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Food & Recipes

Feeding a Toddler // Morning Glory Muffins

May 18, 2016

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This is a sponsored post written in partnership with The Women Bloggers and Gerber® Cerealhowever, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #CookingWithGerber

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If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen these muffins pop up multiple times. I share Ainsley’s meals using the #EasyBabyEats hashtag on Instagram, and it’s been fun to look back through all the different meals I’ve prepared for her when she’s off at her babysitter’s house. Her meals have changed a lot over the months, but this recipe has been a staple.

Gerber has a soft spot in my heart as a mom. I’ve always had a positive association with the brand, and when Ainsley was ready to try her first bites of food around 6 months, Gerber Oatmeal Cereal was the very first thing we tried, followed closely by sweet potato puree.

Now that Ainsley is older, we’ve moved on to a wider variety of foods, but Gerber cereals still have a place in our pantry. When Ainsley had her iron levels tested at her 1-year appointment she came back a little on the low end. Since she isn’t a huge meat eater we’ve been looking for other ways to get iron into her diet, including  fortified cereals that contain iron.

These muffins, which are both a breakfast food and snack for Ainsley (and the whole family) contain both Gerber Oatmeal Cereal and grated sweet potatoes, along with a host of other good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, golden raisins and rolled oats. Because these are geared toward Ainsley, I kept the sugar on the very low end, but our whole family likes them! Just keep in mind they aren’t super sweet.

PS: You probably already know this, but we buy our Gerber Oatmeal Cereal at Walmart, where we do a large portion of our grocery shopping these days!

Morning Glory Toddler Muffins
Serves: 12 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated raw sweet potato
  • ½ cup raisins or golden raisins
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup Gerber Oatmeal Cereal
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine the milk, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir until well-combined. Stir in the raisins and grated sweet potato.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oat cereal, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and stir until well-combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops of muffins bounce back when pressed lightly with your finger.
  5. Cool muffins completely on wire cooling rack before serving.

 

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Food & Recipes

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition

February 3, 2016

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Ainsley has been stuck with just two little teeth for close to five months now. Today I just saw a tooth starting to poke out on top (!!) but feeding a hungry baby who is very interested in food but only has two teeth is a challenge! She chokes on food all the time if I don’t mash it up enough or make the bites small, and I alway feel so bad.

The teeth situation has forced me to get creative with what I feed her outside of purees, smoothies and yogurt. Sometimes it’s a little more effort, but feeding her and introducing her to new foods is so fun and rewarding.

I’m starting to play around with the idea of doing an e-book in the future with all our favorite baby/toddler recipes, so I’ve been making an effort to capture the things Ainsley eats and take down measurements rather than just throwing it all together.

When possible, I feed Ainsley the same types of foods we are eating to make it less work or cook/bake in bulk to cut down on prep in the morning or evenings. Since I start out most days with oatmeal, chia seeds and nut/seed butter, so does Miss Ainsley! This oatmeal is always a big hit, although she rarely eats the whole bowl unless she is super hungry. I usually just save the leftovers and re-heat them with a little added milk the next day and it works just fine.

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 fresh raspberries or other berry
  • 1 teaspoon nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
Instructions
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until oats are puffed up and cooked. Stir in the milk, chia seeds and cinnamon until well combined. Top with the berries and nut or seed butter and enjoy!

Madison

Food & Recipes

Sweet and Salty Roasted Kalettes

September 24, 2015

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If I had to choose my favorite vegetable, I would have a seriously difficult time deciding between kale and Brussels sprouts. I know, I know, how chilché and expected, right? But here’s the thing about food trends: most of the time foods become trendy because they’re actually really delicious, so I’ll sing the praises of trendy veggies for as long as I live.

Why all this talk about kale and Brussels sprouts? Well, I recently tried Kalettes, a kale-Brussels sprout hybrid, for the first time while eating at the Lunds & Byerly’s salad bar in Edina and have been hooked ever since. They require zero prep before cooking (something I can’t say about kale OR Brussels sprouts) and have a fun taste and texture that really is a good cross between the two veggies. A crisp-tender base with leafy, tender, kale-like tops.

