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Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

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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Ever since Lil Z-Bear was born, we have started a switch to organic in our house. It’s a slow process and we are nowhere near where we want to be. However, everything we put in Lil Z-Bear is 100% organic. Think organic is expensive? Well, it is. But, if you compare buying conventional jarred baby food against homemade organic baby food, organic is cheaper. Way cheaper.

Daunted by homemade baby food? There is no need to be! It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive.  I don’t have any special equipment to make baby food (mainly because we just don’t have the counterspace in our small kitchen) but all I need is the stove and oven, and my trusty Cuisinart Food Processor.  Below are some recipes I want to share that always please Lil Z-Bear!

Butternut Squash

1 medium organic butternut squash

Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake half hour to 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Squash is done when flesh is soft and tender and easily scoops out of the skin.  Mash flesh with fork or potato masher, or puree in food processor.  Add a little water to thin out and make smooth.   Portion out and freeze.  Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.  Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Sweet Potatoes

3 medium organic sweet potatoes (or organic jewel yams, I switch between the two, Lil Z-Bear loves both!)

Boil covered for 45 minutes.  Let rest until cool enough to handle and peel.  Mash with fork or potato masher. Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper.

Carrots

A bag of organic baby carrots

Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake 35 to 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  Carrots are done when soft and tender.  Place in food processor and puree until smooth.  Add a little water to thin, if necessaray.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds. 

Sweet Green Peas

A bag of frozen organic peas.

Boil covered in 3/4 cup of water for 15 to 25 minutes.  Drain and puree in food processor until smooth.  Add a little water to thin, if necessary.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.

Comice Pears

3 Organic Comice Pears (although any pear will do, and if you can’t find Comice, Bartlett and Anjou work very well, the soft, juicy texture of Comice pears make them ideal for baby food)

Organic Rice or Oatmeal Cereal

Peel pears, remove seeds and stem, and cut into cubes.  Steam or microvawe for 3 to 5 minutes.  Mash with fork or potato masher.  Add 4 tablespoons of organic rice cereal or oatmeal to thicken.  Portion out and freeze. Thaw in warm water or microwave for 30 seconds.

Banana

One small very ripe organic banana

Tablespoon of organic rice cereal

This is probably the easiest baby food to make.  Mash banana with a fork until smooth.  Add a tablespoon of rice cereal and mix well.  Serve immediately.

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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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This Thanksgiving weekend was chock full of firsts.  I was in such holiday weekend mode, it was near impossible rolling out of bed this morning, getting dressed, heading to work and leaving Lil Z-Bear home.

Z-Bear loved sitting in the warm kitchen and watching mama cook.  He was especially excited when we got ready to put the turkey in the oven.  But wait a second…that’s not the turkey!

Uh-oh, sorry Z-Bear, it got a little confusing since you are both the same size.  But he forgave us and was happy to see just how nice the turkey came out. 

And he digged in with us. Lil Z got his first vegetable that day: sweet potatoes…he was a fan!

The next day we went out and bought our little guy a highchair.  I was enjoying using the Bumbo chair for the past couple of weeks, but now that we have the highchair, it’s so easy for feedings, we absolutely love it.  He loved it too!

I spent the weekend preparing pureed organic veggies – sweet potatoes for now, and carrots and avocado to try out later in the week.  I always knew I wanted to feed Z-Bear homemade baby food, and this weekend I discovered making it is a cinch.  I simply roasted them in the oven until super tender, and mashed them until they were smooth.  I also put in a dash of pepper, because I am counting on Z-Bear to like spices just as much as I do.  I am in love with these freezer containers we found at Babies R Us for storing.

Saturday was the first night hubby and I went out without the baby.  We went to an engagement party for a family friend, and we had a good time.  And we got to come home to this fellow…notice that he is out of the swaddle!  Yes, that was another first this weekend, he has now moved on to the Halo Sleep Sack.

We wrapped up with a lazy Sunday, staying in, playing with Z-Bear, watching movies, and enjoying some quality family time.  The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

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When work is dull and dreary…one whiff of this and I am instantly transported to a tropical island.  Bonus:  The organic coconut oil leaves hands amazingly soft.

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We have officially started giving Lil Z his first solid food.  He is 2 weeks shy of 5 months, but I confess, I was antsy to see if he would even know what to do with a spoon.  That, plus he is hungry as a horse lately, and I gathered it just may be time for something other than milk.

 His first food: Earth’s Best Organics Rice Cereal.  I bought the ‘Convenient Packets’, and I would recommend doing so in the beginning since the little one may not get the hang of it right away, and this makes sure you only open a little bit and the cereal stays fresh.  I used Tommee Tippee feeding utensils, simply because I wanted to give the company’s products another try.  My prior experience with their bottles was not so successful, but I am happy to say that the feeding bowls and spoons are awesome, and we give it a big thumbs up.  I also bought food pots for on-the-go feeding because they just looked so darned cute.

Z-Bear looked like such a big boy sitting on his Bumbo chair when we began the feeding.  We love the Bumbo chair, and not just because it has such a fun sounding name.  It works great at this stage, before we are ready to move on to a highchair, and it uses up such little space.  For the first feeding, I used half a tablespoon of Earth’s Best Organics Rice Cereal mixed with one tablespoon of breast milk.  He was definitely intrigued by what mama and papa were so excited about when we began the feeding, but it didn’t click with him that he was supposed to eat it.  So the first try was not really a success.  I wasn’t discouraged and we tried a few days later.  Only this time, I added equal parts cereal and milk, and what do you know, Lil Z was opening his mouth wide and ready to eat the second time around.  He gobbled it up in a matter of minutes.  We were so proud!  Can’t wait until he is ready for more foods and I can start preparing baby food for the little gourmand.

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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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