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Yummy Baby Foods: Mash something something
Feeding Peter solid foods has been a different experience altogether as compared to Hannah’s. Hannah readily accepted almost any type of food I introduced to her. Peter was almost the total opposite.
At 6 months, it was a real challenge to get any food pass his lips. And he enjoyed making a show of spitting bits of food noisily out of his mouth if we could shove it in before the clam-down. Cooking tiny portions was another challenge as we prefer not to cook in bulk and then freeze in small portions. I have a thing about feeding our children freshly cooked food. Porridge was rejected at the start. However, we had some success with avocado, sweet potato and carrots. It was with a lot of perseverance that the little prince finally opened up to the idea of eating something that is not milk or water.
His nanny has been feeding him porridge on weekdays and I try to provide variations on weekends. Not much variation actually. Just a change of the source of carbohydrates from rice to potato and do a mash up with an orange veggie, a green veggie and a meat. I like this mash-up meal as it is quick and easy to prepare. It is tasty too – Hannah often asks me for leftovers. Below is the recipe for Peter’s mashie meals.
- 1 small potato (I recently discovered Australia’s red potatoes available from NTUC. It makes a creamy, yummy mash)
- 1/2 a small carrot stick (about 6-7 cm long)
- 1 broccoli floret (or 4-5 spinach leaves)
- 1 small piece of fish (I alternate between threadfin and salmon) or minced lean pork or chicken
1. Prepare a boiling water bath (I did this with a covered wok over a gas stove.)
2. While waiting for the water to boil, peel and slice the potato and carrot thinly. Spread them out on a porcelain plate.
3. Steam the plate of veggies for 7 minutes.
4. Slice the broccoli thinly (or chiffonade the spinach leaves). Wash and place the meat in a small porcelain saucer.
5. At 7th minute, open up the water bath and place the saucer on the plate and spread the green veggie over the potato and carrot. Cover and continue steaming for another 7-8 minutes.
6. Once time is up, remove the plate of steamed food and mash them up. Pour the leftover liquid in the saucer and plate into the mashed up food to moisten it. Test the consistency of the mash and add a bit more hot water to soften it if your baby prefers it softer.
7. I usually place the small bowl of mashed up food in a hot water bath to keep it warm while I feed Peter.
Sometimes I pack this mashed meal in a small tupperware to feed Peter if the family is going to dine out. I would bring along a small bowl and then request for hot water from the restaurant to heat up the meal before serving Peter. My tupperware can sit directly in the hot water bath and it takes only minutes for the heating process. Peter would be fed while the rest of us wait for our food to be served. Then we can all eat in peace – or so we always hope.
My next challenge is to get Peter to accept fruits! Urgh.
Towards the End of Third Trimester: Baking Rock Cakes with Hannah
I have put on at least 10 kg during this pregnancy and am feeling easily tired in the last trimester. I promised to bake rock cakes with Hannah a month ago and since both of us are having school holidays now, I better keep my promise.
We went to supermarket this morning to buy a tray of eggs, the missing ingredient for the recipe, and started baking in the late morning. It was a simple recipe to follow and within 30 minutes the rock cakes were baking in the oven. I got Hannah to help in measuring the ingredients using the digital weighing scale, whisking dry ingredients, pouring ingredients and rubbing cold butter into flour. She was very excited since last night when I announced that we were going to bake the rock cakes together on the following day. She reminded me to buy eggs the moment she woke up in the morning and fished out her apron from her drawer to get ready. Below is the recipe we used.
- Plain Flour – 100 g
- Baking Powder – 1 tsp
- Cold butter – 50 g
- Castor sugar – 50 g
- Raisins – 25 g
- Egg – 1
- Salt – pinch
1. Preheat oven to 190 °C. Grease the baking tin.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl to mix well.
3. Cut cold butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mixture.
4. Add sugar and raisins.
5. Add egg and whisk to a stiff batter.
6. Use 2 metal spoons to scoop and unload the batter in small heaps onto the baking tin.
7. Bake for about 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown.
8. Take out the rock cakes to cool before serving.
Yummy Toddler Foods: Rubber-band Noodles :P
When it comes to noodles, there are just too many types that I don’t think I’ll ever get round to trying all of them in my lifetime. My dad used to ta-bao (do take-away) ee-fu noodles or yee mee for me for dinner. I’d affectionately call it rubber-band noodles. Because it’s brown and its texture is like rubber-bands; chewy and somewhat spongy. Of course, it doesn’t taste like rubber!
