How Much Does Baby Eat?

A few of you have gotten some interest into Baby Led Weaning based on some of my previous posts. It’s a fun and exciting way to introduce food to your baby, but unlike a measured bottle, it can be tough to tell how much food baby wants or needs. I’m not bragging that our daughter is the perfect picture of health, but her weight has always been perfectly balanced whenever we take her to the doctor with no worries of her ever being under or over weight.  Of course, I’m no expert in baby nutrition, but the following meals are what have worked for us. That being said, I thought I’d share with you a couple snapshots of how much our baby eats in a day.

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Breakfast options:
-1 egg and 1 piece of sausage
-1 banana and 1/3 cup of milk and cereal*
-1 pouch of puree and 1/4 c. of dry cereal
*we try to buy organic brands of cereal, but some times she’ll end up with cheerios or corn flakes

Snack options:
-1 small piece of fruit [lately its been plums]
-1/3 c. of grapes or berries
-1/3 c. apple sauce

Lunch options:
-1/3 c. of chopped, grilled chicken breasts with 4 cherry tomatoes
-1 turkey hot dog with 3 generous cucumber slices
– Half of a small sandwich [lunch meat + cheese, no condiments] with some kind of vegetable

Afternoon snack options:
-plain string cheese
-1/3 c. cheesy crackers or veggie crackers
-Horizon fruit snack pouch
-1/4 c. organic yogurt

Dinner:
Honestly, we feed our baby whatever we’re having for dinner. This has motivated me to make more balanced meals, and I think it has helped her to have a more acquired taste of a variety of foods, and to be less picky. If for some reason we’re having something really spicy, or we cave and get some thing not so healthy, I’ll give her one of the lunch options. However, her meals are pretty much always made up of a protein and a fruit/vegetable.

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I feed her 4 oz. bottles of organic whole milk, 4 times a day: when she first wakes up, for her morning nap, for her afternoon nap, and right before bed. We just weaned her from the breast, but she still falls asleep easier if she can have a bottle before she lies down. Eventually, she’ll have to learn that nothing else is to be consumed after she brushes her teeth, but for now, it’s worth the risk for me to get her to relax and fall asleep quicker.

I hope this gives you a better idea of baby portions! Though they are tiny little humans, they’re also growing and need lots of energy and nourishment! Good luck mamas!

Summer Cabbage Slaw

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This week has been an exhausting week. I made it out of the 1st trimester, was still taking care of a recovering sick baby, and had an event in Pittsburgh that I went to [for those who don’t know, Pittsburgh is a 2 hour round trip for me]. Also, we live down the street from a university, and many of the students returned for the fall semester. Since Hubs works in the university bookstore, he’s been busy this week too. We were both so busy that we kept reaching for easy meals that required little to no preparation, and also, little to no nutrition. I had a head of cabbage sitting in the fridge and I didn’t want it to go to waste, so naturally I searched “cabbage” into Pinterest. I got some inspiration for this from a specific pin, but honestly, the recipe did not meet my expectations, so I’m not even going to bother posting the original recipe. Too much olive oil, too wet of a salad… it was just bad.

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Instead, I’ll give you MY recipe for delicious summer slaw. Its packed with veggies and has a delicious dressing, so it doesn’t even feel like work to eat something so healthy. It took me awhile to make my own variation on that original pin, but I think this recipe is the perfect solution! Here’s what you need for the salad itself:
-5 cups of shredded cabbage [you can buy prepackaged, but I prefer organic, so I sliced my own]
-1 cup of corn [if you’re using canned corn, make sure to drain the corn before using]
-1 red bell pepper chopped
-1 avocado [not too ripe] cubed

Then for the salad dressing:
-1 Tb Extra virgin olive oil
-2 limes juiced
-4 Tb greek yogurt
-1.5 Tb honey
-1 Tb hot sauce
– **optional** 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. [If you do choose to use cilantro, I would blend these ingredients in a nutribullet or blender]. Add all of the cabbage salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour half the dressing over the salad and mix with your hands or with tongs. Continue to add dressing to your taste, and that’s it! You can even make this hours ahead of time and it still tastes great whenever you decide it’s meal time.

