Thursday, February 28, 2013

1st Birthday Nostalgia

One year ago I started this adventure of Real Babies Eat Real Food because I was making homemade food for my son and posting what I was making on Facebook. I kept getting questions about recipes and thought it would be easier to just put them all in one place and to share it with the world. So thank you readers and followers for sharing this place with your friends, your pediatricians, your parents, your children, your grand children, thank you for making homemade food and for allowing me to continue to share things with you. Also thank you to my husband, my carpool (he is a friend too, but he gets his own shout out), my family, and my friends.

I can honestly say that I never in my life said to myself "hey maybe I'll be a baby food guru when I grow up". When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer... then I worked for lawyers, now I am edging towards Accounting, but the bigger this gets, the more followers I get the more I want this to be my future. Through this place, through my son, through you, I have found something that I am passionate about. I really am a full-time working mom, working to pay my bills for my family just like the rest of America. I work 35+ hours a week, sometimes even 60 hours a week, but this was just something I always made time for.

I started making my son's food because of economic reasons going back to the fact that I was unable to breastfeed him due to a medical reason that would pass through my milk supply, so I was paying an arm and a leg for formula and couldn't afford another cost. I also thought to myself, well I can't breastfeed, let me give him something else that I can do for him, and that was make his baby food myself. It turned out to save me a lot of money, and as I said above, has turned into something I truly love doing. Now my brain says "How can I make this into something for a baby?". Or I will read something and think to myself "man I cant wait to share this with Real Babies Eat Real Food."

Every family needs to do what is best for them, and just because I do something, and write about it here does not mean that it is best for you. If you feel that way then by all means do what you need to do. The first year is hard, you are tired all the time and you cannot think how you will squeeze in just one more thing to do. I remember it very well, it was not so long ago. In fact my 18 month old still doesn't sleep through the night. So if you feel that way, no one is going to yell at you for not making your own baby food, babies who eat commercial food are fine, just like the ones who drink formula, they are all fine, so long as they are loved. You know what is best for your child and never let anyone tell you otherwise.This blog is meant to share with those that want to know.

The title of this blog, Real Babies Eat Real Food came to me after playing around with different titles. There is a lot going around about "Real Food" and what it is, knowing where your food comes from, eating as few processed foods as you can, things that many adults try and do, so I wanted to take that concept that is so familiar to so many adults and show that it is applicable to babies and children as well. I remember being pregnant and seeing a can of cheese, yes a can, at a chain pharmacy and the first thing I said to myself was "why would you give your kid a can of cheese, its cheese, go to the grocery store and buy yourself a block of cheese". I then looked at the shelves at other stores and realized that many of these commercial baby food makers think that we do not have the ability to know what to feed our children. We turn to them to find out when the right time to feed them is, what to feed, how much to feed, but they are not our childrens' pediatricians or parents, they are big companies that want your money. Commercial baby food started out as those jars for babies and now has grown into products for children ages 2+. They are convenience foods, they are good for on the go, but these companies would like to see you feed them to your kids everyday. You are your childrens' role models, so teach them that an apple is real food, that apples do not come in flavored rings all the time. Make it fun, get them in the kitchen.

Lastly, our First Lady, regardless of what you feel about her husband, Michelle Obama is an amazing First Lady. She gets out there and shows America what it is to eat Real Food, to get active, to grow a garden, have as few steps from ground to your mouth as possible. I was so excited as you recall when her cookbook came out I got it immediately. I am so inspired by her actions and her speeches. Thank you Mrs. Obama for striving to make our children healthy.

I hope you continue reading and following Real Babies Eat Real Food as I have big plans for the second year. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting me on this adventure.

To get your mouths drooling by the way I am working on a new puree of Mango, Carrots, and Coconut milk... I am tweeking it before I share it with you so it is just right for your little ones. The winner of the Fresh Baby Contest will be announced tomorrow morning. There is still time to enter. Good luck!

Hillary

Reminder Post

This is your last day to enter the Fresh Baby Contest! So if you are checking Real Babies Eat Real Food, first thank you and secondly go enter the contest :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Say Yes to Your Kids and Let them Play with the Dough

There are days I miss babyhood. Yes it was exhausting, but there was no constant use of the word "no, don't touch that" "no don't eat that" "no our hands are not for hitting", as babies turn into toddlers the use of the word "no" becomes more frequent. So I started thinking of ways to say "yes". What can I do for him that will make me be able to say "yes sure its fine if you eat that, even though its not actually supposed to be eaten" "yes you can play there".

