From the Ground Up–Raising Healthy Eaters

I have been asked to do a post on an overall guide to how I feed my children from birth on.  I would love to share that! I’ve had a blast reviewing my notes from over the past four years. And I’m still going through this process with my son who is 20 months old now.

I have chosen to breastfeed my babies through 18 months. It is at 8 months when I introduce my babies to their first solids.  I will give a month-by-month list (plus yummy combinations) of the foods I have introduced for both my kids, minus a few differences which I’ll note below. Overall, I introduced both of my children to the same foods around the same months.

Remember, it is recommended to introduce a new food for four days to see possible reactions.  After four days, a new food can be introduced.  With my daughter, I was very motivated and did a new food every 4 days.  My son got a new food every 4 to 7 days (I was a bit busier at that time).

This list is so comprehensive because of how much fun I had making new foods for my daughter and exposing her to new tastes. My son, like I said, got the same foods, just not as many per month. In a way, I felt like I had failed him because I didn’t follow my daughter’s order of new foods exactly, and I’ll tell you, it is much harder with the second child because you are a lot busier anyways. I had to learn to give myself grace. Give yourself grace too. Use this list as an inspiration for you and your baby. That’s what I want this to be: an inspiration for health.

Everything was homemade.  If not, I’ll note the brands that I liked and thought were the purest.

Remember, I hold off on introducing grains until about 14 months because of the gluten intolerances in our family. I only introduce grains containing no gluten (rice, quinoa, etc.). Also we start with goat dairy around a year, and I don’t let my kids have cow dairy until between 18 months and two years. (A little bit of ice cream, if they handle it well, is fine with me every now and then).

Finally, when I mention my daughter, she is my first born. My son is my second.

Month-by-month guide (foods are listed in the order I introduced them within each month)

Eight months:
pears-very first food for both babies
(I did mango only for my son as a second food because they were available and delicious. He did not react well–he spit up quite a bit that day and was fussy–so I did not do mangoes again until 12 months)
sweet potato
butternut squash
acorn squash
Yummy combinations: pear/kale, apple/kale, sweet potato/apple, butternut squash/apple, carrot/prune, acorn squash/apple

Nine months:
sesame milk (yes, I made this from scratch. Very easy. Perfect protein to add to any fruit or veggie)
Yummy combinations: pea/zucchini, sweet potato/sesame milk, banana/sesame milk smoothie, zucchini/apple, mashed avocado/sesame milk, carrot/sesame milk

Ten months:
spaghetti squash
tahini (sesame butter- I bought the Once Again brand of organic tahini)
brussel sprouts
nutritional yeast
ground flax seeds
Yummy combinations: nutritional yeast sprinkled on avocado
Finger food readiness: bake sweet potatoes and roll little balls of the flesh in a pile of ground flax seed to make for easy gripping, dice avocado into small pieces and sprinkle with nutritional yeast to help with gripping, dice bananas into small pieces and sprinkle with either flax seed or nutritional yeast

Eleven months:
kabocha squash
split peas
Yummy combinations: broccoli/apple, broccoli/pear, lentils/nutri yeast

You may be thinking: “Some of this food is disgusting! Who gives their baby brussel sprouts or lentils?”
Answer: I do. It’s always worth a try. Of course, my daughter did not like pureed brussel sprouts the first time. So I’d mix a little in with apples, just to give her the taste. Brussel sprouts are packed with good stuff (and her mama loves them), so, why not introduce these new tastes? Why not develop tastes for a lifetime of healthy foods? I truly, truly believe this is so important. To this day, my daughter still eats brussel sprouts. She hates tomatoes, but loves broccoli, lettuce, and sweet potatoes. All I can think is I’m happy she has some favorite veggies that she asks for and actually eats. It’s all about exposure and developing tastes.

Here’s my little munchkins enjoying some broccoli.  My daughter dug this broccoli straight out of the grocery bag on the table.  Immediately my son climbed up on the chair to share in the spoils 🙂  My mama heart was so happy. (Note: I know you may not believe your eyes.  But I didn’t prompt them to do this at all.)