Since I am all about the sweet-salty combinations, I turned these little Kalettes into an Asian-inspired side dish. They’re crispy and caramelized around the edges thanks to a bit of brown sugar but have plenty of salt to balance out the sweet. My personal favorite way to serve this dish is on top of brown rice (the kind that cooks in the microwave in 3 minutes!) for an easy, healthy lunch or dinner. If you’re looking to add a little bit more protein, you could always scramble the brown rice with an egg for a quick fried rice as well!

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Asian Roasted Kalettes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag (xx oz) Kalettes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Hot-cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425F. Toss the Kalettes with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, curry paste and ginger.
  3. Drizzle mixture over Kalettes after 10 minutes of cooking and toss to coat evenly. Roast 5 to 10 minutes more or until edges of Kalettes are crispy and caramelized and they become tender. Serve immediately over hot-cooked brown rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

*This post is sponsored by Kalettes. All opinions are my own. 

Food & Recipes

On Going Vegetarian Again

September 9, 2015

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About a month ago, I decided to go back to my vegetarian roots and, once again, embrace the type of eating that helped me get to my body weight “happy place” years ago. Those of you who have been following this blog for any extended period of time probably remember the days when I was vegetarian. In fact, I’ve only been eating meat again for the last year and a half.

When I was trying to get pregnant, after having a couple miscarriages, my acupuncturist suggested eating plenty of organic, grass-fed red meat. At that time I was willing to try almost anything to get pregnant, so I jumped on board and started eating meat, something I hadn’t done for years. While I don’t attribute eating meat to my pregnancy success (since we changed many things the third time around) I don’t think it hurt the process, either. Once I got pregnant I craved all sorts of foods I don’t normally crave, including, you guessed it, meat along with every carb under the shining sun.

After having Ainsley I was eager to lose the extra weight I had gained while pregnant. Low-carb, paleo-style eating seems to be all the rage these days, so I thought I would jump on board and give it a try myself. In the back of my mind I knew my body had never responded well to a meat-centric way of eating, but I lost a little perspective and bought into the hype.

You see, when I first started eating vegetarian years ago something in my body just clicked. I can’t explain it, but it was like my metabolism finally got into gear and I lost the extra weight I was carrying around post-college without really trying. Sure, I was eating a lot of veggies, but I was also eating plenty of (good) carbs and the occasional treat. Although it was almost all healthy, I was eating a LOT of food.

Fast-forward to 5 months postpartum and I found myself with an extra 5 or 6 pounds that just didn’t seem to budge. I was working out, eating “clean” and doing everything in my power to get back to my “happy weight” but the scale just wouldn’t budge. And sure, the scale isn’t a total indicator of health, but add to that the fact that my clothes weren’t fitting like I wanted them to and you have a recipe for more than a few crummy days.

I decided to go back to what I knew worked for my body: Eating vegetarian. Heavy on the veggies and whole grains, high in fiber and plenty of healthy fats and dairy. And you know what? Those extra pounds practically melted away. I was as shocked as anyone!

The moral of this post is less about pushing everyone to go vegetarian and more about encouraging every individual to find the way of eating that works best for their body. For some people a low-carb approach works amazing! For others, cutting out gluten and dairy works really well with their system, and for another group, like me, eating vegetarian seems to be the way to go. Take time to experiment, listen to your body and discover what works for you.

And if you happen to see a few more vegetarian recipes around Espresso and Cream in the coming months, now you know why!

I would love to hear stories from you all? Have you found a way of eating that just “works” for you and your body? I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience. 

Madison

Uncategorized

Budgeting Post-Baby: Grocery Shopping and Saving

June 12, 2015

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I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one area of our spending that was a little out of control was our grocery and food budget. Grocery shopping is somewhat of a hobby for me when I have the free time and I love testing and trying out new products, so although we had a budget, I rarely stuck with it each month.

