I never appreciated how tight money would be after having a baby before Zahara arrived and good quality, nutritious, food is often not on offer and not cheap. Here are a few ways I cut down on my food bill each week.
Sorry, no posts for a while I am afraid A to Z have caught horrible bugs lately. It's started with a nasty cold for Zahara. Then she bounced back in around a week but then immediately caught a tummy bug....she recovered really quickly - 24 hours - the wonders of breast milk and natural yogurt! But then I came down with an ear infection from st lucifer - on my second type of antibiotic after 3 doctors visits - I have a golf ball lump on my face next to my rugby players ear and the pain is beyond belief! Labour was less painful - no lie. It's been a close shave on wether I would be hospitalised, but thankfully the antibiotics are working now and on a slowly on recovery.
Thankfully my freezer was well stocked with bits n bobs for lunch and to be honest Daddy is an awesome cook. Tonight he made the most amazing pasta dish which we all gobbled down, first day I have managed to eat something substantial in the last four! Today, when they went off exploring a nearby lake in search of ducks I took some time to develop some recipes - something I did think about was how I have not managed to breastfeed Zahara much as it's just been too much energy wise and how I can therefore get some extra calcium into her without resorting to cows milk (it's not great as it inhibits iron absorption). So I have come up with a monsterously green pasta sauce and o thank my lucky cows it's oats for the calcium bars. As soon as I am up and about I will try them out and share them with you.
Zahara has been amazing while I have been ill. She has adapted to the lack of breast milk really quickly by upping her food intake – blw at its finest and it really demonstrated to me that she really does know how much she needs to eat. She has understood I am poorly and let the baby signs for it hurts and I am ill! Little zarstar. So proud of her. I was in tears to the breastfeeding helpline yesterday when I might be hospitalised, I was so worried what she would do with no mummy and no breastmilk at night time, but I shouldn’t have worried she would have been just fine. Soon she will be starting nursery and I go back to work (eeek), but will write more on that and how I will work with the nursery to make sure the following blw practices nearer the time.
Recently I have noticed in some of the baby led weaning social media groups I belong to the same old questions keeps popping up – “does the baby have to eat what I am eating all the time?” “we are going to a restaurant, do we take food with us or should we order something of the menu for baby?”. As always the purists often jump on the comments first “yes baby should eat wat you are eating”. Now in some kind of perfect world this might be possible but in reality most adults like way too much salt in their food – reflected in restaurant meals that are often loaded with salt before they even arrive at the table. Second what about mould ripened cheese, cured meats, chocolate, anything in brine (olives, gherkins etc), mayonnaise, and I could continue. Of course some of these are not completely off the menu for little one, according to the baby led weaning purists, but lets face it who is really going to risk giving their kid raw egg mayo or mouldy cheese (asides from the purists – who I actually think spout on about the dos and don’ts and probably secretly spoon feed their kids!).
I have read Gills’ book and she mentions that it’s no to honey under 1, she discusses salt intake, and also states that baby should be offered family foods from day 1, eating together as a family, so that baby can learn by example – so if you take the advice literally, the purists are right, but if you fluff the lines, then mould cheese probably is not considered a family food….and if baby is eating something else but at the same time as the family then what’s the problem? Of course, I don’t advocate giving baby a special meal every day – that wouldn’t be baby led weaning to me, my meals are all geared so that everyone eats the same, however if you want that bre and salami sandwich just give baby something else.
I never buy restaurant food for Zahara, for starters its expensive, especially if she is not in the mood for eating that day, second I know in today’s world food poisoning is rare in the developed world, but I just don’t want to risk it, and finally even the kids’ meals tend to have a load of salt – look up the main family restaurants, waggamamas, Jamie Olivers Italian, nandos, and the nutrition content is often at least 1g salt per kids meal – that’s a lot of salt, especially for an under 1 year old, even if they don’t eat the whole meal. Also, I am not going to name names but at one restaurant I asked if the cheese was made from pasteurised milk, well anyhow to cut a long story short something else you would never have guessed was made from unpasteurised milk – and that was off the kids menu!
So here are my short cuts of quick and easy foods that are transportable, some, like peanut butter pasta probably wouldn’t be an adults meal – so this is really a very baby specific food list!
Peanut butter pasta – basically cooked pasta mixed with smooth peanut butter, a bit of olive oil and optional fresh basil (see picture)
Savoury Muffins – batched cook and just grab one out of the freezer in the night before
Scrambled egg/omelette – so quick and easy to do, and will taste just as good cold – if you have some tiny tortillas in the freezer even better (just take them out in time) – see my lunch section for the recipe.
Left over veg and cheesy spread – any left over veg from dinner the night before, mashed up with cheese spread makes a perfect wrap/sandwich filler
Fruit salads – chop a few different fruits, give them some different colours and shapes to play with, if it’s an older baby cut pieces smallish so that can play around practicing their pincer
Oven chips/fries – these are just as tasty cold as they are straight out of the oven (and nowadays you can buy sweet potato oven fries if you want to give them a few more nutrients)
Something they have never had before – is a classic approach I take if I want a nice relaxed meal out at a restaurant, it often means they are fully immersed for at least 10 mins working out what it is and if they like it!
