Posts Tagged 'food'

Orange Peels Taste Better than Oranges

For the past few weeks (has it already been a month…?) we’ve been letting Olivia share in almost all of our meals, giving her some of whatever we are eating, as long as there is very little salt or sugar.  We have given her tons of variety, but for the most part, she really didn’t eat much.  P1080975Not interestedUsually I would sit her in the high chair, and within a few minutes she would throw up her hands and lean back in the high chair with a bored look; “just what exactly do you think I am, anyways?  a TODDLER?  I eat milk, silly.”

The only thing she was interested in was her sippy-cup of water, or plates and spoons.  With any of these, she would occupy herself for hours.  But with food?  Well, she’d pick at it, but that was about it.

I swear to you, I really tried everything.  I tried home-made purees.  I tried some random finger foods, and I tried smearing purees on toast.  I tried cutting all the foods in nice easy-to-grab stick shapes.  I tried tons of different textures, colors and flavors.  Sometimes she would pick at them for a bit and maybe even put it in her mouth for a few seconds, but she never ate more than a crumb or two.  Most of the time she didn’t even get that far.  One day after refusing to even touch the food on her high chair tray, I let her back down on the floor, and within minutes she had scooted over to a giant ball of dust and popped that right into her mouth.  (!!!)

“I don’t get it!” I told her.  “You like dust more than hamburgers and noodles?! ”

I got the dust-ball out of her mouth, and she gave me a devious grin.  I’m telling you, this girl KNOWS that she is being difficult!

So then I went and got the food from her high chair, and put it on the floor in front of her.  She took one look, turned away, and scooted off into the next room.

I re-read Gill Rapely’s book on baby-led-weaning, and decided that maybe I was giving Olivia her meals at the wrong times, and that she might be too tired or hungry when I sat her down to eat.  I made a huge effort to sit us down to eat at that perfect sliver of time right after a nap and nursing, before she got too tired or hungry again.  It did help a little bit, but she still was not all that interested in anything.

green onion

Olivia eating a green onion (it’s on the tip of her finger)

Until one day when I made a beef and broccoli stir fry with green onions cut into little rings.  I put a little in front of her as I had been doing every day for weeks.  She eyeballed it and sat back in her high chair.  But then, after a few minutes of staring at the food, she suddenly perked up.  You could see that something had caught her eye.  The interest was mounting inside that little brain.  She leaned forward and extended one finger and slowly approached a green onion.

She chased that green onion all around the high chair, and it fit perfectly on her little finger.  Then she picked it up and put it in her mouth.  I figured she would just push it back out, but she didn’t.  In fact, she chewed on it with her little teeth and pushed it around with her tongue.  And then she picked up another, and another!  After she had eaten about five of the green onions, she looked at me and started grinning.  Through those clenched teeth I could see her mouth stuffed with a bunch of green onions.  It was such a hilarious sight!  I don’t think she ate more than a few tiny chunks off those onions, because most of it ended up “falling” back out onto the table.  It was obvious that she liked them, though, and that’s when it finally dawned on me that my “stick-shaped” foods were not what she wanted.  She was starting to master her pincer grasp, and she wasn’t at all interested in large chunks anymore.

So after that I started cutting things into tiny pieces for her, and suddenly her interested was piqued.  All of a sudden she started trying to pick up bits of everything, the more microscopic the better.  I also noticed that she prefers dark foods.  And yet, she very rarely actually swallowed anything.  So far my biggest successes have been green onions and spinach.  Odd choices, I know.  I really thought she would have liked apples, pears and bananas, but she doesn’t seem to like the textures of those because she has yet to actually get any of them into her mouth.  As soon as she picks up a chunk of banana, she starts waving her hand around as if she were being attacked by a snake.  And no matter how much I try to explain to her that her mouth would be a great way to get that banana off of her finger, she just doesn’t listen!  Imagine that.

Now that it is cold season and we have had three colds one directly after the other, I decided Olivia needed some more vitamin C.  I started peeling an orange and I was going to let her try to pick up the individual juice sacs.  But Olivia was so excited by the sight of me peeling the orange that she was practically leaping out of her high chair to get at it!  To keep her happy I gave her a large chunk of orange peel to chew on while I finished.  I figured she would taste it and immediately drop it since it’s quite bitter.  But lo and behold, she *liked* it!  She kept chewing on it and chewing on it, sucking off little bits here and there for more than fifteen minutes!  And although I put some actual pieces of orange on her tray, she was not a bit interested in those.

Imagine living in a world where babies were all the same….?  Where they all followed the state-recommended schedule of foods?  Ahhh but how boring would that be.


The Solids Saga – Part 4 – I Finally Understand

If you’ve been following my previous posts regarding food, you’ll know that I have been a little unsure of how exactly to introduce solids to Olivia.  I wanted to do baby-led-weaning, but at 7 months, Olivia was still gagging on everything she put within a foot of her mouth.  Even water.  I’m not sure why it took her so long to loose the gagging reflex, but it really didn’t happen until she was 8 months old.  And I’ll be honest, I was worried.  I was starting to think I was doing everything wrong.

