Summer Squash, Sweet Potato & Turmeric Baby Blend

Sweet potato summer squash turmeric

And another use for those summer squashes my mum brought back from Suffolk! This time in batch cooking for Braxton. He’s old enough to be eating proper solid food now but I still make the odd bit of mush to mix in with it as he likes it, and also it’s a great way to get things like turmeric into him for anti-inflammatory goodness.

Ingredients
2 summer squashes
2 sweet potatoes
1 tsp (if powder) or 4 tbsp (if liquid) homemade or organic, low salt vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric

Method

Steam the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until soft then put them in the blender with the stock and turmeric and blend until you reach desired consistency.

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Broccoli, Pea & Mixed Herb Baby Blend

Broccoli Pea Mixed Herbs

Want to get more greens into your baby? This is a great one! The mint makes it really tasty too.

Ingredients

I broccoli head, cut into florets
1 cup frozen peas
Handful fresh mint
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano

Method

Steam the broccoli. Once ready, remove the steamer part from on top of the saucepan of boiling water and add the peas to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the peas and add the peas and the broccoli to the blender with the remaining ingredients.

Spoon into small containers or food cube trays to store.

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Creamy Cauliflower Sweetcorn Baby Blend (& Some Info On Nutritional Yeast)

Cauliflower Corn Nutritional Yeast

(Sorry for the bad picture on this one – busy mama alert!)

Just because Braxton is dairy-free, doesn’t mean he misses out. The combination of cauliflower and sweetcorn is great, it goes really creamy. Add to that some nutritional yeast and it literally could not get any creamier if you were to add butter!

The term ‘nutritional yeast’ isn’t particularly appealing, but it is not the same as brewers yeast. It is deactivated so doesn’t froth or grow. It’s essentially a single-cell organism which is grown on molasses then harvested, washed then dried, and this deactivates it. It is very high in Vitamin B12 which is essential in our diets and is used by vegans as a cheese substitute. I know it sounds weird but give it a go!

This doesn’t even need any herbs as the cauliflower and corn are both so flavoursome.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower
1 small tin organic sweetcorn
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Method

Break the cauliflower into florets then steam.

After about 7  minutes add the corn to the steamer and keep steaming for a further 5 minutes.

Add to the blender with the nutritional yeast and blend.

Spoon into smaller containers or food cube trays if you are batch cooking (this makes quite a large batch).

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Squash & Turmeric for Babies

Carrot Sweet Pot Squash Turmeric

Another simple but delicious meal for you little ones. Braxton is now really enjoying feeding himself so I usually give him some fish, chicken, buckwheat crackers or steamed or raw vegetables (or all of the above!) alongside these blends as he is 10 months now, but this can be made for babies as young as 6 months.

Ingredients

1 sweet potato
1 summer squash
3 carrots
1/2 tsp turmeric

Method

Steam all the veg in a steamer then add to the blender with the turmeric and blend. You can add some almond or oat milk to make it creamier if you like.

Health & happiness

Love,
Lauren & Braxton

Flapjacks For Breastfeeding Mamas (& everyone else!)

Sticky Oaty Flapjacks

My friend just had a baby and was really determined to make breastfeeding work. I always found that the best gift anyone could bring me after having the baby was food. And healthy food. You don’t have time to cook so you just have to take whatever anyone gives you or whatever is convenient which usually means you eat really badly for the first few months. Not only is this not good for our bodies but of course whatever you eat goes through to your milk so it affects the baby too. One of my biggest struggles after having Braxton was trying to maintain my healthy diet when I was just too exhausted to cook and of course when he slept, I didn’t want to be in the kitchen, I wanted to sleep!

I also really struggled with breastfeeding – it didn’t come easily to me at all – but I got there eventually. I was told to eat lots of oats to increase my supply so I eventually got into the kitchen to make some flapjacks as the store-bought ones are just so full of sugar. They were so yummy and such an easy snack to have next to me during those early days of being absolutely ravenous every time he even approached my boobs! So I made these for my friend also and thought I’d share the recipe.

