Baby Led Weaning: 7 months

I mentioned previously that Veronika has no interest in purees; this girl wants finger foods, or at the very least, to hold her own spoon! I’m more than happy to let her develop these fine motor skills and important life skills, so I’ve delved into Baby Led Weaning. I’m no expert, so please consult elsewhere for detailed advice on this method of feeding your baby, but here are a few fun meals she’s dined on in the past month.

Banana-Pumpkin-Sunflower Toast

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons mashed banana and 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin. Stir in 1 teaspoon sunflower butter.

banana toast

Spread thinly on one slice of toasted bread, and cut into strips.

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Baked Pears

Peel 2 pears and cut into strips. Place on a baking pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes, until very tender.

Baked Pears

Note: this works equally well with apples, or with a combo of the two!

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Brown Rice

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spoon into bowls and cool to room temperature. Put it in clumps on baby’s tray; Veronika loves to pick up handfuls of the sticky rice!

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Black Bean Mash

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Drain and rinse 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans and add to the pot; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until warm. Transfer to a bowl and mash until smooth.

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Just set out little blobs on the tray…

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And watch your little one go to town!

Basic Barley

For this one, I highly recommend quick-cooking barley, which cuts the wait time by almost a third when you’re getting dinner ready for everyone in a hurry!

Combine 1 cup quick-cooking barley and 2 cups water in a pan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12 minutes ,until the water is absorbed.

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Roasted Apple, Sweet Potato & Cinnamon

This dish introduced Veronika to a little spice! In a baking dish coated with cooking spray, combine 1 peeled and sliced apple, 1 peeled and sliced sweet potato and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, tossing to coat. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Apple Sweet Potato Cinnamon

Quinoa

You can cook your own quinoa (buy it in bulk and cook according to package directions), or buy it prepared in microwavable containers. Because quinoa is so crumbly, I find it easiest to serve by coating avocado wedges in it!

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Refried Pinto Beans

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 of a chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove; cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 (15-ounce) rinsed and drained can pinto beans and 1 teaspoon cumin. Cook for a final minute, until heated through. Transfer to a bowl and mash until smooth.

Refried Pinto Beans

You can also mix in 2 tablespoons of rice for every 2 tablespoons pinto beans – baby’s first rice and beans!

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To make it smoother, mix with 2 tablespoons prepared barley cereal and 2 tablespoons applesauce:

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Oatmeal

Graduate from watery infant oatmeal to the real deal with this recipe! In a saucepan, combine 2 cups water and 1 cup quick-cooking oats. Bring to a boil; continue to cook for 1 minute, until thickened. Let cool before serving.

Oatmeal

Homemade Applesauce

Chunkier than an apple puree, this is a great “next step” towards one day eating the apple right off the core. Peel and chop 3 sweet apples. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until very tender. Transfer to a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.

Homemade Applesauce

Banana-Blueberry “Fruit Salad”

Okay, maybe it’s just pieces of fruit on a plate, but this mix of foods on her tray is so intriguing to Veronika! Be sure to cut blueberries into safe pieces to avoid a choking hazard.

Banana Blueberry Salad

Zucchini Sticks with Oatmeal:

Cut the ends from 1 zucchini, and cut into 2-inch sticks. Steam for 6 minutes, until tender. Dip into prepared iron-fortified infant oatmeal cereal and serve!

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Butternut Squash and Corn Mash

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash, and 1/4 cup frozen corn. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl; mash with a potato masher. Veronika eats fistfuls of this off her tray!

Butternut Corn Mash

Basic Grits

To mix it up for breakfast, prepare grits instead of oatmeal! In a saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 1/4 cup corn grits. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Basic Grits

I still occasionally try to serve Veronika a puree, as well, venturing into “big girl” flavor combos. A few she has enjoyed:

Apricot, Pear, and Barley Cereal

Stir together 2 tablespoons prepared infant multigrain cereal with 2 tablespoons apricot puree and 2 tablespoons pear puree (you can make your own, or use canned organic baby food in a pinch).

Apricot Pear Barley

Apricot & Banana Mash

This one is chunkier now that Veronika is older. Combine 2 tablespoons pureed dried apricots and 2 tablespoons mashed banana.

Apricot Banana Mash

Fall Harvest Puree

Stir together 2 tablespoons apple puree, 2 tablespoons sweet potato puree, and 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin. Veronika also likes this with a little quinoa stirred in!

Fall Harvest Puree

Apple & Banana Oatmeal

Combine 2 tablespoons apple puree, 2 tablespoons mashed banana, and 2 tablespoons iron-fortified infant oatmeal.

