Homemade Whole Grain Baby Cereals

Homemade Whole Grain Baby Cereals

baby cereal

When it comes for your baby to start solids, infant cereals are one of the foods you’ll think of. There are a handful of infant cereal options in the grocery stores, but the options are rather limited to rice and oatmeal, and occasionally corn. Rice and oatmeal are the least allergenic and why they are widely used. However, there are many grains you can use for your baby’s cereal, and it is quite easy to do!

Great Grains for Starters

[6 months of age]

  • Rice is the least allergenic grain and is often recommended as baby’s first cereal. Any rice is suitable for baby; brown jasmine rice and plain brown rice make a nice blend for cereals, as do basmati and plain brown rice.
  • Oatmeal is another great starter cereal for baby to start with. It is high in fiber, calcium, protein and even some B vitamins. Old fashioned, steel cut, and rolled oats are all suitable for baby cereal.
  • Barley is fabulous source of fiber, as well as Vitamin A, Folate and even protein. When cooked, barely’s texture is similar to that of rice. Barely most commonly comes in hulled, rolled, and pearled form, and all three are perfect for baby cereal.

Great Grains for Advancing Eaters

[8 months and up]

  • Buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain; however it is tossed into the whole grain category. It is high in fiber and is a source of iron and folate. It does have a strong flavor, so mixing the buckwheat 50/50 or 25/75 with a milder grain would probably be best for your baby.
  • Kamut is a high protein grain, about 30% more protein than wheat. It has a wonderful sweet and almost buttery flavor.  Its shape looks similar to basmati rice.
  • Millet is rich in B vitamins, potassium, iron, and is even considered a good protein source. It has a bead-like shape and a mild flavor, leaving it open to take on any flavor mixed with. It is gluten free and a great option for grain sensitivities.
  • Quinoa is packed with fiber, iron, and is a great plant source of protein! It has a slightly nutty flavor, but overall is not very strong. It too is gluten free.

Once you have chosen the desired grain to make for your baby’s meal, you’ll need to grind it up to a much finer consistency than its whole form. To grind your cereal grain of choice, you can use a clean coffee/spice grinder, food processor, or blender. Regardless of method, you will want the whole grains ground pretty finely, so the texture is suitable for the toothless eater.

You might be wondering if you can simply add breast milk/formula/water to this grain cereal, like you can to commercial infant cereals, but that is not the case here. Infant cereals you can buy in the grocery store have been precooked and dehydrated, leaving you the simple task of rehydrating the grain cereal. Since there is no prior cooking these grains you’re working with, will you need to cook the grain cereal before feeding it to your little one.

It is easier to grind up the grains prior to cooking, but there is no reason you can’t cook the grain first and then blend afterwards; whichever you find best. The general rule of thumb for cooking these ground grains is 1/4 cup ground cereal to  1-2 cups water. If you err on the side of  1 cup of water, you can always thin out the cooked cereal afterwards with breast milk or more water.

The steps for cooking the cereal are easy:

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to boil
  2. Add in the ¼ c of ground grain
  3. WHISK WHISK WHISK
  4. Cool and serve, or store in refrigerator.

When cooking any ground grain “powder” for homemade baby cereal, the key is to whisk continually as you are cooking to avoid clumping.

Any milled whole grain should be stored in an air tight container, and preferably in your refrigerator. You can store them in a cool dry place, just be sure to check on the status of the grains if you use them infrequently. You can also freeze precooked cereals the same way you would fruit and vegetable purees.

As your baby grows and their palette is expanding, mixing in some fruit and vegetable purees is a fun way to introduce new flavors and keep your baby’s diet full of variety. You can also add a hint of cinnamon and/or vanilla to your baby’s infant cereal, and oh my is it tasty!

How did your experience with making your own infant cereal go? We’d love to know any tips you’ve got!

