Baby Led Weaning Update.

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As you can see, our fork skills aren’t quite 100% yet. However, I have to give Sugar Plum some credit, she doesn’t gag as much, she puts pre-loaded utensils directly into her mouth without trouble, and she at least attempts to use utensils herself with some actual success some times! There are certain foods she gets burned out on [like the one time I gave her plumbs for 5 days straight…] but otherwise, she is willing to try anything at least once.

I am just so proud to watch all her little human skills developing! When I tell her food is “hot” she will immediately blow on it — ADORABLE. Baby Led Weaning is by far the funnest thing I have gotten to teach her. It is so amazing to watch babies try next tastes and textures and watch them react to the bounty of God’s creation. Eating is definitely one of life’s pleasures and it has been a blast getting to introduce her to that.

If you don’t remember, from my previous posts, BLW consists of letting your children begin with finger foods at 6 months old. This teaches them fine motor skills, independence, & the ability to bite off and chew chunks of food. I’d say Sophie has developed in all of these ways and has enjoyed eating like a “big girl” since she often gets to eat small pieces of whatever mom and dad are eating for the evening.

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If you have any questions on BLW feel free to send a message my way on facebook, or by all means, GOOGLE IT!

Why We Eat Organic, Whole Foods

Ok, so some times we don’t always eat organic whole foods [hello pregnancy cravings…] but as the meal planner for my household, I try to make sure we are eating as many organic whole foods as possible. I try to stick to an 80/20 rule. 80 percent of our meals and daily snacks should be organic whole foods and 20 percent allows for grabbing food while we’re on the run, being invited over to dinner at some one else’s house, etc.

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But WHY? Why is it so important? Despite growing up in California for 20 years, my family didn’t really try to make a healthy food transition until I was in middle school. I probably don’t know the real reason why my mom made the conversion, but what I do remember is my brother and I struggling with ADHD. We were 12 and 10, and being put on adult doses of medications like ritalin, strattera, and adderall. I remember coming across several articles and books at the time linking poor diet, primarily of processed foods, leading to attention deficit disorders. I’m sure there we other reasons my mom made the change, but that sticks out in my mind as a big one. DSC_2177

Let’s flash forward to my adult life. My weight over the past 6 years has fluctuated enormously bouncing in between 130-178. Yes, 178 was my highest, and I was sitting at that weight when I became pregnant. Luckily, while I was pregnant, my body burned that fat as fuel to sustain the life of my child. Also, the month before I got pregnant, I switched to a clean eating diet that is very similar to the Paleo movement. So, I set myself up to have healthy eating habits while I was pregnant and didn’t gain too much weight throughout that 9 month process. What motivated me to take on clean eating, besides being at my highest weight? Well, being overweight was the motivation for me to do some research on how I should lose the weight. I didn’t want to cut out food groups [not even fat] and it seemed the best way to lose fat while not removing any 1 food group from your diet is to eat organic, fresh foods.

You see, in my research I found that a lot of food, even “fresh” food, has chemicals in or on it. When we consume those chemicals, our bodies don’t know how to digest it. In fact, our bodies kind of procrastinate digesting it, because  the chemicals are so unlike any other food our body has experience digesting. Well, you can’t just have chemicals floating around in the body, bumping into important organs, so this is how the body stores them, until it can figure out how to digest them: The body coats each chemical in a layer of fat, and then sends it off to be stored with the other fats. Eating processed food LITERALLY makes you fat. This is why detoxing became such a craze! People are desperate to get these fat-coated chemicals out of their bodies! Yes it’s true, you can eventually detox from all of that junk, but how do you maintain your clean slate? Eat organic. Your body knows those foods, and has the ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from those foods.

My husband will some times tease me, because I’d rather buy organic chocolate chips over regular chocolate, or organic cinnamon sugar cereal over cinnamon toast crunch. While these foods aren’t the healthiest in nature, and should be eaten in moderation, I know that when push comes to shove, my body is going to have a way easier time digesting organic chocolate made from cocoa beans and sugar cane than it will trying to digest hydrogenated oils and fructose.

