All hail the humble chickpea

nyom

I had to post about these Crispy Chickpeas ‘toot sweet’ they are such a revelation. In fact I have just removed the second batch in as many days from the oven. We are noted fans of the chickpea here at Properfud Towers, so there’s always a few tins in the cupboard.

One blog I love to read for general parenting stuff, recipes and an overall relevance to any family working on a budget is Wholesome Ireland. The other day she featured this recipe for Crispy Chickpeas. They are a complete no brainer to make, so when I saw it I knew they’d work in our house – last night I threw in a tray of them while cooking a roast vegetable tart, then this evening I put more in with an oven-baked risotto.

Yep, we’ll have a few of them

I snacked on them with a bottle of beer last night, had them in a salad today for my lunch and then shared the remainder with the kids this evening while we waited for dinner. It’s a great way to add a healthy protein kick to something and also to try out different heat tolerances with children. It also tests the pincer grip of the 11 month old pretty well.  Caítríona used harissa spices which I didn’t exactly have. It’s an easy enough blend to concoct though. I added a few shakes of ground cumin, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne & chilli flakes to mine.

Clearly we are big baby led weaning advocates here, but as you can see, these are of a roundy shape that some among you may deem a choking hazard.  Obviously use your own judgement as to whether your baby is ready for these and don’t let them eat them unsupervised.  Any that were slightly larger, I squished slightly between my thumb and forefinger before giving to Theo.

Tomorrow I’m going to mash a few in with Dominic’s tortilla wrap for his playschool snack. If I leave any…

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Who’s in charge?

Baby is!  I’m in charge of what he’s offered, but the ball is in his court when it comes to consumption. No poking or prodding a spoon into a clamped shut mouth. Just offer, and then don’t take it personally either way.

I’ve mentioned it over and over, but it’s really a point that needs to be hammered home when you take this approach – food under one is just for fun!

The one thing I’ve really noticed so far with Theo is that if he doesn’t feel like eating, he just won’t. In that regard I love baby led weaning because I’m not stressing over the fact that he was into breakfast but not into lunch or dinner. It’s not necessarily what we’re offering him, but whether he even feels like eating at all at that particular time.

I'll have a bit of this then.
I’ll have a bit of this then.

I wrote last summer about how Dominic had gotten into sandwiches. We send in a wrap, a small bagel, or a wholemeal sandwich with cheese & turkey in his lunch bag each day he goes to playschool. But it was never something he wanted as a baby – he used to look at them as a puzzle, something to pull apart and examine .

Today after a hectic morning at a local playcentre it was toasted sandwiches on the menu for lunch. I made Theo a little sandwich with the crusts off and he loved it. Crusts off so he didn’t just fill up on them, not because he couldn’t have them. He grasped it tight and it went straight in. I know well enough by now he would just let it fall to the ground and go back to gnawing a plate it if he didnt feel like eating.

I just put some cream cheese & some cheddar in it. I don’t think we’re ever going to have calcium issues in this house so it would be nice to veer away from cheese! I’m thinking avocado would be good, anything that “sticks” the sandwich together basically. Today was a bit of a hmm what’s in the fridge day.

I’d love to hear suggestions for a super healthy baby friendly sandwich filling?

Jill

Falling at the first hurdle, or a helping hand?

You’d think there wouldn’t be so many surprises the second time round. The learning curve with weaning of any kind is steep, as much for parents as for junior.

hey! this was a good plan mama
hey! this was a good plan mama

I can’t remember how Dom took to pre-loaded spoons.  But I know that he did master them, by a couple of weeks later than this stage with Theo.  In fact there’s a very cute video here. I’ve racked my brains and can’t think how it started, so I just went ahead and handed Theo a spoon  with an assortment of items (not at the same time) – porridge, bananacado, thick soup, and more often than not he flips the spoon and sticks the handle in his mouth.  So this evening, with a lack of anything else for dinner to give him, and parent no.2 not home I decided he could  have some of my massamam curry, with tofu, butternut squash and of course potato.  I use the Thai Gold brand of paste, which I’ve blogged about before here.

The pieces were in small cubes, and we’re not in pincer grip territory yet, so I thought I’d try the pre loaded spoon again. I gave it a wee mash up, to a good soft but lumpy texture, and added some natural yogurt to cool down the spice. FLIP off went the curry across the table and the spoon went in upside down.  I had a little lightbulb moment, he doesn’t know what he’s missing! I put some on the spoon, coaxed open that little mouth and SPOON FED him.  I did this 3 times with small amounts, then he shrieked when I took the spoon away.  You want it that bad baby?  Help yourself!  And he did, roaring indignantly each time I took the empty spoon back from him.

