All about TEFF

All about TEFF

If you have checked out my recipes, or been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed Teff is one of my go to grains used in some of my baked goods. Teff (found as flour or whole grain) is one of my favorite ingredients to have on hand. Since I use it in so many recipes, I thought I would share a bit more about one of my favorite foods.

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Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

I have been making a lot of burger/patty style foods for dinner lately.  I have found they are easy for my 9 month old to grasp, and my toddler enjoys eating them as well.  Most of these ingredients I already had on hand, so it was easy to cook up these black bean and mushroom burgers.  If you want more of a lumpy texture, mash the bean mixture with a potato masher or fork rather than using a food processor.

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Baked Shrimp Patties

Baked Shrimp Patties

My daughter Alex is 9 months old and the only highly allergenic food we had not tried at this point was shell fish.  No particular reason, other than it was a bit more difficult to prepare than some of the others.  New research recommends that the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat) be introduced early as babies start on solid foods.  I had a bag of frozen shrimp and decided to try my hand at these patties.

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5 tips for a better school lunch

5 tips for a better school lunch

In my years of working with children I have found that school lunches tend to go one of two ways: some kids thrive with the social interaction of eating with other children and may eat more than they do at home.  Other kids are easily distracted during lunch time, and may be too excited to eat their lunch. 

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Our first 2 weeks with solids

Starting Solids_Canva

My second daughter, baby Alex, turned 6 months a few weeks ago.  I help many families on their journey to starting solids and I wanted to chronicle how it is going in our house.  I hope you find this post helpful.  All babies are different, and this journey will look different for everyone.   

We decided to mainly use a baby led weaning approach when starting solids, as well as some purees.  I am going with the flow and not labeling anything we do.  We call it baby led feeding: Baby Alex leads the way!

My goal is to help Alex learn to eat, explore and have fun with food- and also make it work for our family!

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Day 1: Sweet potato!  I wanted to involve my older daughter as much as possible in the feeding journey with Alex.  I let her choose Alex's first food (choices were either sweet potato or avocado).  And good thing she choose sweet potato because we did not have any ripe avocados when it came time to feed Alex!  I baked a sweet potato in the oven, then removed the skin and cut into stick pieces.  I gave this to Alex around our usual dinner time, 5:00pm.  The rest of the family had THIS sweet potato and black bean chili.

 

Day 2: Banana.  We actually skipped a day in between (because, life happens).  So our second feeding day I gave Alex banana during breakfast time.  Sydney was having banana with french toast, so I decided, why not?  Alex had fun with this one.  I tried a few different ways.  I gave her some match stick slices and also a whole banana with part of the skin on (to make it easier to hold).  She loved both ways.

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Day 3: Steak.  Iron is one of the most important nutrients a baby needs starting around 6 months.  I have seen many BLW fans provide children with a chunk of steak (mainly to suck).  Alex loved this one.  The rest of the family had steak, broccoli and quinoa.  

 

Day 4: Amaranth porridge.  Have you had amaranth?  Check out this post dedicated to this wonderful grain.  I made a porridge in my Instant Pot with amaranth, apple sauce and cinnamon.  This was a hit for both girls.  For Alex, I provided her with a loaded spoon (and then gave her the bowl, which she proceeded to eat!).  This one was messy but a great nutritional breakfast!

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Day 5: Avocado.  We had a Hanukkah celebration with some of my family and avocado was on the menu, so this was what Alex had too.  The rest of the family had white chicken chili topped with avocado, cheese and sour cream.  It was a bit difficult for Alex to pick up, so next time I might roll the avocado in breadcrumbs or almond meal.

Day 6: No food.  Opps!  We were traveling to visit my inlaws and because of naps, travel, etc, we didn't feed Alex any solids.  And you know what?  We all survived.

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Day 7: Eggs!  This was the first higher allergen risk food I provided to Alex.  I mashed some cooked egg with yogurt.  An instant hit.  Check out my post about introducing the top 8 food allergens to infants.

 

Day 8: More avocado.  Staying at my in-laws, choices were limited, but ripe avocado for the win!  Alex is great at smashing this.  It looked like she was eating a lot but when I took her out of her highchair she was covered in avocado.

Day 9: Carrots!  We made a carrot cake for dessert and had some leftover shredded carrots.  I steamed these in the microwave for a dinner treat.

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Day 10: Amaranth oat balls and carrot soup.  We were back at home and I had frozen some cooked amaranth before we left for our trip.  I thawed this, made some quick cook oats and added a bit of peanut butter.  These were a great BLW food (easy to pick up) and super soft. 

