3 successful recipes

Just a quick note-to-self, really, about these three recipes I’ve tried recently, all of which were a huge hit with Ben.

Salmon, spinach and dill potato bake – This is a really useful recipe, and works well to cook in bulk and keep in the freezer. I made it for some friends who have just had a baby. So far, this is the only fish recipe Ben has enjoyed.

Moussaka – I used a Greek yoghurt and feta cheese topping of my own concoction, and left out the feta for Ben’s portion. He loved it.

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry – Ben’s first taste of coconut, which was a success.

No photos I’m afraid as I didn’t intend to blog about them, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

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Baby Falafel

I’d been meaning to make these baby-friendly falafel for a while. They are adapted from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nicky Duffy. It’s a fairly good addition to my shelves, although the recipes only take up half of the actual book, which I feel is a bit of a cheat. Confusingly, in the book, these are actually called ‘Felafel.’

Ben loved these. I think it was the dried apricots, which gives the falafel a sweetness. He loved them as a finger food.

Ingredients (Makes 18-20)

  • 5 dried apricots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 slice bread
  • Small bunch coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Method

  1. Soak the dried apricots in boiling water for a few minutes to soften them.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry them gently in the olive oil for around 10 minutes, until soft.
  3. In a food processor, whizz up the bread into breadcrumbs. Add all the other ingredients and process a few times, so that you have a thick paste. It should be quite smooth, otherwise your falafel won’t hold together.
  4. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into sausage shapes – these are easier for babies to hold.
  5. At this stage, you can freeze the falafel if you like, on a baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.
  6. If frozen, defrost the falafel. Preheat the oven to 190C. Drizzle the falafel with olive oil and bake for around 18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  7. Allow to cool before serving them to your baby. We had them with pitta bread, greek yoghurt and cherry tomatoes.

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Weaning: The Second Steps

Ben broccoli

I’ve already written about starting weaning in Weaning: The First Steps. That post deals with straight fruit and vegetable purées. Once your baby is happily accepting a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in purée form, you can move on to introducing protein and carbohydrate into your baby’s diet.

I was very keen to get meat and carbs into baby Ben’s diet, as I had heard that this would help him sleep better. In fact, his sleep became worse after weaning, as it coincided with him becoming very distracted during breastfeeding. He stopped taking enough milk during the day and made up for it at night. This seems to be quite common at around 6 months.

One of the first protein forms I fed him was beef. I made a simple stew using the following recipe.

Beef, carrot and potato stew

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 an onion
80g stewing steak
2 carrots
1 large potato

1. Finely chop the onion and sauté it gently in the olive oil in a medium size saucepan.

2. Cut the beef into small chunks and add to the pan.

3. Peel the carrots and potato and cut into small chunks. Add to the pan.

4. Cover with water and bring to the boil.

5. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 1 hour. You may need to add more water.

6. Allow to cool, then purée.

Other combinations that baby Ben enjoyed were chicken with sweet potato and peas, salmon with carrots and peas and lentils with carrots, leek and sweet potato.

Around this time, I also started introducing finger foods. To minimise waste, I’d suggest cooking 1 or 2 extra pieces of vegetables with your own dinner to offer the baby. Ben just sucked them and threw them on the floor to start with. Broccoli florets and carrot sticks were good, but he didn’t really get the hang of it until we introduced bread. Toast soldiers, strips of pitta bread and even pizza crusts were a massive hit. Rice cakes and bread sticks were sometimes more convenient when we were out and about.

Once we’d established protein and carbohydrates into his diet, Ben did start dropping his daytime feeds. I’ll report back on his sleep when it improves!

Weaning 1: The first steps

We started weaning Baby Ben when he was 5 months, as he was showing all the signs listed here in the NHS Leaflet. We followed the advice in Annabel Karmel’s Weaning book, which I highly recommend. Because Baby Ben is quite likely to be allergic to certain foods (I have food allergies and he has eczema), we were advised to introduce foods slowly, and to take particular care when introducing dairy and wheat.

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Like many babies, his first food was baby rice. After a few days of this, the fun began! I spent several hours peeling, chopping, steaming, pureeing and freezing a variety of fruit and vegetables.

Instructions for making baby purees

1. Peel and chop fruit or vegetables into similar size pieces. Make sure you cut out any damaged or bad bits.

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2. Place the fruit or vegetables into a steamer. Steam until very soft.

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3. Allow fruit or vegetables to cool for a few minutes before putting into a blender. You may need to add some of the cooking water for it to puree to a thick consistency. You are best to make the puree thicker and to add water or breastmilk when the baby is ready to eat it.

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4. Put the puree into ice cube trays. I used an Annabel Karmel one which is not available any more, but it was a bit like this one.

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5. Freeze the puree until solid. Then pop the cubes out into labelled freezer bags.

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6. Defrost the cubes (1-2 cubes per meal to start with) thoroughly and heat until piping hot when you are ready to feed them to the baby. Allow to cool to avoid burning the baby’s mouth.

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This was a really good way to make weaning as simple as possible. When Ben was ready to try a new food, I would be able to pop out a cube of the new food and a food he had previously tried e.g. Sweet potato with pear.

We introduced the following foods in this order:

Baby rice; carrot; sweet potato; potato; apple; pear; parsnip; butternut squash; banana; peas; plums. So far, he’s as big a foodie as his mum and dad!