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We served our slaw with some roasted chicken drumsticks. YUM. I felt like it was a good way to get us back on the healthy eating track after a crazy week of compromise.

Healthiest Chicken Salad

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This recipe was inspired by nom nom Paleo AND my whole30 challenge. When you’re doing any kind of cleanse or trying to make a change in your diet, you start off simple just to become familiar with the guidelines and ingredients. After awhile, the diet can seem to become very boring and that’s usually when people begin to give up. Well, there are ways of surviving, people! My homemade mayo was a real game changer and instead of using it simply as a condiment on my proteins, I decided to create a whole30 approved chicken salad. The ingredients are simple, and it’s a nice change after the first week of eating mostly vegetables.

  • 1/2 cup Homemade Mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from 1/2 medium lemon
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast or thighs
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers, toasted

Cook the chicken thoroughly, either baked in the oven or in a skillet. I like my chicken salad on the finer side, so I always put my chicken in the stand mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on a low speed, until the chicken has more of a shredded look to it. Then slowly add the remaining ingredients, one by one. Store in an air tight container in the fridge! Enjoy!

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Doritos Casserole.

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I know many of my recipes are paleo, gluten free, or just pretty clean in general. This is not one of those recipes. However, its a cleaner variation on a casserole my mother in law made for us awhile ago [the husband loves doritos…] and I wanted to recreate it since Hubs liked it so much.

Some thing you should know about the relationship between my husband and I: we balance each other. I know that sounds like a “pro” but the con is this: its a constant struggle. When I want to pay whatever price necessary for organic and whole foods, he wants to buy only what’s on sale and what he has a coupon for. The “pro” is this casserole, a combination of organic goodness, and a layer of doritos that he scored for a deal.

What you need:
-a bag of doritios
-1 lb. of lean ground beef
-taco seasoning
-1 avocado [cut in half]
-2 cups of cheese
-1 cup Horizon organic sour cream
-1 cup salsa
-lettuce
-1 small, fresh tomato
-any other delicious, mexican themed toppings

Preheat oven to 350. Begin cooking the ground beef on medium heat in a skillet. In a large mixing bowl, combine HALF of the avocado, the sour cream, 1 CUP of cheese, and the salsa, and set aside. Finish cooking the meat, then add taco seasoning, making sure the meat is evenly coated with it. Pour the meat into the bowl with the sour cream mixture and combine. In a 9×13 pan, layer doritos on the bottom. Smash enough of them for the layer to be flat, but not so much that you only have crumbs. The doritos will act as a crust when you cut the finished casserole, and help each serving to hold a square shape. Next, spread the entire meat mixture over the doritos. Sprinkle more doritios crumbs on top, then sprinkle the other cup of cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Cut and serve in squares, and add fresh tomato and lettuce on top. Delicioso!

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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?

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

One of my most requested recipes…

This recipe is so good, and so pizza-like, that my husband actually requested it for his birthday dinner a few months ago. This is saying a lot since he is a type of pizza connoisseur. I love this recipe because it’s one of the few that maintains the integrity of the real dish it is trying to imitate, tastes amazing, and of course, is good for you.

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You’ll find many variations of this recipe online, but this one is my favorite because it involved the microwave. Yes, all you crunchy, organic moms are gasping because of radiation or whatever…. but your a mom, you know there isn’t always time to steam a head of cauliflower for a darn slice of pizza!

