My Baby the Food Snob

Since pregnancy, I’ve been all aboard the baby-led weaning train. I felt certain that when Baby J turned six months old, he would open wide and at least humor his well-intentioned mama by trying my recipes. For those of you who aren’t familiar with baby-led weaning, or BLW for those of us in the know (wink wink), it is essentially a way of weaning your little one by skipping right over purees in favor of “real” food. Whatever you eat, the bambino eats. No steaming, no mashing, no mushing. The thought of bypassing a seemingly tedious process appealed to this mama greatly. These days, I’ll try just about anything to simplify my life.

Much to my dismay, Baby J wanted nothing to do with pesto pasta or quinoa cakes- Shocking, I know–  and on top of that, the pediatrician pooh-poohed BWL entirely when I mentioned the idea at Jack’s six month check-up (and I’d like to think of her as a fairly progressive doctor). Since then, I have come to terms with the fact that Jack and I will not be bonding over bowls of exotic cuisine anytime soon.

With a new found resolve, I loaded Baby J up into the car after his well-baby exam and hightailed it to the nearest HEB (grocery store for all of you non-Texas folk). I filled the cart with every pre-packaged puree and cereal I could get my hands on, as well as a fresh avocado and banana, too. And what do you know, my sweet little booger bear turned his dang nose up at every. single. spoonful.

Grr. 

So tonight I have decided that I will start at square one (again). Awhile back, my mom bought a book for me about baby food and feeding. Naturally, I shoved the book to the very back of the black hole I like to call a cookbook cabinet. What use would I have for a baby food book? My baby would be eating real food, thank you very much…

Until he didn’t. 

After managing to locate said cookbook, which was no easy feat in itself, I spent the better half of last night skimming and scanning the pages (when I wasn’t watching True Detective, of course. Holy crap that show is intense!). I soon realized that in the future, I should probably do my due diligence before diving headfirst into something I know absolutely nothing about- Especially when it relates to the health of darling Baby Jack.

Tonight, First Fruit Puree is on the menu for J. I’ll be having more frozen dinners, as I actually managed to stick to my “diet” plan last week (yay me!), and would like to keep it up awhile longer if at all possible. I can’t find the time to cook for myself, but I will make the time to whip up some mush for my little love muffin. Here is the recipe I plan to follow:

ingredients

2 medium sweet eating apples, peeled and cored

3 tbsp boiled water or pure apple juice

instructions

  • Chop your fruit into small, even sized pieces. Put these pieces into a heavy-based saucepan with the water or apple juice. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the fruit is tender.
  • Blend the fruit to a smooth puree using a hand blender. Add a little boiled water, apple juice, or water from the steamer to thin the puree.
  • Spoon a little puree into your baby’s bowl and serve lukewarm. Pour the remainder into an ice-cube tray and freeze.

*Annabelle Karmel’s Feeding Your Baby and Toddler

Here’s hoping that Jack will in fact humor is well-intentioned mama the second (okay, third) time around. Stay tuned for pictures!

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Off the Wagon

I have a confession to make… I’m tired of cooking.

I’m tired of peeling. I’m tired of chopping. And I am so damn tired of doing the dishes.

Remember all of those healthy recipes I posted last week? I made two of them. That’s right. Two. And then I fell off of the healthy wagon and landed smack-dab in the middle of a large cheese pizza.

I had every intention of preparing dinner each night last week. I even managed to conquer the grocery store with Baby J, checking each and every ingredient off of my list as I optimistically tossed them into my cart. But as the week wore on, my motivation waned. Who wants to waste time washing dishes when they could be hanging with their sweet baby boy? Certainly not me. Maybe if I wasn’t working full-time it would be a different story, but probably not. What’s a girl to do?

Cue Mimi (Jack’s grandma).

Yesterday, my mom stopped by the house to drop off “some things,” which turned out to be a homemade meal and some of my favorite oatmeal muffins. Living in the same city as your parents definitely has its perks.

Instead of chips & salsa, a bagel, or whatever else we could scrounge up around the house, we were treated to one of my all time favorite dinners, King Ranch Casserole. This is the meal I would beg my mom to cook on special occasions. Every birthday. Every holiday. Every guy I have ever brought home to meet my parents. It’s always King Ranch Casserole. I can’t imagine a more perfect meal for a cold, wintry night.

It’s not a healthy meal per se (at all), but it’s delicious none the less. My mom always makes me a special vegetarian version using tempeh instead of chicken, but I am posting the recipe as written for all of my carnivorous friends. Make it tonight. Eat it in your pjs. You can thank me later.

I will be polishing off our leftovers today, as I am home from school again due to the icy road conditions. If you read my previous post regarding the “Snowpacolypse 2014,” you know what this means for me… A whole lot of eating and a whole lot of online shopping.

