Weather you are trying to teach your baby good eating habits from the start, or just want to have some summer sensory fun with your family, blueberries are the way to go. They are jammed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and are easy to work with in the kitchen. Plus, a trip out to the farm for U-pick blueberries is a great way to show our kids exactly where our food comes from everyday!
Our Family Blueberry Event
This past fall we went as a family to pick apples on a nearby farm, and having had such a great time with the experience, we decided mid-July blueberry picking was worth a try. Two trips to the farm, 13 pounds of blueberries and two cans of sweet cream later, we find that we are quite a natural picking bunch!
Our first trip was in 90 degree heat, and we literally all almost melted. My husband with the spray bottle, my daughter with her sun hat, and myself with the bottled water in the middle of the blueberry fields to pick the plumpest of blueberries. But all of our “cooling provisions” could not sustain us in the heat, and we left with a mere 5 lbs of berries. Actually, we ate so many directly off the bushes, it was probably more like 5 1/2 lbs.
Several days passed, and my husband’s idea of berries and cream had hit full stride. We were soon to run out of berries and I knew we would be back in the fields soon.
Friday came with wild storms, and a cooler weather forecast for the weekend. When I suggested that we go pick berries, there were smiles all around. This time, the weather was breezy and sunny. We spent a good hour in the fields and left with 8 pounds of blueberries. On the way home we stopped for another container of ice cream ! Yum!
So here’s a few ideas to make blueberries an “event” in your home too. I start with berries and cream, progress through berry muffins, and end with a song we sang while in the fields. I posted the song so you can learn and sing as a family too!
Berries and Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
Cute dessert bowls for fun eating!
Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins (or try a regular recipe if you are not gluten intolerant)
1/2 cup organic canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
11/4 cups soymilk (or rice milk)
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Sucanat, date sugar, maple sugar, or org. unrefined sugar
4 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole fresh-picked (or frozen) blueberries
Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar and 1 teaspoon brown rice flour as a topping to drizzle over the muffins just before putting the muffins in the oven.
Mix the oil, syrup, soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla in another small bowl. In a separate, larger bowl place the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Sift the flour to ensure there won’t be clumps. If you are good with the mixing, and feel it is consistent throughout, you really don’t need to sift. It’s up to you!
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overwork the batter. If the batter is stiff, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time. Fold in 2 cups of blueberries and do not overwork the batter or it will turn blue. (This actually could look interesting if you dare try it!)
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle with the topping mixture prepared ahead of time. You may place a few berries on top of each muffin to make them extra juicy on top.
Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan a half turn to ensure even baking. Bake 5-6 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
(This muffin mixture was adapted from “Simple Treats: Wheat-Free and Dairy Free Guide to Scrumptious Baked Goods by Ellen Abraham)
Blue Belly Button Boy/Girl (A song/recipe For Fun!)
Once we were out in the fields, we had a blast with this song! With each verse I would pick a blueberry and put it on baby’s belly button. We would cover it up with her shirt and after each round of the song, we would look to her bellybutton to see if she was the blue belly button girl! She loved it and asked for more over and over again!) The next day, and for weeks to follow, we were singing this song and having fun with these berries in baby’s highchair. I cut them so they were not a chocking hazard, and baby got a great snack with tons of great nutrients and anti-oxidants.
Check out the audio of the song Blue Belly Button Boy here.
There once was a blue belly button Boy (girl)
Boy oh boy was his belly button blue
If you could see blue belly button Boy (girl)
You would say it’s the bluest too!
Feeding Milestones: What do you need to know to feed your baby and toddler blueberries?
Feeding a baby who is just starting solids should try blueberries in a very liquid type puree. Some recommend steaming fruits and veggies before making puree, but I never did. Baby didn’t have any difficulty so I never bothered, but if your baby seems to have digestive difficulty with them, I would suggest giving them a little steam.
Once baby turned toddler, I could cut the berries into tiny bites and put them on her tray. I would usually cut them in half and then cut them again to be extra sure they were not a choking hazard. Remember to do whatever you need to insure your baby or toddler is working with a safe texture or size during feeding. If you aren’t sure what is safe, ask you pediatrician.
