Weaning recipe #3 and family meal: Last of the Summer bean stew

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We had this this for supper a few nights ago. The photo above is of the leftovers we had for lunch the next day. I didn’t have time to chop the stew up into smaller pieces for my baby (this stew works best with chunky vegetables) – I am always in a last minute rush when I make meals – so I gave her chickpeas and haricot beans and some veg to eat with her fingers along with the stew which had been briefly whizzed.

Now that she’s 9 months old she’s really honed her pincer grasp and sits absorbed at the dinner table picking up small pieces of food. Some of those pieces of food she casually drops on the floor but most do end up being eaten.

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Peppers and courgettes are only just in season in the UK but not for long. I  buy organic (as much as possible), local when I can, and definitely British. Buying by season does make it harder in those Winter months when you’re missing out on salads and summer fruits and it does make you really appreciate produce when it comes into season again.

Ingredients

For the stew
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 red onions cut into wedges
Red and yellow pepper cut into 1 cm wedges
2 courgettes cut into batons
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
Half a tin of 400g haricot beans (optional)*
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato purée
Handful of fresh basil chopped
zest from one lemon
200ml very low salt stock (not for babies) or water (for babies)

For the cous cous
200g whole grain (if you can find it) cous cous
300 ml water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

How to…

In a pan on a medium heat cook the onion, courgette, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the smoked paprika and tomato purée stir and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and stock or water and cook for 20 minutes.
Zest the lemon and put to one side.

To make the cous cous, mix together 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stir into the cous cous, then add and mix in the 300ml of water.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Then fluff up with a fork.

Now add the beans and chickpeas, lemon and basil to the stew and and cook for 10 more minutes then serve.

Make sure you allow it to cool enough. For babies, either chop into smaller pieces or whizz a few times with the blender.  For younger babies (+6 months)  thin with a little of baby’s usual milk to consistency required.

Portion sizes

The recommended portion sizes (from Caroline Walker Trust):

Babies from 7-9 months:  80g of stew / 50g of couscous with 20g vegetable finger food

Babies 10-12 months: 90g of stew /60g couscous with 30g vegetable finger food

1-4 year olds : 115g stew / 80g couscous with 40g vegetable finger food

5-11 year olds: 140g stew / 120g couscous with 80g vegetable finger food

*I didn’t want to add the whole tin as thought would be too much – but might be fine – I used the rest in a beef stew a couple of days later.

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Weaning recipe #2: Salmon and creme frâiche pasta pesto

Salmon creme fraiche pasta pesto

I came up with this recipe when my 7 year old was having salmon with new potatoes and vegetables.

I am weaning using a mixture of finger foods and purees/mashed/chopped dishes (more details in another blog post to follow).

This recipe works just as well with chicken instead of salmon (e.g. leftovers from Sunday lunch).

As shop-bought pesto has salt added it’s not ideal for babies. So I whizzed up my own – it doesn’t take long if you have a hand held blender or food processor. You can freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays or it keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I used pine nuts, but if you or your partner have food allergies, eczema or asthma, your baby is at a higher risk of having a food allergy, so make pesto without the pinenuts. (see the NHS website for more information on foods that can cause food allergies). And of course, if you know your baby already has an allergy or has eczema or asthma then just exclude the pine nuts from the recipe.

When you’re preparing the basil do it alongside your baby if you can, so they can be involved in the food preparation. If you grow you own, they could “help” you to pick the leaves and help to wash them. Or just being able to explore the leaves through touch, smell and best of all, taste. The leaves are quite big so it’s a good idea to tear them into small, manageable pieces and at around this age, babies are developing their pincer hold – as shown in the photo below.

Exploring basil

Ingredients for pesto (Makes about 20 x teaspoon portion)


50g basil (washed)
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
15g (1 tbsp) pine nuts
30g (2 tbsps) parmesan
Quarter of a garlic clove

How to…

Put in food processor and whizz until quite but not completely smooth – see photo below.

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Ingredients for the pasta dish (makes 3 portions)

100g (approx) Organic or wild Alaskan salmon fillet* (you need 30g cooked salmon per portion**)
Lemon wedge
150g cooked pasta*** (usually equal to 50g uncooked weight)
45g (3 level tablespoons) half fat organic creme frâiche
15g (3 teaspoons) pesto

How to…

Bake the salmon fillet in foil for 20 minutes at about 200˚C / gas mark 6 / 400˚F for 15-20 minutes (until it flakes easily).
Meanwhile cook the pasta as per instructions.
Run a little cold water through the pasta so it doesn’t stick together and put in a bowl.
If you are using larger pasta shapes or spaghetti then chop it up into mangeable pieces.
Once you have taken the salmon out of the oven, allow it to cool and remove the skin (if you haven’t already)
Break the salmon into small pieces with your fingers that are easy to eat.
Take your time as this way you can make sure you’ve removed all the bones.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl together with a squeeze lemon juice and stir.
If you are making this for a younger baby (7 or 8 months) then thin a little with baby’s usual milk and whizz briefly with blender to make to the consistency required.
Divide into three portions (each about 100g).****
Serve with two types of seasonal vegetables as finger food.