 

Written By: Anna Cayot

Sources:

Wholesomebabyfood.com (2012). Cereal. Retrieved from:

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/cereal.htm

Wholesomebabyfood.com (2011). Grains for baby foods. Retrieved from: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/grains-for-baby-food.htm#.U0SZ6_ldUuf

Photo credits: 1st photo- Becky @ thevintagemixer.com; 2nd photo- Susan B @ bloatarecall.blogspot.com cover http://www.popsugar.com/moms/photo-gallery/28209298/image/28209305/First-Foods

Easter Celebrations

Easter Celebrations

The Easter Bunny is coming to town!

Easter is known as a “moveable feast” because unlike many other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, it doesn’t fall on a set date each year.  Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring equinox on March 21st. This date can fall anywhere between March 22nd to April 25th.

This year, Easter is April 5th, this Sunday!

On a day that has become known for its sweets and candies, cook up one of these healthy and yummy recipes your whole family will love!

Sun-dried tomato, Mushroom, and Spinach Tofu Quiche

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water, mixed together
  • 1 cup whole almonds, ground into flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats or buckwheat groats, ground into flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1-2.5 tbsp water, as needed
  • For the quiche:
  • 1 block (14-oz) firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 leek or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (8-oz) sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a round 10-inch tart pan. Alternatively, you can use a 9-inch glass pie dish if desired.
  2. Wrap rinsed tofu in a few tea towels. Place a few books on top of it to lightly press out the water while you prepare the crust.
  3. For the crust: Whisk together flax and water mixture in a small bowl and set aside so it can gel up.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, oat flour (or buckwheat flour), parsley, oregano, and salt.
  5. Add in the flax mixture and oil. Stir until mostly combined, adding the remaining water until the dough is sticky (about the consistency of cookie dough). The dough should stick together when you press it between your fingers.
  6. Crumble the dough evenly over the base of the tart pan (or pie dish). Starting from the centre of the pan, press the mixture evenly into the pan, working your way outward and up the sides of the pan. Poke a few fork holes in the dough so air can escape.
  7. Bake the crust at 350F for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm to touch. Set aside to cool while you finish preparing the filling. Increase oven temperature to 375F.
  8. For the filling: Break apart the tofu block into 4 pieces and add into food processor. Process the tofu until smooth and creamy. If it doesn't get creamy, add a tiny splash of almond milk to help it along.
  9. In a skillet, add oil and saute the leek (or onion) and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt, and cook on medium-high heat until most of the water cooks off the mushrooms, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, nutritional yeast, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until combined. Cook until the spinach is wilted.
  10. Finally, remove from heat and stir in the processed tofu until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasoning to taste if desired. Spoon mixture into baked crust and smooth out with a spoon until even.
  11. Bake quiche, uncovered, at 375F for 33-37 minutes, until the quiche is firm to the touch. For best results, cool the quiche for 15-20 minutes on a cooling rack before attempting to slice. The crust may crumble slightly when sliced warm, but not to worry.
  12. Wrap up leftovers and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Leftover quiche can be reheated in the oven on a baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes at 350F.

Spring Salad with Strawberries, Asparagus, and Lemon Dressing

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced into rounds or half moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt & lots of pepper, to taste
  • lemon zest, for garnish
  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place into a medium pot. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15-17 minutes, or until fluffy and all the water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grab a very large skillet or wok. Sauté the leek and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add in the asparagus and sauté for another 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crisp. Stir in the strawberries (optional), peas, and parsley. Heat for a few minutes and then remove from heat.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt) to taste. Pour dressing onto skillet mixture and stir in the cooked quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper & enjoy! This would also be lovely with nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.