 

King Ranch Casserole

kingranch

*photo courtesy of Southern Living

ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 4 oz can chopped green chilis

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp tabasco

3/4c-1c chicken broth

4 cups Fritos or Tortilla chips, crushed

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese

instructions

Combine soups, green chilis, spices, Tabasco sauce, and broth. Cover bottom of 2-1/2 or 3 qt casserole with 2 cups of crushed chips. Then add 1/2 of the chicken, 1/2 sauce, and 1/2 cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot. Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.

***

I really, really love eating this casserole with some buttery french bread (as if the 4 cups of crushed chips aren’t enough carbs).

Baby Fat

No, I am not referring to J’s adorable rolls and chunky little thighs that are just so dang cute, but my Baby Fat, or leftover chub thanks to my sweet little bundle of joy.

I *shouldn’t* care about the extra ten pounds I’m lugging around, but I do… At least a little bit. Yes, I am aware that my body created a miracle and I have a healthy baby boy. Shouldn’t that be enough?

If you want to know what a woman feels like six days, six weeks, or even six months in my case postpartum, try this little experiment. Replace all of the clothes in your closet with identical pieces that are two sizes too small. Then, make room for at least fifteen items that are too long, too loose, and sort of reminiscent of a muumuu. Now you know how we feel.

Defeated.

Depressed.

Fat.

And no, that does not make us selfish mothers. I thank my lucky stars every night and every morning for my baby boy. And then I attempt to get dressed and curse the pregnancy gods for my post-baby belly.

Love my baby. Hate my belly.

Love my baby. HATE my belly.

In all honesty, I am being a little hard on myself… It’s not that bad. But aren’t we all our own worst critics?

I am determined to lose at least five more pounds before throwing in the towel, which would put me five pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight… Before getting pregnant, I could lose five pounds in a weekend. Things aren’t quite so easy anymore. In addition to eating healthy vegetarian meals, I am ready to bring out the big guns. These are all of the tricks that have worked for me in the past, and a few new ones that I am ready to try.

1. Water. Lots and lots of water. 

Drinking water all day long has always helped me maintain my weight with minimal effort. When you’re dehydrated, your body experiences the same symptoms it experiences when you are overly hungry- sleepiness & low energy. When you feel hungry, you might actually just be thirsty. Grab a glass of water and give it ten minutes before reaching for a snack. Also, drinking six cups of cold water a day can raise your resting metabolism by about 50 calories a day.

2. Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

I eat beans in almost everything I eat. My absolute favorite are garbanzo beans, but I also love black beans and pinto beans. Because I am a vegetarian, the majority of my protein intake comes from beans. Beans are full of fiber, which not only keeps us fuller longer, but also moves fat through our digestive system faster so that less of it is absorbed.

3. Fish oil

It is believed that omega 3 oil improves the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise and helps to stimulate enzymes which transport fat to where it can be used up for energy. Now if I could only get around to the whole exercise thing…

4. Whole-wheat everything

Whole-wheat is not only chock full of fiber (see #2 above), but high in complex carbohydrates, low in saturated fat, a source of protein, and a storehouse of nutrients, as well.  According to Discovery Health, it is a “microcosm of what your diet should be.” I actually prefer the taste of whole wheat pasta and bread to their refined counterparts.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a regulatory effect on blood sugar levels and simultaneously increases insulin levels in the body. It helps prevent increased storage of fat and enables you to lose weight. In addition, cinnamon delays the passing of food from the stomach into the intestine. Hence, you feel satisfied for a longer time and eat less. Lastly, cinnamon helps the body to process carbohydrates more efficiently and this assists you in losing a few pounds. Studies show that abdominal fat is more sensitive to the effects of cinnamon than fat from other parts of the body.

-www.fitday.com

*I will take a 1,000mg supplement of cinnamon per day.

6. Green tea

Researchers say that substances found in green tea known as catechins may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.

7. Three square meals

Some people do best with six small meals a day, but I lose weight and maintain my weight more successfully with three meals a day. I don’t measure food or count calories. I simple eat until I’m full. Click here to learn why two meals a day may be better for weight loss than grazing.

8. Super foods

There are many foods identified as “super foods” for one reason or another. The following list of foods is beneficial not only for your health, but weight loss in particular. You can find the full lowdown here.

  • wild salmon
  • apples
  • quinoa
  • lentils
  • olive oil
  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • sweet potatoes
  • kiwifruit
  • edamame

And now for the two I haven’t tried…

9. Raspberry Ketones

According to Dr. Oz, raspberry ketone causes the fat within your cells to get broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster. The recommended dose is 100mg per day. To get the same benefit from the whole fruit, you’d have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries!

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

It is believed that apple cider vinegar accelerates weight loss, because it helps control blood sugar levels and suppress appetite. It is recommended to mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. It is best to use organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to get all the good nutrients.

