OK, so it wasn't much of a sacrifice - just an afternoon of hard work - but it made for a good title, so I went with it!
I don't know if you other moms out there are like me or not, but I always seem to have trouble knowing what to feed my Certain Little Someone, who is not quite an infant anymore, but not quite a toddler yet (although we're getting there!). I struggle with this very basic issue for several reasons
*his preferences (wow, he's picky already)
*and my own desire to feed him food that is healthy.
What typically happens is that he's ready to eat and is telling me in no uncertain terms, and I'm scrambling around the kitchen trying to figure out what in the world to feed the kid.
I think I have hit upon a solution! You've probably heard of Once a Month Cooking. Well, I decided to try Once a Week (or two) Cooking. I bought all the fresh produce and other ingredients I would need, found a few recipes of food I wanted him to try ( Wholesome Baby Food is a great website!), and then spent the entire afternoon whipping it all up and storing it in the freezer. Now all I have to do is pull his lunch or dinner (I even made muffins for breakfast!) from the freezer, defrost it and his meal is served. The last time I did it, I made enough to last almost two weeks. I think today I definitely made enough for two weeks, and then some. My plan is to do a little bit every week to keep my supply going, and to generate variety in his diet.
How is this QUICK? Although it seemed like a really long time because of all that I accomplished, it actually only took me about 3 and a half hours to do all this work. Now, 3 and a half hours is a big chunk of time, but when you spread it over 2 or 3 weeks... all of a sudden, it seems like a great exchange!
It makes my life EASY. See, I have this dilemma. I try to feed him more or less on a schedule every day. But if I try to prepare his food ahead of time, he sees what I'm doing (he's no dummy!) and starts following me around, grabbing my legs, fussing and crying and generally insisting that he must eat NOW. But if I wait until he's actually hungry, that scenario is just magnified. It's a lot easier if the food is just prepared and all I have to do is pop it in the microwave a few seconds (or take it out early if I'm REALLY prepared).
This method is CHEAP, because I do not resort to jarred or pre-packaged foods, which I tend to do on occasion. At any rate, he's getting old for jarred food, but I still have to bring his food with me wherever we go because of his allergies. So this is a cheaper way for me to provide his food wherever we are.
And it's HEALTHY. It's mostly vegetables with some grains and a little meat thrown in. And, of course, some fat, which is healthy for all of us , but especially for baby. Nothing processed here, which is great for his growing little body.
So here's what I made
1. Kidney Beans
I did the quick-soak method (you know me, quick and easy!) in which you bring the beans to a boil, boil them for 2 minutes, then let them soak for an hour or so. After that, I boiled them in part chicken stock, part water. You would not believe how much my Certain Little Someone LOVES beans. They're a great finger food for him and not too messy.
2. Shredded Chicken
My Certain Little Someone has this little irritating problem that he doesn't like to chew food unless it's food he loves. So, although he likes pureed chicken in just about anything (applesauce, pumpkin, squash, rice, you name it), he strongly dislikes chewing pieces of chicken. So I am slowly trying to ease him out of that by pureeing it less and less. My food processor has a "shred" button, which works nicely for that purpose. My next step will be to dice it in small pieces.
3. Butternut Squash Puree
He has definitely grown out of the need for pureed food, but the fact is that even we as adults eat pureed foods! They are useful in making a variety of dishes like casseroles and soups and even baked goods. I like to keep some simple purees of single ingredients on hand to mix with chicken or rice for a quick meal.
4. Chicken Rice "Casserole"
I combined some of the pureed squash, the shredded chicken, rice and applesauce to create this baby casserole. I added just a touch of garlic powder, black pepper and thyme just to get him used to some different flavors.
5. Orange Muffins
The recipe on the back of Bob's Red Mill White Rice Flour is a lifesaver! It mixes up easily and bakes up nicely, which is rare for allergen-free baked goods. Also it's flexible so you can make it however you want. I'm sure you could substitute regular flour for the rice flour, but I've never tried it.
Sue's Rice Muffins
1 egg (I used egg replacer)
1/2 cup liquid (I used orange juice)
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP Canola oil (I used coconut oil)
1 cup white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix in 1 quart measuring pitcher until well mixed. Bake in greased 6 cup muffin tin (I used a mini-muffin tin) at 425 for 17-20 minutes.
The recipe also calls for 2 TBSP of chopped nuts or carob/chocolate chips, or 1/4 cup raisins, chopped dates or blueberries. I typically throw in some kind of fruit, although I did not this time.
6. Irish Griddle Cakes
The original recipe is from by Carol Fenster. This is how I make it
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch (You can use 3/4 cup of regular flour in place of these)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (not necessary if you use regular flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP coconut oil (or any oil)
1 TBSP milk of any kind (I actually used coconut milk kefir because that's the only allergen-safe milk-type product I had on hand)
oil for frying
Use a food processor to mix all ingredients (except the oil for frying, of course) until thoroughly blended. Roll the dough out (it's useful to use sheets of wax paper because it tends to be somewhat sticky) into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Cut the circle into wedges. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium high and add oil. Fry the griddle cakes for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.
My Certain Little Someone really enjoyed this until he got to the last little bit, then he threw it over the side of the high chair and said, "Done!"
7. Sweet Potato Fries
Wow, he LOVES these! I just peel and cut a sweet potato into fry-shaped pieces and mix them with some olive oil and whatever herbs or spices I feel like using at the time. (Sweet potatoes work well with either sweet or savory spices; they're very flexible.) Then I spread them in one layer on a baking sheet and cook them at 400, turning them over after about 10 minutes or so. Most recipes I've read say to cook them for half an hour or more, but mine burn long before that. I've learned that about 20 minutes is all I need.
(Sorry about the really bad pic! Not sure what happened there!)
8. Sweet Potato Pancakes
Scroll down the page on the link above to find the recipe for this sweet little treat which my Certain Little Someone simply adores. He gobbles these things up in no time flat. I make it with egg replacer, rice flour, dairy-free margarine and non-dairy milk, and they turn out great, in case you also cook for a food-allergic child. These are probably pretty tasty for adults, too, but I'm not a huge fan of sweet potatoes myself.
9. Sweet Potato Puree
Sweet potato puree is so simple: all you have to do is wash the sweet potato and put it in a 400 oven for 30-60 minutes (depending on the size). Slice it down the middle and peel off the skin, and there's your sweet potato puree! Great for babies, but also for cooking any kind of recipe with sweet potato puree in it (like sweet potato pie, which is just disgusting, but some people love it!).
10. Mashed Potatoes ... with Peas!
I have tried feeding my Certain Little Someone pureed peas with... amusing... results. The faces he makes! BUT if I "hide" the peas in mashed potatoes, he gobbles them up like they're chocolate chips (except he doesn't know yet how wonderful chocolate chips are...). I make mashed potatoes allergen-free simply by using dairy-free margarine and non-dairy milk. Simple!
Whew! It was quite the workout and I was hot and sweaty by the time I was done. But now I have a whole slew of food in my freezer (packaged in individual servings, by the way) that I can pull out as needed! Now I can go relax...
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