IMG_7300 IMG_7294

Twelve months:
coconut water
blueberries (I bought and froze a bunch and put them in a mesh feeder. Whole berries are about the only thing I put into the mesh feeders. NOTE: bananas are a terrible thing to put in a mesh feeder–does not clean well!)
green beans
garbanzo beans
almond butter (For my son, but I waited until fifteen months with my daughter).
coconut milk
goat yogurt, plain (I like Redwood Hill Farm brand)
Yummy combinations: apple/cinnamon, butternut squash/cinnamon, coconut water/banana, beet/apple, garbanzo mash/zucchini, goat yogurt with pureed peaches
(Stay-tuned for a future post about what I made for their one-year-old birthday treats that were gluten and dairy free).

Thirteen months:
hummus (I made it from scratch to begin with then started buying Blue Moose brand)
orange juice
Yummy combinations: veggie/fruit smoothies, egg frittatas with finely chopped veggies

Fourteen months:
Kelp powder (sprinkle on food in small amounts, good added nutrition)
Curry powder (I’d sprinkle a tiny, tiny bit on eggs before scrambling. The turmeric in it is so nutritious!)
Olive Oil
Rice (plain rice puff cereal and cooked rice)
Quinoa (I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes to make a hot cereal and the cooked whole grains)
Nutmeg (tiny bit sprinkled in Quinoa oatmeal)
Hazelnut milk
Yummy combinations: rice and scrambled eggs, baked egg casserole with spinach and quinoa, hazelnut pancakes (recipe to be posted in a later post)

Fifteen months:
almond butter
Yummy combinations: almond butter is SO good on sweet potatoes!
Larabar plug: I felt my babies chewed things well enough at this point to give them Cashew Larabars. Cashews soften easily especially sitting with dates in a Larabar. These were easy-to-grab snacks.

With any new foods after this, I stay on a four-day new food introduction until my children are two years old. I do this to watch for any reactions.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I introduce cow dairy anywhere between 18 months and two years and corn around two years.

I hope you find this helpful and something you can use as a guide. Please ask me questions any time! Health is a passion of mine!


Sorely Neglected but Stain Free

Unlike my nose, which is raw from too many tissues, my blog has been sorely neglected.  Leave it to the cold I have had all, I mean ALL summer. I just can’t kick this thing.  We all keep passing it back-and-forth to each other like a hot potato. Well, we’ve passed it around so long it’s a cold potato now. (Haha! That was a TERRIBLE pun…blame it on the cold.)  Anyways…if that pun didn’t scare you away, read on.

In the midst of our colds, hubby has been home all summer on vacation.  When he’s busy all year, time together during the summer is good for all of us. An extra hand with two busy kiddos is always welcome too.  We’ve had a ton of family adventures:  a trip to Durango (which my daughter reminisces about weekly :), excursions to the zoo, bike rides, birthdays, frozen yogurt, homemade popsicles, and lots of cuddles and giggles.

Even though I have neglected my blog, another thing that has received plenty of attention, like my nose, is my children’s clothes.  Believe it or not, all the yummy summer fruit, popsicles, and frozen yogurt have frequently found their way from my children’s mouths onto their clothes.  Lots of stains for this mama to scrub-a-dub-dub.  I’m seriously ready to make a full-body bib for my son out of plastic 😉

Stain removal is my nemesis, partly because of the smell. The strong fragrances overwhelm my system, making me sick to my stomach, and I also get paranoid my fingers are going to peel from chemical overload. Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but for these reasons, I can’t stand scrubbing for long.  I think my stains don’t come out as well because my endurance is literally non-existenet with these types of products.

But, never fear, this summer I have discovered one of the best stain removers!  It’s homemade, easy, and gentle on my stomach, yet tough on stains! (I’d like to give credit where credit is due.  I did not make this up myself, but I discovered it on my Facebook page from my aunt’s repost from a man named Ron Howard.  His page is so popular he’s reached the limit to how many people can follow him on Facebook.  Other stuff on his page was odd, but I liked this recipe for stains.  I have tweaked it a little for what I found worked for me and can hopefully work for you.  Look below for another woman’s blog post about it and how she used it.  Then make it, use it, tweak it, and make it your own.)   🙂

4 Tbl. hydrogen peroxide

4 Tbl. baking soda

1 tsp Dawn dish soap

Mix all together to make a paste.  Apply to stain and scrub with an old toothbrush.  Wash clothes on cold.

Our cup cabinet is full of canning jars we now use as water glasses.  I used a small one to mix these ingredients in.  The first batch did so well on 7 pieces of clothing that, I’m embarrassed to mention, had been sitting in a pile in the laundry room just soaking in their stains for over a week.  I was certain a few of the clothes were goners because of my negligence…I’m blaming this one on the cold and my feelings towards stain-removal 😉 I feared I’d have to scrub so much to get the stains out. But I found this recipe and was excited for once to tackle stains.

After applying the recipe above, the clothes spun in a cold cycle with Ecos Free and Clear liquid detergent.  Voila!  All of the stains came out.  Pleasantly surprised.  I think I’m in love with stain removal now.

Since that first batch, I’ve made more each time I work on stains.  I will say, it didn’t work well on watermelon, surprisingly.  But it did wonders on chocolate and berry stains.  With the watermelon, I may have altered my measurement because I just filled my jar again with a few shakes of baking soda from the box, some squeezes of hydrogen peroxide, and a drop of Dawn. The leftovers kind of dry out, so depending on the ratios I see left in the jar, determines what I add.  My eyeball method has still worked on stains, but for certain stains I may just need to be exact.

I have discovered the key for me is making a paste, but I just found a website where the author only uses Dawn and hydrogen peroxide as her stain remover. She adds baking soda for a scrubbing agent:

I think next time, especially on watermelon, I’m going to try only hydrogen peroxide and Dawn.  The good thing about stains is, if they don’t come out all the way, just try again.  Change the ratio a bit.  Scrub a bit more.  Always wash on cold so the stains don’t set (learned that one from my mom: the stain master!).

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of stains this summer, now it’s time to say goodbye to this cold…

Well, time to beat this cold and head to bed.

Vinegar: My Best Friend

When it comes to cleaning my house, I choose pure and simple.   I guess you can say I’m a naturalist.  As natural as it gets is vinegar.

My husband thought I was crazy, that when we melded our two living quarters in marriage, I came armed with vinegar and baking soda, and he with traditional cleaners.  In the battle of the cleaners, vinegar won, and my husband has been converted.  Vinegar is just better, much safer.  It’s better to land on your skin, to soak into your hands, and safer to breathe. With my little ones around, I feel they are safer around vinegar-based cleaning too.  That is important to me.

Vinegar has thousands of uses! I love it!  I’ll list my favorites here:

Toilets:  recreate that 4th grade volcano science project! The volcano in the toilet is effective.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have a volcanic overflow. I put about two tablespoons of baking soda in, followed by about a 1/2 cup of vinegar. (These are estimates. Usually I eyeball it.)  Then it foams (the fun part!), and I brush it clean.

Disinfecting: I soak a rag and wipe down kitchen counter tops, especially after preparing meat dishes.

Mirrors: A paper towel moistened with vinegar is excellent for cleaning mirrors!  Sometimes, I wipe down the mirror with a dry bath towel, but typically, that’s not needed. Vinegar dries streak free.

Coffee cup stains: If you have a coffee cup that is plagued with coffee stains, fill the cup with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water.  Let it soak overnight.  Stain is gone. Voila!

Bad odor: For a bad smell in the kitchen sink, pour 1/2 cup or 1 cup of vinegar down the drain.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before running the water again.

Sinks: Again baking soda and vinegar are teammates.  Put a small pile of baking soda in the sink.  Add vinegar to make a paste then scrub away.  I rinse it off with more vinegar or just water.

Toothpaste holder:  Sprinkle baking soda all over the holder then add vinegar.  Let it sit.  Return to rinse it off and find all of the crusted, dry toothpaste remnants gone!

Floors: Fill a bucket with hot, steaming water.  Add 1 cup vinegar per 1 gallon of water.  Use your mop of choice to clean kitchen and bathroom floors.