These are also fab for baby led weaning, I’d suggest just omitting the sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

250g organic rolled oats
15 dates (if they’re big, 20 if they’re smaller)
Quarter cup ground flaxseeds
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
5 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp peanut butter
5 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 8 tbsp water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a silicone baking tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Soak your dates for about half an hour in purified water so they soften and once they’re soaking, mix the chia seeds with the water and leave aside to set.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the peanut butter and maple. Once combined add the dates and mix, then put it all in a food processor.

Blend until smooth, then add the oats and chia mix and blitz a little bit but you still want the oats to be in solid pieces.

Tip into a bowl and add the sunflower seeds an mix around until they are evenly spread throughout the mixture.

Now spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. Check it at 12 minutes and see if the top is starting to go golden, if it is, take them out. They need to be moist and not overcooked.

Leave on a cooling rack until completely cool – if you cut them while they are hot they won’t stick together.

Once cool cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Love & health,
Lauren

 

Lentils, Broccoli & Cumin for Babies

Lentil Broccoli Cumin

Once again, I literally just made what I had at home! Although I do give Braxton meat (only organic, free-range from trusted sources), I like him to get a lot of his protein from plant-based sources and lentils are great for this. They are also cheap and go a long way. Broccoli is just full of bioavailable calcium, better than any sort of calcium you can get from dairy, so he has quite a lot of broccoli in his diet.

Cumin is great for digestion so it’s a really good spice to add when first weaning to help their tummies adjust. It is also an antiviral so great to give if baby has a cold.

Ingredients

1 organic broccoli
Half a cup of lentils – I used red lentils here
Half tsp cumin
1 cup of vegetable stock (homemade or low salt version if store-bought)

Method

Put the lentils in a pan with the stock and simmer until cooked – they can take a while. Add more water as needed until they are fully soft.

While the lentils are cooking, steam the broccoli for about 7 minutes. You don’t want to over-steam it.

When both are cooked, put in the blender with the cumin and blend to desired consistency.

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

 

Coconut Curried Chicken & The Importance of Introducing Flavours From Early On

Coconut Curried Chicken & Veg

I met some friends for a walk in the park after we’d given the kids dinner a few days ago as it was such a lovely day and it’s always nice to have something to fill the time between dinner and bath time. One of them asked me what Braxton had for dinner. ‘Coconut curried chicken,’ I replied. ‘Curry?!’ one of the girls asked, almost dismayed. ‘At his age? Did he like it? Does he like the flavour?’ YES YES YES!!! And the reason he is OK with flavoursome food is because I give it to him!

I think it is so important to introduce different flavours into a baby’s diet from the early stages of weaning. Not only will this make life easier for us as it means our babies will be less fussy as they grow up, it also makes life better for them! We all have a friend whose staple diet is chicken nuggets, chips and pasta because they don’t like anything else. I’d hazard a guess that their parents probably didn’t give them much else as kids which is why. There are also so many nutrients in spices and herbs. Turmeric, for example, is a hugely important anti-inflammatory and I make sure Braxton has it at least 3 times a week. Dried herbs have heaps of calcium so at least I know that this dairy-free baby is getting more bioavailable calcium than most babies who have cow’s milk!

With this particular meal I had some chicken out that day as I hadn’t given him any meat all week and I stood in the kitchen wondering what I could do with it, then realised that the easiest thing to do with chicken breast is always a curry. I had mild curry powder and coconut milk and some vegetables so I got cooking!

Ingredients

1 organic, free-range chicken breast, chopped into smallish pieces
Half an onion, chopped
1 can full-fat organic coconut milk (I like Biona)
1/2 tsp milk curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 cube pre-frozen homemade bone broth/ veg stock or a low salt chicken stock cube in half cup water (optional for added taste)
Handful shiitake mushrooms
Handful chestnut mushrooms
A few broccoli florets
Some coconut oil

Method

Heat a tsp of coconut oil in a pan then add the onion and cook for a minute or so before adding the chicken.

