Tag Archives: baby food

Time to replenish baby food stocks

As a lazy mom, I did not enjoy shredding meat for purée. I would rather serve chicken or pork via unsalted soup or porridge for X to eat. During Z’s time, I had a ‘fine’ time shredding meat and would like to avoid that this round.

Besides, given X’s propensity to follow our diet, I would not be stocking frozen baby food purée once he turned 1 year old. He would be allowed to eat from the same table.

For most parents, we would not know when the right time it was to wean off baby food. We did not know either but Z decided for himself. When he was one, we celebrated his birthday with a bash and a trip to Hong Kong. He refused to eat any of the organic bottled baby food that we had painstakingly brought along. He insisted on eating the wanton mee, the baked rice, all kinds of dim sum, crabs and prawns. We braced ourselves for food allergies and tummy upset. None of that happened, and with that, he had broken ALL food rules and I simply chilled. It was easier to have a toddler who enjoyed food than to place food bans and forced him to eat mushy baby food. He also decided that he wanted rice instead of porridge and that sparked off the entire cooking journey for me. I reckoned since he wanted to eat what we ate, he was best limited to only one non-homecooked meal a week. We managed pretty well then. Now that X was going to turn one soon, we would see what his taste preference would be. As of now, he already preferred chunkier food.

Today, I dug the fridge and decided to use pumpkin and Chinese yam as the carbo for his meal. I also discovered that the leek sold in wet market looked very different from the ones sold at supermarkets.

As usual, I sautéed the chopped leek in butter and added the chopped pumpkin.

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Then I added the Chinese yam

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Adding Chinese yam was an experiment. It was sticky and did not turn soft as fast as pumpkin. I should have chopped it into smaller pieces, as what we had learnt back in science classes, to increase the area of contact.

I was already cooking the cod fish in fresh milk. Thankfully, the fish was ready so I had the cooked milk liquid to add to the Chinese yam and softened it further. I used the spatula to chop the Chinese yam further.

Till it looked like this – my favorite part was adding the fish.

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This pumpkin mash was so nice that I would imagined how it would be like to add crab meat instead. And if I ever learnt how to make a pie, I thought a pumpkin crabmeat pie sounded awesome. Well, could someone do that and sell to me?

Today’s cooking generated 7 servings. Whee!

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On a random note, there was an additional purplish looking purée on top because Mr H bought such a big lotus root (my order) that it was too much to use for cooking lotus root chicken soup. I chopped up the excess and dumped into the Avent steamer blender. Well, as far as I remembered, lotus root would take very long to soften, so I steamed for almost 30min. I flipped it around and blended it. It was served to X as a dessert and he seemed fine with it, so I added as a top layer to his baby food.

Now, didn’t it remind you of 金瓜芋泥月饼?

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Process of cooking baby food

Most Asian parents would cook porridge for babies’ main meals. I was recommended to set it to cook every morning in a slow cooker and even suggested that I sent my homemade porridge to Z’s school in the past.

It did not sound feasible to me. While I never belonged to the purist thinking, I was not keen on bottled food for daily meals.

I was very thankful to have discovered western baby food which could be cooked and frozen in batches. All we had to do was to precook and use the warmer to heat and serve. Annabel Karmel’s recipe book was so awesome that it included information like the number of servings, the nutrients and if item was suitable for freezing.

On weekdays, I would use precooked purees and on weekends, I would cook porridge. I also thought it would be good to expose the young children to as many types of food as possible.

At the same time, I would shelve 20-45min aside on weekends to make a batch of purée for freezing. Since X turned 8 months’ old, I did not blend the food as he preferred texture. He had advanced taste buds for his age because he always tried to copy his brother.

There were some starch foods that I enjoyed using such as pumpkin, but X had gotten tired of it by now, because they were sweet and turned soft easily.

This was how I typically started

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Sautéed the leek in butter

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Sautéed the chopped potatoes

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Simmered over fresh milk with chopped broccoli

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Cooked fish in fresh milk with bay leaves and peppercorn

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Removed condiments, mashed up potatoes, mixed in the fish with milk and stirred in mild cheddar cheese

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Packed into containers once completed

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I used 2oz baby cubes and avent cups to store.

The former was good for days when X had an average appetite. There was a lot of unsalted butter, mild cheddar cheese, milk and even at times, flour involved. This was very rich purée so a 2oz portion had been enough for 6-8months old. Now that X was 9.5months’ old, he could eat more, so I would either use 2 cubes or the avent cups. The latter was great for warming up 2 hours in advance and bringing out for meals – no bowls required and the purée would still be quite warm.