*Make sure that you are buying salmon from sustainable sources by using the Marine Stewardship Council’s product finder on their website.

**30g portion of cooked fish for 7-9 month olds, about 40g portion for 10-12 month olds, for children between 1-4 years about 45g per portion and 5-11 year olds about 90g (all from the Caroline Walker Trust CHEW! Guidance which you can download online)

***I’ve used orzo pasta as this is easy for babies to eat at around 8-9 months and does not need chopping. Any other pasta is fine too, it just needs chopping up.

****It will keep in the fridge for two days. You can freeze portions too and it will keep in the freezer for about 2 months.

Weaning recipes #1: accidental Morroccan lamb and cous cous

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We’ve just had just a busy Saturday morning, in and out of the house getting ready for Ringwood Carnival, my eldest’s 7th birthday, a 40th birthday party in London, drama class, and of course baby stuff which is never ending and keeps you busy without you ever actually achieving very much.

I had sausages for my husband and daughter for a quick lunch before going out to the carnival. But nothing for my now nearly 9 month old. The sausages were organic. but as they are high in salt, aren’t a suitable food for babies.*

I do usually try and do the same meal for the whole family but with so much going on it wasn’t possible and I had to rustle something up quickly out of what I had in the fridge. If I had had a chance to buy the ingredients the Morroccan lamb would have  included with some chickpeas – to make the meat go further and  some more vegetables as well as some dried apricots or sultanas.

The dish was not a great success at Saturday lunchtime. Either because my daughter is teething, or the excitement in the house, not much was eaten. I tried again for tea, and she ate most of it happily.

The evidence suggests that you have to get babies/children to try foods about 15 times before they will accept it. Though I do think that if a child has a definite dislike of a food or flavour and they are good at trying new foods and like most, then its probably best not to push it. But of course it’s hard when you’ve spent time and energy making something only for it to be rejected.

New foods

Up until around 18 months babies are open to trying new foods. Research shows that giving a new food once in the first year can double a baby’s intake of that food when a parent offers it again at mealtime.**

When toddlers start to walk and become more mobile, some develop neophobia (a fear of new foods). Academics think that young children have evolved in this way to prevent them from eating toxic or poisonous substances that they might come across in their immediate environment. So any food that they do not recognise as ‘normal’ is seen as a potential danger and is a means to protect them from being poisoned. It tends to peak at between 2 and 6 years old but older children can be neophobic , particularly if parents/carers limit the variety of foods they eat.***

So 1 have about a year to introduce as many different foods as possible. And as much as possible I buy in season produce so that means, like my eldest this baby will learn which foods are in season.

To make about 5 portions you will need ****…

1 tablespoon olive oil

200g Organic lamb mince (I made lamb meatballs with the rest of the lamb mince)

1 celery stick

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 small onion

half a green pepper (or any other pepper)

100g mushrooms

300g tinned tomatoes

100g cous cous

How to…

Dice all the vegetables into small enough pieces for a 9 month old baby to manage. This meal is suitable for babies from 7 months. You can thin it for younger babies with your baby’s usual milk (breast or formula milk) and puree.

Put the cous cous in a bowl and add 150ml boiling water, stir and leave for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the spices and stir then add the lamb mince, and cook til brown. Then add the rest of the vegetables for a few minutes, until softened. Then add the tinned tomatoes. stir and simmer for 10 minutes, and thin a little water or baby’s usual milk, then serve with about 40g cous cous.

I served this meal with some cooked carrots and green beans.

My eldest happily ate it the next day too.

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Storage

Cool rapidly and refrigerate in an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for 2 months.

Easy ways to get your children to eat veg #1


Serve veg before the main meal, as a starter. It’s as simple as that.

I am usually running late with my cooking so my daughter often tells me she’s hungry in that half an hour before mealtime.

It doesn’t take long to steam a few veg and serve as nibbles, or preparing raw veg is even quicker.

She will happily munch through the veg without loosing her appetite for the main meal.

As a guide on portion sizes, the wonderful CHEW! by Caroline Walker Trust* gives guidance as about 40g per veg for children under 5 years – with at least 2 types of veg served at main meals. So thats about 80g of veg at main meals.

For children aged between 5 -11 years this increases to the recommended portion size for adults – 80g per portion. Of course you aren’t going to double veg intake over night on their 5th birthday. Its useful guidance and shows what to aim for.

At snack time too offer veg and/or fruit along with starchy carbs for energy.

*Caroline Walker Trust was the first organisation to devise school nutrition and food standards. The current school standards are based on those set by Caroline Walker Trust.