Leftover Almond Pulp Lunch Box Crackers

crackersAgain, my photo’s are embarrassing compared to the food porn that is all over the blogging scene. But, alas, I don’t have time to set up a photo shoot in the kitchen and take a million shots, so you will just have to trust that these look and taste good!

I have been making my own almond milk recently and needed to find a use for all of the almond pulp that was leftover. I had saved a few recipes but not got round to trying them as they were too complicated or required special ingredients I didn’t have. I needed something quick and easy that was useful to have in stock instead of just making more food for the sake of it (which would be the case with almond cookies for example!)

I followed a recipe for almond crackers but the mixture was crumbly and too oily, so I added my own bits including a chia egg to hold it all together, hoped for the best, and came out with these more-ish, nutritious snacks. Not crunchy like crackers, more like oat cake texture, but great to spread with avocado, dip in humus or pack in your child’s snack box.

As I made the recipe up for the most part I have guesstimated quantities. The final mixture held together fairly well but it doesn’t need to be very dough-like. It had some moisture but didn’t stick to my hands. Just make sure you press it down firmly into the baking tray and it shouldn’t fall to pieces! You can try all sorts of flavours, just swap the herbs, add seeds, olives, sun dried tomatoes whatever you fancy!

Ingredients:

1 cup roughly almond pulp (as I use a juice my pulp is already quite dry, you might need less oil if your pulp is wetter)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup chickpea flour

1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water

Pinch of salt

4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules or fresh, minced garlic

Method:

Start by making a chia egg (you could also use flax seeds here) by combinging chia seeds and water and setting aside for a few minutes.

Mix all of the ingredients together, adding the flour and oats a bit at a time and using the chia egg last to combine and hold together. If the mixture is too wet then add a little more flour or oats or both.

Press mixture into a small oven proof dish or baking tray. You want the crackers to be about 1/4 cm thick.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to turn darker brown.

Cut into squares and leave to cool before moving to a different container.

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Gluten-free, sugar free, vegan breakfast muffins

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Sometimes I just fancy something new for breakfast, and sometimes that ends in disaster. Especially when it comes to baking as I’m no good at guessing quantities and figuring out how to bind ingredients together or make sure it rises. But much to my surprise my recent experiments with breakfast muffins have turned out very well. I looked at a few recipes online, realised we had none of the ingredients in the cupboard, and made something up myself. I used flax eggs and banana to bind the mixture, although you could also use a vegan egg replacer instead of the flaxseed mix (the banana may even be enough but I felt safer using something I knew would definitely work!) You can add anything you like, such as dried apricots, cacao nibs or nuts, and adjust the sweetness with your choice of natural vegan sweetener. I like the fact that it feels like you are eating a cake but there is nothing naughty in there at all! They are also great for when you need breakfast on the go or something to grab when you first wake up, which is why I have just made a fresh batch for our holiday. I try to be prepared so that we are not tempted to eat out too often which will no doubt be unhealthy and expensive (I have been baking bread and making soup today too!) These muffins are easy, tasty, great for little hands and full of goodness; perfect for baby led weaning as well as lunch boxes!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chickpea flour

3/4 gluten-free self raising flour (I used doves farm)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milled flaxseed with 6 tablespoons non-dairy milk

3 bananas, the riper the better!

1/3 cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/2 cup sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey if non-vegan)

1 apple, grated

Small piece of ginger, grated

Mixed seeds of your choice (I used, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, golden flaxseed)

Handful desiccated coconut

Handful chopped dates

Method:

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

Prepare your flax eggs by combining the milled flaxseed and non-dairy milk and setting aside for a couple of minutes for the seeds to absorb the liquid.

Meanwhile, mash the bananas and add them to the flour mixture.

Add the flax eggs and combine well.

Stir in the oil, sweetener and molasses, followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.

Leave to cool before serving with a cup of tea!

Enjoy!