The baby cubes could be purchased from blogshops (search baby cubes for freezing) or at Great World City’s Cold Storage (as far as I could remember). My recipe was modified based on availability of ingredients, permutation of combinations and based on the usual cooking structure taught by Annabel Karmel (search for Annabel Karmel, http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes).

Getting the book, as mentioned in an earlier post, was really helpful because it covered details about what babies should be eating and the nutrients required.

Guess there was no excuse that FTWM had no time to cook.

Kiwi-berries

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The kiwi-fanatic went gaga over this.

So did the baby brother, who was a copycat kiwi-fanatic.

X was spitting out grapes and slurping up kiwi berries. Z was in amazement, so was I when I first tried it in the morning. I knew the kiwi-fans would love it.

At $3.80 for a tiny box, it was definitely pricey. I rendered it great for washing and mixing into X’s baby rice cereal in the morning. Considering the time saved on not peeling fruits so early in the morning, it wasn’t such a bad investment after all.

iHerb order arrived again (repost)

Unboxing the parcel

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I had to reorder the batch of packet baby food because X had wiped out the initial stocks. These were planned for days out where it would be inconvenient to bring home cooked purée or when we were lazy to cook porridge. It was less than S$2 per packet – very good value!

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Owing to the hfmd episode, I was delighted to find these, especially the baby high chair cleaner – to spray and wipe! Disinfecting had become serious business.

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I took the chance to order this brand after my colleague’s recommendation. X had sensitive skin and California baby was way too expensive in the long run. This smelt pretty good!

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I also ordered something for Z so that he would not feel left out.

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I picked this up as well because the packaging was so cute and reviews from other iHerb users were good too.

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There was free direct shipping till end Oct so I might order more stuff. Any other recommendations on what would be good to get?

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My babyfood cooking bible

My babyfood cooking bible

I had picked this up in 2010 at the now defunct Borders.  I compared all the available baby food cookbooks and deemed this as the most comprehensive, easy to read (thin, few words, colourful pictures) and delicious-sounding.  I missed the ease of having actual, unsealed books which I could flip and compare.

I had recommended friends to use Annabel Karmel’s recipes.  Actually, her recipes were available online at Babycenter too but I prefer having an actual book with nice pictures to look at, and to check if I’d derailed.  Prior to cooking baby food for Z in 2010, I used to cook a maximum of 5 times a year and for some years, the cooking count was zero.

Given that I was able to follow Annabel Karmel’s recipes and eventually learnt to cook on a 5 times a week basis, I’d to say her recipes were easy to follow and made so much sense that it was applicable to cooking adult food too.  She would recommend baking fish in orange juice in oven for 20min.  That statement alone implied:

1. It would only take me 20min to cook fish (not undercook nor overcook)
2. The orange juice would remove the fishy smell
3. The orange juice would provide sweet flavouring to the dish
4. It tasted refreshing and nice
5. It was so darn easy to do

Thanks to Annabel Karmel, my family had more home-cooked meals.

How to make your child love vegetables?

Apart from forcing it down their throats or spending hours to create children’s food art, how about starting it from fundamental and attacking at the root?

A baby’s first food is often an exciting household activity.  Would he love food?  Would he scrunch up his face?  Or would he hanker for more?  Is my videocam charged?  Where is the iPhone?  Most parents would be eager to start off with fruits because they hope the child would LIKE to eat.

Given that both Z & X were exclusively breastfed, I was lucky that they were happy to make do with plainer foods.

Apart from recommending organic cereals which were not as sweet as the commonly available ones, I would suggest starting with vegetable purees.  Surely, they might not like vegetables as much but it would pave the way for them to appreciate other foods in future.  It had worked with Z and he had been a very hearty vegetable eater.  He actually loved vegetables and ate more than me on most days.  My friends marveled at how he ate uncooked parsley and coffeeshops’ aunties would gap at how he chomp down raw spring onions.

Similarly for X, he had been initiated in a similar sequence.

Please note that there was no history of food allergies in our families, hence, I had been able to try most foods and cheated on the ‘4-day’ rule.

The 4-day rule meant that the baby should try the new food in teaspoons’ quantity for a stretch of 4 days while the parents observe if there was any sign of allergy.  The small quantity was to lower the impact should allergies do form.  I had set up an excel table against a calendar to track so that I would know which were the ‘culprit’ foods.  Thankfully, Z cleared everything.  Anyway, as a new mommy back then, I had stuffed 120cc of broccoli puree down Z’s tummy.  It was only much later then I realized I had overfed and overexposed risks to him.  We were lucky!

By cheating, I ran new foods on ‘parallel’ basis.  Otherwise, it would have taken eons to clear so many types of food.  I wanted to move on to more exciting concoctions when they turned 7-8 months’ old.