I also use puree blueberries and small blueberry bites to practice with the spoon too. Babies and toddlers love the challenge of getting the berries into their mouth and they love to taste the reward too!
So have fun this summer, with baby and the whole family. Make blueberries an annual “Event” in your home for some real down home fun and for a family of happy eaters!
Cooking for kids can be downright CRAZY, so I did something even crazier. I enlisted them into my kitchen. Now we’re talking “cooking with kids” instead of only “for” kids.
You might find this a smart move, but it didn’t come from me. After my daughter got downright tired of me complaining about how much cooking I do, she got out her Junior Chef cookbook from Paragon Publishing http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Kits-Boxset-Junior-Chef/dp/1445490196, and found this recipe.
I had no idea she planned to do it right then and there.
With some items for dinner already started, I was happy for the help. Baby would soon be ready to eat and I thought these little fancy twice baked, already mashed, potatoes would work.
And it did work. These skins were actually an amazing success! I could see these working for a party, a lunch box with a microwave near by, or game day. Here in Steeler Country you always have to be prepared for game day. Great Pittsburgh football food is a must. But these really work for the Whole Family.Mom, Dad, kiddo and baby all loved them. So try it yourself!
Here is what you’ll need:
4 large Potatoes (we used red, and they even worked fine.)
1/2 stick butter (we used Earth Balance)
4 oz. thin sliced ham, turkey or chicken
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
4 oz cheese optional
Do it: (parents needed for oven work, piercing with fork and cutting)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
- Prick potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 60 minutes, until they are soft inside and the skins crisp.
- Remove from oven and cut potatoes in half once cool
- Scoop out the soft insides into a mixing bowl. Don’t damage the skins.
- Mash the potatoes and add butter, salt and pepper.
- Place the skins on a baking sheet.
- Lay a thin layer of meat of choice on the bottom of each shell.
- Spoon the mashed potato mixture on top to fill the shell.
- Grate the cheese and sprinkle on top.
- Place them back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes more until the tops are golden brown.
- Serve and Enjoy!
Despite the time it took to bake the potatoes, and the curtains I have to replace due to extensive butter splatter (I’m not kidding), this recipe is a winner. Everyone loved them, and baby could pick up little potato balls I molded myself form the potato mash. Baby found them easy to smash even without teeth!
(note: Make sure this texture is right for your baby. Always adjust the potato mash to what is right, even if you have to puree it in a food processor, etc. Safety First!)
Easy to make into balls, and no lumps. This is my “Potato Rainbow” for baby.
Not to mention, great fine motor practice for my baby who is obsessed with using her pinch to pick up everything these days!
The whole family loved them! And what pride my junior chef experienced after they were all eaten. She could not believe that she cooked something for baby to eat. Heck, that’s mom’s job, right? Thankfully, not anymore.
This recipe was a happy accident for us. I could see these being an easy, family oriented Lunch on the weekend too. AND picky eaters might just groove on these cute little skins too. A side of soup or salad would be delicious as well!
As for my immediate meal planning, these are going down in history this Super Bowl Sunday with a big side of ketchup! Enjoy.
This was so easy! So quick! So full of good stuff to eat- full of protein and anti-oxidants while also being GF/DF/Egg-free!! The Valentine Solution for keeping the whole family on the right track to good nutrition!
It is also a great kids activity! Super easy so they could really do it themselves. A great way to have fun and help kids learn about cooking and sharing the Love this time of year! They will probably request these for their lunch boxes too!
Great for toddler as well! I would suggest that you start with only the butters or make the chocolate chips even smaller so they are able to melt in your babies mouth. AND don’t give too much. Just small tiny bites that will melt easily and fast. These can get sticky and hard to manage. Only give what you know will be safe for your toddler to manage.
It is important too that you only give these to those in your family that are not allergic to nuts. If you are sure they are not allergic, then enjoy. If you are not sure, please consult your pediatrician for when it is the right time to try nuts with your child.
1/2 cup nutbutter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)
1 1/2 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (I use Enjoy life because they are allergen free) or other chocolate chip variety
1 1/2 tablespoons Dried Goji berries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Mix well and spread into a small freezer proof dish or mold into any shape with a candy mold tray. I used a plastic tray with little hearts. ( I would try silicon next time to eliminate the small bit of effort I had to use with the butter knife to pop them out of the tray. )
Wrap in wax paper, box, or tie in a pretty bag with ribbons. That is if you can wait to eat them! We ate 2 or 3 before they even hit the Valentine Box!