Something they love – again keep them busy when you are out dining
Shop bought fish fingers/chicken nuggets – these are fine every so often (someone call the over health conscious parent police!), plus they are good cold as well as warm, so are fine for a pack lunch
Cucumber/Pepper and hummus dip – shop bought hummus (or homemade if you have some to hand) and some cucumber/pepper dipping sticks
Cheese spread triangles – easy win
Pancakes and yogurt – it’s a little less messy spreading yogurt on pancakes, than giving them a spoon and yogurt – look at my breakfast page for some pancake recipes that can be frozen (so really easy to pull one out of the freezer)
Cheezey quesadilla – pretty easy, tortilla, in pan over heat, throw in some grated cheese and a few finely chopped bits of tomatoes, top with another tortilla, wait a minute, turn the tortillas over, cook for a minute or so more. Cut it into strips. Don’t use too much cheese otherwise it will be difficult for little one to eat.
We are all off on a little holiday to Mallorca! I can't wait it's the first holiday I have been on in 2 years – I was way too pukey to fly when pregnant and then Zahara seem to be completely against any form of warmth. I know babies can't cope with the heat as they can't sweat to cool down but she took it to another level and would scream despite being dressed right down and it being relatively mild British summer heat. I have been thinking about things to take to make my life a little easier cooking in a kitchen that's not mine, and also time saving ideas – will share my lessons learnt when I get back in my newsletter.
Right the newsletter! Thank you so much for signing up, I have had unprecedented interest. Please bear with me and I hope to issue my first newsletter in July.
I have recently done a few bakes with low levels of refined sugar. I said previously when I researched this it was pretty patchy in terms of when it's ok to give sweet bakes to little ones. I have done more research. First, I am amazed at the number of kids/baby sweet bake recipes that just substitute refined sugar for maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. It's all well and good getting the recipe to work (which it's not actually that difficult), but essentially it's still sugar. For example pure maple syrup is around 2/3 sucrose (in other words standard table sugar). So you might use less of these sweeteners but more than likely the recipe will at best contain the same amount sucrose as a bake using low levels of refined sugar and at worst more! There are of course wider benefits to using some of these substitutes in terms of antioxidants and minerals. Some might argue that you can avoid the sugar hit with these substitutes as honey and maple syrup have lower GI, so will be slower at raising blood sugar levels, but essentially the difference is marginal, for example it would make no difference to a diabetic. Further to this I looked at some shop bought baby bake bars and they were ridiculously high in sugar at 25%, around 8g in a 30g bar, they hide it by using ingredients like Apple concentrate (liquid sugar in other words), or as my dentist said “teeth rotting raisins”.
So to cut to the chase I have decided that a once in a while refined sugar in a cake/bake is fine, especially if it's low levels. As a mum friend said to me “avoid sugar now your kid will only go bonkers at a friends birthday party when sugar sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks are on the menu”. Finally sugar is not as evil as you think, it's an essential energy source that in balanced diet will not cause any problems. If you think otherwise then just google replacing sugar in recipes and you will find a pretty simple hack for quantities to use when replacing sugar with other sweeteners. I did avoid giving Zahara any cakes/bakes until she was 1 years old, it's a personal choice, and that just felt right.
I won't be posting anything while I am on holiday so see you in a few weeks!
Oh my goodness thank you for your support! I've had over 300 visits and people are looking at an average of 2 pages! I know I plugged my page on a few community pages on Facebook which definitely helped boost my numbers, but on average each recipe seems to attract around 15 new visitors! It's so exciting! I would love your feedback if you have tried any of my recipes.
My favourite meal this week were my Shiny happy meatballs. Looking ahead for the weekend I really want to make a low sugar cake that we can all eat and also launch my treats page. For her birthday I made a standard carrot cake, but as it had sugar it was a super special treat and a complete one-off. I am not entirely sure at what age it's ok for little ones to eat a normal sugar laden cake every so often? When I researched this I got so many different responses that I think there are no hard rules, but to me she feels too young to be eating sugar loaded cake, so at least until she is 2 years old I am going to stick to low sugar cakes and treats. I hope to develop an orange cake of some kind.
Next week I plan to make Brazilian fish cakes, a tagene (that I never got round to making this week), tarka dal pancakes, Peru vegetable burger, roasted Moroccan chickpeas , Thai spiced carrots, salmon tom yum - don't worry I will think of interesting names. If you are wondering how spicy hot I make my dishes. I started of with aromatic spices at 6 months with Zahara’s weaning and now I have started adding mild heat, hence the hot and sour salmon tom yum on the menu. I wouldn't give her super hot until I could explain that it's hot and she could understand what hot is. But I don't shy away from strong tasting food, I think it's important she experiences the full spectrum of flavour, hence cake going on the menu too!
We are going on holiday soon so I am writing a small piece on holiday eating when doing blw for the monthly newsletter, sign-up if you haven't already. The newsletter will go out on the webpage but 2 weeks after being emailed to those who have signed-up, so if you want to get in early then sign-up.
Anyhow, I better go and start making a shopping list, no doubt I will deviate from what I have planned, I always do, that's just what I call creativity, my husband calls it “you are off plan again”.
11 May 2017
I have only gone and made a website - very nervous - I am quite a shy person but think baby-led fed is something I would love to carry on and do professionally, with a book or something in the future, so hubby said 'it's time to go digital', so here we are, gitter, clatter, my nerves! I will be transferring Instagram/Facebook posts in due course and also loading up new dishes! I also plan to issue a monthly newsletter with bits of useful info on, a synopsis of a months food research etc., so do sign-up for that. On food news I am prepping for my Chicken Za'atar dish tonight and also looking at different Japanese dishes, as I loved my Katsu curry last week. For my original social media followers, Zahara is over the worse of Scarlet Fever, and fingers crossed I haven't caught it.