Whilst winter is a time when we often eat more, holidays should also provide us with extra time to try new meals and get creative in the kitchen. It was the father of  medicine, Hippocrates, who famously quipped “Led Food be your Medicine and Medicine be your Food” – so whether you have an infant, toddler or hungry young rascal to feed – it is never too early or too late to start ensuring their body gets everything they need to build healthy and happy cells.

BABY LED WEANING

Baby Led Weaning, a term coined by Gill Rapley in her book ‘Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food’. In her book Rapley explains that spoon-feeding can be the same as forcing food down the baby’s throat and can teach him or her to overeat. In contrast, baby-led weaning means offering the baby finger foods which encourages him or her to learn the skills of chewing and swallowing, promotes hand-mouth co-ordination, helps baby to decide what to eat and how much of it to eat, and gives the opportunity to experience different textures of foods. A recent study confirmed Rapley’s theory that spoon-fed babies are prone to overeating and obesity.

WHEN IS BABY READY TO EAT SOLID FOOD?

According to world renowned Nutritionist Barbara O’Neill you’ll know when baby is ready to eat solid food once all three requirements are met.

  • When baby can sit up by himself (usually around 7.5 months)
  • When baby can pick up and put food in his mouth (babies start putting things in their mouth around 5mths and are proficient at doing so around 7.5mths onwards
  • When baby has teeth with which to masticate food (the incisors appear first, four on the upper and four on the lower gums. These are chisel shaped teeth and best suited to soft fruits and veggies.)

As the only teeth baby has at this stage are incisors, no starch should be given. Ptyalin, which is the salivary amylase that initiates the breakdown of starch, is not yet present in a baby’s mouth. This enzyme is not produced until the eruptions of the first molars. (need a reminder? WATCH HERE)

BABY LED WEANING ACTIVITIES & ADVICE

     

  

Now for the technical bits…

  • Choose organic foods as much as possible, and ensure that your baby has boiled and cooled water from a sippy cup with her food, to avoid potential problems with digestion or constipation
  • It is best to offer your baby a milk feed before you sit down at the table so that they don’t fill up on solids out of hunger for breastmilk
  • Never leave your baby unattended at the table; babies can choke on any types of food, no matter how small or soft they may be. Babies learn from watching you chew and swallow your food, so enjoy sharing these precious family moments together

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You can let your baby experiment with varied combinations of:

STRIPS of steamed kale, raw lettuce, dried figs or dried apricots soaked in water (to make them softer/easier to chew)-

CHUNKS of steamed broccoli, steamed parsnips, steamed carrots, steamed swede, steamed turnip, steamed green beans, baked yams, baked pumpkins, boiled chard, fried tofu

SLICES of raw cucumber, raw avocado, raw apple, raw pear, toast with vegan margarine/hummus/avocado spread etc

MASHED potatoes mixed with tofu, potatoes with nutritional yeast, swede with broccoli, cooked lentils with boiled carrots, sweet potato with courgette, porridge with banana, cooked kidney/other beans with rice, cooked chickpeas with rice, boiled spinach, boiled cabbage – breastmilk can be added to any mashed food combinations to make them more alluring to baby

Also – brown rice cooked with cumin seeds and peas, plain quinoa or couscous cooked with olive oil, larger amounts of alternative milks as baby gets older, then othe oat products.

A PLAYTIME FOODIE ACTIVITY

 

There is no right or wrong way to do this but we liked Kristen from Modern Parents, Messy Kids approach: They chose to create three unique experiences and present them to baby, one at a time.

nutritious holiday meals

 

    

      

nutritious holiday meals

 

     

nutritious holiday meals

     

  

      

When the first molars appear:

It is around the age of 14 to 18 months that the digestive tract begins to mature and baby can cope with complex carbohydrates. The signpost is when the first molars appear. These have four cusps and are used to crush and grind food.

The canines or eyeteeth erupt at about eighteen to twenty months. They are situated between the incisors and the first molars. The canines are used to tear and shred the food.

When the molars appear, ptyalin, the amylase in saliva, which breaks down starch, is now produced. At this stage potatoes, bread and cereals can be introduced. It is important that all grains be thoroughly cooked, and also the legumes should be soaked and well cooked. It is best at this stage to slowly introduce these foods, always leaning more to the fruits and vegetables.

By 18 to 24 months baby is usually eating three meals a day and is down to only a couple of milk feeds. If baby is weaned from the breast he can be given a fresh juice once or twice a day. Carrot, apple and celery are best. This mix contains all the necessary nutrients to sustain life. This is often called vegetarian’s milk.

“LET FOOD BE YOUR MEDICINE AND MEDICINE BE YOUR FOOD”

HIPPOCRATES

6 NUTRITIOUS AND FUN RECIPES

BREAKFAST

FLOUR-LESS APPLE PANCAKES

This is ideal for getting little ONES to eat solids without the unhealthy flours – nice snack for mom too while she has to make them, especially if one ‘accidently breaks’

nutritious holiday meals

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 peeled apple, diced small
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • A little coconut oil for cooking the pancakes

Instructions

  1. Mash the 2 bananas with a fork
  2. Whisk 2 eggs in a medium bowl
  3. Add banana mash to eggs
  4. Core and dice 1 apple. We used Golden Delicious – choose your favorite
  5. Stir bananas, eggs and apple chunks together
  6. Next add the almond butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla
  7. Combine into a pancake batter
  8. Heat a thin layer of coconut oil in a skillet to medium low. Pour the pancake batter in – keeping the pancakes no wider than your spatula. When one side is golden brown, gently turn over to cook the other side.
  9. Makes about 8 small pancakes Recipe can be easily be doubled or tripled to make more pancakes
  10. Top with fresh fruit or raw maple syrup

Notes

Keep the size of your pancakes just a little smaller than your spatula head. That will make them easier to flip over without falling apart.

