This was quite a week for us at the Murphy-Penry house but we still managed to enjoy several great foods. I am loving this stage of food exploration! They say 9 months is a great age and I agree on all accounts so far! In the beginning of the solid food phase there is all the fuss and muss about food allergies. You introduce something, wait four days to make sure there is no reaction…you know the drill. But now – if I see it at the store and I think it’s a possibility I go for it, with just a few exceptions. Foods with high reaction rates like peanuts and egg whites are still off the list, but otherwise Lois and I are cruising through some exciting flavors and textures.
This weeks quick and easy adventures include:
Avocado (Chunky) – Avocados really are the perfect finger food. They are very easy to gum, the flavor is mild, babies tend to love them, and they are packed with some wonderful, fatty nutrition. If your baby still likes mashed food, Avocado tastes like heaven when mixed with any number of things. Try it with a banana for breakfast and I guarantee you will be spreading it on your own toast half way through your child’s meal. She has already eaten plenty of avocados in her mash. But this week they were on sale so she began feeding herself little chunks all on her own at almost every meal.
Purple grapes – Lois absolutely loves grapes. I cut them 3 times at first (8 pieces) because of choking fears, but ended up feeling comfy with just two slices (4 pieces). I monitor her closely anyway, but Lois enjoyed the slightly bigger pieces. With grapes I learned that something can be too small and consequently too frustrating for babies.
Orange Bell Pepper – I cut these into slices and give her one while I am preparing a meal. Bell’s are a strong flavor and so I want to introduce them. However, Lois makes a terrible (and funny) face every time she takes a bite…but she keeps biting…soooo
Grapefruit – Yum!
Raw Apples – USE A CHEESE GRATER! This stroke of Pinterest genius has really opened up our world. There are several fruits and veggies that are forbidden in the raw (for infants) because of their difficult texture, including apples. The cheese grater eliminates that problem! I simply grated up half an apple (I ate the other half, duh) and put it on her tray. She loooooooves it: its messy, easy to eat, and tastes like sugary perfection.
Spaghetti Squash – What wonderful texture and great flavor! Cut in half, remove seeds, lay face down in pan with a little water, and microwave until soft 8 – 10 minutes. Or, for a flavor boose, roast it in the same fashion at 350/400 for 20-30 minutes. Check out that cool texture in the pic >>
Meal time exploration:
The family (mom and dad) had taco night and Lois joined us, which constituted our first meal as a family. By that I mean that this was our first meal where Lois ate what everyone else was eating. I didn’t have to prepare anything special – we just went with it. A new stage indeed! Setting aside dinner for baby while making tacos for the family is a breeze. Think: just a few tomatoes, some cheese, avocado, and maybe some shredded lettuce. Lois doesn’t eat meat yet, but I’m sure if you put a little meat to the side before you seasoned it, that would be delicious addition for babies!
I made chili in the crockpot. While preparing everything that morning, I cooked some lentils and rice in preparation for a Lentil casserole that I wanted to throw together for Lois that evening. This worked splendidly and I had plenty to freeze. Lentils are another powerhouse finger food because of their easy nature and mega nutritional benefits.
Easy Baby Lentil Casserole:
2c cooked green lentils (cook according to directions. Because I had some bell peppers lying around that were threatening to go bad, I added them to the boil).
2c cooked brown rice
1 medium onion diced
1/2 t. each: salt, cumin, garlic powder, oregano (I added 1/4 t. smoked paprika)
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
In a big skillet, sauté onions in 2 Tbsp of veggie oil. Cook until translucent. Add all the addition ingredients except the cheese. Mix well and pour into casserole. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
Dip up into ice trays after the casserole has cooled. Freezes well.
While everyone was hustling in the kitchen for Valentines, I roasted a rutabaga and a couple of golden beets. Both are good veggies with a hint of complex sweetness. Rutabegas are just plain awesome and Lois loves them. After roasting in large chunks, I cut them down to small finger food size bites and froze them (first on a sheet, and then in bags). They froze well and it has been nice to have a good bite size veggie to pull out of the fridge for dinner and lunch. Plus, if you use the recipe below, you can easily incorporate rutabaga into the next meal you and your spouse have – just throw a little on tray and you’ll have a happy baby.
1 Rutabaga (about 6 inches is a good size)
a couple T of olive oil
1 tsp ea parsley and oregano
2 tsp Kosher salt
You can also add 1 tsp sugar to enhance the browning and put a nice crust on your roast vegetables.
Peel rutabaga, dice into large cubes (1.5 in) and mix with all the ingredients. Place on parchment/foil lined sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until fork soft. I always err on the side of over cooked on her veggies because I want them to be good and soft.
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