Monday, January 31, 2011

What's your name?

By Liv

I've never considered that my daughter would be such a chatty kathy. In the last few weeks, I have been keeping track of all the words she says. There are 102 words on my list! I can't believe my 18-month old daughter says over 100 words! Now just imagine listening to her use all of these words... ALL DAY LONG... and this is my daily life :)

Every day, she adds a few words to her vocabulary. Yesterday, I taught her how to say her own name. Check out the video:

(If you are reading this on Facebook, please click this link to view the video: )

Friday, January 28, 2011

GF/EF/DF Breakfast Parfait

By Liv

Try serving this to your kids. They will think it's a treat, even though it's packed full of nutritious nuts/seeds, fruit and protein or calcium - depending on what type if yogurt you use!

Stella's breakfast parfait
1 container of fruit-flavored soy yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fruit
3 Tablespoons topping (I have a glass jar full of toasted coconut, pumpkin seeds and almonds that I blend to a powder and save in the fridge)

Layer yogurt, fruit, yogurt and finish with topping.

Stella's gluten-free/egg-free/dairy-free morning muffins

By Liv

Coming up with a tasty GF/EF/DF breakfast option for a toddler is tricky. I stumbled upon a recipe for morning muffins and decided to use it as a framework to create my own version. The result? Fruity, crunchy, nutty, gooey, cakey deliciousness. And the best part is that Stella loves them!

Stella's Morning Muffins

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix (if your mix contains xanthan gum or guar gum don't add the additional 1 teaspoon gum to the recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum OR xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 4 large carrots)
  • 1 large peeled and shredded apple
  • 8 ounces drained, crushed pineapple
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cups raisins, chopped dates or other type of chopped dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, blended to a coarse powder in blender or food processor
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1/2 cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F / 176° C

Grease standard muffin pan or line with paper muffin cup liners.

In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, gluten-free flour blend, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, Ener-G, and salt. Use a large whisk to thoroughly combine.

In a separate large bowl combine shredded carrots, apples, banana, crushed pineapple, raisins (or other dried fruit), coconut and almonds. Stir to thoroughly mix.

Add the fruit/vegetable/seed mixture to the dry ingredients followed by the oil and vanilla. Beat the mixture to thoroughly combine ingredients.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: About 2 dozen standard size muffins

Friday, January 14, 2011

The hairiest of us all.

By Liv

Stella was born with a ton of hair. I started hearing comments like, "Look at all that hair!" and "She looks like she's wearing a wig!" when she was just a few weeks old. I knew at a very early point in my Mothering career that I was going to have to learn how to manage Stella's hair because there sure is a lot of it!

I used to LOVE when my Mom braided my hair in double french braids, so I decided that it was time to try them on Stella. This is our first try, so cut us a little slack. They were cute, but next time they will be even cuter!

I'll never get used to this.

By Liv

How many times can I say that Oxford is beautiful before you completely stop reading my blogs? How about just this one last time...

Nick and I seized the opportunity to soak up some Vitamin D compliments of the big bright thing in the sky. We triple-packed the baby to ensure that she didn't get even the slightest bit cold and took off on a bike ride to Christ Church meadow.

Oxford sure is beautiful! Oops...

Christmas part II in Bristol

By Liv

Our friends, Gabriel and Kathy, had us over a few days after Christmas. They live in Bristol, which is a short 1-hour train ride from Oxford. While we were visiting, Kathy made sure to stuff us silly with as much British food as she could cook up. She whipped up a traditional Holiday feast and we pretended like it was Christmas all over again.

Stella had a great time playing with her brightly colored Christmas tree and we got to get out and take a look at the town of Portishead - right outside of Bristol.

Christmas in Oxford

By Liv

Christmas Day was pretty uneventful. We woke up slowly and I made Mexican breakfast, which consists of fried potatoes, sausages, refried beans and tortillas. One of Nick's fellow MBA students, Ashish, came over and we all went for a refreshing walk in the snow at Port Meadow. When we returned, we warmed up with Baileys and Hot Cocoa and played Jenga (Nick lost... hah!) and Scrabble (Liv won, of course!).

We missed our family this Christmas but are thankful to have Skype and a trusty internet connection so we can stay in touch!

Stella's Gluten/egg/dairy-free yogurt cereal bars

By Liv

2 cups corn flakes
3/4 all-purpose gluten/wheat-free flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup soy butter
1 cup flavoured yogurt (banana/strawberry etc...)
2.5 Tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine cereal, 3/4 cup flour and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.

Press 1/2 the mixture firmly into the bottom of a greased 8-inch square pan.

Mix yogurt and cornstarch together in another small bowl.