When I was younger my mom used to make our play dough whether it was for economical reasons or for the fact that my younger brother put everything in his mouth and she wanted to be sure he would be safe, it didn't matter. She did it so there was always a ton of play dough to be had.

 This is a fun recipe for homemade play dough- so it is ok if they put it in their mouth (just don't intentionally feed it to them for dinner)

2 cups flour

2 cups water

1 cup salt

4 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, olive oil or baby oil

food coloring of your choice

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat when dough forms a ball. Once the dough begins to come away from the sides take it off the heat. If you overcook it it will become crumbly. It is still going to look "wet", but it is ok.

Dump it onto your clean counter and start kneading (like you would bread) and it will form into a ball, and there you have play dough!

You still have 2 more days to enter the Fresh Baby Contest !!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pinapple, Spinach, and Banana Puree (less than 5 minutes)

I do a lot of green purees, with my child I almost have to. If I let him eat fruit for 3 meals a day he would, happily, that and crackers. My child is obsessed with crackers. So I will buy spinach, kale, chard, different greens to try and make some delicious purees for my little boy. Here is a quick one that I wanted to share with you:

1/2 cup chopped pinapple

1 cup spinach

1 banana

1/2 cup milk, formula, breast milk, or yogurt (I used milk)

Simply put all ingredients into your blender and hit puree!


This is a very quick puree and it will freeze nicely in freezer trays. I would suggest this for a 8 month old as pinapple can be difficult on their delicate little tummys. Add this to oatmeal for a filling and nutritious breakfast!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cookery For Children

I was just playing around online and found something pretty cool. What did mom's do before the invention of Gerber baby food? They made food for their babies naturally, but they did not have the resources we have today, nor did they have a baby bullet, Beeba, or baby bullet. They used the resources and food available to them to nourish their children. So what is it that I found? I found a book The Ladies' New Book of Cookery which is a cookbook published in 1852, and in this book is a chapter on how to make baby food!

If you take a look you will find that many of what we are told now still applied back then, such as a newborn being breast fed should eat every 2 hours, do not over feed your baby because you will create bad habits for the future, and that food has health and healing properties. It seems that a young child's diet until the age of 3 was primarily milk, mild vegetables, and bread. It then indicates that after that their diet should be proportionate to the amount of exercise they do. It also repeatedly said not to give a child hot bread, that seems odd to me, any ideas?  It even gives a recipe for what seems to be the beginnings of formula (DO NOT FEED THIS TO YOUR NEWBORN!), indicating that this should be utilized until the mother's milk comes in.

The book indicates that infants were given food starting at age 6 months, just like we do now. The first suggested food was Thickened Milk, milk, water, and flour. However the recipe that intrigued me the most was peas, potatoes, mint, and sugar! Similar to the recipe I made last year for my son!

Well I don't want to tell you everything, especially when you can read it yourself at the link above.

Don't forget to continue your entries for the Fresh Baby Contest  you must comment on that post to gain entry. The contest ends 2/28/2013 at 11:59 pm EST!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Birthday Cakes

Birthdays have come a long way since I was little. The first birthday cake I remember was a Rainbow Brite birthday cake and all I wanted to eat was her belt. Somewhere there is a picture of that, maybe my mom has it. Cakes have come a very long way since the 80's, with the cake trends being shown on Cake Boss and Charm City Cakes, parents are trying to go above and beyond with their little ones, especially for the first birthday party. I was playing around online and well.... look at these cakes!! 

For my son's first birthday my sister made a Lion King cake for him. It was extremely well done. I spent hours on Pinterest figuring out just the right cake, the perfect theme. It was all for this moment... 


  He enjoyed every last drop of cake! So if you are creative in the kitchen, or have someone to make an awesome birthday cake like one of those, or go to a bakery, I say go for it. Your little one only has one first birthday. It is a celebration for everyone, that you survived the first year of midnight feedings, sleepless nights, messes, spit up, explosive diapers, labor, you survived it all and your little one has grown at a magnificent rate, went from a little little one who has achieved amazingly accomplishments including rolling over, crawling, walking, eating, smiling, laughing, sitting up, things we now take for granted. The first birthday is a celebration for everyone! 