Flash forward to me being a parent. Our babies have virgin digestive systems. We nurture those tummies with awesome breastmilk, but then what? There is an epidemic of childhood obesity, and yet parents have no idea how to take preventative steps to help their children! Do we give them a SlimFast instead of whole milk? NO. Give them fresh, whole foods, free of chemicals. Get back to the garden, back to nature. Since the organic craze has become more and more popular, there are organic versions of all your favorite foods. Cereals, crackers, yogurts… and of course, fruits and vegetables. Make it fun, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try. When I’m strolling around the produce aisle, my baby grabs what she wants off the stands, and I let her! I want her to feel like she’s independent and can make healthy choices for herself.

I was really inspired by 2 documentaries on this subject:
my all time favorite: “Hungry for Change”
and also “Fed Up”

If you also want more information and a more detailed explanation on the harm processed foods and chemicals do to our bodies, I highly recommend “Hungry for Change,” it is by far the most informative and empowering.

DIY Kale Crackers

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My daughter loves cheddar bunnies. Yes, I am a mom who will pay $2 more for ORGANIC cheesy crackers vs the little orange fish. As parents, we try try try to do our best, and that includes what we’re giving our kids for consumption. I’m not a complete hippie ok, so just hear me out. These are easy, don’t involve a lot of effort, and are an easy way for YOU to give your kid an extra veggie throughout the day. Because of my daughter’s love for cheddar bunnies, we always seem to be out of them. She eats them in fistfuls and for some reason, she prefers savory tastes to sweet. Once upon a time my husband bought me these spinach+kale tortilla chips and I gave one to Sugar Plum because she would not leave me alone. Well, giving her a chip only intensified her clingy-ness because then she wanted to eat the whole bag. SO, I decided why not make my own kale crackers to satisfy her? Not only could I relax about the ingredients, but it saves me from going through $5 boxes of cheddar bunnies.

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What you need:

  • ⅓ cup of frozen kale  (loose leaf spinach works too though!)
  • ¼ cup oil (I use avocado oil)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt ( I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1 and ½ tbs water
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour)

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Sugar Plum was concerned at first, that it wasn’t cheddar bunnies that made their way into her mouth… She eventually asked for “more” of these kale starts, though!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Puree the kale, oil, salt, baking powder and water in a food processor or blender. (In my case, I used my nutribullet)
  3. Combine the flour and the spinach mixture in a mixing bowl.
  4. Knead the dough and form it into a nice ball.
  5. Roll the dough out on a well floured surface. The dough should be rolled out very thin for best results.
  6. Put the dough on a floured baking sheet or silicone baking mat.
  7. A cute cookie cutter, like my star, works well for cutting our the crackers from dough (a pizza cutter or knife will do if you don’t have one)
  8. Prick each cracker with a fork.
  9. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Crackers should be put directly on a kitchen towel to cool, to maintain their crispness.

Enjoy!

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Healthy Snacks

Being a parent is hard. You are responsible for everything. No exaggeration, EVERYTHING. When your child sleeps, how they sleep, how they play, how they dress what they eat. It’s rough, and overwhelming. Before I got pregnant I did a lot of research and work to improve my own health. This has helped me tremendously in making the transition with my baby from breastmilk to solids.

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In previous posts, I had mentioned I was doing Baby Led Weaning. We’ve been doing it for 3 straight months now and Sugar Plum knows how to pick up foods, how to chew, and how to swallow. I am so proud that she has come so far, but now more than ever, she is curious to try new foods. So what’s a mama to do? Of course I try to give her vegetables first, then fruits…. but after that? What if I haven’t gone shopping for the week? Here are my tips on other foods to feed your baby, and what to look for when searching for healthy snacks.

