A book review about a topic that is recently near & dear to my heart... how to feed my baby!
Reviews

Book Review: The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers

Now that #BabyVolde has been eating solids for about a month, this is the perfect time to share my review of the book The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers by Anthony Porto, MD and Dina DiMaggio, MD. I received a complementary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

A book review about a topic that is recently near & dear to my heart... how to feed my baby!

A description of the book from the publisher:

A comprehensive manual for feeding babies and toddlers during the crucial first years of life, written by a team of medical experts who are also parents.

All Your Questions about Feeding, Answered.

The choices of when, how, and what to feed your baby can be overwhelming. With The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers, you have the expertise of a team of pediatric medical and nutritional experts—who also happen to be parents—in a comprehensive manual that takes the guesswork out of feeding. This first-of-its-kind guide provides practical, easy-to-follow advice to help you navigate the nutrition issues, medical conditions, and parenting concerns that accompany feeding. With recipes, parenting stories, and recommendations based on the latest pediatric guidelines, this book will allow you to approach mealtime with confidence so you can spend more time enjoying your new family.

#BabyVolde making short work of some butternut squash!
As usual, my five point review:

  • From the first time I opened this book, the format drew me in. Each chapter discusses a specific age group: 0-3 months, 4-6 months, etc. And, the chapters are broken up by sub-headings in the table of contents so it is REALLY easy to find what you need. Topics include developmental milestones, medical concerns, and nutritional needs… as well as healthy recipes for you and your baby/toddler [once they are in the solid food stage, that is]. I also appreciated the length of the book: at 256 pages long, it’s a good size to share a lot of information but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
  • My overall favorite part of the book was the perspective from which it was written: a team of pediatricians, a dietitian, a lactation consultant, and two family chefs who all happen to be parents. The result is a wonderful evidence-based yet realistic perspective about how you can feed your child at different stages AND how to deal with tricky situations like picky eating. You can read more about their goals here. As a librarian and a new mom, the evidence-based perspective was particularly important to me. There’s so much information available online that it can be hard to sift through, and this book took care of some of the legwork for me. I haven’t read it cover-to-cover [and it’s not really a book that you would do that with, anyway] but so far it is pretty unbiased especially about hot button issues like breastfeeding vs. formula feeding or when to start solids. I’m breastfeeding my baby, and didn’t start solids until he turned six months old but even if your baby eats formula and started solids at four months, this book will still be useful because it is not biased or judgy.
  • Also, the book is such an easy read, even if the medical field is unfamiliar and/or scary to you. There isn’t any medical jargon or technical details, and there is even a section about what to expect if you have to visit a specialist and how to prepare for that visit. Including details like that makes the book even more accessible and useful. I also appreciated the section on food allergies: what reactions to look for, what to do if a reaction DOES take place, etc. Calmed my nerves before giving my baby his first taste of solid food: sweet potatoes!
  • The recipes are simple and use real ingredients–I appreciate that so much and think other busy parents will too. I’ve only tried one recipe so far–the zucarrot puree [zucchini + carrots, roasted and pureed] but look forward to trying more as #BabyVolde expands his food horizons. 🙂 Right now, aside from his favorite mama milk, he eats: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, avocado, zucchini, carrots, oatmeal, some herbs and spices, and on Thanksgiving he tried turkey! While I know I can’t control whether my son will become a healthy, adventurous eater or not, I can introduce him to a variety of real foods to encourage him towards that end as much as possible. Some of the recipes for older babies/toddlers may seem a little too “adult” for them, but I think it’s always worth a shot introducing new foods to kids. If all we give kids is chicken nuggets, that’s all they will know and want. Some of you experienced parents might be laughing at me [and maybe I will laugh at myself in the future too], but I am pretty set on this. And I’m not going to be a short order cook, so this baby better learn to like a variety of foods. Ha! 🙂 Just kidding, but really…
  • Overall, this book is a great addition to any baby book and/or cookbook libraries. It includes a wide variety of information on nutritional needs, child development, as well as providing easy recipes that are realistic for busy parents to make for their kiddos. Since I love food and cooking so much, and value healthy eating for myself and my family, I want my son to grow up with that mindset as well. This book will surely help in that quest! I definitely recommend it to anyone who has or works with babies and toddlers.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to for the chance to read this great book!

Menu Plans

Getting Ready for Baby Volde: Freezer Cooking Style!

