Alfresco dining the BLW way!

Alfresco dining the BLW way!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

First Foods

My big sister Fran has just started weaning my nephew Matthew so I thought I would pop down a list of foods that you can give your baby to start out with.

Cucumber slices
Breadsticks dunked in cream cheese or hummus
Avocado on toast
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Grapes sliced in half (to stop being a choking hazard)
Mango slices
Crusty bread
Pasta (slightly al dente makes it easier for baby to handle)
Eggy Bread
Broccoli/Carrot/Cauliflower/Parsnip/Pear & Apple slices steamed slightly
Minced meat (like beef in bolognase sauce with no salt or cottage/shepherds pie etc)
Slow cooked meat (like casserole, hotpot etc)
Rice (normal rice cooked a bit longer or risotto rice is a bit easier to begin with)
Cous cous
Banana pieces
Orange Slices

Basically anything you're having minus the salt.  Once babies develop their pincer grip you can give them stuff like peas, sweetcorn and raisins and sultanas.

Always feed baby supervised sitting upright in a highchair or on your lap and don't panic if you hear coughing and gagging noises sometimes - that usually means baby has overfilled their mouth and are dealing with the problem by coughing it all up again.  Babies gag reflex is further forward in their mouth to start with for this purpose!  Don't ever put your fingers blindly in a babies mouth as you may push a blockage further down.   If a baby is really choking you won't hear any noise.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Busy Bee!

Had so much on lately but keep thinking up more things to a crazy fool!  I have just been making Ethan some more cheese and carrot pretzels for snacking but the thing is...I forgot the cheese...Oops!  Tasted them and although they are much blander, they are still very moreish...good to know the recipe still works when you miss a major ingredient out.  Since that homemade challenge though, I have found it easy to schedule in time to bake snacks for Ethan to eat ready for the next few days.  It's saving money as well as being healthier which is great.

I wrote my business plan today for setting up as a childminder.  It's helped clarify a lot of things in my head and reassured me that a lot of the information from the first briefing session last night went in.  The second briefing session is next week where we will fill in forms to become registered and find out about training.  It's scary to be setting up my own business but now I have Ethan I want to spend as much time with him as possible and go back to work in January with a heavy heart only lifted by the knowledge I will be being made redundant in the next few years and it's only 2 days a week til then.  

As well as that I am well on the way to setting up a Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) support group.  I have a few fundraisers in the pipeline and will be going away to train as a befriender soon.  When Jack died we got so much support and it helped us not fall apart and find the courage to move forwards...if I can offer others a supportive environment where they can find healing and strength I will be so happy.  I feel like it's a vocation - my pain feels like it was meant to happen in a way so I could help others. 

Better get to bed...going to a maternity services liason committee meeting in the morning to represent Sands on the committee.  Then a relaxing afternoon with Ethan I think...he gets very cross if I don't take him to the park for a go on the swings every day now!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Caribbean Veggie Casserole

Ingredients: 1 onion diced, 100g potatoes diced, 3 carrots (175g) sliced, 400g tin of plum tomatoes, 250g cabbage, 1 large (175g) sweet potato, 1 large (100g) parsnip, 1 green pepper (capsicum), 2cm piece of fresh ginger or 2 tbsp of ground ginger,  2 tbsp of curry powder, 2 tbsp all purpose seasoning, vegetable low salt stock cube, teaspoon of chilli flakes/powder, 2 garlic cloves finely chopped, 10 allspice berries, 2 tbsp parsley, 2 tbsp fresh coriander.

Put all ingredients except stock cube in a large pot on medium heat.  Make up stock and pour into pot until all vegetables are covered. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for about 45 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. 

This can be quite spicey.  I served it with crusty bread but you could also serve with rice or cous cous.  The heat mellows a bit and it tastes even better the next day.  A lot of the heat is in the sauce but Ethan did not seem at all bothered by the spiciness.    

Tomato & Chard Pancake Bake

Ingredients: 1 onion diced, 300g chard shredded, half a yellow pepper (capsicum) cut into strips, 400g tin of plum tomatoes, 1 small sweet potato (150g) finely sliced (using a julienne slice if possible or failing that a peeler will do), 50g of hard cheese grated, pancakes made as per previous recipe, olive oil, clove of garlic and fresh basil.

Method: Place olive oil in medium heat frying pan or wok and fry onion until softened.  Add chard stirring.  Add tin of tomatoes, using wooden spatula to break up. Add sweet potato and then yellow pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes until all ingredients are done to your taste before adding garlic and stirring torn basil through.  Take one pancake and spread some of the tomato sauce into the middle before rolling up and placing in an ovenproof dish.  Keep repeating until all pancakes have been used, reserving a little sauce.  Pour the remaining sauce on top of pancakes and cover in grated cheese.  Put dish under a hot grill until cheese bubbles and pancakes crisp up. 

Ethan really enjoys this and the tomato sauce tastes surprisingly sweet.     


110g Plain (All Purpose) Flour, 200ml Whole (Full Fat) Milk, 80ml Water, 2 Free Range Eggs,

Grease a non stick frying pan with vegetable oil and once it is very hot add some batter.  You'll need to experiment a bit to work out the best quantity of pancake mix for the thickness of the batter, the size of the pan and the thickness of the pancake you like. Immediately tip the pan from side to side to get the pancake mix to evenly coat the base of the pan.  Keep the pan on medium heat. If the pan is hot enough, the pancake should take just 30-40 seconds to cook.  Flip the pancake (I do this with a spatula, safer and less chance of problems!) and cook the other side for around 20 seconds or so. Repeat process until you have used all the batter up. 

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Duvet Day!

I'm pretty exhausted this week.  After being away for the whole weekend, crazy old me had organised a cake sale for Tuesday so I spent Monday baking.  The cake sale went really well and raised nearly £50 for the Sands (stillbirth & neonatal death) support group I am starting.  Even better than that though, I now have a committee formed so the wheels are in motion to get off the ground.  There is a desperate need for such a group around here so I am humbled by and very grateful for the response.  Sometimes help comes from unexpected places as well as from those people in your life who you know are there for you.

Ethan Bear is a bit off his food this week (due to having a nasty cold) so not much going on food wise.  He has had banana, bread, broccoli and cauliflower but has not been as experimental as usual.  I am making chard lasagne tonight so hopefully he will try that.  Recipe and photos to follow!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Homemade Challenge Debrief

Just spent the weekend in the Midlands as my sister was getting married and then her gorgeous baby  Matthew was getting baptised so a very busy and lovely time was had.  From the point of view of the homemade challenge...well it's a bit impossible to do when you're not at home but Ethan ate quite well most of the time which was amazing seeing as we stayed in a hotel Friday & Saturday night.

Having the tupperware tub full of carrot and cheese pretzels meant if Ethan wanted a snack I always had something to hand plus I took a stash of his favourite food of the moment - bananas! Dinner on Friday was a carvery and Ethan tucked into lots of vegetables, roast turkey, cauliflower cheese and some melon. The buffet breakfast the next morning meant he had toast, scrambled egg, sausage and satsuma segments.  Ethan happily ate some of the pretzels for lunch followed by a banana but there was a bit of trouble at tea time.  We were tired and hungry in a strange town (Walsall) looking for something to eat.  Frankie & Benny's was fully booked, Pizza Hut had long waits plus a rowdy party of 8 year old girls and we couldn't find any other restaurants.  We ended up in that shrine to all that is wrong with consumerism McDonalds.  Me and Stevo had burger and fries each and offered Ethan some of our buns.  EBC did us proud...he point blank refused to even taste any of the bun!  We both looked at what we were eating through Ethan's eyes and realised if he didn't even register it was food then we probably shouldn't be eating it either.  So we left there and Ethan was getting a little grizzley so we bought him some corn thins and he was well excited as he hasn't had them in months.  Today he had some toast for breakfast and a banana followed by some breadsticks and tomato pieces at his cousin's baptism.  I bought some apple rice cakes for him in Asda for convenience.  So we are back home and I feel pretty proud of how Ethan mainly ate very healthy food on our little mini break. Staying in hotels with no facilities for preparing or cooking food limits you massively but it is possible to do a mainly homemade/fresh food weekend away with a little planning.   Next time I would take a knife and a chopping board though.  Looking forward to reacquainting myself with the cooker tomorrow!      


