Wednesday, October 7, 2015

currently | october


Somehow it's already October which means it's time for all things pumpkin (I refuse to get on that bandwagon in September), cooler temperatures (though not really where we are), and brainstorming Halloween ideas for the family. Since Halloween is a Saturday this year, and Bug is officially mobile, I'm excited for her first "real" trick or treating experience!

Here's what's going on in our neck of the woods these days--

eating everything pumpkin, naturally. I love making pumpkin breads, mini donuts, and pie. I need to find some healthier ways to get the same flavors. ;)

exploring our new home which has been really fun so far. We never imagined we'd be on the west coast so we are trying to soak up everything we can during our limited time here!

wearing more "fall" type clothes, though the weather here isn't what I'm used to so there are still plenty of shorts/t-shirt days. The past 4 autumns in Japan were way different from "home," marking the beginning of the snowy season, and this side of the Pacific is different in its own way!

admiring all of the fall/Halloween decor in the stores! I've never been a big fan of decorating but all of the cute stuff out there is quite tempting. 

collecting memories! Our time in this home is quite limited and we are trying to experience as much of what this place has to offer as we can. Bug had her first trip to the beach the other weekend and it was pretty adorable.

What are you up to this month?

linking up with In Residence and Gold & Bloom

Monday, October 5, 2015

meal plan monday | dinner

To help plan your meals, here's a recent menu line-up from our kitchen to yours! 

Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes, mixed greens salad. One of the few "American" food items I missed while we were in Japan was the orange sweet potato. This was one of the first things I made when we returned to the U.S. and it did not disappoint! The roasted chickpeas are so good, I can eat them on their own and the dressing perfectly ties everything together no matter what other toppings you choose. Perfect meatless Monday meal!

21 Day Fix approved baked ziti, caesar salad. Baked casseroles are always the ultimate comfort food, meaning they're not always kind to the waistline. This version meets the 21DF standards and is SO flavorful!

21 Day Fix honey dijon garlic salmon, brown rice pilaf, steamed veggies. I don't cook as much fish as I probably should because I'm not a big fan, but I really enjoy this salmon recipe. It uses simple ingredients but packs a big punch taste-wise. 

Gazpacho (from favorite meal planning site) with cheese quesadillas.  This was a first time recipe for us and was borne out of necessity. The weather has been unseasonably warm here recently and we needed something to cool us down in the evening. Enter cold soup! I'm not sure yet how I feel about cold soup in general, but the flavors in this were super fresh.

One-pot cashew broccoli chicken over mixed jasmine/brown rice, steamed dumplings. This became a favorite the first time I made it. Super easy and it's a one-pot recipe that actually ONLY uses one pot (sometimes they trick you, haha). Perfect replacement for Chinese take-out!

What have you been cooking lately? Do you plan meals in advance or practice a more spontaneous approach?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

baby led weaning | first foods

One of the most common questions I've asked/received and seen on BLW Facebook groups is, "What exactly do I feed my baby?!" The answer is: a lot!

Recent research has shown that introducing baby to common food allergens prior to age 1 may significantly reduce his/her chances of developing an allergy down the road. Before we started solids, I specifically asked my pediatrician about food allergies and she said they're actually much less common than people think (new parents tend to be hypersensitive to rashes and things). Of course, it is prudent to keep an eye on baby after introducing new foods in case he/she does have any kind of reaction. 

One important note: Know your family history! If you have known allergies in your family, consult with your doctor prior to introducing these items.

Based on the most recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics,  you can introduce solids at 6 months of age if baby is meeting the physical milestones that indicate he/she is ready for food. You want to serve baby a variety of foods with different tastes and textures so he/she gets used to all kinds of things. The old advice used to be to offer a single new food at a time and then wait three days, but that is not necessary!