Cocoa-nut bites

photo 2-1There are hundreds of these delightful little balls circling the blogging scene! I usually just make them up as I go along, but this one was particularly good. I haven’t been updating you on my sugar free challenge at all! But because of little lifesavers such as these nutritious snacks, I have managed fairly well. It hasn’t been as hard as I imagined, but then again we haven’t cut out natural sugars, so I can still satisfy my sweet cravings. Although many people say sugar is sugar, processed or not, I have to disagree. The foods that I get my sweet fixes from have so many health benefits that far outweigh the sugar content, and the extra goodness in them helps your body to process the sugar more efficiently anyway. I do feel better as a result of the challenge, with no more energy dips mid afternoon. I slipped up yesterday when I was testing a brownie recipe for the party this weekend, and today I have been feeling so lethargic! The other girls are doing great too and the online food diary has helped us to share ideas and really evaluate what we are putting into our bodies. I have realised that I really don’t snack as much as I thought! Michelle has lost a heap of weight and we have both said we want to make it a more long term change. I am also pleased that I have managed to, pretty much, cut out all processed bread (and haven’t eaten anything else processed the entire time!) and am now considering asking for a bread maker for Christmas!

If you have ever thought about going sugar free you should definitely try it. If you are happy to eat natural sugars in fruit, honey and maple syrup, for example, then you may find it is a piece of *sugar free* cake!

So to get you started here is a quick recipe for those moments when you just need a treat:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup soaked cashews

2-3 cup soaked dates

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Handful raisins

Desiccated coconut to coat balls in

Method:

Puree or blend your dates, cashews and coconut oil (I used my juicer to do this which makes them much smoother than blending, but either works ok) If the mix seems too crumbly add more dates. It should be sticky, holding together easily but not wet.

Put mixture in a bowl and stir in cocoa powder and raisins until mixed well. You can add more or less cocoa depending on how chocolatey you want them.

Roll into bite sized balls and then roll through the desicated coconut.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving (unless you are desperate to eat them straight away, but they really are better after being in the fridge!)

Store them in an airtight container and pack them in a picnic, in your child’s lunch box, for a long journey. You could even put them in a pretty box and give them as a gift…or just demolish them all whilst watching your favourite tv!

Enjoy!
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Vegan banana pancakes

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These pancakes were our breakfast on bank holiday Monday, a little treat (but a healthy one!), when there was nothing else in the house. They are so simple and very tasty with no sugar whatsoever. The chickpea flour provides protein and we all know that banana’s are good for us! Serve them with whatever you fancy, we used more banana and maple syrup. I’ll definitely be making these again and again!

Ingredients (to make the amount shown in pic):

1 small mashed banana
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4-1/3 cup water

Method:

In a mixing bowl combine the mashed banana, chickpea flour, cinnamon, baking soda and 1/4 cup water and mix.
Add more water if necessary to get the consistency somewhere between thick-runny and runny.

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. I used a very small amount of vegan spread in the pan to stop them sticking.

Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into the pan for each pancake. (Notice how mine got smaller at the top?! I would use just less than 1/4 cup if you want a stack like this and you want them to be the same size!)

Cook on one side until the top is bubbly, then flip and cook for about another minute. The pancakes should be browned on both sides but nice and cakey! 

Enjoy! 

Chickpea Tagine

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You may already know that we are a little obsessed with this recipe. In fact it was the first meal we cooked when we had decided to give veganism a go, and it was so good that we didn’t think we would ever be tempted to eat meat again! These days we are ‘chegan’s’; a name I heard somewhere that means vegans who cheat. Everything I cook at home is vegan, but if we are invited to a social event, we would rather just join in and eat what everyone else is eating to make life easier and ensure our social life doesn’t die out. I have also found it really difficult eating in restaurants, as a lot of the vegetarian options still contain cheese, so I often just opt for something with meat in order to avoid dairy. It is early days, but I think overall we are doing pretty well. 

Anyway, back to the tagine. This recipe has been adapted ever so slightly from one in our ‘Crazy Sexy Kitchen’ recipe book by Kris Carr. It is really delicious and healthy, and although it seems like a lot of ingredients, I now kow the recipe off by heart and it is easy. Try not to skip any of the flavour-y (it’s a word) ingredients as the overall taste is amazing! I once ran out of cumin seeds and discovered that these are an essential part of the dish!

