Lentil Bolognaise

A surprise hit here in our baby, vegetarian and and waistline friendly line up.  I decided to try using lentils instead of quorn in an attempt to decrease the amount of processed food we eat.  Honestly, I expected it to be sh*t.  

It was actually OK. 

In fact Elsie couldn’t get enough!

  
Recipe for Lentil Bolognaise 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 onions chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 3 bell peppers
  • Large punnet of mushrooms (500g)
  • 3 cans chopped tomatoes 
  • 2 Tbsp tomato purée 
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 500g red lentils rinsed
  • 800ml water

Method

  • Fry onions garlic and peppers until softened
  • Add mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes 
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Bring to boil
  • Cover and simmer stiring occasionally until the lentils are cooked
  • Serve on top of pasta with Parmesan (or salt for the adults)

Elsie’s First Foods

On Thursday the 23rd of January awe started giving Elsie food while we ate our evening meal.

On the first night we gave her cucumber and red pepper:

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She coped well and didn’t gag at all. She wasn’t able to get much off either the cucumber or the pepper but enjoyed gumming them. I felt more confident about giving her something that would break up in her mouth so the next night I gave her sweet potato and butternut squash wedges:

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She was able to take little gummy bites and enjoyed squishing the sticks in her hands. Again, no gagging or choking so we continued with one or two veg or fruit choices every meal time.

Since the 23rd Elsie has sampled:

 Cucumber 

Pepper 

Sweet potato 

Asparagus 

Broccoli

 Cauliflower 

Banana

 Carrot 

Potato 

Pear 

Apple 

Mango 

Pineapple 

 Sweetcorn on the cob at Nandos 

Orange 

 Here are my favourite pictures:

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The Mummy Diet: Week # 2

Start weight: 10st 0lb
End weight: 9 st 11lb
Diet: Slimming World (kind of)

What I ate:

Friday
Porridge made with 25g oats and 175ml milk. Served with low fat natural yoghurt.
Scrambled eggs, two tomatoes, 25g cheese.
Banana, low fat natural yoghurt and cinnamon.
Chicken breast with a little garlic and herb Philadelphia, wrapped in bacon (fat removed) and baked. Served with sweet potato and butternut squash wedges (which Elsie also sampled!). I made normal potato wedges for dan and cooked him some quorn sausages.
Large glass of wine

Saturday
Overnight oats made with 25g oats, water, low fat yoghurt and a handful of frozen mixed berries.
Sweet potato, butternut squash, red pepper and bacon omelette.
Fat free taztiki, 2 carrots, 3 celery sticks and a chicken breast wrapped in bacon (left over from last night).
A portion of pineapple.
Smoked salmon pasta salad (sauce made with quark).
1 crunchie bar.

Sunday
Overnight oats.
Leftover omelette from Saturday.
Ham and cottage cheese.
Oven baked risotto (made without fat or salt) with asparagus and mushrooms (Elsie had a piece of Asparagus). Served with the leftover chicken and bacon from Friday.
Glass of white wine.

Monday
Overnight oats.
Left over risotto rolled into balls and fried in fry light with bacon and two eggs.
Burger in a bowl with butternut squash wedges (I did normal potato for dan and used quorn burgers in his bowl) I cooked Elsie carrot sticks and she had potato too.
Pineapple, blueberries and grapes with Greek yoghurt.
Glass of white wine.

Tuesday
Overnight oats.
Small piece of flapjack.
Leftover risotto with bacon and eggs
1/2 an apple and 1/2 a banana shared with Elsie.
Low fat curry made with spices, low fat fromage frais and no fat, served with rice.
Blueberries and grapes.
Glass of wine.

Wednesday
Overnight oats.
Scrambled eggs with bacon and leftover butternut squash pieces.
Pineapple shared with Elsie.
Tomato, pineapple and mushroom pasta bake, topped with a little mozzarella cheese.
Glass of wine.

Thursday
Overnight oats.
Mullerlight yoghurt.
Leftover pasta from last night.
Mango shared with Elsie.
Jacket potato with salad, cottage cheese and ham.
Glass of wine.

When is the Right Time to Start Baby Led Weaning?

In England the current guidelines state that solids can be introduced at around 6 months. They state that babies don’t need anything other than milk before then and that introducing potential allergens such as dairy and gluten may lead to intolerances/allergies later in life.

I’m on several Internet forums with other mothers and in some real life mummy groups too where the advice is taken very literally.

I commonly hear: “I’m going to wait until 6 months and then do baby-led-weaning”.

