I’m always looking for new, cheap recipes, and I stumbled across this book at my library:
The “More with Less” cookbook was originally written in the 1970’s, and has since been updated. It had lots of useful recipes, and ideas for using up leftovers, which I’m clearly a fan of. I also keep an eye out for allergen-free recipes, since my kiddo is allergic to most things that taste good. This recipe for cornmeal biscuits immediately caught my eye, because I accidentally bought too much cornmeal, and now two giant, hulking sacks are taking over my whole pantry.
Combine in a bowl:
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp fat (bacon drippings are good)
1/2 cup milk
Grease a large, heavy skillet with bacon drippings, Drop batter from a tablespoon, shaping into 4 biscuits, Brown on both sides. Serve hot with butter or margarine.
Some variations: I used olive oil, rather than bacon grease, and you can mix some herbs in for different flavors. I’ve also mixed cheese into them before, and those were pretty tasty. I had an extra bag of fish fry sitting around, so I substituted some of that for half the cornmeal, and they were very flavorful.
I formed some of the biscuits into fish shapes, to copy the fish biscuits from the Octonauts cartoon. My kid absolutely loved them. They are a bit crumbly though. I’m planning to try adding some flax meal as an egg substitute, to see if they hold together better, but feel free to try an egg if you aren’t dealing with that particular allergy.
Overall, they are tasty, and crispy. They go great with butter, and even jam or honey. They are a bit crumbly, but I hope to fix that in future variations. This would also be a good batter to use as a casserole topping for those with food allergies. Or if your kid is obsessed with Octonauts, they were very easy to form into fish shapes. Have fun with it!
When you have that pediatrician appointment where the doctor finally okays starting solid foods, you know your baby is on the way to toddler-hood. It’s great, but also a sign of how quickly time passes with these adorable little munchkins. My son, Nacho, is just over a year old now, so I thought I’d post a bit of advice on this topic before I forget everything due to sleep deprivation.
Nacho has a ton of food allergies, which were a complete surprise, as there are very few in my family. So here’s my advice from a food-allergy perspective:
1) Before trying any foods, have children’s Benadryl on hand, just in case. Ask your pediatrician for the appropriate dose in case of a reaction.
2) At the doctor’s appointment, ask the pediatrician to review warning signs of an allergic reaction with you.
3) A new study just came out about preventing peanut allergies in the first year of your child’s life. I’m not a doctor, and reading articles on the internet is no substitute for personalized medical advice, so ask your pediatrician about this also.
4) Keep a baby food diary. You may already be tracking stuff like milk intake, poopie diapers, and whatnot, so start recording your baby’s foods also. Personally, I don’t worry about the amounts, just the items. And record each food your baby has every day. It can take several exposures for a food allergy to show up. Nacho had had eggs 3 times before he exploded everywhere, and I was fortunate to have children’s Benadryl on hand.
5) Have the number to a 24 hour nurse phone line programmed into your phone. This is useful for all kinds of things, not just food allergies. Your doctor’s office or health insurance may offer this service, so check with them first.
6) I’ve read that when you first start baby foods, you should start with a green vegetable. This supposedly helps prevent picky eating later in life by exposing them to different tastes early on. I don’t know how true this is, but we did this with Nacho, and he is a very good eater. There’s pretty much nothing he won’t eat, other than the many foods that try to kill him.
7) It’s incredibly easy to make your own baby food, and it’s insanely cheaper than buying store bought. That way you know exactly what goes into it. We were gifted a box of baby food, and had to pass about half of it off to a friend due to allergens. And it wasn’t anything obvious! There were pears in something like a beef and veggie dinner. Pears! So be sure to read all ingredients on everything.
There are plenty of articles online about how to get your kids to like and eat food. This article is the one I wish I’d had to warn me about food allergies. Keep in mind, not all food allergies are life-threatening. I do NOT want to add more stress for anyone! It’s just something to keep in mind when starting foods for the first time. Hopefully, you’ll never have to open that little bottle of Benadryl, and can pass it on to someone else. In the meantime, it will be comforting to know it’s available in an emergency.