She is NOT interested in this piece of toast with bannanas.

I did try giving Olivia some purees, even some pureed meat, but she didn’t take much of it, and mostly just made my life difficult by trying to grab the spoon and throw the food everywhere.  I really didn’t like the idea of force-feeding her, so I decided to just back off.  She seemed healthy enough… and at 10.5 kg she wasn’t exactly lacking in the weight department.  (That is around the 95th percentile for weight, in case you were wondering…)

In the mean-time, I ordered the “Baby Led Weaning Cookbook”, and when it finally arrived, I read it cover to cover.  Let me tell you I was shocked to see that they hardly talked about gagging at all.  Just a half page.  And they said that babies usually learn how to deal with the food and stop gagging after a few days or maybe weeks.  They talked about 6 month old babies who were chewing on pieces of chicken, and 7 month-olds who would eat an entire apple, and then spit out the seeds!  “What is wrong with my baby?”  I thought.

Peas and rice from a pork chop dish we had

The other thing which surprised me is that most of the recipes in the book are basically just regular “food”.  Things like Tomato Roasted Chicken, and Chili con Carne.  Pancakes.  Scrambled Eggs.  Thai Green Curry.  The main thing is not to add any salt or sugar, and avoid any heavily salted foods like ham.    They don’t even give any kind of “recommended” age range for any of the foods.  That’s when I finally understood the whole point.  Babies really CAN eat everything from the very beginning.  You really don’t have to be worried about them choking on a noodle or the banana sticking to the roof of their mouths.  There are no “steps” to follow, and there are no schedules.  I was so caught up in the idea of there being a “method” to follow that I was blinding myself to the simplicity of it all.

Pasta with tomato sauce and tuna fish – the first dish Olivia really enjoyed eating

So I started making meals out of the book for Oscar and I to eat, and giving Olivia a little bit on her own plate.  She mostly ignored the food, or if she did touch it she threw it on the floor without even tasting it.  Then I realized that she was usually too tired or too hungry at mealtimes, and so she wasn’t interested in playing with anything.  I tried harder to get meals ready early, then to feed her, give her a rest, and THEN bring her to the table for lunch.  That was when it finally started working.  The first meal she really “ate” was a pasta with tuna fish and tomato sauce.  I was really impressed that she liked it and kept bringing bits of it to her mouth!

Chickpea patties with cucumber & yohgurt sauce (and tortillas – not pictured)

So now I include her in every meal, and she sometimes takes very small bits of it, other times she just plays with it, and sometimes she just wants down from the high chair without even looking at the food.  I am letting her go at her own pace, and I am no longer worried.  And the best part – she’s finally learned how to deal with food… she’s only gagged on food a few times in three weeks!

So now I’ve pulled out all the stops.  She’s had chicken, pork and beef, all in large chunks or strips.  She’s also had eggs, dairy and gluten with no issues.  So basically she eats with us for every meal now.  She hardly swallows anything, so she really is filling her hunger with breast milk still, but that’s ok with me.  I figure it will go in it’s own time.  One of these days she will realize that food also can satisfy hunger, and then she will start to eat more and more.  That’s why it’s called baby-led-weaning after all.

So yes, my 9-month-old is still 99% breastfed.  But she is also very healthy and strong, so I am not worried.

Spaghetti with green cauliflower

Pasta with mushrooms and carbonara sauce

Green Smoothies

Since I do all of the cooking in our house, I realized a while ago that I play a large role in my family’s health.  Oscar is not picky at all, and he will eat basically anything I put on the table even if it’s burnt to a crisp.  But now we have a child, and soon enough she will be eating food too, and she may not be quite so accepting.  So I want to do this right from the beginning, so that I don’t create any bad habits.  And that, of course, starts with what I put in my own mouth.

Unfortunately I happen to be a huge fan of everything unhealthy…  meats with lots of marbled fat running through them, savory dishes with lots of carbohydrates (lasagna, creamy noodles with ham…), not to mention every kind of ungodly dessert known to man.  But I am not one to just give up everything I love and turn into an all out health nut.  I really believe in “All things in moderation”.  So a little reduction on the unhealthy foods while increasing the healthy foods will suffice for me.  After all, I don’t want to scare my husband off!

That’s why, when I ran across something called a “green smoothie”, the idea really caught on with me.  The green smoothie was invented by Victoria Boutenko, who was looking for a good way to get her family to eat more leafy greens.  The basic idea is to blend leafy greens like spinach, kale, etc together with fruits in your blender.  You can really do any combination you want, but adding some lemon or ginger helps it to taste a bit more “zingy”.    It’s also a GREAT place for all those leaves from the tops of carrots and radishes!  (just make sure they are organic, since you don’t want lots of yucky pesticides getting into your system.)

So here is my very first green smoothie!

