Archive for category Weaning

Panmonviso Rusks: a Healthy, Tasty, Quick Breakfast for the Whole Family

Tesco French Toast

Tesco French Toast

If you are looking for a breakfast alternative for the whole family that is tasty, quick and healthy, you might like to try Panmonviso Rusks. These rusks (toasted, slightly sweet, wheat bread) are a traditional, good quality, italian bakery product (‘fette biscottate’). By chance, I discovered that they are now available in the UK under several white labels brands. Tesco, Asda and Morrison call them ‘French Toast’. I have only bought the Tesco ones but I understand that also Asda and Morrison have the same product made by the high quality Italian company Panmonviso.

What I like about them:

1) Light: no eggs, low in fat, sugars and salt (37 kcal per toast; 5g of saturated fat, 0.4g of salt and 18g of sugar per 100g). No artificial colours/flavours. Compares well with a lot of cereals and baby products such as the Organix Goodies or Organix Finger Foods.
2) Suitable for sweet or savoury toppings.
3) Compact and easy to spread: with cream cheese, butter, jam, honey or whatever takes your fantasy.
4) If soaked in milk, they soften quickly and work well for young children without a full set of teeth.
5) Perfect alternative to biscuits for dipping in milk or cappuccino.
6) Nice and crunchy for teething children from 10/12 months onwards.
7) Long expiry date, and so perfect to keep at home for when you run out of bread.
8) Work well as an afternoon snack. If you are on the go, remember to store store them in a plastic container or they might distribute crumbs everywhere.
9) Very good value: GBP 1.30 for 200 gr.

Negatives:
I have not seen an organic version.

Rusks with butter and jam

Rusks with Butter and Jam

Rusks Soaked in Milk for the Youngest

Rusks Soaked in Milk for the Youngest

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Which Weaning Spoon? Vital Baby Soft Tip Spoons: Great from Weaning to Self-Feeding

Comparing Baby Weaning Spoons

Comparing Baby Weaning Spoons

If you are about to start weaning your baby, take a look at the Vital Baby Soft Tip Weaning Spoons.

They are the best I have tried: well-designed, good quality, BPA-free baby spoons that you can use from the first weaning efforts to the ‘self-feeding phase’. They exist in 3 colours: blue, pink and yellow/orange. They retail at GBP 3.45 for 5 spoons.

What I like about them:
1) The tip is soft and flexible. For me this is key when you are weaning as: a) it won’t hurt the teething gums of your baby, b) children love chewing on it, c) you can use it to keep your baby’s face clean while feeding, d) it will help you to scrape every last bit out of the bowl and mixer, and e) your baby can play and try self-feeding without the risk of hurting himself.
2) Well-proportioned handle: long enough to reach the bottom of a baby jar but not too long so that your child can handle the spoon easily and start self-feeding with it. The spoons that have very long handles (such as the Tommee Tippee Basic, on the extreme right in the photo above, which has a total length of 16cm) are good for mothers, but are more difficult for the child to self-feed with. The total spoon length of the Vital Baby is 13cm. A 3 cm difference is relevant for the manoeuvrability of the spoon in the hands of a baby.
3) Thin and elongated tip: good shape for feeding little mouths. Note that the Tommee Tippee Explora Weaning Spoons (light green in the photo above) and the new Tommee Tippee Soft Tip Weaning Spoons (also called Explora) have too big and to deep of a tip for the first months of weaning.

There are also ‘soft finger locators’ on the handles, which are meant to help the baby to learn how to hold a spoon, but I am not sure they make a difference.

Negatives:
1) The tip is slightly longer than some other first stage ‘weaning’ spoons on the market. As a result some food can remain on the top of the tip in the first few weeks of feeding. It did not bother me. I just used the front half of the tip.
2) Not “heat sensing” (i.e. changing colour when the food/spoon are too hot for baby’s mouth), although I have not found a spoon that is as good as the Vital Baby that has a good heat sensing system.
3) A slightly longer handle would make it more comfortable for mums and still fine to use for the baby.