Peanut Better Balls

Ingredients (16-20 balls):

  • 1 cup 100% natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 3.5-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free rice crisp cereal
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Stir the jar of peanut butter well before using. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter and maple syrup vigorously, for 30-60 seconds, until it thickens up. It will go from runny to thick during this time.
  2. Stir in the coconut flour until combined (if your PB is dry, you might be able to skip this step or only use half). We're looking for a texture that isn't too sticky, but not too dry either. Let it sit for a couple minutes to firm up as the coconut flour will continue to absorb moisture with time. Add a touch more coconut flour if necessary. Or if it's too dry, add a touch more syrup.
  3. Add salt to taste and stir in the cereal.
  4. Shape into small balls (I made about 17).
  5. In a small pot, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently. Once half the chips have melted, remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
  6. With a fork, dip the balls into the melted chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate on the side of the pot and place the ball on a plate or cutting board lined with parchment. Repeat for the rest. Save any leftover melted chocolate for later.
  7. Place balls in the freezer for around 6-8 minutes until mostly firm.
  8. Dip a fork into the leftover melted chocolate and drizzle it on top of the balls to create a "sophisticated" design like the baking diva you are.
  9. Freeze the balls for another 10-15 minutes, until the chocolate is completely set.

Keep your family healthy and happy this Easter by trying these delicious recipes!

Happy Easter!

 

Written by: Dana Stretchbery

Recipe Adaptations:

http://ohsheglows.com

Images:

http://ohsheglows.com

www.weheartrecipes.com

Passover Celebrations

Passover Celebrations

We have some delicious and family-friendly Passover recipes just in time for the start of Passover and Seder dinner this weekend!

Spring Vegetable Matzo Ball Soup

Try this delicious spin on traditional Matzo Ball soup!

Matzo Balls:

Ingredients (Makes About 24 matzo balls)

  • 1 cup quinoa flakes (see Note*)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup matzo meal (or 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes for a gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. optional
  • 1/4 cup light vegetable oil (like safflower)

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the matzo meal (or additional quinoa flakes for GF), salt, pepper, optional onion powder, and oil. Mix until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.
  4. Roll the matzo meal mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don’t pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch; don’t let them brown.
  6. If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium-hot oven or in the microwave, and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving.

*Note: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes are now Kosher for Passover! If your local natural foods retailer doesn’t carry them, they can order a box or two for you. Or look for them online.

Soup:

Ingredients: (serves 8 to 10)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • Handful of celery leaves
  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower, optional
  • 32-ounce vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon minced fresh dill, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden.
  2. Add the potato, carrots, celery, and celery leaves, optional cauliflower, vegetable broth, and 2 cups water.
  3. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables tender but not overcooked.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Allow the soup to stand off the heat for two hours or longer to develop flavor.
  5. Just before serving, add the dill and heat the soup through. Add more water if the vegetables seem crowded, then adjust the seasonings. Add the Matzo balls lastly and enjoy!

Spinach, Leek, and Potato Matzo Gratin

Ingredients (8 to 10 servings):

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
  • 10 to 12 ounces baby spinach, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 matzos
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts for topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook, bake or microwave the potatoes in their skins until just tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  3. Cover the cashews with 1 cup of boiling water in a heatproof bowl and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Drain the cashews, then combine with the avocado and lemon juice in a food processor. Process until smoothly puréed; drizzle enough water through the feed tube while the processor is running to give the mixture a thick, creamy texture.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks and sauté over medium-low heat until golden. Add the spinach in batches, covering and cooking until wilted to make room for all of it. Stir in the cashew cream, dill and matzo meal. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Break each matzo in half, and place in a shallow container. Cover with room-temperature water in a shallow container until slightly pliable (don’t let them get mushy), about 2 minutes; drain. Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish.
  6. Layer the casserole as follows: line the bottom with a layer of matzos, using two matzos per layer. Follow with a layer of potato slices, half of the spinach mixture, and another layer of matzos. Repeat, ending with a layer of matzo.
  7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden with spots of brown. Let stand for 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. If you will be topping with pine nuts, sprinkle them over the top about 10 minutes or so before the gratin is done, to allow them to get lightly toasted.

And for dessert…..

Carrot-Apple Pudding

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  • 1/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 5 large carrots, grated
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons safflower or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sweet Passover wine (or substitute
  • pomegranate juice, or similar no-sugar dark red juice)
  • 1/4 cup natural granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Combine the quinoa flakes with 2/3 cup boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Let stand while the other ingredients are being prepared.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour in the quinoa flakes and mix well.
  4. Pour into an oiled 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and crusty. Let cool. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Infants can enjoy Passover too with this delicious and simple recipe!