Friday, 5 November 2010

Day Four of the Homemade Challenge

Still doing well and have just baked two batches of carrot and cheese pretzels (with added fresh basil which makes them even yummier!) as won't be near by cooker all weekend.  I am getting pretty nifty with the pretzel shapes now but did half pretzels and half shooting star cookie cutter for variety.  I used the food processor to mix everything tonight and it turned out so much better than by hand...I wish Ethan Bear didn't hate the noise of that thing so much or I would use it more often!   Am loving my silicone bakeware from Aldi...if you have one near you I would recommend seeing if they have any left - it's a couple of quid and nothing sticks to it so it's one less thing to have to scrub at after you've finished baking - everything just slides off.

We had roast duck for dinner and Ethan LOVED it! The cauliflower cheese side dish went down well too.  I love to see him sitting there tucking into the same dinner as us, he seems so grown up.  I had to shred a few duck bits up as they were slightly too chewy and we had a few gagging and coughing up moments but mostly Ethan just showed all our guests what a grown up boy he was eating everything put in front of him with relative ease.  

It's that time of night again...the boys are both in bed so I'm off to collapse is a heap beside them to do it all over again tomorrow.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Day Three of the Homemade Challenge

Today has gone really well.  Ethan is still loving his chewy breadsticks and they last longer than the shop bought ones and are less likely to disintegrate all over the place.  I did get a bit sad when a homemade pretzel fell from Ethan's hand whilst we were out with the buggy in a way that I wouldn't care with processed stuff and then I realised the main bonus of homemade stuff.  You know they are made with love.  I cared when I rolled and shaped each one of those in a way a machine in a factory doesn't (some might say couldn't! ;O) ).  The main difficulty with switching to homemade seems to be the need for planning so there are enough snacks to hand for when Ethan wants a little nibble of something (which is quite a lot!).  In the tupperware tub we have carrot and cheese pretzels, breadsticks and now fruity fingers but supplies could do with restocking so tomorrow I will bake some more.  Baking is a real pleasure, a nice way to unwind after a day spent chasing my little monkey and a way to be creative and useful at the same time.  But it's pretty exhausting too so up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire go I!

Fruity Fingers

These taste absolutely blinding and happily contain no refined sugar so they are a very healthy treat for little bears!  Refined sugar is bad because it sends our blood sugar levels sky high in an instant (unlike naturally occurring sugars like those found in honey and fruit juice) whilst containing no vitamins, minerals or nutrients.  Freshly squeezed orange juice is best as it won't have any refined sugar added to it - you can squeeze it out the orange yourself and know exactly what's in there!

Prunes are dried plums (which makes them sound much nicer!) and contain high levels of vitamin A (good for eyes, skin, hair and growth), B and C as well as fibre, magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein and carboyhdrate. 

Makes about 20 fingers depending on size you cut them into.

Ingredients: 120g/4oz butter, Juice of 4 Oranges, 2 Free Range Eggs, beaten, 250g/8oz grated apple or carrot, 2 Bananas, mashed, 180g/6oz Self Raising Flour, 120g/4oz Dried Prunes (with no stones) chopped into slivers.

Method: Preheat oven to 200'C/ 400'F/ Gas Mark 6.  Place butter, orange juice, eggs and flour in a mixing bowl and blend together using an electric whisk.  Fold in apple/carrot, bananas and prunes.  Add a little flour if need be until spoon stands upright in mixture.  Turn into a square cake or brownie tin and level.  Bake until golden, about 25-35 minutes.  A skewer will come out clean when ready.  Cool slightly before scoring into fingers.  Allow to cool completely then divide into fingers using a sharp knife.

Pancake Lasagne

Makes enough for 3 adult portions and 2 baby ones

For the pancake batter: 110g Plain (All Purpose) Flour, 200ml Whole (Full Fat) Milk, 80ml Water, 2 Free Range Eggs,

Cheese Sauce: 25g Unsalted Butter, 25g Plain Flour, 200ml Whole Milk, 50g Grated Cheese.

1 Carrot (75g), 75g Chard, 100g Cabbage, 100g Cauliflower, 100g Passata, Grated Cheese to top, Bunch of Fresh Basil, Vegetable oil for frying.

First mix together ingredients for pancake batter and leave to cool in fridge.
Chop carrot into thin sticks and cauliflower into trees and stir fry for a few minutes.  Shred cabbage and chard and add to pan cooking for a few more minutes until just cooked.
Grease a non stick frying pan with vegetable oil and once it is very hot add some batter.  You'll need to experiment a bit to work out the best quantity of pancake mix for the thickness of the batter, the size of the pan and the thickness of the pancake you like. Immediately tip the pan from side to side to get the pancake mix to evenly coat the base of the pan.  Keep the pan on medium heat. If the pan is hot enough, the pancake should take just 30-40 seconds to cook.  Flip the pancake (I do this with a spatula, safer and less chance of problems!) and cook the other side for around 20 seconds or so. Repeat process until you have used all the batter up.  Set pancakes aside whilst you make cheese sauce.
Place butter in a saucepan over a high heat, add flour and mix together to form a paste.  Slowly add milk stirring continuously and then add cheese.  Keep stirring until a thick sauce is formed and remove from heat. 
Add stir fried vegetables to cheese sauce. 
Put two pancakes (depending how many you have got from your batter) in bottom of lasagne or casserole dish, add a layer of cheesy vegetables, then a layer of pancakes, then some passata and torn basil leaves.  Repeat the process finishing with a sprinkling of basil and cheese on the top layer of passata.  


A Rough Guide to Baby Led Weaning

Not very long ago if you'd said baby led weaning to me, I would have stared at you blankly so I thought I would include a little explanation about what it means.  Basically, it is all about letting your baby feed themselves and trusting that (provided you offer a selection of healthy food) they will pick what they need.  If baby doesn't seem hungry or to want a particular food then you don't stress or try and play games involving aeroplanes and we hope this will lead babies to develop a healthy attitude to food that is not connected to emotions. 

As is the current advice in the UK, solids are not offered until 6 months and by the time your baby is ready for solids they will be able to feed themselves.  The 3 signs to look for are...being able to sit upright unsupported, being able to bring objects up to their mouths and whilst watching you eat becoming interested in food.  Days before weaning officially started with Ethan he grabbed a piece of flatbread from my plate at a restaurant and ate it whilst I had kittens!  The first few times are pretty scary...I was convinced Ethan was going to choke but he was absolutely fine picking up food I put in front of him and eating it.  With BLW there is no need for purees or spoons (or bowls for that matter...if I give Ethan food in a bowl, the food gets tipped out and the bowl gets played with!) you just chop up fruit and veg and offer if it in little sticks big enough for baby to hold in their hand and  chew on (you will soon work out the right size for your baby if you see them struggling cut bigger or smaller).  In Ethan's first week he ate cucumber (brilliant for teething), mango, pancakes, pasta, noodles, cheese, avocado on toast, banana, spaghetti bolognase, baked beans on pitta, scrambled egg, sweet potatoes, strawberries and curry!  It's a myth that babies only like bland food...Ethan always has a bit of what we're having now and he loves most things.  We don't buy in bland cheese specially for him, he digs into the mature cheddar with us and you won't find a bigger fan of his Dad's curries.  I can heartily recommend Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett.  Here's a description of the book:

"Contrary to popular belief, there is no research that supports the current mainstream view that babies should be weaned by being spoon-fed purees. Self-feeding allows babies to use their natural abilities to explore taste, texture, color and smell. It encourages independence and confidence by allowing them to experiment with foods at their own pace and helps to develop hand-eye coordination and chewing."Baby-led Weaning" is a practical and authoritative guide to introducing solid food, enabling your child to grow up a happy and confident eater. It shows parents why baby-led weaning makes sense and gives them the confidence to trust their baby's natural skills and instincts. With practical tips for getting started and the low-down on what to expect, "Baby-led Weaning" explodes the myth that babies need to be spoon-fed and shows why self-feeding from the start is the healthiest way for your child to develop. Your baby is allowed to decide how much he wants to eat, how to eat it and to experiment with everything at his own pace. Baby-led weaning is a common-sense, safe, easy and enjoyable approach to feeding your baby. No more purees and weaning spoons, and no more mealtime battles. Simply let your baby feed himself healthy family food."