Ee-fu noodles also have some variation as well. I managed to find only one type at NTUC recently and so settled for it. Its cross-section was squarish. The other common type has an oblong cross-section. Tried a new recipe using this type of noodles for lunch and it was a hit with Hannah. :)
Ingredients (serves 2-3 persons)
- Ee-fu noodles (Yee mee) – 1 to 2 cakes (depending on size)
- Chicken broth – 300 ml (for braising)
- Sweet peas – 6, sliced breadth-wise
- Carrot – 1 small, peeled and cut into strips
- Baby corn – 3 fresh, sliced diagonally
- Shiitake mushrooms – 3 fresh, sliced
- Prawns – 8, shelled, deveined
- Sauce: 1tbsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp light soy sauce, 1/2 dark soy sauce, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cornflour, dash of pepper, few drops of sesame oil, 200 ml chicken broth
- Soak noodles in hot water in a medium pot. Use a pair of chopsticks to loosen and drain at once. Discard the hot water and add 300 ml chicken broth into the same pot and heat up to boiling.
- Add noodles into the pot of boiling broth and lower the heat to simmer gently until broth is reduced. (If the noodles look plumped up and there is still some sauce left, it is okay) Dish up and divide amongst bowls.
- Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a heated wok and stir-fry sweet peas, carrot strips and baby corn for about 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to stir fry until they soften.
- Stir the sauce mixture well and add it to the veggies. Bring to boil. When the sauce begins to thicken, add prawns to cook briefly (avoid over-cooking the prawns).
- Turn off the heat and dish the sauce mixture onto the noodles in each bowl.
- Serve hot.
The original recipe calls for only yellow chives, bean sprouts and straw mushrooms as the veggie components. I really liked this combination but yellow chives are not commonly available and so I improvised.
Lunch with H: Stir-fry Brown Beehoon (brown rice vermicelli)
Since school holidays have started, Hannah started spending time at home with me. Despite my tiredness and morning sickness during this first trimester of pregnancy, I still prefer to have home-cooked meals. To make things easy going, I decided that lunch should be easy to prepare and good to eat.
As usual, I visited a few cooking blogs to gather some lunch ideas. Found one which looked promising to kick start our lunch routine. It is a simple fried beehoon dish with loads of vegetables and some meat. The recipe can be found at Food4tots. My dish has 2 differences from the original: 1) I forgot to add glass noodles, and 2) I omitted the cabbage.
After having the beehoon for lunch, Hannah told me that she liked the meal and that it was “yum yum!”. Personally, it was quite tasty but one shouldn’t rely on a pregnant woman’s opinion as the pregnancy hormones do tricks to the taste buds. :)
Yummy Toddler Foods: Kiwi in Orange Juice Popsicle
Feeling the unbearable heat these days? The popsicle to the rescue! :)
Trying out new recipes for popsicles is so much fun as they are quick and easy with satisfying results. Making popsicles give a lot of room for creativity too!
The idea for the kiwi in orange juice popsicle came from a blog site called Weelicious. This site also has many other fun and healthy recipes for toddlers. The original recipe calls for lemons but my personal policy is that if oranges can replace lemons in any recipes, the better. Why? This is because oranges are often stocked in our fridge whereas lemons are only bought if a recipe requires them – and I often end up with half an unused lemon. IMO, oranges often impart a better flavour to cooked / baked foods as they have the natural sweet factor which is lacking in lemons.
Okay, enough orange philosophy. :P
Ingredients for making 4 popsicles are: freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2-3 large oranges), 4 slices of green kiwi fruit and 1 tbsp of organic honey (adjust amount according to the sourness of the orange juice). Add one slice of kiwi into each of 4 popsicle moulds. Pour honeyed orange juice into each mould, cover and freeze overnight or at least 8 hours before serving.