*Palm-Face*

I really get it though- my attitude was very much that I would wait until 6 months and then gradually introduce solids. My mother queried with me whether that was ‘baby led‘ and I agreed maybe it was not. Guidelines also suggest looking for cues that your baby is ready: being able to sit upright in high chair, taking toys to their mouths and taking an interest in food. I modified my stance saying that I would wait until 6 months unless Elsie grabbed a piece of food out of my hand and tried to take it to her mouth.

At 22 weeks Elsie sat on my lap while I ate a banana. She grabbed it, pulled it towards herself and planted her mouth on it.

I had to reconsider my position.

In my mind Elsie had clearly demonstrated being ready for food. However I was worried it was too early. Consulting with various forums of breastfeeding and BLW mums was of mixed use to me. Lots of exclusively breast feeding women announce with pride that they have got to 6 months Exclusively Breast Feeding and, honestly, I wanted to be in that club! But probably for the wrong reasons! Probably because I’m a bit competitive and bloody minded rather than because I actually believe that’s best. I was also worried about other mums thinking I was doing something dangerous or ill-informed. Some if the best advice I received was that the guidance is around 6 months, you don’t have to tell anyone you think might have a problem with it and trust your own instincts.

I am normally quite a highly strung analytically minded person but since having Elsie I have found that following my instinct generally serves me much better. I try to practice gentle/natural parenting methods (although my definitions might differ to others – that’s another topic entirely). When Elsie took that banana out of my hand it felt very natural to see what she did rather than rushing to remove the banana. It was starting to feel unnatural not to give her food!

The beauty of BLW is that the baby is directing what goes in their mouth, how much and what they do when it gets there. Therefore if Elsie isn’t ready- she won’t do it. The motor skills required develop at roughly the same time as the digestive system matures enough to manage food.

I was also making an all-or-nothing cognitive error- imagining that starting to introduce solids would mean Elsie sits down to three meals a day and reduces her milk feeds. That is simply not how it works.

So, taking on board the messages about allergens we decided we would start offering Elsie fruit and veg at our evening meal times.

The Mummy Diet Week 1

This is my first week of attempting to eat better. It’s not quite BLW friendly and still involves a lot of preprepared foods but I’m working on that. I get really hungry so I knew I would need to spread the good out across the day. Also I’ve been eating a lot of high calorie foods so I’ve started by eating quite a lot of food but just trying to improve the quality – moving over to whole foods and increasing veg. I’ve also tried to reduce my reliance on cordials and alcoholic beverages as they were adding significant calories to my daily intake.

Start Weight @ 20 weeks post partum: 10 stone 2lb

Monday
7am 1 breakfast bar
11am 1 Innocent veg pot
3pm 2 chicken thighs
7pm Dahl with rice and lime pickle
8pm 1 Small dark chocolate bar
Drinks -Black coffee (4mugs) several pints of water flavoured with lemon

Tuesday
7:30 1 Breakfast bar
1:30 a small portion of last nights Dahl
5 pm 1 chicken thigh and home made tatziki
Home made pesto (from the Gill Rapley book) with pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives and feta.
Drinks: black coffee, water flavoured with lime and 1 cup of tea with milk.

Wednesday
7:30 Breakfast bar
11am Greek yoghurt with 1 tsp peanut butter and 6 prunes
2pm out with friends one large piece of bread pudding.
7pm Dahl with tatziki and two chicken thighs.

Thursday
7am Breakfast bar
12pm 2 scrambled eggs, 50g smoked salmon 2 pieces of toast (no butter).
5pm (several) garlic butter crisp rolls with cream cheese (oops!).
8pm salmon wonderpot
Drinks: water flavoured with lime and black coffee.

Friday
7:30am Breakfast bar
11am Innocent veg pot
2pm 2 slices of cheese on toast
6pm fish finger sandwich (in a small baguette with home made tartare sauce) with a small bag of kettle chips and the last bit of tzatiki. (Not the healthiest dinner but it was instead of a take-away.
Drinks: water flavoured with lime and black coffee.

Saturday
7am Breakfast bar
1pm poached egg sandwich
4pm half a box of ryvita thins with hummus (oops!)
7pm Chilli con carne with oven chips and melted cheese.
Drinks: water flavoured with lime and black coffee.

Sunday
7am Breakfast bar
11:30 Large takeaway Burrito
8pm takeaway sushi
Drinks: water flavoured with lime and black coffee. One can of coke and one large glass of white wine

Review
I had intended to cut down on alcohol and sweet drinks but have ended up having just one of each This is because once I had started drinking water flavoured with a little citrus I wasn’t that fussed about missing out. I have livened it up a bit with the occasional fizzy water.

