Creamy Any Veggie Soup

Trying to get veggies into my toddler can be a challenge.  One day, out of sheer exhaustion and guilt that I wasn’t feeding him “right”, I served him a handful of frozen peas.  The line of thinking was kind of like, “Frozen peas, do they need to be cooked? Fresh raw peas are delicious….he loves frozen blueberries…what the hell.”    And guess what, he loves them! I haven’t tried frozen corn yet only because I keep forgetting to buy it at the grocery store.

So serving my kid frozen vegetables is the absolute easiest way that I’ve found to get him to eat his veggies.  But this recipe for Creamy Any Vegetable soup may be the second easiest way.  I serve it to him in a coffee mug and he gulps it down.  It’s a super fast recipe that is dairy-free!  You can use almost any veggie although I don’t recommend combining them.  I used broccoli in the batch in the picture, but you could use:  carrots, celery, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, butternut squash, peas, corn, pumpkin, spinach or whatever you have on hand.

The oats add a velvety, creamy texture.  This soup pleases kids and adults alike.  And only takes about 20 minutes to make.

Yields about 6 cups of soup.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion chopped

dash of nutmeg (about 1/8th tsp)

1/3  cup old fashion rolled oats (Rob’s Red Mill makes gluten free oats)

4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock to make it vegan)

1.5 pounds broccoli (or vegetable of choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. In a large sauce pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, cook until softened and translucent about 5 minutes.  Add the nutmeg, cook until fragrant, less than a minute.

2. Add stock, oats, broccoli, and 1 cup water.  Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender.  5- 10 minutes.

3. Puree soup in batches in a blender. (Don’t fill blender more than 1/2 way or it could come out the top and burn you.) Return soup to the pot, taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve immediately.

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Yogurt Oatmeal Pancakes

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I have been cooking gluten free more and more because I feel better when I don’t eat as much gluten. And pancakes a great place to skip the gluten, and not feel like your missing anything. By using corn flour and rolled oats you can create a mouth watering cake packed with flavor as well as fiber and whole grains. Corn flour is an inexpensive gluten-free flour and is wonderful to have on hand when making cornbread. (Look for Organic or Non-GMO.) Buttermilk is cultured milk that has a lovely tang and a very popular pancake ingredient. But I never have any on hand, but I always have yogurt in my fridge. So why not swap out one cultured milk for another? All you need to do is add a bit of water to smooth batter. My one year old and my husband made these pancakes disappear so fast that next time I will be making a double batch. This one yields about 10 fist sized cakes.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup corn flour (masa)

1 cup old fashion rolled oats (Rob’s Red Mill makes gluten free oats)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup water (more will be necessary if using greek yogurt)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 large egg

1 tsp coconut oil

Preparation:

1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. 2. Combine yogurt, water, butter, and egg in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. 3. Heat coconut oil in a griddle over medium heat. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles; cook until bottoms are lightly browned – about 4 minutes on the first side and 2 on the second. Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!

Homemade Baby Food

I’m the proud mamma of a 6th month old little boy.  So today in my kitchen, I’m making baby food.

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When my little guy started on solids a few weeks ago.  I was adamant about making all my own organic food for him.  I wanted only the best. At first it was easy, I mashed a beautiful organic avocado and he devoured it.  Then I tried banana, even better, he loved it.  But then I tried sweet potatoes lovingly baked to increase the sweetness and retain more nutrients.  But my taters were rejected…and so were my carrots. Oh no!  I tried avocado again and this time the novelty of food had worn off. It seemed as if my little ones lips were sealed to everything I cooked for him.

I scanned the internet for tips to see what I could possibly be doing wrong. After watching several videos on how to make baby food, I was still coming up at a loss. I guess my little guy was a picky eater. I consulted with my cousin a new mom of a slightly older baby and her words of wisdom, “just buy the organic premade stuff in the pouches.” I guess that made sense, at least that way I could try out a bunch of different flavors – I mean foods.