Now on a side note I am seeing that a lot of people are reading about the  Fresh Baby Contest . Keep entering, the contest ends February 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. As stated in that post, in order for your entry to count you must comment so I can track you and verify. Simply liking or sharing is not an automatic entry. 

Have a good night folks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fresh Baby Contest!!



I am so incredibly ready for spring, and I think my little one will agree with that. He loves to go outside, but unfortunately in the Northeast it is the dead of winter and bitter cold, so going outside is limited right now. His new found freedom is fun and exciting for both of us! Sorry to start off so randomly, but he is just so darn fun!

I have been receiving numerous questions lately from readers and friends of mine about freezing baby food, and the best way to do it, and how long it is safe in the freezer, so I decided to take this opportunity to try and review a product to help just with that. So let me tell you a little bit about Fresh Baby. Fresh Baby is a company started by a mom with products for moms. They have many products that help parents make homemade baby food for their infants and have recently expanded into the toddler and whole family line. You can read all about their story here.

I took the opportunity to try their “So Easy Baby Food Kit”. Included in the kit is a How-To DVD, a Cookbook, two Freezer Trays, and a Tip Card. The claim is that you can make homemade baby food in as little as 30 minutes a week. This is a totally accurate claim and this kit shows how easy and quick it truly is to make homemade food for your little one.






Allow me to start with the Tip Card. I found this card to be great! I have been making baby food for a year now every week and found it to be incredibly useful. It is double sided and jam packed with great information including a quick 5 easy steps to making baby food, serving tips, foods by age.



However, the thing that I loved the most was the “Common Baby Ailments and Foods” and “Best Sources of Nutrition” sections of the card.
The Common Baby Ailments include remedies for problems such as sleeping, diaper rash, teething, runny nose, constipation, and diarrhea, and what to avoid and what to give your baby when he/she is experiencing these problems. This section can be especially helpful for first time parents, who experience “new baby brain”. My son had stomach problems when he was an infant and would you believe I called the doctor and asked what I could give him to relieve constipation and naturally, he said prune juice. Something everyone “knows”, but when they are a new parent or a parent of many and just have too many screaming kids, this quick reference will definitely come in handy. I also really loved the Nutrients section which is great if your child has any sort of vitamin deficiency, or you just want to make sure he/she is getting enough of what they need from food sources. 

I watched the How to DVD and read through the So Easy Baby Food Cookbook. 
I really liked the format of the cookbook, it made it personalized and interactive. There were note sections for moms and really great information about what you need to start making your own baby food, how much to feed, how to start feeding and signs your baby is ready, baby book like pages to remember your baby’s first foods. I also really liked that on the bottom of each recipe there was a note section, so if your baby didn’t like it one way, you could try another. Each recipe had different ways to make the recipe by using add ins and combinations. What I did not like about the cookbook was that almost every recipe insisted on using the microwave for cooking for your baby. The reasoning behind the microwave makes sense to me, most moms don’t have the time to make their own baby food, let alone start with putting it all in the oven or the stove top, but I think there is a flavor and texture difference. The book promotes choosing one cooking method and sticking with it. This may be the quickest and easiest as you master a cooking technique, but do you cook all of your food in the same way? No, sometimes you grill, sometimes you boil, you sauté, you roast, and sometimes you microwave. 

The book is broken into sections and one section was how to use homemade baby food when traveling. This is a very common question, and something I struggled with myself. I ended up freezing the cubes and putting them in cooler packs with me when traveling, by the time it was time for my little one to eat, the food was thawed. I also simply brought food with me to restaurants, no big deal. The book suggests bringing a mini food mill to restaurants, asking the chef to steam some veggies or fruit for the baby and then pureeing it yourself at the table. While this is the freshest solution as the food is made right there, I thought this was a little far fetched, and while enjoying a dinner out, the very last thing I want to start doing is making baby food at a restaurant table. I did like their other travel ideas, about how to plan ahead.
  
