavored yogurts out there. Coming across flavors like 'pink grapefruit' or 'orange ginger' have made me an avid flavored yogurt taster.

In the morning

Familia baby muesli is the only baby cereal I found that has texture. All the major brands have flattened flakes that when mixed with a liquid turn into a paste/mush. I mix it in with non-textured baby cereal because it has too much texture for them right now. Add mashed fruit and fruit juice and breakfast is ready.

Carbs are necessary


Everyday the kids get Bob's Red Mill 100% whole grain 10 grain hot cereal twice a day. I cook one cup of it in the morning and use it for lunch and dinner. It has wheat, rye, triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye,) oats &bran, corn, barley, soybeans, brown rice, millet and flaxseed. Why triticale when there is already wheat and rye in there I don't know.

The cereal has a very grainy texture and when my twins were under a year old I would run the cereal in a food processor before cooking it. This would create some powder and I had to stand there while it was cooking and stir constantly to prevent lumps. Now I just stir it once in a while. Adding a little bit more water than the instructions call for keeps it at a cereal consistency even at dinner time.I still cook for 15 to 20 minutes instead of the recommended 10 minutes.






Intro

Being a first time parent (twins at that), wading through the amount of information on what to feed and not feed your child was overwhelming. After some time I gave up, except for broad no-nos from my pediatrician, and just go with my gut. Iam not obsessed about organic, but I am particular about their food being nutritious.

This blog is an attempt to chronicle their culinary journey starting at age 13 months.