Sweet Potato Puree (for infants 4-6 months)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 13 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons water, formula, or breast milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Bake at 400° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Cool 45 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  3. Peel sweet potatoes. Place flesh in a food processor; process until smooth, adding 2 tablespoons water, formula, or breast milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

 

Sources:

Recipe Adaptation

http://www.vegkitchen.com

www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potatoes

images:

http://www.vegkitchen.com

www.huffingtonpost.com

www.babybullet.org

 

Vegetable Spotlight...Artichokes!

Vegetable Spotlight...Artichokes!

artichoke section yourfoodstory.com

Springtime is upon us and so are these delicious vegetables, artichokes! With their nutty, yet mild earthy taste, (similar to beets, but much milder), getting sweeter as you get closer to the heart, and a multitude of options in which they can be used in makes them a fabulous vegetable!

The word “artichoke” is derived from the arabic word al-qarshuf. Through the course of time its spelling and pronunciation has varied, but once it came to the English language, primarily from the French language where it was called artichaut, came the current spelling and pronunciation.

Artichoke season runs mainly from March to June, and then again for a period of time in the fall months. Most of the U.S. grown artichokes come from California, so it might be a bit challenging to find these at your local farmers market.

Artichokes vary in color from dark green to purple, and common varieties include Green Globe and Big Heart. These peculiar looking vegetables are a great source of fiber, with one medium artichoke offering 10 grams. They also are rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium, and are high in antioxidants too!

When it comes to buying artichokes, you want to find ones that are heavy for their size. Look for tightly closed, olive green leaves, and moist, healthy stems. A few purple streaks on the leaves are acceptable, but limp, brownish globes should be passed by. 

Keep artichokes loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh artichokes will last up to a week, but like all veggies are best the sooner after harvest they are used. For refrigerated storage, slice a dime width off of the artichoke stem, sprinkle the raw artichoke stems with water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Cooked artichokes should be cooled completely and covered before you put them in the refrigerator, where they can keep for up to a week.

Cleaning and cooking artichokes is considerably easily once you know what you are doing. Check out these great visually aided steps on how to clean and cook an artichoke.

zucchini artichoke bites yourfoodstory.com

Artichokes are one the most versatile vegetables, lending their tasty and mild flavor to any dish possible. A fun way to serve artichokes is as a healthy alternative to chips! Their leaves are a great and healthy vessel for salsa, guacamole, and any other favorite dip. As we all already know, artichokes make a tasty dip with spinach, but they also make a flavorful addition to soups, flat breads, and just plain as a snack.

To introduce the flavor of artichokes to our little ones, this fabulous lemon-artichoke hummus would do the trick. Pair it with some celery stalks, carrot pieces, or whole wheat crackers and they’ll be sold! Toddlers would also enjoy these Grilled Artichoke Pesto Zucchini Bites. Simply swap out the parmigiano reggiano cheese for any vegan cheese of your choice and as always using prepared artichokes from scratch is best if you can do it!

child eating artichokes yourfoodstory.com

The whole artichoke itself can be used as a serving bowl, too! You simply take out the center portion of a cooked artichoke (this part is the small tender leaves and the choke) and fill it with whatever you like. This would be fun for toddlers, they can eat their bowl! A vegetable chili or even this vegetable paella with artichokes looks absolutely delicious and perfect to fill an artichoke bowl with!

Since the weather is getting nice and warm, adding artichoke sections to your grilled vegetable variety is a great way to take advantage of good food and great weather!

What is the most creative way you’ve cooked artichokes? Let us know!

