Monday, January 31, 2011

"The" Inspiration for Simply Pure Vegan Baby

I was not going to post today as it is Monday and I am back to work and Julia started daycare, but I was going through some pictures trying to organize my blog a bit better as me and blogging are still in our infancy and I had to post my inspiration for this blog "Julia" she is 8.5months old in this picture... coming up next a thorough overview of different types of milk any guesses how many types of milk I will be discussing? How many different types of milk are there? More then 10? Or less then 10? Post your comments below.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Introduction of Solids and Julia’s Favorite Puree’s

 When to start solids for your baby is sometimes an issue of debate (everyone has their own opinion like anything I suppose), not for us we went by the book on this one and started the day Julia turned 6 months.  For the first year of life breastmilk or formula is the baby’s sole source of nutrition, the addition of solid foods is solely for practice.  Some parents will say they started earlier so their child would sleep through the night and so forth these are more along the lines of a myth it is actually not recommended to be putting cereal in a baby’s bottle so they will sleep longer nor is it recommended to start solids before 6 months of age.

Most people will start their baby on rice cereal, STOP and think about that for a minuet rice cereal? Like white rice cereal?  Why? Ok so there is one company My Organic Baby that makes a whole grain brown rice cereal none the less why not start on something nutritious after all they are only going to be taking small amounts so why not make it count? Starting with an infant barley or oatmeal cereal? Or avocado or squash? We started with My Organic Baby oatmeal cereal – when selecting a cereal for your baby you need to read labels carefully as many contain many different ingredients, preservatives, skim milk powder I mean does it get any more refined then that??  Not to mention that doesn’t mesh with a vegan diet or a baby with a milk allergy or intolerance (what is the difference? we will discuss this in a later post).  This is the first food that you are putting in your baby’s mouth wouldn’t you want it to be simply pure…?

When Julia was around 4 months I started preparing baby food, nothing could have prepared me for this incredible experience and the excitement of possibilities continues to bubble inside me.  I was reading and typing list after list trying to figure out what food to give her first, how much, how often, how I was going to make it steam it or bake it? Peel it before or after? So the experimenting began…

After weeks of researching options we decided to start Julia on My Organic Baby Oatmeal cereal, mixed with breastmilk.  When first starting solids you want them to be a soup like consistency, first your baby needs to be receptive to the spoon and then they need to figure out how to get that food to the back of their mouth to swallow.  These first attempts we are talking a couple teaspoons of cereal (if that) you start slow and gradually increase.  We intensely toyed with the idea of making our own baby cereal; however, our concern remained in the fortification process, infant cereal is fortified with iron and that was something that we couldn’t do at home (or could we, has anyone ever done that?).  Given that iron is very crucial in this time of development (7-9 months) we wanted to ensure Julia was getting enough, to compound this factor raising a vegan baby iron becomes all the more important as they are not getting that heme source of iron from meat products (will discuss iron more in a later post).

Knowing that Julia was more prone to constipation her second food was prunes, now try finding sulphite-free prunes this took a bit of sourcing as well, once we found ‘em we needed to get them into a puree form that our 6 month old daughter could consume so we pureed them in the food processor with water until they were smooth, in the early days we decided to freeze them (to find out prunes actually don’t freeze solid they are more of a gel like substance) so from there on we have made a fresh batch of prunes every 3 days and Julia LOVES them.  It was funny I remember taking her to the pediatrician and she was puzzled when we said we were making our own prunes, to me this was the only way to do it.  We have prepared every single thing our daughter has consumed and all these recipes, tips and tricks will come over the next few months.  My most recent creations are a baby friendly salt-free veggie stock, and delicious crackers so far I have only made wheat and rye but I have kamut, spelt and barley flour all calling my name in the kitchen so I will be making some fun cracker creations in the next few weeks and will share all these recipes.

This post was suppose to list Julia’s favourite puree’s but I guess I couldn’t do that without first giving you a low down on the initiation of solid foods.  We have discovered you can puree almost anything into baby food, while savouring the nutrients that are lost in the canning process of commercial baby food.  This made me think of the word “organic” please do not be fooled by this word “organic” it doesn’t mean better or more nutritious, jarred “organic” baby food went through the same canning process as it’s shelving neighbor thus losing many nutrients.  So buying a jar of organic baby food has lost the same nutritional value as the non-organic one by being heated to high temperatures to be canned and preserved for a couple of years.

Ok finally Julia’s Fav’s...

Single purees that have been a huge hit: prunes, pears, peaches, red or black plums, peas, beets and zucchini (aka summer squash).  We will discuss the controversy between fruits and veggies which one’s first? in the upcoming weeks.