 

FEEL GOOD CRUNCHIES

This is a carb free, light meal with lots of nutritious variety. Like Legumes and despite their diminutive size, SEEDS, are nutritional giants and should be included where possible.

NUTRITIOUS HOLIDAY MEALS

Ingredients

  • 50g butter,  plus a little extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 85g dried apricot, chopped or any other dried fruit that takes your fancy, peaches and pears also works well in this recipe
  • 100g raisins
  • 85g mixed seed (we used pumpkin and sunflower)

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment. Heat the butter, almond butter and honey or maple syrup in a small pan until melted. Add the mashed banana, apple and 100ml hot water, and mix to combine.
  2. Tip the oats, the dried fruit and the seeds into a large bowl. Pour in the combined banana and apple and stir until everything is coated by the wet mixture. Tip into the cake tin and level the surface. Bake for 55 mins until golden. Leave to cool in the tin. Cut into 12 pieces to serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to 3 days.
LUNCH

LENTIL, CHEESE & CARROT WEDGES

An easy and fun way to introduce healthy legumes into little ones diet.

nutritious holiday meals

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion finally chopped
  • 115g cheese grated
  • 1 egg (can be substituted with one of the following: a)half a medium banana, mashed or b)1/4 cup applesauce (or other pureed fruit) or c) 1tbsp ground flax seed soaked in 3 tbsp warm water for 1 minute
  • 225g red lentils
  • 2 medium carrots grated
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 30g breadcrumbs
  • 30g coconut oil
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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Cook the lentils.
  3. Melt the butter and fry the onion until transparent.
  4. Take off the hob and let it cool for a bit.
  5. Add the carrots and all the other ingredients and give it a good mix.
  6. Press into a greased 9” sandwich tin.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Handy Hint

Can eat warm or cold. Freezes well – take a wedge out of the freezer at a few hours before and put in a oven proof dish. When you want to cook it, put in the oven for about 20 mins.

#ecotip: To make lentil puree, just cook about 1 cup split red lentils in enough water to cover until tender, stirring. Puree them in a food processor after. You want them to be the consistency of pumpkin puree. If they are too thick, add a little more water.

 

CAULIFLOWER & BUTTERNUT CAKES

Hidden vegetables – every Mum’s naughty little secret. These cakes are deliciously warm and comforting (perfect for winter), and undoubtedly a favorite of the little people. Baked, not fried!

nutritious holiday meals

Ingredients

  • Butternut
  • Cauliflower
  • Grated cheese

Instructions

  1. Boil and mash a butternut. Once cooled add some cooked, finely chopped cauliflower and some grated cheese. You could add other finely chopped vegetables if you have others as leftovers.
  2. Mould into small patty’s, place on a greased baking tray and bake in a 180 C/Gas 4 oven until lightly brown and cooked through (approximately 20 to 25 mins).

Handy Hint

This recipe works well with any kind of left over veggies. Try aubergine and Cauliflower, or add some roasted bell peppers to the mix. You can even add some cooked quinoa or lentils for texture or your (or little ones’) favourite seeds or nuts

This can be served by its self of as a side dish.

DINNER

LIGHT QUINOA PILAF

A great alternative to a rice based stir fry, using quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa gives you double the protein, 10% more fibre and almost half  the carbs when compared with rice. This dish makes a wonderful side dish to grilled chicken or country style pork chops!

nutritious holiday meals

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

When using Salt either make use of quality Celtic Sea or Himalayan Salt as each contains 84 minerals vs normal table or sea salt, which contains just 2 minerals.

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa seeds. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, the celery and the carrots, stir and cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the quinoa and stir for about a minute. Add water, 1 bay leaf, the zest and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir a few times to make sure the flavors mix, and then cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the liquid has all been absorbed.
  5. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

Tip: For a more flavorful quinoa pilaf, substitute chicken stock for water.

SNACK

PUFFED QUINOA NUT BUTTER BALLS

The original recipe was for Puffed Quinoa Peanut Butter Balls, but we have substituted the Peanut Butter for healthier nut butters such as Almond or Cashew nut butter. Quinoa is actually a Seed not a Grain and so these fun tasty balls are another easy way to introduce the enormous nutritional value of seeds into your little ones diet. And they will think its just a delish dessert.

nutritious holiday meals

Ingredients

  • 1 cup puffed quinoa
  • ½ cup almond or cashew nut butter
  • 3-4 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Vegan dark chocolate (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, agave and vanilla. If the mixture is too firm, heat it up on the stove a little bit.
  2. Add the puffed quinoa (and peanuts, if using), and stir to combine.
  3. Place mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes to let it firm up.
  4. Remove from fridge, roll into 12 balls, and return to fridge for 15 minutes before serving.
  5. Optional: dip some or all of the balls in dark chocolate.

Makes 12 balls.