Putting the Kabosh on Teething Pain with Chilled Fruits & Veggies

We had the Saturday from h-ll. Poor Mason’s cutting three new teeth and he has a brutal cold so he just clung to us and screamed most of the day. His little gums were horribly swollen and red, his nose was running nonstop, and his chest was rattling when he breathed. I’ve never felt so helpless as a Mom. He’s always been a good baby so we don’t have much experience with crying/screaming jags (yes, there’s an excellent chance we’ll get hit hard with #2). I kept wishing there was something I could do to make his misery go away, but I could only try to minimize his painful symptoms. At one point, I started to cry, too, out of sympathy and exhaustion and worry. I became Worse Case Scenario Mom and was convinced something was seriously wrong with him. Luckily Chris is an excellent voice of reason or I probably would have taken my baby to the ER…for teething and a cold.

To treat his cold, we turned on the shower and had him breathe in steam from hot water for 10-minute intervals (Chris and I took turns holding him and distracting him from the discomfort of the hot, wet air with his toy cars). He also slept with a humidifier running and a thick coating of Vicks on his chest. To help the teething pain, which seems to be the greater of the two evils, I gave him baby Motrin and frozen pacifiers. At mealtime, I coaxed him to eat a few different soft, squishy foods. He didn’t want to eat much (he even rejected mac ‘n’ cheese!), but here are the things that he would eat. We’d go through the list, try a few other things, and then repeat. (Other moms have recommended frozen bagels and waffles to us in the past, but unfortunately Bug wouldn’t go for either.) Any other suggestions to add to the list?

1. Homemade applesauce, chilled in the freezer for 20 minutes before serving

2. Beets, diced, cooked, and chilled

3. Banana, sliced and partially frozen

4. Full-fat Greek yogurt mixed with icy smashed pear; try one spoonful of yogurt for every two spoonfuls of fruit.

5. Ripe melon, diced and chilled– not the easiest thing to find this time of year but we lucked out.

6. Ice cold milk — a drink, I know, but Bug consumed more milk than anything else.

Other foods that Mason was willing to eat included chunks of Swiss cheese, toast with melted cheddar cheese, corn, and peas. He rejected eggs, pasta, turkey meatballs, blueberries, and grapes.

Tonight I’m making a chicken-ginger soup (recipe to come soon!). Now that both Bug and I both have his cold we need a little TLC and hot bowls of homemade soup just sound good!

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Pancakes with Cinnamon-Spiced Blueberries & Apples

Best for Babies 6+ Months (puree) and 11+ Months (pancakes)

Sunday brunch is one of our fave weekend traditions. This morning we made Mason a cheese omelet with a side of Cinnamon-Spiced Blueberries and Apples that I whipped up Thursday night. The fruit recipe was inspired by one I had seen on Parents.com, and Mason enjoyed the warmly spiced fruit mixture with his oatmeal Friday morning. While Mason ate his breakfast, Chris and I whipped up some pancakes and bacon for us. We made an extra pancake for Mason and topped it with a spoonful of blueberries and apples. It was his first pancake and he dug in, face, hands, hair — you name it! — covered in crumbs and blueberries.

I love this fruit puree because it’s so versatile — and so simple to make. I peeled a Gala apple with a potato peeler, then removed the core and diced it. Then I added the apple to my steamer, along with 1-1/2 cups of frozen organic blueberries. I steamed the fruit for about 7 minutes, then dumped it into the blender. I sprinkled 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon on top of the fruit, then blended it until it was smooth (you can also smash the fruit instead of blending it if you want a chunkier texture). I originally intended to make the puree with pears since the Parents.com recipe calls for pears but I ran out of pears so I substituted apples instead (the fruits are incredibly similar). The puree was so delish that Chris ate it on his pancakes as well!

Try out this idea with your babe (or mix up the fruit as a topper for oatmeal or cooked apples), and let us know what you think!

