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Dinner Time!

by Juliemara
12.20.12

This is one of those posts that has been in my drafts folder for several months.  In an attempt to not let the writing go to waste I have decided to use the story of feeding our babies food as the start of a new series for my blog. Each week (hopefully) I will post a toddler meal and a people meal, sometimes they will be the same, sometimes they will be different.

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We are a family that loves food, it is a major part of our lives. Not just eating it, but preparing it, planning it, finding new kinds of it, and discussing it after we eat it. Everyday involves some sort of food planning, weather it’s that days food or the next days or the up coming weekend. No meal is easy and thrown together. We don’t eat, we dine, as my sister likes to say. It’s one of the things about my husband that drew me to him. He grew up with every meal being an event, breakfast, lunch and dinner each consisted of courses and freshly prepared foods. He loves to introduce me to new foods and food combinations. In my home we ate dinner as a family every night, but lunches and especially breakfasts were basically on the go. Between the two of us we strike a nice balance of eating well and trying to do more in a day than cook and clean up.
We decided when I was pregnant that we would be making all our own baby food for the girls and aside from the occasional jar or pouch to go, we have. We puréed everything we could think of apples, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and a bunch more. feeding-baby-food
The process is really very painless. We cooked for ourselves most nights so chopping something and throwing it in the steamer wasn’t any more work, it was an easy process. We used a basic rice cooker with the steamer try set into the top of it, I think it was about $15. This one is very similar

It’s the simplest kitchen appliance ever, fill the pot with water, chop the food you want to steam into large chunks and place in the steamer tray, press the one button all the way down. Check it after 15 minutes, if a fork goes in and out easily, it’s done. We would then use the Ninja to puree, but any blender or even a hand masher will work fine. The baby food makers are also really great they do both steps, steaming and pureeing, in one machine, but we already had the other two machines on hand so we didn’t need to add anything new to our kitchen counters. We would make a big batch, portion it into ice cube trays and freeze it for later use. There are ice cube trays with covers just for this. When it was time for them to eat we we could choose what combination to feed them, chicken, broccoli & sweet potato or beans, apples and squash. Take one or two cubes of each out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave either together or separately. Having so many choices ready to go was really convenient. The thing is, babies eating purees only lasts about three months, before we knew it, around eight months, with a freezer full of homemade baby food, our girls were ready to start chewing!  So instead of pureeing we started giving them the tiniest slivers of table food, banana, chicken, pieces of pasta, quinoa, cauliflower and broccoli.  We had to freeze their food a little differently now. First we would steam, mash or cut, but not purée, the foods, then portion it into the ice cube trays just the same so that we can still feed them healthy quick meals as soon as we arrive from work. We did this with most of the same foods that we previously pureed. But now we could add tiny bites of whole grain breads and tiny pieces of fresh fruit. When I say tiny pieces, I mean tiny and soft, about the size of a baby’s finger nail and soft enough to mash between your thumb and index finger.

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Around this time we tried to make meals easier for us too, we would prepare as much as possible the night before so that all the prep is done and all we had to do is cook when we got home or even better use our crock pot! If you have any great healthy crock pot recipes please send them my way! We are still trying to get the hang of this planning ahead. We currently make sure on Sunday that we have enough food in the house to make a meal for each night of the coming week, but don’t necessarily know which night we will eat what. We also have a few take away options that we use as fall backs and our amazing nanny cooks dinner for the girls a night or two a week and always makes enough for us to have for dinner or take for lunch the next day. She is also a really great cook!
To kick off my regular posting of easy and healthy meals for the whole family I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite dishes to make. This one requires a good bit of prep, but the actual cooking goes really quick and the outcome is well worth it. And the girls love it too!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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1tbs sesame oil
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tbs olive oil
3 shallots minced
1 pkg lean ground turkey
Minced ginger root
2 med Shredded carrots
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs fish sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 copped cilantro
1 tsp chili sauce or red pepper flakes
3 green onions chopped
Bib lettuce for serving
 turkey-lettuce-wrap
In a large skillet heat sesame oil over med high heat
Saute garlic in sesame oil (do not burn)
Add shallots and olive oil, cook till limp.
Add turkey, Brown
Turn heat to med/low
Add carrots, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken stock,  chili sauce and green onion while continuing to stir
Turn off the heat and add cilantro
Serve hot with bib lettuce warps

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