Allergy Friendly Banana Oatmeal Bites

Pretty much from the beginning of when Lewis started eating foods, I have been on a quest. A quest for just the right food/recipe. Something healthy and filling, but easy to grab, easy for a little one to eat, non-messy, portable. Something that could be used for a quick breakfast or a snack, eaten on-the-go either just while playing at home or while out and about. 

There are plenty of pre-packaged baby snacks that fit the bill for this, although the level of healthfulness is debatable with many of them. Since we did Baby Led Weaning with Lewis he never had any purees or anything, and we never got in the habit of buying him those “pouches” that a lot of people use when out and about. For a while our go-to snacks where Cheerios and those Gerber Cereal Puffs, although we quit that habit sometime over the summer. We also found apples/apple slices and freeze dried fruit work pretty well for on-the-go munching. 

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

Sprinkled in between giving these fall-backs, I have been trying recipes to find just the right thing for him. I wanted something homemade both for cost reasons (baby food/snacks are expensive!) and it seems so much more healthy and wholesome to know exactly what I am feeding my little one. There are a lot of recipes out there for baby snacks, granola bars, muffins, etc. but most of the ones I tried seemed to miss the mark. 

When he was younger Lewis had a delightful habit of spitting out a lot of his food rather than swallowing it. Cheerios and Puffs both got reliably swallowed, which was part of why we stuck with them, but many of the other things we offered he would decide were too much work and so would partially chew/gum and then spit back out. My family was all greatly entertained by watching him “eat” watermelon in this way over the summer. Thankfully we are past that stage and he now swallows pretty much everything he eats. 

Also, since he does only eat a small amount he isn’t going to eat up a full batch of anything I make, so I need to find recipes that are yummy for me as well since I will be the one eating any “extra.”

There have been a few recipes that we had good success with. Over the summer when zucchini was plentiful I made several batches of these Zucchini, Banana, and Flaxseed Muffins, using only about half as much sugar, which both Lewis and I enjoyed. I have also made some homemade granola bars from my own recipe which were pretty good, although the recipe may need a bit of tweaking before I post it. We tried these Carrot Cake Bars a few weeks ago which were alright but nothing amazing – they were a bit on the bland side and I didn’t really like how the texture of the oats turned out although Lewis seemed fine with them. They definitely could have used more spices, maybe a little sugar/honey and more moisture (maybe some added applesauce?)

No Sugar Banana Oat "Cookies"

No Sugar Banana Oat “Cookies”

Anyway, there is another recent recipe that I tried that actually turned out really good and both Lewis and I enjoyed them for breakfasts and snacks. The original recipe calls them “No Sugar Oatmeal Cookies” and while they are cookie shaped they really don’t have what you would expect for a cookie texture. The flavor was quite good though (maybe could use just a tiny touch more spices) and they made me think of chewy oaty little bites of banana bread. I will definitely be making these again, and plan on playing around with the recipe, maybe trying some with pumpkin in place of the banana. 

They are “no sugar” since all the sweetness comes from the fruit. When I was making them I realized they are also gluten free (if you use gf oats), egg free, and depending on the type of milk you use can also be made dairy free and/or nut free. 

Breakfast of oatmeal "cookies" and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

Breakfast of oatmeal “cookies” and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

No Sugar Banana Oatmeal Bites:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I used part applesauce and part oil since I somehow only had a few Tablespoons of applesauce.)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional, but recommended. Could substitute other types of dried fruit or some chocolate chips.)
  • 1/4 cup milk (Original recipe calls for almond milk, I used whole milk. Use whatever fits your diet/needs.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (might be good with an additional sprinkle of ginger and nutmeg.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and grease your cookie tray or line with parchment paper. (I didn’t do this and the cookies stuck a bit since they aren’t high in fat like traditional cookies.) Mix all the ingredients and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges start turning golden brown. Enjoy warm, or store in an air tight container. 

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Growing And Learning

It seems that Chris and I are always commenting to each other about how amazing Lewis is with all his new accomplishments, interests, etc. Today Chris updated his facebook to say how proud he is of some of Lewis’ newest things he is learning and doing. I had been thinking of updating my facebook with something very similar, but then realized if I posted it here I could say more and would also have more of a “record” of it to look back on!

I really love how with all the billions of humans currently living and also those who have lived in the past, babies and children never stop amazing us. Every single human who has ever lived goes through the same development, learns to walk, to talk, to run and jump and cook and write. And yet, each and every one is amazing all over again. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time parent or an old granny who has seen a hundred babies grow up – when you see a child learning or doing something for the first time it is a wonderful moment. And of course, when it is your own child and you watch them figure something out for themselves, suddenly doing something they weren’t just yesterday, it seems like the most amazing thing of all.

"Look, I unzipped it myself!"

“Look, I unzipped it myself!”

