Adventures in Baby Food

Baby Niamh 01-18-14 | omeletta.com

We had issues with food from the start, the peanut and I. Moments after she was born, the delivery room nurse encouraged us to begin breastfeeding, which I did with gusto.  I had always hoped and planned and envisioned myself as a nursing mother, so when the baby effortlessly latched on in the delivery room I was elated.  She ate voraciously and then fell asleep, and it was just like everything I had thought it would be.

In the recovery room the next day, however, the lactation nurse on duty watched us as she nursed and frowned.  She adjusted me, adjusted the baby, and stood back again, her brow furrowed.  ”That doesn’t look right,” she said.  ”Can you readjust her and try again?”

After an induction that lasted 24 hours, with a very whirlwind and intense six hours of true labor at the very end, I was exhausted.  I moved the baby back up the way the nurse asked and looked at her for approval.  She slipped on a glove and felt around inside the peanut’s mouth.  ”She’s tongue tied,” she told me, “and possibly lip tied, too.  Nursing will be pretty tough until we can get that fixed.  I’ll get you some more information and you can start looking for a doctor to take care of it.”

Sleepy Baby | omeletta.com

And so began a three week ordeal of getting the baby’s tongue and lip revision.  She had a Stage Four Tie, which meant that the frenulum at the back of her tongue was too short, rooting her tongue to the bottom of her mouth.  The tongue uses an undulating movement in order to suck, so with a tongue that couldn’t move right, the peanut had a lot of trouble taking in enough food to satisfy.  Nursing sessions would last up to two hours and still leave her hungry.  Bottle nipples needed to be long enough to reach the back of her mouth so she wouldn’t have to work so hard.  We had to feed her with an eye dropper on a number of occasions.  Nursing was so painful for me that tears would run down my cheeks as the baby flailed around, gnashed her gums and tried to get enough milk out.  It felt like I was being chewed on by a baby alligator.  She was perpetually hungry, losing weight and labeled “failure to thrive”.  I was an emotional wreck. 

After seeing one doctor who told us there was nothing wrong with her (“He should nurse her himself, and then tell me nothing is wrong”, I tearfully told my husband) we finally got her revision done on her three-week birthday.  It took another tearful week or so of bottle weaning and painful nursing before she started to get the hang of it, just in time for me to get diagnosed with oversupply, which effectively meant that my milk was coming out with such force that she would struggle not to drown as she ate.   Pumping exacerbates oversupply, so we hung on and suffered through it, occasionally supplementing with formula until my supply self-regulated, sometime around 12 weeks.  

Happy Sleepy | omeletta.com

When I say, “How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood“, I’m not kidding; at times, it truly felt like I was just hanging on for dear life.  On top of all of this, my husband was working 80 to 100-hour work weeks at the bar.  Believe me when I say I’m glad that time of our lives is over. 

Since we got the hang of it, breastfeeding has been amazing.  I am so, so happy that we stuck with it.  She eats like a champ.  Not only does breastfeeding mean less money (in that we don’t need to buy formula) and less bottle washing (ugh), I crave the closeness of her late at night.  I love the quiet times when we sit together and nurse.  We worked so hard to get here, and it feels so good to be on the other side.  I had always planned on giving us about 9 months of breastfeeding, but these days?  Who knows.  It’s a nice place to be.  

Now that she’s six months, we’ve begun our foray into solid foods.  If I felt happy about breastfeeding, then introducing the baby to food has been nothing short of pure joy.  So far, she’s a great eater.  She loves everything I put in front of her- even broccoli, since she’s a weirdo.  I’ve subscribed to the theory of baby-led weaning, which I’ll get into more in another post, but it more or less means that she feeds herself age-appropriate textures, which little to no spoon feeding.  To see this kid tear into a slice of mango or gum down a sweet potato fry is amazing.  

Adventures in Baby Food | omeletta.com

I’ve begun a new section on this blog- Mama.  Check back often to find new baby-led weaning and traditional feeding recipes, baby gear, and oversharing about my world of motherhood.  It’s a crazy world and I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, but it sure is fun! 

Adventures in Baby Food | omeletta.com

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Parsnip Croquettes

Our foray into baby-led weaning

Parsnip Croquettes for baby-led weaning | omeletta.com

If you’re used to spoon-feeding babies, baby-led weaning looks nothing short of total crazytown.  Hand a baby a broccoli floret?  At six months? And expect them not to choke? 

