If I Can Grow A Person, I Can Grow A Veggie

The jury is still out on this one, so I probably shouldn’t get ahead of myself. There are no veggies yet, but we started a square foot garden yesterday and planted seeds and a few transplants. Now it’s Water, Watch, and Wait. A Wish probably wouldn’t hurt either.

I hate to admit that I’m somewhat of a control freak, although I’m working on NOT being one. Ironic, I know. Luckily I have an understanding and patient husband. We also communicate very well and openly and love each other despite our individual faults or maybe even because of them. Needless to say, I really hate that I can’t “control” what the seed is going to do or know what will become of it. It’s one thing trying to control life in the moment, but trying to control the future… now that takes Super Powers!

I guess I don’t have super powers…shucks.

So I bought the square foot gardening book that a friend recommended and I’m so glad I did! The author, Mel Bartholomew, makes it all seem so easy. He lays out the process in a clear and entertaining fashion and really sells you on the idea of square foot gardening. It seems to be a fool proof, guaranteed success. Great for a control freak (I hate saying that). Do I have to be a freak? Why not a control goddess or something? Since I want to control the perception of whoever is reading this, I want you to know I’m not THAT much of a control freak. It’s just a small part of me. Really though…I’m just trying to be funny. HaHa! (nervous laugh)

Anyway, my main inspiration for this garden is that I want Clara to grow up eating fresh, homegrown vegetables. I also want it to be an activity and project we share together as a family. Plus, I’m already partly a granola mommy, so I might as well take some more steps in that direction! But don’t worry honey, you can always count on a smooth underarm.

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf: Deelishus Dish

Pre-ketchup and baking

When I was a kid, meatloaf sounded like eating garbage. I did.not.like.it. But I also didn’t like chocolate. Crazy kid I was.

Anyway, I’m always trying to find yummy and healthy meals that the toddler will eat, the husband will scarf, the mom will feel good about, the freezer will freeze, and will work with substitutions.

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf does just that.

I’m not an exact measurement kind of gal, so here’s the gist:

Cook chopped garlic, onion, and green pepper (or yellow or red) in EVOO.

Toss together shredded zucchini (or squash), shredded carrots, garlic, onion, green pepper, bread crumbs, shredded parmesan cheese, one egg, and your favorite spices. *In this picture, there were some things I didn’t have on hand, so I traded some frozen broccoli(boiled first) for carrots, mozzarella for parmesan and yellow pepper for green pepper.

Mix in 1lb of ground turkey(or ground beef). You have to mix it with your hands, so be prepared to dig in!

Form into a log in an oven-safe dish or pan. Squeeze ketchup on top and spread it out to cover all surfaces.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for an hour. Mmmmmmm… makes the house smell good.

I have to thank my sister Sallie for this recipe! “Thank you Sallie!”

Ooops! Ate some already!


Book Review: Baby-Led Weaning By Rapley and Murkett

Eating a Steamed Carrot at 6 months

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. I read this book when Clara was about 5 months old. I had heard so much mixed information on introducing solids and wanted to make an informed choice on how to do this with Clara.

Say No to Purees:

The idea behind BLW, while relatively new in our “modern” society, is actually a very “old” concept. In a nutshell, it’s a no-puree, non-spoon feeding method. Your baby is ready to explore food when she can sit up on her own, reaches for food on your plate and can bring it to her mouth. Readiness is important both developmentally and for their digestive systems. Your baby knows intuitively what they are ready for.

Babies are born with a “leaky gut” so that milk can move freely through the digestive track. Introducing solids, especially grains like cereal, before this gut has closed can lead to health problems such as digestive issues and allergies. It’s hard to resist when people give well-meaning advice to give your baby cereal so they will “sleep” longer. Not only does “filler” take away from nutrition their body needs from milk, but research has found that cereal does not help your baby sleep longer. If someone has found it to help with sleeping in their own experience, it is usually a coincidence.

Spoon-feeding VS. Self-feeding

A self-feeding baby learns to be in control of her food and learns to judge what and how much her body needs. You have to allow time with a self feeding baby. It’s easy to be in a hurry to fill up your baby when spoon feeding, shoveling it in to make sure baby gets enough. Spoon feeding by nature is much faster because there is no chewing, tasting, savoring or exploring. It takes time for your body to feel full. Eating fast can lead to a habit of overeating, not something we want to teach our kids. Also, milk is the most important source of calories and nourishment for the first year of life. When a baby fills up on solids, they are taking in less milk. Solid foods are really not needed until much later, but there is always that pressure to move on to the next stage.

After all, the tooth is the original food processor and an important part in the digestive process! Blenders are obviously a modern invention. Many babies don’t even have molars after the first year of life. Are we meant to eat “solids” so early?

What did I do?

At the same time I ordered BLW, I also ordered Super Baby Food by Yaron which is like a pureed-food encyclopedia. Completely Opposite. Can we just say, this indecisive mama was even more conflicted about how to proceed. I decided to give BLW a try first and hoped to not even go the pureed route. I tend to be drawn toward the road less traveled anyway. However, during my BLW experiment, a few things came up that led to me going the other direction after a few weeks.

I was afraid of choking. Rapley provides safe guidelines regarding this. She also argues that choking is less of a problem with BLW than spoon feeding because babies develop the chewing skill much sooner. She explains the difference between choking and gagging. Gagging is not harmful and the baby learns sooner how to handle food. However, when you see your baby gag for the first time, it’s a scary thing. It really just made me anxious and I didn’t want to have that kind of energy around Clara when she was eating. I started to question this route I was taking.

I was concerned about not implementing the 4-day wait rule for food allergies. According to Rapley, the 4-day wait rule really applies to babies younger than 6 months. But, nevertheless I had also heard that waiting to introduce certain things could keep a child from developing food allergies. If she had a reaction or sensitivity, I wanted to be able to pinpoint the offending food.