Brown the chicken all over and once cooked, add all the veg. Give it a good stir to coat it in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk but don’t add the whole can. Spoon out the delicious creamy stuff from the top and put that all in, followed by about half of the water but no more as it will make it too watery. (You can save this for another dish or add it to a smoothie.)

Mix it all around, then add the stock, curry powder and turmeric. Mix well and turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

When it’s finished simmering, put it in the blender and blend to the desired consistency.

It may look like mush but you have meat-based protein, plant-based protein, vegetables and spices in there all containing nutrients so this meal really needs nothing else although you could add some brown rice pasta if you want. I froze this in small containers and it made about 5-6 meals.

Health & happiness,
Lauren & Braxton

Apple Pear Blueberry Vanilla Baby Blend

Apple Pear Blueberry Vanilla

Braxton is 9 months now so he’s eating a lot more ‘solid’ food but he also loves these sort of things for breakfast so I still make them. You can give these purees from the beginning of weaning – although I am a strong believer in waiting until 6 months before introducing solids as it reduces chances of allergies or autoimmune diseases by giving the gut time to mature before introducing anything new.

This is super sweet and delicious and the vanilla gives it such a yummy flavour. It’s one of Braxton’s favourites! The blueberries are a great source of antioxidant so try giving them a few times a week when they are in season.

Ingredients

1 apple
1 pear
A handful of blueberries
1 vanilla pod or half tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tbsp almond / oat / rice / coconut milk (whichever is your preference)

Method

Peel, core and chop the apple and pear and wash the blueberries.

Put them in a saucepan with the almond milk and open up the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, or add the vanilla bean paste.

Simmer on a medium heat until soft – around 8-10 minutes, then put in the blender and serve once it’s cool enough.

Love and health,
Lauren & Braxton

Dairy Free Fish Cakes For Baby (& you!) & The Lowdown on Omega-3

Fish Cakes

Fish cakes are a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your baby. The body cannot synthesise Omgea -3 so it has to come from diet and oily fish is one of the best sources for it. I am totally on board with vegetarianism, I used to be a vegetarian myself until falling pregnant, but I do find that fish-based omega-3 is the best way to get omega-3 into our bodies. Apart from being good for the heart, joints and inflammatory diseases, it aids brain development in babies, helps with their behaviour and maximises their intellectual potential! Studies have actually shown that babies with higher amounts of omega-3 from early on have better concentration skills and read better than those whose omega-3 levels were very low.

Of course, as usual, please make sure your fish comes from trusted sources. The best way to ensure high quality salmon that is low in mercury is to obtain wild salmon or if it is farmed, make sure it is farmed ‘organically’ so it is left to grow and feed naturally even though it is technically farmed.  Abel & Cole offer an organic farmed range.

You’ll see I use buckwheat flour and almond milk in this recipe. As you are probably aware by now, I don’t like to give Braxton anything refined (flours, sugars etc). I don’t give him dairy so all my recipes are dairy and gluten free, but of course still unprocessed and using only natural ingredients. Don’t be fooled by the ‘gluten free industry’; they make gluten free foods that are just as processed and full of sugar as ones that do have gluten in them. The food still needs to be natural. I feel it is healthier for his gut to eat non-refined, only natural foods and if his gut is healthy then his immune system will be too. This will reduce the chance of eczema and auto-immune diseases as well as strengthen his immune system against every day illnesses and viruses. However, if you want to, you can use normal flour and normal milk in place of the buckwheat flour and almond milk. I would try and keep these recipes as dairy free as possible if you can. Where possible, please also try and use free-range eggs. They will have way less chemicals in them for your baby to be ingesting.

These fish cakes are one of the best things for baby led weaning as when you make them they last for a few days so it’s a few meals you don’t have to think about, and they are so easy for babies to feed themselves with. I break them into a few pieces and Braxton picks them up and eats them all himself – which means mummy can rush around the kitchen clearing up so she can use his nap times to actually rest!

