Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Finger Foods

An experiment

Since we’re on the subject of pomegranate (sort of), one of Nora’s favorite foods lately is pomegranate seeds. I’m not surprised — they’re one of her mama’s favorite snacks, too! They are definitely tasty, but seeding a pomegranate is a messy undertaking. It just so happens that Trader Joe’s has an oh-so-convenient pack of pomegranate seeds for $3.99.

Sweet.

Now that we’re a single income family, however, convenience isn’t always the only factor. Somebody’s got to be Budget Betty now and then. Pomegranates — you know, the original thing — sell for $1.99 apiece just across the aisle at Trader Joe’s. Assuming you can get a fairly equivalent amount of seeds, that’s a way better deal, so I decided to try it out.

Disappointing.

I should have known better than to buy produce at Trader Joe’s, though. There’s a reason I don’t usually. Despite picking what looked like one of the ripest fruits there, the seeds were pale and a little sour-tasting. Nora agreed — she was way less into them than usual. Worse yet, the fruit only yielded a little over 3 ounces of usable seeds. A prepared pack of seeds has 5.3 ounces in it, so at that point, it’s hardly even worth the price difference, given the extra effort it takes.

A few days later, though, a friend of mine came over with her daughter, who is a month older than Nora. She brought along some pomegranate seeds as a snack for her, but hers looked nice and red and juicy. She said she bought the fruit at Whole Foods, so I figured I’d give it another try.

I was pleased with the results. As it turned out, pomegranates were also $1.99 at Whole Foods (who knew??) and the quality was vastly superior.

Now that's more like it.

The seeds were plump, juicy, and sweet, and Nora seemed to like them every bit as well as the pre-packaged kind.

Even better, one fruit yielded almost 8 ounces of seeds. Doing the math, that’s about $0.25 an ounce, versus about $0.75 an ounce for the packaged seeds. Even figuring in the inconvenience of having to seed the fruit, that’s totally worth it. It’s not like it’s that hard, once you get the hang of it. Plus they’re fresh, which is always a plus, and you can store the seeds in the fridge for ease of use later.

So it’s fresh pomegranate seeds for us for here on out, as long as pomegranate is in season, and our budget will be just a smidge happier for it!

Broccoli cheddar bites

We’ve been doing the same old boring stuff as far as green veggies go lately. Frozen peas, frozen green beans, blah. Nora likes them, but I was looking for a new way to spice things up, so I thought I’d try out a recipe for broccoli cheese bites. Nora loves them.

Want some?

I thought they were pretty good, too!

Yum.

Not only were they easy to make with stuff I already had on hand, but they also freeze well and reheat quickly in the toaster oven. I think we have a winner!

Broccoli Cheddar Bites
Based on this recipe

1 lb. broccoli florets, steamed and chopped
1 cup bread crumbs*
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs**
garlic powder and oregano to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking pan with olive oil. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and form into nuggets on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes.

* I just whizzed a couple of leftover slices of whole wheat bread in the food processor.

** You can use 5 egg yolks instead if you are avoiding egg whites, or substitute veggie purée if you are avoiding eggs altogether.

Feeding a baby

So what is Nora eating these days? I guess the real question is, what isn’t she eating? She’s a super-active nine-and-a-half-month-old with an appetite to match, and she’s pretty willing to try anything. She’s not a big fan of kiwi or green beans, but beyond that she’s game.

Dinner is served.

In addition to some old standards, here are some of her current faves:

  • Sliced fruits (apples, pears, peaches, plums)
  • Teryaki baked tofu
  • Cubed roasted butternut squash (Trader Joe’s sells these pre-peeled and cut, so it’s super-easy to just toss them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper and roast)
  • Peas (I use frozen)
  • Whole-wheat rotini (or any pasta, really)
  • Brussels sprouts (I know!)
  • Baked sweet potato spears
  • Prunes (this can be really dangerous…)
  • Dried cherries
  • Freeze-dried cranberries (they’re too tart for me, but she loves them!)
  • Quinoa polenta (sliced, quartered and fried in a little olive oil)
  • Waffles (I use frozen whole-grain ones and just cut them into strips)

She is not, however, too big into purees or being fed anymore. Sad times… but I’ve adapted! One of my new favorite tricks is to peel and par-bake fruits (apples, peaches, plums or whatever she’s eating in slices that day) in a little water, and then freeze chunks of them with a little of their liquid to hold the cubes together. I think they’re kind of pretty.

Peaches. Ooh la la.

They reheat well to mix in with her morning cereal… when she’ll let me feed it to her.

Movin’ on up

…to table foods, that is.

Nora is 9 months old — how did that happen?? — and is getting less and less interested in being spoon-fed and more and more interested in feeding herself (messily). So, as with many things in parenting, just as I’m finally feeling competent at making and freezing purées for her, it’s time to change up the game a little!

Lunch time!

Although we’re certainly not going to stop giving her purées any time soon, we’re starting to transition to feeding her less of those, and letting her feed herself a variety of other things, including food from our plates. She has been getting table foods a couple of months already, but she has only recently become an expert at actually getting things in her mouth (most of the time) and chewing them.

At Nora’s 6-month visit, our pediatrician suggested we start her on purées and then move on to just giving her little bits of whatever we’re eating. There are so many “rules” floating around out there for what you can and can’t feed your baby during the first year (egg whites? strawberries? soy?) that it’s enough to make a new parent’s head spin, but thankfully, we are only forbidden from giving her honey and shellfish before she’s a year old. Not a problem!

We started off with store-bought puffs to help develop her pincer grasp, and they were great for that purpose, but I really wanted to move on, since they have sugar in them and are really not all that nutritious. We ended up replacing puffs with freeze-dried blueberries, which have a similar texture and sweetness, and she seems to love them just as much.

Yum!

We’ve been puff-free for about a month, hurray!

Besides just food off our plates, here are some foods I’ve found that work well as baby finger foods:

  • Edamame (I just buy the frozen ones at Trader Joe’s, heat them in the microwave, and then share a snack with her!)
  • Freeze-dried fruits and veggies (we’ve tried blueberries, peaches, mangoes, cranberries and peas so far)
  • Graham crackers (these are a huge hit)
  • Sliced figs (the skin icks her out, so she just eats the insides and spits the skin out)
  • Sliced peeled cucumbers
  • Dried blueberries or other fruits (a different texture than freeze-dried, but she likes them too)
  • Champagne grapes (I always try to buy organic, since grapes tend to be contaminated by pesticides)
  • Pizza crust (yeah, I know, but it makes a great teether!)
  • Sliced peaches
  • Bits of cooked greens (Nora is interested in anything leafy, so I use that fascination to my advantage!)
  • Soft tofu cubes coated in wheat germ* (OMG she looooooves these)

Myyyyyyy tofu!

  • Sliced strawberries (a bit of wheat germ is useful here, too)
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Orzo

* The wheat germ trick is one of my favorites, and you can use it on pretty much anything that’s a little too slippery for a baby to pick up easily.

On my list to try soon:

  • Pancakes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Waffles
  • Chickpeas
  • Sliced pears
  • Sliced apples

If anyone has any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

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