Simply said, vinegar is my best friend, my best cleaning friend.  It’s safe because it’s simply so natural.  For heaven’s sake, vinegar is edible! I use the same huge jug of vinegar in recipes.  Finally, vinegar has been very cost-effective for our family.  What’s easier than a household cleaner that’s natural, safe, cheap, and has so many uses in just one bottle?


Preschool Snack Challenge

We started preschool mid-year.  Well, my daughter did, but I might as well have started too.  I had so much to learn…along the lines of snack preparation.

Being stringently gluten-free and mildly dairy-free, we often snack on nuts as an alternative to traditional snacks.

Almonds, peanuts, raw brazil nuts, and cashews–any of these nuts combined with raisins fill our snack baggies often. Of course, a favorite is almond butter on apple slices.  Larabars tend to be our easy, already-packaged snack. Simply one of our favorite snacks and the quickest, easiest one to pack.

So, to my surprise, I see a “No Nut” sign as we enter the preschool building.  It was then that my wheels started turning. I had to learn a new approach to snacks and packing them.

First of all, I bought small plastic containers with an attached lid at Office Depot (of all places).  These were in the lunch box section.  They snap closed and are easy for little fingers.  I bought three to rotate and wash throughout the week.

I had fun figuring out what to fill these handy containers with. Here is a list of gluten free, occasionally dairy-free snacks, I came up with for my daughter. (Some of these we already ate as snacks at home and others are new, I just had to learn what to pack instead of being so used to grabbing mini-Larabars):

GF pretzels

Carrot sticks and hummus

Cuties (perfect for little tummies)

Grapes (and any easy fruit like berries)

Cheese sticks (I had to find some other source of protein.  We have these occasionally and she LOVES them. She feels so grown up eating them 🙂

Rice or corn Chex

Raisins, dried apples, or craisins

Sweet potato sticks as featured in my previous post:

Kale chips (homemade)

My daughter’s favorite snacks are a Cutie with a cheese stick or sweet potato sticks with grapes or raisins.

This preschool snack challenge was excellent: we found new snacks and a new way to pack them.  It made me more intentional in finding variety for my daughter, and…myself.  Challenges are good.  They keep us on our toes, and, if we choose, can make things better.

The. Best. Snack.

I’ve discovered the best snack.  Kid-approved. Homemade.  Easy. Healthy. And…gone in the blink of an eye (it’s that good…)

All you need are sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and cinnamon.


I cut the sweet potatoes into sticks.  Drizzle with coconut oil. Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cook at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes (timing depends on how thick your sticks are).  Stir the sticks half way through cooking time.

I will prepare six sweet potatoes, and between the four of us we will finish them off in two days.  They’ve been a great finger food for my baby and an excellent school snack for my daughter.  We eat them with our lunches too.  I told my husband that I’m making a ton of these and freezing them when sweet potatoes are on sale during the holidays.

What I love about this snack is it’s full of nutrition.  Sweet potatoes beat out white potatoes.  Cinnamon is excellent for blood health and gum health.

I’ve tried over the years to make crispy sweet potato fries…even coating them with egg whites to achieve “crispiness.”  Nothing has worked.  I gave up.  But, I’m very pleased with my new invention: sweet potato sticks!  Enjoy!

Add Those Veggies!–More Uses for Baby Food Puree

My son has moved past the stage of eating solely pureed food. Now…what to do with all that frozen food I’ve made?

Here’s some uses I’ve discovered:

Carrot puree–all those frozen pureed carrots are great to add extra veggies to lunches and dinners.  Just the other night we had leftover pulled pork and I thawed two carrot cubes and a green bean cube, stirred them into the pork, and added a bit of BBQ sauce.  Easy way to add veggies (especially since carrots are one of the few veggies my daughter doesn’t like.)

Butternut squash puree- I make butternut squash risotto at least every other week during the fall and winter.  I was addicted to it when I was pregnant with my son.  It’s SO yummy!  I discovered that I could stir in a couple butternut squash cubes during the middle of the cooking, and it gave it an even richer taste.

Sweet potato puree- believe it or not, stirring a cube into your oatmeal is delicious!  Add some maple syrup and cinnamon and then it’s divine.