Once your kid can start feeding him or herself, there are a million pre-packaged, expensive foods you could buy. If you’re awesome and frugal like me you think “Surely, there have to be convenience foods I can feed this kid that don’t cost as much as lobster, ounce for ounce”. You’d be right! I have a few things I keep on hand or pre-make so I can hand food to Baby Nacho immediately, without spending a bunch of time cooking and whatnot.
1) Canned meats – Canned chicken is soft and chewable. It apparently tastes great, because my son goes crazy for it. It’s like those baby hot dogs, but cheaper, and less odorous. Canned salmon is great too. You can mix it in with veggies, a mashed avocado, olive oil, or mayo (if your kid isn’t allergic to eggs, which mine is).
2) Canned Fruit – mandarin oranges are a HUGE hit with my munchkin. Canned mangoes are a little mushy for self-feeding, but they’re fine to blend into other foods.
3) Cottage cheese – this and yogurt are wildly popular in my house. Once your kiddo can chew stuff, this is so easy to just pop open and shove in their tiny mouths.
4) Cereal – obviously a childhood staple. We have a hard time with this one, because Nacho has dozens of food allergies, so we tend to avoid normal boxed cereal. When you’re just starting out with self-feeding, those little baby puffs that dissolve are indispensable. I have yet to find a cheaper substitute. Now that mine can chew, he gets cornflakes occasionally.
5) Oatmeal – stores in the pantry forever. Just get the big canister and you can use it in overnight oats, or mix it with fruit or veggies for added fiber. You can even pre-cook some and store it in the freezer for later.
6) Puffs – Baby puffs are awesome, as I said, but pricey! Once your little one can actually crunch some snacks, and doesn’t need the dissolving kind, Pirate’s Booty is a cheaper substitute. It’s still not cheap, but my son freaking loves it (as do I). It comes in several flavors, but your kid probably needs a few teeth for this one to be feasible.
7) Cheese – small chunks of cheese are easy. You can even leave them out to warm up a bit to make it even softer.
8) Fresh fruit – really ripe bananas, peeled pears, peaches, and kiwis are great. Really any fruit that is pretty soft.
9) Bread, pasta, etc – Unfortunately, with my kiddo’s allergies, most carbs are off the table, literally. Bread, dried pasta, and tortillas can all be kept in the pantry, ready to be torn into little pieces for little hands. We do use corn tortillas, and some rice pasta.
10) Canned beans – these are great to keep on hand to add some fiber and variety to baby’s diet. Don’t go overboard unless you want to fog your house with toxic baby farts.
11) Food pouches – these are more expensive than regular baby food, usually, but I found them in another part of the store for about half the price! On the fruit aisle with the applesauce instead of getting them in the baby aisle. Also, applesauce is cheaper than buying apples and blending them up, FYI. Food pouches are so great for traveling. I keep a couple in the diaper bag as emergency back up food in case we’re out longer than I expect, or I fail to bring adequate supplies. We only use these for running around town and such, not for daily eating; they’re still too pricey for that.
12) Food dots – this came up on my facebook, so I don’t have an original blog post to give credit to (and I’m not sure there is one). If anyone has a link, please let me know so I can give credit. I haven’t tried this yet, but you can bet I’m going to!
If you have an idea for a self-feeding food, but aren’t sure, test it by mushing it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. This is a great test for feeding your kiddo from your plate (which is all they will ever want). As always, if you’re cooking for yourself, you can make extra for the bambino, and just cook it a little longer, until you reach that easy-to-mush state. For this post I just wanted to focus on what you can keep on hand for those “oh-no-the-kid-is-hungry-right-this-second-but-I-just-walked-in-the-door-and-haven’t-even-set-my-stuff-down-where-are-my-keys-am-I-losing-my-mind-I-swear-I-just-had-them-great-now-the-dog-is-barking-too-what-is-happening-to-my-life” moments.