Green Smoothie



OK, so remember how I said I had a bunch of posts which I never had time to actually publish? This is one of those… I originally wrote it a month ago – before Olivia could roll! Now that I’ve finally got the pictures uploaded, I will share it with you now 😀


Last week I went to our neighborhood butcher shop, where the ladies know me very well and are always excited to see Olivia. I bought some ground beef and sliced ham (Kochschinken, to be specific… since in Germany there is no such thing as “just regular ham”.) Anyways, after slicing the ham for me, the woman behind the counter asked me if I was planning to make Schinkennudeln (“ham noodles”) this week. Confused, I said “well… I hadn’t planned on it, but I suppose I could… why?” She just goes “I think you ARE going to make Schinkennudeln this week!” I still didn’t get it until I saw her wrap up the rest of the chunk of ham and place it in my bag. “OH! ” I said, “Well, thanks! I guess I will!! ” Haha.

So, with a rather large chunk of ham on my hands, I got creative and used a bunch of things I had laying around the kitchen to create my own version of Spaghetti Carbonera.

Olivia is excited to help out

First I chopped up a small onion and 4 mushrooms (that’s what I had left.) Then I chopped the ham into strips. I would guess there was about 300g of ham. I sautee’d the whole thing in a little oil.

Ham, Onions and mushrooms in Olive Oil

At the same time, I started some spaghetti boiling. We didn’t have enough, so I threw in some Penne too. (No need to get picky, now!)

Then I added about 200mL of cream, and half a container (ca. 100g) of light cream cheese, and brought it to a boil.

Added cream and cream cheese. This is definitely not a dish for losing weight…

Olivia trying to roll

I want to roll over, but my legs aren’t cooperating…

I warmed up some frozen peas and corn in the microwave for about 1 minute, and then threw those in as well. Gotta get some veggies in there! I didn’t add any salt becuase the ham is already salty enough.

Then I brought the whole thing to a boil one more time, and threw in some chopped parsley, and that’s it!

Chopped Parsley

The finish product! It tasted fantastic – but probably mostly due to the high fat content… oh well. Getting good quality ham is the most important thing. But having something sweet, like the cream and the pees, is a really good idea.

The finished product


Pair it with a salad! I just cut up some oranges and tomatoes.

Enough already! I’m hungry!

Chicken, Apples and Leeks – the German Pizza Experience

Today I had planned to make my usual rounds to our neighborhood butcher, baker, and produce stand while taking a walk with Olivia. Our morning started out just fine, and we got lots of stuff done.  We got back at around 2pm, giving us plenty of time.

Or so I thought.

After nursing Olivia I couldn’t get her to burp. And from there things descended into belly pains, and after some time she was all out screaming. I couldn’t hold her in any position except for tummy down on my arm (the classic “colic carry”). This went on for two full hours.  Strike all plans for dinner… There was just no chance.  So I decided to order pizza.

Now, I’ve been living in Germany for six years, and the weirdness of their pizzas is nothing new to me. I’ve seen everything from cauliflower to potatoes on Pizzas, and no one even thinks it’s strange. In Paderborn, where we used to live, eggs sunny-side-up was very popular on pizzas. (It’s actually really good, and I ordered that a lot). But today I ordered a pizza that is strange even by German standards. It was called “Pizza Take That” from  “Hallo Pizza Karlsruhe“, and had curry chicken, leeks, bacon chunks, Parmesan cheese, apple slices and almonds! And to top it all off, the cheese was Gouda, not some cheapo “pizza cheese”.  It was one of the best delivery pizzas I have ever eaten.

Pizza "Taste That"

Pizza “Taste That”

But there is something I’ve stumbled upon since moving to Karlsruhe that is even stranger yet.  At first I thought it was just the restaurant in my nieghborhood, Bombay Palace / Pizza Weiherhof which is an Indian restaurant and Italian Pizza place in one. (they have two names, but only one building, one telephone number, and their menu has the Indian food on one side, and pizzas on the other.)  And then I noticed that they ALSO sell Mexican food ( it runs under the pizza side of the business).  Well, OK.  maybe it’s a good business model for them, and I suppose that Naan bread could probably make a good pizza bread too.  But then we started getting ads for more delivery places in the mail:

Wok Man Menu

Wok Man Chinese and Italian Delivery Service. Say what?

Pizza Point Menu

Pizza-Point – at first glance it seems like they just sell pizzas. So far so good.

Pizza Point Inside the Menu

But wait… what’s this I find on the inside of the Pizza Point menu…? American style burgers and “fingerfood”? Chicken Wings? Chicken Strips? Huh?

Pizza Turbo Menu

But the best is yet to come… Pizza Turbo… looks innocent enough…

Pizza Turbo Menu Inside

But inside the Pizza Turbo menu… after all the pizza… “Gyros”, “Indian Specialties”, “Mexican Specialties”. That’s four different countries! My eyes are hurting.

By the time my Pizza comes, Olivia is feeling a bit better; enough to sit on my lap, but not enough to be put down. So I hold her with one arm, and try eating with the other. But it is sooo hard to cut pizza with only one hand. After about three bites I realize what an idiot I am. Why the heck am I using a fork and knife?! I’m American! We eat pizzas with our hands! (like, duh!) Astounded at how quickly I’ve begun to lose my heritage, I quickly pick up the pizza and stuff my face with it.  Ahhh… Now that’s better.

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