Tag Archive for 'eating'

What’s in Your Pantry? Cracking Down on Food Dyes…

We have touched on the subject of food dyes in past posts, and how tricky food labels have convinced consumers that they were eating healthy foods, such as blueberries, when in actuality they were consuming chemical-based food dyes.

According to this Washington Post article, “In the early 1990s, FDA and Canadian scientists found that Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, the three most widely used dyes, were contaminated with likely human carcinogens. And while many foods, such as M&M’s and Kellogg’s Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts, include as many as five different dyes, even today the carcinogenic potential of such combinations has not been tested.”

Additionally, the British government funded two studies, involving a total of nearly 600 children. They found that artificial food coloring, in combination with a common food preservative, could “make even children with no known behavioral problems hyperactive and inattentive.” So, “Health officials in the United Kingdom urged manufacturers to stop using the six dyes — including Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 — involved in those studies. Next, the European Parliament required that foods containing those chemicals bear a label warning that the dyes ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.’”

Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a meeting to review whether there is a possible association between artificial food dyes and children’s risk of ADHD.

The FDA voted 8 to 6 NOT to ban synthetic food dyes and NOT to require that products containing dyes warn of a possible risk of ADHD. Instead, the FDA recommended that further research on food dyes and hyperactive behavior be conducted.

For the most part, I avoid buying foods with artificial food coloring. As I have mentioned in prior posts, we mostly consume an organic diet these days. But, as you know, it is impossible to control everything that our children put into their mouths, especially when they attend child care outside of the home.

So, I pulled all of the items that I could find with artificial food coloring from my pantry, once and for all, and here is what I found:

Food dye in children’s Pedialyte? I was shocked. This is something that I have given to my children on several occasions, when they had diarrhea and/or a fever and I needed to hydrate them. Nothing like giving our children chemical-laden medicine when their bodies are in the most need of nourishment.

Fortunately, the foods below are some of the healthier, dye-free ‘replacements’ that I also had in my pantry. The Pedialyte pictured below does not contain artificial food coloring, and I will continue to buy the variety below for this reason. I even started buying my children organic loli-pops, since they don’t contain either food dyes or genetically modified high fructose corn syrup.

-What and how many food items do you have in your pantry that contain artificial food coloring?

-Heather

Related Articles:

Are You What You Eat?

Think Organic Groceries Are Too Expensive? Our Comparison Shopping Results…

Simple Steps To Begin The Organic Food Journey

‘Health Food’ Exposed: The Dangers of Soy


Homemade Margherita Pizza – Pizza Crust and Sauce Recipes

My first foray into homemade pizza crust was a complete flop. I ended up with a small, hard ball of dough that resembled a baseball and could have easily taken out my neighbor’s window.

(Later, after reading several pizza dough recipes, I determined that I accidentally killed the yeast with nearly-boiling water).

Fast forward six months later (yes, it took me that long to attempt pizza dough again), I’ve realized that the secret to making really good pizza indeed lies in the proper use of yeast. My in-laws came to visit a few weeks ago and I once again found myself toying with flour and yeast. I am happy to report that my mother-in-law raved about the pizza and even said that it was some of the best that she’s ever eaten. Can’t get a better complement than that from someone you love and admire!

And the best part is that this recipe does not need any fancy equipment. I didn’t have to pull out my KitchenAid mixer. Most of the mixing/kneading is done the good old-fashioned way – by hands!

What I also love about this recipe for pizza dough is the fact that it makes enough dough for 6-8 medium sized pizzas. So you can ball up whatever you don’t want to immediately use and freeze for later use. When you’re ready to use your frozen pizza dough, simply remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Ingredients for Pizza Dough:
7 cups strong white flour
1 T fine sea salt
2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dried yeast
1 T raw sugar
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a large well in the middle. In another bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water. Let it sit for a few minutes, then begin slowly pouring the liquid into the flour well. Using a fork, slowly mix the flour in and swirl the liquid into the flour. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour into the well. When it all starts to mix together, use your clean hands (make sure to dust them with flour first) to finish mixing the flour with the liquid. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth and has a spring-like feel.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl. Flour the top of the dough ball and cover the bowl with a warm, moist cloth. Place in a warm room for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.

