Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Time for Fresh

Fresh produce is great in the spring, summer, and fall (some produce is fresher and better tasting in each season). If you've ever had a tomato plant or fresh herbs growing in your backyard, you know what fresh tastes like. Fresh produce is also FANTASTIC for your baby, because you know it's fresh and hasn't been sitting around. The longer produce sits around in a store, the more vitamins and minerals that are lost due to aging.

Maybe I've been living in the dark ages, because I just learned about the most awesome program: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Wow! What an awesome way to help out your local farmers! I love the thought of supporting local businesses and do when I can, but am always learning new way to provide support. Click here to search for a CSA in your area and to learn more.

I've heard of neighborhood community gardens, as my town has many. But I hadn't heard of the CSA Program. The CSA Program consists of "shareholders" who sign up to receive weekly fresh produce, and sometimes other extras, such as eggs. You receive a variety of produce, depending on the season. If you receive more produce than your older family members can consume, you can make it into baby food and freeze for later! Some of these programs deliver to your door or you go to a local pickup location. You provide, in return, payment to help the farm with operation costs. Some towns have a lot of programs, and some only have a few. Most of them begin in May or June. Go here for a great description from someone who has been using the program (and check out their awesome blog, Once a Month Mom!).

Now, I have contacted the ones in our area, and unfortunately, they are full already. So what's the other option (besides planting a garden, which is another wonderful idea if you have space!)?

Farmer's Markets are wonderful places to pick up fresh produce, meat, fish, eggs, and others. Again, this is a great way to support local businesses or farms, and a great way to eat healthier and try food that perhaps you wouldn't pick up at the store. Click here to search for farmer's markets in your area. Farmer's Markets are wonderful places to get some great things!
Have fun with these great programs!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Awesome Avocado

Avocado is a great first baby food. It is smooth in consistency and isn't too strong in taste. It doesn't need to be cooked and is really easy to mash. It doesn't cause constipation as other "first" foods can. Plus, they are pretty easy to find at the grocery store year-round.

Best of all, avocado is highly nutritious. Avocado contains mainly monounsaturated fat, which is important for your child's brain development. Fats aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and are necessary for nerve development. Unsaturated fat is beneficial to heart health as well. Children under age 2 should never be on a fat restricted diet. Consuming mainly unsaturated fats (found in most oils, some fish, and nuts) is a more healthy option than saturated fats (found in meat and animal products). Choosing avocados are a better option for mom and dad's health, as well. Avocados are an excellant source of potassium and contain more than bananas. Potassium is important for heart function and bone formation and maintenance. They are a good source of Vitamin K, essential for normal clotting of the blood, and Vitamin B6, necessary for normal red blood cell formation. Avocados are high in fiber, folate, and many other things, as well. They are a GREAT source of nutrition!

In some places, avocados are called alligator pears because of the rough skin, which I think is a fun name for a toddler. Sometimes calling a food by a fun name can have an effect on whether or not the child will eat it.

Choose avocados that are slightly softer when given gentle pressure. To cut an avocado, cut lengthwise all the way around the pit, turning the avocado as you go. Gently pull the avocado apart. Remove the pit and SAVE IT if you are going to put any of the cut avocado in the fridge. Place the avocado halves fruit side up on a cutting board, and starting on one side of a half, gently run a knife all the way through, down to the skin, but be careful not to pierce the skin. Be sure to keep the half on the cutting board to avoid cuts! Next, run the knife through the other way, creating a checkerboard effect (see the above picture). Pick up the half skin side down in your palm, and loosen the pieces from the skin by squeezing the half gently (you're not juicing a lemon here). Using a spoon, slide it in between the fruit and the skin and dish out the pieces. You're done! Click here for a great visual of this: Scroll down to 3A.

If you are feeding a young baby, mash the avocado pieces with a spoon or add to a food processor, food mill, or blender. Add a bit of water, formula, or breastmilk if the puree is too thick for your baby. Dish into freezer cube trays or a bowl. In my experience, 2 large avocados makes approximately 12 ounces. Pureed avocado freezes very well. If you are feeding an older baby (my 9-month old eats pieces, and only has 2 teeth), cut any larger pieces into baby-sized cubes. If you are storing the avocado in the fridge, add the pit into whatever container you use, and either cover in plastic wrap or put a lid on the container. The added pit will help the avocado to remain bright green, instead of turning brown, due to enzymatic browning. Lemon juice should not be used, as citrus can be highly allergenic for young babies; delay introducing these.

Avocados can be slightly pricy; double-check the prices of large avocados, small avocados, and organic avocados to be sure you are getting the lowest possible price in terms of value. For instance, if the larger avocados are pricier than the smaller, you may be able to buy 3 smaller ones instead of 2 larger ones for a cheaper price and still get about the same amount. We've even seen organic avocados cheaper than non-organic.

Have fun making this nutritious food for your baby!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beaba Babycook Review

Click here for a great review about the Beaba Babycook (and a giveaway!!), which I mentioned in this blog post. Click here for The Bloom Blog - great posts and information!