You can, however, use any root veggies you like. For some reason I am always drawn to orange veg for this dish! I make my own tomato paste for this recipe, so I will start with that.

Tomato paste:

8 sun dried tomatoes

1 large tomato

1/4 red pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp black pepper

Blitz and set aside.

Chickpea Tagine:

1 tbsp. cumin seeds 

1 tbsp. ground coriander

3 tbsps. olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

Your pre-made tomato paste

1 pint (ish) vegetable bouillon

3 large carrots peeled and diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 butternut squash

1/4 jar pitted and chopped green olives

400g carton of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 jar artichokes (optional but tasty)

Zest of 1 lemon

Large handful raisins

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus some to serve

3 tablespoons chopped coriander, plus some to serve

(The original recipe also had mint, but we don’t usually buy this so I leave it out)

Method:

1. Toast cumin seeds and coriander in a pan until aromatic. Once toasted, add to your tomato paste and mix in. 

2. In a large heavy-bottom shallow pot or deep skillet (cast iron works best) on medium heat, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and golden, stirring continuously for about 4 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomato paste and all of your root veggies (not the chickpeas), coating them in the paste.

4. Add the vegetable bouillon, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. 

5. Add the olives, chickpeas, artichokes, lemon zest and raisins. Continue simmering for about 5 minutes. 

6. Add parsley and coriander and season with salt and pepper if desired. 

7. Garnish with sliced red chili and fresh herbs if desired.

I have just eaten a huge bowl of this! It is also one of the only meals that keeps Poppy’s attention for longer than 5 minutes. She picks out the chickpeas and eats them one by one! And today she had a go at the carrot and sweet potato too!

Enjoy!

Attachment parenting is lazy parenting

No you did not misread that. But let me explain myself.

A few things that people have said to me since I have become a Mum:

“You give so much to Poppy but what about you?”

“I worry about you because you do so much.”

“When do you get any time to yourself?”

“I couldn’t do what you do, I don’t have the time/patience/energy.”

“How do you manage to stay so positive and energetic?”

“She will be fine if you leave her to cry for a bit, you need to rest.”

“She still wakes that many times a night? You must be shattered!”

I thought about this the other day when my lovely Mother In Law said she worried about me, and I couldn’t explain why but I told her that 99% of the time I feel great, despite still feeding at night, carrying Poppy for all of her naps, breastfeeding on demand, scheduling our life around her and not ever having a break…

Well I understand why that is after Poppy and I became sick last week, and I was completely exhausted. Poppy was crying, clingy, irritable, restless, tired and I was losing patience. Now that she has recovered I have suddenly realised that she is happy almost all of the time. Unless of course she is tired or hungry, she is generally smiling and laughing and our days are stress free. I started to appreciate how easy my parenting choices have made my everyday life.

ImageParenting is tiring full stop, and yes I have days where I feel particularly shattered. But what is the alternative? Let me look at a few different scenarios. The easiest one to explain is our sleeping arrangement. We co sleep and Poppy wakes up on average 3 times a night to comfort feed. She has always slept amazingly well during the night since birth though, meaning she will not fully wake up and she will fall back into a deep sleep very quickly, allowing her to get 12 hours sleep each night. By lying right next to her I simply roll over, let her latch on and we both fall back to sleep within minutes. In the morning I can hardly remember if I woke up at all in the night.. Of course I look forward to the day Poppy is sleeping through in her own room, but aside from the fact that I don’t feel comfortable with sleep training methods, I actually just cannot be bothered to even try to encourage the transition. Not now and possibly not ever. She will choose to go into her own room eventually, definitely by the time she is bringing boys home! Our current arrangement means that we are both well rested and happy the next day. I am sure I could find a suitable no cry method in the future that may result in Poppy sleeping in her own bed after a few weeks, but even just a few weeks of implementing that is too much effort for me to be tempted! See, pretty lazy of me!
How about the baby wearing during the day? Poppy used to go down for naps in bed every now and then, until I became super lazy and decided that the half an hour it took me to get her to sleep that way really bored me. Now she has every nap in the sling or carrier, because I can carry on with what I am doing and most of the time she will drift off peacefully all by herself. She also sleeps for much longer in there so I am getting a longer break and she is getting more valuable sleep and wakes up happier! Doesn’t my back hurt? Sometimes, yes. Enough to make me want to go to the effort of ‘teaching’ her to sleep longer on her own? No.