Ingredients (makes about 6-8 patties)

1 salmon fillet
About 5 white potatoes, peeled and chopped
A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 egg (free-range)
Half tsp mustard powder (optional, just adds a nice bit of flavour)
Half a lemon
1/5 cup almond milk
1 tbsp buckwheat flour
Extra virgin olive oil or Coconut oil
Black pepper and Himalayan salt

Method

Steam the potatoes over a pan of boiling water. Rub the salmon with some olive or coconut oil and when the potatoes soften, add the salmon to the steamer until it is totally cooked (about 7 minutes). Remove the salmon from the pan, take off the skin and put it to the side. Remove the potatoes and add them to a bowl.

Mash the potatoes in the bowl but leave some lumps so they are not totally mashed then set aside to let them cool.

Chop the parsley quite finely then flake in the salmon, add the cooled potatoes, almond milk, mustard powder, egg and squeeze in the juice of the half lemon. Mix very well then add the buckwheat flour and add some pepper and if you want (if not for young babies) add a sprinkle of Himalayan salt and mix again.

Take a clean plate and spread some buckwheat flour over the plate and put some in your hands then take a pattie size amount of the mixture and flatten into a pattie shape, the flour will help you do this without it sticking to your hands. Put it on a clean plate then repeat the process until the mixture is all finished and all your fish cakes have been made.

Heat some oil in a large frying pan and when it is hot, add a few of the fish cakes. You won’t be able to cook them all at the same time. Cook each one for 3-4 minutes on each side.

If you don’t want to eat them all within a few days, put some of them, uncooked, in the freezer and you can then defrost them at a later date and cook them.

I hope your bubbas enjoy these as much as Braxton did!

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

 

Broad Bean, Sweet Potato & Cumin Plus Baby Led Weaning vs Blended

Broad bean, sweet pot, onion, cumin

How great are these Nuk by Annabel Karmel food cube trays? Perfect for batch cooking for your little ones.

So, let’s talk baby led weaning (BLW). I had intentions of doing only baby led with Braxton but when the time came (when he was 6 months), he wasn’t very good at picking food up and he started getting very frustrated. So I decided that ‘baby led’, for me anyway, means being led by your own baby. Why should I let him get frustrated just because I’d decided I wanted to do something a certain way? He was trying to communicate with me that it wasn’t working for him, and he needed some more time, but was certainly ready to eat the food, so I decided to do a mixture of blended foods and BLW.

He’s now nearly 9 months so feeds himself a lot, and he’s got so good at it! He’s even perfected his pincer grip and understands how to take a bite and keep the rest in his hand while he chews, then finish what’s in his hand when he’s ready, so I give him a lot of food that he can feed himself with, but I still spoon feed him some things as I want to make sure he gets heaps of nutrients so I’ll make a blend of veg like this one, and it’s too hard for him to feed himself with a spoon.

What I’m saying is that we do a mixture of the two. At the beginning I’d mainly feed him myself but always give him something he could hold himself with each meal; some avocado, a piece of cucumber, a piece of broccoli, some roast chicken cut in strips.

This has all worked really well for us and he most definitely has still developed when it comes to his fine motor skills and hand-mouth coordination, despite what the militant baby led weaners told me about doing a mixture!

When it comes down to it, you have to read your own baby, as they are all so different, and do what works best for YOUR baby and YOUR family. This has worked brilliantly for us and I love that we can be flexible.

I hadn’t planned to make this, but I was sent broad beans in my Abel & Cole box this week, so I decided to make this mixture and it worked really well.

Ingredients 

1 bag of broad beans (they should come in their pods, then you must take them out of the pods)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 cube of homemade bone broth / veg stock or a low salt Kallo stock cube

Method

Shell your broad beans then put them, along with the other veg, into the steamer (this helps the veg retain more nutrients than boiling them).

If your stock cube is homemade and frozen, melt it in a saucepan over a low heat. If you are using a store-bought stock cube, mix it in a quarter cup boiling water.

When the veg are soft, put them in the blender with the stock and cumin and blend until smooth or leave lumps if you prefer.

I hope your baby likes this as much as mine did!

Love,
Lauren & Braxton