Suggested food introduction sequence to increase probability that your child would grow up to love vegetables –

Stage 1: Broccoli, Spinach, Choy Sim, Celery, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Beans, Peas, Baby Kailan

Stage 2: Bread, Potato, Chinese Yam, Carrot, Tomato, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Sweet Corn

Stage 3: Avocado, apple, pear, peach, banana, papaya, mangoes, grapes, orange, watermelon, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries

Stage 4: Cod fish, threadfin, chicken, pork, beef, egg yolk

I used the Philips Avent Steamer Blender to prepare the purees and the Avent storage cups or Baby cubes (2oz size) to store for freezing.  Honestly, the Philips Avent Steamer-Blender was only useful to the point when your baby preferred chunkier texture and you wouldn’t require blending.  During Z’s time, I used for 5-6 months.  For X, I only used actively for 3months because he loved to gum his food.  Nonetheless, it was quite a good time saver and given a second chance, I would still buy it.

It helped to encourage me to work on purees and minimize washing up time.  Hence, if I divided the cost of the steamer-blender by the number of servings I had managed to prepare with it, it was still economical, as compared to if I had purchased off-the-shelves purees.  I could not imagine setting up the pot/wok to steam an item and then pour into a blender.  I would have been too lazy to do all of that.  Additionally, I preferred ‘home-cooked’ meals for Z & X.

Plus, it came with a simple guide on what food I could puree and how long I should steam it for.  In gist, harder items such as broccoli and carrot would need 20min, potatoes would need 10-15min and apples/pears would need 5-10min.  I would even steam strawberries and that would require 5min.  The only things I have not steamed with this equipment were meat because it would be quite a nightmare to wash up.

Please note that this methodology had worked for me, and I cannot guarantee if it would also work for you.

For more extensive read on baby’s first meals, please refer to http://www.babycenter.ca/c100/first-foods.

Baby cereals

I couldn’t remember how it started but a preference for organic baby cereals developed, probably due to influence from friends.

When Z was below 1 year old, he was only at 25th percentile and we were advised by the PD to give him more whole grains food.  As a working mom, it was possible (but probably a nightmare) to cook brown rice porridge or prepare rolled oats for him.  I would buy baby cereals from blogshops, which bring in the organic cereals, or Vitakids.  Nowadays, these cereals were more readily available in supermarkets.

My favorite brands were Organix & Healthy Times.

Recently, another friend recommended that I could order baby food & snacks from http://www.iherb.com.  I had heard a lot about iherb from many friends but it was so massive that I really did not bother to browse.  Becoming a mom rendered window shopping (even if it was online window shopping) a waste of time.  My very sweet friend also passed me some samples of -ready-to-go baby food.

As a food planner for my children, I cooked for them most of the time.  How about the times when it was not convenient to bring out home-cooked food i.e. out for the entire day? I would need some baby food.  Both Z & X had rather discerning taste buds, not unlike me.  X enjoyed the few sample packets, so that prompted me to order more from iherb.

He was coming to 9 months, so I ordered a dozen of hearty meals from Stage 3.  Here was one of the flavours that I had gotten ~
http://www.iherb.com/Nurture-Inc-Happy-Baby-Baby-Food-Hearty-Meals-Super-Salmon-Stage-3-7-Months-4-oz-113-g/26872

It was about S$2 per packet before the flat direct shipping fee of $4 by Vpost.  Top that off with a first timer saver’s discount on US$40 worth of orders, it was about 25% off.  That meant I was only paying S$1.50 per packet.  I had seen some blogshops and retail stores selling these for S$3.50~S$4.00 per packet.  I must add direct shipping saved a lot of hassle and at $4 (whether in USD or SGD), it was a steal!

Hence, if you weren’t pressed for time and could wait 1-2 weeks for your order to be delivered, iherb was a good source.

Their baby cereal (see http://www.iherb.com/Baby-Cereals) selection was excellent too. I ended up ordering Happy Bellies brown rice & oatmeal cereal, and they were probably the finest cereal we’d come across.  The Healthy Times cereals were going at S$4.13 per box, so after applying 25% off, it would be S$3.09.  This was the part I really felt like banging my head.  I had been buying from supermarkets at S$8.30 per box because I had been too tardy about seeking out the best deal.  I was thinking I probably would only save $1-$2 per box if I purchased from blogshops, but at 50% off from iherb?  An entirely new ball game.

Do note that I had excluded the shipping cost, because it was negligible and could be easily offset when you considered fuel & local transportation costs if you were to pick the cereals up from retail stores.

For new customers to iherb, you could seek out the first timer’s discount code (or you could also use mine – SZS468).  It was a US$10 discount off orders above US$40, and US$5 discount off orders below US$40.  Please check the website for more details.

And for my friends who had other great recommendations as to what you’d been getting from iherb, please share with me too!