Good to know:
1) All light-coloured soft-tipped spoons on the market, if in contact with carrot or tomato puree, will remain stained. If it bothers you, choose a darker colour.
2) Tommee Tippee used to make the best Soft Tip Weaning Spoon on the market (the second spoon from the right in the photo above). It had a slightly longer handle (total length 15cm), a smaller and less deep tip than the Vital Baby and it existed in a brilliant heat sensitive version as well. Unfortunately they stopped making it. I have just noticed though you can still buy them on Ebay. The new ones are not as good. I prefer the Vital Baby.

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Chicken Stock Cubes for Babies and the Whole Family: Kallo Very Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock Cubes

Chicken Stock Cubes for Babies

Chicken Stock Cubes for Babies

If you cook everyday for your children, there are times when you want a shortcut. Kallo Very Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock Cubes are the solution. They will fit perfectly your Annabel Karmel’s recipes and also any other dishes you will prepare for the rest of your family. They are not specifically aimed at babies (such as the Boots Baby Organic Chicken Stock Cubes) but they are as good and, in my view, preferable:

1) They are organic and contain no artificial colours, flavours and preservatives (same as Boots)
2) They have a very low content of salt: 0.1g per 100ml of stock (slightly higher than the Boots’ product that has a salt equivalent figure of 0.05 gr of Salt per 100 ml of stock. Boots shows only the content of Sodium of its cubes so to compare you need to convert it multiplying the Sodium figure by 2.5).
3) They dissolve well in water (better than the Boots ones)
4) They taste nice (better than the Boots ones)
5) They are cheaper than Boots (GBP 1.20 versus 1.55) and much easier to find. Only few Boots stores have the baby stock cubes in stock.

Each box contains six individually-wrapped cubes. Each cube makes 500ml of stock. You can use less than a cube and use the rest of it another time, just wrap it up properly.

Worth knowing

Searching for salt content of foods (as one does!) I came across a site that is worth reading.
It says “Babies need only a very small amount of salt – less than 1g (0.4g sodium) a day up to 12 months. Their kidneys can’t cope with larger amounts of salt…Once your baby is eating solid foods (after six months), remember not to add salt to food you make for your baby or give to him or her. And be careful not to give him/her foods that aren’t made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals and pasta sauces, because these can be high in salt.”

Chicken Stock Cubes for Babies: Ingredients Comparison

Chicken Stock Cubes for Babies: Ingredients Comparison

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Beaba: My Favourite Baby Food Jars

Beaba Baby Food Containers

Beaba Baby Food Containers

This is an essential item if you cook for your kids. Initially designed for defrosting and reheating food in the Babycook, these jars are perfect for storing any types of food. They are great for travelling, going out and everyday meals at home. I absolutely love them, I seem to never have enough of them! They are not cheap but if you think about the cost per use, they are worth it.

What I like about them:
1) sterilisable, dishwasher safe, microwave safe and totally unbreakable.
2) air-tight lids, they won’t leak!
3) relatively easy to open and close (even with one hand).
4) graded with clear measurements on the side to give you a good idea of how much food/liquid is in it.
5) stackable
6) good sizes. A typical set comprises 2 maxi portions of 300ml (diameter 9.5cm) and 2 baby portions of 150ml (diameter 7cm). Height of all 4 is 7.5cm. The other baby pots on the market tend to be much too small after the first month of weaning.
7) great for eating out. These pots can go straight from the freezer into a microwave.
8) once the kids grow up, they are still very useful to store half lemons, herbs etc in the fridge or freezer.
9) BPA-free. (not all small pots are!)

Negatives:
1) Price GBP 9.00-12.00 for a pack of 4.
2) Difficult to find. A lot of retailers seem to have stopped stocking them. Vertbaudet and Boots sells them in the UK.