***

After a failed attempt of baby-led weaning last week, I have come to the conclusion that Baby J is not ready for food of any kind. No mush, no purees, no solids, nada. Therefore, the meals I am preparing for dinner this week will revolve around the ten weight loss “super foods” listed above. I have not given up on baby-led weaning, however. We’re just putting it on the back-burner for awhile.

SundayGreek Quinoa & Avocado Salad

 723990f335a1e6d93a1b26c564478180

MondaySweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

201247d99b9c5114fdff308ac4e8213e

Tuesday- Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto

*I will use whole-wheat linguine

IMG_6443.CR2

WednesdayAncho Lentil Tacos

5680829545_96116a692e_z

ThursdayCheesy Quinoa & Broccoli Patties

quinoapatty

I’ll let you know next Sunday how this plan plays out. Hopefully, I will lose at least a pound or two!

XO,

Elleigh

Week of January 12th Menu for Momma and J

My little boy is growing up.

Baby J is a little less than a week and a half away from six months old, and I kid you not, I am getting misty-eyed typing those words. Six months old. To tell the truth, I’m not exactly sure why it makes me so emotional. He is a ball full of love and silliness. He is healthy and happy (most of the time). I’d even go so far as to say that this whole baby thing is somewhat easy. We are blessed to say the least.

The first couple of months, however, were a different story. Everyone said it was hard. My sister told me that the first two weeks were hell. But regardless of the warnings, and there were plenty, there was no way to prepare for that kind of hard.

We didn’t know it at the time, but Baby J had silent reflux, and consequently screamed 23 hours a day. Not cried. Full on screamed. And if you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that I was not experienced in the baby department, like, at all. I thought it was normal for a baby to scream all of the time. It breaks my heart looking back knowing that he was actually screaming because he was in pain. Ugh.

Now our little baby boy is holding his own bottles and rolling like a wild man. He will be crawling in no time. I am trying not to be sad that he is growing so quickly, but to relish in the now, because we all know how quickly it will go. Perhaps I can convince him to live with me forever?

In my opinion, one of the most exciting parts of reaching the six month milestone is the introduction of solids. Up until this point, J has had no interest in eating anything other than his feet.

After a lot of reading, we have decided to go a less traditional route and bypass the standard “first foods” (aka mush of some sort). This approach to feeding is called Baby Led Weaning, and it is growing in popularity here in the states. In a nutshell, this approach allows babies to control their solid food consumption by “self-feeding” from the very beginning of their experiences with food.

So far, we have offered J pesto pasta with veggies, toast, and a couscous dish… He is essentially tasting everything that we eat, which will sure make life easy when he is eating solids on a regular basis. Perhaps early exposure to a wide variety of flavors and textures will prevent J from being picky like his mama.

photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (2)

Baby J trying a piece of lightly buttered toast for the first time. 

This week, I have planned my meals around Jack in hopes that I can offer him a little bit of “real” food each night. I’ve also selected high-fiber meals because I have ten more pounds of baby weight to lose… Beans, veggies, and whole wheat grains have always done the trick for me.

Sunday- Couscous Gratin with Peas & Pimientos*

Monday- Southwest Pasta Salad

I am using light ranch dressing and whole wheat pasta.

SouthwestPastaSaladHarrisSisters

Tuesday- Mushroom Parmesan Rice

I am adding Tempeh.

Mushroom-Parmesan-Rice-8-398x530

Wednesday- Veggie Enchiladas with Tofu*

Thursday- Pesto Tortellini with Beans & Veggies*

Recipes

Couscous Gratin with Peas & Pimientos

From Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson

Ingredients

2 c veggie broth

1 cup quick-cooking whole-wheat couscous

2 scallions, minced

1.5 c frozen baby peas

1 2-oz jar of chopped pimientos, drained

1 TBS evoo

2 TBS dry bread crumbs

2 TBS grated parmesan

2 tsp margarine

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the veggie broth to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions, peas, pimientos, and olive oil (I added 1 clove minced garlic & handful of garbanzo beans).

Lightly oil 2 qt gratin dish. I used mid-sized casserole shown below, b/c quite frankly, I don’t know what the hell a gratin dish is.

3-piece-potluck-baker-set

Spread couscous mixture evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and parmesan. Dot with margarine, cover, and bake for 15 min. Uncover and continue baking for 5 minutes more, or until top is lightly browned.

Veggie Enchiladas w/ Tofu

*This is my own “recipe.” I don’t measure anything.

Ingredients

whole wheat tortillas

whole black beans, drained

diced red bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and cubed extra-firm tofu (lightly sauteed with garlic & evoo)

canned corn, drained

1 can red enchilada sauce

2% sharp cheddar & pepper jack cheese, grated

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce into casserole pan and spread around to prevent tortillas from sticking. Mix beans, corn, & sauteed veggies in bowl. Spoon mixture down center of tortilla and top with grated cheese. Roll tortilla and place in casserole. When you have made your desired amount of enchiladas, pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and cover with grated cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes, uncover and cook another 5 minutes.

