Category Archives: 8 Months +

Spinach & Ricotta Baby Cannelloni

Well it feels like it has been a while between drinks (err Posts). We are into the full swing of the juggling act that is working and parenting. Rafaela seems to be thriving in day care, drinking from a cup all on her own and climbing like a little monkey. The drop off is getting easier, tears are fading and is now replaced by a disappointing look. We have progress!

More and more Rafaela is enjoying different foods; she is at the age where the list of foods she can’t eat is depleting rapidly. I started making Cannelloni after my mother-in-law had a bumper crop of spinach. It was spinach and ricotta bonanza in our household for a few weeks. We tried the Greek Spanakopita pie as well as spinach and ricotta gnocchi but the most appropriate for Rafaela to enjoy and the most successful (the gnocchi was pretty tricky) was the cannelloni. It is the perfect family dinner for a house obsessed with spaghetti and in desperate need of a pasta shake up! This is a variation of a classic Donna Hay recipe. It was really about omitting and substituting certain ingredients to make an infant friendly batch. Spinach is a great source of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin A. It is recommended to start babies on Spinach after 8 months as they can contain nitrates and are an oxalate food and should be eaten in moderation. Below is a baby friendly spinach & ricotta cannelloni recipe. I would keep aside a portion of the mixture for Rafaela and the rest for the adults. It is a great dish to freeze for those now so often moments we need a quick tasty meal and lunch the next day!

Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

1 x 400g can of Organic diced tomatoes

1 small onion finely diced

1 garlic clove crushed

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Splash of olive oil

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then sauté onion and garlic till tender. Add the diced tomato and ¼ cup of water (I usually wash the remainder of the tomato out with this water).

Add the fresh basil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thick and lumpy.

Cannelloni

1 x Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

2 x packet of lasagne sheets (contains 8 sheets) halved lengthways

½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

Filling

2 bunches or 500g of English Spinach, trimmed.

750g of fresh ricotta (I find fresh from the deli works better than the containers. It tends to contain less moisture)

1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon of chopped dill

½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.  To make the filling, blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 seconds, then drain. Squeeze out any excess moisture, and chop.

Combine the spinach, ricotta and parmesan, herbs and bread crumbs. Grease a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the base of the dish. Lay a lasagne sheet on a flat surface, spoon on some ricotta filling and roll up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining filling and sheets. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cannelloni, sprinkle with the extra parmesan and bake for 25-30min or until soft and heated through.

Now this recipe makes a heap of Cannelloni. If you save 1/3 of the filling for your bubba choo you will make approximately 18-20 cannelloni.

Suggestions: I have also included some cooked pumpkin into the mixture. It adds a nice sweetness to the dish and it helps get Rafaela’s Veggie content up! Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Sunday’s Sugar Free Yoghurt Pancakes

Now that I’m back at work, we celebrate the weekend and what better way to celebrate than with a big hearty breakfast. Saturday’s are reserved for Bacon and Eggs. If you ever wanted to know what food I could not live without, it would be eggs. I could open up a café and just serve eggs, any which way. Sunday’s breakfast is either eggs again, served a different way or Pancakes. I found this recipe on the Wholesome Baby Food site. It was one of the first finger foods I made for Rafaela. It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. The recipe makes enough for the whole family and more, enough to freeze for later. I like this pancake recipe because it feels healthier and has a real depth of flavour… until you slather it in syrup.

I use Quinoa flour, which makes a denser pancake than you may be used to, however there is a little technique I use to make them fluffier. If you separate the egg yolks from the whites, whip up the whites until white and foamy then fold them in to the mix before you start to cook. You can do this making any pancake recipe and you will notice the difference.

There are a few substitutions below in regards to milk and flour. I also substitute one of the eggs for a banana, it adds a little something different to the taste and this would be the appropriate substitute for any egg allergies.

Sugar-Free Yoghurt Pancakes (Makes between 20+ medium size pancakes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups Wholemeal flour or Quinoa Flour or Rice Flour
  • 1 teaspoon bi carbonate soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • dash of ginger
  • 2 cups whole milk (you could sub. with rice/almond/soy milk if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I use the Jalna Bio dynamic Organic Natural Yoghurt)

Method:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until a bit frothy. (For fluffier pancakes, separate the yolks from the whites. Whisk the whites until white and frothy and fold into the mixture before you are about to cook)

Fold the liquid mixture into the dry mix and stir until just combined.