Mixed purees  (we are only getting started now that she is a bit older and has tried many single
things we can start creating mixed dishes, spices and the possibilities are endless and I am excited).  Here are a few samples:

Tornado Tomato Mushroom Barley Risotto
Mini Munchkin Green Goulash
Wild Mango Berry
Triple Green Baby Monster
Popeye’s Smoothy
Powerhouse Peas (this might be the #1 hit of the household right now)
Rainbow Couscous

** All of these recipes will be posted shortly if you are wanting one sooner please send me a message or comment below

Textures are the other thing that really come into play now as baby’s learn how to “chew” or gum their food, things don’t have to be pureed as fine as they once were, hate to say it but more to come on this in an upcoming post.

I also intend to discuss the process of sourcing and making your own baby food in the upcoming weeks, I will also show you how we store all this food in a picture of my over stuffed freezer (ekk!).  Since Julia was about 4 months old (8 and ½ months ago I have made an average of at least 1 new thing daily) – to keep things “Simply Pure” for our little princess we have committed ourselves to making everything for her from the simplest purest form.

I know that I have mentioned the scarce resources on raising a vegan baby, so in turn I have been reviewing many baby cookbooks and I am absolutely appalled how “cheese” and “salt” are added to almost everything two comments on this will suffice for now and we will revisit this in the future 1) are babies getting a taste for broccoli or cheese when mixed together?; 2) sure salt will enhance flavours and is essential for cooking and baking and so forth but why start a taste for salt at 6 months old? 6y ok we can talk about that in ummm… 2017?!

I feel like I keep saying in “future” post and I guess that is because I should have started this blog months earlier but give it sometime and these pieces will all fall together and I will hope to link “future” posts to the references that I have made.  I have always had a passion for nutrition but having a daughter to feed has made me more passionate then I could imagine leaving me compelled to share so I have so much to say… but will stop here for today... sorry for super long post next one will discuss non-dairy alternatives to milk.  Enjoy your chilly Sunday!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Vegan Debate – Is it Selfish to Raise a Vegan Baby/Child?

So I have been doing a lot of reading and researching about nutrition.  At this age (12.5 months) our daughter is already forming eating habits and tastes that will influence her future.  To start this post we must ask ourselves is it selfish to raise a vegan baby?

Babies are like sponges they soak up everything that we put in front of them, we as parents decide what they will eat, how it is prepared where it is purchased from but the baby will decide how much she will eat if at all.  So to never offer homo milk, salmon or chicken (I mention only these as we would never serve pork or beef, merely typing those words makes me squeamish and these were never in my diet) she will never know the difference. 

But if there is no way to replace homo milk, she is not allergic or intolerant to it (that we know of) would we be doing more harm than good to not offer it?  Our situation is complicated by the fact that our daughter struggles with constipation and had a minor surgery at 12 days old so we have been advised no dairy products at this time as it only worsens constipation in little ones (which we are fine with as my husband and I don’t consume dairy anyway).  So at this time I have started a transition back to work part-time I have weaned my little Julia from breast during the day so she gets 2 sippy cups of soy formula (which she loves) and I continue to breastfeed in the morning and evening and will continue to as long as it works for us. 

So back to the milk debate.  There are many different types of milk that can be supplemented: soy, rice (to be avoided in children with constipation) also when buying rice milk you must be careful to ensure that it is fortified with calcium as not all are, almond (as well as other types of nut milks), hemp, coconut (can you imagine drinking a cup of coconut milk, let alone serving it to your baby as a sole source of nutrition?) and oat.  I am going to do a post later this week discussing different types of milk.

In some of my thoughts I wonder if it would be more reasonable to rename this blog “Simply Pure Vegan Baby in Moderation?” Or “Simply Pure Veggie Baby +” this leads me to self reflect further on my own eating one thing is for sure dairy products make my stomach curdle just thinking about them and for myself and my husband we can get adequate calcium and nutrients from a variety of sources so we stand firm.  Salmon and chicken used to be our two weaknesses? However, given the lack of access to pure wild salmon it makes the decision easier in that we could have pure salmon 1 or 2 times as year as we could find it.  As for chicken take it or leave it…

 So these decisions are nothing that have to be made over night, but it gives you (and us) something to think about.  In the meantime I will continue to educate myself regarding veganism and babies and children, although resources are scarce most baby food books will have a small section on eating vegetarian an even smaller one on vegan (if at all).  Leaving me feeling compelled to find the pieces and put this puzzle together…

Do you think that it is selfish to raise a vegan baby?  Are you or someone you know raising a vegan baby/child? Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine's Day Preview

So I recently submitted a recipe to a valentines day contest so I wanted to share with you.  I wouldn't say this is baby friendly as chocolate is not on my little one's menu, but mommy and daddy need a treat too.

