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

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The photo may not look perfect, but trust me, your taste buds will LOVE this one!

This is an adaptation of mum’s recipe and reminds me of winters growing up. It’s the ultimate comfort food and has been a winner with little grub from when he was about 10 months old (remember, we did grain-free for the first wee while, otherwise I probably would have given it to him a little earlier!).

This recipe has a little twist in it with the bacon and the peas are in there to make us feel good about this deliciously creamy dish. If yours don’t like peas, you could stir through some baby spinach at the end or grate in some courgette; it wouldn’t change the flavour much at all. For a plain and simple version, you can leave out the peas and bacon, it’ll still be a hearty meal. The Dijon mustard is a must; my husband doesn’t like it but can’t even tell it’s in here! Somehow, this just doesn’t taste the same without it.

This can be served straight away or you can freeze it; both before or after you’ve baked it, it’s up to you. I’ve also put this in little ramekins and frozen them so that I have some meals ready and waiting on those nights we decide to have cheese on toast for dinner. You could make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon, it’s not a ‘must.’

This is also a great one for those mama’s-to-be who might be prepping some meals for those first few days at home. You’ll need all the carbs and cheese you can get! Did you know that cheese is referred to as “dairy crack”? Read about that here. No wonder I can’t get enough…. And I don’t think you’ll ever have enough of this either!

Tip: once the pasta is cooked and you’re waiting to add it in, glug some olive oil over it and stir it through. This’ll stop it from sticking too much while it’s cooling down.

Ingredients:

  • 200gm macaroni elbows
  • 125gm bacon
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups of full fat milk
  • 2 cups of grated cheese

Method:

  • Firstly, cook the peas and pasta in separate pots of boiling water until soft, set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in a pan until crispy or cooked to your liking, set aside and break into bite-sized pieces when cool.
  • Rinse out the frying pan, then melt the butter and sauté the onion until opaque and soft.
  • Add the mustard and then the flour, continuing to stir
  • Whilst stirring, add the milk until there are no lumps. Simmer over low heat, continuing to stir, until the sauce thickens.
  • Add ½ the cheese and then the cooked peas, bacon pieces and macaroni pasta
  • Place in a greased oven-proof dish and cover with the remaining cheese
  • Bake at 190c for 20minutes or until bubbling and golden

Teething

Something you can’t avoid as a parent with kids. Teething. Teething. And…. More teething!

My little grub didn’t get his first tooth until he was 9 months old, but from about 3 months old he was a dribbly baby. And I’m talking 3-bibs-a-day dribbly. Ugh. Everywhere we went I was told he “must be teething.” From friends, nurses, doctors, strangers, family…. Everyone had an opinion! And for months we waited. Every time he was niggly or cried a lot for no reason, out came the Weleda teething powder (this stuff is great by the way) or bonjela gel. I was always sticking a finger in his mouth to see if I could feel anything. The poor kid. And yet, we continued to wait.

We had a pretty good routine and in fact his sleep was never disrupted when his first tooth finally did cut. Phew! Did you know that teething often gets blamed for disturbing sleep, but in fact it has no reason too? Read all about it here. But, we did notice that for about a week, he went off his food, he got some nappy rash and he was generally a bit of a nuisance when he was awake. Typical male, a week of fussiness, being clingy and off his food for 7 days for one tooth!

It was worrying when he was refusing to eat, and sometimes he refused his bottle too. But we found that greek yoghurt worked well, cucumber sticks, rusks (here’s my recipe) and serving his food cold, helped. We also put rubber teething rings in the freezer and gave him some ice cubes to suck on (I would hold it for him and he would ‘gum’ the ice cube). I made some yoghurt and berry icicles that he liked too (I’ll share the recipe soon). In the middle of the summer we just had, I was also concerned about dehydration. To avoid this, I made him some smoothies for breakfast with water as the base instead of milk (try it, you can’t even tell the difference) as well as putting ice in his sippy cup to cool the water down.

When it came to nappy rash, there were a few days where it was so sore he had to have pamol. I’ve got a great blog coming out soon on some remedies for skin irritations including nappy rash, but in the mean time I thought I’d share with you that both Sudocrem and Calendula cream worked wonders for us. Layer the Sudocrem on thick, about 4 times a day and alternate with the calendula cream and after a few days it should start to heal. Little grub had a few stomach bugs so I couldn’t pin down the diarrhoea directly to teething, but I do know that this is common, so you might notice this as well.

Then there’s the brushing. We started before he even had teeth as I’d asked my doctor about fluoride and he suggested we could start at about 7 months. When I was little in South Africa, we used to get fluoride tablets and I don’t have a filling in my head! I’m convinced it’s down to those little white tablets, but that remains to be proven. Anyway, my doctor and my dentist assured me that being in Auckland on town supply and by brushing his teeth, he’ll be getting enough fluoride. We didn’t use kids toothpaste as both the dentist and my doctor’s nurse said we could just use a little of ours and to avoid the toothpaste that says ‘for milk teeth’ as it hasn’t got enough fluoride in it. Apparently if you can brush for about 20 seconds you’re in the money – I don’t think we’ve made that yet! But we keep trying – it’s really tough to actually brush; all he wants to do is bite it and suck on the toothbrush. My dentist did reassure me though that he hasn’t met anyone yet who can brush their baby’s teeth for 20 seconds, so not to worry.

So, what are my top tips?