I had a hard time getting the dough to rise b/c my kitchen is not ‘warm.’ So I turned the oven on to 200 degrees (lowest setting), and placed the dough into an oven-safe bowl, and applied more flour to the top and made sure that the towel on top stayed moist. Within a few minutes, I shut the oven off and within 10 minutes, my dough doubled in size. Make sure to keep checking the dough every couple of minutes so that you don’t prematurely cook/bake it.

Place the dough on a flour-dusted surface and knead it. This process forces the air out of the dough.

At this point you can either use the dough immediately, or freeze it for later use. Either way, divide the dough up into smaller balls, 6-8 in total.

Roll the pizzas out 20 minutes before you want to bake them. (Avoid rolling them out and leaving them for hours – they will dry out). If the dough was previously frozen, leave them out on the counter until they become room temperature before rolling them out.

Roll the dough out into circles, about 1/4-inch thick. Wa-LA, they are now ready for pizza sauce and toppings!

Ingredients for Pizza Sauce:
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 t sugar
1/8 t pepper
1/2 t oregano
1 T olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of pizza sauce, enough for 2 pizzas. I have also frozen the sauce for later use, in glass containers.

Other Ingredients Needed:
Fresh basil, clipped and rinsed under water
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Spread 3/4 cup of pizza sauce onto your pizza. Arrange fresh mozzarella cheese slices.

Uncooked Margherita Pizza

Place pizza in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese becomes bubbly and the dough has baked through.  Spread fresh basil on top of the pizza after you remove it from the oven.

I usually use a pizza stone, which gives the bottom of the crust a nice, hard texture, and keeps the pizza toasty warm for your second…third…fourth slice of pizza!

If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can usually find them on sale from time to time. I have three (can you tell we like making pizza?!) and prefer to use the stoneware pizza stones best (as opposed to this type of pizza stone). I have bought several stoneware pizza stones for my kids’ teachers at school (as gifts) when they go on sale at Williams Sonoma Outlets for ~$10-15.  You can also use stainless steel cookie sheets, as lots of pizzerias use those to cook their pizzas.

Bon Appetit!

-Heather

Related Articles:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roast & Store Your Own Red Peppers

Slow Cooker Chicken Posolé

Homemade Banana Bread

Mustard-Roasted Salmon With Lingonberry Sauce

Little Miss Etiquette: What Is The ‘Right’ Age To Teach Children Table Manners?

Courtesy of Muy Yum, Flickr

Last Summer, my brother-in-law got married in New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. My daughter was 2 1/2 at the time, and was over-the-moon-excited to be the flower girl in her Aunt and Uncle’s wedding.

The night before the wedding, we went to the rehearsal dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant in Times Square. While my daughter was eating, one of her great Uncles (her Grandmother’s brother-in-law) started motioning to me from across from the table. He was very concerned about her holding a butter knife and was worried that she might hurt herself. I explained to him that we had taught her how to use the butter knife during mealtime. She had our permission to use the utensil, under our supervision. An awkward moment followed, and then everyone laughed and carried along with dinner.

But the experience got me thinking – what is the right age to teach children proper table etiquette? Was I wrong to introduce the butter knife at age 2 1/2? Our daughter had been drinking warm tea after dinner with us since age 2 – out of a mug. So at what point does maturity factor into the equation?

My family spends a LOT of time around our dinner table. We have always made a point of eating at least one meal a day together, dinner. It’s our time – without phone calls, text messages or automatic meeting reminders. In fact, we usually spend an hour talking, eating, laughing, and discussing our days around the table. Sometimes we even sing. I know, it sounds corny, but it’s not like we’re singing Kumbaya. We usually sing the ABC song or something else that my kids learn in school (like those are any better than Kumbaya). ;-)

So it only seemed natural to begin teaching my daughter how to use adult utensils when she began to express interest in them. My just-turned 3 year old daughter is often mistaken for a 5 year old child. She is very tall for her age, 41 inches, and she can tell you exactly what, when and how she wants just about anything. In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that she is in fact, only 3. Like when she tries to negotiate with me. “If I’m quiet during nap time today (she stopped taking regular naps at school ages ago), then I get to watch 30 minutes, no, 40 minutes of ‘The Incredibles’ tonight and I get to have ice cream. Deal Mama?”