 

 

Written by: Anna Cayot

References:

Angelo, D. (2011). Spring Fling: All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2011/05/18/in-season-artichokes/

Ocean Mist Farms. (2014). All about artichokes.  Retrieved from: http://www.oceanmist.com/products/artichokes-2/

Watson, M. (). All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://localfoods.about.com/od/artichokes/tp/aboutartichokes.htm

Williams- Sonoma Kitchen. (2000). All about artichokes.  Retrieved from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/tip/all-about-artichokes.html

Photo credits:

cover photo-http://artichokes.org/top photo- http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/01/arti-anatomy.png; bottom photo- http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/artichokes-how-to-serve-the-green-flower-veggie-to-your-kids/

 

Superfood Spotlight...Goji Berries!

Superfood Spotlight...Goji Berries!

berries.jpg

What are they?

Goji berries, also known as “wolfberries” are classically grown from an evergreen shrub in China, Mongolia, the Himalayas of Tibet, and in India. They are a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants whose relatives include the eggplant, tomato, and peppers. They are most often see in their dried form, and look like red long raisins. These little guys are one of the most nutritionally rich fruits on earth!

Why are they super?

Goji berries hold many health benefits!

  • With all 18 amino acids, they are considered a “complete protein.”
  • They are extremely high in Vitamin A  (beta carotene). In fact, just 1 tablespoon of these berries contains 36% of the daily recommended Vitamin A!
  • They contain more Vitamin C by weight than any other food on Earth!
  • They contain more iron that spinach (sorry Popeye!)
  • They contain many trace minerals our bodies need to function such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, and copper.
  • They are rich in phytonutrients and anti-oxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for healthy eyes and a functioning nervous system.
  • One of the greatest benefits of goji berries is that are high in a compound known as Lycium barbarum, a polysaccharide which as been shown to enhance immunity and reduce inflammation.

How to eat them?

Goji berries are safe for children over the age of 1 in moderation. There are some medications that may adversely interact with goji berries and goji berry juice, so if you have any concerns about feeding your children goji berries, please check with you family doctor in order to avoid the risks. You can soak them and blend them up or eat them dry.

Try these delicious goji berry recipes today!

Cranberry Goji Berry Muffins

Ingredients  (Makes 12)

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour (whole wheat or a mixture)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 cup + a handful of cranberries (frozen ones are ok too)
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 3/4 cups of goji berries
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 flax eggs

Directions:

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Take 1/2 c of the orange juice and soak the goji berries in it for 20 minutes.  This will "plump" up the berries a bit.
  2. In a medium to large bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix well.
  3. Mix the coconut oil, flax eggs, remaining orange juice (1 1/2 cups), and mashed banana together in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, combining well.
  5. Add 1 cup of cranberries to the batter, as well as the orange juice/goji mixture.  Mix.
  6. Microwave the remaining cranberries (1 handful) for 1 minute.  Mash them, adding the chia seeds.  Let this sit for 1-2 minutes, and then microwave for 20 seconds.  Add this to the batter.
  7. Grease a muffin tin and place in liners.  Scoop the batter into the liners, filling them up to the top and even higher if possible.  These don't really rise, so it's okay to make them big. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool.

Goji Berry Breakfast Bars:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon Goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash banana in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Lightly wipe an 8 X 8 baking pan with a small amount of olive oil. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cut into bars.
  4. Refrigerate any leftover bars.

Fun fact:

Legend says a man named Li Qing Yuen consumed goji berries daily and lived to be 252 years old!

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://www.naturalnews.com/036003_goji_berries_superfood_nutrients.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/goji-berries-worthy-of-the-name-superfood.html

http://greatist.com/health/superfood-goji-berries

http://yogadigest.com/7-fun-facts-about-goji-berries/

Images:

www.topcultured.com

www.bestherbalhealth.com

www.goodlifemississauga.com

www.Huffingtonpost.com

Recipe Adaptation:

http://positiveponderings.blogspot.com/2011/02/healthy-vegan-cranberry-gogi-muffins.html

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ANTIOXIDANT-RICH-BREAKFAST-BARS-50167938

Vegetable Spotlight...Collard Greens!

