No Yolking Around – Organic Pancakes for Kids Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Jonathan, a two-and-a-half-year-old, was allergic to eggs but wanted to eat pancakes. His mom couldn’t find a recipe without eggs, so she sent me a request and challenge: Find an egg-free pancake recipe. I couldn’t find one either, so I came up with my own. This allows those not yet introduced to eggs to enjoy pancakes with the rest of the family.

Makes about 8 (5-inch) pancakes: 4 servings

1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic milk
2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and oil. Add milk mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir with a rubber spatula until just blended. If batter is too thick, thin with milk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease skillet with cooking spray or melted butter.

For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle or skillet. Cook until bubbles form on top of pancakes and bottoms are golden and set. Flip with a spatula and brown other sides until golden. Warm finished pancakes in a 300°F oven, while continuing to use batter to make more batches.

Tip: Packing pancakes. Pancakes make a great snack for packing and snacking. Make a double recipe and seal cold, leftover pancakes in a zipper bag in your refrigerator or freezer. They make fast, convenient on-the-go finger foods.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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What Are Those Little Black Things? (Organic Mini Banana Bran Muffin Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

There’s an important food science question circulating at my son’s preschool… what are those black little things in banana bread and muffins? Most just assume it’s something to do with the overripe bananas. But one of my son’s teachers (and a foodie with a cooking background) says she’s never noticed them in her breads. She even brought me a sample. But now that the mystery has gone on, she and I have made various banana breads and muffins with various results — all tasty but some with black things and some without. Recently I was at a cooking class at Restaurant TWO in San Francisco and asked Andrea the pastry chef. She probably thought I was crazy. She said “I don’t know. I’ve never not had them in my bread”. But then I’ve seen pictures in magazines and cookbooks both with and without the little black things.

I’ve consulted the “big book” too. That’s Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. OChef.com takes questions about “life’s vexing cooking questions”, however, they say due to the volume of questions you’re never sure of a timely answer. He has a mention about ingredients such as blueberries and walnuts being folded into batters and turning colors (such as blue and green) and this is because of the solids in the batter and the distribution (or over use) of baking soda. But these little black things are pretty uniform. So I’m not satisfied with that as an explanation for the bananas.

I’m hoping someone who reads this will know what I’m talking about and might even be able to solve the mystery. Anyone?

Organic Mini Banana Apple Bran Muffins
(from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

These mini muffins have all the flavor of a big muffin, but fit nicely into little hands. Of course you can also make these in a regular full size muffin pan, just remember to increase baking time to 15 to 18 minutes and check for doneness. Be sure you’ve already introduced wheat and eggs before giving these muffins to baby. This also makes a good use for baby’s extra apple puree.

1 cup organic wheat flour
½ cup organic oat bran
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
¾ cup organic applesauce or homemade apple puree
3 medium organic bananas, 1 mashed (about ½ cup) and 2 sliced
½ cup organic light brown sugar
2 cage free, organic eggs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 24 mini muffin cups or 12 regular muffin cups.

With a fork, combine flour, bran, salt, and soda in a small mixing bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave for 25 seconds on High. In a large bowl combine butter, applesauce, mashed banana, sugar and eggs. Mix together with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture to applesauce mixture and stir until just blended. Batter will be lumpy and very moist.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. Place banana slice on top of each muffin. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out muffins.

Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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A New Sous Chef in Town (with Brussels Leaves Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My son and I have always had a fun relationship in the kitchen. From a very early age (really 3 months) he’s been with me while I recipe test. He used to watch me knead dough from the comfort and safety of his bouncy seat at 5 months old. Later when he was about one year old he would sit in his high chair in the center of the kitchen singing and humming while smelling and (sometimes) tasting ingredients such as lemons, potatoes, and apples. Sometimes he would be at my feet playing with wooden spoons and pots. He was very patient and seemed to enjoy himself and our interactions. I made up lots of songs about vegetables and explained what I was doing with each measurement and task. Kind of a cooking show for babies.