ImageBreastfeeding. I plan to breastfeed for a long time. A large reason for this is definitely the health benefits. But also…you guessed it…I can’t be bothered to wean her! I have no problem with our current arrangement and Poppy loves it! So why would I go out of my way to try to put and end to it, potentially leaving Poppy feeling confused and upset which in turn presents daily challenges and could leave us both exhausted? I have heard of Mum’s who have multiple children who have said that they simply do not have the time to even consider weaning their babies, so they just let them wean themselves and barely notice that it is happening. When I merely think about the process of fully weaning Poppy I am filled with anxiety and stress at the prospect of such a difficult process; I wouldn’t even know where to start. This is especially true of night weaning, considering Poppy is only settled by me during the night I can’t even begin to imagine the impact of night weaning on our general sense of happiness! Of course lots of Mum’s wean with no problems and there are times when you can take advantage of your babies natural reduced interest in breastfeeding. You can gently encourage it, but that still involves a considerable amount more effort than doing nothing at all. So I choose the latter.

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Baby led weaning is an interesting one, as most people think you are super patient for doing this and putting up with the mess. Me, I think it is really lazy. I don’t have to prepare any purees for a start. And at the moment because Poppy isn’t all that bothered about swallowing her food, and is still getting all of her nutrition through milk, it is incredibly easy to skip a meal if we are busy or out of the house one day. Obviously this is not going to last for long! But my point is that I don’t have any worry about whether she is eating enough, or that she has suddenly lost interest in food, or that the health visitor says she should be on this many meals, or she won’t take the spoon, or when I am going to fit in meal times, or what I will do when we go to someone else’s house at lunch time. I can’t really be bothered to spend half an hour each meal time trying to shovel food down her throat, I would rather enjoy my own lunch, because we all know I love my food, whilst she makes a mess and I can worry about that later, like when she is in bed. It only takes a few minutes to wipe the high chair and the floor, and it probably balances out when you think that I don’t have extra washing up from making the baby food in the first place.

ImageAs for elimination communication, leaving them nappy free helps everyone get the hang of it, but sometimes I admit she is really nappy free because it seems easier than getting a fresh one and getting her all dressed again, and I am definitely too lazy to be washing nappies more than once a week. Now that she goes so often in the potty I have less washing, and barely have to wipe a stinky bum from one day to the next. It really doesn’t require that much effort of my part and will certainly make the complete potty training transition one big lazy fest for me because one day she will just be 100% ‘trained’ without me doing anything different from now.

There is a theme that is very apparent when you are responsive to your babies every need, all around the clock. They are happy! Seems obvious but I have seen in the past Mum’s despairing because they feel their baby should be putting themselves to sleep, sleeping through the night, eating three meals a day, playing happily on their own…whatever they have read or heard from the ‘experts’ or interfering friends and family. The result of those concerns has been for Mum to get extra stressed trying to implement a sleeping routine that just doesn’t seem to be working, leaving baby stressed and crying and Mum tearing her hair out and feeling like a failure. Truth is that Mum is far more tired and giving way more in terms of her energy, sanity and independence than I am. She is burnt out, and baby is too. When baby is over tired or confused about what Mum is trying to achieve, they are not happy. And an unhappy baby is much harder to look after. And so the cycle continues. Stressful nights follow challenging days, because you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with a grumpy baby, and the more inconsistent you are during the day the more clingy your baby is likely to become. In the long run you become exhausted and resentful.