I also made a curry carrot instant pot soup and gave this to Alex on a loaded spoon.  The soup contained carrot, cumin, curry powder (salt free), full fat coconut milk and vegetable broth.  Lots of new flavors here!

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Day 11: Scrambled eggs with salmon for breakfast and roasted cauliflower for dinner.  The roasted cauliflower was the first food Alex gagged on and although I KNEW she was gagging (not choking), it was still nerve racking.  The roasted cauliflower was soft but a new texture.  In all of my Introduction to Solids classes, I recommend parents and caregivers complete a CPR class - just so you know what to do in case of a choking incident.

Day 12: Scrambled eggs again (I need to add more variety into breakfast!)

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Day 13: Pancakes!  I love pancakes for babies.  They are soft but easy to grasp.  For these pancakes I blended 1/2 a banana, 1 egg, 1/4 cup teff flour, a small handful of spinach and 1/4 tsp baking powder.  Baby loves her greens!

 

 

 

 

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Day 14: Smoothie.  I tried providing this on a preloaded spoon.  The meal ended by wearing her smoothie.  All.  Over.  Her. Body.  I only took the "before" picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it!  Our first two weeks starting solids.  We tried to include a variety of foods, flavors and textures.  What have I learned?  Baby girl doesn't have much interest in getting spoon fed and she is LOVING to eat! 

Follow me on Instagram or facebook as we continue on our feeding journey!  I will be sure to post lots of great recipes and feeding ideas.

 

Iron Rich Foods for Infants and Toddlers

At your baby’s 4 or 6 month checkup, your doctor may discuss starting your baby on solid foods.  It is an exciting time – up until this point your baby has been taking in all of his nutrition from breast milk or formula, and you get to shape his palate with new flavors and textures over the next 6 months and beyond.  Your doctor may have talked to you about introducing iron rich foods early on.  This is because iron stores in your baby typically start to become depleted around 6 months of age.  I typically recommend families wait until 6 months of age to start solids (although I have heard pediatricians recommend between 4-6 months). 

It is common to hear that infant fortified cereals are a good first food.  Why?  Infant cereals are typically fortified with iron and lots of other vitamins and minerals, which is why foods like rice cereal have historically been discussed as a good first food.  BUT now we know that iron fortified cereals are not the only option, and many parents skip them altogether to start on solid foods.  Another benefit of skipping these cereals is that early exposure to more tastes and flavors has been shown to increase baby’s interest in the tastes and textures of new foods in the future.  Here are some great iron rich foods to offer right from the start:

Meats: meats can be a great food to introduce early on.  Try stewing meats or using a slow cooker to allow for a softer texture.  If you are introducing pureed foods, you may need to add a bit of water with meats to allow the food to blend or try blending with other great first foods like avocado and sweet potato.  If you are using a baby led weaning approach, try soft meatballs with minced chicken or beef.   Make chili and soup with chicken, beef, turkey and lamb. 

Lentils and beans:  I love these as dips, added to a sauce or as finger foods for a bit older baby.  Beans and lentils are super easy to make.  Mash on their own or add to a sauce.  And if you take my introduction to solids class, I always bring in a sample that’s mom and baby approved, such as my green pea hummus or lentil []- you can use these interchangeably as a puree for baby or a great dip for a slightly older toddler or an adult.  

Greens: spinach, chard and kale are a few food sources of iron.  Sautee them with other vegetables or combine them in a puree with meats.  As your baby learns to drink out of a straw or an open cup add greens to a fruit smoothie for some added nutrition.

Left side: Make ahead and freeze egg bake - On the right French toast cup  with strawberries

Left side: Make ahead and freeze egg bake - On the right French toast cup  with strawberries

Eggs: Eggs are a good source of iron.  An egg scramble with veggies is a great way to get in some iron, and lots of vitamins and minerals.\

 

Grains: Often overlooked, but some grains are high in iron.  Some of my favorites include Teff, Amaranth, Quinoa and Millet.  Make cereals with these grains, use in chili or stew or make muffins or bread.

These are only a few great sources of iron.  Although breastmilk is typically thought of as a poor iron source, the iron is breastmilk is absorbed very well by baby.

And one more tip – iron is better absorbed with a source of vitamin C.  So for better absorption of iron pair an iron rich food with something like citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, apples or tomatoes.  Also- breastmilk is an excellent source of vitamin C!

And remember that providing a balance of nutrients is important – iron is one of several important nutrients once baby starts solids. 

Want to learn more?  Join me at one of my upcoming classes on introducing solids.