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Sainsbury’s SO Organic Soft Cheese: good, organic cream cheese for babies, toddlers and the whole family

Sainsbury's Organic Soft Cheese

Sainsbury’s Organic Soft Cheese

Cream cheese is a very useful basic ingredient to have at home when you are cooking for babies and toddlers. You can use it to transform any little meal: instead of sauce on a quick pasta, added to your vegetables purees, on fish, on bread sticks. The applications are endless. After some searching I stumbled on this one that seems more appropriate for the younger members of the family.

What I like about the Sainsbury’s SO Organic Soft Cheese is:

1) Organic! So few are. Hopefully it means less nasties. I actually checked. I emailed Sainsbury’s and they said that there are only 4 ingredients in this cream cheese: milk, cream from cow milk, salt and lactic starter culture. Sounds good to me.
2) Full fat – 25g per 100gr of product, as it should be for babies and toddlers.
3) Acceptable level of sodium 0.22g per 100gr (versus Philadelphia Original 0.40gr per 100gr)
4) Acceptable level of sugars 2.8gr per 100 gr (Philadelphia Original has 3.2gr per 100gr)
5) Great value £1.65/250 gr unit or £6.60/kg (Philadelphia Original retails at £8.00/kg).

The other good news is that it is easy to find. Your local Sainsbury’s should stock it. In my family everybody loves it.

P.S. There is another nice (and much more expensive) organic cream cheese called Futura. But is always out of stock these days.

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Best recipe to introduce red meat to your baby

Baby braised beef

For some reasons a lot of babies don’t seem to like the strong taste of red meat in their purees.

Here is a recipe that has worked great for me and my friends. Do you want to try and let me know?
I would be thrilled if it works for you too.  P.S. This is better that Annaber Karmel’s

Braised beef with carrot, parsnip and sweet potato – great for 7+ months

Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Makes 6 portions

Suitable for freezing

You’ll need: • 1 tbsp olive oil • 1 red onion (75g), chopped • 1 clove garlic, crushed • 150g lean braising steak, diced • 2 tbsp flour • 150g carrots, peeled, sliced • 85g parsnip, peeled, sliced • 250g sweet potato, peeled and diced • 1 bay leaf • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped • 400ml unsalted stock

Method: 1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or small casserole. Sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.

2. Toss the steak in flour and sauté until sealed. Add the veg, bay leaf and parsley and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until meat is tender.

3. Blend, adding as much liquid as is necessary to make a smooth purée.

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A great bib for messy eaters: Silly Billyz Long Sleeve Bib

For me Silly Billyz is by far the best sleeved bib on the market.

I like that:
1) It fastens with poppers. Velcro is useless after a few washes or if your kid wants to get rid of the bib.
2) It provides great protection from food (or even paint) – especially in its longer version.
3) It washes well and doesn’t stain.
4) It dries quickly.
5) It is less bulky and more flexible than the plastic ones – and so it’s more pleasant to wear for the kids.
6) The elastic at the bottom of the sleeves is not so tight (as for example in the sleeved Bibetta).
7) It is open on the back so kids stay cool and makes it easy to put on and off.
8) It lasts forever. I bought a few two years ago, I use them every day and they are almost as good as new.
9) It exists in different colours

The fabric on the front is an unusual waterproof fleece (nylon backed) that acts as a good food catcher. The rest is breathable nylon, that is also good at catching food. Even if the fleece gets dirty, you don’t have to wash the bib every time, a bit of sponge work will be enough to make it good again. All Silly Billyz product are lead free and PVC free.

The bib exists in two versions: a longer one (also called “for messy eaters” of 12-36 months) that can be tied at the back and a regular one. The regular version exists in different sizes (6-24 months), (18-36 months) and (24-48 months).  The bib exists also in a version that has a soft towel material on the front instead of the fleece, probably better in the summer.

The only downside is that is not cheap at GBP 9-13.- per bib, but it is well worth the money and it will last for years! It is available on many different websites but the longer version is more difficult to find. If desperate try here.

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