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Selecting cuts of meat for baby food

When selecting cuts of meat for baby, it is better to choose a lean and tender cut for baby to easily chew and digest. This post will talk about different cuts that are suitable for baby and young toddlers.

1. Chicken

  • Chicken breast: This is the leaner cut of meat compared to the rest of the chicken. Chicken breast also has more protein compared to other dark meat part of the chicken.
  • Chicken drumstick: When I started introducing meat, chicken breast was the first meat I gave to baby in thinking that it is a more healthier option compared to eat meat with less animal fat. However, chicken drumstick has more iron compared to the white meat portion of the chicken. It is also not as dry and more tender compared to the breast. It has a slightly higher fat content than chicken breast.
  • Ground chicken: Ground meat is very versatile and can be made into meatloaf or meat sauce or meatballs for baby as finger food. It is important to cook ground meats thoroughly as uncooked ground meat will can cause food poisoning.

2. Pork

  • Pork tenderloin: This is the most tender part of the pig. This portion can be sliced and made to stir fry or baked whole with sauce. After the tenderloin is cooked, it can be placed in food processor for easier consumption for baby.
  • Pork butt / shoulder: This is one of the dark meat part of the pig. It is more economical compared to pork tenderloin but because of the location of the meat, there may sometimes be some wild taste so more spice or marinade (low or no salt) needs to be applied.
  • Ground pork: Be sure to choose extra lean ground pork as the pig has higher fat content compared to chicken.

3. Beef – provides high iron content for baby. It can be quite stringy even after food processing so it is important to choose portions which are appropriate for baby.

  • Beef tenderloin: This is a very tender portion of the cow but usually sold as a one big piece at the grocery store. Unless you plan to freeze it and use it for several meals, you may want to consider other parts of the beef.
  • Eye of Round: This portion has very little veins or tendon and low fat content. This portion is also more economical compared to other cuts of the beef.
  • Filet Mignon: A very tender portion of the cow and can be pricey depending on where you buy it.
  • Stewing beef: A rather stringy cut of the beef and requires long cooking time for it to be tender (1 hour+). It needs to be food processed for easy digestion for baby.
  • Ground beef: Choose extra lean ground beef for baby as cow can be high fat content in ground meats.

4. Turkey – a leaner option of poultry meat. Similar to chicken, turkey breast, drumstick and ground turkey meat can be served to baby.

5. Lamb – a leaner option compared to beef.

  • Leg of lamb – a very big piece of meat that requires oven baking for an hour or more. It is dark meat so it is moist and tender when cooked right.
  • Shank – this piece can be braised and quite tender when cooked. A good meat option for baby.
  • Ground meat – there may be wild taste of the lamb if it is ground meat with some fat. May require spices like rosemary to get rid of the wild / game taste.

As a reference, here is a link for safe internal cooking temperature of different meats:

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/safety-salubrite/cook-temperatures-cuisson-eng.php

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What is your baby’s favourite meat?

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Breakfast ideas for toddlers (12 months+)

Has your baby gotten bored of eating mushy foods? Before they get their molars, babies can have some easy to chew foods to keep them interested during meal time. This post will give you some breakfast ideas that hopefully your baby will enjoy!

Cheerios with milk

A fast and quick breakfast fix but not the most healthy option.

 

Cheese and fruit (smoothie) – not blended together 😛

Cut up several slices of cheese and fruit for baby to nibble on. You can also make a quick smoothie with fruits like banana, blueberry, strawberry, mango or other fruits that your baby loves.

 

Mini eggo

Another quick breakfast and looking closely at the label, they contain some added vitamins in it. Not a bad choice for a quick and nutritious breakfast. Spread a bit of homemade fruit puree or jam and/or cream cheese to the eggo for added nutrition.

Homestyle Minis

Toast with eggs and cheese

Put a slice or two pieces of bread in the toaster.

While bread is toasting, scramble an egg with a tiny bit of oil for 2-3 minutes until egg is no longer runny. Sprinkle some cheese when egg is almost done and let the cheese melt a bit.

Once egg is cooled down a bit and still warm, they can be served to baby as finger food with toasted bread.

 

Homemade pancakes made with eggs

There are many pancake recipes out there. Use the ones that have eggs and milk for more nutrition. Good to serve as finger food as well.

Example recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

This can be made in a batches and put in freezer. Microwave for 15-20 seconds before serving.

Oatmeal with fruits

A quick 5-10 minutes cooking time for another nutritious meal.

Use your preferred oats and pour milk or water to boil for 5 mins. Add cut up fruit like strawberry, mango, blueberry, peaches, and a ripe banana for natural sweetness. You may want to slightly blend it as oat is hard to digest for baby’s young stomach. Can be made in a big batch as well and store in fridge for up to 3 days.

Quaker Quick OatsPackages of Frozen Fruit

 

Porridge with meat and veggies

An asian breakfast if your baby prefers a more “savoury” option.

Boil rice with water, add minced meat and veggies of your choice to make a nice comforting porridge.

 

Egg and Cheese Muffins

Found this yummy recipe from http://www.theseasonedmom.com/egg-and-cheese-mini-muffins/. With a few simple ingredients of egg, milk and cheese, these mini muffins can be made in a mini muffin pan and stored up and microwaved when ready to eat.

 

Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins

 

Hope your baby will enjoy one or more of these breakfast ideas! What is your baby’s favourite breakfast food?

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Baby is coming! What to pack to the hospital?