Lightly grease a non-stick frying pan with; coconut oil, butter or olive oil. Heat the pan on a high to medium heat. You need the pan relatively hot but not smoking.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter onto a heated frying pan

Flip pancakes when they have bubbles throughout. If you were to add fresh fruit, sprinkle them into the batter before you flip.

Some serving suggestions: organic maple syrup, agave syrup, yoghurt or fresh fruit.

These are a great snack item to have frozen. You don’t need to defrost them, just put it straight into the toaster or into a sandwich press.

 

Sugar Free Yoghurt Pancakes

 

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Dad’s Spag Bol (aka Spaghetti Bolognese)

It’s back to school week. While the traffic gets worse, the trains fill up with kids and the feeling of summer holidays fade, I have to return to work. This wouldn’t normally bother me, well it hasn’t in the last year that I’ve been on maternity leave but now my real juggling act begins. So far it has been pretty stable transition, easing into work while Rafaela has been slowing engaging in day care activities and it seems like she is adapting well. It is really hard to leave her after spending so much time together. However I can already see her growing and learning so much. She still crawls commando style and is absolutely filthy when she gets home but she is almost up on to her feet and can say “bye” and “up”.

I am still in two minds about heading back to work. I am happy to be back and stimulated again, however I miss being at home and moving at our own pace. I really enjoyed having time cook and consider meals. Now that’s reserved for the weekends. Before Rafaela (circa 2011), my husband Andrew, would cook up Spag Bol as it’s his favourite meal. Everyone has their version, Spaghetti Bolognese is the quintessential family staple meal… right. This one is Dad’s and Rafaela absolutely loves it. It will be high on the weekday rotation in this house!

Ingredients (Makes – A fair bit)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 glove of garlic

1 organic carrot, grated

1 organic zucchini

¼ red capsicum

1 cup organic beef or vegetable stock

250g of organic mince (beef or pork/veal) – I’ve use the Aldi Brand of Organic Beef.

1 x 400g can of organic diced tomatoes

1 small dried bay leaf

Pinch of dried herbs; oregano & thyme

Pinch of pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan (large enough to hold 5 cups of liquid). Using a food processor finely chop the onion and garlic together. Transfer to the saucepan and cook until soft. In the mean-time add the zucchini and capsicum to the food processor and chop finely. Add grated carrot to the pan and combine well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the mince. Use a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Once the meat is no longer pink, add the dried herbs & pepper and stir. Then add the zucchini and capsicum, stock, tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to boil and then simmer for minimum 20min to 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced.

Serve with Organic Spaghetti, Wholemeal Spaghetti or rice or couscous, anything you want. Rafaela likes to slurp up the noodles. She is so fascinated by the action. We just cut the noodles into manageable sizes. This meal is also extremely freezer friendly and obviously enjoyed by mum & dad too.

 

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One year down…What I’ve learned so far

What a year! Rafaela has absolutely transformed my life forever. I don’t think I have learned so much about my husband, or myself than I have in the last 12 months and I know we have not even scratched the surface. It has been an amazing journey so far and we feel truly blessed. We have to keep telling ourselves “she is our daughter”. When we look back on the thousands [and I mean thousands] of photos, I’m surprised at how much she has grown and the vast amount of memories we have created in just one year. It is exhilarating!

I’ve also reclaimed the joy of cooking as she has inspired us to eat better as a family and to try new foods. The hubby even enjoyed sugar free pancakes, although they were drenched in maple syrup. As you become a parent and a new mum, actually from the moment you announce you’re pregnant, the advice just rolls in and you yourself can’t help but impart any little nugget you have found out that might help another new mum. These are the things I thought about when I decided to start this blog. I had spent so much time researching about solids that it would make me so happy if anything I post here can help save you some time, and give you more time with your bubba choo.

