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Finger Food – Baked Tofu Bites

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Picture credits: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-baked-tofu-74358

This recipe is a healthy, nutritious and versatile one that is good for baby finger food and as a good salad topper or side dish or snack for adults.

Tofu is a low-fat alternative to meat and contains a good amount of iron, protein and calcium which is essential for baby’s growing body and bones.

Ingredients:

1 pack of firm tofu

Cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Take tofu out of package and discard water.

2. Place tofu on a dish and put another plate on top with a heavy item like a can to press extra water out from tofu. You may skip this step if you wish to have more moist tofu bites. I discovered there is a product called “Tofu Xpress” that is specifically used to press water out of tofu. Interesting!

3. Pat dry the tofu with paper towels.

4. Cut tofu into one-inch cubes and toss in your preferred cooking oil. The amount of oil should be as little as to coat the tofu pieces lightly.

5. Place tofu pieces on parchment paper lined aluminum pan. You can use other silicon baking sheet but from what I have read from other reviews for a similar recipe. Tofu may not stick as much to the parchment paper.

6. Bake for 15-20 mins and then flip the tofu and bake for another 15-20 mins depending on how crispy you or baby like. Don’t worry if some of the tofu pieces come apart after baking.

It is good to top as a on a salad, as a side dish or as a snack.

For extra kick, you can marinade the tofu with your favourite spices – minced garlic, minced ginger, lemon/lime juice, barbecque sauce (low sodium for baby) and etc.

Enjoy! Happy Friday!

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Play is Powerful – 5 Reasons for Play

“Play is powerful.” is a quote that I saw at a play center that I took baby when he was a few months old. Before motherhood, I haven’t thought of playing as a ‘positive’ thing since I was in school. There seems to be a general association with play being something that will take away from study time. However, I think my impression on play has changed as I discover how much learning is associated with it. Playing is very important for babies and kids. Through playing, babies learn new things such as fine or gross motor skills, colours and shapes, interaction between people and things, among the many benefits.

From this site Let Children Play, they list 5 reasons for explaining why Play is Powerful. I am adding my thoughts to it.

1. Boosts Physical Activity – playing means being active for babies and toddlers and reduces risk for obesity. Physical activity helps them to stay fit and healthy. This is especially important in this technology age with all smartphones, video games and computers around them. As they get older, they want more room to play – unhindered and unrestricted. There are different forms of play for each age group:

Babies (0 – 6 months):

  • Reaching for hanging objects when lying on exercise mat
  • Kicking their legs while lying on a baby bouncer or rocker
  • Tummy time to strengthen neck muscles
  • Rolling
  • Pulling (on mommy’s hair)

Babies (6 – 12 months) – some of the above plus:

  • Picking up objects and examining
  • Crawling
  • Walking assisted to learn to balance

Toddlers/Kids (12months+)

  • Walking, running, climbing, jumping, throwing, swinging
  • Any sport activity

2. Builds Brainpower – Play promotes mental health through social interaction, learn cause and effect, spatial relationships, motor skills, language skills by pointing and communicating with the objects they are playing with. Through the social interaction, play will help kids in advancing through developmental milestones through imitating other kids (peer pressure 🙂 ).

3. Reduce Stress – Kids may have their frustrations and gets stressed too. Through play, they are being silly and just letting go – this will lower their blood pressure and increases endorphins.

4. Develop Imagination and Creativity – Imagination and creativity are very important skills to have for a child and even into adulthood as this is a precursor to developing problem solving skills. Through play, kids go into a pretend world and their imagination develops new situations and ideas and create new solutions to problems in their fantasy world. In a radio interview, a principal once said sometimes the reason for fresh graduates with high academic standing not being able find a job is because they lack creativity in solving problems compared to those with average marks but with great creativity. They are book smart but being ask to provide various solutions to different types of questions they sometimes blank out.

5. Helps Conquer Challenges – In their pretend world, kids may be a doctor who cures a teddy bear with a sickness, a mommy who takes care of a baby doll or a superhero who kills a villain. Whatever these may be, play helps them experience these emotions of conquering challenges and prepares them for the real world later on in life 🙂

Play is the best time we can give to kids when they are young. I think play dates or play groups are great because after each play date, it is rewarding for the kids and adults get to interact while they play with or beside each other.

What do your kids love to play with?

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Baby Food – Part 1 (with a recipe!)

