Happy Halloween! How About Some Pumpkin For Your Little Pumpkin?

Hello everyone,

Happy Halloween! It’s the best day ever! Or, well, one of the best days ever. 🙂  I am, and always have been obsessed with Halloween.  I love everything about it…the dressing up, the decorations, lights, pumpkin picking/carving, and most of all, trick-or-treating.  In fact, I love it so much I’ve been waiting for Kirina to grow old enough for trick-or-treating, just so I can re-live those days of ringing doorbells and getting candy.  Mmm, candy.  Yes, it is what you’re thinking.  I am going to raid my innocent 3-year-old’s candy bag and treat myself to whatever I find appealing.  I figure this is the least she can do for me since I had to, um, birth her, which might I remind everyone involved lots of pain and bad hospital food.  Nothing a free peanut-butter cup won’t fix. 🙂

At any rate, what about baby Ela?!  She needs a treat too.  A special new meal is in order.  On pumpkin day, why not eat pumpkin?!  It’s time for Ela to branch out on her veggies, which quite frankly, we are struggling with.  She doesn’t eat them straight like Kirina used to…Ela wants it sweet, mixed in with applesauce or some other fruit puree.  Which is fine, but it is important to keep her tastes diverse.  Well, we found winners with two great recipes today.  We made pumpkin two ways:

Pumpkin Puree with Cinnamon Butter

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The recipe is easy. I lightly coat a small sautee pan with butter and add 1 tsp of finely chopped onion or shallot.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and cook onions until very soft, about 5 minutes.  Add 4-6 ounces of preferably organic canned pumpkin puree (you can make your own puree too, but it’s Halloween and we need some time savers today!).  Sautee for a minute or two with the onions and add water to reach your preferred consistency (Ela always likes things on the thinner side).  Finally, blend with a stick blender or food mill to create a smooth puree.

Questions I often get from parents? Why onion? Why butter?

Because they taste GOOD. I agree that we should not be adding lots of “stuff” to baby food, but I think a little bit of these ingredients (yes, butter) gives the food so much taste and dimension. Babies are people too! Serve them interesting meals and they’ll keep exploring and asking for more.

The second variation I made was a Pumpkin Sage Puree.  I took a fresh sage leaf and sautéed it in the onion/butter mixture for a few seconds. Sage is strong, so just a scent of it will do if you are introducing this spice to baby for the first time.

So give a little pumpkin to your pumpkin!  Have fun and enjoy tonight.  I have to run and get outfits ready (Ana & Elsa, what else?).

From Ela’s high chair to your little one’s, BOO! and Bon Appetit!

Spoonfuls of Summer: How to Introduce Your Baby to Blueberries

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Freshly picked!

Hello everyone,

Hope your summer has been great!  We are still on a picking frenzy over here…I am introducing my 3-year-old, Kirina, to “pick-your-own farms” this summer and it is such fun! A wonderful a reminder of my own childhood when I picked fruits and veggies with my mom.  Kirina has a lot of fun at these farms…mainly she picks for five minutes and then asks to play on the swing set, lol. Me, I get lost in the dirt and berries and thorns and broccoli and have a blast.  I have a very supportive (only slightly grumpy) husband who waits in the sunshine with two kids while I go a little farm happy. 🙂

We went picking last week and it was Kirina’s first time in a blueberry patch.  I took a lot of pictures…they are cute, but it looks sorta like child labor in some of them:

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Child at work. 😉

 

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The haul!

 

Blueberries for Baby

The Why:

Blueberries are a superfood, plain and simple.  They are high in antioxidants, which are amazing for you no matter your age.  When ripe, blueberries also have a sweet and pleasing flavor.  You can serve them as is or add summer herbs to them for extra dimensions of flavor.

The How:

Making a blueberry puree is simple and fast.  Simply measure out one cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen (one cup will yield about 7 oz of puree).  If fresh, pick out stems and leaves and rinse well with water.  You can even add a splash of vinegar to the mix to wash away bacteria (just rinse well when finished).

Steam the berries in a steamer basket or in a pot with a few spoonfuls of water for 3 minutes:

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Puree until smooth (for 6 to 10-month-olds) or simply mash with a potato masher for older babies (10-months and above) as a nice way to introduce food with textures:

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Puree

 

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Blueberry puree with mint

 

The Seasonings:

Yes, you can season blueberries! I am all about how to spice up baby food am constantly experimenting with what herbs, spices and little flavor additions will work with a particular ingredient.  Try these summery flavor additions:

1.  Mint (add a leaf while pureeing or mashing)

2.  Lemon juice (a few drops added in brightens up the blueberry flavor)

3.  Cinnamon ( a mild, warming spice to give that berry cobbler taste)

4.  Nutmeg (a pinch)

5.  Mint yogurt (puree yogurt, mint and blueberry mash together for something different).

Blueberry mint yogurt

Blueberry mint yogurt

 

You can also mix blueberry puree into other purees and season accordingly.  Remember, start slow when introducing your baby to new spices or flavors.  I promise it will pay off!

Stay tuned for the next Spoonfuls of Summer article.  We’ve picked a lot of fruit and are excited to eat and write. 🙂

From Kirina’s highchair to yours, bon appetit!

From farm to highchair!

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Happy Summer everyone!!

Oh my goodness, what FUN we have had here in the Saini household lately! There are sooo many great fruits and vegetables in season right now, I can’t even contain my enthusiasm.  Being a country mouse myself (I grew up in New Hartford, NY, a beloved little town near rolling hills and lots of farmland) I grew up picking strawberries with my mom in June and blueberries with my dear friend Meigan and her mom in August.  Come Fall, we all went nuts for apples and freshly pressed cider (back in the day when it wasn’t pasteurized and tasted sooo good!). My mom had her own vegetable garden, full of tomatoes and green peppers.  What happy memories they were.

My mom passed away 8 years ago and it is now a bittersweet thing to do, but I was determined to pass this love of farm-picked fruits and vegetables to my little Kirina.  There is something so pure and precious about teaching a child where their food comes from.  I think it made Kirina enjoy the food more because she had a hand in picking it.  The peas, pictured above, were such fun to pick.  We’ve kept them in a bowl in the kitchen and Kirina grabs them now and then to munch, having fun peeling away the pods and searching for the sweet peas inside.  It’s pretty fun to watch her.

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Kirina picking out peas

Freshly picked!

Freshly picked!

Peas with a Hint of Mint

     Way back when (ok, not that way back, two years ago) when I was pureeing baby food I took the freshly picked peas, shucked and steamed them, and blended them with a bit of fresh mint leaves.  It was simple and divine.  And different! Peas adapt well to a whole array of seasonings, so be sure to try out different ones–oregano, basil, even a pinch of ground black pepper.  The sweetness of the peas, particularly when they are young and freshly picked, makes it a great vehicle for introducing new spices to your little one.

   Am looking forward to more summertime farm finds.  And little Ela is almost four months old! That means she will be ready for solids soon.  Can’t wait to introduce her to the tastes of the world.

From Kirina’s highchair to your little one’s, bon appetite!