Offer a few options per meal (I usually do 3) so baby doesn't get too overwhelmed. You can start with one "meal" a day (more will probably end up on/around baby than in his/her mouth) and move up to three meals around 9-10months. If you want to offer more meals earlier, do what works for you!

I hope this list helps you feel more comfortable feeding your baby! Once we introduced the common allergen foods (dairy, wheat, peanut butter, etc.) I felt much more confident simply giving Bug food directly off my plate every night. She has always loved food!

What to serve
- Avocados. Leave peel on for grip and serve slices. You could also remove the peel and roll the avocado in crushed cereal (like Cheerios) to make it less slippery. 
- Carrots. Softened, by boiling or steaming, until you can mash easily between your thumb and forefinger. Serve in stick shapes about the size of your index finger until baby develops his/her pincer grasp.
- Broccoli/cauliflower. Steamed until soft. Serve as is, they have built in handles. ;)
- Potatoes (any variety but Bug loves sweet potatoes). Steamed and mashed, or cut into fries and baked. 
- Acorn squash. Baked until soft and served with a spoon from the shell. 
- Spaghetti squash. Baked, strands removed, served with a little cheese for fat. 
- Cucumbers. Served raw, cut into strips about the size of your index finger. Seeds can be left in or removed. 
- Zucchini. Cut into strips and bake them as  "fries" (I coat in olive oil and toss with a bit of breadcrumbs and cheese).
- Squash. Sliced and sautéed with onions and garlic or boiled until soft. 
- Tomatoes. If grape/cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise (I prefer cutting these in half as well). **Some babies get a rash from the acidity, either around their mouth or on their bottom. This is not usually an allergy, just something to monitor. 
- Asparagus. Served as we eat it (minus salt).
- Peas. Served alone or mixed into other foods. **Not recommended until baby develops the pincer grasp because they're tricky to pick up!
- Corn. Slice cob into 1-inch slices and let baby chomp away or serve kernels by themselves once baby masters pincer grasp.

- bananas. In the beginning, serve as an "ice cream cone." Later, can be served as chunks or slices.
- apples. Sliced thin and peel on, baked/steamed/sauteed until soft. You can cook with some butter and spices like cinnamon for an extra tasty treat.
- blueberries/raspberries/strawberries. Blueberries and raspberries can be served whole. If preferred, you can squish blueberries first, or cut them. Strawberries are easiest to eat when cut into quarters lengthwise or sliced. **Strawberries can be an allergen so monitor baby for any type of reaction.
- stone fruits--peaches, mangoes, plums. Give soft chunks when ripe, can bake them a bit if desired.
- oranges. Slices--I always bit off the end so Bug could get to the juicy part easier. **Like tomatoes, the acid can bother some babies, so keep an eye out for any rash/redness.
- melon. Served in slices or strips, depending on the softness of the fruit. Be careful with harder melons once baby is able to bite off chunks! 
- grapes. Cut into quarters lengthwise! These can be a major choking hazard.

- pasta. Shapes like farfalle work well for new eaters, though spaghetti and rotini are great options, too! You can serve whole or cut up as you feel comfortable and your baby develops his/her pincer grasp.
- toast. Served in strips with a little butter, avocado, peanut/almond butter.  
- crackers. We stuck with teething wafers in the beginning, and now we very occasionally offer cheese crackers from a box, though I prefer to make my own.
- rice. Any kind! Sometimes serving it in rice balls is easier for little hands.
- cereal. Bug loves Cheerios and Kix--I've tried the organic versions but she loves the old-fashioned ones, of course!
- oats. Oat flour can be used in place of wheat flour in a lot of recipes, or subbed for part of the wheat flour at least. Oatmeal is also a great food because you can easily add fruits or different spice combinations for flavor, and it's a great way to use breastmilk you might have in the freezer!