We’ve waffled between various different grocery stores over the years: Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Cub Foods, etc. My husband had been trying to convince me to check out Aldi ever since he shopped there in college, but I was always more than a little hesitant.

When we re-examined our budget, we decided that spending around $300/month on groceries was a reasonable amount to spend, cutting back from the $400/month we were budgeting previously. To some that may seem high and others that may seem low, but for us it was a pretty comfortable number. We take all our lunches from home and rarely do take-out during the week, so that’s a lot of meals for $300. Side note: Dining out and entertainment are a separate item in our budget.

When my grocery budget got cut, I knew I needed to get creative. I’m not a good coupon-clipper, especially now that time is precious with a little one around the house. So a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and made the trek to Aldi with my hubby and baby in tow.

First Impressions 
I was really shocked by the prices. Like, seriously in awe of how cheap some of the food was. I had a few experiences with Aldi while in college, but I was blown away by how much less everything costs. One of my prior assumptions about Aldi was that everything was really poor quality, but the way they keep their prices down (like bringing food in on pallets, not hiring people to stock the shelves, making you return your own cart and bag your own groceries) is passed along in cost-savings to the consumer. It’s not a “fun” grocery shopping experience, but it certainly does make for a cheaper bill!

After browsing the store, I was also surprised by the number of healthy, high-quality products they had available. There were plenty of items branded under their “Simply Nature” line that were organic, gluten-free, non GMO, etc. Not really what I expected from a store like Aldi. Additionally, the produce was, for the most part, really great.

Things We Love at Aldi
-Veggies/Produce
-Dark chocolate
-Cereal
-Tortilla chips and crackers (especially the black bean and corn variety)
-Plan and flavored Greek yogurt (their house brand tastes just like some major national brands)
-Milk and shredded cheese
-Grains and Bread (quinoa/rice blends, bread, sandwich thins and wraps, oats)
-Baking staples like brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, etc.
-Nuts and trail mix (their walnuts and almonds are great!)
-Sparkling water (they frequently have LaCroix, my favorite)
-Canned items like beans, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes

Things We Buy Elsewhere
-Chocolate chips (I was not impressed with the quality of their chocolate chips at all)
-Fresh berries (their fresh berries have never looked great when we’ve been there)
-Meat (we don’t buy much meat because we get beef free from Joe’s parents, but we buy our chicken, deli turkey and the like at other stores)
-Peanut butter (I prefer brands that are made with just peanuts and salt, nothing else)
-Salad dressing (Aldi only has a limited selection of basics, like ranch and honey mustard)

Things We Buy in Bulk (Costco)
-Diapers and formula
-Toilet paper
-Olive oil
-Baby wipes
-Keurig pods
-Frozen salmon and chicken breasts

Thus far, it’s been entirely possible to shop at Aldi for a majority of our grocery needs and save a bunch of money in the process. Our weekly grocery trip runs between $60 and $75 dollars each week, and any money that we don’t spend for the month can go toward fun things (like coffee!) or saving for something else.

Other Tips for Saving
-When I do go to other stores like Target for groceries, I make sure to check out my Ibotta app to see if there are any items I can get cash back on. It’s a quick and easy way to get a little more cash in your pocket.
-I also check sites like Coupons.com for any printable coupons and Target’s online coupons as well. I don’t clip a ton of coupons, but I check a couple sites that are easy to navigate.
-Meal planning is an absolute necessity in order to eat well on a budget. I find that if I don’t plan ahead I end up spending so much more at the grocery store because I just toss things in the cart without a plan.
-Make some of your snacks! My husband snacks a lot, so to save money I have been making snacks and treats for the week on Sunday afternoons. I’ll make a batch of whole wheat banana muffins, protein bites (with oats, PB, honey and protein powder), and chop up some veggies for dipping in hummus.
-Every now and again, make it a practice to eat down your freezer. If you’re anything like us, you probably have a ton of food sitting around in your freezer just waiting to be used at mealtime. Although some of our freezer meals are less than glamorous, I feel good knowing I’m not letting food go to waste and I’m saving money in the process.

Madison

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