Most of the time, she uses her utensils for the right purposes – to cut and/or eat her food. Once in a while we’ll find her trying to use her fork to remove something from between her teeth or her butter knife to “cut” her chair. So we correct her behavior, and if it persists, we replace the ‘big girl’ utensils with plastic counterparts.

Below are some behavioral and table manner tips, by age, from www.themitchell.org. Mary Mitchell is the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette” and has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Early Morning, CNN, and Good Morning America.

Courtesy of Bruce Tuten, Flickr

Age 5: Basic Behavior
By age five, children should be encouraged to say please and thank you, rather than demanding. They should come to the table promptly when called. They can understand that it’s important to wait until everybody is at the table before they begin eating.

Once the meal has begun, a child should ask when he needs something cut for him, should sit up straight at the table, and should know not to crumble bread or rolls all over the table. By age 5 children can be taught not to slurp soup, food or drinks. They can learn to put a napkin on their laps as soon as they sit down, and how to use it.

Age 8: Utensil Skills
At around age 8, children have enough digital dexterity to correctly handle flatware (knives, forks and spoons). Life begins to get more complicated. The good news is that kids of that age often are so proud of their skills that they love to show them off.

To help your child remember that knives and spoons go on the right, while forks go on the left, you can make placemats together and use them for family meals. Even a sheet of standard computer paper will work. Draw in the knives, forks, spoons, glass, bread plate. Be sure to point the blades of the knife inward.

Kids should know to rest their fork and knife (or fork and spoon) side by side, in a vertical position, on the outside right-hand rim of the plate when they are finished.

As you probably noticed, nothing was listed for children under age 5. So it would appear that we were ahead of ourselves teaching our daughter how to use utensils properly. However, I say that you know your child best. And if you believe that your child is mature enough and wants to use adult flatware under supervision, why not?

Below are a few other table manners that my husband and I think are more age appropriate for our 3 year old:

  • Washing hands prior to eating
  • Not talking with a full mouth
  • Not chewing with an open mouth
  • Saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’
  • Not complaining about what she doesn’t like (this one is a work-in-progress at our house)
  • Asking to be excused from the table (also a work-in-progress)
  • Serving herself during ‘family-style’ dinners

Now that we have utensil etiquette down and a few other basics, we’ll have to focus on what “sounds/bodily functions” are appropriate for meal time banter… ;)

Have you begun teaching your child table manners? If so, at what age did you start and what types of etiquette are practiced in your house?

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Simple Steps To Begin The Organic Food Journey

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Simple Steps To Begin The Organic Food Journey

I know buying organic food is not cheap, nor easy to convert. It took my family the better part of last year to make the transition. And we are still not 100% organic. With the exception of cheese (I don’t get why organic cheese is so much more expensive), we are feeding our children mostly organic foods now. That being said, I’m always on the look-out for ways in which I can feed my babies organic foods, but for less money.
As I mentioned in our last post on How To Be A Modern Day Superhero, we will be writing several posts over the next few weeks that compare organic food options as well as the price of those options versus non-organic food. We’ve been busy researching prices on buying organic products, from price clubs to grocery stores and local farms (think ‘cow sharing’), as well as other options.

In the meantime, below is a list of tips for beginning the transition to organic eating. I know how overwhelming the transition to organic eating can be, and wanted to share my journey with you. But, I’d also love to hear from YOU. :)

What are your thoughts about healthy eating? What has worked/doesn’t work for your family regarding food? Don’t be shy – there is no judging on PureBebe – we’re all in this together! We all have so much to learn from each other.

1) Start gradually, with whatever foods your children consume the most.

We started out buying organic milk and apple juice, the two beverages besides water that my kids drink the most. After a couple of months we started to buy organic frozen vegetables, yogurt and fresh fruits. Then the next phase for us was bread, peanut butter, butter, raisins, cereal, and other foods that my kids eat in massive quantities. Eventually we started buying organic meats, mostly chicken and beef. Since neither of our kids eat a lot of meat, it was the last thing we began buying organic (with the exception of cheese, as previously mentioned).