I like to think that my kitchen lessons worked, as my son eats well compared to his friends and likes (or used to) help in the kitchen. Up until recently he would help measure, stir, turn on appliances and wait for taste tests. The recently part changed with the addition of a new sous chef – my daughter Ellery. Up until a month or so ago she wasn’t as interested in being with me in the kitchen. Sure, she’ll play with measuring cups and bang spoons, but not for long. She just always wants to eat and likes to scream at the refrigerator – hoping it will magically open. And when it does, boy she is fast. She’s able to get her little hands in and out grabbing produce, water bottles or anything else within reach. Once she has her prize, then she runs and laughs at me to come chase her. Recently she went running into the living room with tomatoes – popping them in her mouth and squealing with delight as they squished down her shirt and across the carpet. My son just said “yuk”.

While baking for the holidays my daughter seemed to notice how my son helps, and now I think she’s trying to take over his position. Literally as he’s standing on his stool, she climbs and forces her way next to him. He yells “no, no!” and she yells “see, see!” I thought “great”, she’s 18 months old so I’ll pull her high chair in and she can watch us. Nope. In the highchair she just wants to stand up. I find myself holding her to do a task and letting her watch. Then set her down quickly when I need both hands or have something requiring heat or cutting. Let’s just say she is not happy during the set down. It’s amazing how much moms can do with a child on their hip.

However, I found an activity that everyone can do together. You’ll never guess… peeling Brussels sprouts. My son and husband prefer to eat the individual leaves rather than the whole head. They come out kind of crisp and light, as opposed to the heavy texture of the whole sprout. Unfortunately it is labor intensive to peel each sprout leaf by leaf. Here’s how I, surprisingly, enlisted help. My daughter and son were eating a snack at the table. I sat with them and started to peel the spouts. I never said anything. My son asked what I was doing and he immediately volunteered to help. Once my daughter saw my son helping she reached over for a sprout too. I gave her one, thinking she would try to eat it then push it away. But she actually starting peeling it. (At this point everyone was whisked away to the sink for extra hand washing). And she was good at it too. Even copying her brother by saying “cut!” when she couldn’t peel anymore and needed more leaves loosened. We finished the job in about 20 minutes and I dubbed them the Brussels Buddies. I hope my new kitchen “line” will have this much fun the next food prep task.

Organic Brussels Leaves Recipe

1 pound organic Brussels sprouts
¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a jelly roll pan with foil.

Cut bottom stem or core of each sprout. Carefully peel away the leaves until it becomes too hard to peel. Cut off bottom core again and peel more layers. Continue cutting and peeling until it is too difficult to peel apart.

Place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon and stir until all leaves are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again.

Spread leaves onto prepared baking pan in a single layer. Cook in oven 10 – 12 minutes or until leaves are cooked and start to crisp with golden edges.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: BBC Good Food
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Happy New Year! Lobster vs. Pizza – Don’t Ask (with Kid’s Organic Pizza Dough Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

Here’s a photo from last year’s New Year’s Eve at my house. My son was 3½ and my daughter 6 months and yes, we dressed up in silly hats and rang in the New Year at 9 p.m. (East Coast time) with confetti and streamers. I’ve discovered this is what you do as parents with young children, instead of going out to glamorous parties and expensive dinners on New Year’s.

Actually my plan was to do a little celebration with the kids early, and have a nice romantic meal with my husband once the children were asleep. Maybe even rent a movie and stay up and see midnight. This did not happen. I thought I’d make whatever my son wanted for dinner. He loved making pizza dough so I thought he would naturally say “pizza”. Well he replied “lobster”. I’m not kidding. I wondered if I mentioned lobster as a possibility for the later adult meal, but couldn’t figure out how he came up with lobster. O.K. the meal would now be a romantic lobster dinner for 3. Except I wasn’t able to get to the store until 4 p.m. that evening. Note to others (and self) – do not go grocery shopping at 4 p.m. the day of a holiday. Not only was the store mobbed but it was slim pickings. Plus I didn’t want to cook live lobsters. So we supplemented with steaks and called it surf and turf.

We sat down to a lovely dinner, and even had candles and china. My son was thrilled. Of course, my daughter woke up just as the plates hit the table (they always know dinnertime) and I was off to feed and comfort her. So the dinner was enjoyed by a two-some (my son and husband).

I made lobster again this year, as my son is a creature of habit and requested it again. Who can argue? Anyone can bake lobster and melt butter. But here’s a recipe for pizza dough so you can resolve to make your own instead of ordering out in 2008.

