Baby-led Weaning Journey – 11-12ish months

Woah. 12 months is almost here. Where did that time go? As we’re prepping for our big move, I’ve been a bit slack with cooking and blogging and the like. I seem to spend my few minutes of free time making lists and calculating costs. Fun.

Sadly for bubs, strawberry season is over. We stretched it out as long as we could, but those little red balls of deliciousness just aren’t as fresh and juicy any more. Ayi had a bit of a panic. “But she LOVES strawberries. What can I feed her now?” Following this baby-led weaning program, I really didn’t want to ever get stuck in a rut of feeding bubs the same thing at the same time (fearing a picky child), but it seems that ayi was stuck in one without me noticing.

(As much as it is wonderful to have an ayi, there are some hiccups… but I know…. MCP).

So I helped ayi through this difficult time (!) with some delicious seedless grapes cut in half, de-stoned cherries, mangoespeaches and stewed apples. All of which satiated the little one. “See, ayi? She can eat other things!”

When we’re feeding her (her two arvo/evening meals) she continues to have a wide variety of things. I’m trying more and more to save a serving of what we cook the night before so that she has a new meal to try. Lasagne and other pasta based dishes are definitely a fave! And hommous is also popular. We try to keep a supply of veggie slice, lentil cakes and banana bread in the freezer for a quick go-to. (If you are looking for more recipes, I try to pin them all on this pinterest board).We’ve had a little bit of meat recently. Not a whole lot. Mainly because we usually cook vegetarian at home and I’m always a bit dubious of restaurant meat (for her), but when we spend the money on a nice cut, we should share a little with her I guess!

  • I’m always on the hunt for new ideas and recipes…What do you keep stashed in your freezer for feeding baby? Drop a comment below…

She also loves Bellamy’s baby porridge, which Grandma brought over from Australia for her. And she can feed it to herself now with a spoon. The only tricky bit is the last few bits stuck in the edges of the bowl, but Mummy and Daddy can help with that.

Yesterday we also discovered pears. Super ripe and squishy and much easier to eat than fresh apple.

Our only unsuccessful dish recently was noodles. I don’t think she minded the flavour, but they were super tricky to eat. She kept getting them stuck on her fingers and arms and it was too hard to get them in her mouth. I suspect I need to improv my cooking of noodles and perfect my noodle-to-sauce ratio.

I also recently bought a snack cup that I have attached onto the pram. This is great for going out as it is great entertainment trying to get the little snacks through the lid, and also is great coordination practice.

It is so wonderful to see her turning into a real little person. She has discovered a great game. When she has finished eating, she now feeds all the leftovers to me or Daddy. Yes, some may be half-chewed, or be a mix of fish and yoghurt, but it’s such a cute game! And I feel it (hopefully) discourages the wasting of food.

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Patiently waiting whilst Mummy does some cooking. 

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I just had to snap this…. I thought it looked so cute! A mini-meal! Steak and veg.

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And almost all of it went down! She was having a bit of trouble biting through the meat strips, and also bit her tongue in doing so, so cut them up into smaller pieces and then she fed herself.

So, after 6 months of BLW, I can definitely say that we love it! It makes our lives so easy when we go out, and we spend so much less time prepping food. The only thing that we didn’t follow, according to the book, was breast-feeding on demand. We stuck to our 4 hourly feeds during the day, which has now been weaned down to two feeds (1 morning, 1 evening). I can highly recommend it to anyone!

  • Her first birthday is coming… do you have any great baby recipes for birthday parties? Drop a comment below…
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Tangyuan – a newly found love affair

The last day of Spring Festival is Lantern Festival. To celebrate this festival, everyone eats tāngyuán (汤圆-roughly translated as ‘soup balls’). I distinctly remember being introduced to these sticky balls many years ago in Australia. Our good Chinese friends kindly brought some over for dessert one evening. But, it was not a good memory. I remember the glutinous texture coating the inside of my mouth, making it difficult to swallow. And when I did swallow, I remember trying to hide the fact that it made me want to retch.

A lot has changed since then. I no longer turn my nose up at ‘red bean’ flavoured goods. Strangely-flavoured icypoles no longer gross me out. And tangyuan is now one of my favourite desserts. I’m not kidding.

The most common flavour is black sesame (黑芝麻 hēizhīma). And it’s super good. Not too sweet and you still have the graininess (??) of the sesame seeds.

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However, of course, someone made non-traditional chocolate ones. And man, they are sooooooooooo good. These ones had little chunks of peanuts inside. If you’re looking to try tangyuan for the first time, go for these.

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And of course, would it be a trip to a Chinese supermarket without me buying something silly? I ummed and ahhhed between strawberry and orange. I decided strawberry would probably be so super sickly sweet that I wouldn’t eat them, so orange it was. And the result? Glutinous fanta. That’s the only way to describe it.

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They are so simple to cook too. Just throw them in boiling water for a few minutes until they rise to the surface.

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Our local sichuan restaurant serves these boiled in a little bit of booze, and that’s also delish. I’m not sure what they use, but there’s definitely room for experimentation. And I should probably learn to make these too! Though the supermarket is a very easy option.

I was also told recently that there’s another type called yúanxiāo that are made with a special technique that can’t be replicated by hand. I’ll have to try these out next year… has anyone tried them before?