One thing to bear in mind is that babies gag reflex is quite far forward in their mouth when BLW begins so you may get worried thinking that baby is choking on something when actually they are just clearing their mouth because it's overfilled.  If baby is coughing and making a lot of noise then just leave them be - they are dealing with it.  Always feed your baby sitting upright in a high chair or on your lap as this will ensure that they are able to cough anything up that is too much for them.  Avoid feeding babies nuts,  cut cherry tomatoes and grapes in half.  If they are actually choking then babies will not make any noise and will be unable to breathe.  In this instance follow this advice:

  • Lie the baby face down along your forearm or thigh, with their head low. Support their head.

  • Give up to five firm slaps to the baby’s back between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.)

  • Stop after each slap to check if the blockage has cleared. Look inside the baby’s mouth and remove any obvious blockage. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage. You may push it further in.

  • If the airway is still blocked, give up to five chest thrusts.

  • Stop after each thrust to check if the blockage has cleared.


    Baby led weaning has been a really fun and positive experience for all of us.  Meal times are a fun shared family experience and one we look forward to.  3 months since we started and I can't imagine feeding Ethan any other way.

    Tuesday, 2 November 2010

    Day Two of the Homemade Challenge

    Ethan seems to have been enjoying the fruits of my labour. He has loved chewing on the homemade breadsticks which last a lot longer than shop bought ones as they are more chewy.  He's also had quite a lot of fruit today.  He had one slice of orange but then made protesting noises on the high chair so I offered him a banana and he smiled and munched that like there was no tomorrow.  It was funny to think he was getting so grizzley cos Mummy had given him the wrong type of fruit, little diva!

    I ended up making cheese and carrot pretzels this afternoon after I'd made a carrot cake...can you tell carrots are in season here?!!! Apart from bananas (which are great for Ethan and he loves so they are staying!) we eat very seasonably in this house.  In the fridge we have a bit of swede leftover, parsnips, carrots (yes even more...!) and we did have a butternut squash.  On my list of links I have a site where you can check what's in season and what's at it's best so you can decide what to eat.  It's fun to do it and stops you eating the same fruit and veg all the time and getting stuck in a rut.  It's all great experience for baby too...I still get very excited when Ethan Bear tries something new although he just takes it all in his stride.   

    Tomorrow Ethan is going to get some of Stevo's gorgeous curry leftover from today.  That's the thing with our meal plans for the week, they normally go a bit all over the place but Stevo offered to cook dinner tonight to give me a break so I wasn't gonna argue!  It's good to have a rough idea how the week is gonna pan out but the mood can take me completely off on a tangent...organised chaos I call it :)

    Cheese & Carrot Pretzels

    Ingredients: 250g/9oz plain flour, 25g grated cheese, 1 grated carrot, 25g/1oz butter, diced, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 100ml/3 fluid oz whole milk.

    Preheat oven to 200'C/400'F/ Gas Mark 6 .

    Mix flour, cheese, carrot, butter and baking powder in a bowl with your fingers until well combined.  Add milk gradually mixing with a metal spoon until a dough forms.

    Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes.

    Roll dough out to form a rough rectangle about 25cm x 18cm (10" x 7").  Cut dough into 12 - 14 strips about half an inch wide and roll between your palms.  Tie into a pretzel shape.  Place on a baking sheet and cook for 10 - 12 minutes until a crusty layer forms on outside.

    These keep well in an airtight container but are very moreish so probably won't last that long!  Ethan loves them and the funny shapes fascinate him.  You could substitute grated carrot for grated parsnip, courgette, apple or bung in some poppy or sesame seeds.  Enjoy! 

    Monday, 1 November 2010

    Meal Plan For This Week


    Breakfast - Creamy Apricot & Apple Oats

    Lunch - Butternut Squash Soup and Breadsticks

    Dinner -  Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognase

    Snacks - Homemade Breadsticks & Orange Slices

    Breakfast - Boiled Egg

    Lunch - Banana

    Dinner -  Stevo's Gorgeous Curry

    Snacks - Homemade Breadsticks & Apple


    Breakfast - Cheesy Bread Balls

    Lunch - Carrot & Swede Pieces Steamed

    Dinner - Cauliflower Cheese

    Snacks - Homemade breadsticks & Banana


    Breakfast - Banana Bread

    Lunch - Cheesy Bread Balls

    Dinner - Roast Duck with Roast Potatoes, Parsnip and White Cabbage


    Breakfast - Sausage Pieces

    Lunch - Apple & Breadsticks

    Dinner - Carvery

    Snacks - Sultanas

    Beef Casserole

    400g lean beef cut into chunks (can be substituted for any other meat or butter beans)
    Olive oil
    1 Onion sliced
    1 tsp of Paprika
    Bouquet of Garni (or bay leaf, thyme, majoram, basil and oregano)
    3 Carrots sliced
    200g of new potatoes (or whatever you have in) cubed
    125g of butternut squah (or pumpkin or sweet potato) cut into large chunks
    150g of cabbage shredded
    1 tin of plum tomatoes (400g)

    Preheat oven to 170'C/325'F/Gas Mark 3.  Fry onions in olive oil in casserole dish until soft.  Toss meat in flour and paprika before adding to casserole dish and browning.  Add tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, squash, cabbage and just enough water to cover.  Bring to the boil.  Add bouquet of garni.  Remove from heat.  Cover and place in oven for 1and a half - 2 hours.

    Ethan loved getting stuck into this and had a banana for dessert!

    Creamy Apricot & Apple Oats

    2 tbsp porridge oats
    3 tbsp of whole milk
    3 tbsp of water
    1 tbsp of natural yoghurt
    75g of sliced dried apricots (or sultanas or other dried fruit)
    1 small eating apple

    Combine all ingredients except for apple in a bowl and cover and store in the fridge overnight.

    Just before serving, grate the apple and stir into the oat mixture.

    Serve cold or if the weather is a bit chilly (like it is now in England) warm gently.

    Homemade Breadsticks

    Flour is a great source of calcium and iron.  It is also a source of B vitamins, protein and carbs. 

    200g Strong White Bread Flour
    1 tsp fast action yeast
    half a tsp sugar
    half a tsp salt
    150ml warm water

    Measure flour into mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix until dough is soft, smooth and comes away from sides of bowl.  Turn dough on floured worktop and knead for about 2 minutes, adding more flour if need be.  Return to bowl.  Cover bowl with a damp tea towel, plate or clingfilm/gladwrap and leave at room temperature until doubled in size (around an hour).  Turn dough onto floured surface, knead for about 2 minutes and divide into approximately 30 small plum sized pieces.  Roll each one into a long thin stick using the palms of your hand.  Cut into smaller sticks if you like.  Place sticks on a baking sheet (silicone or greased or floured) and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes.  Bake in the oven at 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6 for 15-20 minutes until they start to brown.  I think a small child could probably make their breadsticks look more professional than mine but they taste pretty yummy and I like the fact they are all odd shapes and sizes.  If you store these in an airtight container (once cooled) they will keep for a week. 

    These are more chewy than your average breadstick so you might want to break off a bit at a time to give baby to avoid them ending up with a big ball of dough in their mouth that they have to spit out!  Ethan loved them :) 

    Day One of the Homemade Challenge

    Ethan Bear loves breadsticks so I thought I would make them for day one of the homemade challenge.  Only problem being the recipe I have calls for a whopping two and a half teaspoons of salt.  The first batch I made blindly following the recipe but when they were done I had a nibble and was shocked at how salty they tasted.  If they are almost too salty for me Ethan Bear won't be having any!  So I changed the quantity to half a teaspoon of salt to see what would happen (with much trepidation after being told salt is important in bread making as it stops the yeast going crazy) and the answer is...the dough was more stretchy and I needed loads more flour when shaping it into breadsticks.  The low salt ones stretched out a bit more in the oven which resulted in slightly fatter breadsticks, not much of a problem there then!  The lower salt ones did not look as pretty as the high salt ones (mind you the high salt ones were not works of art either!) but the benefits of losing the salt outweighed any problems.  It feels good to know exactly what is in Ethan's breadsticks this week and I am amazed at the simplicity of it.  It's mainly flour and water.  Flour is a great source of calcium and iron so a very healthy snack for little bears.         