The spoon: it contains yummy stuff.  He just didn’t realise it.

Jill

Time to revise!

A special post for all my new readers and followers!

Only interested in thumbs or boobs. For now.

Lil’ T is 15 weeks old.  It’s time I put on my hypothetical glasses  (thank you LASEK surgery) and get studying because in just a couple of months I’ll be offering my happy little guy a bit of solid food.  I’ve made lots of friends, in my virtual and real life during Theo’s short time on the planet, and I’m bowled over by how many are interested in Baby Led Weaning, whether fully or in combination with some purées.  I didn’t know anyone at all that had done it just 2.5 short years ago. In fact I can’t actually remember exactly how I came across it.  I think that I somehow found the My Daddy Cooks blog and took it from there.  The Daddy in question, Nick Coffer became a bit of a media mogul since that time whereas I have gotten one mention in the Irish Independent *blush*

So, I have a few tips for those that are starting out on the BLW journey for the first time.

1. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing

You will question yourself.  Other people will question you.  You will wonder why you don’t just freeze cubes and cubes of puréed food and defrost them one by one and mix them with ridiculously small pasta shapes and pop them in your changing bag and offer them up at regular intervals.  That way, you know what your kid is getting nutrition wise, and you know you’ll always have something appropriate for them when they need to eat.  Then you will remember the mantra:  Food under one is just for fun.  I wrote about this a month into our journey here.

It’s important to remember why you’re doing it.  In fact it’s important to know why in the first place.  BLW is slightly trendier now for want of a better word.  Plenty of people’s mums did it with them before it had a name, when parenting was more about community and instinct than internet and books.  But there is a big following now, and lots of information out there to explain why it’s a good idea and no, your child isn’t going to choke.

(Incidentally even the slow moving behemoth that is the HSE says “See how your baby responds to the different flavours and textures. Offer your baby finger foods such as small pieces of fruit and vegetables or toast. How much your baby takes is less important than getting used to the idea of food other than milk.”)

With that in mind, I can’t recommend the official BLW book highly enough.  It’s an easy read and if you’re of a similar mind to me you’ll be “aha!-ing” along with eureka moments at every turn and will be like “this is awesome and totally for me and my family”.  The book covers 7 topics in depth but I found it easy to dip in and out of as a reference (though I did read it cover to cover and plan to again)

  • What is Baby Led Weaning
  • How does Baby Led Weaning work
  • Getting Started
  • First foods
  • After the Early Days
  • Baby Led Weaning and Family Life
  • A Healthy Diet for Everyone

There is also a cookbook that has 130 recipes and a succinct explanation of the theory and practise of Baby Led Weaning.  This will do as a stand-alone guide, but I like to have the ‘full’ book as a reference.

2. You may hit stumbling blocks

If you’re a stay at home mum, you might not come across this particular problem.  Dominic combined BLW with spoonfeeding when he went to creche (not at home).  From my point of view our biggest stumbling block was that he started creche at 9 months old.  I didn’t feel his eating was well enough established when he realised he could sit back and open his baby bird mouth for a spoon to be popped in – and he quite liked that thank you very much.  Lazy like his mammy…  So we had tempt him with even more delicious foods at home.  After a couple of months, the 2 went alongside nicely.  And as a full time work outside the home mum, I was always confident he’d had a good meal no matter what I was able to provide that evening.  Happy mammy = happy baby.  It fits in so many spheres, that phrase!
But you know what?  Whatever method of feeding you choose, it’s not all going to go swimmingly all of the time.  This applies to breast or bottle, purées or finger food.   Parenting, it ain’t easy.  With this in mind, you may like to…

3. …Connect with like minded people.

The Baby Led Weaning forum.  The original and the best.  There’s oodles opportunities for discussion out there, including lots of Facebook groups, Irish based and otherwise.  However that forum is practical and well organised, covering everyone from newbies to experienced blw’ers, and providing lots of recipes and tips.

4. The Gear.

You don’t really need any special gear, but who doesn’t love new baby stuff?