I was cooking things separately from our meals. One of the stated pros of BLW is that you can let them eat off of your plate. I eat healthily, but not perfect and I wanted her first foods to be in their purest form with no salt or sugar or processed ingredients. I wanted her to have just steamed veggies and fresh fruits. Although I cook a lot now, I still wasn’t cooking much yet and it was just a pain. It seemed easier and faster to puree my own foods in bulk and freeze them.

In the end, I think I’ll chalk up these 3 concerns I had when doing BLW to being an inexperienced first time mom. My instincts tell me that this way is best, but I didn’t know anyone else at the time who did BLW, so I doubted myself. It’s funny how looking back, I treated so many decisions I made as ridiculously significant that now seem rather insignificant. I know myself pretty well and that probably won’t change much. But, at 16 months, Clara is extremely healthy and eats well. So it all worked out!

Gumming an apple at 6 months

Getting Creative With Buckwheat

Have you heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?

Of course.

Have you heard the saying, “When life gives you buckwheat, make pancakes“?…

Of course…               not.

Buckwheat pancakes taste like grainy cardboard. Syrup helps. But, I haven’t put syrup on Clara’s pancakes before. If I did, she’d probably just dip her finger in the syrup and suck on her finger. Then she’d have a squish fest with the pancake, shaking out milk from her cup on top to make a soggy mess that would end up on the floor and not her tummy.

Not gonna happen!

I’ll put it off as long as possible anyway, for the same reason I haven’t given her apple juice. Why would she ever want to drink water if her cup could be filled with something sweet? I’ve always been anti-juice, even before having a kid. There is no good reason to drink the stuff and there are many good reasons not too. That’s another post though.

Food Coma

So when she tried a buttered buckwheat pancake with no syrup, she slowly pushed it back out with her tongue as if to say “bleck!”. I don’t blame her. I enjoy eating almost anything and have an open mind when trying new foods. But, grainy cardboard? Really? Nah.

Committed to my non-syrup pancakes, I got creative to make a nutritious topping for them. I grabbed some organic applesauce, plain yogurt, and cinnamon. She loved it, buckwheat and all. This picture should speak for itself.

Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Yes, please!

Ready for the grill

Mmmmmm… this recipe is easy, cheesy, and breezy (if broccoli makes your baby toot that is). Clara used to love plain steamed green veggies like kale, broccoli, spinach, and zucchini. I was so excited about my little veggie eater. But at some point, I couldn’t keep “other” foods away from her, like things that are NOT green, which she believes are more tasty. Oh well. I figure as long as she gets mostly home cooked/non-processed or minimally processes foods, I’ll be building a healthy foundation for her.

Although I continue to introduce whole veggies to her so she can at least grow up seeing them on her plate, I’ve learned to sneak some in her tummy by hiding green stuff in things I know she loves… like CHEESE! She loves this sandwich because it’s cheesy and buttery (no I’m not afraid of butter as long as it’s REAL butter!). This is not exactly low fat, but whateva! She devours this every time I make it, so here is my version of this recipe I found on the food renegade blog. I call it the “eyeball” version since I don’t have exact measurements and it will change depending on how many sandwiches you make. It’s not rocket science.

Mix together shredded cheese, finely chopped cooked broccoli, and a dollop or two of mayonnaise. (For extra protein, you can grind up some cooked chicken to mix in too.)

Spread between 2 slices of bread (I love fresh nine grain and honey from Central Market) and generously butter the outside of the slices.

Grill sandwich in a George Foreman grill or do it the old fashioned way on a stove until melty and toasted. And Wallah! Satiating for momma and baby! Added some fresh apple slices and it’s a meal!

The Joy? Of Learning How To Cook

The thought of cooking has always been a source of stress for me. Notice I said the “thought”. Forget about actually getting to the cooking part. Growing up with two extremely busy working parents, the “joy” of cooking wasn’t exactly modeled for me. Of course I’m very grateful for the other wonderful things that were modeled for me, but let me stay on track here.

First of all, just coming up with what to cook, let alone figuring out how to, is the first challenge. My indecisive nature certainly doesn’t help with this and my running excuse that I don’t have time doesn’t help either. But… having a child and being very committed to feeding her healthy foods from the very beginning is forcing me to learn and to actually be decisive and change my priorities. One reason why I haven’t cooked much before is that I can’t bring myself to make things from a box. I would rather go out to eat than make a meal from things that can sit on a shelf for years. I’ve always been relatively healthy and educated myself through the years about eating healthy. So, it just doesn’t sit right with me to make highly processed foods for me and my husband. So… we’ve always just resorted to eating out. Thing is, I’ve been in denial that most restaurant food is probably highly processed too. I guess it just makes me feel a little better that I didn’t actually cook it. It’s amazing how writing makes you realize how silly your justifications are.

Back to having a child… Not only is going out to eat complicated, but I have no idea how the food is prepared, where it came from, what it’s preserved in, or exactly what is in it. I also can’t even imagine how much sodium it has. I’d almost strangely rather make my own processed foods for her. But! I just can’t bring myself to do that, unless I’m desperate and she’s hungry. Luckily, since I’m still breastfeeding, I have that to fall back on.

I’ve been cooking a lot of food in the last couple of months since she’s been eating a lot of solids. I must say I’m starting to get the hang of it and even coming up with my own creative ideas. I certainly takes a ton of time and effort. I’m trying not to stress and just do. Easier said and done. If I were working a full time job, there is no way I could do this. But, I’m thankful that I can work part time and learn to cook healthy foods for my family.

Here’s a picture of what I like to call “spinach cookies”, a recipe I found here. They don’t exactly look appetizing, but she ate them up! Score!