Dont’ Miss Blueberry Season! Create A “Blueberry Party” This Summer That the Whole Family Will Enjoy With This Easy Blueberry Guide. Plus Free Music!

Blueberry season fun and free music for kids

Weather you are trying to teach your baby good eating habits from the start, thinking mindfully about your summer, 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!blueberries muffins

Ideas for Family Activities that Center Around Blueberries

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!

One other great benefit of picking our own blueberries, is that it gave our family time to slow down and do something quiet and mindful. Slowing down and going into a field of trees with a real clear purpose of collecting food, facilitates mindfulness and calm. Focus is just easy. Stress seems to drip away, and clarity of mind come quick. Blueberry picking for us was a pure delight. It might be for you and your family too.

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

This is super simple. Here’s all you need to dig in!

Fresh blueberries
Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream ( I like coconut cream!)
Cute dessert bowls for fun eating!

blueberry muffins for kids, toddler recipes, blueberry toddler recipes, baby food

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)

A Blueberry Song That Makes for A Recipe Of 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.

Chorus:
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!

Mindful Summer Activities for Blueberry Season

This song is great for preschoolers and elementary kids as well. They sing it each and every year once they learn it. It’s like a good Christmas song that is learned and then used over and over, year after year. You’ll be sure to get this song stuck in your head, and sing it every summer or whenever you eat blueberries!

feeding baby, baby food, baby puree, developmental milestones for feeding

Feeding Milestones: What 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!

 

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Feeding Your Baby: Teach Your Baby Strong Emotional Skills Naturally!

Have fun trying first foods with your baby!

The most important idea to remember when feeding your baby new foods: Emotional foundations are laid when baby is eating.

There are, of course, hundreds of baby- and toddler-oriented cookbooks to help you with meal ideas, and so many great organic baby-food pouches you can buy. Great! But how do you get the food in? And how do you help your baby feel like they are good little eaters? Easy….

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity.

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity and safety.

Parent Referencing: When your baby is unsure about something, they look to see your facial expression for a hint. This is so important to emotional and social neuron formation! They look at you and if you are smiling, they know it is OK to explore the food. If you are angry, scowling, frustrated, or distracted, and your eyes, face and body position show it, they will tense up or won’t be sure if the food is OK. Who likes to eat when they’re all stressed out, right? Teaching kids to trust that you are there for them during feeding builds the foundation for kids with good social skills and self-regulation later.

Look at the focus on baby! Asking

Look at the focus on baby! Asking “This looks great, but I’m not sure. Mom, is this OK?”

This food is Wicked Good....or maybe just Wicked! I don't know but I'm willing to try.

This food is Wicked Good….or maybe just Wicked! I don’t know but I’m willing to try.

Don’t give up too soon! New foods and new textures seem to get the same response. It’s a response that says”What in the world is this?” Usually, baby will spit out some food while making silly (and sometimes horrid) faces! Add texture slowly and combine it with a pureed food that baby likes. An example would be fruit with a small amount of baked chicken breast pureed in the food processor. For more recipes go here.* This is OK around 8 months and I love to do this with bananas or avocado.  It takes 10 to 15 tries for a new food to be accepted. Don’t give up! And take it slow!

Look at me! I can handle this! What is this anyway?”

This is your chance to eat well!  Moms model that the food is safe. Babies reach for mom’s and dad’s mouth to learn what is safe to eat, so let your baby explore. This means you can’t eat junk food and processed food if you want your baby to eat and be healthy. Remember, food is always better than cold and flu medications, so it pays off to put in the effort. I usually cook healthy items for our family dinner that I can puree in the food processor. I have the food processor ready and clean most of the time!

By the end of meal time, baby is more confident! “Mom, I so got this! Don’t Mess with my mess! Bring it on mama!”

The last idea is basic (Sometimes I still forget). Make sure baby is hungry. Not too hungry, or you’ll need to get her started with a bottle or breast to calm her down. With solid foods, regular feeding times work best for me because I can get a feel for times of day when she is most hungry and then plan my food prep around that.

puree banan and peaches with chicken new

Six Easy Tricks for a Well Fed Infant

feeding an infant

When moving from milk to solid foods, use these tips and enjoy the pics!

MASTER TRICK! Make sure you tell your little bundle she’s a great eater. No matter what! They are too little to be deviant so all they can do is their best! They know when you are happy and if you tell them they are “great”- they will be. Sounds like magic? Nope, just psychology. It’s called positive identity development.

First Foods! Yah!

Let your infant explore textures in their mouths when they first ween from only milk. They are familiar with only liquid, so give them a chance. Give your baby 10 opportunities for each new food, because it can take that many exposures for them to like it.

DSC_0958

Mess is Best! Let them explore the food with their hands too!

Messsssssssy Hands!

Let them explore the safe baby spoon. They see the family with their spoons and they want to try too.

A spoon can be so very interesting for an infant!