    For breakfast tomorrow Ethan is having creamy apricot and apple oats.  Photos will follow but for now here's the recipes...

    Friday, 29 October 2010

    A Guide to Nutrition

    Feeding Ethan Bear has meant I have developed a keen interest in nutrition.  So I thought I would find out about all the things we need to make our bodies work and compile it in one place.  It makes the thought of him getting all the stuff he needs seem a little less scary.  I choose not to give him vitamin drops as I believe he can get everything he needs from a healthy diet and trust him to choose the right foods when he needs them.  I have never really been a big fan of popping vitamin pills as the science is debatable on whether non-dietary sources of a lot of things achieve the same result.  So I remain a sceptic and Ethan Bear seems just fine. 


    Carbohydrates provide energy for the body = starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, starchy vegetables (like parsnips), milk and milk products, sugar, preserves and confectionary.

    Protein provides amino acids which are building blocks needed for growth and repair plus energy = meat, fish, eggs, dairy foods, cereal products like bread, soya, nuts and pulses.

    Fat provides essential fatty acids that the body can't produce but need in small amounts to allow cells to obtain nutrition and expel harmful waste products.  Babies need efas for brain development and to mature the  senses = fats, oils, meat and meat products, oily fish, dairy foods, nuts, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, pastry products, crisps and other snacks.     


    Water soluble nutrients that cannot be stored in the body. 

    Vitamin B1 or thiamin - needed to release energy from carbs it is also important for heart and nervous system to function.  Found in wholegrains, nuts, meat (especially pork), fruit and vegetables.

    Vitamin B2 or riboflavin - releases energy from carbs, protein and fat as well as transport and metabolism of iron and is needed for skin to be healthy.  Found in milk, eggs, rice, liver, beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, mushrooms and green vegetables.

    Vitamin B3 or niacin - involved in use of protein and helps haemoglobin to form and carry oxygen around the body.  Found in poultry, white fish, milk, eggs, whole grains, soya beans, peanuts and some veg.

    Vitamin B12 - used in making of red blood cells, important for keeping the nervous system ticking and releases energy from food.  Found in meat, fish, milk, eggs, and marmite.

    Folate (or in tablet form folic acid) - needed for formation of healthy red blood cells and nervous system (especially in nervous system formation of unborn babies.  Found in green leafy veg, brown rice, peas, oranges and bananas.

    Vitamin C - an antioxidant (which help protect your body from damage by free radicals) and important for normal structure and functioning of body tissues and helps absorption of iron from vegetarian sources and helps the healing process.  Found in fresh fruits (esp. citrus and berries), green veg, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes (esp new).

    Vitamin D - important for the normal structure and functioning of the skin and body linings, e.g. in lungs and keeps immune system healthy.  Found in liver, whole milk, cheese, butter, margarine, carrots, dark green leafy vegtables and orange-coloured fruits, e.g. mangoes and apricots.         

    Vitamin E - antioxident and protects skin against damage.  Found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.  

    Vitamin K- vital for normal clotting of blood and is required for normal bone structure.  Found in green leafy vegetables, meat and dairy products.


    Calcium - important for healthy bones and teeth plus functioning of neves and muscle.  Found in milk, cheese and other dairy products, some green leafy vegetables such as broccoli.

    Fluroide - helps with the formation of strong teeth and protects against dental decay (caries).  Found in fluoridated water, tea, fish and toothpaste.

    Iodine - needed to make thyroid hormones, which control many metabolic processes, and keep our bodies healthy.  Found in milk, sea fish, shellfish, seaweed.

    Iron - required for making red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body. Also needed for normal metabolism and the functioning of enzymes that remove unwanted substances from the body.  Found in liver, red meat, pulses, nuts, eggs, dried fruits, poultry, fish, whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables.

    Phosphorous - needed for the formation of healthy bones and teeth, and for the use of energy from food.  Found in red meat, dairy products, fish, poultry, bread, rice and oats.

    Potassium  - helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. It is also involved in the normal functioning of nerves.  Found in fruit (esp bananas), meat, shellfish, veg, milk, nuts, seeds.pulses.

    Selenium - important component of the body’s defence system that protects our bodies against damage. It is also necessary for the use of iodine in thyroid hormone production, as well as the normal functioning of the reproductive system. Found in brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat and eggs.

    Zinc - required for the use of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Needed for cell division, growth and tissue repair. Also necessary for normal reproductive development, the immune system and healing of wounds.  Found in meat, milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, wholegrain cereals, nuts and pulses.

    Two other very imporant components of a healthy diet... 
    Water - essential for our bodies to work correctly.  Breastfed babies get all the water they need from breastmilk (it is 88 percent water and baby can control whether they are getting mainly watery or fatty milk from the length they choose to feed) even during the weaning period so although you can offer water from a cup you don't need to worry too much about baby taking it.  Formula fed babies should be offered water regularly.

    Fibre - needed for movement of waste products and to prevent constipation.  Found in cereals, beans, pulses, lentils, fruit and vegetables.

    Stevo's Gorgeous Curry

    Swede is a great source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, maganese, thiamin, folate, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

    Like all curry, this tastes great on the day but ten times better the next day (as you can see from the photo of Ethan Bear literally smearing it all over himself cos of how good it tasted!).  You can get 3 to 4 adult portions and a baby portion out of this.  Serve with rice and or naan or just on its own.  I gave Ethan a few spoons to play with but he soon abandoned them for the method which is much easier for him at present of diving in with his fingers.

    Ingredients: 350 grams red lentils, 175g cauliflower cut into trees or florets if you want to be posh about it, 110g dessicated coconut, One large onion diced (175g), 200g swede cubed, 3 teaspoons curry powder, 2 teaspoons ginger (fresh or ground), 2 teaspoons cumin, olive oil (or ghee or any other vegetable oil) for frying and 1750ml (7 cups) of water, 2 low salt stock cubes crumbled.

    Method: Fry onion until clear in large saucepan.  Add water and all other ingredients.  Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring regularly until fully reduced.  If you don't stir regularly, this will stick by the way!  

    Wednesday, 27 October 2010

    Ethan's Favourite Teething Foods

    Al dente (firm, just cooked) pasta

    Cucumber sticks

    Apple slices or whole to gnaw on whilst I hold

    Orange slices with peel still on

    Breadsticks dunked in hummus or just as they are


    Baby Watching

    Ethan Bear is so good with feeding himself now and manages some tricky textures much better than I think I would.  I can't get over how much he has been eating in the past few days.  He seemed to go off his food a bit before the teething kicked in but how he can't get enough!  I had a funsize (whatever that means!) apple from Aldi earlier and took a bite out then offered it to him.  He's still quite little for handling something that size well (it kept tumbling out his hand when I gave it to him) so I held it in front of him and he ate most of it pretty quickly.  He is also loving oranges at the moment.  The first time I gave him one (with peel still attached, chopped into a slice) he tried to eat the peel but he has worked out that's not good and chomps very skillfully on the fruit now before dropping the remains over the high chair.  This is the start of the deliberate dropping, I hope it doesn't become too much of a nightmare!

    Tuesday, 26 October 2010

    Loaded Spoon

    Ethan has always been fascinated with any other cutlery for that matter but today is the first day he has really used one well.  I found some baby rice in the cupboard and so I thought I would give him a bit with some sultanas in to practice his spoon skills with.  It's a great consistency for self feeding with a loaded spoon as it's so sticky (I put more rice to less milk than stated on pack to make it like rice pudding). I didn't give him much but he shovelled it in well before abandoning the spoon in favour of his trusty fingers which are much less hassle! Seeing how much he has come on with his hand to eye coordination has made me think I should be trying Ethan with spoons at most meals now.  I'm very proud of little bear today.  Poor litle mite was screaming in the middle of the night with his teething but you wouldn't know it today and he's passed another developmental milestone.  He's a clever little cookie.    

