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Baby Led Weaning

If you’ve never heard of baby led weaning (aka: BLW; introduction of solid foods), go here.   It’s really simple and has worked so well for our family.  Basically, Camryn eats whatever we eat (within reason).  If she eats everything I give her or nothing it all, it’s up to her.  We don’t spoon-feed (check out the picture below for her reaction to mushy bananas on a spoon!) and we don’t put food in her mouth.  I simply give her easy to hold and chew foods and let her decide how much she wants.  It has been amazing to watch her learn so quickly – her pincer grasp is very advanced for her age, she chews very efficiently and has only gagged a couple of times.  I was pretty nervous about the gagging/choking aspect of BLW, but after watching a few videos on YouTube that show the difference it has gotten easier to let her learn what she can handle on her own.

We began BLW at 6 months and this is a list of just some of the foods she’s eaten:

  1. bananas
  2. strawberries
  3. oranges
  4. plums
  5. apples
  6. cucumber
  7. tomatoes
  8. whole wheat toast
  9. brown rice
  10. pasta with tomato sauce
  11. green beans
  12. cottage cheese
  13. yogurt
  14. carrots
  15. potatoes
  16. hamburger
  17. turkey
  18. chicken
  19. oatmeal
  20. cauliflower
  21. broccoli
  22. oatmeal fingers (will post recipe soon!)

Our pediatrician advised us to wait to introduce eggs because of Irelyn’s egg allergy and we’ve also noticed that Camryn’s eczema worsens after eating any dairy – so we’ve eliminated dairy from her diet for now (Irelyn outgrew her dairy allergy/sensitivity by about 18 months so we’re hoping for the same with Camryn). Now that she’s gotten the hang of BLW, I’ve started trying different recipes that I’ve found online.  There is a Carrot & Bean Cakes recipe below that Cami loves!  I’ll post more BLW recipes as we try them out.

This was her reaction to mushy bananas that I spoon-fed her…

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…and this is her 1st BLW experience!

And here are a few other pictures from the past 7 weeks of BLW.
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 Clearly, it’s very messy.  But you can also tell by all the smiles that she absolutely loves it!
 

Carrot & Bean Cakes

1/2 cup cooked, mashed carrot
1 cup white beans, mashed well
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tbsp flour (I had to use a couple tbsp more than this to form patties)
olive oil

Mix the carrot puree with the mashed beans, garlic and flour.
Form the mixture into little patties with your hands – if the mixture is too moist, add a little more flour.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan/skillet.
Fry the patties for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden.
Serve with applesauce for dipping!

I found the recipe here: http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/baby-led-weaning-recipes.html#ixzz388SJMiMj

Here is Cami enjoying her carrot and bean cakes this morning!
 
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Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Zach saw this recipe on facebook and asked me to make it.  It was very easy and tasted SO good.  We paired this slightly spicy casserole with a cool cucumber salad.

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Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 -10 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
6 tablespoons hot sauce (I didn’t add hot sauce because of the kids, I added it to my plate)
Topping
2 cups fiesta Mexican blend cheese
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1 cup diced green onion
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F .
  2. In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder & paprika.
  3. Add the potatoes and stir to coat.
  4. Add the potatoes to a greased baking dish. (the greased part is important – I forgot to grease my dish!)
  5. When scooping the potatoes into the baking dish, leave behind any extra olive oil/hot sauce mix. (I had to mix more oil/spices because I didn’t use hot sauce)
  6. Add the diced chicken to the remaining olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat all the chicken. Allow to marinate as the potatoes bake.
  7. Roast the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and nice and crispy on the outside.
  8. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400°F.
  9. Add the marinated chicken on top of the potatoes. (SEE NOTE BELOW)
  10. In a large bowl mix all the topping ingredients together.
  11. Top the raw chicken with the topping.
  12. Bake 15 minutes or until until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is melted and bubbly delicious.
  13. Serve with extra hot sauce and/or ranch dressing.

NOTE: I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table before bathtime, so I cooked the diced chicken on the stove while the potatoes were in the oven.  It only took 7-8 minutes to melt the toppings after adding the cooked chicken.  Several comments on the recipes I looked at for this did say that cooking their chicken at 400°F dried it out a bit. 

This casserole was simple and my entire family loved it – I’ll definitely be making this again.

