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.
How do you feel about Halloween? Stressed out? Excited to see your kids in costume? Worried about your children’s candy consumption? Around this time, I get a LOT of questions about Halloween, how much candy do I let my kids eat? What do I do with the leftovers? My child will not sit still to eat dinner, how can I get them to eat something healthy before they eat candy? My tips below may surprise you, but I have compiled my 4 favorite tips for a successful Halloween. Do you have some of your own? Let me know!
RELAX. My #1 tip for the night is the hardest to follow: don’t worry about it. Sounds easy, right? When we think about Halloween, it is one night out of the many, many other days and nights we have through the year. Kids typically eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day, and there are 365 days in a year, which comes to 2,190 meals and snacks. So don’t let one night’s candy become more important than the other 2,189. A child’s intake varies daily. When we give too much weight over a single day, we risk creating unnecessary stress for ourself.
FOCUS ON PROVIDING HEALTHY FOOD THE DAY OF. Dinner can be stressful in general and on Halloween, kids are really excited about getting out the door and getting candy. Dinner can be an afterthought. When I think about my 3.5 year old and our halloween experience last year, sitting still for dinner was never an option. Instead, I focused a little more than I usually do on providing her with filling nutritious snacks throughout the day, placing more emphasis on our afternoon snack. I try to provide a balanced snack, making sure to include protein and healthy fats. Some of my favorite options are Green Muffins or Zucchini and Oat Muffins, hummus and cheese with veggies or crackers, or full fat yogurt with fruit. Offer a substantial amount of food at this snack, while still following the division of responsibility.
LET THEM EAT ALL THE CANDY. Have I lost you yet? If you have been following me for a while, you know I follow Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility. Satter has THIS great post about Halloween and candy and I follow her advice. Here’s a summary: the night of Halloween, I let my daughter eat as much candy as she wants, I also offer her a glass of milk or some fruit with this, and do the same the next day. Then, then every so often I offer candy at snack times, paired again with something more nutritious, and a piece or two at occasional mealtimes. The goal is that candy is not a “forbidden food”. Focus again on the more nutritious foods throughout the day, remembering the goal is to teach our children how to handle all foods.
YOU ENJOY HALLOWEEN TOO. I invite you to enjoy the Halloween candy with your children. Sit with your child at the end of the night. Talk about the candy. When I was growing up, my mom had my sisters and I make graphs and charts rating our candy and counting it. Use the candy as a fun tool for learning! And focus on the other aspects of Halloween as well - Pumpkin carving! Dressing up! Eating pumpkin seeds! The possibilities are endless!
Bonus: See my tired 2.5yo show her post-Halloween energy level!
Questions? Comments? Feedback? I would love to hear from you! Post a comment here or let me know on FACEBOOK.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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.
This post is my third post in the three-part blog series about introducing solids to your little one. To learn more about taking one of my upcoming classes on introducing solids to your little one click here. In case you missed it, I discussed the feeding relationship in my previous two posts (here and here), and these may be summarized using the division of responsibility. Parents are responsible for the “what, when, and where of feeding; children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating” . In this third post we discuss age appropriate serving sizes – however, as with all nutrition advice, sustainably learning the behaviors associated with this division of responsibility will be as important, if not more influential, than simply choosing specific serving size, as all of our young ones progress at slightly different paces and individual ways.
Most of the food we eat- and the nutrient measurements we rely on – use the idea of serving sizes. But what does a serving look like?
Adults struggle with this because it’s hard to learn at home, and when we eat out, it’s nearly impossible to get consistent feedback. As children, most parents did not learn to react this way, and an age of abundant and convenient food has limited the effects of our natural impulses.
When we feed our children, many parents second-guess themselves and their children’s eating behaviors. Is my child eating enough? Is my child eating too much? Here are some helpful guidelines when it comes to your children and serving sizes, starting from the beginning, when first introducing solids.
Tips and guidelines when thinking about the appropriate serving size for your infant and toddler:
- Around 5-7 months, As your baby is first starting solids, it’s important to remember serving sizes are very small. If you are offering purees, you will want to start by offering 1-2 teaspoons, keeping in mind initially your baby may not take more than a small taste. You will most likely be advancing to 1-3 tablespoons as your baby moves toward 7-8 months.
- From 6 months to around 1 year, breast milk or formula should still make up the majority of your baby’s calorie intake. Offer breast milk or formula before solids, especially when starting out. Although solids can provide good sources of nutrition, the majority of what your baby needs is still coming from breast milk or formula.
- All babies are different. Some babies love solids right off the bat and may take more than 2-3 tablespoons. That’s okay! It may take other babies some time to begin their solid intake and they may refuse for a while. That’s okay too! The important thing is to continue to offer solids, but let your child decide whether they want to eat.
-Around 8-11 months your baby continues to grow, so does their appetite. Solid intake may increase, but not by much. A full day’s worth of solids might be: ¼ cup of fruit, ¼ cup vegetables, 1-3 tablespoons protein and ¼ cup whole grains. A serving of vegetables, however, may still be closer to 2-3 tablespoons.
- After one year of age, baby’s growth slows (most babies triple their birth weight over the first year!). With a decrease in growth rate may also come a decrease in appetite. Do not be alarmed if intake decreases after one year of age. It’s most important to monitor your baby’s weight gain and growth.
Additionally, after one year of age, your toddler may be eating more meals and snacks throughout the day. When thinking about meals and snacks to serve, try to offer something from each food group. Meals should consist of a fruit or vegetable, carbohydrate and protein, while a snack might consist of a fruit and vegetable and a carbohydrate. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try new things. One of my daughter’s favorite on the go snacks is a mix of chick peas and green peas; a combination of protein and carbohydrates with a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals.
Stay positive! Picky eating behaviors often develop during this time and can persist as a phase many healthy kids go through. If you stay positive and dedicated to offering a broad variety of healthy, whole foods, you have the best chance of continuing to nourish your little one while accommodating their tastes and preferences.
 Satter, Ellen M., Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense, Bull Publishing Company; Revised edition (March 1, 2000) http://www.amazon.com/Child-Mine-Feeding-Revised-Updated/dp/0923521518