Don’t worry that most of the food comes out instead of going in, at first. Your baby is still getting milk as their main form of nourishment at the beginning, so they won’t miss out on needed nutrients. They have a reflex called “tongue thrust”, and it pushes out the food as a safety for not choking should a larger unsafe item enter their mouth. Texture exposure is what we are after in the beginning, not nutrient intake.

DSC_0951

All smiles at the table with this little SWEET PEA!

Let your baby explore safe solid food, that won’t break into small pieces, so they won’t choke.  Good examples are a hard carrot or sugar snap pea. They see the family eating it and want to try.  This is called “Baby Lead Weaning” and it is all about following the baby’s lead. Safe food, liquid, puree or something that they won’t choke on is OK.

Breastfeeding Secrets

 

Breastfeeding Joys are as many as grains of sand.

Breastfeeding Joys are as many as grains of sand.

Breastfeeding is hard work, but joyful in so many ways. Its an experience in which so many women should be supported and encouraged, as well as celebrated for doing.  So here are  2 great breastfeeding secrets to make life easier! I found both by accident really, living in Pittsburgh, one when I had my first daughter, and the 2nd when my dear friend Jacki had her second child. I would assume you could find these great secrets in other cities too.

I say these are secrets, because I was not told about them, but rather stumbled upon them. Because my doctors did not discussing these helpful breastfeeding aids, I assume yours might not eaither. So…I will.

Both of these items made a HUGE difference in my breastfeeding success. Without these 2 items, as well as my husband’s patience and support for the first 3 months on, I don’t think I would have been able to nurse. Breastfeeding is hard work, and these two items definitely make it easier.

Breastfeeding Secret #1: Newman’ Nipple Cream

I used this cream to sooth my sore nipple during the first few weeks. This cream gave me relief when I needed it. My nipples were so sore when I started nursing, i could only wear my husband shirts. I had no idea how I was going to leave the house in my strange outfits let alone keep nursing. After using this cream, I breathed a sign of relief. It was good enough to keep me going, and I am now gratefully at 6 months nursing.

It is a light cream that has an analgesic, anit-fungal and anti-bacterial property to it, and it can only be purchased at a compounding pharmacy. It was $35.

SO…where can you get it? I originally got a prescription from the doctors at the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh  and got it compounded at the Murray Avenue Apothicary. With my second daughter, my physician, Dr. Galligher prescribed it after I told him how much discomfort I was in the first time around.

Breastfeeding Secret #2: Breast Friend Breastfeeding Pillow

Can a pillow really be your best friend? In times of trouble….YES! The Breast Friend pillow was recommended after my friend had trouble nursing and was given the “Breast Friend” pillow to try. She said she couldn’t have done it without her “breast friend” and nursed for over a year with it. I use it whenever I need a positioning shift or baby needs to focus on eating.

The pillow is designed for perfect ergonomic comfort for both baby and mom, and has even stopped some nursing behaviors we were experiencing this time around due to it’s awesome support and comfort for baby.  It works in so many different chairs too, even some that are not very supportive or ideal for breast feeding. I LOVE THIS PILLOW. It is my best friend.

So for all Pittsburgh breastfeeding mom’s, let me first say that “You are awesome for doing the hard work required to breastfeed.” For all Pittsburgh pregnant mom’s hoping to nurse, I wish you the best and offer these two items that I would never be caught without again. For mom’s everywhere, I hope you can get these products in your hometown too and I wish you all the joys possible from breastfeeding your baby!

Bananas On the Beach Or On Your Kids Plate!

healthy breakfast snack banana Our kitchen is spotlighting healthy foods in an effort to make a Nutritional “FARM”acy we can use when meal planning.  Good things are in the foods we eat, and we want to know what they are. We want to know how to cook them up tasty, and as an added bonus were asking kids why they love them! So get your cutting board ready, whether you have a picky eater or athlete to feed; this week we are focusing on Bananas!

What’s in Bananas?:  This fruit has B3 (Niacin) for good overall health; B6 which is good for clearing away waste; Vitamin C for immunity enhancement; and manganese which works with the vitamin C to create virus fighting substances.  This fruit can give the whole body a boost! Bananas have fiber and potassium which regulate body fluids. They also contain magnesium, which is good for relaxing muscles and plays a huge role in the metabolism of food!

How To Eat Bananas: You can sautée a banana in a bit of butter with brown sugar, make frozen banana chocolate covered popsicles, and make smoothies. You can also cover them in peanut butter and roll them in chocolate for a sweet treat or roll them in Rice Krispies for breakfast sushi! Lastly, you can dip bananas in chocolate fondue.

Why Do Kids Like Bananas? “Bananas are sweet and they look delicious!”  “You can make “Banana Splits!” and “You can make fruit salads with them!” Did we mention they are really easy to carry and work great for toddlers on the go?

Make sure to check out Swami Mommi on Pinterest! The “Great Desserts” board has several banana recipes to kick start the fun!

Warming Up Winter: Acorn Squash Sundaes Toddlers Love and Kids Can Help Make!

Warm Acorn Squash

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!

Ingredients:

Acorn Sqush

Olive Oil

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

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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!