“Real” Food

I left off last while I was still only getting the flavors of the food Mom was eating.

On Thanksgiving Day I finally got to try something new. I thought it was delicious; everyone else thought it looked pretty gross – rice cereal! Mom even suggested that children eat paste when they first go to school because it reminds them of their first “solid” food. I hope that my palette is discriminating enough when I start school to not eat paste; or at least only eat paste covered with either (a) garlic and olive oil, or (b) strawberries and cream, because I am certain all things taste good with one or the other.

Here I am having my first real food. I was all bundled up because I was in New Hampshire at Uncle David and Aunt Lindsey’s house. November in NH is chilly!

As I said, I enjoyed the rice cereal. And I ate lots of it. But I also knew there had to be something else out there.

By about Christmas Mom started adding other things to my rice cereal. She played by the rules for a while. The doctor told her to introduce new foods one at a time and for a few days just to be sure I didn’t have any reactions to anything. Of course, Mom and Dad were pretty sure I’d be okay with just about everything. I had already proven myself as a pretty tough and adventurous kid – perhaps you have heard the story of my birth?!?!

Anyway, the doctor suggested Mom and Dad introduce new foods by color – start with yellow/orange, then go to white, and finally green. He also suggested they start with veggies before fruits in each category so I wouldn’t develop a taste for sweets too fast. And so I got some squash, or maybe it was sweet potato, alone and mixed in with my rice cereal. I also got carrots and then moved on to bananas – I remember, I got to have bananas for Christmas; I think Mom may have planned it that way.

And so, I started to eat real food. And Mom didn’t want me eating stuff with too many preservatives, even if the preservative was only citric acid. So, she made most of my food for me. She made big batches of applesauce and pear puree and put them in the freezer for me. She would also roast sweet potatoes and butternut squash and do the same thing. There was awhile there when the freezer was chock full of bags of little cubes of pureed food just for me.

By late winter or early spring, Mom started letting me get adventurous with food. First she made yogurt for me. She didn’t go out and buy any fancy equipment. She learned she could make yogurt on the stove and keep it at the right temperature to let the bacteria do its work by wrapping the pot in a blanket and leaving it on the radiator. She could also use really yummy local, organic milk. It was so good! I would eat it with some fruit puree mixed in and maybe some oatmeal for breakfast. Mom also would add a little bit of vanilla extract because it is a natural pain-killer and I was getting teeth. I love yogurt. I still do, and eat it almost everyday for breakfast – that’s very European, you know.

In addition to the yogurt, Mom started mixing up the veggies and fruits for me. I loved when she would roast a bunch of root veggies together (beets and carrots especially) with some garlic and onion then puree that. Or roasted eggplant. Man, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! One of my babysitters was not a big fan of the smell of these concoctions, but she would feed them to me anyway. And, she introduced me to one of my favorite fruits. Purely by mistake. One day she left the mango she had brought with her for lunch in the fridge. Knowing it would go bad before she would be back, she told Mom to just use it up. Mom put it in the food processor, and I got mango. Yum!

Okay, you get the idea. Mom made most of my meals and made them a little more exciting than Gerber would have. I hadn’t eaten any meat yet, but the doctor said that was okay. He actually told Mom to avoid the store-bought meat foods because they’re just plain gross. I’m not sure I would appreciate meat today if I had had the goop that passes for meat in those little jars.

I will share with you a recipe that Mom has made for me a few times. They’re little oatmeal bars that, when frozen, also make great teething biscuits.

Oatmeal-Banana Bars

Heat oven to 350.

Using a food processor, grind oatmeal (about a cup.) If you want more texture, leave the grind coarse, for a smoother texture grind to nearly a powder. Place ground oats into a separate bowl. Add enough mashed banana to create a dough-like consistency. You can make the bars from this mixture if you like. I like other fruit added. Berries are a great option – whole blueberries work just fine and I like them combined with some chopped strawberries. I also like a little vanilla extract added – especially when I’m teething.

Once you have the mixture you want, shape it into bars, logs, balls, whatever you like and place them on a baking sheet – lined with a non-stick sheet or parchment please, don’t grease the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly golden. They will stay chewy at this point. If you want them harder, bake them longer.

Like I said, Mom would freeze some and give them to me frozen as a teething biscuit. I also don’t think there would be anything wrong with adults eating these either. I mean, really, they’re a pretty yummy (and healthy) snack.

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