On Our Dinner Table This Week

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Another week, another meal plan… I have found that this is what works best for me. There is nothing less motivating than getting to 4pm not knowing what we are having for dinner, and trying to throw something together from the scraps in the pantry. Meal planning, for me, is essential to ensure the quality of what we eat. Some sad news this week is the price of avocados!? Someone told me this morning that there is a shortage and that the reason for the price hike… so we are unfortunately taking avos off the menu for the time being. Wah!

I usually find planning about five dinners for the seven day week works well, there are usually leftovers at some point and overflow. I used to plan for seven but would usually only end up making four or five of the dinners so I’ve changed my method to account for this.

This week I’m aiming for something like this:

// breakfasts //

porridge + yoghurt + almond milk + fruit

pancakes + fruit + yoghurt

eggs + veggies (for anyone who will eat them at this time of day… in other words probably only me)

// lunches //

winging it: see note below

// dinners //

salmon + veg

peanut brown rice patties + kale-slaw + salad (recipes from here)

steak + salad

lentil bolognese

something to do with silken tofu as I have some in the freezer (ideas?)

leftovers

// snacks //

bliss balls

chocolate “paddlepops” (also from here)

popcorn

banana bread

// the baby //

The baby is now have quinoa and brown rice (milled some brown rice into rice flour and made my own baby rice cereal). I haven’t bought any other grains yet, maybe some amaranth or millet could be next on the list. She also had a suck on a bone the other day and cried her little heart out when I took it away from her!

brown rice (or other new grain) + zucchini + coconut oil

brown rice (or other new grain) + dried fig stew

chicken stew

steamed veggie/fruit mashes

I should own up here and let you know that my millionth attempt at making my own yoghurt has once again come to a dismal end and I have yet another kilogram of milky liquid to do something with… any suggestions? I am the worst yoghurt maker ever and have not once had success. Where am I going wrong!? Another confession is that this time I actually used one of the automated recipes on my thermomix… WHO FAILS AN AUTOMATED RECIPE!?

This meal planner is also subject to change this week as I’ve borrowed a thousand recipe books from the library (I put books on hold and it’s always my luck that they arrive all at the same time). So I have these recipe books to dive into this week: Simplicious, The Green Kitchen, Plenty, and Leon: Fast Vegetarian.

The other thing that is happening this week… Bird is starting school on Thursday. OMG. School Mum alert. So I’ll be winging it this week with lunches but next week when she’s going four days I may have to plan a bit more seriously.

What are you eating this week?

Over and out. xx

summer food

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I just love it when we pick up our weekly fruit + veggie box from our local food host. A lot of people say they don’t like getting a veg box because they like to be able to choose what vegetables they want to eat. But for me, the thrill of discovering new vegetables, new recipes and the challenge of using everything in my box, along with ensuring that we are eating (mostly) local and seasonal produce makes it worth it.

On my goals list I really should have set out to use everything in my box absolutely every week… that might have to be number 31. Last year my two most troublesome vegetables to get through were kale and bok choy and unfortunately our compost bin saw more of them than they should… here’s to lots of inventive ways to use these veggies this year.

The other thing I love about getting a seasonal vegetable box is just that – it’s seasonal! I’ve been getting one for a few years now and our eating habits have completely changed now that we eat seasonally. It has also taught me a lot about what produce is in season throughout different times of the year where we live.

This week our box has carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, lettuce, kale (ugh), bok choy, spring onions, grapes, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli and zucchini. Before that our fridge was literally devoid of fresh foods so inspiration was running low. I’m not in the swing of things with us all on holidays and keeping organised with food has been hard.

So tonight we had salmon on the bbq with a mashed potato + carrot blend and a salad of kale (ugh), fancy lettuce, grated beetroot and cherry tomatoes. The baby: she had the mash and devoured it. Us adults also had spicy kim chi on our plates.

The rest of the week will look something like this:

 

// breakfasts //

chia seed pudding + coconut cream + fruit

porridge + yoghurt + almond milk + fruit

toast and avo or nut butter

// lunches //

blackbean toasted wraps

salad

eggs + avo

// dinners //

pad thai

zucchini fritters + salad

zen bowls: roast veg, kale, chickpeas, brown rice, yeast flakes, nuts/seeds, tahini dressing

bbq veggie burgers or meat + salad

lentil dahl + quinoa

leftovers

// snacks //

bliss balls

nuts/seeds

boiled eggs

cherry tomatoes

// the baby //

We just introduced Peach’s first grain today (quinoa blended with some butter) so her meals this week will be based around getting to know quinoa combined with some fruit and veg combos she has already had along with one or two new ones (like cantaloupe and zucchini from the box). She has just started having two “meals” per day (though depending what it is she may do more playing than eating!)

mashed potato + carrot blend

baby kitchari

avocado + quinoa

banana

cantaloupe

zucchini + mash

Considering we are all eating quite different things at the moment, I think there should be enough on here to keep us all happy. We’re heading back to the beach for a few days so there will no doubt be the appearance of icecream cones and fish and chips at some point, because: summer, holidays, carefree, etc.

on the eve of food: introducing solids, again

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And just like that, it’s time to once again introduce a human baby to the wonderful world that is food.