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Mango & Banana Mash

Stir together 2 tablespoons mango puree and 2 tablespoons mashed banana. A taste of the tropics!

Mango Banana

To end this post, let’s talk about snacks! It’s time for me to start thinking about an emergency snack stash in my purse not just for my big kid, but for my baby, too! At just shy of 8 months old, I’ve begun carrying mini rice cakes in my purse for her.

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If she gets cranky (or if big brother starts eating a snack and she wants to join in!), I’m at the ready.

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She looked so delighted the first time she got a snack on-the-go that it was priceless!

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Other good options at this age include safely cut pieces of fruit, puff cereals, or squeeze pouches.

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One note of caution: Be sure you don’t give your baby a snack in the back of the car until you’re sure they can safely chew and swallow. Otherwise, an “emergency snack” becomes an emergency snack in a whole other sense of the word.

Cucumber Garden Salsa

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This bonus recipe from the Garden Party Raddish kit was a great chance to let vegetables shine. There’s almost nothing here except fresh veggies and Travis loved seeing the different ways that each one was chopped and prepared, how they smelled and tasted plain, and then how it all mixed together into one great whole! He got a kick out of swearing sunglasses while we chopped the onion, to keep his eyes from watering!

Cucumber Salsa (3)Ingredients:

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Peel the cucumber and cut into rounds; finely chop and transfer to a large bowl.Cucumber Salsa (2)
  2. Cut the tomato into slices and then finely chop; add to the bowl.
  3. Add the red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.Cucumber Salsa (5)
  4. Serve with tortilla chips!

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Dine on Roasted Finger-Foods

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I mentioned previously that Veronika has little interest in purees, and refuses to be spoon-fed. It’s been finger-foods and Baby Led Weaning for this little girl! I’ve had to completely rethink how to introduce food, compared to when Travis was little, but such parenting curve-balls are a great chance to learn something new.

I’m planning to post a round-up of her favorite recipes soon, but here’s a quick, adaptable recipe that works with almost any veggie. Tonight I used:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 turnip, peeled
  • 1 parsnip, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled

Cut all of the veggies into 2-inch sticks. The carrot sticks especially should be long and thin, so they pose no choking hazard.

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Toss the veggies with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a baking dish. Roast at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Transfer to paper towels to drain the excess oil and cool completely before serving.

Veronika loved choosing among the colors in this dinner veggie medley!

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Farmer’s Flatbread

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This gorgeous flatbread recipe from Raddish Kids has all the flavors of summer rolled into one bite – perfect for the Garden Party-themed kit! Travis loved helping, although he did tire out about halfway through as can sometimes be the case with more complicated Raddish recipes. But when we cook together, I love simply seeing him get his hands in there, learn a skill or two, understand where food comes from, and have tons of fun!

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As a vegan family, we had an extra step to start out: tofu ricotta in place of regular ricotta cheese. In a food processor, combine 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 (14-ounce package) firm tofu, an 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Anything with the food processor is a big hit around here!

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Process until smooth and creamy and refrigerate until ready to use.

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To prepare the flatbread dough, combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in 3/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil, to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured cutting board and knead for about 4 minutes. This was definitely Travis’s favorite part!

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We read the kneading instructions on the back of our recipe card, adding more flour as needed, but really he just loved getting his fingers good and messy!

As a result, our dough wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t deter us. Again, the idea with these recipes is the fun and the learning. So as best we could, we rolled it out into an 11×16 inch rectangle and transferred to a baking sheet. I admit we patched a few holes in the dough!

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To prepare the white sauce, whisk together 1/2 cup prepared tofu ricotta, 1/3 cup plain non-dairy creamer, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread over the dough, leaving a little crust at the edge.

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Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded Daiya mozzarella, 3 tablespoons vegan Parmesan sprinkles and 1 cup frozen corn. Add 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes. Bake at 425 degrees F for 22 minutes.

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Sprinkle with 8 minced basil leaves and serve!

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I had one very proud chef, who also enjoyed the farm vocab quiz and the farmers’ market facts on the recipe card as we dined.

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Agave Granola Bars

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Travis opened up his latest kit from Raddish Kids today, and discovered a garden party theme! We had to adapt the first recipe we tackled – no-bake granola bars – to make them vegan, using agave instead of honey. This meant that the accompanying lesson on beekeeping was a bit of a moot point, but they were still fun to make!

First, coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups quick oats, 1 and 1/2 cups rice cereal, and 3/4 cup raisins.