2) Next, tackle the dirty dozen list.

All fruits and veggies don’t have to be organic. As we have written in prior posts, it just depends upon how those fruits and vegetables store pesticides and whether the actual flesh of the fruit is tainted with chemicals. Bananas, for instance, have a highly impenetrable peel, which keeps the flesh of the fruit free from pesticides.

If your children love fruits and vegetables like mine do, start buying those fruits and vegetables that store the most pesticides in their flesh. Here are the “dirty dozen and clean fifteen” lists in case you need them.

3) When it comes to vegetables, start with organic frozen veggies.

As I mentioned above, organic vegetables were some of the first products that we began buying organic. When bought in small packages, organic vegetables are slightly higher priced than normal vegetables. However, I found that USDA Organic frozen vegetables bought from Costco (5 lb. bag of green beans, frozen mixed vegetables or fresh carrots), cost just about the same as buying 5 lbs of regular vegetables. I will provide a side-by-side price comparison in upcoming posts.

The other great bonus about buying frozen vegetables is that they last a long time in the freezer, which for a busy mom means less food to throw away due to spoilage. I usually take out a handful for just the girls, or a few handfuls for the entire family and either steam them in the microwave, boil them, or bake them in the oven (olive oil, pepper & parmesan crusted green beans).

4) Grow your own.

If you live in a warm climate, grow an organic garden! Tomatoes, lettuce, spices – whatever you love to eat. I don’t have the luxury of living in a warm year-round climate, so I plan to grow my own garden this summer and freeze as many fruits and vegetables as possible.

-Heather

Related Articles:
How To Be A Modern Day Superhero

Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The “Unhealthy Truth” About the U.S. Food Industry

Are You What You Eat?

‘Secret FDA Memos’ Reveal Concerns About GMO Foods

Creating a Healthy Relationship with Food: Interview with Dr. Lisa Hill

Lead Found in Several Brands of Baby and Children’s Food

New Year’s Resolution: Book Reading Every Day

My hubby knows me well. Too well, actually. Because he made my day on Christmas when he gave me every book I had asked for, as well as one that he thought I would enjoy. So, I have decided to make one of my New Year’s Resolutions to read every day. I know, quite an aggressive goal having two kids, a husband, a job, and a blog. But a girl can dream big, right?

I thought I would share these books with you since we will be commenting on the research in these books over the next few months. Most of these books are about our food supply. Frankly, the more I read and research about what our children are eating, the more concerned I’m becoming about their future – as well as our existence as a species. Sounds severe, I know, but so do the never-ending lists of foreign substances that we’re exposing our children and ourselves to every day. There are a growing number of people out there who believe that we are undergoing the process of natural selection, since many of the effects of today’s food will affect our children’s reproductive capabilities, and thus the true effects of what we’re eating won’t be fully realized until 1-3 generations from now. Or, maybe you have already witnessed the effects. Do you know anyone who has had to undergo IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), artificial insemination (IUI) or other costly and painful fertility treatment alternatives?

1. The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply– and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itselfby Robyn O’Brien

I have read most of this book and written about Robyn’s findings in previous articles such as Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The “Unhealthy Truth About the US Food Industry, and The True Cost of a Gallon of Milk, but had not owned my own copy until now. Thanks to my former colleague Jennifer for allowing me to borrow hers so long!


2. Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe by Maria Rodale

I started reading this book over the weekend and WoW! Maria is the third generation in her family to research the effects of chemical farming on our environment and our bodies and her conclusion is simple “If you do just one thing – make one conscious choice – that can change the world, go organic. Buy organic food. Stop using chemicals and start supporting organic farmers. No other single choice you can make to improve the health of your family and the planet will have greater positive repercussions for our future.”

3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

Although I haven’t started reading this book yet, I have heard a lot of positive reviews. This book is on the NY Times list of “Books of the Year” and is all about our eating habits – whether we eat organic, fast-food or grow our own. I can’t wait to dive in.

4. The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage) by Stieg Larsson

I didn’t ask for this one – my hubby picked it out for me. It was a #1 NY Times Bestseller. I look forward to curling up with a towel at the beach this summer and basking in this read.