  • Grab some Weleda teething powder. It’s all homeopathic ingredients, with a good dose of chamomile in it. You won’t be doing any harm giving your grub this even if they’re not teething! At the very least, it’ll calm them down 🙂
  • Don’t worry if they’re off their food, sometimes we as adults just don’t feel like eating if we are sick. Offer yoghurt and try not heating their food, it might help. Anything that’s cool on their gums. At the end of the day if they’re not hungry, they’re not hungry.
  • Distract them. Play, take them outside, take them anywhere really. Anything to get them focusing on something other than the pain
  • Nurofen for kids. This is much better for relieving teething pain than Pamol.
  • And don’t forget to brush!

Rusk or muesli bar anyone?

…we’re not sure if these are rusks or muesli bars, but either way they’re delicious!

I’m a fan of making my own when I can, and I’ve been looking at a few recipes for some on-the-go snacks. I came across some rusk recipes that are obviously also great for teething, not just snacking, but I never found one that was quite flavoursome enough for us. Grub never seemed to like them anyway. So I thought I would experiment and I ended up with something that’s in between a rusk and a muesli bar – so great for all ages and stages!

These are great for on the go as they can sit in your hand bag in a snap-lock for a few days – they’ve certainly saved us from those moments where we don’t quite make it in between meals and it’s almost melt-down stage. I also found that these were great for when he needed to have something in his hands to keep him occupied while I fed him!

I’ve got two options here, one uses prunes and cardamom and the other uses some dates and cinnamon. In both instances, you can use either quinoa flakes or rolled oats as the base. You could also add in 1 tbsp of cacao powder for that extra bit of “chocolatey” goodness. However, I wouldn’t recommend that for younger babies if you’re trying to steer clear of sweet things – the banana and dates or prunes are enough!

Whichever ingredients you choose, they will both harden once cooled, so if you like a gooey centre, cook them a little less than the time recommended below. These can also be made ahead of time and frozen.

PRUNES AND CARDAMOM

  • 2 cups of quinoa flakes or rolled oats
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 12 prunes, soaked in boiling water for 10 mins
  • ¼ tsp cardamom spice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

DATES, CINNAMON & VANILLA

  • 2 cups of quinoa flakes or rolled oats
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 12 dates, soaked in boiling water for 10 mins
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  • Put the quinoa flakes or oats in to a food processor and whizz around until a finer flour forms
  • Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until the mixture forms in to more of a dough
  • The dough should be quite tacky and easily formed in to balls. If it’s too sticky, add a little flour (any kind) and if it’s too dry then add a bit more coconut oil
  • Divide the dough into 12 dough balls and then using your hands, flatten down and shape into an oblong with rounded edges – they should be about 10cms long, or long enough for your bub to hold them.
  • Place evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure they aren’t touching.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees and then turn over and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes until they’re quite golden
  • Allow to cool completely before either storing in an airtight container in the fridge or freezing

Sardines on toast

Before you judge me or click away… hear me out! I’d read somewhere that sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and they’re a natural source of vitamin D. I also find it rather difficult to come up with dishes I can give my 8-month-old that include fish. In fact, I find it difficult in general to make fish interesting to eat at home, so we end up not having it very often!

Trying to get omega-3’s in to little bodies was difficult for me. So I wondered how I might make this a bit easier for myself and came up with this very nutritious spread. And… he LOVES it. If you can get past the smell, please do me a favour and try this. I end up having it for breakfast on the days he does! My husband thinks I’m mad but I don’t take too much notice 😉

I started giving this to my little grub at about 8 months old. He didn’t have any teeth at that point so I just used a soft bread and didn’t toast it too much. I cut it into squares and popped it in to his mouth to make it a little easier for me at the end (a.k.a. very little clean up!). If you’re looking for a good grain-free bread to use, here’s a recipe.

This recipe will make up about two pieces of toasts’ worth of spread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of bread
  • 2 – 3 sardines (from a can)
  • 2 tbsp of cream cheese
  • Pinch of paprika

Method:

  • Toast the bread.
  • Remove sardines from the can, slice each sardine open down the middle and remove the bone (this must be the spine)
  • Add the cream cheese to the sardines and mash together with a fork. Sprinkle some paprika and mix again.
  • When the toast is ready, slather this nutritious spread on top and you’re good to go!

Grain-free Bread

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella. She’s a British girl and her website is loaded with yummy vegetarian dishes and refined-sugar-free snacks. This bread recipe is one of the only ones I’ve tried which consistently gives me good results and I’ve been using it for years.

I’ve slightly modified it so that it’s got no whole seeds in it that could present a choking hazard for little ones.

The psyllium husk powder and chia seeds can be found at any supermarket in either the baking or the ‘organics’ section.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 and ½ cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour (if just wanting a gluten free option)
  • 1 cup of almonds
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of psyllium husk powder
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed dried herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Place the almonds and both seeds in the food processor and blend for a couple of minutes until a smooth flour forms
  • Transfer this flour in to a bowl and stir in the buckwheat flour, chia seeds, psyllium husks, dried herbs and salt.
  • Stir the mix well before gradually pouring in the water
  • You’ll then need to let the mixture sit for an hour or so to let it fully absorb all the water and firm up. During this time, you can heat the oven to 180c.
  • Once the mix is nice and firm (like, really firm, it can’t be a tiny bit runny – if it is then add a bit more psyllium), grease a loaf tin, pour the mix in and firmly press it down with a spoon.
  • Bake for about forty minutes to an hour until the top begins to brown and you can pull a knife out of the middle without any mix sticking to it
  • Slice and then freeze or keep in the fridge to make it last longer. There are no preservatives so if it’s not frozen or in the fridge it won’t last more than a few days.
grain fre bread 3
Ready to go in the oven!