In this post, I thought I would re-cap what I’ve learned and the 12 commandments I now live by;

  1. Steam and bake as much food as you can, why? Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani (author of Well Adjusted Babies) believes cooking for longer and at lower temperatures preserves the natural goodness of vegetables more than any other cooking method. A bamboo steamer is a cheap and effective solution over baby food makers;
  2. Fruit naturally sweetens;
  3. Flavour with herbs and spices, not salt. Cinnamon is a must!
  4. Protein should be the width and length of your baby’s hand. I should practice what I preach here with my own plate;
  5. Always have green on the plate, even if it’s herbs. Green Foods are Super Foods;
  6. Buy organic food where possible. Why? No pesticides and herbicides and certified organic is GM free (genetically modified) Also it it getting far more cheaper and more readily available at your local supermarket;
  7. Start reading and understanding food labels. I avoid foods with preservatives, unnecessary salts, sugars and what’s with the numbers? They are not ingredients;
  8. Texture, texture, texture! It will help avoid a fussy eater and it’s fun to watch their facial expressions;
  9. Once your baby is around the 10month mark, start considering how you can adapt your adult meals for baby, omitting sugar & salt and in my case Chilli. I will remove Rafaela’s portions before I season;
  10. Try and cut finger foods into strips rather than squares. You will find your baby picking them up first working towards cubes;
  11. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables, its cheaper and tastier;
  12. Commercial baby food is NOT that bad at all. Always go for the organic brands. Woolworth Macro Wholefoods is great, Only Organic, Organic Bubs, Raffertys Garden. Buy them on sale (usually at Woolies) and keep them for those ‘Fast Food’ moments. My advice is to pair it with Quinoa to add more texture. It travels well at room temperature.

These are all pretty stock standard and you will find most of this information in baby food cookbooks and from your baby nurses. This advice has worked for me and I hope it works for you (what’s a mum without giving advice). Thank you for reading. I hope you stick around, I have many more recipes to come.

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Sweet Orange Couscous

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day! It’s also the meal of the day that I find Rafaela the most alert and willing to try new things. Looking for new breakfast options is always on my agenda. I try not to get stuck into feeding her porridge and toast every morning.  This recipe is very yummy, super easy and can be a great as a summer salad for the whole family. Just add seasonal vegetables like asparagus or zucchini, seasoning and rocket.

Sweet Orange Couscous (this is enough to serve 12)

Ingredients:

2 cups of organic CouscousSweet Orange Couscous

2 cups of boiling water

½ cup of Orange Juice. Try and use one with pulp, I use Nudie’s Nothing but 21 oranges with pulp

1 orange

2 small carrots peeled, pre-steamed and grated

Sprinkle of cumin & LSA meal (Ground Linseed, Sunflower and Almonds)

Method:

Place couscous in a heat proof bowl. Add boiling water. Cover and set aside to absorb the water. This should take about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork to separate the grains.

Meanwhile, peel and segment the oranges. Do this over a bowl to catch the juice. Make sure you remove the white membrane. Either cube or leave as segments.

Add orange juice, orange pieces, carrot, shake of cumin and LSA meal to the couscous.  For younger babies, blend in a food processor with a little extra liquid (Water/breast milk/formula/juice).

If you want to make a small portion for just baby use the following measurements; 2 tablespoons of Couscous, ½ cup of orange juice, 1 carrot and ¾ of boiling water.

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‘Tis the season for Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf, gobble gobble!

Tis the season indeed! This year will be our first Christmas with Rafaela and the excitement is slowly growing. The tree is up and the ham is en-route! She has no idea what is going on, she was given her first gift the other day and just ripped and ate the paper.  On the bright side she was eating with her hands…

What I do love about Christmas is the copious amounts of food. My family have a pot luck type soiree, while it’s more of a traditional affair on my husband’s side. Turkey tends to be a quintessential meat at both events. I thought to myself what a great meal for babies at Christmas, all that excitement and energy. Remember that Seinfeld episode when Jerry feeds his girlfriend Turkey so she would fall asleep and he and George could play with her antique toy collection, Priceless! While it does contain certain amino acids that bring on sleep it’s a combination of things that make you sleepy after turkey, usually all the other food and alcohol that goes with the feast.

Regardless, Turkey is a great lean protein; it was one of the first meats I tried. Most supermarkets have a select range of turkey products and its pretty affordable.