Spread the yogurt over cereal mixture in pan and then sprinkle the remaining cereal mixture on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Using the back of a spatula, carefully press the mixture down. Cut into bars when cooled.

Chicken pot pie: served for Mrs. Picky

By Liv

Who doesn't love chicken pot pie? In order to make this appealing to Mrs. Picky Eater (aka Stella), I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten and changed it up — substituting some things for her gluten and egg-free diet — and then made a special "small" pie just for her by filling a small oven-proof coffee mug with the filling and omitting the top crust.


* 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* Kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
* 2 chicken bouillon cubes
* 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
* 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
* 3/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
* 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
* 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:

* Store-bought pie crusts.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fill two pie plates with the mixture and spoon the remaining mixture in to as many oven-proof rammekins or coffee cups that you can. (I do not cover Stella's with the pie crust, but if your child isn't gluten-intolerant, you can.) Cover the two pies with pie crust and cut a nice design on top for venting purposes.

Place on a baking sheet and bake the rammekins for 15 minutes, the pies for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Bon appetit!

About picky eaters

By Liv

It's quite refreshing to see Stella's little personality form. Along with this new personal independence comes preferences — and many of them. Stella's new found finickiness about food choices has been exhausting, but I have worked hard to try and overcome this obstacle.

First off, I have to say, for any parent who has a picky eater, you have to TRY and you have to try very hard to help your child mold their eating habits. It has been a very big change for us: when Stella first started eating solids, she would eat ANYTHING... vegetables, seaweed, brown rice... even things that I didn't find appealing. At around 14 months, this all started to change and hence my search for a way to instill good eating habits began.

To have a child that starts out eating (and enjoying) almost anything you give her, and see that change, is very frustrating. It took all of our combined willpower not to turn mealtimes in to a power struggle. I have done a lot of reading and a lot of testing and have come to one very important conclusion: CHILDREN WILL NOT STARVE TO DEATH.

I know it may seem like torture to let a child go without a meal, but in the end it just might be the best thing for them. For me, I couldn't imagine the thought of Stella only ever eating dry cereal, which has become her favorite food. Dry cereal is obviously not very nutritious and cannot replace the vitamins and minerals that her growing body needs from vegetables, meats and other food groups.

If her missing a meal and being crabby for a few hours would help her learn that she only has the option to eat the 3 *healthy* choices that I set in front of her at each meal, then so be it.

This "tough love" approach has worked wonders. We are now on the road back to a healthy little eater. It has taken a lot of effort both emotionally (listening to her whine for a cookie) and physically (I have started preparing special meals just for her) but really, instilling healthy habits in our child is very important to us (as it is with any parent!) and I'm sure her self-assumed independence will only grow with each day. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to have this struggle with her when she is 2, 3 or 4 years old. THAT would be hard.

I am going to start including some recipes and ideas that I have found that work for us. Whether or not you have a picky eater, I highly suggest trying out some of the ideas. Sometimes it's as simple as hiding something nutritious in their food or dressing it up to make it look special. These little things can make all the difference to a baby/toddler.

Our recipes are almost completely gluten and egg-free because we have found out that she is intolerant to both of these. You can easily adapt the recipes so that you include wheat and eggs...

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to get your kid to eat greens...

When I was pregnant, I never considered that my daughter would ever NOT eat what I want her to. I soon realized that she is her own person (and vehemently so) and would decide for herself what she wants and prefers to eat. Unfortunately, spinach is not on her list of favorite snacks.

Being the culinary goddess that I am, I decided that I would figure out a way to get raw spinach (and other raw veggies/fruits) past those adorable lips and into that cute little tummy. For all you parents out there who have picky kiddos, try this! It just may work!

Stella's Green Drink
• 1 cup of frozen berries
• 1 cup of other fresh fruit (apple, pear, banana... whatever is in season or in your pantry)
• 1 cup of fruit or vanilla-flavored yogurt (we use a single-serving-size soy yogurt)
• 1/2 to 1 cup fruit juice (apple is our favorite)
• 4 huge handfuls of fresh spinach
• 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

Toss it all in the blender and give it a whirl. The end result may LOOK hideous, but it tastes delicious!

Mix up the types of fruit/yogurt/juice that you use and you'll quickly find that the possibilities are endless. And when all else fails, my answer is to get her involved in the cooking process because when she helps, she is much more likely to want to eat what we are making. Here are videos of her creating and sampling her favorite afternoon snack:

If you are reading this on facebook, watch the videos here:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thanks for the purse, Auntie M!

For her first birthday, Stella was given a purse from her Auntie Jess. Since then, she's been slightly obsessed with purses, so when Auntie Marcea gave me one of her purses when she came to visit us this winter, she took it upon herself to make it her own. Check it out:

If you are viewing this on facebook, click here to see the video: