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!

Advertisements
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Reviews, Rice, Sides

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

This cheesy chicken and mushroom dinner is perfect for company, but also for a nice weeknight dinner for your family. It’s also nice to have some of this Rice a Roni mix in the pantry for an easy side dish too!

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

Two recipes in one day! Whoa there, this is crazy! So last fall I read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and that book just makes me want to COOK! And eat, but that’s no surprise. It’s a collection of essays knit together thematically around the idea of food, community, friendship, and growth. Though it’s written from a Christian perspective it’s really not in your face Christianity, if you get my drift, and it’s just a lovely book. Being a librarian I pretty much ALWAYS check books out to read from the library prior to purchasing them, and I think this one is good enough to go on  my to-purchase [read: Christmas/birthday present] list. Though I made this dinner just for Ben and myself, it’s truly a company-worthy meal. Though it’s weeknight-doable, the flavors are rich, intoxicating, and delicious. It feels like a fancy escape from the week, even if only at the dinner table.

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

As I sit here thinking about what I just wrote, I wonder… why do we consider things to be “company-worthy meals” or not? At the root of it definitely is our innately human desire to put on our best face for everyone and to receive compliments/praise/glory/affirmation of how great we are. Somewhere in there is a desire to treat others well. And why shouldn’t we do that for our families on a regular Tuesday? I know people are busier than ever but I still think regular family dinners–even if it’s just you and your husband–are so important. They don’t have to be fancy. In the same vein, “company meals” don’t need to be fancy either–they just need to be made with love, like this meal. This chicken dish only took about 40 minutes to put together, and much of that is baking time. Using a few pantry ingredients, some mushrooms, and cheese, it looks so special! And the homemade Rice a Roni mix is awesome too! Hope you give it a try–and check out this book. 🙂 Enjoy!

one year ago: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies
two years ago: Buffalo Pretzels 
three years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
four years ago: Crispy Honey Ginger Chicken

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts [I cut one large 16 ounce chicken breast into 4 smaller cutlets]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dried tarragon
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced [I used shiitake but regular white mushrooms would be fine too]
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced or shredded swiss cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil. Season one side of each chicken breast with pepper and tarragon, then sear chicken for a minute on the seasoned side. Flip to the other side, season, and cook for a minute. Remove chicken to an oven safe baking dish.

In the same skillet, add more olive oil if necessary and reduce heat to medium. Cook mushrooms and onion for about 5 minutes, until soft, then add garlic. Cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season with more pepper and tarragon. Add water, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a boil, letting most of the excess liquid cook off, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon mushrooms, onions, and sauce overtop chicken.

Cook for 10-20 minutes or until fully cooked. When chicken is almost done, top with cheese and return to oven until cheese melts.

Serve with homemade Rice a Roni [below].

Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

from Fabulously Frugal

Ingredients:

for mix

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup small pieces of angel hair, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 6 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder OR 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning [original recipe called for the former but I didn’t have any so I improvised]
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

for preparation

  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 cup of rice a roni mix [above]
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large airtight jar or plastic storage container. Breaking apart the noodles was probably the most difficult part. I found it easiest to break just a few at a time, while the measuring cup was in a taller bowl. I used maybe 1/3 of a 16 ounce box of pasta. Orzo or another small pasta would be a good substitute I think.

To make the rice, heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 cup rice a roni mix and stir. Cook, constantly stirring, for about a minute until pasta begins to turn golden brown. Add water and bring to a boil, then prepare as you would rice–reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

 

 

 

Musings

Fuel Yourself for Exercise

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. During fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from September 23, 2010… update: now I’ve been a runner for about 16 years [since spring 1998!] and have now run 4 marathons including one with Ben! These tips are still true today, four years later. Hope they help you! 

Sarah and Ben after the mini marathon.

So, I’ve been a runner for about 13 years, including 10 years of competitive team running.  Currently, I am in the early stages of training for a marathon (my second) and trying to convince my husband, Ben, to run one with me!  Though I have sat through countless lectures on nutrition as part of team education and read many articles about healthy eating, it has only been over the past few years that I have truly begun to understand the connection between nutrition and exercise.  It may seem elementary, but what you eat contributes to how well you can exercise.  Nutrition needs do vary based on your exercise goals (training for a marathon versus general fitness), but regardless of your aspirations, there are five basic tips I have learned and seek to practice in my life to fuel myself for exercise.

  • Stay hydrated. Water is the best way to do this.  Find out what temperature your prefer water (I like it ice cold), and how many ounces your favorite water bottle/glass holds.  Then drink and fill it up enough times each day to get in at least 8- 8 ounce glasses!  Water doesn’t have to be boring either—try adding lemon, cucumber, or orange slices to your water to make it fancy.  Staying hydrated fuels your muscles to help you move well and not feel weak during exercise.
  • Eat regularly. Life is busy, and regardless of your life status, it can be hard eat three meals a day.  There are many ways to plan ahead so you can have healthy and tasty meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Making a meal plan, setting out breakfast the night before, and freezer cooking are just some of the ways I make sure that my husband and I will be well-fed and not tempted to get take-out.
  • Eat a variety of foods.  All foods provide our bodies with different vitamins and minerals.  We need carbs and fats and protein and more, which can be found in a variety of foods.  Don’t worry about knowing specific about each vegetable or fruit or grain—no one food is perfect, and different colors equal different nutrients.  So fill your plate with colors!
  • Be educated about your food choices. There is a lot of hype surrounding eating organic, vegetarian, local, etc.  I personally am not a vegetarian and do not eat all organic or all local.  However, I do believe in knowing where my food comes from and being educated about nutrition and issues with food production in this country.  Some of the most helpful resources I’ve found in educating myself have been by reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, as well as In Defense of Food and Food Rules by Michael Pollan.  These books have made me consider the nutritional benefits found in foods that have been packaged in different ways: frozen, canned, or fresh—local or sent from 2,000 miles away, and has also challenged me to consider the effects processed foods can have on my body, especially as an athlete.  This applies also to everyone too—even if you don’t consider yourself to be an “athlete!”
  • Be flexible, and give yourself grace.  No one is going to eat completely healthy all the time.  Sometimes we crave sweets or salty foods, and it’s okay to indulge your cravings at times.  Some people try to eat healthy and clean about 80% of the time, and indulge the other 20%.  Others may follow stricter guidelines.  Moderation is key.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technicalities of eating and nutrition to the extent that it becomes the end all, be all of our self-perception and life.  That is not healthy.  What is healthy is enjoying food for what it is and what it does for us, without becoming obsessive.  God gives us grace in all areas of life, including our food choices and nutrition.  Let’s believe that!