Safely Feeding Babies

From Lisa Barnes

I see many questions and myths shared about food for babies on parenting websites and blogs.



From Lisa Barnes

Until recently I had only been in the hospital for two reasons – the birth of my son and the birth of my daughter. I remember the hospital food to be pretty decent. There were even two menus of food choices. One was a standard chicken, pasta, and sandwiches. The other menu was Asian with jook, noodles and stir fry. I switched up my entree choices, but once I tried the green tea ice cream, I was hooked. I had it with every meal. It was just the right of sweet and smoke and a lovely sage color.

The last night of the hospital stay in the maternity ward was called “Date Night”. There was a special menu including steak, greens and creme brulee for two. A table for two was set in the room with linens and candles. And our newborn was whisked away to the nursery. It really was a nice dinner and the hospital made a big effort to make you feel like you were on a date. I appreciated the uninterrupted meal even more once my husband and I were home with the new baby as we discovered what so many parents call the “witching hour”. This is the time you set your dinner plate on the table and your baby starts to wail (no matter what the hour).

When I found myself heading to the hospital (not maternity ward) this time I thought, “at least I’ll have my green tea ice cream”. I was wrong. Apparently the “healthy pregnant” people get the good food and the sick people get the left-overs. O.K. I wasn’t expecting local sustainable organics but I was shocked to see so many processed foods loaded with partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colorings and flavorings. My full liquid tray consisted of low fat milk (not organic), coffee (decaf, regular, who knows?), Swiss Miss egg custard (a huge list of offensive ingredients), cranberry juice “cocktail” and a bowl of very mushy and gelatinous oatmeal. (see my post for a yummy organic oatmeal option).

I’ve always advocated for children’s developing bodies and brains to get the healthiest organic foods. But shouldn’t hospitals be ground zero for providing and teaching about whole healthy foods? Whether it’s a new life or an older one we trust hospitals to make us better, not add to health problems. I know it’s expensive but so is healthcare. A $3,000 night in a hospital can’t include some thoughtfully prepared veggies, soups, and grains? A hotel couldn’t operate with such substandard food. I guess hospitals know the patients have no choice and it’s not an “amenity”. Food as a necessity means they can cut costs and take short-cuts.

I’m going to need to research. I know I’ve read about some hospitals making a better effort for nutrition and food service. If Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver are increasing nutrition awareness and culinary curriculum for children in schools, who’s doing the same for patients across the country in hospitals?
See also The Top Ten Green Hospitals (National Geographic Green Guide)
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: National Geographic Green Guide |
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Williams-Sonoma’s New Cooking for Baby Book (with Recipes)

From Lisa Barnes

I’ve written the recipes for a new baby food book for Williams-Sonoma. Entitled Cooking For Baby, this book focuses on those first bites through 18 months old. Although I must say some of the grain recipes and snacks are yummy for the whole family. Of course you’d never know I wrote the recipes unless you look in the inside title page or back inside jacket.

Doing this book was very different from my own. Although I am still happy with the results and it is interesting to see the food in photos. I was really hoping to be on the photo shoot for the book. I’ve always heard how they do all kinds of crazy stuff to food to make it hold up under lights and for lengthy photo shoots. Unfortunately I wasn’t invited. (Probably too many cooks in the kitchen!). So I don’t have anything juicy to report from the process.

Here’s a few recipes (organic versions) for those expanding their baby’s palate and moving on from first foods. It’s a fun and exciting time to watch those first bites. Be sure to have a camera on hand for the range of faces and expressions.

Baby’s Organic Brown Rice Cereal
Although most babies begin their culinary adventure with commercially made rice cereal because of the added iron, this is an easy way to graduate them to another grain. Brown rice is not stripped of the hull, which not only makes it brown, but also more nutritious than its white counterpart.


Crunchy Frozen Organic Bananas For Kids Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

Believe it or not, the inspiration for this recipe came from a box of Cheerios, although there are many options for providing the crunch on these tasty bananas. This is a cool and healthy treat for children and adults.

Makes 8 servings

4 ripe, firm, large organic bananas


Hippity Hoppity Organic Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes (plus Egg and Olive Spread Recipe)


From Lisa Barnes

I just finished my St. Pat’s left-overs and now it’s time for dying Easter Eggs. Of course there are a zillion egg dyes at the supermaket and high end cooking stores to make the most picture perfect eggs. But how about some simple do-it-yourself natural colors?

