An Adventurous Palate

I always knew I wanted to ensure my little grub had a range of flavours and textures when he was exploring the world of food in those early months. Especially seeing as I wanted him to be eating what we eat as soon as possible (less cooking for me in the long run!).

But navigating your way through the notion of “broadening his tastes” is quite difficult at times – is it okay to give my baby coconut? When? When can he have seafood? And when he does, how do I give it to him? For example, I read a chart that suggested oysters and shellfish are okay to give a baby at 8 months, but how on earth was I supposed to give him these things? I couldn’t just throw down an oyster and say, “go for your life mate.”

Salmon isn’t exactly bland and I love it, hot or cold-smoked or thrown on the bbq. Whichever way it’s cooked, salmon goes well with cream cheese (especially on pizza!) so I thought; why not? This turned out to be a huge breakfast winner. It’s by no means an original recipe but thought I would share this as an idea and to show that they can start to have some interesting flavours and more of what you’re eating, from a relatively early age. My grub had this at about 7.5 months old.

Simply spread about 1 tbsp of cream cheese on a piece of toast and layer a few slices of cold smoked salmon (or equivalent amount of hot smoked, no flavour) and either cut in to strips for finger food or bite-sized pieces to pop in to his mouth.

Introducing Allergens

I’m talking nuts (peanuts in particular), eggs, fish and dairy. And it’s tricky for those of us who haven’t been there and done that. I read two conflicting pieces of advice; one was to introduce allergens as early as possible and the other was to wait until much later. How confusing, right?!

I am slightly lactose intolerant, but other than that there are no allergies between my husband and I, nor in our families. But, it still felt like a big decision when it came to introducing these to our little grub. I didn’t get quite as far as sitting outside the hospital with a jar of peanut butter in hand, but I took some precautions.

I chose a suitable time of day; mid-morning. This meant we weren’t trying to rush out the door and if worse came to worst, we could head straight to the doctors as they’d be open. It also meant I could watch him for a few hours after having given it to him, rather than at dinner and then he’s off to bed an hour later. Just in case any rashes turned up.

If you can, I would also suggest having someone else there too – I wish I had! Even though little grub and I hung out together a lot in that first year (I was lucky enough to be able to take almost a year off), it was still pretty scary thinking the worst and potentially having to deal with that alone.

peanut butter

Rightly or wrongly, I chose to introduce allergens earlier rather than later. So, at around 6 months I started with peanut butter, fish and eggs. Dairy is also an allergen, but I had been supplementing with formula (hungry little boy!) since he was about 4 months old and knew he was okay with lactose. I introduced these in isolation or with something that he had already eaten that I knew he was okay with.

Luckily, we had no adverse reactions to any of these, and it’s such a relief to know this now. It’s allowed us to get more adventurous with his food earlier on and I don’t have to worry when we go anywhere and he picks up some other kids’ sandwich!

If I was asked what I thought? These would be my top tips:

  • Be brave and try it sooner rather than later (if no known allergies in your family), the known you can deal with. It’s the unknown that leaves you feeling vulnerable.
  • Introduce just a little, in isolation.
  • Any-time of day before mid-afternoon so you’ve got time to get to the doctors if need be.
  • If you can, have someone else there with you for moral support 🙂
  • If you’re really concerned, I would phone up my doctors and ask to sit in their waiting room whilst trying the food.

I’ve got some ideas on how to introduce these allergens to your little grub coming up over the following weeks so stay tuned!

 

Save time using batch cooking in bulk

Enhancing the Flavours

Today’s post is short and sweet, but it’s a great little trick to have up your sleeve! When I first started pureeing and mashing vegetables, I always steamed them. It was something I’d been told to do, it keeps the nutrients of the vegetables in, more than boiling does, and it was relatively easy to do.

However, I found that if I roasted the likes of pumpkin, capsicum, butternut, kumara or potato, they would come out so much sweeter and full of flavour! Great for little bubs who are used to sweet formula or breastmilk.

Batch cooking saves you time

The trick is to not let them roast enough in the oven that they get crispy. My tried and true way of baking the vegetables is to put them on an oven tray with a dash of olive oil and about 100mls of water. Weird I know! But it ensures that the vegetables stay nice and soft. Then bake at around 200 degrees until a knife easily pierces through the vegetables. Normally this is about 30 minutes. Up to you whether you peel the vegetables or not.

Then you’re free to either puree or mash, depending on the consistency you’re after. I find that this makes a great base to add anything else too or to just serve as is, hence why we always have some of this in our fridge at home.

Baby food, puree'd prunes

Blocked up?

When starting solids, little tummies can sometimes get a bit blocked up. Why not try this? A great morning tea or dessert idea and it’s got the added bonus of calcium and protein with the greek yoghurt!

Soak 2-3 prunes in boiling water for around 10 minutes, drain the liquid and mash well with a fork, then add 3-4 tablespoons of plain greek yoghurt. If you’ve got a smaller bub, just blitz the prunes with a stick blender to make a smooth puree.

 

Making the most of your time

BATCH COOKING

I’m a working mum of one little grub, this blog and website is a passion of mine. I’m also a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. And somewhere in there I’m supposed to find time for myself and the gym….ha! Like you, there’s a lot going on in my life, but I didn’t want that to compromise what we eat, especially when it came to the little man.

It’s funny isn’t it? How we sacrifice so much of ourselves for these little people – how are you able to demand so much of me when you’re so small?! Don’t mind me, I’ll just eat my store-bought muesli bar for lunch while you have roasted kumara and butternut with lamb, rosemary and green beans…hmm….

I am a huge fan of cooking up a big batch of something and either having left-overs the next night or freezing it for next time. This has been a lifesaver for me and honestly? Doesn’t require hours in the kitchen every week; especially when they’re small.

Kmart was my friend when starting out, they have great silicone freezer trays with lids that are really well priced. I also bought a few silicone trays off Trademe and Sistema do ice cube trays with lids too. I’ve got a mix!

Save time by cooking and freezing in advance

Adding in a few extra veges to your weekly supermarket shop and you’re good to go. My little grub is asleep by 7pm so I’d either pick a night where I wasn’t cooking for us (left-overs to the rescue!) or I’d spend a few hours on the weekend in the kitchen. When they’re little that’s all you need to whip up a few vege combos and bang them in the freezer. As we’ve gotten older, we’re freezing things like spaghetti and home-made burger patties, but to start with it was more of the puree or lumpy variety.

My tip? When your food is frozen, empty the trays in to labelled and dated snap-lock bags – that way the food takes up much less room in your freezer and you have your trays back to use for the next batch!

If you missed it, here’s the link to some of our favourite veggie combos that are all freezer-friendly.