I’ve done it before, of course. But a first time mama asked me yesterday how to go about introducing solids and I was a bit perplexed because I actually don’t remember. So time to pull out the resources and refresh my memory.

First things first, like I reiterated when introducing food to the Pixie, as a parent you must, you must, you absolutely must go with what feels right for you. If you’re dead set on giving your baby rice cereal as their first food because that is what feels comfortable for you, then go for it. However if you think that perhaps there may be more to life than rice cereal, please do read on.

Also, to update, Pixie has been a great eater. In my original food post I wondered if Birdie was a fluke, but Pixie has followed suit. Yes, at age three, there are some days that she simply will not eat. She doesn’t like green vegetables. She eats about three breakfasts each morning (not joking) and then slows down as the day progresses and eats like a sparrow at dinner time. Normal stuff. But overall I’d have to say she is maybe even a better eater than Bird was. Go figure.

Anyway. Here are some ideas/books/resources/schools of thought that have worked for me when introducing food (and beyond). This is where I will begin again, the third time around with Peach.

:: Learn about food. Whenever I lose my cooking mojo, particularly when it comes to kid food, the first book I consult is always Wholefood for Children* by Jude Blereau. I love her. Sometimes her recipes contain some ingredients which you may not automatically have on hand so if you’re not into winging it (like me) then you might want to plan your cooking out a little when using this book. This is definitely where I will be starting this time around. For older kids and families I really like It’s All Good* by Gwenyth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. It has great meal planners and a whole section on fun kid food. For you it might be another book or resource. Have a look around* and find what sits right with you, don’t just take the advertiser’s claims of “super food!” and run with it. Do some research of your own.

:: Avocado, bone broths and veggies is where it’s at for us. We’ll be skipping the rice cereal and heading straight for these delicious and wholesome alternatives as Peach’s first foods. Avocado mixed with breastmilk, it’s a baby’s dream, I’m sure of it. I’ll have to do some follow up reading but I’m sure sweet potato was also one of the front runners last time. Here is a little more information if you’re wondering why we would go down this route.

:: Be lead by your baby. Every time I’ve had a baby the recommended age to introduce food has changed. The ‘”rules” are constantly changing. So (within reason) go with what your baby is telling you. Watch them as they begin to stare at the food on your plate and follow it to your mouth. Watch them as they practice chomping and biting on things. Take note as they become interested in food. The signs are there, I promise.

:: No sugar. I slipped up a little on this with poor old Pix. She did have some sugar before she turned two, but it was very limited. Third time lucky: I’ll be sticking to my guns and doing my upmost to decline the sweet poison until Peach is two years old.

:: Natural, whole, actual, real, food. Basic, real food. Every day. Ignore the marketing telling you otherwise. Make real food attractive for kids and involve them in the process. The time you spend now will pay off later when your kid is munching broccoli next to their friend who will only eat refined cheese sticks out of a plastic wrapper. Since Birdie started kinder I have been using these bento boxes* (for kinder/outings) and these plates (for home) for both the older girls and they LOVE them. Kids go crazy for divided food… here is some inspiration.

:: Baby lead + mushed up = mix it up! There is so much advice out there it can be overwhelming. There is no need to stick to one method. I like to try lots of different things, your baby might too. Sometimes if you’re going out it might be easier for you to share some of your meal with your baby (amazing how long a crust of bread can keep them entertained). Other times you might mix some breastmilk through yoghurt or avocado or mashed veggies and feed it to you baby with a spoon. See what works. Each day will be different. Here is some more general advice.

:: They must try it. This one is a tip for toddlers and up, not babies. We don’t force our kids to eat everything on their plates, but they must at the very least try everything. We often hear “I don’t like [insert random food here]” when they have never had it before. The rule is they must taste everything on their plates before they are allowed to say they don’t like something… unfortunately for them they will probably still have to keep trying it in subsequent meals if it is an important food!

:: Following on from that, don’t believe them when they say they don’t like it! One taste often isn’t enough. Birdie never wanted to eat lentil dahl but now she devours it by the bowlful. Taste buds grow and develop too.

:: Take it slowly and relax. The child will eat, eventually.

I could go on and on about this topic, but you really just have to get out there and try it yourself to see what works. In a few weeks time that is exactly what I will be doing. Happy eating!

* if you purchase via my marked affiliate links I will earn a small commission.

feeding a small child: what has worked for me

As we prepare to plunge into introducing food to our second child, the Pixie, I am reminiscing about Birdie’s food journey. I’ve been wondering if there is anything we need to change this time around, which foods first, prepared how and so on.

From her first ever mouthful pictured above to now, nearly 3, I have to say she has been a pretty fantastical eater. She’s good. Yes there are foods she doesn’t like. Yes sometimes she doesn’t want to eat and then complains fifteen minutes later that she’s huunggg-wwwyyy!!! But on the whole, she eats. And she eats well.