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Cucumber, onion & tomato salad

Our garden has already produced A LOT of veggies this year.  We planted two cucumber plants, a dozen pepper plants and several cherry/grape/roma tomato plants.  We recently had more than a dozen cucumbers, so Zach decided to make a salad out of them.

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He used slices of cucumber, diced tomato, sliced red onion and Italian dressing.  We added shredded mozzarella cheese and croutons at the end and it was delicious! (that’s saying a lot since I’m not a big fan of cucumbers, tomatoes, or onions.)  I made a Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken casserole that we’d seen floating around facebook to go along with this salad, I’ll post the recipe for that soon.

There are many more cucumbers ready to pick and we will have hundreds of tomatoes, so I’ll post any cucumber salad recipes I try!

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Oreo Pudding Poke Cake

It’s no secret that I (and Kaden and Irelyn) are the chocolate addicts in the house.  Zach doesn’t like anything more than brownies or Oreo’s – when he found this recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it!  Here it is – Oreo Puddin’ Poke Cake.

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We loved it.  I’m actually planning on making another one for our family reunion this weekend!

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We also picked tomatoes from our garden yesterday;  we pick them twice a week and end up with a basket of 15+ each time.  We still have 17 on our back porch that were ripening, so we asked our neighbor if they’d like the basket we had just picked.  Her son showed up at our front door a few hours later with a container of homemade salsa!  It’s amazing.  I’ll be asking for her recipe for sure (or just giving her another couple baskets full of tomatoes this summer!).

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Healthy Fruit Snacks

Like most kids, Kaden loves the Cars, Snoopy, Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, etc. fruit snacks at the store.  I, however, do not like the price, all of the junk that they put in them or the tantrum Irelyn throws when I won’t give her any because they’re too chewy and gross.  I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) for healthy fruit snacks, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Here’s a link!  (sorry for the picture quality, my camera and I haven’t been getting along lately and taking a picture while holding a one year old doesn’t help either)

We decided to try strawberry & blueberry.  In hindsight, I think we may have liked doing just one flavor at a time better.

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The finished product.  The funny part of the story:  the kid that I thought would love them (Irelyn) didn’t, the kid that I thought wouldn’t touch them (Kaden) actually likes them!  Ours are a little thinner than the recipe shows because I didn’t have an 8″ x 8″ pan to use today.  Although I still haven’t found fruit snacks that I’ll let Irelyn have, I did find a healthier option for Kaden.  I wasn’t a big fan of them either; but I will try making them again with a single flavor to see if that changes anything.

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Zucchini Recipes

Now that we’ve moved into a house, we were able to plant a garden this year.  We chose a spot and were just hoping for a decent amount of vegetables; what we got was a forest!  We have 11 tomato plants, more than a dozen sweet bell pepper plants, four banana peppers plants, one squash and one zucchini.  We’ve probably picked over 100 bell peppers and even more banana peppers.  Just throughout the past few weeks we’ve had dozens of tomatoes ripen!  Unfortunately, our squash and zucchini were almost killed by something, but both replanted and we’ve had quite a few vegetables from each plant.  So, after picking a foot-long zucchini out of the garden two days ago, I had to search for some recipes.

Because of Irelyn’s egg allergy and dairy sensitivity, it wasn’t easy finding a zucchini bread recipe that I thought would taste as good as what we’re used to; this one was amazing!  Here’s the recipe for the Dairy, egg and nut free zucchini bread.  It was very moist on the inside, didn’t fall apart and had a slightly crispy crust – just perfect.  As soon as we have a couple more zucchini, I’ll be making a double batch to freeze for this winter!

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Even though the bread recipe called for 2 cups of zucchini, it only used 1/3 of what I had.  I came across a blog a few months ago while looking for other recipes and I absolutely love the things she makes (especially all of the chocolate!).  Everything is dairy/egg free and much healthier than other versions of the same foods – here is a link Chocolate Covered Katie.  Earlier this week I made her Healthy Blueberry MuffinsIrelyn and I both loved them.  While searching for other fun zucchini recipes, I found that she also has a recipe for Crispy Healthy Baked Zucchini Fries.  Instead of using boring ketchup or ranch on the fries, I had to use a few of our garden tomatoes to try her Healthy Ketchup recipe.  The fries and ketchup turned out great!  I’m still a big fan of Heinz (mostly because I don’t like the taste of tomatoes that much), but even Kaden and Irelyn (my two ketchup addicts) liked it.

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I’ll definitely be using all of these recipes in the future.  Let me know if you decide to try them!