At around 5 1/2 months, Niamh made it really obvious to us that she wanted FOOD.  Our food, especially.  After we got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to start solids, I (naturally) nerded up on everything there was to do with starting babies on solids.  To say I was excited about getting our kid stuck into good food is an understatement.

Parsnip Croquettes for baby-led weaning | omeletta.com

One thing that kept coming up in all my reading was the term “baby led weaning”.  The word “weaning” here means just the introduction of solids into a breastmilk or formula diet, and not about weaning a baby from the bottle or breast.  To put it simply, you start off not by feeding a baby cereals and purees, but by jumping straight into table food after six months.  I was a pretty skeptical at first.  I definitely didn’t trust her not to choke herself by eating whole foods.  But baby-led weaning subscribes to the idea that it’s the baby who decides how much to eat, and since I was already breastfeeding on demand, this felt right to me.  The theory goes that if a baby starts off with feeding themselves from the get-go, they quickly learn how to handle food in their mouths and not choke or gag.  And they’re in charge of how much they to eat.  I especially liked that part.

Parsnip Croquettes for baby-led weaning | omeletta.com

As of right now, the peanut has about 95% of her daily calories from nursing, and the rest comes from solids.  Most days I do spoon-feed her oatmeal mixed with some fruit or vegetable puree (which she loves) but the rest of her solid intake comes from the foods she feeds herself. 

We started slow, with mashed banana in a silicone feeder. She loved feeding herself banana, and sometimes got so excited she would rub the sticky, banana-smothered feeder all over her face and hair, as if she wanted to bathe in banana.  I got used to rubbing banana out of her hair after meals.  But it was such a cheap thrill for me to see my baby feeding herself! 

We moved onto roasted sweet potato fries, then slices of pear, and then I started getting adventurous.  I poached a head of broccoli until it was mushy, handed her a floret, and after studying it for a moment, she took a gummy bite and then another.  I like to think that a little eater was born at this very moment: 

Now, I lay out a selection of foods on her high chair tray and watch as she throws half of it on the floor, smooshes some of it with the palm of her hand into the tray, and feeds herself the rest.  It’s all an exploratory thing, and she’s figuring out what she likes and how food tastes and the textures of it in her mouth.   I nurse her about an hour before every meal and sometimes an hour after, if she still seems hungry.  We’re only about three weeks into this, so I’m excited to see where it leads to next. 

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The first time I fed her parsnips she was a little less than impressed.  The next time, I coated the parsnip mash in rice flour and fried up these croquettes in a little olive oil.  After they’d cooled, she went to town on them, mushing them between her hands and licking her fingers afterwards.  It’s helpful to give babies something to “grip” when they feeds themselves, and the fried part of this croquette makes it “grippier” to hold while she’s eating.  Make sure the croquette is cooled down all the way through, since these get pretty hot while cooking.  I found it took about fifteen to twenty minutes to get to a temperature that wasn’t too hot for her little mouth. 

Parsnip Croquettes for baby-led weaning | omeletta.com

Parsnip Croquettes
Yields 4
A perfect recipe for baby-led weaning, the fried coating gives this croquette a "grippy" texture for little hands to grab onto.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large parsnip
  2. 1/4 cup rice flour
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Wrap the parsnip in aluminum foil, and roast in the oven until completely cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then cut into chunks and process through a food mill or potato ricer until very smooth with no lumps.
  2. Take a small amount of the parsnip mash and roll it between your hands until it is a long "finger" of croquette. They should be about the size of your thumb when finished.
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Toss each croquette in rice flour until coated and fry gently in the olive oil until browned all over. Remove and let any excess oil drain away onto a paper towel.
  4. Let the croquettes come to room temperature completely before serving to baby. Make a small incision in the center of the croquette with a knife and stick a clean finger inside to test the temp.
  5. These can be made ahead and eaten within two days if kept tightly covered.
Omeletta http://omeletta.com/

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Table Scraps 07/24/14

Gathering another assembly line of dork articles and nerd memes for a new Table Scraps feels like slipping into an old sweatshirt that I haven’t worn since before I was pregnant (and thin!).  Here’s a smattering of what I’ve been reading and sharing lately: 

July 24, 2014

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Breastfeeding makes me STARVING, like all the time.  Which makes sense, since eight times a day I literally POUR calories out of my body and into my voracious child.  When I was pregnant, my appetite didn’t really change that much.  So naturally, I got all smug about it.  And now I’m being punished for my smugness.  These days, I could eat a whole steak dinner and go back for seconds, then be like “Let’s get some ice cream!”  Rarely do I find anyone who is willing to join me all the way, so this is what I usually feel like: 

"I'm ready for lunch!" | omeletta.com

“I”M READY TO EAT, WHERE ARE YOU GUYS!?”

