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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I used to be very by-the-book on what solids to feed Lil Z-Bear.  He started with a little bit of rice cereal at around 4 months, and then around 6 months we introduced bananas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  We slowly kept building his repertoire with single ingredient mashed and strained fruits and veggies (although I did add spices to his food early on).  I waited longer than the required 3 days between new foods, and every time he ate something new a part of me felt nervous.  At 8 months now, I have stopped being so cautious.  Because Lil Z wants to eat whatever we are eating.  So instead of letting a chart decide what is and isn’t ok for him, I am letting him lead.  And I found out I am not unique in this; there is a whole slew of baby-led weaning mothers out there. 

Now when Z-Bear sits at the table with us, I give him little morsels of whatever we are eating and he loves it!   I have been horrified for so long by seeing what passes as ‘Country Chicken Dinner’ in a jar at the store.  It seems unnatural for baby not to know what real food should smell, look and taste like.   He has no teeth yet, but I am in love with how he chews his food.  I cannot help but wonder if chewing is a natural reflex just like sucking is for babies, or if he is imitating what we are doing.  Either way, he loves to be included during meal time.

This weekend I made curried chicken, and I fed it to him with bits of naan and he was delighted.  He did not mind one bit that there was red cayenne pepper and a sprinkling of green chilies in the dish.  He LOVED the spicy taste and he had no irritation after eating it either.  I love this new stage with the little one because now I am mindful of preparing food that is more organic and has very little salt so it is good for mama and papa as well.  And although I still continue to feed him home made baby food, he can have a few nibbles with us too.

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It’s been a lovely weekend spent with Lil Z-Bear.  Here are the highlights:

I gave the cub a haircut!  His hair was getting a bit long in some areas, and I wanted to even it out.  He looks way too adorable for his own good…and he is sitting up all by himself!

I made some amazingly good banana bread (recipe from a fellow mommy blogger!) and nothing quite like starting the day with freshly baked banana bread and a nice, strong cup of coffee.

We spent Sunday in Philadelphia, having brunch at Day by Day with my sister for her birthday.  All I have to say is poached eggs over smoked salmon over potato latkes covered in hollandaise is definitely my new favorite brunch food!

Check out for (somewhat) matching hats!

Waiting at the entrance to be seated for brunch

After brunch we stopped over at the Flying Monkey Patisserie for some yummy goodies.  I can’t think of a better combination for cake than banana, chocolate chips, and peanut butter buttercream icing!

Thank you Z-Bear for being such a happy, well-behaved baby who loves to explore new things as much as we do!

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A dollop of organic yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika - One of Lil Z's favorite snacks.

I am enjoying introducing new foods into Lil Z-Bear’s diet.  There is nothing quite like giving a new food to him for the first time, and the faces he makes before he decides if he likes it or not.  But whoever says baby food needs to be bland and boring?  I am taking my cue from cultures all over the world that introduce babies to all types of foods, not just bland cereal and mashed, unflavored veggies.  When I prepare Z-Bear’s food, I warm it and sprinkle it with a dash of spices, and let the aromatics waft through the steam and let him smell it.  I taste everything I let the little cub eat.  And frankly, it’s quite yummy!  Especially since I have smelled and tried the baby food that comes in a jar, and some of it is rather unappetizing.  I have been introducing Lil Z-Bear to all kinds of flavorings in his food, and here are a few items that have him drooling (more than usual, that is). 

(Of course, I check with our doctor before introducing anything that I am not sure about, and I make sure I prepare food properly so it poses no choking hazard.   Like with any other food, when introducing herbs and spices, wait 3 to 4 days in between to make sure there isn’t an allergic reaction.)

Cinnamon:  A great first spice, it is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic.  It’s perfect over applesauce, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Cracked black pepper:  Great to give food a bit of a kick and to enhance the sweetness in fruits.

Cumin:  Roast a quarter cup of cumin seeds on a hot pan for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking constantly.  Grind in a spice mill or coffee grinder and store in a jar.   Sprinkle some on steamed pureed veggies or poached pureed fruit.  Let your baby smell the delicious aroma that arises when you add it to warmed fruit and veggies and watch him eat it up with delight!

Garam Masala:  A favorite in our house, this mixture of ground roasted spices is great over fruits, veggies, and proteins.  It is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores.

Rosemary, sage, and thyme:  Throw in some fresh leaves while steaming baby food, and simply remove leaves after cooking (This is to prevent choking hazard)

Garlic:  I have read in countless places that babies love the taste of garlic.  And Lil Z-Bear’s delight in eating food flavored with freshly peeled, crushed garlic (added before cooking) proves it.

Paprika:  Mild flavored (it’s made from ground sweet peppers) and vibrant, this is a great way to introduce baby to pepper.