    Macaroni Cheese

    I love macaroni cheese but felt it was missing I bunged a load of vegetables in there too.  Ethan loves the creamy cheese sauce and picking different coloured vegetables out.  The whole milk is a great source of calcium, Vitamin D, B12, riboflavin or B2 (which is responsible for red cell growth and promotes a healthy immune system)  and phosphorus (which helps with bone formation, digestion, energy extraction and protein formation) .  Babies need full fat milk as they need more calories for all the energy they burn off and the fat helps their brain development but it should only be used in cooking after 6 months and can be given as a drink after a year.  

    Makes 3 Adult portions and a baby one.

    Ingredients: 300ml of Whole (Full Fat) Milk, 100g Mature Cheddar Cheese grated, 25g butter, 25g Plain (All Purpose) Flour, 300g Macaroni (or failing that any pasta shapes you have in the house), 2 Carrots (100g), 100g Frozen Peas and 100g Cauliflower.

    Method: Make pasta as per instructions on pack put peas in towards end, drain and set aside.  Steam vegetables (you can do this using a metal colinder overing a saucepan of boiling water with a lid on top or in the microwave in a container with the lid slightly open and a few drops of water).   Heat butter in a saucepan, gradually add flour, mixing together to form a paste.  Gradually add milk and keep stirring and turn up heat to high.  Add cheese and keep on stirring until a thick sauce forms.  Take off heat, stir in pasta and steamed vegetables.  If you like a crispy top you can take a portion out now for baby and cool and then put macaroni cheese in a casserole dish and place under the grill until cheese bubbles. 

    Monday, 25 October 2010

    Doidy Cup

    Since Ethan had his eight month check a few weeks ago I have been trying to get him to drink a bit of water.  As anyone who's ever tried to get a baby to drink water will's a messy process!  I tried  him on a cup with a spout first but found my health visitors advice (about them not being very good) to be so true.  Have you ever tried drinking out of one of those things?  Well I did and found it nigh on impossible so God knows what Ethan is meant to do with it.  Granted it stops annoying spillages but it also stops Ethan being able to drink very much water at all without a lot of effort and frustration so the spout cup is out.  So I ordered the doidy cup off Ebay.  This futuristic looking plastic marvel looks like it fell right out of a Dali surrealist painting but there are some excellent reasons for this...the slanted design means babies learn to drink from the rim of the cup and they can see all of the contents without having to tilt their heads too much.  At first I would hold the cup to allow Ethan to sip from it but I've decided to give him free reign now as holding it for him means he is not learning how to drink by himself.  It means lots of mess (he still can't resist tipping it upside down to see what happens!) but as we all know, if you don't want mess then you shouldn't have a baby!


    Vegetable Pasta Bake

    Makes about 3 adult portions with enough for baby too

    Ingredients: 500g Passata or a tin of tomatoes, 200g Pasta (I used penne but any will do), 100g Broccoli, 3 carrots (125g), 125g Cabbage, 1 small onion diced (100g), Olive Oil, Oregano and Basil for seasoning, 50g Mature Cheddar (would also work with mozarella, feta etc).

    Chop vegetables up according to your baby's development. If they have mastered the pincer grip you can chop into smaller pieces otherwise just chop it into sticks and broccoli trees.  Ethan loves broccoli trees the best out of all veg, I think I do too!

    Method: Preheat oven to 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6. Put some olive oil in a wok and stir fry until clear, add carrots followed by broccoli and shredded cabbage.  Meanwhile make up pasta according to instructions on packet.  When vegetables are done (Ethan likes his with a bit of crunch in them as do we!) pour into a casserole dish and add passata.  Then add pasta and herbs and stir until well combined.  Sprinkle cheese on top and place in oven til cheese melts.  This comes out of oven fairly cool still as passata is added cold so I was able to serve Ethan straight away but do check is cool enough before giving to baby.

    Ethan loved this meal.  It's very simple but he wolfed a huge portion down.  I think he liked the al dente pasta and vegetables as he has 2 more teeth coming through at the moment so it's comforting to bite on.

    Home Made Challenge

    Once Stevo gets paid ( can't come quick enough!) and we have enough money to go shopping I am going to set myself the challenge of doing completely home made food for a fortnight.  I am going to bake some bread rolls, crackers, pretzels etc to accompany soups,dips and meals and see how I get on.  I love cooking but it will require some organising to make sure I have home made snacks ready for when I'm out and about with little bear.  Ethan seems a bit disinterested in rice cakes etc at the moment anyway and although they aren't bad for him I would like to be serving him things that I know exactly what went in them and how healthy they are.  It will be a bit of fun anyway and hopefully inspire me more in my cooking and baking.  

    Sunday, 24 October 2010

    Beef Hot Pot

    Beef is a great source of protein, those B vitamins, zinc and iron.  It is good for building muscles which is great for growing babies!

    Serves 4 Adults and you should get 2 baby portions out of it too.

    Ingredients: Olive Oil, Plain (all purpose) Flour, 520grams of stewing beef (this would work with any meat though), 4 carrots (approx 175g), 1 small onion (75g), 1 Green Pepper (capsicum), 350g of new potoatoes (would work with other potatoes including sweet), low salt stock cube and bouquet garni, 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce.

    Method:  Preheat oven to 150'C/ 300'F/Gas Mark 2.  Make up plenty of stock.  Chop beef into chunks before tossing in flour. Pour olive oil into large lidded casserole dish, followed by beef and cook until browned.  Add onions, carrots and pepper.  Pour in stock so casserole dish is about halfway full with it and remove from heat stir in worcestershire sauce and add bouquet garni.  Slice potatoes thinly and arrange on top of ingredients in pot.  Cover with lid and cook in oven for about an hour.  After an hour is up you can take a small serving and set aside for baby whilst removing lid.  This is so it has plenty of time to cool down ready for when the rest is done (and the meat should be very tender and well cooked by now anyway) so baby doesn't burn themselves on it. If you are having half the next day just take a bit out for baby before reheating.  Put back in the oven uncovered and bake for a further hour.  To crisp potato topping place casserole dish under a hot grill for a few minutes before serving.

    This is a lovely hearty dish on a cold day.  Ethan loved munching on the very soft vegetables and sucked all the flavour from the beef with great satisfaction.   


    Breakfast Ideas

    Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in a rut with breakfasts.  Waking up with a baby is usually done at an unsociable hour when you don't really feel like climbing out of bed so I thought I would compile some breakfast ideas whilst I am clear of head which are easy to make and nutritious for baby bear.

    Avocado (the best fruit source of Vitamin E which is essential for overall health and prevents many diseases, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 which is important for the nervous system, red blood cells, teeth and gums  and calcium) on toast (carbohydrates which are energy givers, just incase Ethan doesn't have enough energy already)

    Orange Slices (Vitamin C mainly which helps iron absorption and the body produce collagen which is vital for healing wounds,  plus vitamin A, B vitamins, beta carotene, calcium and iron)

    Squashed banana (contains high levels of potassium which keeps your heart and nervous system in good shape as well as your muscles contracting including the heart thus making sure blood pressure is not too high plus they are a binding food which makes stools harder) on rice cake

    Apple Slices (iron, pectin which lowers bad cholestoral and a rich source of antioxidents, Vitamin A, E and B6)

    Porridge (slow release carbohydrate which maintains a steady blood glucose level) with blueberries (vitamin C and fibre)

    Eggy (protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin B12, D which is important for calcium absorption and digestive health, E and K)bread

    Cucumber (Vitamin E, C and folic acid) Sticks

    Carrot Cake

    Ethan doesn't get cake (or anything containing added sugar) very often so when he does I like it to contain healthy stuff too.  The carrots provide carotene which the body converts to vitamin A (which strengthens the immune system, keeps the skin, lungs and intestional tract healthy and promotes healthy cell growth) as well as being rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, D and E, potassium, calcium, folic acid and magnesium.  Don't go peeling carrots though as a lot of the goodness is in or just below the skin so just give them a scrub and grate skin and all.  This makes about 16 adult sized portions or 32 baby ones!