By ‘spoiling’ Poppy I am keeping her well rested and happy. She is happy enough that I don’t feel I am constantly seeing to her or cheering her up. A happy baby is a healthy baby and enjoyable and easy to look after. Which means I am not stressed out, or feeling unconfident about my parenting abilities or resentful about why my baby is the only baby who doesn’t seem to conform to what the textbooks say. Maybe she would be fine if I left her to cry a bit, but she would probably just cry more, and that isn’t my idea of ‘me time’. Yes I do give a lot to Poppy, but no more than any other parent, and I probably give less of my time and effort than a lot of parents who put everything into getting their babies into a routine in the hope that life will become easier. Mine is already easy and will get even easier but a lot more slowly. No I don’t get any time to myself, because the cost of it is not worth it. An unhappy baby makes an unhappy Mummy. Overall our well being is pretty positive and our quality of life is great. So until that changes, I will carry on being lazy and enjoy every minute!

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Hope you have all been enjoying the sunshine like Poppy has! I am not managing to fit much blogging in lately between studying, but I will definitely be posting about my super exciting weekend next week! 

Christening the high chair

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Poppy is very happy with her new high chair. It is a Hauck Beta, a cheaper alternative to the Tripp Trapp, and it ‘grows’ with the child. It was pretty easy to assemble and I love that it is wooden, it feels really sturdy. At first I thought maybe we wouldn’t really need a high chair, she could just sit on my lap. But actually this means that when it is just me and Poppy I can’t interact with her as much as I would like to, and she also tends to just grab my plate and send it flying.

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The first foods we tried out in the Hauck were pear, nice a clean, and brown rice with kale pesto and beetroot, not so clean! I have been struggling a little bit to think of what to give Poppy aside from fruit and veg. I wanted to just give her whatever we are having but have realised that even our healthy meals often contain something that I am not ready to give Poppy. Yesterday we had home made quiche and salad, but I don’t want to give Poppy egg yet and pastry isn’t really the most nutritious of things. She liked the lettuce but it doesn’t mush up in her mouth so she didn’t really do anything with it and I must admit I panicked a little when it was just sitting at the back of her mouth. Other regular meals I make have stock cubes in them and I don’t know if this would be too much salt? Our favourite curry would be too spicy for her. And I wasn’t sure about introducing meat for a little while either? Even my everyday breakfast of organic porridge oats made with almond milk and dates, I am worried that the dates contain too much sugar and she shouldn’t have nut milk until she is at least 1. Maybe I am worrying too much but it is early days so I want to keep things simple. So I had a bit of a challenge in coming up with a lunch we could both enjoy together and using the little amount of food we have left in our fridge! The rice with kale pesto and beetroot was a success, it was very simple, yummy and filling for me, healthy and fairly easy for Poppy to scoop into her mouth. I have posted the recipe below. I gave Poppy a preloaded spoon, but she preferred sucking the other end. She did put quite a bit in her mouth compared to other foods we have tried, and even swallowed a couple of bits, but most ended up on the floor, high chair cushion, Oscar’s tummy and somehow even on the inside of Poppy’s nappy?! I must remember the naked baby tip! 

We had lots of fun though, especially when Poppy realised that the lovely bowl with the suction bottom that Auntie Ashley got her, wasn’t as suction-y as we had hoped! I love the subtle changes in the photos….first no bib, then bib, sleeves rolled down, sleeves rolled up, spoon available to Poppy, spoon disappeared, bowl on high chair, given up on bowl…..and Oscar is left picking up the pieces…

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Brown Rice with Kale Pesto and Beetroot Recipe:

Blitz a large handful of organic kale with sundried tomatoes (I used just 1 in Poppy’s pesto as they are quite strong and salty. I added a few more for my pesto) Add a little rapeseed oil if needed (we didn’t as the sundried tomatoes were in oil already). Add this mixture to cooked brown rice along with grated beetroot. That is it! It was really lovely and I think it is going to be a new favourite baby food in our house. Kale and beetroot are super healthy and the texture is great for exploring. As your baby gets used to this you could try adding more flavours and vegetables.

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Happy Families

I have decided that weekends shall be dedicated to lots of photo’s and telling you all about what we have been up to, I will reserve the more serious stuff for weekdays.

We have had such a lovely weekend. The glorious sunshine definitely helps! We were up very early Saturday and Sunday (5am ish) which makes it a little difficult to crawl out of bed but actually means that our days last forever, which isn’t a bad thing with weather like this, countryside to die for and plenty of QT together!