Here are some suggestions for cooking hard boiled eggs and decorating them with your children


Happy “Green” Day with Organic Irish Soda Bread Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

Remember when green was just a color? As a kid I always associated green with St. Patrick’s Day. I’d think of shamrock shaped pancakes and green colored milk my mom and grandfather would make on St. Patrick’s Day morning.

Later in college instead of colored milk, it was green beer. Yikes! Neither the beer or the milk was enhanced by the color (I don’t think it changed the flavor), but it was festive. Rather than color my children’s food with scary chemicals and food dyes, or sneak in a hidden green pureed veggie into their unsuspecting meal, I’m just going to make Irish Soda Bread with them and serve some green food favorites (naturally colored and honest). Where do we start? How do we choose? Green apples, cabbage, peas, asparagas, kiwi, honeydew, lime, pesto, spinach pasta, guacamole, celery and the list goes on and on…

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Organic Irish Wheat Soda Bread

This is the easiest, and quickest, bread I have ever made. In Northern Ireland this version would be called “wheaten” soda bread. No kneading, no bread machine and no mixer required. It is the perfect accompaniment to soups and salads. The bread will be a bit flat so not great for typical sandwiches but works well for tea sandwiches or spreading pumpkin butter. Irish soda bread is a classic quick bread. It surprises some people to learn that this traditional recipe hasn’t been around for thousands of years. Bicarbonate of soda was first introduced to Ireland around the 1840s.

Makes 1, 8 – 10 inch round loaf



Oatmeal Dilemma and Flavorful Organic Oatmeal Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

So if you read my previous post you know about my microwave issue. My husband dropped the burned one at the appliance recycling center – it was done. At first I wondered if I needed to replace my microwave. What do I use it for? Really not that much. I won’t be trying any popcorn recipes with it. However the morning after the microwave debacle, I went to have my breakfast and I couldn’t eat it. I eat oatmeal every morning. I usually make a pot of it on the stove on Monday and then reheat the next few days (depending on how much my daughter decides to steal from my bowl on some days). Reheating on the stove just wasn’t the best. It took more time and more energy as I did not want it to burn. I also then had to wash an extra pot. At first I thought, well I’ll just make a single serving each day, but that wasn’t convenient either. Then I switched from oatmeal to yogurt topped with granola and fruit. Good, but still not my oatmeal.

So yes, I do miss it and went to buy one. Unfortunately I discovered many usual appliance and cooking stores don’t stock microwaves (or have very few to choose from). Everyone directed me to their online stores. Again I thought, maybe I don’t need the microwave. I know many people who do not use microwaves at all, for health reasons and just because they don’t want another appliance. I can understand that.

Then I realized I use it to reheat things (mini portions for my kids of left-over meals) and to melt chocolate and butter. Of course I’ve been using the stove top this past week, but I keep going to the pantry for the quick and easy microwave. Also working on a new cookbook I often cook things using different methods and sometimes that means a microwave. So that was the final straw and justification. I ordered one online. Now I’ll have to wait for the delivery truck…

Here’s my master oatmeal recipe…

Flavorful Organic Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an easily digestible grain with a nice creamy texture which lends itself to many flavorings for children and adults alike. See suggestions below or create your own family favorites using this master recipe. You can even set-up an oatmeal bar with a variety of toppings in small bowls and let each family member choose their own.

This oatmeal can be made and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. If the whole oats are too coarse for your baby or if you prefer a more mushy texture, grind uncooked oats in a blender or food processor for a smoother consistency and shorter cooking time.

Makes about 2 cups


Hearty Organic Oatmeal Cut Outs for Valentine’s Day Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

It’s Valentine’s Day and time to make something to decorate for my son’s preschool class. To be honest I’m not very crafty. I don’t draw well (although I like to color), nor do I yield a mighty glue gun or a glitter pen. When it’s my turn to participate it’s always going to be food. I can’t help it – it’s what I know and how I show some creativity. Here’s what I’ll be making for class on Thursday. I’ll bring the plain cookies, then squeeze bottles of icing and some sprinkles and crushed candy canes that the kids can decorate with. Wish me luck. (Especially since my 19 month old will be with me to “help” the big kids). Happy V-Day!

Hearty Oatmeal Cut Outs

This was inspired by my son