Vegetable Spotlight...Collard Greens!

collard greens growing http://www.yourfoodstory.com/blog/2015/3/6/vegetable-spotlightcollard-greens #yourfoodstory

Collard greens are one of the delicious and hearty vegetables that are in season in late winter. They’re packed with vitamins K and A, making them a great choice for you and your family. Collard greens are traditional in many Southern style dishes.

It is recommended that children do not eat collard greens until about six months of age. Before this time, nitrates in the vegetable can be dangerous to your baby. After six months, however, they are perfectly safe as long as they are pureed well to avoid excess stringiness that could be hard for babies to chew.

Although collard greens are typically cooked with ham hocks or other animal-based products, there are tons of ways to cook them vegetarian style as well! Here are some great healthy recipes for your baby:

Purple Potatoes and Collard Greens

  • 1 purple potato
  • 2 cups chopped baby collards

Peel potato and chop into half-inch cubes. Place on the bottom of a steamer basket over a saucepan with 1 inch of water. Put the two cups washed and chopped collards on top of the potatoes. Steam for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend using the cooking liquid. Adding water or olive oil may be necessary to keep the mixture from becoming stiff and starchy.

Beans, Collards, and Rice

  • 1 cup collard greens, cooked
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup water

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Have you tried Collard Greens with your little one yet? We would love to hear about your experience! 

 

Written by: Chloe Cerino

Sources:

http://www.gloryfoods.com/collard-greens/

http://www.marthastewart.com/286291/collard-greens-recipes/@center/1009854/winter-produce

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138

http://www.recipe.com/beans-collards-and-rice-baby-food/

http://patch.com/california/millvalley/homemade-baby-food-is-easier-than-you-think

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-baby-eat-collard-mustard-greens-4947.html

kenrockwell.com (cover image)

http://www.realtimefarms.com/pic/ahNzfnJlYWx0aW1lZmFybXMtaHJkcgwLEgNQaWMY3JOQAww

Probiotics and Kids

Probiotics and Kids

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a clinical report stating that, although probiotics are likely safe, it’s not clear how effective they are or what the long-term effects may be.

Lets look at the facts…

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help maintain the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. We have around 100 trillion healthy bacteria in our guts. Probiotics aid these good bacteria, especially when they have been wiped out or compromised, in defending the body against illness. Sometimes probiotics are similar to the good bacteria that already exists in your gut.

The digestive tract makes up more than 70% of our immune system, which helps bad bacteria and viruses from attacking our bodies. When an infant is born, they swallow amniotic fluid, which starts to colonize and stimulate the growth of good bacteria in a baby’s body. In the first two years of their lives, kids’ immune systems are still not fully mature. Probiotics can help supplement their growing bacteria so that their body and immune system is functioning. Because of this link between a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system, adding probiotics to your child’s daily regimen may be beneficial to their overall health.

Are they safe?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, probiotics don’t appear to cause any ill effects in healthy, full term babies. However, the case may not be the same for preterm babies, those with weakened immune systems, and those with catheters or medical devices inside their bodies. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of probiotics in children who have these conditions or a diagnosed digestive problem. Because each child may react to probiotics differently, you should talk to your pediatrician before adding them to your child’s diet. In addition, be sure to buy the appropriate probiotic for your child’s age. There are probiotics available for kids age 3 months and older.

Are they necessary or beneficial?

The human body carries more than 100 trillion micro-organisms in our intestines. These bacteria perform a very important role in the proper functioning of our body. Each person’s bacteria is different. Probiotics only contain several of the hundred of types of bacteria in our gut. However, it is thought when this normal bacteria is disrupted, probiotics can be useful.

An example of this would be when you are taking an antibiotic, which temporarily wipes out some good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can help by occupying that niche and fighting against bad bacteria until the good bacteria is able to re-grow.

Some of the benefits associated with probiotic use include:

  • reduction of diarrhea; in fact, a review of nine studies on the effect of Lactobacillus, a component of most probiotics, as therapy for diarrhea in children concluded that: "Lactobacillus is safe and effective as a treatment for children with acute infectious diarrhea" (Van Niel et al, Pediatrics 109:678-84, 2002).
  • enhanced immunity
  • prevention of gut infections

How to choose a probiotic?