Saturday we explored Tring for the first time. There wasn’t much to explore to be honest! But it was nice just to walk around and have a little window shop. We did find a cutesy shop that sold some lovely ‘barefoot’ style baby shoes which I may have to treat Poppy to when she is tottering about. We also got stopped, much to our amusement, by a lady who worked for NCT who wanted our photo. She said that she is always trying to promote baby wearing and we just looked ‘so cool!’ Poppy was awake at this point too so we all posed for the camera! Hopefully she is going to email us the image (as well as printing it on to NCT posters and leaflets!!!) so when she does I will share it on here; it is rare we get a snapshot of us all together.

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After our little walk we were dying for a cup of coffee and slice of cake. Of course my dairy ban makes this somewhat of a challenge when out and about. We stumbled across a little vegetarian cafe called Anusia, and boy am I glad we did! They had vegan carrot cake and flap jack, coconut milk so that I could have a proper latte, fresh juices, smoothies and even a glorious green smoothie! I also noticed a few packets of dairy and gluten free bite sized snacks at the till, which looked like the sort of things I would make myself. It had a lovely atmosphere and a play area upstairs (although we didn’t go up, but will definitely be back.) It was very eco friendly and virtually all organic – basically my idea of heaven! We both indulged in the carrot cake which was to die for, Tim had a ferrero rocher hot chocolate and I had a coconut milk gingerbread latte. photo 1We then shared a green juice, which Poppy tried and couldn’t get enough of!!! She was literally thrusting her tongue toward the glass, it was hilarious. Next time we will definitely be trying their lunch menu, and I have no doubt we will become regulars.

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When we got home we took Poppy to the park for the first time! She went on the swings and seemed to like it! (click to enlarge photo’s)

Sunday morning I got my 6th Montessori assignment finished nice and early, whilst Tim walked Oscar with Poppy for about 3 miles. By the time he got home I had made us a delicious cous cous salad picnic and we set off to Ashridge National Trust estate. It was so busy because of the weather. We put a blanket down so that Poppy could have a practice at crawling, she is so close! She also enjoyed looking at some of the books Grannie gave her the other day. We had our salad (despite the smell of burgers and hot dogs wafting from the cafe) which I will post the recipe for soon, and Poppy had some banana, which she really enjoyed squishing. She is taking things to her mouth perfectly, and occasionally swallowing teeny bits, but I think that is by accident! Oscar seems to hang around a lot when Poppy is eating….

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It was lovely to just relax in the sun and watch families enjoying the outdoors; children learning to ride bikes, grandparents putting their feet up and dogs chasing about. We had a nice long walk and talked about having more babies (eventually). Oscar loved it, and was so well behaved. Poppy slept in the carrier and woke up when we got back to the cafe. We treated ourselves again to a slice of cake (mine was dairy free chocolate and banana! I love this place!) and coffee. I have to tell you that the picture of Tim with the scone as big as his head….he had already eaten half of it. Just before we left we visited the shop and I couldn’t resist buying a little mug for Poppy, as I remember my first mug I used to have at my Nan’s house, it had my name on it and she still has it. Hopefully Poppy’s will last as long!

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We were hoping to make it to the NCT nearly new sale in Cheddington but it was over by the time we got home. Instead we had a glass of red wine in the garden, played cards and listened to music. It is now 7pm, Poppy is in bed and we are about to tuck in to a big roast dinner. I can’t post this right now though as my photo’s need to be uploaded from my phone, so I will finish off tomorrow.

It is days like these that make me feel like I am living someone else’s life, those people you envy for having such wonderful lives and perfect families! Of course that isn’t always the reality, but just for a couple of days it is nice to think so.

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One more sleep!

Tomorrow is the day we will introduce Poppy to the world of food. I am super excited and also a little emotional that she is growing up so fast!