The last thing I did not like about this book was that it does not recommend making meat for your baby because it is time consuming. When it comes to making meat purees for your baby it is simply easiest to puree whatever it is you are making for yourself. If you are making a chicken breast, make one for baby as well. It is no more time consuming than making yourself dinner. If your baby wants to eat meat then by all means, puree away!! 

As a whole I thought the cookbook was great and informative and you should definitely pick up a copy. I found the DVD to be very informative, it shows every step of the way for making homemade baby food, all the way to serving. This was great because I cannot tell you how many YouTube videos I have watched because I need to see someone doing something, even if the instructions are clear as day. I even watched a YouTube video for how to change a Diaper Genie bag, so this was great! A must watch for any new baby food makers out there!!

The last part of the great kit was the set of “So Easy Storage Trays”. When I was making purees for my son and freezing them I went to the store and bought ice cube trays, and covered them with tin foil. While this worked for me it resulted in a lot of spillage and leakage and freezer burn. These trays include a cover and are perfect for making purees or storing breast milk. I even filled my trays up and with the cover on turned upside down and there was NO LEAKAGE! Each cube in these trays is one ounce, so it is easy for measuring and knowing how much your baby is eating. The lids were super easy to get on and off, even frozen. These are a definite must have for moms making their own baby food. When you make your puree simply pour into the freezer trays, cover and freeze. After 24 hours you should have nice frozen ice cubes of delicious homemade baby food, put into a resalable LABELED bag and then make another puree! I absolutely love my new trays and will definitely use them many many times for my son and future children.

Overall I really love this kit; it makes a great gift for a new mom, a great all in one kit for making your own food and gives really excellent instructions. So, naturally you want to know where you can purchase such a lovely product? Why, right here... Their website also has great printable tip sheets and recipe books, including this freezer tip sheet  (if you have questions about freezing your baby food, this is the place to look!)

Now for the other great news I have for you. Fresh Baby has graciously agreed to give ONE lucky reader their own So Easy Storage Tray set!!!! WOOO!!!!! So how am I going to pick my lucky reader? Easy, but first the rules, you must be 18 or older and living in the United States (sorry my international readers!!!)
To Enter, simply go to www.freshbaby.com and tell me in a comment which product you would buy for yourself or for someone else to use with your favorite Real Babies Eat Real Food recipe (so your entry must have a product and a recipe from Real Babies Eat Real Food), leave that in a comment with your EMAIL ADDRESS (no email address, no entry, and I promise not to spam you, this will only be used if you are a winner). That is all you have to do to enter. But wait, there is more, you can get more entries by doing any or all of the following as many times as you want for additional entries (more entries = more chances to win):

Like Fresh Baby on Facebook at their Facebook page 
(1 additional entry, you must leave a comment stating that you did this and with your name for verification purposes)

Like Real Babies Eat Real Food onFacebook 
(1 additional entry, you must leave a comment stating that you did this and with your name for verification purposes)

Follow Fresh Baby on Twitter
 (1 additional entry, you must leave a comment stating that you did this and with your twitter name for verification purposes)

Follow Real Babies Eat Real Foodon Twitter
 (1 additional entry, you must leave a comment stating that you did this and with your twitter name for verification purposes)

Follow Fresh Baby on Pinterest
(1 additional entry, you must leave a comment with your Pinterest name for verification purposes)

Become a Follower of Real BabiesEat Real Food
(leave a comment with your name for verification purposes)

Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter
(One tweet per day, must leave a comment with a link to the tweet for verification purposes. One tweet =1 entry, so you can do this everyday if you want)

Share this giveaway on Facebook
(One share per day, must leave a comment with a link to your share for verification purposes. One Share=1 entry, so you can do this everyday if you want)

Bottom line, in order to get credit for your additional entries you must comment so I know that you did so

Be sure that you leave your email address in each comment that you leave! This would be a great prize for non-moms to give to new moms at baby showers as well!! Wow that is a lot of ways to enter. But trust me, these trays are definitely worth all the entries!! I am going to be buying myself a second set as well. The winner will be selected via Random Number Generator (Thank you John Jay College of Criminal Justice for teaching me how to do this) and will be notified via email. The prize will be mailed directly from Fresh Baby. The contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on February 28, 2013. Please note that I received no compensation for this review or contest from Fresh Baby, but I did receive a So Easy Baby Food Kit for purposes of this review. 

