Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How I got Hayden to eat spinach two times a day


One of my friends got me started making smoothies for Hayden everyday.  It sounds weird, but it is delicious, my husband and I drink it with him now too!

Smoothie for one little one
3 strawberries
1 small handful of blueberries
1 small handful of spinach
1/4 of an avocado
1/2 banana
1 YoBaby yogurt (organic whole milk yogurt)
Top off with orange juice

Blend until smooth and I serve it in a straw cup (so no mess!)  Sometimes I add blackberries, mango or peaches, basically whatever frozen fruit I have on hand.


My mother in law bought me a juicer (Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer) and I love it.  Hayden asks for juice ("duce") every time he walks into the kitchen.  I make him fresh juice for a snack almost everyday and he sucks it down before I am done cleaning up.  The juicer comes with recipes but here is my go to combo:

Apple-Carrot Juice ("Sponge Bob Juice" when I make it for my 4 year old nephew)

1 Cup of Juice
2 carrots
1 apple
1 handful of spinach 
4 strawberries
1/2 lemon

What I love about this juicer is that I don't have to peel or core anything.  Just trow it in as is after you cut off the carrot tops and lemon/apple stems.  It is so easy and delicious!  I asked my pediatrician about it and he said that counts as fruit and veggie servings.  As long as you drink it within 20 minutes, you get all the nutrients.

Sauteed Spinach

It took Hayden a little time to believe be that this was food.  He would put it in his mouth and not quite know what to do with it.  But now, he will willingly eat and and ask for more.

1 giant handful of spinach
1 garlic clove
1/4 lemon
sea salt
olive oil 

Saute garlic in olive oil.  Add spinach and cook until all leaves are soft (not any longer).  Toss in sea salt and squeeze in lemon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Tastes

Hayden is now 18 months old.  Recipes I have posted so far, are the foods he has been eating more recently.  When I started feeding Hayden solids at 6 months, I batch cooked purees and froze them.  His first food after rice cereal was sweet potato, then banana, carrots, apple and other non-green veggies (a recommendation from my pediatrician).

How I did it:

1. Steam or bake the fruit or vegetable.
2. Mash or puree, adding cooking liquid or water to achieve the consistency I wanted
3. Spoon into ice cube trays
4. Freeze and transfer to freezer bags
5. Label and store for up to six weeks

Some of Hayden's favorite combinations:

Sweet potato, parsnip and potato puree
Cheesy potato, spinach and broccoli puree
Pear and blueberry puree
Potato, leek and pea puree
Carrot and apple puree

His absolute favorite when he was an infant and now, avocado.  

Sometimes Hayden would spit out a food he had previously loved.  Around 8 months, Hayden lost his taste for sweet potato.  In order to "trick" him into eating it, I would get a spoon full of sweet potato and then dip it in vanilla yogurt.  It sounds gross, but he loved it and I was happy because he was getting a the goodness of sweet potato disguised as yogurt.

My Dirty Little Secret... I'm Lazy

I don't want to make two meals and I don't want eat hamburgers and hot dogs everyday.  Aside from all the glamorous ideas about developing healthy habits and good nutrition, I am lazy.  I want Hayden to eat what we eat because I like eating those things.  Motherhood is all about sacrifice, I have made countless sacrifices.  But I want to eat good food and I want to sit down and enjoy it, that is something I have not wanted to sacrifice.  

I have always operated on the thought that Hayden would only know he was eating food kids don't normally like if I or someone else told him.  So he eats hummus and tofu, and he likes it.  He eats these things because that is what I have always given him to eat.  If he is hungry, he will eat it and if he is not, then he will throw it (meal over).  It sounds harsh and I certainly would not deprive my child of food and that is not what I do.  Hayden eats the way he does because I have never said, "Oh, he wont like that."  He will try everything, up to 10 times, before I accept he doesn't like it.  To date, I have not found a food he wont eat after a few tries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Zucchini Nut Muffins

I started making these muffins for my husband to eat on the go in the morning.  When Hayden asked to try some, I gave him a bite and they have become his favorite treat.  This recipe makes about 30 muffins but the stay fresh for a while if you cover them with plastic wrap.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

3 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 /12 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of  cinnamon
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups of grated zucchini (about 3)
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 cup of chopped pecans (omit if your little one is not ready for nuts)

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Mix wet ingredients in mixer.  
3. Slowly add dry ingredients, fold in nuts.
4. Bake with muffin cups four about 35 to 35 min, until toothpick comes out dry.

Kiwi Strawberry Cakes

Talk about beautiful food!

Kiwi Strawberry Cakes

1 brown rice cake (unsalted, avail. at Trader Joes)
1 tbs of strawberry cream cheese
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced

This was an instant hit!  I have also used plain cream cheese with strawberries and strawberry cream cheese with fresh blueberries.


