Tuesday, April 26, 2011


In honor of this summer-like weather I'm mashing up some kiwi for Aura's meal today!
As I was making it I was thinking (as I'm sure some people reading this will) but wait, there's seeds in it!
Then I thought of a very true but I think often overlooked fact when it comes to baby food. Man invented the blender. What does that mean? It means that at least one baby survived without having every meal pureed and strained to death. It's like when people say you can't put spices in baby food. What do you think babies eat in India and the Carribean? I can guarantee you it isn't rice cereal.
I'm all for a healthy degree of caution when it comes to Aurora's food and with things like drinking cow's milk and undiluted fruit juice I will probably wait, and there will no honey until the fear of botulism has passed. However where most food is concerned I think experimenting within reason is fine... I'm sure Aurora will let me know if she doesn't agree. In this case the seeds are very soft and she seems to like texture so I think the kiwi will be fine. The vitamin C content alone makes it worth a shot! Won't know until we try... just waiting for her to wake up from her nap!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthday SMASH!!!

So I spent a few years as a commercial baker awhile back. It sucked. The hours sucked (3am-11am anyone?). The lack of creativity sucked. The people, well... sucked. However, before that job if you'd said to me "let's bake some muffins" I'd be on my way to the store for a pre-measured mix with high fructose corn syrup, tons of oils (sometimes even lard) and god knows what else in it. Now I'm on my way to the kitchen for flour and sugar. That job taught me one very valuable lesson, aside from 'you're not a morning person', baking is easy and fun and once you have your basic recipes down the possibilities are limitless. Yes, it's more science than cooking. It's chemistry, plain and simple, but pushing the limits of that science is probably my favorite part.
I've dabbled in muffins and pies, cupcakes and cookies... you name it, I've tried it. When I was pregnant my kitchen became a bakery, blame nesting or cravings or boredom but I came up with some pretty impressive stuff!
One thing I hadn't tried, but was intrigued by, was 'smash cakes'. Mini birthday cakes for your little one to dig into and destroy on their birthdays. Awesome in theory... poor in execution. Most of the ones I've seen look like glorified cupcakes and are no doubt 100% sugar and vegetable oil. They all look like flavorless processed cake mix with 'fun' frosting. Gross. Is that really the way you want to spend your kids birthday? Peeling them off the walls during their sugar high and dealing with the inevitable crash and crankiness? Do we really want the message to be "Here, shove this block of fatty sugar into your mouth while I take pictures?"
Don't get me wrong... I'm not one of those sugar-nazis. I won't deny my kid a birthday cake because I think it's unhealthy to celebrate with food. I don't. Food is amazing and vital and should be a celebration! However I DO think it's pointless and a bad message to celebrate with just any food. If you are using food to emphasize a great event... make it great food!! Aurora will have a smash cake. The plans are in my head as I write this, but the main difference is that I will know exactly what is in hers and where it came from and it'll be a REAL cake.
THIS is how I want to do "smash cakes". In my head this is an opportunity to make big beautiful artisanal cakes that look and taste amazing... only tiny:
So this is my first smash-cake experiment:

That's a standard sized cocoa can that I used for a decorating stand... should give you a pretty good idea of the scale.
This is a recipe that I've wanted to toy with for a little while. It's pretty simple and relies heavily on a chemical reaction for it to come out correctly. That being said, it's also loaded with sugar and butter. My goal was to cut both by 1/3 without destroying the end product. Now I frosted it pretty simply for two reasons... One, this little guy is for no one but me so why go nuts with decorations?

But the second and most important reason is because underneath all of that awesome (low-fat) cream cheese frosting there are not two but FOUR layers of red velvet cake!

I regret taking this picture on a red plate. It was late and I wasn't thinking properly. It matches the plate!

Here's one I took the next morning on a white plate.
The best part? I succeeded! It's 1/3 less fat and sugar than traditional red velvet but still came out red and still has that awesome cocoa and butter flavor! Win-win-win. This also opens up possibilities for red and pink cakes or even red and blue superhero cakes!
All in all a pretty big success and a pretty great dessert for the next two days!

Friday, April 8, 2011

THIS is "pea green"

So the time had come for Aurora to move on from the beige foods. We'd done rice cereal. (twice, and probably never again unless I decide to make it, that stuff is AWFUL.) We'd done mashed banana and freshly baked and pureed apples...
I decided I wanted to expose her to carrots but since she is so young, the nitrates in fresh carrots are a concern so I went to the store and found the purest version of 'baby food carrots' that I could, Earth's Best 1st carrots (ingredients: organic carrots and water) Pretty good I thought... then I tasted them.
I will always taste everything I feed Aurora. Maybe it's the chef in me but I can't expect someone to eat something that I haven't... I've even tasted her formula (also gross, but there isn't much to be done about that..) Before anyone mentions it, I wish I could've breastfed but we had SO many complications that it wasn't possible to keep at it for more than a month and a half.
Trust me, we tried.

Anyway where was I?
Even with just carrots and water, the heating and jarring destroys all the taste. They bear almost no resemblance a real carrot. Like I said, I wanted her to be exposed to them but because of her age it's not considered safe to make them at home. I gave her a few spoonfuls and she ate it but we will probably abandon the carrot idea until she is old enough for fresh ones... they were that bad.
So, on to the green veggies. While buying the carrots I took a look at what I had decided would be her next food and one of my favorites... peas. Do yourself a favor, look at some baby food peas... I mean really look at them. They are grey. Peas are green. Something is very wrong here. In fact "pea green" is pretty grey too. Well, what you see above is what organic green peas look like when they are gently steamed and pureed. They are GREEN. Peas are green. Period.
After the beige and sweet foods I was a little worried that the green veggies may not go over so well and sure enough I was greeted with this face:

BUT... after just three spoonfuls it turned into this face:

She LOVED them!!
If that's not a sign of encouragement to keep introducing new fresh flavors, I don't know what is! Avocados are next!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Toddler meals are FUN!!

So I have a new client with a 15 month old son. Let me just say that when I decided to get into this whole baby food business what excited me the most (aside from all the obvious health benefits) was getting to make FUN food! I've been drooling over all these fun ideas and adorable healthy toddler recipes just counting down the days (there's a lot of them) until MY little one can dive in! So when offered the chance to cook for this little guy I jumped at it... here are some highlights from the tasting menu I made for them last week:

Mini meatballs made with oat bran ready for the oven! (I served these with some veggie pasta and "hidden veggie" sauce.)

Moon and Star whole wheat pita crisps! (served with organic cottage cheese and zucchini and summer squash sticks)

Rainbow orzo and grilled chicken breast! (I loved this SO much that I made extra for myself.)

This family signed on for a 7 day supper plan for their little man (plus a few lunches and even a dinner a week for mama and papa!) so there will be plenty more fun food photos to come! Now to plan next weeks menu!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the new blog for my business: Mindful Meals RI!! I'm going to use this to share photos and thoughts on homemade baby food. I'm always learning new things about baby and children's food and nutrition so I figured I'd share my experiences.
For now a few pictures:

Business card design

Apples ready for the oven!

...and some for juicing!