There are nights where I just don’t feel like cooking and especially after coming home from a long day at work. Trying to find something quick and easy and relatively good for you is sometimes a challenge. When it was just my husband and I, we would eat whatever was available but of course with Ella, I’m trying to be a little more careful. Serving a sandwich was always an easy solution but the options for cold cuts was always filled will a ton of preservatives! No wonder every time you pass a deli counter, they were always stacked to the rim with packaged meat in their back-up fridge (and it wasn’t because they sold through it weekly). (more…)
I always made baby food for Ella. She seemed to like soups so off I went buying chicken bones and vegetables to make my own chicken stock. As many know, this doubles or sometimes triples the amount of time to prepare a dish. Even with bulk cooking and freezing smaller portions for her to have later, I still found it to be a lot of work. I decided to look into using premade chicken stock and went to the common brand which I’ve used many times before having Ella – Campbell’s. I was surprised to see all the ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or other preservatives contained in Campbell’s Chicken Broth. I assumed with it being a broth instead of a fully prepared soup that it should be pretty basic and natural – boy was I wrong. Unfortunately the other alternatives at the grocery store were not much better and yes I read every label in several grocery stores! So, I continued to make my homemade broth while still hopeful that I’d find a better alternative.
On one of my trips to Costco, I decided to see what they had just in case. I was ecstatic to find that their very own Kirkland brand of chicken stock was exactly what I was looking for and as simple as you can get for ingredients. Not that you can buy small quantities at Costco anyways, I stocked up. I figured with a year’s shelf life, I would have no problem using it up. Unfortunately after two times purchasing the Kirkland chicken stock, I couldn’t find it anymore at my Costco. I went to others and no luck either. A few months later my sister found it again at a Costco in the states and I’m now stocked up again. Not sure why the Canadian Costcos or at least the ones I’ve been to in the GTA no longer carry it even though it clearly states on the box that it’s a product of Canada. If anyone out there finds it at a Canadian Costco – please let me know!
So much time saved not having to make stock from scratch!
As soon as we started with solids for Ella, I started to look for snacks that I could pack in her diaper bag and take on the go with me. My first goal was to find crackers or similar that was soft and more easily chewed or more accurately gummed by Ella especially since she only had a couple of teeth that had come through. First I was introduced to Baby Mum-Mums by a friend – read the label and sure enough sugar was one of the ingredients. I then went to buy a box of Cheerios and again there was sugar. Lastly we were given Arrowroot cookies – again it contained sugar. Don’t be fooled by the cute baby on the box unless you’re looking at giving your 6 month old sugar. Who would of thought I would become one of “those moms”? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t delusional to think I could prevent her from having sugar – I was more trying to wait until she was a little older – at least past her first birthday if at all possible. She had a lifetime to consume candy, chocolate and all those other goodies that all of us along with every child loves so much.
So off I went up going to several grocery stores, health food stores, drugstores, Costco and any other store out there that would potentially give me an alternative option to sugar. I stumbled upon these Korean wheat pops (and later found rice pops as well) which are basically kernels of wheat put into a machine with hot air and puffs into a light cracker of sorts with no additives or sugar – just the grain. I purchased a bag from Longo’s and these became a staple snack – easy to digest , no sugar and they keep for a while without the need for preservatives. For some reason I thought these would be like the cardboard tasting plain rice cakes but surprisingly these were actually good. More importantly Ella loved eating them and they were easy to transport so I was sold.
My second goal was to find fruit that again was easy to transport, as mess free as possible and also wasn’t a chocking hazard. I ended up with two options – GoGo Squeeze which is applesauce in a convenient small squeezable packaging with a small twist off cap the you can either feed with a spoon or if they are older, they can consume straight from the package. Especially when you are only introducing single foods slowly as they start to consume solids, these were a great option since applesauce was one of the first on my list to introduce. As you get into mixing foods, there are several other brands out there with the same concept.
The second option was freeze dried fruits. Again, no preservatives – just fruit and completely mess free with a really long shelf life. Freeze dried means that all the moisture has been taken out of them to the point they are almost crispy to eat. Even better, they don’t require much chewing at all – they almost start to dissolve as you eat them. Initially I ordered these on-line but soon found a Kirkland brand at Costco. What a great way to ensure they get fruit on-the-go and not worry about it browning, getting bruised or going bad if you forget about them!
Another option I found as she started to develop a sweet tooth are these PC fruit bars. A great alternative to giving her gummy fruit snacks (even the ones that advertise that they are made with 100% fruit juice have some type of additional sugar added to in them). Note these are meant for children at least 12 months old.
As she got a little older although I don’t restrict her from having sugar, where there is an alternative with no sugar she definitely gets that instead.