My favorite new skill of Lewis’ is something I have been waiting for for a long time. He has finally started saying Mama! (It started out as “Mum-um” or “Mum-um-um-um,” but is already sounding more like “Mama”) He has said it a couple of time for me this morning and I overheard him practicing in his crib after I laid him down to nap. He has been saying Dada forever, and also would call me Dada, so it is nice to finally have my own name!

Along the same lines of adding new vocabulary, he is also figuring out how to nod his head “yes.” This has been a very tricky motion that has been baffling him for the longest time. He has been able to shake his head “no” for months, at first just doing it because the motion felt neat. We have tried to show him “yes” and he could never figure it out, sometimes bouncing his entire body up and down in an attempt. He is still polishing up the movement and still gets his whole body moving with it sometimes, but he is getting a lot better at it and you can see how excited and proud he is of himself. He’s not using it with meaning/to answer questions yet, but I’m sure that will come soon!

A recent favorite game for Chris and Lewis is to basically play “I Spy” while reading his books. Daddy will look at the page in the book they are reading together and ask Lewis to find something in the picture. “Where is the lion?”, “Can you find the banana?”, “Do you see any flowers in this picture?” etc. Lewis loves this and is surprisingly good at it. Some of them he knows immediately because they are books he has read a hundred times and we have talked about what is in the pictures, but he also does quite well even with new books from the library. He will sit and study the picture very seriously until finding the object and pointing to it with a smile. If he can’t find it after studying the page he gives Daddy a serious look and shakes his head “no.” So cute!

He is obsessed with stars and can point to a star shape. When he sees a star he will do twinkly star hand motions like the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” song, sometimes without any prompting or being asked about stars. He loves that all his socks have stars on the bottom as part of the no-slip stuff. He occasionally also points correctly to other shapes and some colors, but I think for the most part this is just lucky guesses.

He has been working on walking backwards and entertains himself with practicing this.

He is also finally figuring out how to sit down onto something the way you would sit onto a chair, rather than having to climb all around an area to get sitting where he would like.

We recently ordered a little potty chair for him (although it hasn’t arrived yet) because he has been showing a lot of interest in toileting for the past month or so. When I change his diaper I usually ask him if he would like to use the toilet. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes no. He is definitely starting to understand when he actually needs to pee/is peeing in his diaper/etc. He has done a little tinkle in the big toilet a few times but he seems uncomfortable being held over it (hence ordering him his own potty). Often he will sit for a few seconds, squirm to try to get down, and then run out and very purposefully pee on the carpet. Peeing on the carpet is obviously not ideal, but I do love that he has so much awareness of it already and seems to have some control as well! His diaper is still wet most of the time and only once in a while will he actually ask to go potty, so I’m not expecting him to be potty trained any time soon (I worked with two year olds – I know how long this can take!) but I do want to encourage the interest as much as possible and even one pee in the potty a day is a step in the right direction.

Signing "more" to ask for more chocolate Halloween night. (We didn't go trick-or-treating but when we paid rent the people in the office gave him a couple mini chocolates.)

Signing “more” to ask for more chocolate Halloween night. (We didn’t go trick-or-treating but when we paid rent the people in the office gave him a couple mini chocolates.)

His eating seems to have taken off recently as well. All my family who saw him over the summer got to witness his entertaining way of “eating” which has been to mush the food around in his mouth, maybe swallowing a bit, but eventually spitting out most bites before putting in the next. (This is quite normal with Baby Led Weaning, not sure how it compares to babies with traditional weaning.) He has finally mastered swallowing most of his food, and has been impressing me with the amount he now chows down at lunch and dinner. Breakfast he still only snacks a bit since he likes to have a huge nursing session when he wakes in the morning, so his tummy is full of milk.

Well, that’s all that comes to mind right now for his recent accomplishments, although I’m sure there are plenty more things I have forgotten at the moment!

Baby Food

When choosing food for Lewis I try to stick mainly with things that are fresh, healthy, not too processed, etc. I also try to give him a lot of variety and introduce “new” things so that he can experience all different tastes/textures/etc in his food. When he has something more processed or unhealthy it is usually because he has seen Chris and I eating it (mac & cheese, etc.) or because we are outside of our usual routine and eating things we don’t normally have around (graham crackers for s’mores while at camp).

We give him lunch and dinner regularly every day, although most of his nutrition still comes from breast milk and his “meals” just supplement that. Because of this I don’t worry too much about giving him a fully balanced meal with fruit/veg/protein/grains/etc. He seems to get overwhelmed when I offer too many things at once and prefers to focus on 2 or 3 different things to eat. Instead of balancing out each meal I try to give him a balance through-out the day. If he has fruit and yogurt for lunch then dinner might be some kind of grain and veggies.

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Of course he has his preferences and like so many other kids his favorite things to eat are fruit, yogurt, fruit, crackers, fruit, and cheese. He enjoys meat when we give it to him but we only eat meat a few times a week as a family, and although he enjoys it he will usually only eat a few bites because it is difficult to manage. Veggies he loves to snack on raw, but can’t easily eat more than a few nibbles with his four little teeth, and most of the time he thinks that cooked veggies are best for squishing in your hands and/or throwing onto the floor.