With all of the different types of probiotics, it’s hard to figure out which one is right for your family.

Probiotics are available in supplement form and also in types of food.

The following are some tips to help you choose the right probiotic for your children:

1. Check the label.

Specifically look for:

  •     the names of the micro-organisms in the product
  •     safety for children of certain ages
  •     a statement of the number of viable cells
  •     the expiration date
  •     storage of the probiotic- most importantly, if it should be refrigerated or not.

2. Do your research.

Peruse the internet and look for well-known companies whose products have been tested and have proven results.

3. Call the manufacturer.

If you are still unsure which brand to choose, call the maker of the product and ask them exactly which strains are in their probiotics and what research they have done to support their health claims.

4. Proper storage.

Some probiotics need to be kept refrigerated so make sure to check the label on your specific supplement to see the best way to store them. Make sure you also check their shelf-life and use them before their expiration date to ensure greatest effectiveness. It has been found that neither refrigerated nor non-refrigerated probiotics are superior. It just depends on the type and stability of the bacteria that each one contains.

If you want to get the benefits of probiotics, try natural probiotic foods such as:

  • Miso soup
  • Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut and Pickles
  • Spirulina and other microalgae
  • Tempeh

What are your thoughts on probiotics? Leave us a comment, we would love to know!

 

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/05/25/are-probiotics-for-kids-good-idea/

http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/questions/are-probiotics-safe-for-kids

http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/probiotics

http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/science-probiotics

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9331/top-10-probiotic-foods-to-add-to-your-diet.html

 

Images:

www.huffingtonpost.com (gut bacteria)

www.clairelegresleyrhn.com (flora)

buddysviewbbq.com (pickles)

www.crazycasak.com (probiotics)

 



Feeding Baby (Complete) Protein

Feeding Baby (Complete) Protein

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. All twenty of them are necessary for proper function, but only eleven of them occur naturally in the human body. In the nutrition world, these nine remaining amino acids are called essential amino acids, which must be consumed through food or beverage. While many foods contain some of the essential amino acids, most do not contain all of them. This is where protein combining to create a complete protein comes in.

It’s a simple concept—combine a food that has a few of the essential amino acids with another that has the remaining amino acids. While most of us are unfamiliar with which essential amino acids are in the various foods we eat, protein combination is a pretty common thing. The traditional Mexican dish of beans and rice or the Middle Eastern combination of hummus and pita are perfect examples of a complete protein dish made by combining two incomplete foods.

Other foods, like quinoa, buckwheat, and chia, naturally contain all nine essential amino acids. There are healthy and delicious ways to incorporate these grains and seeds into your baby’s diet independently as well! For a list of the nine essential amino acids with some food suggestions for both you and your family, visit this page.

Below are a couple of delicious plant based recipes that provide all of the necessary amino acids:

Black Bean and Brown Rice Dinner

Black Bean and Brown Rice Dinner

*Recommended for babies 6+ months

  • 1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • Unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 small, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tbsp cooked black beans

Cook the brown rice, but instead of cooking it in water, use the apple juice (the quantity you need will vary depending on the type of brown rice used - see the directions on the packaging). 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, uncover the rice, add the diced apple and re-cover. Mash the avocado. At the end of the cooking time, allow the mixture to cool briefly, then add the black beans and stir in the mashed avocado.

Creamy Quinoa and Bananas

  • 1 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt or dairy-free alternative
  • 1/2 banana, mashed

In medium saucepan, combine ingredients and simmer on low for approximately 10 minutes.

**This is to simply warm the ingredients, not cook them. Watch this closely so that the quinoa is not reduced to a pasty thickness.

Enjoy!

 

Written by: Chloe Cerino

 

Sources:

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/quinoababyfoodrecipes.htm#.VL1Z_8ZNHbghttp://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/protein-baby-food-recipe.html#ixzz3PISuL13ohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NbE2hWOcJ4http://greatist.com/health/complete-vegetarian-proteins