    Ingredients: 175mls/6 fluid oz sunflower oil, 175 grams/6 oz soft brown sugar, 3 free range eggs, 3 grated carrots (approx 175grams), 75g sultanas, zest of an orange, 175g self-raising (self rising) flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

    Method: Preheat oven to 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6  Grease and line the base of a 23cm brownie (square) tin or get your trusty silicone one out if you're too lazy to bother with greasing like me! In a large bowl beat together the oil, sugar and eggs.  Stir in grated carrots and sultanas followed by orange zest.  In a seperate bowl mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined and then stir in well to the carrot mixture.  Spoon mixture into prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  If you put a fork in the centre it should come out clean.  Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely. 

    Mixed Dhal (Lentil Curry)

    Lentils are a great source of fibre, protein, count as one of your five a day and the folate and magnesium they contain is important for keeping the heart healthy.  They are also a good source of iron.  This serves about 4 adults and 2 babies.  

    Ingredients: 100g Yellow Split Peas, 100g Red Lentils, 100g Mung Beans, 1 Onion diced, 4 Cloves Garlic, Tablespoon of Ghee, 3 teaspoons of black mustard seeds, 2 tins of plum tomatoes (800g), 80ml of coconut milk, 1 low salt stock cube, 3 Tsps/15g Cumin, Ground, 3 Tsps/15g Coriander, Ground, 1 Tsp/2.2g Tumeric, Ground, 1 Tsp/4g Chilli Powder, Black Pepper, 1 Bunch/20g Coriander, Leaves, Fresh, Average

    Rinse split peas and lentils separately and put them to soak overnight in a covered pan.
    Drain the soaked lentils, heat ghee in a large heavy based saucepan, cook black mustard seeds stirring till they pop.
    Add chopped onions, garlic and ginger, cook till onions are browned lightly.
    Add ground spices, cook, stirring for 1 minute.
    Boil water and make up 625ml of stock with the cube.
    Add split peas, lentils and mung beans, tinned tomatoes, undrained and stock. Break up tomatoes with a knife.
    Simmer, covered for 30 -60 minutes until lentils are tender and a lot of the liquid has reduced down.
    Just before serving add the coconut milk, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
    Serve with naan bread and rice.  I used sticky rice to make rice balls for Ethan and dunked some naan bread in to serve him too.  It's a pretty messy meal but Ethan really loves it.

    Thursday, 21 October 2010


    Have been having a lot of soups lately which are all just variations on a theme and very easy hence not posting many recipes!  Once you have done one vegetable soup you can do them all so have some fun adapting the recipes I have posted with whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or see are in season where you live.  I did a carrot and leek one tonight (where I just added some stock and blended down a bit) for tomorrow and used it as a sauce with pasta for Stevo for work tomorrow and Ethan's lunch.  I used the shell pasta as the sauce gets stuck in the inside so it's easier for Ethan to eat. 

    Just a quick update.  The soup worked well as a pasta sauce and Ethan ate it tonight and loved it.  I would make the pasta more al dente next time though as it kept sliding out of Ethan's hands! 

    Thursday, 14 October 2010

    Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

    Broccoli and cauliflower are both super healthy containing calcium, iron, vitamin A, C, K, B6, B9 (folate ie the naturally occuring version of folic acid which is important for mums when pregnant and nursing) and E.  When chopping up the vegetables for this soup I saved a few trees and steamed them quick in the microwave leaving them to cool whilst the soup cooks as Ethan loves eating both broccoli and cauliflower in this form.

    Serves 2 adults and as many babies as are hungry!

    Olive oil,
    150 grams broccoli,
    150 grams cauliflower,
    1 small onion,
    400 ml stock made with low salt stock cube, black pepper to season.

    Method: Dice onion and fry in a saucepan til starts to go clear. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into florets and add to saucepan.  Add just enough stock to cover.  Simmer for around 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Use a handblender to blend into soup or cool and set aside before blending in food processor.  I like my soup chunky and thick so it doesn't take much blending but you can make it as thick or thin as you like.  Ethan isn't really getting spoons at the moment (anything given on a loaded spoon ends up being poured straight off) so as with the other soup I dunk torn up crusty bread into it and he wolfs those down. 

    Wednesday, 13 October 2010

    Spicy Parsnip & Carrot Soup

    Parsnips are carbohydrates which are the only fuel source for many vital organs, including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys.  Parsnips are a good source of vitamin C (immune booster, potent antioxidant) and niacin (vitamin B3 which assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves. It is also important for the conversion of food to energy).  They also provide some vitamin E, potassium (which is essential for the function of all organs in the body) and dietary fibre.  Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A.  Vitamin A helps with night vision - that’s why children are told to eat carrots so they will be able to see in the dark!  Vitamin A also benefits the skin and is great for the immune system.  Garlic is a good source of vitamin B6 and C.  So enjoy this soup safe in the knowledge it's not only really yummy, it's good for you and baby too!

    Makes 2 Adult and 2 baby portions

    1 small onion
    4 garlic cloves
    2 carrots
    2 parsnips
    Olive Oil
    1 tbsp curry powder
    200 -300 ml of stock (Kallo do a low salt stock cube)
    Crusty bread

    Preheat oven to 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6.
    Dice onion and place in a roasting tin.  Remove skin from garlic cloves and place whole in tin.  Chop up carrots and parsnips into your baby's usual eating sized sticks. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter the curry powder all over the vegetables. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, remove and turn vegetables to ensure even cooking.  Roast for approximately another 30 minutes (keep an eye and nose on them though and if you think they are ready sooner get them out!).  At this point I took a few sticks of carrot and parsnip out to serve Ethan with his lunch.  Pour everything else from tin into a saucepan and add 100ml of stock.  Use a hand blender to blend as much as you like, gradually adding more stock.  I like my soups pretty thick but if it's too thick for you just add more boiling water.  I used a petit pain when giving Ethan some, ripping up the bread and dunking it into the soup and then giving him that to eat.  You could put this in a loaded spoon to give your baby too.  My friend Hannah's baby Ollie was over for lunch and loved this soup too so that's the thumbs up from two babies today!

    The curry and the garlic really compliment the carrot and parsnips.  I put a bit of black pepper in too as I love the stuff.  Enjoy ;)  

    Monday, 11 October 2010

    Charlie's Birthday

    Ethan attended his first party this weekend.  It was his friend Charlie's First birthday party and it was a lovely day.  Ethan was on top form - bringing out winning smiles for the photos and being very cute.  He chewed a lot of carrot, ate some raw pepper but loved the Organix Apple Baby Rice Cakes most of all.  After munching his way through lots of them he crawled over to Charlie's presents and would have ripped them all open if we'd let him!  I remember going to visit my best friend Muffins and Charlie in hospital just after he was born.  He was so tiny and slept through the whole visit.  Now he is a happy and healthy little boy who will be walking before we know it.  How time flies when you have little ones!  The day took me back to Ethan's baptism.  I think for his first birthday we are just going to go to Big Sky (a soft play adventure place in a warehouse) as Ethan will really enjoy that and all his friends can have fun running around there too.  Then a select few back to the house for tea and cakes.  What with our wedding coming up next summer I don't think any of us three could handle another big event next year!  I'm looking forward to our wedding so much but I am conscious of the fact it's really hard to factor in time together as a couple when you're hosting a big party.  We will make sure we do it least the first dance will be ours :)

    Made some gorgeous hummus the other day from a fellow blw blogger's page
    It's so quick to make and scrummy!  The only problem I had was stopping Stevo from munching it all before Ethan had eaten any!  I am really getting into fruit cakes and loaves at the moment too.  Cooked an apple & blackberry loaf with orange zest on Saturday and some more banana muffins today.  More recipes and photos coming this week.

    Friday, 8 October 2010

    A note about portion sizes

    Mine are very generous...mainly because a lot can end up on the splash mat, the carpet, the high chair, my clothes, Ethan's clothes, his nappies and just about everywhere really! I prefer to give him plenty to play around with and have more to offer if need be.  Better to have too much and end up freezing a bit than not enough.

    Cauliflower Cheese

    The cauliflower is the best source of vitamin C after citrus fruits and contains potassium and folic acid.  And the whole milk contains vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium  and cheese provides protein and calcium.  A very simple dish but very healthy for little tummies!

    Makes Four baby portions.

    25 grams plain flour
    25 grams butter
    1/2  Pint (240ml) of Whole (full fat) Milk
    50 grams of grated cheese
    200 grams of cauliflower florets broken into tree like pieces.