Presto Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

There’s no other kitchen activity that’s more fun for kids than creating their own personal pizzas. Kids love to knead dough and choose their own toppings. It is not necessary to have perfect pies, so get your hands in there instead of a rolling pin.

This dough makes pizza, breadsticks and teething biscuits.

1 tablespoon powdered yeast (1 ounce package)
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons warm water
¾ cups organic whole wheat flour
¾ cups organic unbleached flour
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients to yeast and water. Mix together and knead by hand for about 3 minutes, until dough is smooth. Make dough into a ball and return to bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled – about 30 minutes.

For pizza: place dough on a greased baking or pizza pan and press fingers to spread into desired shape. Add desired sauce and toppings and bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crust is brown on the edges. Makes one 12 to 14 inch pizza.

For bread sticks: Divide dough into 12 portions and roll with hands into stick shapes of desired width – fatter for soft and thinner for hard. Place sticks on a greased baking pan and bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Makes 12 breadsticks.

For teething biscuits: Make above breadstick recipe and place in freezer to harden, or a cool soothing treat. Be sure to carefully monitor baby while chewing on biscuits.

Double Time: Double all ingredients to make a thick crust pizza. Or simply make one pizza now and save the second dough ball in the freezer for the next time your little ones ask for pizza.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Sugar, Nuts, Spice and Everything Nice… (Organic Spiced Raisin Nut Mix Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

Sugar, nuts, spice and everything nice… that’s what holidays are made of. Well you could probably add a few more ingredients like butter, gravy and chocolate. But this Spiced Raisin Nut Mix recipe is a quick and easy one for snacking and sharing during the season.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Spiced Raisin Nut Mix

There are many variations of spiced nuts. This one is special because of the raisins which give an added crunch, sweetness and chew to the mix.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon organic evaporated cane juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 organic egg white
1 1/2 cups organic pecan halves
1 cup organic golden raisins

Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with cooking oil.

Heat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

In a seprate small bowl beat egg white until frothy. About 30 seconds with electric mixer.

Add spice mixture to egg and stir with rubber spatula to combine. Stir in pecans and toss until evenly coated.

Spread nuts on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in 5 minute increments, rotating pan 1/4 turn and gently stirring pecans (so they do not stick).

Bake 15 – 18 minutes total or until nuts and raisins are browned, but not burned. Remove from oven and cool completely before eating.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddlerand lives in Sausalito, California.
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Easy, Creative Organic Dips for Kids Recipes

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From Lisa Barnes

Sometimes it’s hard to think of creative dips and spreads to excite your children. Don’t worry; whether you have an arsenal of dips or none at all, your child will use his imagination and come up with the craziest combinations.

Here are a few fun and easy suggestions that require no measuring or recipes.

Single Item Dips

Cream Cheese. Dip raw organic vegetables such as carrots and celery as well as fruit slices of apples and pears. Also a versatile spread on sandwiches, wraps, and crackers.

Fruit purees, such as apple, peach, and pear. Use for dunking chunks of fruits, pancakes, waffles, and chicken bites.

Mustards. These are very versatile. Honey mustard (do not give honey to babies under 1 year) is of course a favorite for chicken, meatloaf, broccoli, and cauliflower trees. For an Asian flair your child may enjoy mustard with soy sauce for dipping noodles, vegetables, and tofu sticks.

Naturally brewed soy sauce (tamari). Little ones can dunk meats and vegetable chips or pour the sauce over soba and rice dishes.

Organic ketchup. Have on hand for meats, fish sticks, polenta, potato fries, and vegetable chips.

Organic natural nut butters (peanuts are not recommended for children under 2 years). This is pure peanut taste without the trans fats and sugars. Use for dunking cheese sticks, apple slices, graham crackers, and bites of banana.

Vegetable purees, such as avocado, edamame, or spinach. Use as spreads on pitas, tortilla chips, and for dipping vegetable spears.

Yogurt. Serve with angel food cake pieces, toast points, waffles and pancakes, fruits, and vegetables.

Combination Dips

Classic oil and vinegar dressing. Use for dipping pieces of bread or steamed vegetables.

