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

Easy Chicken Parmigiana

This is one of my favourite comfort foods and it’s super easy to throw together, making it even more appealing. Traditionally this can be quite unhealthy with a lot of battered, cheesy chicken, but this is a healthier take on it. Although it’s still got to have the cheese!

Arrabiata sauce is easily found at your local supermarket and I highly recommend it for this dish, especially the chilli version. It’s not super spicy at all (little grub eats this dish with no problem and actually really likes it) but adds that extra bit of kick and flavour without the effort.

IMG_2097
This is what you’re looking for!

I served this over a kumara, courgette and pea mash (just steam or boil everything together, starting with the kumara, then add the courgette and peas towards the end) and a few dinner rolls for hubby and I was asked to “definitely make this again.” Grub got this for dinner the next day and literally shovelled it down. That was all the confirmation I needed to put this in the mix of dinner dishes on rotation.

I hope you guys enjoy this!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1kg chicken thighs
  • 400gm crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • 400gm bottle of Barilla Pasta Sauce Arrabiata Chilli
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 25gm softened butter

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat and brown the chicken thighs for a few minutes on both sides
  • Place the arrabiata sauce on the bottom of a deep baking dish and nestle the chicken thighs in the sauce.
  • Rip the basil leaves and sprinkle over the chicken and then cover with the can of crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • Mix the grated cheese and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and chop the butter in to little pieces. Mix the butter in to the breadcrumb and cheese.
  • Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mix over the tomato sauce
  • Bake in the oven for around 25 – 30mins or until the chicken is cooked
IMG_2098
All ready to go in the oven – delish!

Getting Your Greens In

We all know they’re good for us, and we’re supposed to “eat our greens.” But why? Well, they’re full of antioxidants, they’re alkalizing on your body, they’re a great source of iron, they protect against toxins and they’re a source of many vitamins. Seems like there’s a few good reasons!

My parents were never very good at steaming broccoli or beans, they always turned out soggy and overcooked – yuck! Spinach didn’t really feature as all they knew of was a side of “creamed spinach” and that’s for fancy restaurants, right? And brussel sprouts NEVER appeared as mum hated them (her mum probably boiled them to death). All these reasons meant that, apart from peas with my sausage and mash, I didn’t really “take” to anything green. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As I got older, I learned to love them (by not over-cooking them!) and now I try and make sure EVERY meal we have, has something green to go along with it. Even if it’s a few handfuls of spinach thrown in to a soup, and when it came to little grub’s food, I took the same approach. So, here are some ideas as to how to include greens in to the diet… at least up until they start having opinions and “not liking” green food! We can get to that another time.

When they’re little, it’s easy. Puree peas (which are actually quite a sweet vegetable), spinach or broccoli in to any vege or meat combination you’ve got going on. When they’re a little older and eating chunky, mashed food, you can steam some chopped broccoli, courgette and spinach and mash this in to kumara. Add some butter, a squeeze of lemon and you’re good to go! This is what I do now for sausage and ‘mash.’ It’s actually delicious and is super easy.

If we ever have some steamed broccoli left over, I keep it and mash the florets in to some kumara and a scrambled egg which then becomes grubs’ breakfast, lunch or dinner. I include peas in to pasta dishes, or they make great finger food when they’re older. Courgette’s have quite a neutral taste, so you can grate these in to any pasta dishes or meatballs.

And don’t forget that spinach doesn’t have much of a flavour… at all! Include a handful in to smoothies (yip, they can have smoothies whenever you think they’re ready. My boy started at about 9 months), stir some through a curry or a soup. Or you can include some spinach in any savoury muffins you might make. I’ve also got a great finger food/breakfast/snack recipe for Green Eggs – give this one a go, you won’t regret it!

Let me know how you guys get on!

Green egg cups

These are not only great for making your food super colourful, but also super tasty! They’re based on a Chelsea Winter quiche recipe we love at home – it’s on a high rotation when as there aren’t too many vegetarian meals out there we all like.

They’re full of protein, nutrients, greens and good fats with the added coconut cream. See our blog here on why I’d call eggs a ‘superfood.’ These are great for school lunches, baby dinners or snacks on the go. They freeze well, so are perfect to whip up on a Sunday (they take no time at all) and pop in the freezer for those evenings where you come home and have nothing to give your little one as you ate the leftovers for lunch (whoops!) and you haven’t the time to cook anything. Yip, that’s actually happened a number of times.

If you wanted to make these dairy free as well as gluten free (buckwheat flour is gluten free), just omit the cheese. I will say though, that I haven’t made these cheese-less so I’m not 100% sure on the tastiness of them without it.