Cinnamon-Spiced Blueberries and Apples

Ingredients

1 Gala apple
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Peel and core the apple. Dice. Combine with 1-1/2 cups blueberries. Steam for 5-7 minutes until soft. Drain fruit and pour into a blender for pureeing or bowl for smash. Puree in a food processor, or smash with a fork or potato masher. Freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Curried Peas with Yogurt

Best for Babies 8+ Months Old

The last week or so has been all about replenishing our stock of homemade baby food. Our life is crazy busy (like yours) so it helps to have several servings of healthy food in the freezer that I can just grab and heat up when mealtime rolls around. We’ve been traveling a lot so I haven’t had time to cook. Now that we’re home and things are settling down a bit, I’m loving all the time I have to cook. To help replenish our stock, I wanted to try something new — but I also wanted to make something Mason was sure to like. Since he loves  yogurt, peas, and curry powder, Fraya Berg’s pea recipe seemed like the obvious choice (plus we loved her apple and cabbage puree with raisins).

This new twist on peas was a snap to make. I cooked organic frozen green beans, then combined them with full-fat Greek yogurt and curry powder in the blender (no more fancy baby food making equipment for me). I tasted the puree as soon as it was ready, and it was absolutely delicious. The peas were bright and beautiful, with a rich, creamy texture from the yogurt. The curry powder added a very slight hint of spice. Mason loved it.

If you haven’t introduced your babe to spices yet, this is the perfect recipe to start with. The spice is very subtle, even more so than in my curried lentils recipe, and the recipe is calcium-rich and chock full of fiber from the peas. (Just be sure to use fresh or fresh-frozen green beans — canned beans are loaded with sodium.) My variation of Fraya’s recipe is below. Try it out — and let us know what you think!

Curried Peas with Yogurt

Ingredients

Peas, frozen or fresh, 10 ounces
1/3 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Water

Directions

1. Cook peas until soft, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse.2. Combine peas, yogurt, and curry powder in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. For a thinner puree, add water.

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curry

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Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree

cabbage_apple_puree

Best for Babies 8+ Months Old

On Wednesday night I made Fraya Berg’s recipe for Cabbage and Apple Baby Food. I was intrigued by the combination of red cabbage, golden raisins, and apples. I never would have thought to combine those ingredients, but the combination is genius.  The cabbage and fiber add an even more powerful punch of vitamin-C and fiber to the applesauce, yet the mixture still tastes like applesauce, which so many babes love. I doubled the recipe and used Gala apples instead of Golden Delicious (I think Gala make a richer, tastier applesauce). I also chopped the ingredients instead of shredding them; I wanted the texture to be chunkier and I find it relaxing to chop produce. Mason tried it for the first time at lunch yesterday and he loved it. My variation of Fraya’s recipe is below. (Note: It’s so rich in fiber that it’s best to give to babes at least nine months old.) Can’t wait to hear what your babe thinks!

Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree

Ingredients

2 organic Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups fresh red cabbage, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons organic golden raisins
Water

Directions

1.  Bring water in a saucepan to a boil. Add apple, cabbage, and raisins together until tender, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 12 minutes.
2. Strain and puree the ingredients in a food processor or blender until you reach desired texture.
3. Cool and freeze extras for up to three months.

Yield: 16 ounces of puree

What Mason Ate Today

Best for Babies 8+ Months Old

Mason kept up his Oscar the Grouch act today but instead of being peckish and finicky he ate everything that was offered to him. Pure bliss for both of us. Nothing makes me happier or more satisfied these days than when Mason eats well. And because of all the teething pain, eating well has not been at the top of his agenda. I’m also excited because I whipped up a new recipe last night —  Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree, inspired by a Parents.com recipe — and I find it endlessly satisfying when we get to add another dish to Bug’s list of fave eats. Here’s our magic menu. What did your babe eat today?