On a couple of occasions above I have written ‘oops’ this is where I had got really hungry and then ate A Lot of something I would probably not chosen if I hadn’t been SO hungry. Looking back on the days where that didn’t happen I tended to have had more frequent, smaller meals so I wasn’t hungry at 4/5pm. I will, therefore, keep planning to have two meals in the middle of the day. Sunday was the result of going out for lunch and deciding not to cook that evening either- not the best choices but not the worst either.

Exercise
I walked at least a mile while carrying Elsie on most days. On one day I walked 5. I also started doing a daily postnatal exercise DVD on Friday.

Goals for next week

•Plan for two small meals in the middle of the day instead of a large lunch.
•Increase fruit and veg intake
•Continue daily walks and exercise DVD

3 New BLW- Friendly Foods

This week I’ve started experimenting with new recipes that will be suitable for Elsie when we start sharing meals with her:

Lentil Dahl

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The recipe came out of the BLW cook book. But it’s pretty similar to basic Dahl recipes available elsewhere on the internet except there is no added salt or stock just some nice spices and only a little chilli. I added some chopped pepper and some spinach to boost the veg content. Also, as the recipe called for half a pack of lentils (I used red), I figured I would double up and either use the rest for lunches or freeze for another meal. I served it with plain rice, a dollop of yoghurt and some hot lime pickle. It was blander than I’m used to but certainly edible and I was happy that I was eating something healthy and reasonably tasty.

Eating the Dahl made me realise how much I’ve got used to salty foods- even though I’ve never added salt on purpose- I’ve added stock cubes until it tasted right! Also, I’ve relied on ready chopped herbs and garlic in squeeze tubes- which on further investigation have added salt in them!

Pesto

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Again this recipe came from the BLW book but I’m sure you can find a similar recipe by searching the internet and just not adding salt. It was a mixture of pine nuts, Parmesan, basil, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. I struggled to make it with my immersion blender so may still need to purchase a food processor.

I thought that buying fresh basil made it quite expensive (I would usually buy an economy jar of pesto) but the recipe said you could use rocket instead which might be a cheaper option. I have also read elsewhere on the internet that you can use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts which would also make it cheaper.

I served the pesto with cherry tomatoes, green olives and feta cheese all mixed into pasta. It was much greener than our usual pesto and tasted better that our usual jar. Also, the recipe made enough for me to save half. I put it in a milk storage bag and pressed all of the air out and popped it in the freezer. I don’t know how well it will freeze but if it works it will make it more economical.

Tzatziki

Tzatziki is usually made with added salt; it’s used to draw fluid out of the cucumbers. I half used the recipe in the BLW book and half made it up so I feel able to reproduce it here:

Ingredients
Half a cucumber
A few leafs of mint
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon lime juice
250g Greek yoghurt

Method
Deseed the cucumber and grate it. Once grated squeeze as much water as possible out of it (using hand/sieve/kitchen roll). Finely chop the mint and garlic. Stir everything together and store in the fridge. Serve with grilled meat/ cold meat/ veg sticks/ pitta bread etc …..

2015/01/img_6326.jpg I didn’t miss the salt and think this is really nice, tasty and healthy addition to a meal or snack. I don’t think it will keep for very long (although it was still good after a stir the next day) I will make it again for me and later for Elsie!

Our Pre-Baby Led Weaning Meals

The purpose of this post is to identify which of our usual evening meals will be suitable for baby led weaning/healthy eating as they are, which will need adjusting and which we will have to ditch entirely. To start I will just list the things I normally cook.

Our regular meals
Quorn and mushroom pie
Quorn lasagna
Salmon and Broccoli pasta bake
Chilli (I currently cook both meat and quorn versions in bulk)
Madras ( using a shop bought curry paste, I currently cook both meat and quorn versions in bulk and freeze individual portions)
Pesto (from a jar) pasta with haloumi, mushrooms and broccoli or feta, cherry tomatoes and olives.
Spinach and artichoke wonder pot
Salmon wonder pot
Naan bread pizza
Thai green prawn curry (again, made with a shop bought paste)
White fish curry made using this recipe
Fish pie
Meatballs (bought ready made), spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Things to consider

1) Salt content
According to the NHS website babies under the age of 1 year should not have more than 1 gram of salt per day in their diet. This is because their kidneys can not cope with it. Note that the 1 gram limit includes foods naturally high in salt such as cheese and smoked fish as well as foods to which it has been added such as breakfast cereals and bread.