Baby Led Weaning Journey – 6ish to 9ish months

I was introduced to the concept of ‘Baby Led Weaning’ by a friend here in Beijing whilst I was pregnant. She recommended that I read: Baby-Led Weaning, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett

As I read the book, the concept started to make more and more sense. In my mind, I could see how this process could lead to more independent, less fussy eaters in the long run. A parents dream, right? Also, I can all-too-easily remember how picky my younger sister was, and I’m pretty damn sure I was an annoying, very simple, plain eater as well. I was immediately attracted to how this method requires less food preparation. The basic idea is that your baby ends up eating what you eat. This means no prep of mushy foods.

So, at six months we gave it a try. We sat Adella down in her bumbo chair with some sticks of steamed vegies. Watching her slowly bring the snacks to her mouth and realising that they weren’t just an inanimate object for chewing on, and were instead to be swallowed, was fascinating. We put a wide range of foods in front of her and let her pick and choose and munch as she likes.

These are the foods that she has tried so far:

  • 1st month: steamed carrot and broccoli, bananas, apple, bread, hummous, crackers
  • 2nd month: pikelets (made with banana instead of sugar), strawberries, mandarin, salmon, breadsticks
  • 3rd month: pumpkin, yoghurt, mango, pineapple, lasagne, pasta, lentil cakes, chicken

My favourite has been strawberries. From the first one, she just loved the sweetness. And within about a week, she had totally worked out how many bites she had to take out of one before she could safely put the rest of it in her mouth.

It seems like a lot of people get scared because of choking hazards, but instinct always seems to kick in. Her gag reflex brings anything too big back to the front of her mouth. In almost three months, I think I’ve only pulled two things out of her mouth. Even so, it took a little while for me to totally relax, but I made sure I never panicked. I feel that our emotions affect our children so easily.

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It’s not all perfect of course, there are some challenges. One of the main ideas is that you encourage your children to sit down and eat with you, so that you are eating as a family. On our current schedule, this is kind of tricky. We do our best to sit down with her though, and at least have a snack. We also don’t have a table to eat around. This is making us sound like quite a dodgy family, but we always eat around the coffee table. We used to have a dining room table, but since Adella arrived, we had to reshuffle our furniture and the dining table got dismantled. However, our plan is to have one again when we move soon. Ah, apartment living. So, for now, the Bumbo chair has been doing a great job, but the little one’s thighs are getting a little podgy and it’s getting harder to get her out of it! We have ordered a high chair, and it’s on its way. It’s also a challenge to find crackers and things that have no nasty ingredients in them. I have become very aware of ingredient lists on packages now.

And, eating out in China can be quite funny. In general, people are quite fascinated by the process. Sometimes they panic, thinking that the crazy foreigners don’t know how to feed their baby. Also, there’s a definite lack of high chairs in local restaurants. We have a portable one, but it can only cope with tables of a certain depth, and for some reason, tables here always seem to be really deep. Often the hygiene standards of tabletops can also be a worry. Using plates or bowls is no good, as eventually it will go flying. I made some cute eating mats out of oilcloth which we try to use, but stopping them from getting pulled or thrown is the challenge. I’m on the lookout for the appropriate size peg to attach them onto tables with.

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My pikelet recipe:

  • 1 cup flour (I usually do half/half with white and wholewheat)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (because I don’t have SR flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 mashed banana (to replace 1 tbsp sugar)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • unsalted butter for frying

Also, here is a great Lentil cakes recipe. I made mine with dill and parsley.

I also have some references on my pinterest board.

I have some great videos of her eating too. I haven’t worked out how I want to share these yet, but I will link it here when I do.

A holiday sandwich like no other

Holiday time is for over-indulgence. And that’s what this sandwich is. It popped up on my my pinterest page and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Until today.

Woah.

Amazing.

I think I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Introducing the Roasted Strawberry, Brie and Chocolate Grilled Cheese Sandwich (by ‘How sweet it is’) – click for the original recipe.

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The only thing to follow this sandwich was a cup of sheng pu’er tea. And a sit-down.

Strawberry Tart

Last week, the lovely Tara arrived on my doorstep with a gargantuan basket? bowl? bucket? of strawberries fresh from Sancha, a favourite Great Wall getaway of ours. There were clearly way too many to eat. So, I cleaned, sliced and froze them in anticipation of a culinary moment.

On the weekend we held a massive cocktail party at our house, so I decided to go looking for a delicious strawberry recipe! I chanced upon Smitten Kitchen‘s beautiful recipe. I got very excited about the beautiful pictures and gave it a try.

My pre-baked pastry! It rolled out well and was pretty easy to work with. The recipe suggested that I rolled it out between gladwrap but I found that wasn’t needed.

I haven’t got a photo of the filling. I was too worried about something going wrong and was so focussed on whisking! It was amazing though! I followed the recipe step-by-step… and voila! I had a perfectly thick, custardy filling!

Here’s me adding the ruby red strawberries at the party. And a sneak peak at my little Chinese kitchen!

Mmmmm…. and yes, it was as delicious as it looks. It was kinda yum to have freshly defrosted strawberries too. It added a frosty, icy texture. I don’t think they’d be too good if you let them sit for too long though, I had a feeling that they would continue to lose liquid. However, the tart didn’t last long enough to find that out.

(I’m just excited that there are still more strawberries in the freezer!)