A few thoughts about Jojo’s first food experiences…

When Jojo was born, so was my “mom opinion”. I was instantly making certain types of decisions. Deciding to nurse was the first, going organic was second and cooking my own food when he was ready to eat was the third. Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly I made those decisions. It was almost like my instinct kicked in and said “hey, it’s me your mommy instinct & cooking DNA, it’s time to use me!”. And ever since, that’s where I’ve been. Figuring out the healthiest ways to raise my lil’ Jo.

After what seemed like a looooooooooong cereal stage, Jojo was ready for fruits and purees. I would go to the market every couple of weeks and buy a variety of fruits and veggies that were in season and steam and puree away. I would take out my Hamilton Beach Food processor and my OXO BPA free freezable 4oz squares and go-to-town making all of Jojo’s food.

Looking back, those were the easier times. Jojo did not have an opinion and it was okay for him to survive on fruits and veggies. There was no pushing foods away and certainly no complaining, boy did that change! By the time JoJo turned one, the puree days were gone and it was time for me to start considering the number of teeth he has, what he needs to eat and his food preferences when preparing his meals. Thus, I needed to learn the  art of disguising healthy foods and/or re-imagining them in  delicious ways!

It was difficult to do this in the beginning, since JoJo had very few teeth. So, I started off simple. Here is a list of a few successful meals I tried: (They are basic, so I figured no recipe necessary.)

  1. Ditalini pasta with any sort of vegetable puree  (It can even be a left over jarred puree)
  2. Mashed up sweet potato with cinnamon sprinkled on top
  3. Brown rice, peas & carrots quickly pan-fried with an egg (be sure to check with your doctor for advice on when to introduce eggs)
  4. Chicken, broccoli, brown rice and applesauce lightly processed in blender or food processor. To add more texture, add additional rice after blending.
  5. Ditalini pasta with diced tomatoes and peas with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  6. Diced avocado, brown rice, black beans and small diced tomatos w/ juices- it’s a taco bowl for baby (If your baby likes spice add a dash of cumin)
  7. For breakfast: oatmeal-blueberry pancakes and frozen fruit – defrost it in microwave and it becomes a delicious syruppy sweet that babies love (This one Jojo still loves)

Please comment if you would like more ideas for your 6-12 month old, or if you would like more details about each recipe idea. There will be recipes to come for 12months+ in my next post.

And we’re off…

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog, I like food. There is no time I find more calming than the time I spend in my kitchen experimenting with a new recipe or conjuring up a late night home-baked dessert when that ole’ sweet tooth kicks in.  On my worst days, the kitchen is the place that saves me, especially when I have a full fridge of goodies, and infinite possibilities for a menu. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m food obsessed… but when I am not in my kitchen, I’m often planning my next recipe, searching the internet for recipes or watching one of the twenty-episodes of “The Chew” that are sitting idly on my DVR (When I’m not chasing around my one year old). Ok, I get it, maybe I am.

I suppose this obsession is genetic, I’m part Italian. The “love for cooking” gene sits right next to the “I love to watch my family eat my cooking” gene. It’s in my blood. I come from a long line of cooks. As a child, I can remember sitting in my grandma and grandpa’s kitchen watching them fuss over the pasta,  zeppolis, pizza and anisette cookies, arguing about how best to fry the zeps, sauce the pies or frost the cookies. To this day, I don’t think I can ever mix up a special Easter batch of anisette cookies without thinking of how my grandfather lectured me on the proper way to mix the ingredients, after all he was the expert (even though I never saw him mix a batch of his own). Nor can I make homemade pizza without hearing him remind me not to over sauce. I love you grandpa and yes you were right!

My Grandma is an amazing cook. To this day I cannot figure out how to make her sauce even though she has explained “how” a dozen times. She has the magic touch. There’s just something effortless in the way she cooks that inspires me. My food memories start with her cooking and they are some of the best memories I have from my childhood. Zucchini and eggs, fried zucchini, fried zucchini flours, (yes we ate a lot of zucchini)  homemade sausage, anisette cookies, zeppolis, cream puffs, coconut dreams, rock biscotti, cheesecake, meatballs, pizzaquina, cavatelli, gnocci, gimbaut??(and no I still can’t spell half of the foods we made), strawberry shortcake, coconut custard pie, apple pie, homemade cannolis, all of these foods remind me of fun times spent at grandma and grandpa’s table with my family laughing, poking fun at each other and fighting over who was going to get to the end piece from the loaf of Italian bread and who was going to dunk their bread in the delicious tomatoy olive oil at the bottom of the salad bowl. Yea, those were the days!

Grandma’s love for cooking was infectious because my mother, her sister and all of their children also love to cook and bake. When I think about growing up in my house, I always remember the smell of a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Mom is a great baker. She can make just about anything from scratch and is notorious for always seeking out healthier recipes for the delicious sweets that we enjoy. Whether its sneaking a little wheat germ into a cookie to give her kids more fiber, or trying out new healthier substitutions, my mom was always testing out new recipes for sweets some were awesome, while others were obviously too healthy for my childish taste buds…yes mom I could taste the wheat germ ;)! You’re the best mom!

But perhaps this is where my cooking quest started. Now, I am a new mom of a one year old boy, Jojo, and I find myself continuing Grandma and mom’s cooking legacy with a focused eye on making food that is both delicious and healthy for my son that will also please my husband and me. My focus since Jojo has started to eat our food has been to translate meals that I would typically cook for my husband and me into kid friendly meals that are well-balanced and delish! I got off to a rocky start, but as my son grows and I become more honed in on what he likes, I have had many successes and I want to share them!

I created this blog to help other mom’s who may be seeking meals to cook their picky toddlers that are not over-processed and do not come from a package. I want to share my recipes and experiences, and hopefully encourage others to take the time to cook for their family and give their child fun “food memories” to take with them on their journey through life like I did. Stay tuned for my next post which will be some easy starter recipes for your toddler that are easy to prepare and delish!