Pesto Tortellini w/ Beans & Veggies

Also my own recipe.

Ingredients

Buitoni Whole Wheat 3-Cheese Tortellini

Pesto Sauce

Matchstick carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, frozen peas, diced onion and diced red bell pepper lightly sauteed in evoo with minced garlic

handful of garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained

Instructions

Cook pasta according to directions. Mix pasta, sauteed veggies, and beans in large bowl. Serve with parmesan cheese.

So that’s it! I’ll let y’all know how it goes. Oh, and just a side note, I am seasoning after I set aside J’s portion, and I will also make his portion more baby-friendly by cutting into small pieces/and or lightly mashing. I don’t expect him to eat much at all, but hopefully the experience will pave the way to adventurous eating in the future. I also plan on discussing Baby Led Weaning with my pediatrician at his six month check-up.

XO,

Elleigh

Mexican Sunday

Before Baby J was born, my husband and I had the most amazing weekly ritual. You see, we both love Mexican food and drinking margaritas (What Texan doesn’t?), so we would spend the better half of a Sunday indulging in just that. We’d cook. We’d laugh. We’d nap if we wanted to nap. We knew we had it good… We just didn’t know how good we had it.

Prior to the inception of this weekend ritual, I spent every Sunday moping around the house, depressed that I had a full work week ahead of me. The Sunday Blues I called it. I wasted an entire day each week dreading the following day… That’s no way to go through life! So B (my husband’s pseudonym) and I decided that we were through mourning the premature death of a weekend, and that is how Mexican Sunday was born.

And then Baby J came along, and everything inevitably changed.

After a few weeks passed and the “newborn” dust settled, we attempted to recreate our sacred Sunday ritual. We just knew that if we could get this right, there was hope that the rest of our lives had a chance of normalizing, too.

It was early-ish on an otherwise ordinary Sunday morning, and we opted for our usual brunch selection… Migas. If you have never had migas, make them this weekend, and while you’re at it, smother them in the Queso Blanco recipe provided below, because a sprinkling of cheese simply will not do.

Here is the play-by-play of our first post-baby Mexican Sunday:

Baby screams.

Margarita round 1.

Baby refuses to nap.

Margarita Round 2.

Miraculously, Mama and Baby nap.

Dada eats migas and continues drinking.

Mama wakes up to dirty dishes, cold migas, and a sleeping husband.

Baby cries. Again.

Mama cleans the kitchen and opts out of migas altogether, because quite frankly, nothing sounds grosser than cold eggs. Needless to say, we tabled Mexican Sunday for awhile.

Now that Baby J is almost 6 months old, we thought it was time to try our luck with Mexican Sunday again. But instead of Sunday, we decided on last Saturday night, as “Date Night” just ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. On the menu: Queso, chips, corn tortillas, and of course, margaritas.

Surprisingly, Mexican Saturday was perfect, and not just because Baby J slept like a little angel through the night. It exceeded our expectations because we were able to share the food we love, in a home we love, with the understanding that life will never quite be the same again… And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

photo (2)

Our new Sunday ritual.

This queso recipe is a collaboration of sorts between my husband, Ro*tel, and myself. And I use the word recipe loosely… It is more of an add ingredients, taste, and adjust kind of thing.

Queso Blanco

photo 1 (1)

I actually took this picture myself, y’all. 

Ingredients

1/4 white onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 roasted jalapenos, skinned and diced

1 raw jalapeno, diced

1 handful of cilantro, stemmed and roughly chopped

16 oz queso blanco

velveeta-queso-blanco

1 can of Ro*tel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilis

Instructions

Cut cheese into large cubes for easy melting, toss into crock pot on medium heat. Saute onion and red bell pepper 3-5 minutes. Add sauteed veggies and Ro*tel to crock pot, stir. Add roasted and raw jalapenos into cheese mixture. Allow cheese mixture to melt. Stir in cilantro. Serve hot with chips and/or tortillas.

Margarita on the Rocks 

serving size: 1 drink

Ingredients

3 TBS Tequila

1 tsp agave nectar

2 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice

Instructions

Mix in a cocktail shaker. Serve over ice. Garnish with fresh lime and salt, if desired.

photo 2 (1)

Love my margarita glasses from Crate & Barrel. 

And for all of you Northerners, let’s be very clear about one thing. Queso is neither “cheese dip” nor “cheese whiz,” and to claim otherwise is just flat out insulting. I hope y’all try it, because once you do, you’ll never settle for “cheese dip” again.

XO,

Elleigh