Hoping you have a sweet time making these treats for the whole family!
It’s cold. Kids are inside. Tummies are growling. Time to have some quick and yummy fun! Squash Sundaes are the answer.
This recipe is super easy and can be tailored to any eaters needs. Toddlers can eat it pureed, and older kids can help make it. It’s warm, comforting, and fills the corners of hungry bellies. I used it as a dessert, but it can fit easily as a snack or even better, a warm healthy breakfast. Plus, did I mention it is jammed with nutrients and other good stuff to keep families healthy when it’s cold outside? Oh…it is!
Blender or food processor (to puree for early eaters and toddlers)
Cranberries, pecans, butter (Earth Balance), maple sugar to taste
Any other additions or substitutions that you think might work, such as walnuts, raisins, maple syrup or cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Acorn squash in half, scoop and discard the seeds, and with about 1 tablespoon olive, coconut or grape seed oil coat the inside of the squash. This helps it stay soft and not burn while cooking. Depending on the size of your squash, cooking times may vary, however with a medium squash it took about 40 minutes to roast on the middle oven rack.
After the squash is roasted, let it sit a few minutes until you can easily scrape out the flesh. It makes a great mash as it is being scraped out of the rind, but if you need it to be pureed for your early eater or toddler, use a food processor or blender. If you don’t you may encounter a few strings or textured parts that are not safe. Additionally, kids can’t really help with this part of the recipe, as using the stove and scooping out warm squash is not safe either. However, kids do love to push the buttons on a blender, as long as they are well supervised.
Once the squash is in a bowl it is easy to get kids involved. I recommend setting out a couple small bowls with the cranberries, pecans, butter, walnuts, raisins, etc. so they can add in their favorites. If it is for the whole family they can add in what most of the family would like, or each child can get a bowl and make an individual “Squash Sundae”. Add more or less as each person desires, use them as toppings or mix throughout.
That’s it. Simple, easy and very little clean up! Tomorrow morning I’ll be trying this for a healthy breakfast, and I hope you too get to try it during these cold days of winter!
Sometimes I work so hard to think of healthy food for myself and my family to eat. My daughter taught me how simple it can be when she was just a toddler, putting parts of her lunch together to make a healthy snack that not only tastes great, but looks appetizing too. Her toddler recipe makes for a truly beautiful food!
This recipe could also turn into a fun cooking game for kids! Kids can try to make a super tall strawberry tower or just add nut-butter to “glue” other fruits to the cone to make Creative Cone Creatures! Cooking games for kids make eating fun, especially for toddlers who sometimes like to have a say in what they eat. Giving toddlers a fun cooking game will make the fruits go down easier!
Fresh Strawberries (sliced)
Ice Cream Cone (GF if needed)
As a safety reminder, make sure pieces are cut to the size that is safe for your toddler. (Bigger pieces are for bigger kids.)
Assembly. Enjoy! Yummi!
Ok, so you got me. I enjoy the occasional visit to Costco. Buying their organic rice milk was a plus for the entire family budget, but recently it all went wrong. No more rice milk. As it turns out, they’re only selling Soy milk.
What to do? ? ?
Simply stand tall and confidently embark on making my own, of course!
Turns out, it is really simple to do. A little clean up from a bowl, blender and strainer and presto! Interestingly, the finished product only stays fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge…..but it tastes so good….there isn’t much left by the end of the second day anyway.
4 cups white rice
1 gallon filtered water
2 cinnamon sticks
Anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 2 cups organic cane sugar (to taste)
2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
Toast the cinnamon sticks until fragrant.
Soak the rice, water and cinnamon sticks over night.
Next day, in your blender or food processor, blend soaked rice 1 cup at a time, with about 2-3 cups water that was used in soaking. You can add more filtered water if you like. Strain the pureed milk into a bowl using a fine mesh strainer. Try to get all the liquid out of the puree.
Add vanilla and blend in sugar to taste.
Suggested serving style: Try this milk in a tall glass with ice. Maybe even with cereal in the morning!