So, like so many Mamas before me, I find myself trying to think of new ways to get a few more veggies into his diet.

Earlier this week Chris and I were having salads for dinner, which is one of the few meals that he can’t really share with us. (Try chewing lettuce with just your front four teeth. Not happening.) Lewis had already had yogurt and blueberries for lunch and some pineapple and banana for a snack, so I really wanted to find a way to offer him some vegetables. I remembered we had rice cakes, and pretty much anything you give him smeared on a rice cake (or on toast, etc.) he will lick off and ask for more, so I started to try to think about what we could put on a rice cake.

My thoughts wandered to a kohlrabi we had from the CSA box, with no plan to use it. After looking around online I found a website where they mentioned how delicious a carrot and kohlrabi puree is. Perfect! The only problem is that since we did Baby Led Weaning and skipped purees I’m not that experienced with making pureed food. I managed to figure it out with help of my immersion blender.

We sat down to dinner and I handed him a spoon pre-loaded with the veggie mash. He happily popped it into his mouth, probably expecting delicious yogurt again. He then preceded to make a face and try to scrape the mash off his tongue with his fingers. Huh. I guess he doesn’t like that. I got out the rice cakes and give him a plain piece and one with the veggies spread on it. He ate a bit of the veggies off the rice cake, but mostly stuck to the plain one. I’m not sure if his reaction to the mash was due to flavor (but he likes both carrots and kohlrabi raw) or the texture, since he hasn’t been given much mushy or pureed food. Or maybe it was just the surprise of it not tasting like he expected.

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The next day for lunch I mixed the leftover puree onto some pasta along with a splash of tomato sauce (which he loves and would eat straight from a spoon). He happily sucked the sauce off his noodles, so I will have to keep this in mind and try other combo-veggie sauces in the future. I ate some with him and even though I only added a small amount of tomato sauce it didn’t taste too different from normal pasta with sauce, so I think this is something we could have for dinner as a family in the future.

Meat Eaters

As I’ve mentioned, we do Baby Led Weaning with Lewis. That means he’s never had a mash, puree, or jarred food – we just give him real food and let him figure it out. We started off with soft/cooked fruit, steamed or roasted veggies, etc. When I give him things like yogurt or applesauce I load it onto a spoon and then hand him the spoon to put into his own mouth. Now that we’ve been doing this for three months he’s getting quite good at eating different things, and his new little teeth help too.

I gave him a chunk of raw potato one night to keep busy while I made dinner. All the little hamster-nibble marks on it are from his little teethies.

I gave him a chunk of raw potato one night to keep busy while I made dinner. All the little hamster-nibble marks on it are from his little teethies.

Most of what he’s had has been fruits and veggies. He gets yogurt usually a few times a week and some kind of grains usually once a day (Cheerios, Puffs, rice cakes, toast, pasta.) He tried scrambled eggs once and had an allergic reaction, so that’s off the menu. He’s had chicken a few times and enjoyed it and also tried turkey and pepperoni once each, but overall hasn’t had a lot of meats. This is mostly because of the way Chris and I eat. We are both very picky about what kind of meats we eat, and in general we only buy and cook boneless skinless chicken breasts. We usually have chicken a couple times a week and very occasionally will have some ground beef which is usually tacos, meatballs, or burgers for Chris and I have a veggie burger.

Most of my protein intake comes from yogurt, cheese, eggs, and peanut butter. Sometimes we have beans but not as often as we should given our lack of meat eating. Out of these things Lewis can’t have the eggs, and can only have tiny bits of peanut butter since more is a choking hazard. Cheese he can have and likes but the high sodium means he shouldn’t have too much of it. So that leaves mostly yogurt for him, and of course breast milk.

I’ve been trying to branch out with what we are giving him anyway, offering more mixed dishes, more seasonings, letting him try more of what Chris and I are having rather than just giving a plain fruit or veggie. I’ve decided that I want to work on adding a little more meat into our diet as a family, and especially trying different types of meat with Lewis to let him taste them. Just because Mommy and Daddy are picky doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get a chance to try things for himself.

Last night we cooked something that isn’t too far off from our “usual” but is something we haven’t cooked/eaten together before. I had
Chris cook up some ground beef and various veggies, and we had spaghetti with a chunky meat sauce. I saved out some of the meat for Lewis before it was added to the sauce, although I did give him a few saucy pieces too. He loved it!

"This is yummy but these noodles are a little tricky to eat!"

“This is yummy but these noodles are a little tricky to eat!”

We will definitely be making this again, and trying some other new things as a family. I’ve been researching egg-free meatballs and found some yummy looking turkey meatballs. I’ll have to start looking at other meaty recipes too and see what else looks good to try.