VEGAN Two Bite Double Down Dark Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Brownies

            The sweet chocolate flavour of a brownie (but not too sweet) with the goodness of whole wheat, oats and the antioxidant powers of dark chocolate, these make a perfect high fibre well balanced dessert.  Serve on a plate of homemade raspberry jam for a black forest cake affair, perfect for a lushes valentines dessert!
2 cups large flake oatmeal
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
2 T ground flax
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt (optional)
2/3 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup dark chocolate, cut into chunks

1)      Preheat oven to 350F
2)      In a medium bowl sift dry ingredients together (oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt), set aside.
3)      In a large bowl whisk together sugar, ground flax, non dairy milk, oil and vanilla, fold into dry ingredients, once mixed stir in dry ingredients add coconut and dark chocolate and voila!!
4)      Drop a solid tablespoon amount onto non-stick cookie sheet, cook for 10-12 min, then transfer onto wire rack for cooling 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Birthday Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Carrot Cake-Cupcakes

Well our little girl has turned one and it was the best 1st Birthday Party!! Despite the snow storm that dumped 10-15cm of snow the majority of people were able to get through it, although a few close friends were unable to make it and they were missed!!

When planning our daughters 1st birthday we wanted to keep it simple we had a few healthy snacks (black bean dip (will post recipe) with whole wheat nachos and hummus with bread sticks and veggie sticks) and then the cupcake/cake display everyone was in love with these healthy tasty vegan cupcakes that were baby friendly although we tried to get Julia to eat one she through it off her high chair tray and decided that her puffed wheat was better that’s out girl!! Ha ha 

So the Spiced Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Glaze here is the recipe, I have included a few options if you are like me your are always experimenting and tweaking things are you cook/bake: 

Julia’s 1st Spiced Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes
 (Revised Oct 2011)
  • cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (may increase to 1 tsp if you love nutmeg)
  • ¼ tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (may sub unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1/4c EVOO **
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flax  
  • 2-3 pureed cubes of spinach (optional)
1)      Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin pan or spray paper liners to prevent sticking and set aside.
2)      In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, oil, vanilla and carrots. Add dry mix to wet mix stir until just combined.
3)      Fill cups to the ¾ full bake 15-25 minutes or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean, decrease cook time to 15 min for mini cupcakes, 20 min for standard cupcakes and 25 min for a 10” round cake (if making the cake line pan with parchment paper).

Spiced Maple Glaze Buttercream  
1 cup of icing sugar
2 tbsp dairy-free butter (I used Earth’s Balance)
2 tbsp MS*
1 tsp cinnamon

1)      Mix butter, MS and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl, sift in icing sugar and mix with an electric mixer, adding additional sugar as necessary to reach a thick and fluffy consistency or a few drops of water to thin icing out or more icing sugar to achieve desired texture.  On the note of decorating this my first time ever decorating and near the end I started getting more creative and my icing seemed to hold its shape better, at first I had this idealistic idea that I was going to be a natural at it but it truly is an art, getting the consistency of icing was challenging as well, after this experience I am looking forward to my next opportunity to make and decorate some cupcakes!!

**EVOO = extra virgin olive oil
*MS = 100% maple syrup


 Upcoming in next post recipe for the black bean faux meatballs and more about the realizations of the simply pure vegan baby... enjoy your chilly Sunday!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

One more sleep and princess turns ONE!!

Standing on my own!

Reflecting 2010

I had started preparing this post a few weeks ago but after a bout of the flu saw through our household and the birth of my first nephew " Teagan Sage" we have started 2011 with a bang!! Therefore, I have been delayed in posting this and I have made a commitment to myself not to rush to post something that I hadn't polished first so here it is.

Happy New Year!! The start of a new year is always a great time for self reflection of the past year realizing how much has changed or what you wish would change.  For us this past year had been one of the most amazing years we have ever had as we watched our daughter grow from a new born to and infant and now nearly a toddler.  

In the first year of life there are more changes then at any other time in your life truly an amazing experience, and one of continual transition.  As we start this new year we are hit with yet again much transition, Julia has been exclusively breastfed and when I say that I mean exclusively she has never had a bottle.  At 6 months we started her with water in a sippy cup she took to this instantly and loves water out her sippy cup so we intend on doing the same with her milk.  This is the first thing that we are going to tackle as this new year begins along with that comes many decisions as to what we are replacing her breastmilk with as homo milk is what is recommended at age one however, with a vegan diet that is not something that we wish to give her, at present we have started a soy based formula in her cereal to allow her to become familiar with the taste.  So stage one of the transition is from breastmilk to soy based formula.

The problem with switching to solely soy milk as it does not have the fat and calories that homo milk does and that babies need to grow, you can use a variety of milk: almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and so on but the issue remains not enough fat... so this is something we intend to learn more about in next few months to see how we can ensure our daughter is getting all the nutrients that she needs.

Over the holidays we had many discussions with family and great friends about diet and lifestyle and we are really struggling with the right choices for our daughter. I will end with baby's need healthy fats to grow and for their brain to develop homo milk is the perfect recipe but it is for baby cows?! So why is there alternative for babies? So for now we ween the breastmilk add in soy based formula.

Any thoughts on how to supplement homogenized cow's milk for a baby? 

We are busy putting the final touches on Julia's 1st Birthday Party (tomorrow) pictures and recipes to come soon.