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This Gawker article on challenging TGI Friday’s new Endless Appetizer’s promotion is everything to me right now.  (see: me, hungry. Always)

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I’m on to you, child: 

Sneaky Baby | from omeletta.com

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OUTLANDER ON AUGUST 9.  I could watch this preview over and over again and still get chills.  To say I’m ready for it is a total understatement. 

 

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This is the greatest article every written about the American Girl franchise.  I had no idea it had changed so much since I was a kid: I am so depressed right now.

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Between the preteens with social media access (which send chills down my spine these days) and the mommy-blogger bent, this Masahble article about cyber-bullies raises some serious questions and has a very Scream-ish “I’m calling from inside the house” vibe to it. 

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I saw Ray Lamontagne at Interlochen on Tuesday with my brother.  I’m not a fan of his new album (WAY too overproduced and too… happy? Be-boppy?  Something feels off) so when he performed songs from it I was all, YAWN.  But THEN!  It was as if he knew everyone was just suffering through the new stuff to get to the old, and the man freaking delivered.  The rest of the show I was blown away, the crowd went ballistic, it was a sea of dancing hipsters all around.  He did the hands down best version of Trouble ever, and I say that even though I’m a little sick of that song.  Til now.  I can’t get enough of this guy.  (I could keep talking about it, but I’ll spare you.)

Here’s an acoustic version that is sort-of-not-even-close as good as last night: 

 

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That’s it for now!  Yeesh.  That felt good.  Here’s to getting back in the swing of things, eh?

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Chocolate Popcorn Cookies for The Leftovers Club

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies | omeletta.com

Today I’d like to talk about the internet. Of course, the internet is such a slight thing that can be easily dissected into a 400-word blog post, natch. But although I hardly believe it to be possible, I now spend more time on the web than ever before.  Call it Internet Parenting Addiction.  

Something about the internet tends to bring out the inner weirdo in people.  Like, I never envisioned myself googling, at 3 in the morning, “normal baby poop”. 

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies | omeletta.com

How did mothers nurse without browser-ready smartphones?  I have every parenting book my neuroses and wallet can afford uploaded to my kindle app, plus dozens of longread articles on the Pocket app, Instagram feeds, and enough Facebook and Google Plus groups to wile away any length of time nursing.  When you have a 6 month old in the 90th percentile for weight who always.seems.hungry (she is so my child), that translates into many hours in a nursing chair while absentmindedly stroking her head and poring over Google entries for “best cloth diaper detergent”. (The answer for me is Soap Nuts, of which I’m sure you were dying to know).  

In any case, it also helps (hurts?) my recipe addiction, especially since she’s now of an age where I can place her in an exersaucer and she can entertain herself while I putter away in the kitchen.  My sweet tooth has exploded lately, for better or worse, and I’ve been spending time daydreaming of cookie concoctions.  That’s pretty much how these popcorn cookies came about.   I was browsing through the cupboards in search of cookie inspiration when a jar of unpopped popcorn and cocoa powder appeared before me like a ray of light.  A few hours later, and I was face deep in these chewy, chocolate cookies topped with airy handfuls of popcorn.  And since I needed something to send to my Leftovers Club partner (my first one since the baby, yay!) I knew they would be perfect. 

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies | omeletta.com

What’s the Leftovers Club, you ask?  Check out this page for more clarification.  Or just browse the offerings of other bloggers and their partners to see what goodies others have traded.  Make sure you check out the badass page of Lisa, at Healthy Nibbles and Bits, who is sending me BAKED CAJUN CHIPS that I will be waiting by the mailbox for, as well as some of her other delish healthy recipes, like this spicy red pepper dip thickened with nuts and panko, and this lemon-poppyseed cake baked in the microwave.  I’ll take four, please.

And yes, you can do all of that on the internet.  Weirdo.