Easy popsi, orange squeezy! :)
Yummy Toddler Foods: Simple Carrot Salad
From the wide array of recipes which use carrots, I like raw grated carrot, carrot cake and carrot muffin best. Yang loves carrots but he likes them cooked to just tender to bite.
Enter the raw carrot salad today! :D I wanted Hannah to eat more vegetables in their raw forms and hence did this salad as an entrée for her lunch recently. I was glad to hear “Mommy, it is yum yum!” when I asked Hannah for feedback.
I used the finest grater I have at home to achieve fine slivers from 1/2 a small carrot. Then I squeezed juice out of a thin wedge of orange over it, dump in 1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise, sprinkle some sultanas and toss everything together to mix well. Ta-da, a lovely salad done in no time. The orange juice and mayo are optional as the grated carrot was already so sweet, juicy and refreshing. If you’re going to give this salad a try, do buy carrots that are sweet smelling. :)
Yummy Toddler Foods: China Barley Drink
Taking barley drink to cool down our bodies on hot days is a common practice amongst the Chinese. There is the barley drink and then there is the China barley drink. One is the true barley and the other is the imitation. Just kidding…! :)
I did some homework on this grain and here is what I’ve gathered. China barley is native to Asia but has been grown worldwide. Although it looks like the big brother of pearl barley (i.e. the true barley), it belongs to a different genus and hence is technically no barley at all. Perhaps due to its production in China, it has been called China barley. Other names for this grain are coix seeds and Job’s tears. In Chinese, it is called 薏仁 (yi ren).
Before I write this post, I don’t have the faintest idea of the benefits (and ‘dangers’) of consuming China barley or that China barley isn’t barley at all. I simply assumed that it was also a cooling grain just like pearl barley. After finding out more on the Internet, I heaved a sigh of relief that China barley is generally beneficial to health. Yes, it has cooling property just like pearl barley. On top of that, it is able to strengthen the spleen, enhance immunity, prevent swelling, remove pus, treat symptoms of diarrhoea and arthritis. Other properties include inducing diuresis and excreting dampness (a TCM term which I have little clue). And I felt good when I read that it could enhance complexion too, hee hee. As for pregnant ladies, do try to avoid China barley as it might interfere with development of foetus.
I was introduced to this grain when my mom started adding it to her home-made cheng teng (清汤). The sweet fragrant taste of China barley left an impression on me then. It is something which pearl barley cannot match up to.
I used to brew pearl barley drink for Yang to help him cool down or ease his cough-induced sore throat. However, I am not fond of pearl barley drink at all. I found the resultant texture too gluey for my liking. I like my cooling drink to have a somewhat clean and refreshing taste. Just a couple of weeks ago, China barley came to mind and I decided to try brewing this type of cooling drink for my family instead. And I was delighted to discover that not just Yang took to the drink positively, Hannah became hooked to it. She has been asking for barley drink ever since. As this is a cooling drink, it should not be consumed in excess and prolonged periods of time.
Okie dok, enuff said. About the recipe, I adapted it from a pearl barley drink recipe from Food4Tots.
- China barley – 200 g
- candied winter melon (冬瓜糖) – 80 g
- rock sugar – 50-60 g (adjust sweetness according to preference)
- pandan leaves – 3, washed and tie into a knot
- water – 2 litres
1) Rinse China barley thoroughly until water runs clear.
2) Soak the China barley grains with 2 litres of tap water for an hour in a big pot which they would be cooked later.
3) Add candied winter melon to the pot and bring water to boil.
3) Once the water starts boiling, skim the scum from the surface. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer (gentle bubbling) for about 1 hour.
4) At the last 10 minutes of simmering, add the knot of pandan leaves and rock sugar.
5) Stir to ensure all rock sugar has dissolved. Scoop up 2/3 of cooked barley, some candied winter melon and pandan leaf knot and discard.
6) Serve China barley drink with some of its grains and candied winter melon, warm or chilled.
I usually keep the excess drink in bottles in the refrigerator and warm it up in batches for the next couple of days for consumption. For Hannah, I limit her consumption to 1 cup (~ 190 ml) per day.
