Introducing Little Grub

Hi, I’m so glad you’ve decided to stop by. I’m Courtney, a working mum, living in Pic for blog post - introducingAuckland. I’m not a paediatrician, dietician, nutritionist or photographer, but I was a high-performance athlete and over the years, have collected a lot of information about nutrition and well-being. I am also passionate about food, flavours and feeding my little grub the most nutritious meals and snacks I can muster up.

When I started out on this feeding journey, I was at a bit of a loss. Even after having paid to listen to a talk with a paediatric dietician, I found that there still wasn’t much information out there when it came to introducing flavours and mixing and matching tastes. Or how to do this…and when! Even with a very supportive coffee group to lean on, I found most of us still had the same questions.

I was lucky enough to be able to breast-feed when he was younger and, you know, we’re all told how nutritious that is for little babies. So, I figured, why would I go to all that trouble of making that work, and then give it all away when he starts eating solid food? Not only was the food thing a bit of a mine-field to fumble your way through, I found it to be pretty overwhelming at times. Right from the start. Start typing the word “pram” in to google and you’ll be there for hours trying to figure out which one to go for. And that’s only one piece of equipment! Cots, car seats, bottles, swaddles, bibs and baths….. there are so many things I would have done a little differently had I known then what I do now.

20180204_110428This all prompted me to share what I’ve done, any tips I have or things to think about, in the hope that it benefits others. I also want to help navigate those early months when starting out on solids, and to show that it doesn’t always have to be boring. But ultimately, I want to create a bit of a community, a safe space with no judgement, for like-minded people to interact, share and help each other out. She’s a pretty big job this!

Each week I hope to release a new recipe, starting with the basics through to finger food ideas and as my little grub grows, whatever else works for us. Or, I’ll share some tips with you that may or may not relate to feeding… natural winter cold remedies anyone? This will be a reflection of my personal experiences and what we’ve done at home; there are always lots of different ways to do things. You’ve just got to pick and choose what advice and ideas you want to incorporate in to your lives.

Please feel free to comment on any recipes, ask any questions or let me know what you’d like to see more of. If sometimes I don’t respond very quickly, or you don’t hear from me for a little while, don’t go anywhere. I’m a working mum, this isn’t my job but a passion, and I’ll be back, you can be sure of it!

Courts xx

Mama Grub

Sugar-free Coconut and Kumara Bliss Balls

I love bliss balls. Filled with nuts, seeds, fats, fibre and sometimes a little hint of sweetness, they are generally a healthier alternative to muesli bars or biscuits. The seeds and coconut are a good source of fat, which helps to keep you feeling satiated for longer. Kumara is a bit of an odd choice for a bliss ball, but trust me, it works. It’s got a lovely sweetness to it whilst being a low GI, slow-release carbohydrate. Another reason to go for these over a choccie biscuit in the afternoon!

There are so many variations of bliss balls out there, that you almost can’t go wrong when you make some yourself. I encourage you to give these a go! This particular recipe is nut-free, making them a great option for school lunches.

Personally, I try and stay away from a lot of sugar, and I try to avoid it for my little grub too. However, I totally understand if you feel you want to add a few dates to this recipe; everyone has their own tastes. If you go for this option, you can add 4 – 5 dates (soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften them) when you add in the kumara. Try and go for the medjool date over regular ones as it’s actually quite a good source of iron.

I gave these to my little grub at about 10 months old for morning tea and he loved them. But you could give these at any age whenever you feel your little one might be ready.

These freeze well and keep in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large orange kumara
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup of pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup of desiccated coconut (plus extra for dusting)
  • ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 4 – 5 medjool dates (optional)

Method:

  • Peel the kumara and roast in the oven with a little oil at 180c for about 20 minutes or until soft. When cooked, mash the kumara (you’ll need about ¾ cup)
  • Meanwhile, put the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and whizz around until they’re ground really well
  • Then add in the kumara puree, coconut oil, desiccated coconut, vanilla and cinnamon (add in the soaked dates here if you wish)
  • Whizz around again, until well mixed through and a dough mixture should form.
  • Form in to about 12 balls and then roll in the extra desiccated coconut

The Iron Man

BEEF, LIVER & GREENS

Liver is such a great source of iron, which is required for babies 6 months and over. It has quite a strong flavour though, so I only add in a little to ensure it doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish and is still edible. Pair it with some beef (also a good source of iron) and this combo makes a great iron boost.