One of the main issues with the meals I prepare is a reliance on curry pastes and stock cubes. When I make madras curry I use Pataks curry paste which is 1.4g salt per 100g. A jar of pataks is approximately 300g (4.2g salt) which would usually provide 8 portions of curry at approx 0.5g of salt each. In Elsie’s first year she won’t be eating a full portion but I guess she might be eating a 2 fifths of a portion and therefore 0.2 grams of salt from just the sauce in that meal. I’m sure a health care professional would advise me to make my own paste but having done the maths I’m no too worried about my madras curry paste.

My Thai green curry paste is by Thai Taste per 100g it has 9 grams of salt I use it in the same quantities as the Pataks which would make the per portion salt content 2.6 grams making a 2 fifths portion contain 1.05 grams of salt. So whilst the Pataks curry paste wouldn’t be the end if the world the Thai curry paste is clearly a no go!

Another shop bought sauce I regularly use is pesto- I am currently using tescos classic green pesto which has 2g of salt per 100 grams. I use 50 grams per portion so one portion would contain 1 gram and 2/5ths of a portion would contain 0.4 grams which wouldn’t be ideal on a regular basis.

Almost everything I cook from scratch ends up with a stock cube in it. I buy the reduced salt oxo vegetable stock cubes which contain 23.11grams of salt per 100g. My Oxo cubes weigh 5.91 grams each so contain 1.37 grams of salt each. I use one cube per 4 portions therefore a single portion contains 0.34grams of salt and 2/5ths of a portion would contain 0.14 grams of salt.

So, to summarise the salt issue; i will definitely replace my Thai green curry paste with a home made alternative. I will also investigate alternatives to my madras curry paste, pesto and stock cubes.

2) Quorn
We eat quorn because Dan does not eat meat. There is nothing wrong with quorn but I would prefer to give Elsie a more natural protein source such as chicken which is also a better (more per 100g) source of protein. Skinned chicken breast is about 31% protein while quorn chicken style pieces are only 14%. So for the quorn and mushroom pies I make I will start making both quorn and mushroom for dan and chicken and mushroom for Elsie and I. This sounds like a lot of hassle but I tend to cook in bulk and freeze so it’s not as bad as it sounds!
As for lasagna I think I will try out a new vegetarian option that involves neither meat nor quorn.

3) Heat
What about chillies? Gill Rapley advises that you use chillies in small amounts while you assess how your baby reacts to them. If a curry is too hot (as in spicy) you can use natural yoghurt to cool it down. We use a lot of chilies so I will tone it down a bit!

4) Ease of Handling
Initially Elsie will need chunks of food that she can grab in the palm of her hand, leaving a bit sticking out of the top. This will mean I will need to leave at least some bigger chunks of veg in meals such as curries and cut meat up into longer strips. For chilli I will just leave some chunks of mince undivided. It is important to keep giving Elsie the opportunity to learn new skills so something more difficult to pick up-like rice made sticky with sauce- alongside easier items such as veg sticks would be ideal. This means that I don’t need to make everything super easy to pick up.

To safeguard against choking food should be cut into irregular shapes; ie not round- a shape that would block Her air way if inhaled. So bananas should be divided lengthways and grapes should be cut in half. Peas should be mashed until she develops a pincer grip. While these rules won’t exclude any foods they will change some of the ways I prepare foods.

Summary

The curry pastes, pesto and stock cubes that I currently use contain more salt than is ideal. I would like to avoid Quorn and reduce chillies. I will also need to think about the shapes I cut all of my ingredients into both for ease of handling and to reduce the risk of choking.

Actions

1) Find and test alternatives to curry pastes, stock and pesto.

2) Find and test baby friendly vegetarian lasagna recipe.

3) Experiment with new recipes to introduce to repertoire.

Welcome

Hi and thanks for stopping by! Here is Elsie, who is now 4.5 calendar months old:

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She is still exclusively breast fed and will be until sometime in February. When she is ready we will start baby led weaning for Elsie and healthy eating for me which is what this blog is all about (please see the About page) So for now I have time to get planning and try a few things out. I also need to start eating better so a gradual transition to baby-appropriate food is called for.

Ideally Elsie will indicate she is ready to start eating by stealing my food and taking it to her mouth. To make this more likely I would like to start putting her in a high chair while we eat.

So (in no particular order) my short term goals are:

1) Buy a high chair.
2) Take a ‘before’ photo of myself.
3) Identify meals I already have in my repertoire that would be suitable (please see the who we are page for our requirements) for the first few months.
4) Identify new recipes to try out.