Basil: Sweet smelling and flavorful, it’s great to add in steamed vegetables.

Ginger: This is excellent in poached apples and pears, as well as sweet potatoes.  Add while cooking, and be sure to puree food well before serving baby.

Other great spices and flavorings that I am looking forward to trying for Lil Z-Bear: Coriander, Turmeric, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Lemongrass, and Coconut Milk.  Will keep you posted!

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We have officially survived Lil Z-Bear’s first cold.  Our little cub is doing much better now, he had a stuffy nose and a cough.  Thankfully he did not have a fever, and even despite his misery, Z-Bear was such a trooper and had smiles for us even when he was struggling.  I got to use a lot of the stuff that new mommies buy in hopes of never having to actually need.  Little Noses Saline spray was a lifesaver in keeping Lil Z’s nose clear, as were the grape scented Boogie Wipes.  And I was loving the lavender scented Vicks baby rub and lavender and rosemary Vicks Vapopads.  They did wonders in creating an environment of comfort for the Bear, and for us as well…

Because in addition to spreading overall love and cheer to us, Z-Bear also passed along his cold to us.  The weather this weekend was perfect actually for staying in jammies all weekend, drinking lots of chicken soup, and napping when the little guy napped.  Lil Z, lovable bear that he is, was a sweetheart and didn’t bother mama and papa too much. I think he sensed that we were sick and needed some time to recuperate. 

Sunday I felt a little better, so I did a quick grocery run, and got this gorgeous organic butternut squash to prepare for Z-Bear.  Can’t you tell he is ready to dig in?

And later in the evening, as a treat, my sister and I prepared some yummy chocolate hazelnut cupcakes (recipe from a fellow mommy blogger).

Hubby and I still haven’t gotten rid of the sniffles, but nothing some extra cuddles from Z-Bear won’t fix…

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I am super excited that at Z-Bear’s 5 month doctor’s appointment, we got the green light to start introducing some more solid foods.  What is also great is that Thanksgiving allows for so many baby friendly foods.  So, in addition to the menu I am preparing for our first Thanksgiving dinner with Lil Z, I am thinking of what to feed him that day.  The result: his first veggie is going to be sweet potatoes! But not just any ordinary sweet potatoes, but farm fresh sweet potatoes that we picked together with him at Johnson’s Farm

Our bird is 16 lbs, because Lil Z was exactly 16 lbs the day we purchased the turkey.  Yay!  Can’t wait to dig in!

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Image taken from Yelp.com

…Coffee that is…

I am not a coffee snob or a coffee connoisseur.  I simply drink the stuff because I like the taste and because it helps energize me in the mornings.  I take my coffee with milk and a little bit of sugar.  I am not too particular about where I get it either.  I usually brew some in the morning, no fancy beans required.  I typically use Wegman’s Columbian or Donut Shoppe Blend.  I’m not a big fan of flavored coffees, no hazelnut mocha coffee beans for me, mostly because I am weirded out by how they get a hazelnut into a coffee bean.  Some days I grab a second cup at Dunkin Donuts at the train station.  It’s tolerable, but nothing to write much about.  And then, on weekends, I get a cup at either Starbucks or Whole Foods. 

As I drank my coffee this morning, I thought: What’s the best cup of coffee I have ever had?  And by coffee I don’t mean a fancy cup of whipped, caramelized, frothed, and foamed stuff, but just a good ol’ cuppa joe.  I’ve had too many cups to keep count, but surprisingly, it was very easy to think of the best cup.  It was at a place called Bijou Cafe in Portland, Oregon.  I was there on vacation either 2004 or 2005.  I am fuzzy on the details; it was a pleasant, yet not very memorable trip.  I remember Portland as a very nice city, great weather, great views, and the highlight of the trip was a visit to the Japanese Gardens with an unparalleled view of Mt. Hood.  But amongst the sightseeing, a stop at the Oregon coastline, and a train ride back to Seattle to catch a plane home, the thing that sticks out most in my memory is that darned cup of coffee.  Yes, it was that good.  It was organic, and creamy, and just the right amount of everything.  It’s the cup I measure all other cups of coffee against.  And so far, they have all come out short…

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I love me some cupcakes.  Who doesn’t?  They are such delightful morsels of moist cake and tingle-on-your-tongue sweet icing.  But as much as I love these little pieces of sheer pleasure, I am not too crazy about the so-called boutique cupcakeries that have been popping up all over the place.  Since when did it become okay for anyone who owns a whisk to mix together flour, eggs and sugar, bake some cupcakes, swirl on some uber-sweet icing, give the cupcake a sexy name (i.e. Sinful Chocolate Indulgence) and charge you up to 5 dollars for a single one?

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