Liver can be bought at your supermarket, if you can’t find it just ask the guys in the deli section. You can also buy it at your butcher or any specialty food store. No need to cut all the fat off the beef either, a little fat is good for us and keeps little grubs satiated.

I tend to always include a starchy vegetable with my meals, like kumara, potato or pumpkin. This gives the dish more of a smooth and creamy texture to it and is easier to disguise the greens and meats in. Starchy carbohydrates are also part of a balanced meal.

Either mash the vegetables or puree the whole dish for smaller babies who still require a smooth texture.

beef and liver

Ingredients:

  • 450gm beef steak (rump, sirloin, scotch)
  • 2tbsp beef or chicken liver
  • ½ head of broccoli
  • 1 capsicum (yellow, red or orange)
  • 2 large orange kumara
  • 15gm butter
  • water (for desired consistency)

Method:

  • peel and chop the kumara in to 2cm pieces and chop the broccoli florets and capsicum in to small bite-sized pieces
  • steam the kumara for 5 minutes and then add the broccoli and capsicum and steam for a further 10 minutes until all vegetables are soft
  • meanwhile, cut the beef in to 1cm strips and dice the liver
  • add the butter to a frypan and fry the beef and liver until cooked through
  • for small babies, puree the beef and liver together with the vegetables and you’re good to go. Add in some water to reach desired consistency if necessary.
  • otherwise, puree the beef and liver together and then mash in with the vegetables

Introducing Meat

It’s recommended to introduce meat (or vegetarian iron sources, like tofu and lentils) at around 6 months old as this is when babies’ iron level requirements increase a lot more than what can be provided through breast milk or formula. But, I wasn’t sure how to actually introduce the meat. What do I cook it in? How do I feed it to him? I like my steak cooked medium rare, but is that okay for babies? Do I start with chicken or fish or red meat?

We ended up starting to introduce vegetables at around 5 months as we had a hungry little grub. So, when it came to introducing meat we had already established an eating routine and it just meant slipping it in to some of his vegetable combos that we had already tried.

I started with chicken first and then some beef, as chicken is slightly easier to digest than red meats. We didn’t do baby-lead-weaning, so it was a matter of pureeing meat…. What?! The concept of that was a bit weird for me. Perhaps a stupid question, but, how on earth do you do that? I thought about frying the chicken, but that might’ve been a bit dry, so I ended up sort of poaching it in some water instead, until it was cooked through. I then pureed it in with some steamed kumara and spinach. And… he loved it!

With beef, I fried some sirloin steak in some butter and pureed that; I didn’t bother with poaching it. I also fried it in some garlic too which little grub loved. When he got a little more dextrous, I also gave him strips of cooked steak or the “tail” end of lamb loin chops to snack on after his main meal. This was a massive hit!

One trick we tried (with both red meat and chicken) was to chop up some raw meat in to smaller chunks, freeze it in a snap lock bag and then if you’ve got some vegetables all ready to go, you can grate some of the frozen meat in to whatever vegetables you’re cooking. This is an alternative to pureeing cooked meat.

When it came to trying fish, I have a great salmon recipe (here’s the link) for you guys to try; this was the first fish dish he had and it went down very well, in fact he still loves it – make sure you check it out.

salmon kumara 1

For those of you who are vegetarians, you’ll be proud to know I tried a tofu, broccoli and pumpkin puree. I fried the tofu in some olive oil and then pureed it with some roasted broccoli and pumpkin. I’ll be honest; the tofu doesn’t blend to a smooth texture, it stays quite lumpy. But he still ate it with no complaints! If you guys have any tips on serving tofu to little ones, please let me know! Lentils are great; they can be cooked in a few cups of water and then pureed or mashed quite easily with any other vegetables. I have a great lentil curry recipe which I’ll share soon.