By whizzing the spinach and the eggs in a nutri-bullet or food processor, you don’t run the risk of these becoming a soggy sloppy mess using wilted spinach. Also means you can introduce these to your grub as soon as dairy is okay as spinach can sometimes be quite stringy for little ones. And it makes these an awesome green colour!

Ingredients:

  • 50gm butter
  • 1 leek (white part only)
  • ½ white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and rosemary)
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 75gm feta cheese

Method:

  • Finely chop the leek and onion and saute with the butter in a frying pan for 10 minutes until soft and translucent
  • Add the garlic and herbs and saute for a further 5 minutes
  • While this is cooking, whizz the eggs, Dijon mustard, spinach and coconut cream in a nutri-bullet or food processor until mixed well and the spinach is broken down
  • Transfer the eggs to a bowl and whisk in the flour and baking powder until there are no lumps. Add the onions and mix well, then add the grated cheese and crumble the feta in.
  • Grease a 12-pan muffin tray and fill each muffin hole up to about 2/3 full.
  • Bake in the oven at 200c for 10 – 15 minutes until cooked through (you can test this by sticking a skewer or knife in and it should come out clean)
  • Leave to cool a little and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Leo’s Lazy Couscous

My friend Nicky is also a fellow first-time mum and we often swap recipes or discuss ideas on what to feed our little grubby boys. This is one of hers that’s been very popular in our house too, she’s kindly let me share it with you.

It’s very simple but the flavour combinations aren’t something you’d instantly think of – and sometimes you need something that’s easy to whip up when you lack inspiration or time or both!

If you have any left-over roasted or steamed vegetables, use them. I often have some mashed kumara in the fridge so I added that to my cous cous and coconut cream. I haven’t really put any ratios in here (apart from the cous cous) as it’s down to you and your tastes. I personally prefer more vegetables over cous cous but some prefer it the other way around. Just mix in some coconut cream and vegetables in to the cous cous and see how you go.

The coconut cream adds a nice sweetness to the dish, so you can use potatoes too – you don’t have to have the sweeter vegetable varieties. It can be quite rich on small tummies so you might want to just use a dash and see how it tastes. Otherwise, this is suitable for babies.

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked cous cous
  • Coconut cream (or milk will do too)
  • Kumara or carrots or both

 

Method:

  • Cook cous cous according to packet instructions
  • Either steam or roast 1 or 2 peeled kumara and some carrots and then mash them up or puree once cooked
  • Mix in the vegetables with the cous cous and add in a little coconut cream. Keep adding the coconut cream until you’re satisfied with the taste. It’s quite full of flavour so rather start out small and slowly increase the quantity here.

 

Prawn and tomato pasta

This is almost a one-pot wonder, that takes about 20 – 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish. It makes a great mid-week dinner for the whole family as you can adapt it for any age and stage (not everyone needs teeth to enjoy this!)

Shellfish is also an allergen, so if you’re looking for a way to introduce this to your little one, then I’d recommend you give this a try. Just bear in mind though that seafood can be an acquired taste, and your grub might not take to it straight off the bat – I know mine didn’t. But after a few goes he decided he did actually like it. Typical.

For those of you still in the first few months and not looking to do baby-led-weaning, you can puree the whole lot, including the pasta. For those of you at the lumpy stage, you could puree the sauce and then stir it through the soft pasta. And then for those who are a little older, but with no teeth, maybe just cut up the prawns a little bit before adding them in to the tomatoes. We were quite late getting teeth in this house (10 months and he only had one!), so we needed to do that.

If you can find crushed and sieved canned tomatoes in the supermarket (I know Woolworths, the Countdown brand, and Watties make this), I would go for these in this dish. I find they make most dishes a bit thicker and not as watery as other canned tomato varieties. If you can’t find it, just use regular crushed tomatoes.

For the adults, I would suggest adding in some chilli flakes or fresh chilli at the end, to offset the creamy sauce and give it that little extra kick – delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 400gm pasta elbows (that very small macaroni shaped pasta)
  • 400gm cooked, de-veined and de-tailed prawns (defrosted)
  • 1tsp dried dill
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 2 x 400gm cans crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • 2 big cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions
  • While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a deep-dish pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Then add the grated courgettes, tomatoes, zest of the lemon and dill and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  • Add in the prawns and if you’re using raw prawns then you want to simmer until they’re white. If you’re using pre-cooked, then simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir through. Squeeze over your lemon juice and you’re good to go!