And what do you know. It worked. I discovered that he loves fruit. Pear, mango and prunes are big winners. But it is almost impossible to get him to eat his vegetables – unless I mix them with some fruit. So I’ve been mixing a new veggie with a previously tried fruit in order to only try one new food at a time and track any allergic reactions that may occur. My pediatrition advised me to do this. And it’s been great. I’ve been mixing and matching fruits and veggies in order to feed a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as expose my boy to exciting new tastes. I’ve found that he also eats with his eyes even at this young age so I often mix based on color as well as flavor. Here’s a list of some tried and true combinations:

  • Carrots & Mango
  • Peas & Pears
  • Avocado & Mango
  • Sweet Potato & Prunes
  • Green Beans & Apple
  • Sweet Potato & Banana
  • Peaches & Carrots

As well as everything has been going with the pouches, I’ve been feeling more and more that method of eating is so disconnected from the actual food that my baby might be learning that food comes from brightly colored plastic pouches. He has been increasingly interested in the serving container, be it a little bowl I’ve mixed up my concoctions in or the pouch itself. And as I squeezed some peas out of pouch last night, I got the overwhelming feeling that I was feeding him glorified toothpaste. Do I know what’s really in these things? The #1 level bags seem ok just the fruit and sometimes water or citric acid or lemon juice. But what’s in the water? Is it like our tap water full of chlorine, fluoride or even bromide? Do they have to label for that? And I recently bought a couple of the #2 level “meals” – these are premixed fruits and veggies and sometimes grains. Flipping over a pouch called “plum, berry & barley” the first ingredient is organic apple puree?!   I’m trying to feed less fruit/sugar not more!

So this morning, I got back to making my own baby food. For me and some new moms I know, making your own food can seem like more work when you are already exhausted but here are my tips to keep the process as simple as possible.

  1. Make big batches. This saves you work in the end. Your blender or food processor will work better when it’s filled. You can use ice cube trays to freeze the purees in one ounce portions for later use. This helps you to feed a variety of foods over the course of a day.

 

  1. Don’t steam or bake. It’s more work and you will need the extra water that you cooked the produce in to thin out your purees. This cooking also contains many of the nutrients from the food so you’ll want to use it in lieu of fresh water.

 

  1. Don’t bother with recipes. There are all kinds of recipes out there for making baby food. But keep it simple. You’re tired you don’t need to measure or mix and match food at this stage. Just make one fruit or vegetable at a time. You can mix and match later when you are feeding. (ie, Defrost a cube of apple and a cube of carrot – mix & feed) This will give you more flexibility as your baby’s tastes evolve which could happen more quickly than you would expect. That way you can try a hint of spice like cinnamon to one feeding of sweet potatoes instead of the whole batch

With these tips in mind here’s a basic breakdown of what I do to make my own organic baby food.

  1. Buy organic produce.
  2. Use filtered water.
  3. Peel the produce if necessary. (Skip this step for veggies like peas, green beans, and spinach.)
  4. Cut into small pieces – bite size for adults.
  5. Boil covered until fork tender. (Place in a pot and cover with filtered water. Put the lid on the pot and turn up the heat. Once you can smell the aroma of the produce in the air, it’s probably soft enough to pierce with a fork and done. But you might want to set a timer for 7 -10 minutes, especially if you may get distracted caring for your baby and forget that you are making food!)
  6. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the produce. Add as much or as little of the cooking liquid to get a smooth puree. Think thinner than mashed potatoes but thicker than butternut squash soup.
  7. Freeze in ice cube trays. After a few hours pop out the cubes and put them in a big freezer bag labeled with the date and type of food.

Bananas and avocados don’t have to be cooked. Make sure bananas are super ripe with lots of brown spots before feeding or they can cause constipation and/or a tummy ache. Whole peeled bananas freeze and defrost well.

P.S.

I’m not a huge fan of baby led weaning, but I do see the advantage of give your baby something to associate food with beyond these purees. So I try to give my guy whole carrots or stalks of celery or ears of corn while we are eating. And they are great for teething.

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