Have you read any of these books? Any takers on reading the books listed above? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Jasmine and I hope you had a wonderful holiday – we are looking forward to hearing from you and continuing to grow the PureBebe community in the coming year!

-Heather

Related Articles:
The True Cost of a Gallon of Milk
Are You What You Eat?
Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The “Unhealthy Truth” About the U.S. Food Industry
‘Secret FDA Memos’ Reveal Concerns About GMO Foods
Creating a Healthy Relationship with Food: Interview with Dr. Lisa Hill
Lead Found in Several Brands of Baby and Children’s Food

Should The FDA Require Companies To Label Genetically Modified Foods?

Salmon - Courtesy of avlxyz, Flickr

You can’t walk past any food aisle in a U.S. grocery store these days without passing by a food product that contains genetically modified, or genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Since 93% of the soy in the U.S. is genetically modified, and soy is an ingredient in everything from soup to bread, “It has been estimated that 70-75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients,” according to The Center for Food Safety. And that’s just processed foods. Unless your food is labeled “Organic,” you might be consuming a genetically modified ingredient.

Up until now, genetically engineered organisms/ingredients in the U.S. have been mostly restricted to fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains. The most common application of genetic modification are found in the following products:

Soybeans – A gene is inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides. 93% of U.S. soybeans are genetically modified. Soy is in margarine, vegetable oils, mayonnaise, baked goods, sunscreens, prepared soups, sauces, nondairy creamer, breads, pasta, snack foods and many other food products.
Corn - There are 2 main varieties of GE corn. Corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is an ingredient in many U.S. food products. It’s estimated that approximately 80% of corn in the U.S. is genetically modified. [An interesting article on the safety of GMO corn: Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure, Study Reveals]
Cotton – Modified to be pest-resistant. Over 90% of the cotton in the U.S. is genetically modified.
Rice – Genetically modified to resist herbicides. Not currently available for human consumption.
Dairy – Cows injected with rBGH/rBST and possibly fed genetically modified grains.
Rapeseed/Canola – A gene is added to make rapeseed more resistant to herbicide.
Sugar beets – A gene is added to make sugar beets more resistant to herbicide.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding public hearings this week to determine whether food companies will be required to label genetically modified salmon as such. And many other companies and products are lined up behind the salmon for federal approval – pork, beef and other fish.

According to the Washington Post,

“The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not ‘materially’ different from other salmon – something agency scientists have said is true.

Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.”

So not only is the FDA supporting companies’ claims that their genetically modified food is not ‘different’ from their conventional counterparts, and thus won’t ‘require labeling,’ the FDA is also making it harder on companies that want to label their food so that consumers know that it has not been genetically altered.

In other regions of the world, including the European Union, Japan and Australia, governments have required companies to label their products so that consumers can decide for themselves whether they’d like to purchase genetically modified, conventional or organic food.

What is genetically engineered salmon and why do I care?

According to the Washington Post, “The AquAdvantage salmon has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, and a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon.” The benefit? The salmon “grows twice as fast as its natural counterpart.” But, if you happen to be allergic to ocean pout, I’ll bet you won’t be buying salmon from the grocery store. Unless the FDA requires food companies to require labeling, then you won’t know the difference between genetically modified and non-genetically modified fish – until you have an allergic reaction.

And remember our post titled “Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The ‘Unhealthy Truth’ About The U.S. Food Industry?” Robyn O’Brien makes the link between the rise in food allergies in the U.S. and when U.S. food companies began to genetically modify our food supply (in 1994).

Coincidentally, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, food allergy related hospital admissions “increased from 2,600 per year (1998-2000) to 9,500 per year (2004-2006).”

That’s a 260% increase in food allergy related hospital admissions over a 8 year period!

Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think about genetically modified foods and whether the FDA should mandate that companies label genetically modified salmon.

If you enjoy reading PureBebe, please tell your friends and click on “Sign me up!” under “Email Subscription” on the right rail of the screen. By subscribing to our emails, you are telling us that you digg our site and want to read more of our healthy baby news and topics!