1. Organic – This isn’t just some pretentious standard. I know organic foods can be expensive, but they truly are [let’s not say better but, ] purer foods for your baby to consume. Organic, in my opinion, means that food item, is as close to its original [or “organic”] form as it can possibly be. How is that not purer? OK now for the expenses, pretty much any one can afford organic baby food and snacks. Because these foods are usually free of preservatives, they go bad quicker, which means stores have to get rid of them faster, which means a lot of times the store will mark them down at a discount in order to sell them before they go bad. Find the clearance section of your grocery story. More often than not, there are organic foods back there, just waiting to be bought! I got that big box of animal crackers for just ONE DOLLAR! It’s possible…

2. Sugar – Even if some thing seems healthy or all natural, there may still be a ton of sugar hiding in it. Since my daughter is only 9 months old, I like to try and get foods that have UNDER 10 grams of sugar. The animal crackers pictured above only have 7 grams of sugar per serving, and I never even give her a whole serving [8 cookies] I usually just give her one or 2. To put things in perspective, think of a snickers bar –  it has a whopping 25 grams of sugar in it. Now, most of us wouldn’t feed our babies a snickers bar, so why feed them 25 grams of sugar? If for some reason you find a food that has 10 grams or more of sugar, ask yourself why? Is it because that food contains fruit that has a lot of natural sugar? Or is fructose listed in the ingredients? Just be smart about what sugars you DO give to your baby [i.e. don’t give them a snickers…]

3. Meat – this doesn’t apply so much for ‘on the go’ foods like the previous 2, but it still is worth mentioning. Our bodies, especially females, are very sensitive to hormones [middle school, anyone?] and unfortunately, many animals are given hormones nowadays to make them mature faster, so that the companies can get the meat faster. It’s important, with babies who are still growing and adjusting to their own little hormones, not to overwhelm their system with added hormones in meat. Again, it can be pricey, but looked for marked down meats that are about to expire, then freeze them. Eventually you will have a stockpile of good, healthy meats on hand, for a fraction of the cost.

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Those are my 3 cardinal rules for introducing foods to baby! What do you look for?

Homemade Applesauce

Believe it or not, this apple sauce has no refined-white sugar. I used 2 Honeycrisp apples and 2 Buckeye Gala’s which are both naturally sweeter. Then I used Organic Coconut Sugar [naturally less-sweet than white refined sugar…] to balance out the sweetness of my apples. The result was awesome!

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All you need:

-3/4 c. water
-4 apples
-1/4 c. coconut sugar
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

First, I peeled all my apples. I then put the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a sauce pan on the stove over low heat. While the water was warming up, I cored each apple and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Place all of your apples into the sauce pan and bump up that heat to medium-high. Let all the apples simmer in cinnamon goodness for 15-20 minutes, until apples are soft. When the apples are done cooking they will look a little brown, this is mostly due to the brown coconut sugar.

before:

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after:

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This recipe only makes around 3-4 cups so I was able to throw it in my nutribullet, instead of mashing it by hand.

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It can only handle a few pluses before the apples become too thick for it to blend. For me. I only needed a few pulses for it to be the texture I wanted.

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Chill in the fridge for an hour, at least. Enjoy!

Quick, Easy Side

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When I was almost 41 weeks pregnant, My mother had come out to help me do simple things that are not so simple for a 9 month pregnant woman. She taught me how to make this side, which is so stupid-easy and delicious, I wish I had been making for far longer. Now, Its my go-to side for most dinners [and a side that Hubby actually requests!]

Ingredients:
Potato medley
Organic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
your favorite Season Salt

I’ve been doing a little more research on nutrition lately, and almost every source stresses the importance of eating many vegetables in a variety of colors. While this side isn’t the healthiest, it definitely is colorful!

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Preheat your oven to 450, then start by cutting your tiny potatoes, into even smaller pieces.

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Next, drizzle the olive oil over your purple, red and golden medley.
Then sprinkle your potatoes with your favorite season salt [I use Tastefully Simple]. Mix potatoes with your hands [or a spoon if you’re not in the mood for greasy, food fun…] so that all pieces are coated in olive oil, salty goodness.

Spread on a baking sheet with a rim [in case any of your olive oil spreads during the baking… don’t want to have to clean that off of the bottom of your oven later!]

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes. Enjoy!