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Poi – or the amazing food that helped my boys

When my first son was about 3.5 months old he started showing an interest in food. He would open his mouth when we ate and stare at our spoons and forks. His little brother, who will be 4 months in 2 days, started doing the same thing at around the same age.

I live in Hawaii and (luckily!) have access to Poi. You can find more information about it here, but in short: Poi is the result of pounded taro root mixed with water. For those who have never had taro, it is a root and the taste is very mild, in the same family as tapioca. What makes Poi so special? Well I’m not sure how it works but let me tell you this: it has been a miracle food for my second baby.

My second son was not as lucky as my first one: he had digestive problems since the day he was born. He had really bad reflux (he would actually choke in his sleep), he was really gassy and was very irregular. His tummy worries got better when I got him special bottles, but still. About 10 days ago I started adding 1 teaspoon of Poi to his last bottle before bed. His stomach problems went away almost overnight. The next day he already had less gas, and no more reflux. 2 days ago I started adding it to his morning bottle as well… he LOVES it.

My first son never had any problems with solid foods, and so far my second son seems to be doing great as well. I’m a big advocate of organic homemade baby food, and I like to think that Poi also helped paved the way to the food experience for my boys. Maybe our ancestors knew what they were doing after all 🙂

 

Have you ever heard of Poi or anything like it? Is there anything similar in your culture? At what age did you start feeding your baby solids?

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Surprise crock pot chili

At around 10 months, my son decided that he didn’t want baby food anymore and just wanted to eat whatever we were eating. As a result, for the past 8 months he has been enjoying the same things we have. It actually works out great because it is less work for me, and also forces us to make healthy decisions when it comes to what is on our plates. In addition to that, he started his “no green” phase about 2 months ago, which has added some challenges to fixing dinner… luckily, this Mama is determined and finding tricky ways to make him eat vegetables 🙂

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What do you see? Corn, yes. Kidney beans, yes. Black beans, yes. Ground beef, yes. Can you spot the celery? How about the carrots? Surprise! If you can’t see them, neither will your kiddies 🙂 I love this dish because you can be creative and even add mushrooms, or zucchini. The idea is to blend them well so your smart little ones won’t notice them…

This recipe makes a lot, I usually just freeze half for later. I can just defrost it on a day that I don’t feel like cooking.

Ingredients: (preferably all organic)
– 1lb ground beef
– 1 can tomato sauce
– 2 carrots
– 2 branches of celery
– 1 can of kidney beans
– 1 can of black beans
– 1 can of corn

* I have been working on canning my own sauces and beans… will share the recipes later

Process:
– Peel and dice the carrots, string and chop the celery. Put the vegetables in a double boiler and steam until fork tender (they have to be very soft or they won’t blend well!)
– Put the cooked carrots and celery in a blender and puree until very smooth.
– Add the can of tomato sauce to the blender and mix until well combined… the end result should look like a regular tomato sauce.
– Place the ground beef (uncooked) at the bottom of the crock pot and mash so it’s spread evenly along the bottom and sprinkle with the packet of chili spices.
– Layer the beans and corn on top and finish by pouring the tomato sauce over it.
– Add 1/2 cup of water, place the lid back on and walk away.

=> Cook on high for 4 hours. You don’t need to stir until the end or 2 hours in if you really want to. I usually serve it with a scoop of brown rice.

Bon appetit!

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The “no green” phase

The “no green” phase is very much real, and happens all of a sudden. What is it you ask? The “no green” phase is when your child suddenly decides to not eat anything that’s green. Heh.
How suddenly? Literally from one day to the next. My son’son’s favorite vegetable up until Thanksgiving was broccoli. Yes, broccoli. I know it’s weird, but he could eat it at any meal, plain, steamed, sautéed, any way you can imagine. One day he had it for dinner, and the next day couldn’t even look at it without gagging. At first I thought he just had too much and was over it… then he wouldn’t eat pasta with pesto sauce (which was another big favorite)… then the peas were also fired, along with the zucchini. Day after day he just rid his diet of anything green.

We are now coming to the end of January and more and more vegetables are not making the cut. (I still find ways to sneak them into his plate – which will be the topic of the next few recipes)

The struggle is real my friends, so this Mama got smart. I still offer him vegetables at every meal, making sure not to force him to eat them. They sit on his plate and he’s free to not eat them… little does he know, he is actually eating them. That’s right: I have been feeding him vegetables without him knowing. How so? Well it takes some thinking and planning but it works.