Photo courtesy of http://www.curiositiesbydickens.com/tag/childbirth/

On the countdown to the last weeks of pregnancy, you may probably be thinking, “baby, come out any moment now!”. But wait, have you thought about what to bring to the hospital yet (for those giving birth at a hospital / birth center and not “mid-wifing” at home) ? There are lots of “hospital checklists” on baby related sites and here I would like to highlight “the why” for some of these essential items that you may wish to consider bringing while you still got time to read my blog.. haha.

1. Pyjamas and Slippers for Mom and Dad

After you give birth, you will be staying in the hospital for at least a day or two. Giving birth is a big event and you may feel exhausted or very excited after it. While you are at the hospital, you still want to be able to catch some sleep in between the baby crying as rest is very important for post-partum recovery and making breastmilk. Hospital bed is not too comfortable to sleep in but you still want to wear your own comfy pyjamas to sleep in it and walk around after giving birth. Also, it is important to have dad around and he needs to sleep too so pack his pyjamas for him (he will most likely not remember). You probably don’t want to wear your outdoor shoes when in the hospital room so you may want to take your slippers or loafers there too.

2. Toiletries for mom and dad

As the birthing event is like going on an overnight trip, you will need to bring toothbrush, soap/shampoo as if you are going on a mini trip. Sometimes labour can last many hours so after it is done, you may want to freshen up 🙂 Also, if you intend to take pictures with baby at the hospital, moms may want to bring makeup to avoid looking too exhausted (if that thought crosses your mind). I have seen some pictures where moms look very very exhausted and some that are totally glammed up as if a makeup artist went and did a makeover for her.

3. A hat, onesies, newborn diapers for the new little one

The new joy of bundle will be wrapped in hospital cloth (yes, cloth) after it is born. After the first night, a hospital photographer may come and take photos for the baby and you may want to dress your baby in new clothes :). Also, baby needs clothes to go home in a car seat! A stretchable hat is important to keep the little head warm as newborn’s body is not established yet to produce enough body warmth at the beginning. Hospital may provide the first diaper and hat but afterwards you will need to use your own or purchase a “hospital bag” with some of these essentials for baby. You may bring around 20 diapers if you will be out within a day or two.

4. Peri-pads / Maxi pads

There will be quite a bit of post-partum bleeding after giving birth as the uterus continues to shed lining from tears from placenta. You will need some maxi pads (large size) for this. Hospital may provide them sometimes.

5. Camera 

Time to charge up your digital camera and have an extra battery pack to bring to the hospital. This is something to do ahead of time as you may probably forget when it is time to go to the hospital. You can use your cellphone if anything but you probably want to snap the fine details of those little hands and feet in a proper camera 🙂

6. Food and Nutritious Drinks for after labour

Labour is an energy-burning process and you would want to replenish it after giving birth. As soon as you you go into labour, you cannot eat and can only drink water or clear juice. This can go on for hours or the whole day depending on the progress of the labour. What’s more important is that what you eat and drink will help you produce breastmilk. I have heard from friends who didn’t know that meals after giving birth was important for producing milk and it had delayed their milk production. This is also often not mentioned in other baby related websites or blogs about what to bring to hospital. Establishing breastfeeding can be a frustrating process so it is important to eat well and have good amount of liquid soon after labour. It’s good to bring some food and drink and store it in the hospital fridge. I think most birthing rooms are equipped with a fridge.

Drink – Milk, Soy Milk, or Gatorade

I remember bringing a box of soy milk which had added vitamins to the hospital as that does not require fridge storage. Energy drink like Gatorade would be a good choice too. You need nutrients to make milk so soft drinks or caffeinated drinks are probably not a good idea.

Nutrition facts of Silk Soy Beverage: http://www.drinksilk.ca/products/organic-original-soy-beverage

Original Soy Nutrition

Food

New moms should have nutritious meals after giving birth. I would say probably this is something to keep in mind as long as you are breastfeeding. The hospital will probably provide meals for as long as you are there after giving birth but I wouldn’t depend on the hospital to provide nutritious meal. They know you have given birth but they are probably not going to provide a buffet of food. If you have family or friends who can bring some homemade meals, it would probably be the best option. Otherwise, get your partner or family to order some food to be delivered at the hospital. Maybe time to satisfy some sushi craving?

7. Infant Car Seat

Depending on the country you are giving birth, some may require you to have a car seat for baby before leaving the hospital. Have your partner or someone to sit this up in the car where you will be taken to give birth. The nurses at the hospital will not show you how to setup a car seat or get your baby in one. It’s best your partner or those accompanying you get familiar with how the car seat works. Hospital can dispatch you and baby only if you have baby safe in a car seat.

8. Entertainment for yourself

Books, puzzles, cellphone (games) will be good to have if you are the calm type who can silently go through labour and waiting for baby to come. There may be some boring moments while the wait is happening.

Other general tips:

  • Try to pack light as you don’t want to spend a lot of time to pack the things back to go home. Hospital is not a comfy place where you want to spend a lot of time at. With a new baby, you may forget things to bring back home as you will have to take care of the little one.
  • It’s OK to forget to bring things. Just keep your family or friends in the loop after you go into labour so they are prepared as well to come and bring you things that you need afterwards.
  • The hospital will probably baby shampoo and babies are generally very clean so don’t worry if you didn’t bring it to the hospital.
  • Try to pack this hospital bag 2 months in advance in case baby decides to come out earlier than expected. Let’s hope it stays in there until 36 weeks at least.
  • You don’t need to follow exactly what websites suggest to bring. In most cases, majority of the items may not be needed while you are at the hospital. Bring what make sense to you.

I am sure you will find tons of other websites for hospital checklists. I hope reading mine added some more useful info for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?