-Heather

Related Articles:
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Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The “Unhealthy Truth” About the U.S. Food Industry
Creating a Healthy Relationship with Food: Interview with Dr. Lisa Hill
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Is Our Food Making Us Sick? The “Unhealthy Truth” About the U.S. Food Industry

Fruits and Vegetables - Courtesy of Carol Moshier, Flickr

I have never thought too much about the safety of the food that our family consumes, except that I like to buy organic whenever possible to avoid pesticides. And I have to say that I’ve enjoyed being “in the dark.” It’s much easier to say “I don’t want to know” the dangers and to continue believing that we have enough regulatory agencies in the U.S. to protect us from any dangers in our food supply.

I vow to stay in the dark no longer. I have two babies whose lives are in my hands to nurture and make sure that I’m giving them the healthiest and safest start in life. And let’s face it, I’d like for my husband and me to be around when they graduate from college some day.

In the video below, author and researcher Robyn O’Brien reveals that “in 1994, in order to drive profitability for the food industry, we began to engineer foreign proteins into our (U.S.) food supply.” Yet, she notes that no studies have been done to study these foreign substances in our food supply and their long-term effects on people!

Robyn further explains that “according to the CDC, there’s been a 265% increase in the rate of (U.S.) ER hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions.” On top of that, the rates of cancer, diabetes, autism and other serious medical conditions have been steadily increasing in the past few years – in the United States.

The video is long (1 hour), but please watch at least the first 25 minutes. I promise you, it’s worth it.

Alex Bogusky (whom Bloomberg BusinessWeek has recently dubbed ‘the Bill Gates of the Advertising world’) interviews Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth. You can buy her book here.

I would love to hear what you think of the video and your thoughts regarding the genetic mutation of our food – please leave us a comment above!

-Heather

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Homemade Baby Food: Easy as 1-2-3

I always imagined that making my own baby food sounded like a time-consuming task, but when my grandmother gifted me this lovely contraption, I decided to give it a whirl.

Beaba Babycook

I love my Beaba Babycook - it steams, purees, defrosts, and reheats. But even without such a contraption, making your own baby food is still as easy as 1 – 2 – 3…

1) Chop

2) Cook

3) Puree

All you need to make your food is a steamer basket, a saucepan, and a blender or food processor. And all you need to store it are a handful of covered ice cube trays, Ziploc freezer bags, and small plastic containers.

Preparation: Always be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. Chop them into small cubes to speed cooking time. Fruits and vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways: steaming, poaching, boiling, and roasting, but steaming is the best method as it retains the most nutrients. To steam your food, bring 1 inch of water to boil in the saucepan, and then place the chopped fruit or vegetable set in a steamer basket into the pot. Steam until the food is tender enough to mash easily, and puree. You can use reserved liquid from steaming or breastmilk to thin the puree to your desired consistency. There is no need to add salt, sugar, or other seasonings. Pure and simple is best.

Storage: Spoon the food into covered ice cube trays and let cool to room temperature before freezing. Once frozen, transfer them to Ziploc freezer bags. Label the bags with the contents and the date, and you’re done!

My favorite website for more information on this topic is wholesomebabyfood.com. On this site, you can find nutritional information and preparation tips for various fruits and vegetables as well as meats and cereals. I personally skipped cereal and pureed meats, instead offering them once my little one was ready for table food.

But here are some handy tips:
(Please leave a comment below if you have any to add!)

Cook in large batches and freeze food. The food will last for 3 months in the freezer. Considering baby needs several days between introductions of new foods (for allergy concerns) and will only eat baby foods for a few months before moving onto finger foods, you’ll be done before you know it. I typically set aside 1-2 hours per week, and sometimes every other week, to make a large batch of 1 fruit and 1 veggie.

Suggested fruits and vegetables that freeze well: apples, bananas, peaches, pears, prunes, avocados, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash (acorn, butternut, yellow), zucchini, pumpkin, broccoli, green beans, peas. In some cases, such as bananas and avocados, these don’t even need to be cooked. Just mash and freeze! Bananas and avocados may turn brown when frozen, but it won’t affect the quality of the food.

Cook and swap with friends. Consider coordinating with friends, each preparing a large batch of some fruit or veggie and then swap. I wouldn’t suggest thinning the puree with your own breastmilk in this case, however. :)

Thaw in the refrigerator. The day before, pull out what you need and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. I usually provided 2-3 ice cubes per serving depending on my child’s age.