So what are my tips for introducing meat?

  • Start with chicken or fish for the first few times and then move to red meats
  • If you’re pureeing food, it’s much easier to puree meat together with a starchy carbohydrate vegetable (like kumara or pumpkin) rather than on its own
  • You can fry the meat in some butter or oil or you can poach it (basically fry in some water) until cooked through
  • If poaching, reserve 1 or 2 tablespoons of the water and include in your puree’s; it’s full of the nutritious juices from the meat
  • Don’t forget to try giving some strips of meat too; they love to gum the meat

Look out for some meat recipes to try over the next few weeks – your little grub will thank you!

 

What to pack…

…IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG

This one’s for my soon-to-be-mama-grubs out there. If you know any, make sure you share this with them! When it came to thinking about hospital bags, I got quite excited. And then I felt a bit overwhelmed – it was all becoming a bit too real. And it was really confronting; it was actually going to happen. This baby was going to come out one way or another! Yip, I’d kinda buried my head in the sand for the past 35 weeks or so; concentrating on the pregnancy and then having a baby afterwards. Can I eat feta cheese or not? What type of cot and pram do we need? I’d missed out a crucial step – actually having a baby.

I’d never thought about the birth and the hospital, and everything that goes along with it, until I really had too. And that was when our antenatal class teacher suggested we get our hospital bags sorted. I picked up some good tips during that class on what to pack, and I’d asked around a few close friends who were seasoned pros at this.

I guess it depends what sort of person you are as to whether or not this applies to those having home-births. If it were me? I would want to have a bag set aside for everything I’d need, even if I was staying at home. I had my grub at a hospital, so what I may suggest in this post will exclude extra towels or whatever else you might need for a home-birth.

First things first. I would suggest having two bags actually. One smaller one that has the most important things in it (we will call this, “labour bag”) and a second bag that’s more of a suitcase (we will call this “hospital bag”). Think of this one as more of a “going away for three days” type suitcase. In most cases, you’ll be staying in either hospital or an after-birth care facility for a few days post-delivery. The main reason for having two bags is that you may need to grab the smaller bag as you rush through the hospital doors fully dilated (yes, this can actually happen even if it’s your first, trust me! But my labour story is for another day…) The second bag can then stay in the car and come up once little grub has arrived.

baby feet in hospital
The best part is meeting your little bundle and marvelling at how tiny their fingers and toes are!

The key thing to think about when packing these bags is what makes you comfortable? Do you have a favourite pair of track-pants you lounge around in on Sundays? Do you live in your dressing gown in the evenings? Do you have a candle you light when taking a bath to relax? If the answer to any of these is yes, then bring these things! One other thing I needed after only one day in the hospital, was a breastfeeding pillow. I didn’t have one yet as I didn’t know how I’d get on with breastfeeding, but honestly this will help your ability to breastfeed more easily in the hospital – their pillows don’t cut it. Oh and… definitely take your OWN pillow!

I’ll share with you exactly what I packed in my bags (even though I didn’t get to use any of my stress balls or lavender oil during labour – I was straight in and grub was straight out!) and I was very comfortable during my stay in hospital. Note, I never made it to Birth Care (you never know how your delivery will go), so don’t rely on your after-birth facility to provide things you’ll need.

Labour Bag:

2 x foam stress balls (from the $2 store) | 1 x face cloth | 1 x hand towel | Lavender essential oil (the idea here was that hubby would run the hand towel under hot water with lavender oil and put that on my back or belly) | Snacks (chocolate, nuts, Cookie Time bumper bars) and a lime flavoured pump bottle (my antenatal teacher suggested a flavoured water as you might not feel like plain water) | Ipod with a small blue-tooth speaker | Sudoku book and pen | Lip balm (your lips will get dry!) | Hair ties | Breast pads and maternity pads | Toothbrush and toothpaste | Postpartum spray (for that sensitive area. This I made myself and is so nice! I used 10 – 12 drops each of calendula and lavender oil and 4 drops of clary sage oil, mixed in with 30ml of water. Keep this in the fridge and chuck it in the bag when you’re leaving) | Togs or a bikini (if you don’t feel like going completely naked in the water, if you have that option) | Underwear including a thick pair of socks (your feet can get really cold) | 1 pair of track-pants | Maternity/breastfeeding bra | A t-shirt | Full bodysuit, a long-sleeved onesie and a cardigan for grub.