Below is a super healthy and protein packed meal for the whole family. While meatloaf is not normally a glamorous meal, you can dress it up by wrapping it in thin rashers of bacon for the Christmas table. Adding Quinoa gives the loaf a great nutty flavour and actually keeps it quite moist. I’ve provided a healthy glaze that is suitable for babies. For older kids you can use the standard tomato sauce type glaze.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf 

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

500g ground turkey

1 tablespoon organic tomato paste

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)

2 egg yolks

1x zucchini & carrot, grated

Handful of Cheddar cheese

Glaze (Combine these two ingredients in a small bowl):
• 1 Can organic tomato paste
• 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or more if you’d like your glaze to be a little thinner consistency)
optional: add 1/8 cup of honey to sweeten glaze

Method

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C and line a loaf tin with Baking paper.

Heat the olive oil in a fry-pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.

Combine the turkey mince, cooked quinoa, onions, zucchini, carrot, tomato paste, cheese, Worcestershire sauce and egg, in a large bowl until well combined. Shape the mixture into the loaf tin. Either brush on your chosen glaze  or add rashers of bacon, ensure you tuck in the ends to avoid curling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes  The loaf is ready when your meat thermometer reaches 70 degrees C . Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Add your seasoning to your portions and cut a slice into fingers for the baby.

Keeps in the fridge for 2 days and freezes well.

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Organic Tahini Snowballs

Yay! Raff can now finish a slice of toast with her own two hands… Ben Harper would be so proud and so is mum! Now this opens up a whole new world of meals for us, I’ve been looking for different spreads to keep it interesting.

Nutritionist Leanne Cooper suggests Tahini (hulled sesame seeds); it is a great source of calcium, especially for babies with milk intolerance. Marco Whole foods at Woolworths sell Organic Tahini, easily found next to the Vegemite. Once I buy a product like this, I like to find other recipes that use it, just so it doesn’t go to waste. Below is a recipe for Tahini Balls, perfect little snack for everyone in the family. It’s also found the Smokey Middle Eastern dip, Baba ghanoush. Recipe coming soon!

The recipe below uses dried fruits. There are some thoughts around the use of dried fruit versus fresh fruit with babies. Yes, fresh is always best. Dried fruit has lost its water content; this concentrates the nutrients which can be good and bad. You won’t need to eat as many sultanas as grapes; however the higher fibre content will give it a laxative effect.

You are able to give babies dried fruits from 6 months of age. Always ensure that you find varieties that are organic and without sulphur dioxide which is used to preserve the bright colours. This can trigger asthma and tummy problems in predisposed babies. Dried fruits are higher in sugar and present a choking hazard for younger babies. You can however re-hydrate them to make them easier to puree and consume. You can do this by soaking or gently simmering the fruit in water until soft.

The great thing about this little snack, zero actual cooking and they look like little snowballs, Great festive treat.

Organic Tahini SnowballsOrganic Tahini Balls

Ingredients

½ cup Organic Unhulled Tahini

½ cup Organic Honey

½ cup Desiccated Coconut + a bit extra for rolling

½ cup Organic LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almonds)

½ cup Organic Dried Apricots

½ cup fresh Dates

½ cup Organic Dried Cranberries

You can use  different combinations of dried fruit based on your tastes. Think about apple, mangoes, figs, pears and cherries. 

Method

Place dried fruits in a blender and process until finely chopped. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly with a spoon. Scooping up heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture from the bowl, roll into balls with your hands. Roll balls in extra desiccated coconut. Refrigerate until time to eat.

Makes 20-25 balls.

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Super Banana & Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

This is a really easy little recipe I found on the Wholesome Baby Food blog, just tweaked. It is full of ‘super foods’ Quinoa and blueberries, great for the family if you’re looking for a sugar free treat. I usually give them to Raff as a snack or serve them with yoghurt for breakfast. They freeze extremely well.

The main benefit of these little gems is the Quinoa (pronounced ‘Keen-Wah’); it’s a great little seed that comes in many forms. I have been using the whole seeds and flakes. This ‘super food’ is packed with protein, and also a great source of iron and fibre. As a family we use the whole seeds within omelettes and salads. For Rafaela we use them with mashed vegetables, stews and fruit for breakfast. It is also great to freeze and grab when heading out the door to beef up the pre-made pouches. This is what I call Raff’s fast food.

Shopping tip: It is readily available is supermarkets, you can find whole seeds, flakes and flours in the Coles health food isle. I bought a 1 kg bag of whole seeds from Costco for $11.99. Bargain!