    Steam the cauliflower. You can do this by using a metal colander over a saucepan of boiling water or putting a drop of water in with half the cauliflower at a time in a microwavable pot and cooking on full power for a couple of minutes.  Then put a pan (suitable for putting under grill) on a high heat and add the butter,  Stir in the flour gradually making a paste.  You may have some flour left over.  Slowly start adding the milk and mixing in to continue paste like consistency.  Add more flour and more milk until it is all mixed in.  Reduce the heat.  Next add most of the cheese (reserving enough to top the dish later) and stir in.  Once the cheese has melted and you have a thick cheese sauce take off the heat.  Pour your steamed cauliflower into the cheese sauce and mix until cauliflower is coved in sauce before topping with remaining cheese.  Place pan under a grill to cause the cheese on top to bubble and brown.  Divide into four portions and cool before serving.  Freeze any you don't use.

    Ethan's idea of spoon feeding!

    Pasta Con Carne

    Pasta is a good source of carbohydrate which is slowly released for energy and contains glucose which is fuel for brain and muscles.  Beef mince is a rich source of iron which is more easily absorbed by the body than vegetable sources and protein which is essential for muscle and organ health but there are health risks associated with eating too much red meat so it's best to stick to having it once or twice a week if you can.  If you're vegetarian or vegan you can substitute the mince for lentils which are also a good source of iron and protein.

    Serves 4 Adults & 4 Babies
    (Freezes really well so a good one to cook in bulk and then freeze for when you want a healthy meal for you and baby but don't have the time or energy to cook one)

    Olive oil for frying
    1 Onion diced
    500 grams Beef Steak Mince
    1 Parsnip thinly sliced
    1 tin tomatoes.
    1 Red Capsicum (pepper) cut into strips
    Garlic to taste ( I like 3 big cloves)
    100 grams frozen sweetcorn or a small tin
    75grams fresh spinach or a couple of portions of frozen
    300 grams of Conchiglie pasta (this shell like stuff is easy for baby to handle and the sauce fills the shell but you can use any shapes you like).
    Handful of grated cheese and black pepper.

    Put olive oil in a wok or large pan over a medium heat.  Add onion and fry until looks clear. Pour in mince and cook til browned.  Next add tin of tomatoes followed by parsnip and capsicum and combine all ingredients.  Crush garlic and add to pan, stirring into mix.  Stir in sweetcorn and then spinach.  If sauce begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.  Meanwhile make pasta according to instructions and drain and set aside.  When sauce is cooked stir in pasta.  Season with black pepper and top with cheese (if you don't have an inconvenience store near you which stocks dog chews but no cheese!)   I usually leave Ethan's dinner to cool by an open window as the weather is pretty cold here now but you could put a bowl in the fridge and then put baby's food in there to cool it down quicker.

    I put in what vegetables were to hand but it would work equally well with courgettes(zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), carrots, broccoli, peas etc.  Little one's enjoy picking out the different textures. 

    Thursday, 7 October 2010

    Poorly Little Bear

    Ethan has had a cold since Sunday and is just starting to get his appetite back so meal times have been a bit of a non starter this week.  Yesterday evening at my sister's he tucked into a vegetable lasagne and had some fruit loaf and then this morning he ate a whole banana (some squashed on a rice cake and some as it was).  He had his eight month development check yesterday and the health visitor said he is very advanced for his age.  He interacts with his environment a lot more than most eight month olds apparently - he was crawling round the room and pulling himself up to standing and pulling toys out of a box and stuff out the bottom of the push chair.  His pincer grip is good as well which explains how he has been eating lots of peas, sweetcorn and sultanas in recent weeks.  I am finally catching this cold from him which is good in a way as it means my body will produce antiobodies to fight it off and they will be passed on to Ethan in the breastmilk he drinks.

    The health visitor spoke about introducing a doidy cup of water with meals now so that by a year he should be getting quite good at handling a cup so I am going to order one from ebay later.  She also said about encouraging self soothing to sleep so he can get himself back to sleep at night.  At the moment he breastfeeds to sleep always unless I am not there or he is in the pushchair.  Once he feels better I will try letting Stevo cuddle him to sleep.  I don't see much of a problem with it at the moment but I guess once I am working two days a week in January I won't want to be waking a few times a night to give Ethan comfort feeds.

    Now Ethan's got his appetite back, more recipes and photos will follow!


    Sunday, 3 October 2010

    A very funny Sunday Lunch

    Ethan Bear and his cousin Shirley Clementine (who is a month younger) were hilarious at Sunday lunch.  Despite having the same food on their highchair trays they took to stealing each other's peas and carrots! We all had a lot of fun watching them

    Friday, 1 October 2010

    Baby's Day Out

    Ethan Bear is doing very well with the weaning and can now feed himself peas and sultanas quite well.  The other day we spent the whole day in Birmingham and he was very good helping himself to fish and chips and spaghetti bolognase from our plates in Wetherspoons.  I had my mobile bag of treats and got him out a corn thin or oatcake too when he wanted a snack mid shop.  The hardest part of the day was getting the train back home to Peterborough.  It was fine at first as he was asleep when we got on but then he woke up and decided he wanted to explore the train.  So I was crawling after him and trying to entertain him on my lap for an hour and a half.  In the end I even got my bridesmaid headband out and put it on to make him laugh, the things we do to entertain our babies!  I was so happy when we pulled into the station and I knew we would be back home soon.  I really want to fly over to Oz in the next few years to see all my family out there (my Dad was Fijan) and it's made me realise the flight could be a major problem!

    Unfortunately Ethan is teething a lot at the moment (6 teeth so far and counting) so when I breastfeed he is clamping his teeth shut around me very hard until he makes me squeal in pain.  It's so hard, I want to keep feeding him until a year at least but the pain is making me dread feeding time.

    Tonight we had pasta and bolognase (made with a tin of tomatoes, beef mince, carrot, onion and a bit of garlic and orgegano) for tea.  It was simple, nourishing lovely food and Ethan Bear seemed quite happy with it too.  

    Saturday, 25 September 2010

    Soft Play

    Went for the first time on Thursday to a free play centre near where we live.  It was great, they have a whole room decked out with crash mats and wedges and soft blocks and wheels for kids to play in.  Ethan loved it straight away and didn't seem worried about the older kids running past him and screaming and yelling.  He took it all in his stride and crawled up and over lots of stuff and had fun cruising along other stuff.  We stayed about half an hour but Ethan could have happily stayed longer I think (had he not undone his nappy and had an accident on the mats!).  We are going to go again next week and messy play the week after.  Feel so lucky we have these free childrens centres to go to and am going to keep using them...don't know how much longer they will get government funding!


    Banana Muffins

    Just got a brand new muffin tray and silicone muffin cases from Lakeland so thought I would try out some healthy muffins that we could eat and Ethan could try too.  These are lovely and moist and went down a storm.  Obviously the more ripe the bananas the sweeter the muffins.  The bananas I used were still quite firm but tasted great anyway.

    Makes 12 generous muffins.  Up to you how much you let baby have!  

    Ingredients: 5 bananas, 1 egg, 100ml milk, 100ml apple juice, 200g self raising flour, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp baking powder.

    Method: Preheat the oven to 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6.  Mash the bananas in a bowl til there are no lumps.  Beat the egg and add to bananas. Add milk and juice and mix well.  Fold flour, cinnamon and baking powder into banana and liquid mix.  Spoon mixture into muffin cases in a 12 case muffin tin.  Bake for about 20 minutes until browned and cooked through (if you prick with a fork it should come out clean).  Remove from oven, lift muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.

    These hold together really well so are a good snack to take with you when going out with the buggy or to a friends house.

    Tuesday, 21 September 2010

    Vegetarian Tagine

    Makes 4 Adult and 2 Baby Portions

    Ingredients: 250g cous cous, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 onions thickly sliced, 1 sweet or ordinary potato peeled and cubed, 1 large aubergine cubed, 2 tomatoes roughly chopped, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 litre hot vegetable stock (made with low salt stock cube) , 100g dried or 175g fresh apricots, 400g can of chickpeas drained, 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 lime, handful of fresh mint leaves roughly chopped.


    Place cous cous in large bowl and just cover with boiling water.  Stir well and set aside.