Cottage or ricotta cheese plus any fruit or vegetable puree. Dunk fruit and vegetable pieces, noodles, pancakes, and French toast.

Plain yogurt or cream cheese mixed with spices or herbs. Try yogurt with cinnamon or cream cheese with fresh rosemary or thyme.

Plain yogurt plus any fruit or vegetable puree. Create your own flavors by adding fruit and vegetable purees. Fruit blends work with fruit chunks, vegetable spears, toast points, and waffle pieces. Veggie combos are good for dipping vegetable slices and chicken pieces.

Ideas from Kids

Dip grapes in ketchup.

Dip fingers in mustard.

Dip all food in glass of milk or water.
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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I met Alice Waters… (with Toasted Breadcrumbs Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

I was surprised to see Alice Waters was going to be signing her new book The Art of Simple Food, in Corte Madera at Cost Plus. First, authors usually do signings in San Francisco vs. Marin. Second, Cost Plus isn’t my first choice when buying a cookbook. None the less, I was curious and wanted in. I certainly think of myself as a fan. Not just for her revolution in bringing awareness to fresh, organic foods and of course delicious restaurant menu offerings. But more for her passion for seasonal food, fostering community, educating children, and overall environmental stewardship.

A few years ago I visited Martin Luther King Middle School where the birth of the Edible Schoolyard began. I was so impressed that this author and chef, along with a school principal cared enough to create this amazing garden and kitchen classroom. I wished I were back in middle school, or at least could have my own children experience this unique program. Kids were doing it all: composting, digging, picking, weeding, watching, cooking, prepping, smelling, touching, tasting. But mostly enjoying and learning.

For the book signing, I wasn’t sure how early to show up. I remember lining up for over an hour to see Jamie Oliver (he was really late) at Sur La Table in S.F. a few years ago. Unfortunately I finally had to give up, since my new baby woke up and didn’t want to be in a cooking store. Another time I was hoping to buy a cake pan in Williams-Sonoma and found a line around the block in Corte Madera. I wondered about all the fuss and discovered Rachel Ray was there signing her latest book. What a crowd! Mostly women trying to get a glimpse, signature and photo.

I decided to arrive at the Cost Plus store 30 minutes prior to the signing time and was surprised to see I was 3rd in line. Where was everyone? As the time grew near more people came, but I still thought there should be more. I overheard some saying they didn’t cook, but thought the book would make a good Christmas gift for a friend/reletive that did enjoy cooking. I wasn’t there for a gift, I was treating myself. In addition to buying her book and wanting to meet her, I also gave her my book. I just wanted to share with her that I too was a believer in healthy and fresh children’s food, and thank her for leading the way.

She was very kind and even interested in my writings and classes and asked “Has it been difficult?” The answer was “Yes, at first (7 years ago when I started). But now the practices of organic and sustainable foods (and lifestyle) are much more mainstream and thankfully there’s not as much of a need to convince parents of the value of making such choices when feeding children.” I think Alice Waters and others such as Jamie Oliver, have and continue to bring awareness to parents and schools about the state of cafeteria offerings, childhood obesity and diseases – and I thank them for that. You’ll see I couldn’t stop myself from handing my camera to a shopper and asking her to get a photo (above).

Ms. Water’s new book would be welcome in anyone’s kitchen library. I will refer to it many times, I’m sure. More interesting than the recipes I think are the thoughtful comments and information about ingredients as well as cooking techniques. I’ve included her recipe for toasted bread crumbs below. On the page facing this recipe is an entire page about breadcrumbs and why and how to choose the bread, various uses for breadcrumbs and texture differences. It’s informative, yet simple to do and that’s the point. “From scratch” doesn’t need to be intimidating or complicated.

Toasted Breadcrumbs
(from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, pg. 63)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pare away all the crust from:
Levain or other country-style bread

Cut the bread into cubes and process in a blender or food processor until the crumbs reach the fineness you want.

Toss with:
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil for every cup of breadcrumbs

Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake until golden brown, stirring the crumbs every few minutes for even browning.

Variations

Fry a handful of herbs in hot olive oil over medium heat until crisp. Drain well and toss together with the toasted crumbs and a pinch of salt, if needed.