Here’s what you need:
-half a head of cauliflower
– 1 egg
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-1/2 tsp garlic minced
-1/2 tsp of onion salt, or garlic salt

I start by washing half of the cauliflower, then breaking it into 5-7 bigger pieces. I take those pieces, one by one, and grate them on the finer side of my cheese grater. Once My head of cauliflower, is just tiny shavings, I put the shavings into a microwave safe bowl, and cook in the microwave for 8 minutes [gasp!] Afterward, I have 3-4 paper towels I put the cooked cauliflower on, and using additional paper towels, I try to press, and drain all the water from the cauliflower[ be careful you don’t burn yourself with this step, the cauliflower will be very hot!] Mix the cauliflower with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dough on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and pat the crust down into your desired shape. cook crust for 20 minutes at 450, then remove and add pizza sauce and toppings. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Breakfast

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In my attempt to eat healthier, I have realized that for me, a lot of it comes down to preparation. If it were up to my lazy self, I would have coffee and sweet cream for breakfast, then take a nap at 2 pm when I start to crash from lack of energy. So I came up with this recipe that has the taste of a greasy egg and sausage breakfast, while really being packed with tons of veggies. I bake it all at the beginning of the week, cut it into squares and pop them into the fridge. That way, in the busy morning, I can just throw a square into the microwave for 30 seconds and have a balanced, healthy, warm, perfectly portioned breakfast with little effort.

What you need:
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cups of spinach
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 a red onion
1 lb. ground sausage
3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut and clean out your squash [cutting length wise, then removing the seeds]. Lay, flesh side down, onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. While the squash is baking, cook the sausage in a large skillet [if you’re counting calories, you may only want to use half the sausage. I’m a meat lover, so I used the whole thing]. Using a slotted spoon, set aside your sausage in a separate bowl, leaving the grease in the skillet. Cook your spinach, onion, and pepper in the skillet until all the veggies are limp. Turn off the stove heat. When your squash is done cooking, let it cool for ten minutes. Once squash has cooled, scrape out the flesh with a fork, into the skillet with your other veggies. Put the skillet back on the heat for 5 minutes or so, and mix together the squash, sausage and the veggies. In a separate bowl, beat the 3 eggs together. Prepare a 9×13 pan, and spread the squash, meat, and skillet veggies into the pan. Next, pour the beat eggs over the veggies. Bake the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes until the egg is fully cooked through. Let cool, then cut into squares and refrigerate!

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PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

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I say PF Chang’s “inspired” because I don’t want you getting your hopes up for an exact replica of PF Chang’s. This is really, really close, but if you google “lettuce wrap copy cat recipe” you will find complicated posts involving a TON of ingredients. My lettuce wraps are simple, easy, and taste close enough to Chang’s to satisfy a craving without having to leave you house in a blizzard.

What you need:
1 head of iceberg lettuce [set aside]
1 lb. of ground chicken
1 small red bell pepper
1/2 large carrot chopped or 4 baby carrots chopped
2 large garlic cloves minced
1/4 c. finely sliced scallions

(for the sauce)
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 tamari or soy sauce
2 TBS light brown sugar
1 TBS corn starch
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 TBS ginger [minced fresh or powdered]
1 tsp garlic salt

Excluding the lettuce, add the first five ingredients to a hot skillet, starting with the chicken. Once the chicken has browned a bit, throw in the other 4. Cut the bottom off of your head of lettuce, and rinse in cold water. Peel off the first 4-5 leaves to use as your lettuce cups, and set aside. In a separate container, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Once the chicken in your skillet is completely cooked, add the sauce to the pan and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until sauce has reduced and is thicker. This recipe makes 4 bigger wraps or up to 8 smaller wraps depending on the size of your lettuce cups. enjoy!

Quick BLTs

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One of the major perks of the Paleo diet is BACON. One of my favorites is the classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato! Now, foregoing bread wasn’t really a problem for me since I cut gluten out of my diet years ago. These BLT lettuce cups took me 20 minutes tops and were a big hit for me and my husband.

What you’ll need:
-1 package of bacon
-1 large tomato
-several big Romaine leaves
– a small batch of Paleo mayo

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put your raw bacon slices on the sheet. Put the bacon in the oven AND THEN preheat to 400 degrees [yes, the oven will start out cold] For thinner slices of bacon, I set the timer for 18 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, prepare your romaine leaves and slather a little bit of mayo on each leave, and a couple slices of tomato. When the bacon is done, drain on a few paper towels, then place 2-3 pieces on each leaf.

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