    Heat oil in large casserole dish and fry onions, sweet potato and aubergine for 10 minutes until well browned.  Add tomatoes and cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes.

    Add stock to the pan with apricots, chickpeas, chilli and cinnamon stick.  Simmer gently for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Cut 4 thin slices of lime.  Squeeze juice from rest of lime into tagine and stir in mint.  Season to taste with black pepper.

    Divide cous cous into serving dishes or plastic tubs if freezing, spoon over tagine and garnish those serving immediately with lime.  I didn't give Ethan a piece of lime with his!

    Ethan enjoyed picking out the various vegetables and found the cous cous very easy to handle.  It clumps together a lot making it a perfect weaning food for little fingers to handle!

    Monday, 20 September 2010

    This Weeks Meal Plan

    Monday - Breakfast = Rice Pudding/ Lunch = Roast Chicken & Steamed Broccoli/ Dinner = Vegetarian Tagine with Cous Cous/ Snacks = Bread sticks with Avocado Hummus

    Tuesday - B = Mango/ L = Squashed banana on Corn Thins/ D = Beef Bolognase with Spaghetti/ S = Cucumber

    Wednesday  - B = Cream Cheese on Oatcake/ L = Steamed Carrot / D = Lentil Curry/ S = Corn Thins

    Thursday - B =  Apple/ L = Mushrooms & Pasta/ D = Vegetable Stir Fry/ S =Bread Sticks & Cream Cheese

    Friday - B = Scrambled Egg/ L = Orange Slices/ D = Steak & Pasta in Creamy Mushroom Sauce/ S = Corn Thins

    Saturday -  B = Avocado on Toast/ L = Ham Roll/ D = Thai Curry & Rice/ S = Cucumber

    Sunday - B = Rice Pudding/ L = Mashed Banana/ D = Roast Dinner/ S = Bread Sticks

    First Aid Course

    Have completed the first day of paediatric first aid course.  It went really well.  I am now confident that I know what to do if a baby is choking.  You should try and get them to cough and if they can't lean them forwards and administer a sharp tap inbetween the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand five times.  The trainer went over the importance of never blindly putting your fingers in a babies mouth as you are liable to push a blockage further down the throat and do more harm than good.  It made the message of allowing baby to feed themselves taught in baby led weaning seem even more important and relevant.  I would urge every mother and father to attend a paediatric first aid course - the steps needed to save a baby's life are simple once you know them and it makes me feel more confident as a mother.

    Below is a link explaining what I learnt :

    It feels good to know I have taken the first steps required for my new career as a childminder.  The day was really interesting and I'm looking forward to the second session next week. 

    Ethan had a really good day with his Grandma.  He took a little feed of expressed milk from the bottle in the morning and Mum said he seemed fascinated by it.  He hasn't fed from a bottle since May.  He ate some other bits and pieces I had left (made sure they weren't TOO messy as know what a nightmare that can be to get him clean again!).  Apparently he had a few moments where he was a bit upset but generally he was quite happy.  He seems to have come out of this seperation anxiety phase now so that's good.  I feel better about going back to work two days a week in January knowing he will be fine with Grandma.

    Am making a vegetarian tagine tomorrow.  Recipe and picture to follow!

    Saturday, 18 September 2010

    Avocado Hummus

    This is super healthy (calcium and protein from the chickpeas, healthy fats from avocado and vitamin c from the lime) and super tasty and super easy.  You can put it on a loaded spoon, smear it on some toast or a rice cake or use it for dunking bread sticks in.  Ethan Bear likes his on an oatcake!

    Ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas, save 75mls of the water from them when draining, 1 ripe avocado, 1/2 - 1 lime, 1 garlic clove roughly chopped, handful of fresh mint.

    Method: Place chickpeas, garlic and avocado in a food processer and blend until smooth.  Cut avocado in half, stone and scrape out the flesh and add to the food processer.  Blend until all mixed together.  Roll lime and then cut in half, squeeze half of the lime into food processer and taste.  Either leave as is or add second half according to taste.  Add mint according to taste as well.  Chill until desired.

    Thursday, 16 September 2010

    Up Town Bear!

    Am so proud of little Bear today.  Left to meet my friend Sarah & her baby Pip in town at 10am and didn't get home til 3.30pm and he behaved so well!  Is this the same baby that was crying a month ago if I went out in the pushchair for 15 minutes with him?  Just goes to show, phases come and go with babies and you shouldn't worry too much when they are going through a difficult one! So it was baby led weaning on the move again.  Some breadsticks were munched in Asda cafe and then a long breastfeed before a nap.  Then we went for a mooch around the shops.  Then we had veggie sushi for lunch and Ethan had a little nibble.  Am going to make some soon I swear, it's so lovely! Then  Sarah bought us mummies some lovely shortbread in John Lewis cafe and the babies shared a fruit salad.  Ethan tried slices of apple and orange for the first time and loved them.  I have always been a bit scared to give him hard slices of apple but I don't know what I was worrying about to be honest.  A very successful day.

    One thing really annoyed me though...Mothercare recently had a refit and reopened the store with lots of pomp and ceremony.  And what have they changed?  Got rid of the two parent and child toilets!  Had to search everywhere in town to find one I could fit the buggy in whilst bursting for loo.  Thank God for Asda!

    Had my first go at expressing some milk today in months.  Last time it was so I could go and watch Hole play at Brixton Academy.  This time it's for Ethan spending the whole day with Grandma whilst me and his daddy go to the pediatric first aid course.  It took a while to get going and then after lots of swopping over and getting fed up I managed one and a half ounces.  Not bad seeing as I had just fed Ethan and they say your milk supply is less at night.  Will try and get more pumped in the morning.  Want to leave plenty so I don't stress.  Am dreading leaving him all day as it is but at least if I can get together lots of milk I know a part of me is with him still nourishing him.

    Wednesday, 15 September 2010

    Ethan tucking into courgette torte

    He seemed to really dig this.  We did too!

    Courgette (Zucchini) Torte

    Makes 3 Adult Portions and 2 Baby ones (although if baby keeps dropping it you can just give baby both portions!)

    Ingredients: 6 courgettes (525 grams approx), olive oil, 1 small onion, 1 fresh chilli (I used a mild one and left seeds in but you can add more or less and put seeds in according to taste), 4 medium free range eggs, 50 grams self-raising flour, 100g cheddar cheese ( I used mature - again depends on your taste), 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, butter to grease.

    Method: Preheat oven to 200'C (350F).  Trim courgette and slice thinly.  Fry with oil in a pan for a few minutes, turning until they are soft and browning.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl.  Slice the onion thinly and add to remaining oil in pan with the chilli.  Saute until onion soft and beginning to brown.  Using slotted spoon add onion and chilli to courgettes.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add flour and cheese and cayenne mixing in well.  Then add courgette mixture.  Grease a 9" shallow ovenproof dish with butter and bake for 30 minutes until risen, firm to touch and golden.  Allow to cool  but do not refrigerate.  Serve with tomato and cucumber salad or veg of your choice.  

    Fast Food

    I don't know about you, but I love it when bananas have got a bit brown and are sweeter and mushier.  I have given firmer, less ripe bananas to Ethan and he hasn't seemed that taken, can't say I blame him! So  I was at a loss to know what to do with a very ripe one of them so Ethan could have a go at eating it this morning.  I gave him a bit with the banana skin still on and the flesh slipped out and he was left chewing the skin looking confused.  So I got a corn thin, snapped it in half and squashed some banana in the middle.  This was a big success.  Okay, the banana and corn did not remain a neat little sandwich for long and soon there was banana here and corn thin there, but it meant some did make it into Ethan's mouth!  After that I went to the green grocers and got a punnet of raspberries.  He had a good go at these but the old mushy soft fruit issue happened again and a lot is all over his buggy now.  As soon as we got home from our walk his clothes all went in the washing machine and he seemed much happier in just a nappy anyway...means he can speed around the floor quicker!  If I didn't know better I'd think he was smearing food on his clothes on purpose so he can be natural and free!

    Breakfast today was cream cheese on oatcakes and dinner is going to be Courgette Torte which is a mexican dish kind of like quiche but without the pastry.  If it goes well I will post recipe and a photo.