- chicken/turkey. Shredded, strips for baby to chew/suck on, ground. **Don't be afraid to add spices, just watch the salt! Babies like flavor, too. ;) Some people offer bones (like leg bones) for baby to suck the bits of remaining meat.
- beef/pork. Shredded, strips, ground.
- fish. Boneless fish is great for baby, just be sure to offer low mercury fish!
- beans. Whole, mashed, mixed with other things. Any and all varieties!
- eggs. Scrambled, boiled, mashed, mixed into egg/tuna salad. **Some younger babies have reactions to the whites, so some parents prefer to start with egg yolks and introduce whites around 8 months or so.
- yogurt. Any full-fat variety though try to keep the sugar on the lower end. I like to get plain and then add applesauce for sweetness, or offer it as a dip for various fruits. 

Have any questions about BLW? Shoot me an email or comment below!

Monday, September 28, 2015

meal plan monday | school lunch edition, week 2

Fun fact: This is my 400th post on this blog! Not my 400th overall but exciting nonetheless. ;)

Today I bring you our second roundup of school lunches this year. We're over a month into the school year so far and are at 100% as far as sending homemade lunches. My goal is everyday this school year--though Big Girl keeps asking about a school lunch account so I'm sure she'll end up buying lunch a day or two here and there.

This week she ate--
(Side note: Her drink is always a water bottle, we use this one and love it.)

This school year we bought this Lunchbots box and dipping containers. It's been an adjustment from our old Ziploc divided containers, but we are liking them so far! We have used this style of lunchbox  since kindergarten and love the personalization options as well as how well they hold up. We are using the same one as last year and it's still in great shape!

1. Triscuits (in the reusable pouch), leftover brownie from the weekend, celery sticks with ranch dip, watermelon, spinach/banana/berry smoothie in the panda pouch

2. Turkey and cheese on sourdough, dried cranberries, grape tomatoes, and bell peppers with ranch dip

3. Chobani kids yogurt, leftover salad from dinner with ranch dressing, triscuits, apple slices

4. Deconstructed turkey and cheese sandwich, mixed veggies, half banana, strawberries, and a small mint treat

What's been on your lunch menu this school year? 

(affiliate links used, which means I get approximately 3 cents if you make a purchase.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five on Friday

Got a selfie with the Pope this week ;)
1. This week was unseasonably warm, even though Fall has officially arrived. It's definitely a change from life in northern Japan--and will be way different at our next home--so I am soaking up every ray of sunshine I can! Despite the warmer temperatures, we will hopefully check off a few American "fall" activities like a pumpkin patch and/or apple picking.

2. Target had a clearance on baby clothes, and Bug had a growth spurt, so I was able to get a good deal on some new things for her. Now she won't look like she's preparing for a flood all the time. ;) I ordered custom leggings from a mama-run etsy shop and they are just the CUTEST things. Waiting on one last pair to arrive, but Bug is definitely way more fashionable than me (Big Girl, too!).

3. Last week I tried out a local mommy and me club and this week we officially joined. As an introvert it's definitely a labor, but the ladies have been nice and Bug loves playing around all the other kids. I look forward to having some structured time out of the house each week.

4. I backed this Kickstarter campaign to get more nursing-friendly, non-frumpy dresses out into the world. I love that they are normal looking and cute enough to wear after our nursing journey is over! I haven't worn a dress, besides for one formal function for Hubs' school graduation, since before Bug was born. I'm excited to get my dresses in December!

5. I'm almost finished reading this book and I desperately want to purge everything in the house. I've gotten better about tossing things with each move but we still have too much clutter. With the help of the KonMari method, I am hoping our next house will only have the bare essentials to "spark joy" in every room! (Once I get started I will probably do a little mini-series on the process--though this will also probably be super embarrassing because I have 8million clothes alone.)

What have you been up to lately? Are you a "Fall person" who goes pumpkin and sweater crazy? Are you reading anything good lately? Do you also get into Fall cleaning mode?

Linking up with April and Natasha
& Karli and Amy
& Belinda
Content Then There Was We | Design Poppiness Designs