Here is a quick list of tips:
1 – make 1 mashed carrot and mix it into a tomato sauce over pasta. The orange and red blend really well together and your toddler won’t notice a thing!
2 – use cauliflower crumbs when making a casserole: throw raw cauliflower into a food processor it turns into crumbs. Tada!
3 – make a lot of “stuffed” dishes: it allows you to chop vegetables very very small and sneak them into the meat 🙂

… more tips in the upcoming recipes. Stay tuned!

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Learning how to use a fork

First of all, I would like to apologize to everyone for the lack of updates and for having been MIA for the last several months. I just had my second son 2 months ago, and my first son (thanks to whom I started this blog) is only 18 months old… as you can imagine: life has been crazy busy! Anyway, we’re back now.

Between 10 months and 12 months, eating was a combination of me (or my husband) spoon/fork feeding my son and him using his fingers to feed himself. Being quite the independent little person, you can guess that he much prefered the latter method. He was very good at eating with his fingers from the beginning, and did not really make a mess (unless he’s eating with Daddy, because they like to mess around). So, in August (at 13 months) I decided to start him on using utensils. He immediately liked the idea of eating with a spoon or a fork by himself, but his coordination wasn’t developed enough yet, so he got frustrated and didn’t want to deal with utensils after about 4 days of trying.

About a month later, I made another attempt… SUCCESS! Although I started by helping him spear his food with his fork, or scoop it with his spoon, he managed to feed himself with utensils. The secret? This awesome set I bought from Amazon. The bend really helps! I highly recommend it!
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My son is now 18 months old, and can eat by himself using regular utensils… when he’s in the right mood. He still likes to eat with his fingers a lot, especially when he’s hungry, because it’s a lot faster for him. But, he definitely knows how to use a fork and spoon now 🙂

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Introducing pasta

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This is something I have been wanting to do for a while: get my son to eat pasta. The other day, totally by accident, I came across the cutest little pasta: stelline. They are really small star-shaped pasta and I thought they would be perfect for the first time my son would eat pasta.

First I made a zucchini, carrot, chicken puree (recipe here) and I cooked the pasta on the side.

For 6 2oz containers: I cooked 3 heaping tablespoons of pasta in boiling water. The box calls for 7minutes al dente, but I cooked mine longer so it would be very soft and easy to chew. So about 10 minutes. I then drained the pasta and stirred it into the puree. Voila!

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Zucchini Kabocha

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My son is a big fan of pumpkin, and so am I. The only problem is that it can be a bit starchy and make him constipated (sorry for the TMI). So I decided to mix these 2 cousins, the zucchini being more watery, in order to remedy the situation and keep the pumpkin taste mostly intact 🙂

Ingredients: (for 6 2oz jars)
– 1 small kabocha pumpkin
– 1 large zucchini

Process:
– Peel and coarsely chop the zucchini, then place in the top of a double boiler.
– Wash the pumpkin very thoroughly with warm water and white vinegar. Slice it in 6 and wpoon out the seeds. Place in the double boiler (skin on) with the zucchini.
– Steam until everything is for tender.
– Put the zucchini chunks in the blender and puree. Spoon the pumpkin out of its skin and add to the blender. Puree everything together until you reach the desired consistency. You can alsl add water if you need.
– Pour the mixture into the storing containers and let cool completely before closing and putting in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Pears: dessert & finger food

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Pears are my son’s ultimate favorite food. He’s obsessed. He could eat pears all day, every day and be perfectly content with that. As he is finally accepting (kind of) to touch food with his hands (yes he takes after Mommy and does not like to have his hands dirty), I am starting to give him chunks of fruit to snack on… and pears are great! When you steam pears they become very juicy and soft, to the delight of my little guy and mine: they taste great and I don’t have to worry about him choking on a big chunk.

Ingredients: (for 6 2oz jars, and snacking bits)
– 4 big organic d’Anjou pears (washed and patted dry)

Process:
– Half all the pears and see which one is the softest. Set that one aside.
– Peel, core and chop the 3 more firm pears into big chunks. Place them in the top of the double boiler.
– Core and slice the 4th pear without peeling. You should make about 6 slices (not too big, not too small). Place the slices on top of the chunks.
– Cover and steam until tender.
– Carefully remove the slices of pear and place in a container to use as fingerfood.
– Place the pear chunks in a blender. Give a good whirl. Pour into storage containers and wait until completely cool to cover and place in the fridge.

All set! 🙂