As most of you will know we have decided to try baby led weaning with Poppy. This basically means that we skip the puree stage and she will just get finger foods and feed herself rather than being spoon fed. To begin with it is just for fun, she will mostly play with the food, explore the textures, spit it out and make lots of mess (I knew there was a reason we got a dog!) This is the reason we have waited until 6 months to begin any solids, it is safe for her to now feed herself as she has the motor skills needed and can sit up unaided (or with very little support). A babies digestive system is also not mature enough before 6 months to handle foods efficiently and due to Poppy’s early intolerances I didn’t want to take any risks if she wasn’t physically ready. It also means that baby is still getting enough of the vital nutrients from milk that they need as the solids are not replacing milk feeds at this stage. If solids do replace milk feeds (as with spoon feeding) it reduces the amount of good stuff baby absorbs due to the nutrients in solids being less easily absorbed than those in milk for the first year or so of their lives. For this reason we will always be offering Poppy food after she has had a milk feed so that she is already nice and full. It will take her a little while to clock on that this funny tasting stuff can actually fill her up just like Mummy’s milk, and that is when the gradual transition from fun food to fuel food will occur!

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Credits image: Simon Wheatley (CC)

Here are some of the main benefits to baby led weaning:

  • No hassle of making separate foods for baby. Poppy will eat what we eat, more or less.
  • Improves baby’s dexterity. Often children who have been weaned this way start to use a knife and fork of their own accord and because they have been bringing food to their mouths for such a long time they are very good at it.
  • Poppy is in control, if she doesn’t like something that is fine by me. There will be no pressure what so ever, but we will continue to offer her plenty of variety and like most children I am sure she will go through stages of disliking something and then suddenly loving it and we will go with it (hands up if some days you just don’t feel like eating that but you really want those…)
  • She eats until she is full not until we say so, and so she naturally develops appetite control. I am going to try my absolute hardest to not use the phrase ‘one more mouthful’ or bribe her with pudding, both of which I am sure are programmed into us and slip out with almost no control! I trust that if she doesn’t want anymore then she is full up or doesn’t need it and if she does want more she can have it. Having had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food myself growing up, this is one of the biggest reasons I want to do baby led weaning in the hope that Poppy does not follow in my footsteps. Food will never be a battle or a chore and she will learn how to be healthy from the start.
  • Introducing solid foods from the word go means that babies will learn how to swallow without having the confusion of purees sliding down their throats to suddenly having to figure out lumps which they have never come across before.
  • It is easier to go out to dinner round friends houses etc. You don’t need to come with a bag full of baby feeding equipment and let your own dinner go cold whilst you see to them.
  • Baby watches you eat and socialise over meals and enjoys being a part of that and learning how to do the same.
  • Babies who are weaned this way tend to be less fussy eaters.
  • You know exactly what your baby is getting, not like in those funny coloured jars you buy in the supermarket.
  • If baby isn’t yet ready then they will let you know. You go at babies pace, just like any other stage of their development. We don’t (can’t) force them to walk or talk so why force them to eat? (I am not suggesting spoon fed babies are pinned down but you get the idea…)
  • The muscles baby develops when learning to chew are used when they learn to talk, so it is good practise!
  • Endless learning opportunities! Shapes, textures, weight, colours, size, quantity, smell and of course taste (if lots of foods are mixed together then baby can not distinguish the different tastes, and may not like the foods when eventually offered separately)
  • It is FUN FOR EVERYONE!!! (My camera will be fully charged ready for the big event tomorrow)

A couple of people (my lovely Nan) have voiced their concerns about the risk of choking (actually she just told me in a slightly aggressive voice that Poppy WILL choke). There is no further risk with this method of weaning than any other. A babies gag reflex is much stronger than ours, and I am ready to expect plenty of gagging as Poppy starts to push things to the back of her throat. This is a good sign because it shows that Poppy is learning how to deal with the problem herself, and I will try my best not to panic and confuse her when this occurs! Thankfully real choking is rare, but I am fully trained in Early Years first aid and have given Tim the low down too. I think it is important to know how to handle that situation regardless of how baby is weaned, and encourage my family, who may find themselves alone with Poppy when she is eating, to look up choking in a baby and ensure they feel confident that they would know what to do. Apart from that I hope you will all join and support us on this exciting journey!