Breakfast

6 oz. Cherry-Banana Oatmeal
Organic banana puffs
Formula


Lunch

2 oz Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree
2 oz diced avocado
2 oz diced, cooked apple and sweet potatoes
Formula


Snack

Organic apple puffs
Formula


Dinner

4 oz Pear-Green Bean Yogurt
4 oz Turkey-Apricot Puree
Formula

Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

Last weekend Chris and I took Mason and my Mom to one of our fave neighborhood restaurants, Sage General Store. We live in Long Island City, which is in the New York borough of Queens, the most diverse community in the US. (Every announcement in our subway station is posted in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and English.) The neighborhood is 10 minutes from Manhattan by subway and it’s very much in transition, filled with abandoned warehouses and sketchy characters in some pockets, but it’s also home to cutting-edge art galleries, a melange of luxury apartment buildings, and great restaurants. And that’s where Sage comes in.

Sage is known for a few ultra-decadent dishes, most notably its three-course bacon brunch–bacon sampler, bacon brunch pizza, and chocolate-bacon brownie. We arrived early and were fortunate enough to get a table. The place is always packed. Mason sat in a vintage highchair and had his first taste of bacon marmalade. (He loved it!) We had planned on ordering him Sage’s ultra-decadent mac ‘n’ cheese but they were out of it so I served him my Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas instead (yes, I called ahead because the place is so popular they frequently run out of stuff).

This casserole is one of Bug’s favorites, and it’s very simple to make–a mixture of brown rice, baby cheese sauce, and smashed peas. You can also add shredded chicken or small pieces of tofu to the mix for more protein. It’s rich and delicious but it’s also healthier than the typical casserole because of the brown rice and peas. Bug gobbles it up and I think your babe will like it too.  Try it out–and ping us with your feedback!

Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas

Ingredients

Organic peas, frozen or fresh
Brown Rice
Cheddar Cheese
Flour
Milk or formula
Butter
Chicken or Tofu (optional)

Directions

1. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Cook fresh or frozen peas until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
3. Prepare cheese sauce from kids cookbook author Annabel Karmel’s (she makes it with 3 different cheeses, I just use cheddar).
4. Combine 2 ounces each of brown rice and peas with 3 ounces of cheese sauce.
5. Serve. Freeze extras for up to 3 months.

Mommy Guilt with a Side of Cherry-Banana Oatmeal

Best for Babies 8+ Months

I was a rotten mom today. I didn’t mean to be, I swear, it just happened. The day started off well — Bug and I played, he discovered a new breakfast favorite — then I got caught up in work and it all went tragically downhill.

After a three-day work trip, I arrived home last night to a gorgeous, beaming baby. (The hubby looked pretty great too.) We played together, ate dinner together, and did our usual bath-massage-singing together before bed. But the night was bumpy, Bug was up and down all night. Nothing was wrong, he wanted to cuddle. I’m not normally so indulgent with middle-of-the-night snuggles but after we’ve been apart, especially after we’ve been apart, I need the extra hugs and kisses as much as he does.

This morning we got up early, played some more, and Mason tried Cherry-Banana Oatmeal for the first time (recipe below). He adored it. I sipped my coffee, he giggled and ate. Eating breakfast with my boy, the perfect way to start the day. So much better than the hotel room service I had eaten for breakfast alone for the past three mornings. The nanny arrived, I smothered Bug with kisses and got a giant gummy smile in return.

Around 4, it was clear I had been wrong. A big project needed my immediate attention and there was no way I was going to get home when I normally do. I finally finished, scrambled to the subway, and arrived home just before bathtime. I walked through the door and Mason gave me a huge smile, then promptly burst into tears. How could I have let a deadline keep me at work late? I’m always home before his dinner. Always. And tonight I had been late. The poor baby probably thought I had gone away again.

So there you have it, my rotten, cheek-burning mommy moment.  I suck! Mason deserves better and I’m going to be spending the rest of the weekend trying to make it up to him.

Cherry-Banana Oatmeal

Ingredients

Oatmeal (store-bought or homemade)
Fresh cherries
Bananas

Directions

1. Peel and slice a banana, set aside.
2. Wash and pit 6 cherries, slice in half. Cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Blend cooked cherries and banana with a bit of water, breast milk, or formula. Set aside.
4. Prepare oatmeal and swirl in blended banana and cherries.
5. Freeze extra blended banana and cherries for up to three months.