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Melt 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup agave nectar. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Pour the hot mixture over the oats mixture and stir to coat. Spoon into the prepared baking pan and cover with wax paper. Press down firmly until you have a smooth, flat layer. This part was good fun!

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Refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Cut the granola into bars, and enjoy! They will keep best stored in the fridge.

As we did a taste test, I read the facts about honey to Travis; even though we don’t eat it, it’s fun to learn about bees, or the fact that honey never goes bad! The recipe card also featured a bug-themed word scramble, too advanced for my pre-reader, but he was able to guess all the words based on the clues underneath. Check back for more garden-themed recipes soon!

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Hot Air Balloon Muffins

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Travis has had fun exploring different elements of flight lately, so we brought the theme to snacktime today! Okay, so our muffins didn’t actually fly, but now that we’ve made the recipe, I’d be curious what happens if you fill the balloons with helium!

First we made muffins from a mix (the gluten-free and vegan muffin mix from King Arthur Flour). Divide the batter evenly among muffin liners – since the liners were to be our hot air balloon “baskets,” I chose some with a fun print on them.

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The sous-chef needed to lick the spatula, of course.

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Bake according to package directions and let cool.

Insert 4 wooden skewers into each muffin.

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Blow up balloons and tape onto the skewers with washi tape.

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Let snacktime soar!

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Needless to say, our balloons were not aloft for long, but Travis was wild about this project!

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Peach Popsicles

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Happy Memorial Day and unofficial start to summer! We’re kicking things off with this pretty peach popsicle recipe, perfect for cooling down poolside or wherever you may be on this holiday!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen peaches
  • 10 ounces unsweetened hemp milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until set. Unmold and enjoy!

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Purr-fect Pancakes

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These kitty-faced pancakes are the purr-fect way to kick off Memorial Day weekend (or any leisurely morning) to set the tone for a lazy summer ahead. After all, no one nails the art of napping quite like a cat. In sum, this fun twist on pancakes had Travis grinning.

Prepare a batch of your favorite pancakes – or  heck, just use a mix!

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We spread our pancakes with about 1 tablespoon maple syrup to help our fruit faces “glue” on.

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Add ears, noses, mouths, eyes, and don’t forget the whiskers! Ideally we would have used blueberries for the eyes, but a certain sous-chef ate them all up.

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Please share your animal face pancakes in the comments!

 

Have Breakfast Together

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All too often on weekdays, we eat breakfast in a rush and then it’s time to get everybody ready ready ready and out the door. On weekends, consider making breakfast feel extra special for your baby, even from a young age. This will help set the tone for the day and create bonding moments for your family. At almost seven months old, I can finally make Veronika and big brother Travis the same recipe – and mom and dad can enjoy this one, too!

The night before, prepare the apricot puree:

Combine 3 and 1/2 ounces dried apricots and 8 ounces water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes, until soft. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight.

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In the morning, prepare the oats:

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup rolled oats and 10 ounces hemp milk (we like unsweetened vanilla). Bring to a boil and continue to cook just until thickened, stirring frequently.

Ladle into bowls, varying the serving size depending on family member; that means about 2 tablespoons for Veronika and about 1/2 cup for big brother! Stir 1 tablespoon apricot puree into each bowlful.

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Now that you have your meal, enjoy each other’s company! It was a delight watching these two dine together.

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Veronika decided she liked eating clumps by hand rather than spoonfuls.

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Other meals that will fit into a Baby Led Weaning menu plus appeal to big kids include: English muffins with non-dairy cream cheese;

Biscuit Cream Cheese

Melon – cut it into strips for baby, and cubes for big kids;

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Muesli made with oats, non-dairy yogurt, and chia seeds;

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and French toast fingers!

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For a super-easy French toast, dip slices of bread in a mixture of: 1 cup hemp milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cook for 4 minutes on each side and serve with raspberries.

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I also like to involve Veronika when I pause for my mid-morning snack. She loves to “share” my apple, and I always hand her my smoothie carton when I’m finished.

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Involving your baby in family meals right from the start will help set a great foundation for the years ahead.

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Thai Lettuce Wraps

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We’re on a Thai-food kick thanks to a fantastic crate from Raddish Kids. Travis was eager to put together this bonus recipe; he’s loving common flavors of Thai cuisine now, like soy sauce, lime juice, and cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (1-pound) package firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and lime juice. Set aside.Thai Lettuce (1)
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble the tofu into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook an additional 3 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the cilantro.Thai Lettuce (2)
  3. Place the lettuce leaves on plates, and fill each with about 2 tablespoons tofu mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded carrots.

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