A few dried chile flakes can be mixed into the crumbs for spice.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Mom to Mom – Six Tips on How to Shop Wisely and Save Money when Buying Organic

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From Lisa Barnes

Some moms I’ve spoken with say they don’t or can’t buy organic foods due to cost and availability. Here are a few ways to make organics more affordable and easy to purchase:

1. Do not always assume organic is more expensive. Look at the prices of conventional and organic products and compare. You may be surprised that on some items, there is little or no difference in price, depending on where and when you buy.

2. Buy in season. These items will be the lowest priced, whether you’re shopping at a specialty market or local farmers’ market.

3. Grow your own. Even a small window box can yield some organic herbs or tomatoes. Larger areas can accommodate lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, carrots, and more. A garden is also a great classroom and hobby for children and adults alike.

4. Shop at one of the more than twenty-five hundred farmers’ markets in the United States. The produce here is as fresh as possible, because the food is usually picked within twenty-four hours of your purchase. This is a great place to check prices with little effort. Becoming a regular shopper and getting to know growers personally is a good way to get the best selection and price.

5. Join a food cooperative. A food co-op is a kind of buyers’ club for affordable, fresh, local organic and natural products. It is an actual store where members buy shares of the business to provide the capital necessary to run the store efficiently. You as a member directly influence the kind and variety of products and foods available and also receive a discount in the store. Many co-ops allow you to buy shares by volunteering several hours per week or month.

6. Visit a farm and pick your own produce. Children love to experience something new, especially when it involves dirt and food. According to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), “Parents had reported that their children started to eat more vegetables after visiting a farm on a school field trip, having experienced for the first time the process of gardening.”

Justifying Expense

Eating is an agricultural and political act, as well as a way to educate your senses. ~Alice Waters

Even though you’ve shopped wisely and used the tips above, sometimes organic is more expensive. The cost of converting land, growing methods, and raising practices from conventional to organic is expensive. Consider the cost of health and well-being, as well as a decision to support the environment, preserving water resources and preventing agriculture-related problems. The extra cost may outweigh the worry and concern you have of the possibility of harming your family and the environment.

I can’t be sure that organic foods are better for my family’s health. But to me the organic practices just make sense. Why wouldn’t I do my best to avoid feeding my son chemicals and pollutants? ~Two-Year-Old Derek’s mom

Reducing Health Risks

Buying organic reduces health risks that can be attributed to commercial pesticides and herbicides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides as potentially cancer causing. No matter how well you wash certain fruits and vegetables there are still remaining traces of potentially harmful chemicals. A report released by the Environmental Working Group entitled Pesticides in Children’s Food concluded that the greatest contribution to a person’s lifetime risk of cancer from pesticide residues occurs during childhood. Babies’ bodies are much more vulnerable to pesticides because their brains and immune systems are still in a state of development. Also, pound for pound, babies eat two to four times more fruits and vegetables than adults, and thus are exposed to a higher percentage of possible contaminants if eating conventionally grown produce.

Increasing Health Benefits

A study at the University of California, Davis (my alma mater) shows that organically grown strawberries, corn, and blackberries are richer in cancer fighting antioxidants, sometimes 60 percent more, than the same conventionally grown crops. Other studies have proven the same for organically grown peaches and pears, too.

Researchers theorize that organically grown plants may produce more antioxidants because they have to work harder to fight off pests and disease otherwise killed by pesticides and chemicals.

Reducing Nitrites

Some fruits and vegetables you’ll want to introduce to your child have high levels of nitrites, due to the fertilized soils in which they grow. The nitrite levels also increase when these food items are stored in your refrigerator. Nitrites are difficult on a baby’s system because their stomach acidity is too low to properly break them down. Overexposure can cause anemia or encourage oxygen to be displaced into bloodstreams, resulting in rapid breathing and lethargy. High nitrite produce includes beets, cantaloupe, carrots, green beans, mustard, spinach, strawberries, and turnips. Buying these items grown organically and eaten fresh, without storing, will lessen exposure. If you choose to buy these foods commercially grown, wait until your baby is over eight months old so they can better process the nitrites. Or you can buy these foods in commercially prepared jars, since baby food companies can screen their produce for nitrites.
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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Minestrone Mama (Organic Minestrone Soup Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My children (I think like most) do not like to see mom on the telephone. As soon as the phone rings the mayhem starts. We could all be playing nicely together, but when I get on the phone my children suddenly fight, yell and generally misbehave. I finally got the reason for this behavior out of my son. He said “we don’t want you to stop playing with us”. Oh that’s sweet and I can’t argue with that – no one likes to be interrupted, but the truth is sometimes I have to take or make a call. Naptime (they don’t nap at the same time) and late at night doesn’t always work, especially for Midwest agents and East Coast publishers.