  • My 2 favourite pull-up-to-the-table highchairs are at the complete opposite end of the budget spectrum – the Stokke Tripp Trapp & the Ikea Antilop.  The former for our small kitchen, where design and a small footprint were both important to me.  The latter for grandparents houses, a little bigger, no nonense, easy to store and frankly, brilliant.
  • Because you can pull these right up to the table, you may want to protect your slick new fancy modern table, or your heirloom solid hardwood table.  Get an oil cloth tablecoth. Ours is still going strong over 2 years later, cleaned about 3 times a day, with barely any stains (Warning: oil cloth will stain so if you go for a pale colour watch tomatoey/curry things and give them a speedy enough clean – after the meal like not immediately as the kids spills you don’t need to be that highly strung!)
  • Long sleeved bibs. Good ol’ Ikea.  More recently Dominic’s favourite is a Pixar Cars one from Tesco, but the sleeves are slim fitting stretchy cotton, well that’s no good over your dressing gown of a lazy saturday morning now is it? And yes, my nearly 3 year old still wears bibs.  He requests them, and anything that suggests his clothes may possibly get a second outing when I’m dealing with the laundry load of him and an infant is A-OK with me. Neoprene bibs are great too, very absorbent.
  • In fact, the above and more are mentioned here  when I wrote about the gear we had early on.  What would I add to that? Yep, the ‘I’ word again – all of this Ikea childrens tablewear.

5. Trust your instincts & they don’t have to clear their plate!

They might gag. (They might not also) You’ll have to sit on your hands a couple of times to not to intervene.  If you’ve read your BLW book you’ll know there’s no big issue here (ok, that’s not instinct, that’s science.)

They won’t starve. If they stop eating, they’re done with it.  I’m a committed plate clearer due to an eighties childhood filled with children starving in Africa, their sorry fate dangled over my head during every stew and potato-based battle of wills.

There’ll be a bit of a mess for a while.  Relax, you can deal with it later.

Now, any questions?

Jill

Gnocchi. Not gn-yucky

“Pan-fried mascarpone gnocchi with dreamy basil pesto”

I’m a divil for anything with ‘made easy’ or similar suggestions in the title.  Most recently I’ve been taping Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food. (taping, ha! I’ll have to explain why we use that word to my kids instead of ‘data capturing’ or somesuch)  Anyway, it means I can fast forward through meaty cooking.

I find Lorraine’s efforts really are speedily recreated, as opposed to one particularly pukka chef’s half hour meals that would give you coronary failure in the attempt to beat the clock. So, quick cheesy gnocchi – what’s not to love? Continue reading

Comfort food for all the family

I kinda put off writing this post.  The food didn’t seen that appetising when the sun was shining outside.  To be honest, the garden was more tempting than the keyboard there for a few days.   I harbour a dream of waking up with green fingers one day, with a line of raised beds sprouting all we can eat, not a slug in sight.  But in the meantime I have lots of herbs in pots, carrots & courgettes beginning to peek up and a rather ambitious red pepper growing on the living room windowsill.  There are shoots, but the cats may scupper that.  So while I plant, Dominic pushes one of 3 balls around the garden and the closest he gets to baby led weaning is trying to eat the plastic plant name markers out of the pots.

This morning we have April showers, baby is asleep, and talking about comfort food seems to fit the bill a little better than last weekend.  I don’t cook things like lasagne that often.  I’ve been served much veggie lasagne, some awful (probably in restaurants 10 years ago, and some lovely (my friend Paula’s). This time I decided to do it like a big dirty meat eater, except substitute quorn mince in lieu of normal mince.

on the way

I followed the basic packet instructions from the box of Tesco lasagne sheets, adding my own flourishes.  I guess when I say flourishes, I mean red onion, peas & carrots & lots of dried herbs.   I used 1.5 bags of quorn mince for the “meat”.  Where I did differ is the white sauce.  Trust Delia.  Delia Smith & Darina Allen – if you want a basic recipe for anything at all, google it with either one of their names attached and you’re probably onto a winner.  So I made Delia’s classic bechamel sauce (parsley & bay leaves from the garden – yay me!) and then added some grated cheese for extra fatty richness.  Until Dominic is 2 I will use him as an excuse to add as much milky fatness and calcium loaded products to my cooking as possible.

This was a pretty messy one for The Eating.  We’re still working on getting Dominic to use a fork with any dexterity whatsoever, so the pre loading is still the most popular way.  He gets pretty stabby with his cutlery, most notably during spoon/porridge interaction, but with very little food ingestion as an outcome.  Oh well, it’ll happen!

He *really* enjoyed this though, and could pull out strips of pasta, clumps of quorn mince, and pick up the ever popular peas.  Served with garlic bread…winner!