Freezer cooking doesn’t have to be complicated! Learn how I stocked our freezer last week in preparation for our baby boy coming this spring. 🙂

Freezer cooking doesn't have to be complicated! Learn how I stocked our freezer last week in preparation for our baby boy coming this spring. :)

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I immediately knew I wanted to make a bunch of freezer meals in advance so that Ben and I would have some yummy things to eat as we adjust to life with a baby! Of course, I used Pinterest to help me plan. 🙂

Last week I was able to devote time over a few days to making a bunch of meals–20 to be exact. Most are crockpot meals, but I also made up a few casseroles, spaghetti sauce, soup, and burritos to have on hand. I thought about making breakfast and snacks, but freezer space plus time made that not necessary. We are very fortunate in that Ben gets some paternity leave after the baby is born AND then, it’ll be summer break for him… so he can fix me breakfast and snacks while I take care of our cute baby! Hahaha–just kidding…kind of. 🙂 I’m sure having all these meals on hand will not prevent us from ever getting take out or pizza, but I bet this will help!

I’m not sure many of you will be very interested in the details of my process–there are tons of freezer cooking resources online for that [I suggest checking out this extensive post on Life as Mom]–but if you have questions, just let me know! I can’t vouch for many of these meals except for the ones from my blog [they have a photo] or that I mention I’ve already made so hopefully they’ll be good! I have to admit that I mostly wrote a blog post about this so that Ben and I would know what I made… and so we’d have ideas despite our tiredness how to serve these meals and with what side items. I think I’ll be very grateful to myself in a couple months. 🙂

If I have time later I will make and freeze batches of muffins, black beans, freezer breakfast burritos, a bunch of taco seasoning, cooked and shredded chicken, smoothie packs, etc. But we will see! For now we have a pretty good start. 🙂

P.S. Post updated on 10/11/16 with my thoughts about each meal. Feel free to comment with questions! 🙂

Crock Pot Meals

defrost all in the refrigerator overnight before transferring to the crockpot to cook the next day

Beef and Broccoli from Table for Two

  • cook on low for 6 hours
    • when finished, in a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 4 tablespoons sauce from crockpot to form a slurry
    • add 1 bag of frozen broccoli and prepared slurry to crockpot and cook for 30 minutes to thicken the sauce
  • serve over rice, garnish with sesame seeds
  • side ideas: salad
    • *note: I also added 4-5 medium carrots, chopped to the crockpot
  • how it turned out: pretty good! A little salty, but I added more veggies to balance it out. 🙂

Bistro Chicken and Rice from A Spicy Perspective

  • cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 3-5 hours –> watch carefully so rice doesn’t turn to mush
    • remove chicken and cut into bite size pieces
    • return chicken to crockpot and toss together
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • if freezing uncooked rice makes this dish turn out not so well, order pizza or head to Zaxby’s 🙂
  • how it turned out: skip this! I bet it would be good fresh, but the rice got mushy in the freezing/defrosting process. 😦

Chicken Fajitas from Saving You Dinero via Making Our Marx

  • cook on low for 5-6 hours
    • remove chicken and cut into bite size pieces
    • return chicken to crockpot and toss together
  • serve over rice or tortilla chips, or in tortilla shells with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, lettuce
  • side ideas: salad, chips & salsa
  • how it turned out: DELICIOUS! Make this again and again!

Chinese Pork & Noodles from Jo Cooks

  • cook on low for 4 1/2 hours
    • remove pork and place in a large bowl; let rest for 10 minutes before shredding
    • return pork to crockpot
    • add 1 bag frozen stir fry veggies to crockpot
    • meanwhile, prepare 12 ounces noodles – thin spaghetti or any type of thin Asian noodles should work
    • stir noodles into crockpot with shredded pork and veggies
  • serve with peanuts and cilantro; sprinkle with lime juice
    • *note: original recipe is more complicated and I’m sure better; this is my simplified version 🙂
  • how it turned out: SO YUM! I can’t wait to make this without my simplified modifications.

Cilantro Lime Chicken from Six Sisters’ Stuff via Making Our Marx

  • cook on low for 6-8 hours
    • remove chicken and shred with two forks
    • return chicken to crockpot and toss together
  • serve over rice or tortilla chips, or in tortilla shells) with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, lettuce
  • side ideas: salad, chips & salsa
  • how it turned out: pretty good! Pretty similar to any Mexican chicken crockpot meal, to be honest. Always yummy!