Broccoli puree- pretty tasty added to a hot bowl of clam chowder or creamy potato soup.  Gives it that creamy broccoli taste.

Pea puree- I’ve been known to add it to left over risotto for some added protein.

Not to forget all that fruit I’ve made and stored in the freezer.  Here’s some other uses:

Prune Pudding-put two cubes in a bowl for “prune pudding.” Both of my kiddos LOVE this treat.  It thaws very quickly, and it’s a nice cold snack on hot days.  I like this one too!

Mangoes, strawberries, apples, pears, etc.- perfect for making smoothies.

The possibilities are really endless. Please share any ideas you have!   I plan to continue making pureed food with leftover fruits and veggies so I always have them on hand to add to meals.


“How do they get calcium?”

When people discover that I go against the flow…(GASP!)…and don’t give my children glasses of cow’s milk everyday, they usually say something like: “How do they get their calcium then?”

Per my previous post “Why Gluten Free and Cow-Dairy Free?” I explained why we don’t do cow dairy.  So, then, what do I feed my children for calcium?

The first two calcium sources I prepare for them are kale and tahini.  I prepare pureed kale for my babies when they are 8-9 months old.  Next, I introduce tahini around 9-10 months. Other sources of calcium are broccoli, almonds, and goat yogurt/cheese.

Now for my favorite part: the ways I incorporate these foods into their daily meals.

Kale- I’ve also talked about kale as one of my daily “Top 4.” It’s a daily addition to our diet because it is a calcium source. Check out:  When kale is on sale, I buy at least 5 bunches.  When I’ve steamed, pureed and frozen it, I drop kale cubes into spaghetti sauce, soups, chili, scrambled eggs, applesauce (yes, my kids eat green tinted applesauce 🙂 etc.  One of my daughter and son’s favorite first foods is pureed pear sauce and kale.  You’ll even find me serving more than enough so I can finish of their bowl.

Tahini- This seed butter is made from sesame seeds. With a strong taste, I don’t serve this by itself.  When I first introduce it, I mix a small spoonful into pureed acorn squash or sweet potatoes.  Eventually, I make dressings with it, or I sprinkle nutritional yeast over it and we dip broccoli into it.

Broccoli- As with kale, I steam, puree, and freeze it.  It’s another good addition to spaghetti sauce, soups, chili, and scrambled eggs. My daughter loves broccoli, and my son squeals until I give him some off my plate.  We steam it as a side dish about once or twice a week for dinner, nothing added to it.  Then we eat the leftovers for lunches.  We also love dipping the lightly steamed florets into a pile of nutritional yeast.  I’ll even dice broccoli to add it to scrambled eggs, I’ve even gone as far as buzzing off the florets as small as I can with a knife and stirring them into my son’s yogurt (he loved it!).

Almonds- Raw almonds and raisins are a popular snack in our family.  We also love almond butter!  My 14.5 month old squeals with delight at the sight of the almond butter container (I buy the freshly ground tubs of it from Vitamin Cottage).  He eats it little-by-little on a spoon. Often we spread it on sweet potatoes (SO good!), toast, pancakes, apple slices, banana slices, etc.

Goat yogurt/cheese- Goat yogurt is a popular breakfast with granola, ground flax and molasses.  I’ll serve goat cheese slices with sliced pears or in any meal like enchiladas, quesadillas, an omelette, etc.

I just came across an article about some top calcium sources.  I liked it because it listed the daily value of calcium that the foods provide.  This particular list included almonds, kale, and sesame.  It also listed flaxseeds (I had no idea, but I’m thrilled!), brazil nuts, and dried herbs (

At least every other day (in a perfect world, it’d be everyday, but I’m not perfect), my children get kale or broccoli in some way or another.  Even yesterday, my 14.5 month old wasn’t too interested in trying cut-up broccoli florets for the first time (I had shaved the top of the broccoli off), so I sprinkled them in his goat yogurt and he ate them fine. They probably had a texture similar to the ground flaxseeds I put on his yogurt.  I sneak foods into other foods all the time, especially for the sake of calcium.

Here’s to calcium and tasty foods at the same time!  🙂