Yummy Toddler Foods: Banana-Blueberry Smoothie
Despite my best efforts at selecting fresh foods sold at our nearby NTUC supermarkets, getting decent eating quality stuff can still be a hit-and-miss affair.
The latest disappointment came from 2 boxes of blueberries sold at a discount. They were more tart than sweet.
*Think, think, think! What to do with them if I don’t have the time to bake blueberry muffins?*
Banana-blueberry smoothie, of course! :P
Banana is a good companion to sour fruits as it lends sweetness to the overall taste. If further sweetening is required, the good ‘ol honey will get the job done. :) There, problem solved!
The beauty of making smoothies is that the proportions of ingredients need not be strictly precise. Just use what you have at hand. The texture can be adjusted by using more or less milk.
The banana-blueberry smoothie I blended contained 1 banana, 1 box of blueberries, 1 tbsp of organic honey and some milk.
This smoothie is a great way to include milk in your toddler’s diets especially if he/she doesn’t like the taste of plain milk. In addition, eating blueberries (both fresh and frozen) is beneficial to health as they contain vitamin C and cancer-fighting antioxidants on top of many other amazing phytonutrients.
Yummy Toddler Foods: Banana-Strawberry Popsicle
Argh, sour strawberries. *sian*
Recently, my FIL bought Hannah a large box of humongous strawberries which, he was told, were sweet. Kenna conned! Sigh. So many sour strawberries sitting in the fridge! It would be such a waste to dump them. I recalled seeing Mcdonalds’ latest range of fruit smoothies and they have a combination of banana and strawberry smoothie. Yup, I’d make popsicles using banana to impart sweetness to the sour strawberries while the latter could contribute its fragrance. A solution then!
The recipe I came up with is basically for a milkshake. However, I reduced the amount of milk used so that the banana and strawberry taste would not be diluted.
- Bananas – 2 medium ripe, peeled
- Strawberries – 2 huge or 4 small, stalk and leaves removed
- Fresh milk – 40 ml (estimated amount as I didn’t measure)
- Organic honey – 1 tbsp (omit honey if the strawberries are sweet)
- Blend all ingredients until smooth. Do taste check. Pour into popsicle moulds, cover and freeze for at least 8 hours.
- To take out the popsicles, dip the moulds into warm water for about 10 seconds. They should come out quite easily when removed.
I had some popsicle mixture leftover and stirred in more cold milk to make it into a banana-strawberry milk for Hannah. It turned out to be a cool, delicious drink on a hot, humid afternoon. She loved it! :D Could have made a milkshake but our girl didn’t like foamy drinks.
Yummy Toddler Foods: Grass Jelly Drink
Commonly known as chin chow here, grass jelly made from the extracts of Mesona chinensis‘ stalks and leaves makes a great refreshing and cooling drink. June is often the hottest month over here. Besides going for water, there are other cooling beverage options to bring the bodily heat down. One could try barley water, chrysanthemum tea, water chestnut drink, oldenlandia water, cooling herbal teas and grass jelly drink of course.
I love grass jelly. I like to chew on the jelly knowing that it contains the essence of a beneficial Chinese herb. It is slightly bitter on its own but the addition of a sweetener elevates it to the dessert status. One easy recipe for grass jelly is to simply drizzle honey on it. I prefer drinking the jelly instead. The common recipe for grass jelly drink uses white sugar as sweetener but I prefer brown sugar for better flavour. Below is my version.
- ready-made unsweetened chin chow – 1 pack (500 g)
- brown sugar – 6 tbsp
- pandan leaves – 4 leaves, washed and knotted
- water – 1 litre
1) Bring water, pandan leaves and brown sugar to boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve sugar. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.
2) Turn off the heat. Discard the pandan leaves. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3) In the meantime, shred the grass jelly into strips and set aside in the fridge to chill.
4) When the sugar solution has cooled, drain off excess grass jelly liquid using a fine sieve and add the grass jelly to the sugar solution.
5) Stir briefly and cover with cling wrap. Chill the drink in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
Verdict from toddler: Hannah approves :)
Stay cool, folks! :D