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My Mum was amazed at one point at what Birdie was eating compared to another little gal we know of the same age. I don’t have any huge tricks, and no doubt the Pixie will blow all of this out of the water as she tends to do, but here are some of the food guidelines we have stuck to which I think have helped us get to where we are today, and which I will be repeating for Pixie. If you like them, feel free to try a few yourself. If you think they suck that’s ok too! You have to do what works for you. That should be the first food rule. Actually, doing what works for you should be the first and last parenting rule!

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Here goes:

:: No sugar. We didn’t introduce sugar until Birdie was about two years old. She had her first bit of chocolate a month before she was two, at Easter. Please note that this choice is not for everyone. We copped a hell of a lot of flack and sent back a number of baby-cinos (can you believe what turns up on a baby-cino?) but I would not change this for anything. She still rarely has sugar, we save it for special occasions like family celebrations and that is usually it. People gave us a bit of stick and said we were being mean and depriving her so on, but I personally believe we have done her a huge favour. Besides, how can you be deprived of sugar if you don’t know it exists? I could go on and on here, woah Nelly.

:: Persist. They say (don’t you love “them”?) it takes at least three times for a child to try something and decide whether or not they like it. I have found this to be absolutely true. It would take me all week to list the things that Birdie has turned her nose up at, only to finally eat, chew and swallow happily after it has continually landed on her plate. It would be so, so easy to fall into the trap of avoiding putting certain things on her plate because you are pretty certain she won’t eat it. That doesn’t happen here. She gets all the things she doesn’t like over and over and over again and I don’t think there is one thing that she hasn’t eventually tried and even liked. Persist, persist!

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:: Don’t offer a back-up. By this I mean, we don’t give Birdie her meal and then when she doesn’t eat it, give her something else. What she gets is what she gets. She learnt pretty quickly that there wasn’t going to be any chasers.

:: Learn about your child’s eating habits. Birdie is a grazer, as most toddlers and small people are. Kids don’t eat like adults do. If she has a good go at her lunch or dinner and says she’s had enough, I leave her plate there for a bit. Nine times out of ten she will have a play and say she’s hungry again after 15 or 20 minutes. I learnt this one the hard way!

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:: Get the veg in! Following from the tip above, I know that Birdie eats her best and the most in the morning. So we often grate carrot or other veg along with apples or whatever is in season into her porridge. Wallah! She eats it and doesn’t know any better! I also try millions of different ways of serving/cutting/slicing veg and sure enough she might like one of them. Veggie juice is a favourite around here, and frozen veggie juice is an even bigger hit. Bless her, she’s none the wiser.

:: Serve wholesome food. Homemade, homegrown, basic, simple, real. As much as possible.

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:: What’s good for the goose… Once we had introduced all foods into Birdie’s diet, there was no longer a need to present her with a different meal. Ever since her gut and digestive system have been ready, she has eaten whatever we eat. As a result, she eats normal food, not special kiddie food. And I make and prepare one meal only. Of course if we want to eat something really spicy for example, I will take some out for her before I add the spices.

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:: Take your own food. I always pack Birdie morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea when we are going out. This way I don’t have to buy anything, she’s happy and always has something good to eat, and I’m happy watching her eat good things.

:: Give yourself a break. The 80/20 rule people! I don’t beat myself up if I give her packaged food when we are camping, or if I haven’t done a food shop and I need to buy her something when we are out. This doesn’t happen often so when it does, I enjoy the break and she enjoys a treat.

:: Involve your child. Birdie helps with every meal, be it in the preparation or collecting various items for me from around the kitchen. She has also recently begun setting the table, which is now her “job” each meal. When given the choice she will always opt to help in the kitchen instead of play with her toys or read or do anything else. She loves cooking and she loves trying different things while helping out. Just the other week I turned around in the kitchen only to find her chomping on a whole mushroom that was on the chopping board ready to be chopped. It’s a great way for her to experiment and try different foods without one of us thrusting a spoon in her face.

:: Eat as a family and lead by example! As often as we can we all sit down together for mealtimes. If Birdie is having trouble eating something or doesn’t like the look of something, we try it all together from our own plates. Without making a fuss, just seeing us eating all our veg and enjoying our food is helping her develop a positive relationship with food.

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There are probably many other things that have become habits for us over our kid-feeding path that I can’t think of right now. Instead I will share with you some of the resources that I have found invaluable when trying to get my head around everything from introducing food to feeding a small person to transporting food to packaging and so on:

BOOKS

:: Wholefood for Children, by Jude Blereau.

Recipes from introducing food to age 7. And so much food information. Sometimes I don’t have all the ingredients on hand but this book has been by far my most used resource on this topic. I totally love it.

:: Well Adjusted Babies, by Dr Jennifer Bargam-Floreani.

Information about which foods to introduce and when and why.

:: Baby Love, by Robin Barker.

Information about which foods to introduce and when and why as well as some basic recipes.

WEBSITES

:: This Whole Family

Great kid friendly recipes.

:: Little Eco Footprints

Lots of information about packaging, food and snack ideas and as the title suggests, decreasing our eco footprints in the process.

Enjoy!

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