Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A new favourite

 Hoyt's Italian Herb Mix

I've found that this gives that 'wow' factor to even your most lazily-cooked pastas. It's just a bunch of dried herbs and I don't know which of it gives this that zzzingg. It's lovely to add to your toddler's or older baby's pasta too. Just a little sprinkle will do. According to the packaging, it does not contain any preservatives or artificial nasties. Here's what's in it:
Garlic granules, tomato granules, basil rubbed, oregano, parsley, onion, red bell pepper, black pepper, marjoram, canola oil.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Purées: What's the best equipment for making baby food?

When we were going to introduce our son to solids, I made the huge mistake of  buying a large liquidiser. What was I thinking! Obviously it was useless to make small amounts of purées or even dry-grind cereals (in small amounts). So I pretty much had to shove it in the back of the cupboards. What I found to be the best was a hand blender.
Something like this, but what I bought was the much cheaper supermarket brand for just AUD15 (Rf.200?). Imagine, my liquidiser had cost me 3 times as much!

The hand blender is so convenient, you can just purée the food right in serving bowl itself. Some people say that it doesn't purée meat very finely, but that could depend on the brand. I've never had such a problem. Also, usually, as the baby gets older, they are able to eat more lumpy food. There are some specialised baby processing equipment out there, but they cost you an arm and a leg! I would prefer my dear old hand blender to those any day! :))

Baby recipe: Apple Barley Cereal

What's the main cereal you give to your baby? I started out with Farex baby rice cereal that's fortified with iron when my son was 6 months old. However, I wanted to add some variety so looked for some wholesome cereals that I can prepare at home. So I bought pearl barley and this became a favourite evening meal during the early months of eating solids. Making baby food, even cereals, at home is so much better because you know exactly what is going into your baby's food.

Pearl barley (which is really whole barley processed to remove the hull and bran) can take ages to cook. So it's better if you dry grind it before cooking. This recipe can make about 4 portions for a 6-8 month old. When choosing apples, it's obviously yummier if we use a sweeter variety, so I used Red Delicious.

Pearl Barley
What you will need:
4 heaped tbsp ground barley
2 cups water
1 medium size apple (peeled and finely chopped)
1/2 stick cinnamon

Put everything together in a thick bottomed pot and cook, stirring continuously. The cinnamon gives a wonderful aroma when it's cooking. Remove from heat when the barley is soft. After it cools, the cereal has a jelly-like consistency. If it's too thick, add water and stir to get the consistency you want. If you like, you can also add some milk (formula) before you serve. Remove the cinnamon and blend to a finer texture if required.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Toddler recipe: Chicken turmeric rice with veggies

This one's inspired by the traditional Maldivian masbaiy (tuna-rice). Of course our traditional version is made with tuna and is much spicier  with whole black peppers, and we don't normally add vegetables. Some of my favourite sea-side memories include piping hot masbaiy eaten on large leaves - yum!

This will make approximately 3 portions, and will take 30 minutes or less to prepare.This is also suitable for babies 7 months and up. Just omit the garlic if you think it might be too spicy for the baby.

What you will need:
1/2    cup white rice
1 1/2 cup water
1/3    tsp turmeric
1 garlic (chopped)
2-3 curry leaves
5-6 large florets of broccoli
1 carrot (sliced)
2 large chicken drumsticks (skinned, deboned and cut into 1 cm cubes)
a pinch of salt (optional and not recommended for babies

Put everything together, except the broccoli and boil in a pot until the rice is soft and the chicken is cooked well. Add the broccoli, stir, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. If you want to puree it, keep the lid on until you're ready to blend, so that the rice is soft and mushy.

You can swap the broccoli with a green vegetable of your choice. For me, another favourite is spinach.

Chicken drumsticks are higher in iron and fat compared to chicken breasts. So for babies and younger toddlers it might be a good idea to give drumsticks, as it can be easily pureed too. On the other hand, if you prefer the leaner meat of chicken breasts that's higher in protein, that's fine too :)

 my broccoli got a little too mushy

When you're ready to serve as it is or blend, remove the curry leaves. Put the leftovers in portion-size containers and freeze. Bon appétit!

Friday, 7 October 2011


We are joining a playgroup this week! I hope my son is as excited as I am. He's a social little thing, so I'm pretty sure he would love it. He's turning 17 months soon and I feel this would really help his social development.

We were worried about what would happen to his social and language development when we moved here, with just his parents around. If we had stayed back in Maldives, he would have been surrounded by his (huge) extended family and friends. But luckily, our fears were unfounded, as he had a healthy 16-20 word vocabulary before his first birthday. I think reading and singing helped a lot. His dad would even read to him his journal articles. And when we were alone during daytime, he was my audience for my own cookery shows, cleaning shows, etc. The flair for acting and singing and general monkeying around blossoms when you have a baby, don't you agree? Where was I? Ah yes, Playgroups. We start on Friday. Can't wait.

Hello (cyber) world!

Welcome to the newest MUM blog in town! I've thought about starting a blog ever since I got pregnant. Wanted to share my thoughts, fears and experiences through out pregnancy and motherhood. But being the procrastinator that I am, I've managed to wait till now. My son is a year old now. Not only am I great procrastinator, I am an optimist too (some would call that daydreaming though), so here goes. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the cyber world.