When I started asking around about making my own baby food, one of my friends pointed me in the direction of a wonderful cookbook.  First Meals by Annabel Karmel is a great guide to feeding kiddos from 6 months to 7 years.  It has tips about successful feedings, recipes and fun ways to present food to little ones.  It really helped me get started and when I feel like we need a change now, I go back to it every few weeks. 

Here is one of my favorite dip recipes from her cookbook:

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 small red pepper (I used canned roasted red peppers, about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp of vegetable oil
1 shallot
1 ripe tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped 
1 1/4 cup soft cream cheese

1. Roast the red pepper, peel and then roughly chop
2. Warm oil in pan, add the shallot, and saute until softened but not colored.
3. Add red pepper, tomato and cream cheese, and blend together to make a smooth cream.

Hayden LOVES to dip.  I use dips as a fun way to introduce new flavors.  Hayden especially likes the red pepper dip but I also make him avocado dip and hummus.  I usually buy my hummus at Trader Joes and there has never been a flavor he didn't love.  I started with the plain Mediterranean Style then then got into more complex flavors.  His favorite is Spicy Red Pepper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Veggie Pasta a.k.a. Whatever I Have in the Fridge Pasta

This pasta is a favorite in our house and one of mine because it is yummy and FULL of veggies.  This recipe makes a ton of pasta, enough for leftovers and then some.  If need to, cut it in half so you don't have to waste anything.  We always manage to finish within a few days and it is just the 3 of us.

Veggie Pasta

Ingredients (on this occasion)
2 cups of seasoned, cooked and chopped chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 zucchini, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (I like crimini)
1 cup of frozen corn
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb of whole wheat pasta (any shape that is easy to pick up)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Sautee onion and garlic until translucent.
3. Add dense veggies, squash and sweet potato and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add rest of veggies and chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper.
5.  Cook until veggies can be pierced with fork and chicken is hot.
6. Drain pasta and mix with veggies and chicken.


I can't think of anyone who thinks they have enough time.  I am a stay at home mom and I can't seem to find the time to do everything I want to do.  I cannot begin to imagine how working moms run a household.  I applaud you for being able to do it.

Making your own baby food sounds time consuming, probably nearly impossible.  It is not as bad as you would think.  All it takes is a little planning and preparation.

How I did it...  I would pick one day a week and prepare a new food for Hayden.  Since you are introducing one food at a time to infants, you only need to make one thing a week and then freeze it.  It took less than an hour a week to make the purees and I had a variety of foods on hand to feed Hayden.

A Note About Breast Feeding

We had a rough start.  Hayden was admitted to the NICU within the first hours of his life.  This experience was something I could never have planned for.  Bonding with my new baby and establishing breastfeeding had a whole new element added.  I could not hold him.  

Every 3 hours he was able to come out of his incubator for just 30 minutes for feeding.  I was under pressure from the nurses (for good reason) to have feedings that were quick and substantial.  This is very challenging with a jaundice baby who is lethargic and immediately lulled to sleep at the breast.  As a part of the effort to lower his billi level, Hayden's feedings were supplemented with formula and bottles, not an easy thing for a new mother intent on breastfeeding to swallow.  One advantage was being surrounded by the amazing nursing staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas.  They helped me to learn the best technique for feeding my new baby and I will never forget how I felt the first time the latched on, I mean REALLY latched on.  I was so happy I had tears in my eyes, we had finally figured it out!

The point is, breastfeeding is hard.  I will always be amazed that something so vital to a newborn, can be so difficult.  Some women have described a high from breastfeeding, I never got that.  I loved knowing I was giving my son the best, but I was never completely comfortable with it anywhere except home.  It is a lifestyle and not for everyone.  So whatever you decide, it is your decision and yours alone.

Ambiance, Presentation and the Food


I quickly learned that my son felt the same way I did about eating meals.  I don' t like to eat alone, so when it is time for Hayden to eat, I sit and eat with him or at least sit with him.  This has been one of the most effective things I have tried.  If I am getting dinner ready or washing dishes, Hayden is watching me and not paying attention to his meal.  When I sit, he can focus and eats better than ever.  In the same spirit of my childhood, we turn off the TV and the phone and stay seated together until everyone is done.


If food doesn't look good, you are already questioning how it tastes before you take your first bite.  Food can be beautiful.  Bright colors and unique shapes are naturally occurring in fresh foods, I try to use that to my full advantage.

My favorite mama, Roon, taught me that little ones do better with little food.  Too much food on the plate is overwhelming for little kiddos, so I limit what I put in front of Hayden to a few tablespoons and then reload.

The Food

A great meal doesn't have to take all day.  Food can be delicious and fun, just start with key ingredients and see where they take you.  Stay tuned for where the foods in my fridge take me.