The recipe below uses quinoa flakes, which is also great for porridge.IMG_1227

Banana & Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

This recipe makes 24 Mini Muffins

Ingredients

2 mashed Bananas

¾ cup of Blueberries (I generally use frozen berries, let them thaw slightly)

1 cup Quinoa (Flakes or Flour)

1 tsp. of Cinnamon Powder

2 Eggs*

1/2 tsp. of Baking Powder

¼ cup of Maple Syrup

2 tsp. of Vanilla bean paste.

Smallest pinch of salt

Method:

Pre heat a fan forced oven to 180 degrees

Mix together all the wet ingredients in a bowl, until well combined.  Add dry ingredient to the bowl and mix well.

Lightly spray a non-stick mini muffin pan with some Coconut Oil cooking spray or canola oil spray.

Spoon the batter into the pan and cook for 10-15min, or until they are golden brown.

*Check out my previous post on Egg substitutes

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Easy Couscous

Like Millet, couscous is amongst the healthiest grain-based products around. When compared to pasta and rice; couscous is low GI, high in protein, B6 and folate. The below recipe is not only for bubba’s. Just season appropriately for adult tastes and it’s a fantastic accompaniment to salads, stews, curries or as a side dish to grilled meats.

Raffy loves it! We give her some to play with so she can work on her pincer grasp (developmental milestone where they learn to pick up small objects between her thumb and forefinger). This helps develop her coordination, which should eventually see her feeding herself with a spoon, the holy grail!

For a balanced meal, serve with meats and vegetables. It can be a difficult food to eat on its own for a baby. I used this dish to introduce fresh herbs to Rafaela. When she was 8 months old we used pureed vegetables. Now at 10 months we serve it with casseroles. You can keep this in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze.

I’ve briefly mentioned ‘Fast Food’ for babies and the commercial baby food pouches. When we are out and about I will grab an organic pouch and a small container of couscous or quiona and mix the two together. While most are a full meal (Beef, Vegetables and Rice) already and they say ‘contains lumps’. They are still very much a puree. I add the additional grains to make it lumpier.

Easy couscous (This makes enough for babies lunch and dinner and enough for me and my husband)

Ingredients:

1 cup of couscous
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Splash of olive oil.
Shake of spices or fresh chopped herbs

Method:

If you want something with a more bitey texture, then place the couscous and water together in a bowl and sit for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. I personally like this method.
Or you can boil the water and add to the couscous, cover and allow the couscous to sit and absorb the water.
After each method, fluff with a fork. Add lemon juice & a splash of olive oil, spices or herbs. Mix and serve with Steamed veggies, stews, casseroles, avocado, anything!

Shopping tip – Woolworths has a fantastic range with the Macro Wholefoods Market. The most extensive and affordable I’ve seen. I’m obsessed! They have two organic varieties, Whole wheat semolina ($6.35, 750g) and wheat semolina ($5.35, 750g). Great value!

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Whole wheat couscous variety

You can make a sweet version, great for breakfast. Coming soon!

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Apple millet porridge

Glorious Grains! by 8-9 months its recommended to start introducing more grains, seeds and cereals. Millet is a great option to start with. Often found as a key ingredient in bird seed its has a mildly sweet, nutty flavour.  It’s gluten-free, high in protein, B vitamins (B3, B6, and B9) also has calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

This recipe below is an expanded version of one found in ‘What do I feed my Baby’. I’ve provided the details on how to cook Millet.

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Apple Millet porridge

Ingredients:

1/4 of organic millet meal
1 cup of water
1 large apple, peeled , cored and roughly chopped.
Shake of cinnamon spice

Method:

Add the millet to boiling water and cook until the water is completely absorbed.  Reduce heat, add apple and shake over cinnamon and let it simmer for an additional ten minutes.  Less water will result in a fluffier texture, while more water will result in a denser texture.

Apple should be soft but still in tact. You can mash with a fork or leave in bite sizes pieces for older babies.

Serving suggestions:
Add a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle of LSA meal (ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds)
Add additional seasonal fruit such as blueberries and banana

Freezes well, best to reheat back in the saucepan. You may need to add additional water to soften it up.

Shopping tip – Coles has a very good range of different grain meal, they average between $5-$8. They should last a while, keep them in a cool, dark and dry place.

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