Do not reheat in the microwave. Reheating in the microwave can cause hot spots in the food. A better alternative is to either pull the food out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before serving or, do as I did, reheat it in a bottle warmer. I purchased small BPA-free plastic containers which sat perfectly on the bottle warmer, and I’d just stir as it heated until it reached the appropriate temperature.

Buy organic when pesticides are a concern. If you didn’t see it, refer back to this post for a list of fruits and vegetables containing the most and least amounts of pesticides.

Buy frozen for fruits and veggies that are not in season. Or for those that are just not up to par. I learned this the hard way when I bought a pound of fresh sugar snap peas and spent an hour shelling them only to be left with about ¼ cup of teensy weensy peas.

Make lots of apples, pears, and bananas. They combine well with a large variety of veggies. Some of my daughter’s favorite combinations were carrots/apples, sweet potato/banana, avocado/banana, green beans/apples (apples and pears were interchangeable among all of these combinations).

What were your child’s favorite fruits/veggies/combos?

-Jasmine

Is Your Baby a Veggie Baby? Getting Your Kids to Eat their Veggies

My 2 year old has never been a big meat eater. But fruits and vegetables – we definitely have those food groups covered. I mean, she didn’t get these thighs for nothing (see photo).

My 2 year old's thighs when she was a baby (she loved her milk, too!)

Dinner guests have always been amazed at how she pops broccoli, peas and carrots like they’re candy. And the quantity! It’s pretty intense when you eat so many peas that your poop turns green.

Until now.

At the dinner table, she yells “that’s yucky, mama, I don’t want that!” Despite the fact that she eats so much during the day that her teachers have to cut her off (I’ll have to get into that another day), something still feels inherently wrong about a 2 year old only eating applesauce for dinner.

Below are a few strategies that we’ve been using to keep the table (and her belly) full of greens:

1) Find opportunities for your child to dine with her friends.
This might sounds weird, but in the 1970s Leann L. Birch, Ph.D. conducted an experiment with children. She wanted to know what factors influence children’s intake of vegetables that they like and dislike. And what she found was that kids respond best to peer pressure. That’s right, when your kids dine with friends who eat their vegetables, they’re more likely to eat the veggies that they normally won’t eat. No wonder my child will eat food at daycare that she won’t touch at home!

Since #1 is not always practical, below are additional ideas:

2) Offer variety by introducing/re-introducing vegetables.
Your child might not like everything you re-introduce to them, but you might find one or two diamonds in the rough! I think my daugther got tired of the same choices – broccoli, carrots, green beans or peas. Afterall, when you find veggies that your kids love, you keep giving them to your kids, right? Kids’ tastes constantly evolve in their first couple years of life. She loved sweet potatoes as a baby, and then wouldn’t touch them for the past year. When I recently re-introduced them, she went crazy for them.

I have also discovered that she loves edamame. It took her a few minutes to figure out how to de-shell them on her own (everything is “mines do it!”). But once she figured them out, she ate the entire plate! She has been asking us for edamame (pronounced “edama-mee”) for dinner every night since then.

3) Make 2-3 vegetable options each meal.
Seems excessive, but this works for us! The more veggie options on your kids’ plates, the more overall veggies they’ll eat. If a particular vegetable doesn’t appeal to them that night, they’ll have another one or two to choose from.

4) Vegetables first, sweets later.
I do this with both of my kids. I put the food they’re less likely to eat in front of them first when they’re hungry – the meat and, for my 2 year old, the vegetables. I’ll only introduce the “goodies” like fruit or yogurt, later in the meal after they’ve had a few bites of the vegetables and meat.

5) When all else fails, say cheese!
Although I don’t put cheese on my 9 month old’s veggies (she’ll eat just about any food so why spoil a good thing, right?!), I do occasionally spruce up my 2 year old’s broccoli or cauliflower with some cheddar or fresh parmesan. It’s a small sacrifice to make in order to keep those greens flowing.

Do you have any tips for getting your kids to eat their veggies? If so, I’d love to hear them!




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