I told my son I will be brief and try to avoid calls, however he needs to understand the exceptions (see above agent and publisher). So my son is 4 years old and understands to leave his sister alone when I am on the phone. However my daughter at 17 months doesn’t care who’s on the phone and she demands (read screams loudly and grabs at me) to talk too. However I have found a way to keep my daughter happy if I have to make or accept an afternoon call… minestrone soup. Yes that’s right. Not only does my daughter love the taste of minestrone soup but she is fiercely independent and needs to spoon it for herself.

Here’s how the preparation goes. Set phone call time for afternoon when my son is napping (or at least mellow) and daughter will be hungry (about 2 p.m.) Next, always have soup on hand (see recipe below). Two minutes before scheduled call, strip daughter down to diaper for ease of clean-up. After caller answers, set lukewarm bowl of soup in front of daughter and hand her a small spoon. Sit at table to multi-task – taking notes from conversation and watching to be sure soup is not depleted and child is not eating too fast (avoid choking incident). I now have about 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time, and a content child. I’m sure to end conversation before she stands up in highchair, gives “all-done” sign or drops bowl on the floor.

Of course a bath should follow…

Organic Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is a great way to use an abundance from your garden and also get your family to eat a healthy dose of vegetables. Feel free to substitute left-over meats in place of the turkey, or skip the meat and make it a classic vegetarian meal.

Olive oil, 3 tablespoons, divided
Organic ground turkey, ½ pound
Salt, ¼ teaspoon
Pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, 1 teaspoon
Leek, ½, sliced, about 1/3 cup
Carrot, 1 medium, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Zucchini, 1 medium, chopped, about ¾ cup
Green Beans, 2 ounces, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Celery, 1 stalk, chopped, about ¼ cup
Organic Vegetable stock, 1 quart
Vine ripened tomatoes, 3 medium, about 2 cups
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon
Organic Cannellini beans, 1 cup, rinsed and drained
Elbow macaroni, ¼ cup
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add turkey, salt, pepper and oregano, stirring and breaking up turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove turkey with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme and paste and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add cannellini beans and stock and macaroni and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Add turkey to heat, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 cups
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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I Heart Organic Cranberry Sauce – Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope everyone is planning an organic and sustainable Thanksgiving Holiday. I read a few challenges on websites and newspaper articles for people to shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients that are produced, raised and grown within a 100 mile radius from their home. One site with some helpful tips and resources is IdealBite.com . This challenge is probably easier to do in some places than others. Of course farmer’s markets are always a good place to start. Check out LocalHarvest.com and search for “turkey” in your zip code to find a list (hopefully) near you.

How about organic cranberry sauce? As soon as these fresh, tart berries are in season I buy lots to have in the freezer (my son eats them plain – talk about sour!) and also to make sauce. Growing up we had sauce from a can (not because anyone seemed to like it but because it was tradition) and I didn’t realize until years later how much better (and easy to make) homemade sauce is. This is a simple sauce that works well on the Thanksgiving table, as well as the perfect condiment for sandwiches, pancakes and waffles after the holiday.

Organic Cranberry Sauce from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Everyone loves cranberry sauce for the holidays. This has just the right balance of tart and sweet and makes a great spread for turkey, beef or veggie sandwiches anytime. Just remember to freeze some cranberries during the winter to enjoy when they are out of season. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for company.

1 cup fresh organic cranberries
¼ cup organic apple juice
¼ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated organic lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a saucepot and cook over medium heat. As mixture heats, cranberries will make a popping sound as skins break open. Be careful as hot juice may splatter. Sauce is ready when cranberries have popped and sauce is thick, 5 – 8 minutes.

Makes about 1 cup.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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