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches | The Pajama Chef

  • cook on low for 8-10 hours
    • an hour or so before finished, shred chicken and stir into sauce to incorporate
    • cook for a little while longer to incorporate
  • serve on hamburger buns [like the yummy ones from Publix’s bakery section]
  • side ideas: salad, oven fries, chips
  • how it turned out: one of our favorite meals to this day.

Honey Rosemary Chicken from Kojo Designs via Making Our Marx  

  • cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours [I already added the 1 cup water the recipe calls for]
    • 10 minutes before serving, stir in 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • serve over rice or couscous
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: great! This was a pretty unique recipe. I stirred in some fresh rosemary after it was all done cooking.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Honey Sesame Chicken | thepajamachef.com

  • cook on low for 4 hours
    • remove chicken to a plate and break into bite size pieces with 2 forks
    • mix together 1/4 cup water and 4 teaspoons cornstarch to make a slurry, then pour into crockpot and stir to combine
    • add chicken back to crockpot
    • cover and cook for 15 minutes until thick
  • serve over rice, garnish with sesame seeds
  • side ideas: steamed broccoli or salad
  • how it turned out: always good!

Orange Chicken from Who Needs a Cape?

  • cook on low for 4-6 hours
  • serve over rice
  • side ideas: salad or frozen stir fry veggies or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: pretty good. Salty… but that’s true with many Asian dishes. It wasn’t as orangey as I expected but still good.

Ranch Chicken Tacos from Who Needs a Cape?

  • cook on low for 6-8 hours
  • serve with tortillas and taco fixings – cheese, lettuce, tomatoes/pico de gallo/salsa
  • side ideas: salad, chips & salsa
  • how it turned out: typical Mexican chicken dish… delicious!

Santa Fe Chicken

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken | thepajamachef.com

  • cook on low 7-8 hours
    • remove chicken from crockpot and shred with 2 forks
    • return chicken to crockpot and stir to combine
  • serve over rice or tortilla chips, or in tortillas with taco fixings like green onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce
  • side ideas: salad, chips & salsa
  • how it turned out: again, one of our favorite crockpot meals. Delicious!

Sausage & Peppers from Mommy’s Fabulous Finds

  • cook on low 6-8 hours
  • serve over rice
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: this is probably the only meal we wouldn’t make again. Some things shouldn’t be made in a crockpot–smoked sausage is one of them. The peppers also got pretty soggy too. I normally like this dish, but it was too much in the crockpot.

Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce from Who Needs a Cape?

  • cook on low for 6 hours
  • serve over rice with peanuts and sliced green onions
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: delicious!

Casseroles

defrost in the refrigerator overnight before baking the next day

Chicken Parmesan Casserole from Thriving Home

  • bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until brown and bubbling
  • serve over pasta
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: new family favorite! I made a few more of these before I went back to work so we could enjoy them again.

Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian chicken

  • transfer from freezer bag to greased 9×13 inch casserole dish
  • bake at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes
  • serve over rice
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: though we love this meal, the sauce didn’t freeze the best. I’m thinking it was the oil… it’s easy enough that I would skip this as a freezer meal and make it fresh.

Pizza Spaghetti Bake from What Megan’s Making

  • bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes
  • side ideas: salad or steamed veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.
  • how it turned out: amazing! So cheesy and so so good! 🙂

Other Meals: Burritos, Soup, and Spaghetti Sauce

Grandma Carolyn’s Spaghetti Sauce from Bake Your Day – I made a double batch and froze in quart size ziploc bags.

  • I’ve made this a few times before… delicious! This time, I used 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork.
  • serve hot over pasta
  • side ideas: salad, steamed veggies like broccoli or green beans
  • how it turned out: freezing batches of spaghetti sauce is my new thing! Love this!

Southwest Rollups from Money Saving Mom

  • I’ve made these several times over the years… with chicken, beef, and pork. 🙂 So good!
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes or until hot–they can be baked straight from the freezer.
  • serve with salsa and sour cream
  • side ideas: chips & salsa, salad
  • how it turned out: I made a double batch and this was not enough. We went through them so fast! They’re great to have on hand. 🙂

Taco Soup from Well Plated – I bought ingredients for a double batch and packaged them in two bags in the pantry. I ran out out of large tupperware, so all ingredients can be combined in a stockpot…takes about 30 minutes to cook!

  • I’ve made this before and it’s delicious!
  • serve hot with various toppings like crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or avocado
  • how it turned out: delicious as always!