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies
Yields 15
Chocolate chewy cookies topped with an airy handful of stove-top popcorn.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2. 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  3. 2 1/4 cup white all-purpose unbleached flour
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  7. 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  8. 1 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  2. Pop the popcorn by heating the oil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. When the oil is shimmering, add the popcorn kernels and toss gently to coat. Keep the lid on tight and heat until you hear the kernels begin to pop. Shake the pan gently while the kernels pop until there are no more popping sounds, then immediately remove the popcorn from the heat and pour into a bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and whisk gently with a fork in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and add the vanilla, butter and sugar. Slowly fold the wet ingredients in with the dry and combine until just mixed together.
  4. Roll the dough into 2" wide balls and evenly distribute on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press a well into each cookie with your thumb (the way you would if making thumbprint cookies). Gently press a small handful of popcorn onto the top of each cookie. It's okay if the edges of the cookie batter crack a bit during this.
  5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges has lightly crisped. Let cool before eating.
  6. Cookies will keep for three-four days if covered tightly and stored in a cool, dry place.
Omeletta http://omeletta.com/
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Meatballs and Night Creeping

Meatballs and Night Creeping | omeletta.com

I’ve started doing the ridiculous things I used to roll my eyes at when I saw other parents do. Like, lately I’ve taken to wandering into the Peanut’s room after she’s gone asleep and stand there staring at her in the dark like some sort of night creeper.  She sleeps on her tummy so I use the excuse of making sure she hasn’t smothered herself or anything, but really I like to just stand there and look at the back of her head, listen to her breathing, and marvel at the death grip she keeps on her stuffed bunny.

 That is, till she twitches in her sleep.  Then I startle like a nervous filly and back quickly out of the room.  OH MY GOD DON’T WAKE THE BABY. 

 The thing is, starting at 2 pm, I begin the Countdown.  You know, til bedtime.  She’s on a loose schedule that usually results in bedding down sometime between 6:15 and 7 pm, so I start mentally calculating this from the  minute she wakes up from her afternoon nap.  

 Meatballs and Night Creeping | omeletta.com

The entire bedtime process is actually fun for both of us.  Immediately preceding bedtime is bathtime, and she thinks bath time is THE SHIT.  Like, nothing is as cool as bath time.  I lay her on the bathmat while I get her little baby tub ready and as soon as she figures out what’s going on she starts freaking out, wriggling all around and squealing with glee.  By the time I strip her down and set her down in the tub she has this look on her face like LIFE CAN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS, OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING!  We have a pleasant 10 minutes of dumping water out of a cup and splashing away bubbles, and I try to stop her from rolling over onto her tummy in the water.  She’s like a greased eel, it takes some energy and a quick hand, I’m telling you.

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Then it’s bedtime, and I’m so close to a few glorious hours of trashy tv on the couch with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs that I can almost taste the tomato sauce.  She squirms as I dress her, fusses a bit while we sing songs and close the blinds and turn on her white noise machine.  I lay her in the crib and, god willing, she grips that bunny, rolls on her tummy and falls asleep.  I tiptoe out, breathe a sigh of relief and empty out the baby tub. Sweet, sweet freedom!  Onto The Real Housewives and Catfish reruns!

And then like an hour later I start to miss her.  So I creep into her room like a stalker and that’s when the night watching begins.  

Seriously, I don’t even know who I am anymore.

 

Meatballs
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Ingredients
  1. 5 slices bread, crusts removed
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 pound ground beef
  5. 1 pound ground pork
  6. 1 pound ground veal (see note)
  7. 1 small yellow onion, minced
  8. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  10. 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano or basil
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Before chopping or mixing anything, tear the bread into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the bread, making sure that all pieces of the bread are wet. Let this sit while you ready the other ingredients.
  2. Combine the meats, onion, garlic, cheese, oregano/basil and seasoning. Use your hands to really make sure everything is mixed together evenly. Add the wet bread and mix well.
  3. Roll the meatballs out into 1-2" diameters.
  4. You can cook the meatballs any number of ways. Heat an oven to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Simmer the meatballs in tomato sauce, about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Or fry them in a few tablespoons of oil on the stove, taking care to cover the pan from any splatters, and turning the meatballs often so they brown evenly.
  5. You could also toss the raw meatballs into a big freezer bag and save for a quick lunch. They can be reheated 3-4 at a time by defrosting in the microwave and then frying on the stove.
Notes
  1. *If you can't find ground veal, I usually substitute more ground pork, or a combo of pork and beef.
Omeletta http://omeletta.com/

Want a good Sunday Sauce recipe?  Check out this post here. 

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