Food…what can I say, I love it! One of my favorite things to do is cook with my husband, while having a glass of wine (or two!). We both love to cook, so it’s a fun activity to do together. Some might call me a foodie, but I just love good food and I love to cook. Though I love food, I keep myself in check by cooking healthy with olive oil, grape seed oil, whole grains, lots of fresh produce (filling your plate with half of veggies, quarter protein and a quarter whole grain carbohydrates).
I grew up with wonderful cooks around me: My mom and both grandmothers. Growing-up in an Italian and Portuguese family, food was a big part of our lives. Every holiday was centered around certain traditional foods, such as my Grandma Rose’s Artichoke Torta or Stuffed Zucchinis. I hope to start my own traditions and share my love for cooking and food with Keenan!
At a young age, I always wanted to help out in the kitchen, whether it was washing veggies, making the salad or even setting the table. My mom said at a year old, I wanted to mimic what my mom was doing in the kitchen by playing with Tupperware and pots and pans, doing my own version of cooking, which I called “cook cook.” To expose Keenan to cooking (and hopefully help create healthy eating habits), we include him in our dinner prep. He has always been curious about what we are doing in the kitchen: We used to put him in his high chair in the middle of the kitchen, and now he stands on the step-stool and gets hands-on prep-time with us! We explain what we are making and give him samples of some veggies, and encourage him to smell spices that we are using. He absolutely loves it. In fact, his favorite thing is to help me with the salad spinner. Once I rinse all of the lettuce and put it into the spinner, I put it on the tray of the high chair and I ask him to help me push the nob down to make it spin. He laughs every time the spinner starts to spin!
In addition to exposing Keenan to the kitchen, we started making his baby food when he began eating solids around 7 1/2 months. I wanted to give him the best start as possible, helping him develop healthy eating habits to last a lifetime. I first introduced oatmeal that I made using whole oats, grinding them in the blender and then making the oatmeal as directed on the carton with my stored breast milk. I poured the cooked oatmeal into small silicone (1 oz.) cubes and froze them. To serve them, all I had to do was pop out a cube or two (depending on how much he was eating) in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 1 minute. Of course, I had to let it cool a couple of minutes before feeding it to him. This might seem like it takes a lot of time (especially if you work full or even part-time), but if you make a big batch on a Saturday or Sunday, you will have enough oatmeal for a month or two! I was working 3 days a week, so I was pretty busy, but making his food really didn’t take much time at all, because once it was frozen, all I had to do was heat it up and serve it! In addition to oatmeal, we introduced veggies, using the same method and then moved on to incorporating protein (chicken and beef), as well as whole grains (brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat couscous). Lastly, we introduced fruit, starting with applesauce (same cooking and freezing method) as well as stone fruit. It worked out quite well and when we traveled, I brought a small cooler with the frozen cubes of food. I would heat them in a cup of warm water (keeping the cubes in a plastic bag) or microwave (if available). For more tips and recipes, you can find them on Baby Food Made Easy!