Tomato Basil Bisque from Noodles & Company Copycat Recipes – I made a double batch and froze in tupperware containers.

  • I’ve made this quite often and the original recipe has been taken down but fortunately I saved the recipe here in Google Docs!
  • serve hot with grilled cheese
  • how it turned out: also handy to have on hand. So good!

 

 

Musings

The Making of an UncommonGoods Nursery #FreshTastyValentines

With each week that passes, baby day [May 10, not that babies are punctual] comes a little bit closer! Exciting, and a little bit scary. Ben and I have been busy getting Baby Volde’s nursery ready… at least in our heads–and on Pinterest. 🙂 [And to clear up any questions… our nickname for our baby boy has been “Volde,” as in Voldemort, since Ben loves Harry Potter and there’s no chance in the world I would ever agree to a Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/video games/insert other pop culture icon name. So that’s baby’s nickname for now… and will probably be how I refer to him on the blog too. :)] But back to the nursery, and our lack of actual preparation in getting the nursery ready, save the purchase of a crib and the cleaning out of a dresser. Baby steps, right? In my mind, preparation=decoration, especially for a baby. So that’s why I was so excited to hear from my friends at UncommonGoods. They emailed me to share their new Valentine’s Day collection, available here, as well as some fun Host and Hostess gifts that you can see here. You may be wondering what Valentine’s Day has to do with a nursery for a baby boy… and the answer is: everything!

The Making of an UncommonGoods Nursery #FreshTastyValentines

Well, maybe not everything, but everything uncommon. 🙂 Ben and I haven’t ever been huge Valentine’s gift givers so it was a treat to have UncommonGoods offer to send me a Valentine’s Day gift! Awww! I was so pleasantly surprised by their generosity. I shouldn’t be, because this Brooklyn-based company is the epitome of generous. Aside from a crazy-great Better to Give program that has donated over one million dollars since 2001, they share their generosity with their employees and suppliers. Their lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage, and they strive to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. Most products are made in the USA, and many are made by hand and/or with recycled/upcycled materials. What a great company! Psstt… UncommonGoods wants to be YOUR valentine too! They’re offering a $150 gift certificate as part of our #FreshTastyValentines giveaway, ending today, so be sure to enter now!

Though I was impressed by so much in their Valentine’s Day collections, as well as their Kitchen and Bar collection, like this Personalized Cutting Board [how fun!], my eye was immediately drawn to the Kids portion of their website. What better Valentine for a new mama-t0-be than gifts for her baby? 🙂

The Making of an UncommonGoods Nursery #FreshTastyValentines

Ben and I knew from the beginning that we wanted the nursery to be decorated in some sort of animal theme, but the question was: what types of animals? Safari, farm, woodland…? When I saw this Fox Clock, I knew we had to go with a woodland animal theme. I mean, how cute is this clock?!? So now, thanks in part to UncommonGoods, we know our nursery will be filled with cute ‘lil woodland critters like foxes, raccoons, rabbits, owls, and wolves. Awww! I can’t wait to show you the finished product. And I’d like to see it myself. Ha!

The Making of an UncommonGoods Nursery #FreshTastyValentines

Once the baby arrives to fill that woodland nursery, we will be keeping track of all the key moments in this baby book! If you’re on the market for a unique baby book, this Baby Journal fits the bill! It has space for anything you want to document about your baby’s first year of life… and the illustrations are darling. 🙂 It also has spaces for friends and family to contribute, so it’ll be fun to pull out at my baby shower for people to write in.

The Making of an UncommonGoods Nursery #FreshTastyValentines

Despite all the fun that has gone into crafting this nursery for our new arrival, I couldn’t let the chance pass by to surprise my #1 Valentine with this gorgeous State Slate Cheeseboard! This Ohio guy can’t wait to break it with some fun appetizers. 🙂 No matter your needs for Valentine’s Day, a baby’s nursery, or that special someone’s birthday, UncommonGoods has great well-made gifts and a wonderful approach to doing business so I hope you can check them out sometime soon! I already have some gifts in mind to give in the future! 🙂

Though this is the last day of #FreshTastyValentines, you can still find some great recipes today at the link below!

Find UncommonGoods

on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here
on Instagram: here
on Google+: here
Disclosure: I received complimentary products from UncommonGoods for my participation in #FreshTastyValentines. However, I was not required to write a positive review and I was not otherwise compensated for this post. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to UncommonGoods for their sponsorship of this event!