Food is a big topic. This is so big that I almost don’t know where to begin. Often, I have asked friends or they would ask me,”What is your baby eating these days?”. Before I talk about some baby food recipes, I want to talk about jarred baby food.

Jarred Baby Food

When I started making baby food, I would go to the supermarket’s baby aisle to get ideas on what to make for baby to try for the next 3-4 days – as is recommended that babies should have a 4 day wait rule when introducing solid foods. At first, I really was tempted to stock up on jarred baby food for the convenience and a lot of variety is offered on the shelves. I made some homemade food and also bought some jarred baby food like puree prune for those “uneasy #2 days”. I noticed the baby food that I made are a lot thicker than what you get from jarred food.

Ingredients: WATER, CHICKEN, TOMATO PUREE, SQUASH, RICE, RED PEPPERS, CELERY, CARROTS, ZUCCHINI, PEAS, LENTILS, YELLOW SPLIT PEAS, TAPIOCA FLOUR, BROWN RICE FLOUR, SAFFLOWER OIL, ONION POWDER, SPICES, CHICKEN BROTH, GARLIC POWDER, DEHYDRATED PARSLEY.

A close look at the ingredients label shows that water is the first ingredient in a lot of these baby jarred foods. The order of the ingredients in food/cosmetic labels often indicates the content of the ingredients from most to least – i.e. most of these baby jarred foods has water as the highest content compared relatively to other food ingredients. This means for the chicken & vegetable paella above, you are feeding as much chicken, or a little less, as water to your baby.

Conversely, if you make your own baby food, you are only adding a little bit of water to allow food to be blended in a food processor. Another fact is that baby food may be on the shelve for couple years in the store – so you may be feeding food that is older than your baby.

Jarred food is great when you want to let baby try a little bit to see if they are allergic to the food or not. Sometimes you just want to spend 70 cents for a jar of green beans instead of spending the effort to wash and cook a few beans. It is also great to take out or have as an emergency when you have forgotten to bring baby food from home. If you do need to buy food for convenience, the baby food in a pouch is a better option. With these ones, you don’t even need a spoon and baby can suck at the opening to get food on the go or you can buy an attachment spoon which fits most of these pouches.

Ingredients: APPLE PUREE*, BLUEBERRY PUREE*, WATER, QUINOA FLAKES*, WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLAKES*, TAPIOCA STARCH*, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE*, ASCORBIC ACID. *ORGANIC MAY CONTAIN WHEAT.

These are also pricier (more than $1 CAD each) and you are paying what you get – no water as a first ingredient.

Homemade Baby Food

I am not sure if there are many websites that are dedicated to baby food recipes, but one that I find informative is the Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food Recipe. It talks about the foods that baby should eat at each stage (4 -6 months, 6 – 8 months,…) and each food’s benefit and recipes and general guidelines on how to make baby food.

Rice Cereal as a first food?

Rice cereal is often recommended as a first food to introduce to baby but there are other foods that can be introduced to baby too. Avocado which is packed with nutrients is also a possible choice. Orange foods like squash is easily digestible for baby’s young digestive system. Some babies actually don’t like rice cereal and it may cause constipation for some too. BRAT foods – banana, rice, apple, toast may cause constipation as they don’t contain much fiber.

P-foods to relieve constipation

Often, when babies start solid foods, their bowel movement may not be as often as compared to when they were solely on breast milk or formula. Foods that start with the letter p like peas, pear, prunes, peaches are good for relieving constipation. I find prunes often works well and can be mixed with rice cereal or other grains as the ones that come from jar are very sweet.

Tip: To avoid constipation, combine foods high in fiber with one that may cause constipation (BRAT food) like the one described below.

Recipe #1: Sweet Potatoe, Apples and Chicken

This is all-in-one sweet and savoury recipe that has it all – carb+fruit+protein. These three ingredients are all part of the first foods that can be given to baby after meat is introduced. Sweet potatoe is packed with lots of nutrients and fiber while apple provides a bit of a fruity flavour to make the sweet potatoe not too filling. Chicken is the protein part of this yummy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potatoe, medium sized  – sliced to half inch thick or diced to half inch cubes
  • 1 apple – diced to cubes
  • 1 chicken breast – diced

Sweet potatoe can be sliced or diced to cubes and steamed on high for 15 minutes. Put diced apple and chicken on another plate and steamed for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Put all cooked ingredients along with the liquid from steaming in blender and blend to desired consistency.

What is your baby’s favourite food(s) so far?