Hospital Bag:

Baby book | Many pairs of granny undies (I bought some larger sized ‘bikini’ style underwear from the Warehouse – amazing!) | 3 – 4 maternity bras | 2 x track-pants or loose fitting pants | 4 x Breastmates clip-on-cami’s (honestly, I LIVED in these things for 6 months. They meant I could wear all my normal clothes without buying special breastfeeding tops. You can lift your top up without exposing your belly as you’ve got a singlet!) | 3 lose fitting tops | Dressing gown | Toiletries (body wash, facewash, moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, mascara, foundation and many more pads!) | Slippers or comfortable shoes | 4 full bodysuits for grub, 4 long-sleeved onesies, a beanie, socks, cardigan, 2 x swaddles, a blanket or two for the car and a “going-home” outfit if you have one.

Oh, and one KEY tip is this: don’t take any really cute outfits to the hospital for your little one. Colostrum stains! Big time! If I did it again, I’d take onesies that I didn’t mind if they got ruined.

Do you guys have any other ‘must have’s’? I’d be interested to know!

PS. My bag is a Budu baby bag and I love it. It’ll turn in to a weekend getaway bag when we have the money and time to do that! It was a splash out when I found out I was pregnant (our journey wasn’t easy, perhaps more on that later) and I do not regret it. Go on, treat yourself.

Salmon & Kumara

Salmon is an oily fish and oily fish has omega-3 fatty acids which is great “brain food.” It’s also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. However, it can have quite a discerning taste, I know my husband doesn’t like it, yet I love it. And so does our little grub.

salmon kumara 1

When he started eating meat, at around 6 months, I made a few batches of different combinations he could try (for more on batch cooking and why I’m a fan, click here). This was one of the first fish dishes he had and he really enjoyed it. Salmon can be quite rich so I would start out small and just see how you go; they’ll let you know if they want more!

This is an adaptation of an Annabel Karmel recipe I’ve seen, with the added kumara in it. I find that this gives the dish a lovely creamy texture and provides the carbohydrates; making it quite a balanced meal.

Wherever you can, use the full fat variety of dairy (cheddar cheese, greek yoghurt, blue top milk etc). Often when fat is removed from products, manufacturers add in sugar to compensate for the taste. Breast milk is quite fatty too and there’s a reason why mother nature intended for us to have good fat in our diets. If your grub is allergic to dairy you could poach the salmon in water or coconut milk and use a lactose free cheese or omit the cheese entirely.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium carrots (180gms)
  • 2 tomatoes (peeled)
  • 150 – 200gm fresh salmon steak
  • 40gm cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1 cup blue top milk
  • 2 medium orange kumara (peeled)

 

Method:

  • To peel the tomatoes, soak them in boiling water for about 10 minutes and you’ll see the skin start to crack. If not, this will still make them soft enough to peel.
  • Chop the carrots in to roughly 2cm rounds and steam them for 10 minutes
  • Peel and chop the kumara in to 2cm pieces and add to the carrots. Steam for another 10 minutes until both vegetables are soft
  • Meanwhile, poach the salmon in the milk for 2 minutes, then turn the salmon over and poach for another 2 minutes or until cooked through
  • Melt a little butter in a pan and sauté the chopped tomatoes until soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and mix in the grated cheese
  • Mash the kumara and carrot together, stir in the tomato and cheese mixture
  • Remove the skin from the salmon and any bones and flake in to the kumara and tomato mixture.
  • For younger babies you can puree this all together using a stick blender.

 

Suitable for freezing.