Wishing you all the best of luck! Later in this week I have a really delicious puree to share with you. My son refused to eat macaroni and cheese at daycare yesterday because he wanted to eat this puree instead… so stay tuned!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Back to Basics with a Great First Food

I hope everyone is staying warm on the Northeast during the snow, and for those in warm parts of the country.. well... enjoy the warmth :). So since I am snowed in I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about a really great first food. I know so many babies right now that are approaching or have recently approached the beginning stages of eating and it is a very fun time for them and their parents. First foods should be easy to digest and very mild, and no combinations. It should be whatever you are feeding them in its purest form. Examples of great first foods are apples, pears, bananas, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, peas. Nothing that will cause their little stomachs any gas pain.

Butternut Squash Puree

1/2 butternut squash, skinned, cubed, and steamed








Simply puree in food processor until smooth. You will get a thinner than mashed potato consistency but thicker than standard puree. If this is indeed your child's first food then definitely thin it out with breast milk or formula.



This puree makes 2 cups about. You can very easily freeze your puree in ice cube trays for approximately 3 months. As I have stated in previous posts steaming helps retain nutrition as opposed to boiling. Steaming butternut squash in a steamer basket will take approximately 20 minutes. I hope your little one enjoys his or her first food! You can also combine this puree with applesauce, carrots, sweet potato, pears for a good fruit/veggie combination.

As you know my little one is 18 months old now, so the only purees he really is eating is ones that I am putting in his pouches for him, but this would also make a great side dish on its own for your older baby or toddler or even your family with a little seasoning of your liking. However, as you know I like to transform my purees into something else that my whole family could enjoy. I decided to play around and this is what I got, butternut squash pasta sauce! It would be great over some spaghetti, which is my intention for dinner tonight. If you are intending on making both the puree for your baby AND the pasta sauce, then double the above recipe.

Pour 2 cups of butternut squash puree into a large pan over medium high heat. While stirring, add 3/4 cup chicken broth. Stir until the stock is completely absorbed. Add 1 tsp dried sage and salt and pepper to taste. Lastly stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Stir until completely thickened and the sauce comes together. When you are ready to serve add about 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

Lastly stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Stir until completely thickened and the sauce comes together. When you are ready to serve add about 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.


ENJOY!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Red Purees for Valentines Day!



Happy February! Can you believe January is over? It flew by before my eyes. Now that we are in February I decided to jump on the bandwagon of Valentines day and give you some red purees you can give you little one in the spirit of the holidays.

Apple Cherry Puree

I know, cherries aren't in season, but that does not mean you cannot use dried cherries. Dried fruit is a great way to use out of season fruits, all you had to do is re-hydrate them. To rehydrate dried food put it in a bowl with boiling water for about an hour, or longer. They will plump up very nicely



For this puree, start by re-hydrating 1 cup of dried cherries. While these are re-hydrating, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Core and cut 3 apples (if baby is younger than peel as well, but my little guy has been eating the peel for some time now so I left the peels on). Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 TSP cinnamon. Roast for about 30 minutes. Your house will now be smelling AMAZING! OK, now fast forward and add your apples to your food processor, along with your re hydrated cherries. Add to this 1 TBSP pure maple syrup (this will add some natural sweetness as well as thicken your puree nicely).


Puree and serve or freeze in ice cube trays. 


Cranberry-Orange Buckwheat
This is a great recipe for your little one for breakfast, as something different. I gave it to mine this past Saturday and he ate every bite, no lie! So first of all what is buckwheat? Buckwheat is a fruit (despite it's name), although it is starchy and looks like a grain. There are very simple cooking directions on the package of buckwheat, follow these instructions, but make it on the thinner side. It is like making oatmeal.

1 1/2 cups of Cranberries
1/2 cup low acid orange juice

Boil the cranberries in the orange juice until they begin bursting (careful). Then puree in blender so you get nice smooth sauce. Mix this sauce in with your buckwheat (any extra sauce can bee frozen for a simple cranberry orange puree for your little one). This puree is not smooth as there is buckwheat so this is definitely a stage 3 food, although the cranberry part can be served to babies that have had both cranberries and oranges just on their own.

ENJOY!