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Monday, December 5

Gapers Block

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This is part 2 of a 4 part series that will appear over the next couple of months. If you have a recipe to share, send it to .

Last time I showed you some recipes for the average 4- to 7-month-old baby. This time I'm going to talk about the slightly more sophisticated 7- to 10-month-old baby that you may be fortunate enough to have drool on you. That's the main thing that babies this age do, drool. All that extra saliva is related to the teeth breaking through tender, tender gums. The first thing they want to do as soon as they get an actual tooth is bite-bite-bite. Anything that comes within their grasp is going to land in their mouth. So be extra careful when you let them crawl around your non-baby-safe home.

At this age, babies are burning through their reserves of different vitamins and minerals. Iron is definitely one that all nutritionists recognize as being needed in a baby's diet. Meat is the obvious answer, however few babies take to eating meat right away. Beans and leafy greens are often easier to get them to eat. Even with their brand new teeth, they still can't chew dense items. But you can shred foods and cook them till very soft instead. You may even find that the little eater gets picky if they don't have anything to chew.

You'll still want to keep a few things in mind:
• Double-check with the folks before you feed their baby anything.
• Their livers are still not quite fully developed, so resist the urge to add salt. You'll also want to avoid adding sugar to food. Let them develop a sweet-tooth later.
• Babies at this stage want to feed themselves. Watch that they don't choke on either a teething biscuit or their spoon. You may want to read how to save a choking infant.
• Fruit not only tastes good and provides them with necessary vitamins, but it also has relaxing effects on their bowels. Their digestive systems are getting used to solid foods, so there is the definite possibility of constipation.
• While babies can get iron from beans and green vegetables, their body can't absorb this type of iron without the presence of Vitamin C. If they're eating beans, give them citrus fruit or juice. Many nutritionists recommend that even vegetarian babies eat one serving of red meat every week. Even vegetables cooked in beef stock will suffice. Ground meat can be added later -- one or two ounces should be enough. Even though organic, free-range beef is expensive, when you can get four meals for junior out of one hamburger patty, it's not so bad.
• Dried legumes and beans are cheap and easy to cook. Their smooth texture makes picky eaters happy. Cook them very thoroughly since undercooked beans are hard for them to digest. Look at can labels for brands with no added sugar or salt.
• Since babies are still getting used to eating food at this stage, they're still going to get most of their nutrients from breast milk or formula. Resist the urge to give them cow's milk, unless it is in cooked food. To make sure the baby eats a lot of table food, give them the bottle after they've eaten.
• You may have to play a bit of "airplane" with the spoon to get them to eat. Some babies just need the extra stimulation to make mealtime fun.< /p>

Cooking fruit is easy and quick. You can easily chop up any type of fruit and cook it in a muffin pan. This helps you create single-portions which can be scraped into plastic bowls or baggies and frozen or refrigerated. Once a portion has been given to a baby, you'll have to discard it unless they're going to eat it in the next few hours. There will be some waste of food at this stage, but you'll just have to accept it.

Since this is the teething time, below is a recipe for making those teething biscuits that seem so overpriced and full of preservatives. Lentils and brown rice are staple foods for many vegetarians, and their perfect for babies. Soft tofu provides needed protein, combining it with fruit makes a great snack that is easy to store in small portions. Putting apples and bananas on cereal makes just as much sense for the wee one, as it does for adults.

Teething Biscuits
1 tablespoon uncooked oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tablespoon soy flour (check a health food store)
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 tablespoon dry milk
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, soy milk will work
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat your oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine the egg yolk, honey, vanilla, milk and oil before stirring it all into the dry ingredients. You should get a very stiff dough. Roll the dough out thinly on a floured surface and cut into long and thin rectangles, about the size of a fish stick. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until they're lightly brown. Cool and store in an airtight container. This makes 24 biscuits, so it's a great gift. No, really. Those cute outfits get worn once -- save your money and just keep them supplied with homemade teething biscuits.

You could also make up zipper bags that contain the dry ingredients and pack them in a basket with some honey, oil and vanilla to make a great gift for more DIY-style parents.

Brown Rice and Lentil Dinner
1/4 cup finely-sliced carrot
1/4 cup finely-sliced apples
1/2 cup cooked brown rice*
1/2 cup cooked lentils**
1/2 cup formula

Put the carrot and apple slices in a steamer basket and place over boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the carrots and apples are very tender. Place the rice, lentils, carrots, apples and 1/4 cup of formula in a food processor or blender and process until they're smooth. If necessary, add more formula until the right consistency is reached. Serve warm or at room temperature. Here's a tip: if placing a small dab on the inside of your wrist seems too warm, the food needs to cool. This makes 2-3 servings.

* Boil 1 cup of brown rice in 2 1/2 cups of water, vegetable stock or meat stock for about 45-50 minutes. You'll want your heat at medium and you'll want to stir the rice after 35 minutes to make sure it isn't burning. After you do this a few times, you should get a feel for how long it takes. Of course, a rice cooker makes this simple. Throw in the above ingredients and wait for it to let you know it's done.

**Spread the dried lentils on a light-colored towel and comb through to look for small rocks or other debris. Gather the towel corners and dump the lentils into a strainer. Run cool tap water over the lentils and rinse thoroughly. Bring 1-1/2 cups of liquid (stock or water) to a boil and then add 1 cup of lentils. This makes the lentils easier to digest than adding them to the pot before the water is boiling. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook while covered. Red lentils will finish in 25-30 minutes and green lentils will cook in 45-50 minutes. Since these ratios are easy to double or triple, and since cooked lentils can be stored in plastic zipper bags for a month or two, this is the perfect way to get the most out of your cooking time.

Baby's Mango Shake
1 ripe mango that has been peeled and pitted and cut into pieces
3 ounces soft tofu, or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese

Combine the mango with the tofu or cottage cheese in a food processor or blender. Puree and serve at room temperature or slightly cooler. This makes 2-3 servings, so store leftovers in small containers in the fridge for up to a week, or up to a month in the freezer. Frozen bags of mango can be used for this.

Basic Breakfast for Baby
3/4 tablespoon of rolled oats
1/3 cup of water
1 small apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 banana, peeled and mashed
1/2 tablespoon of raisins

In a small pan, combine the oats, water, apple and banana. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the oats are thoroughly cooked. Puree in a blender. Add the raisins and set aside for 15-30 minutes, or until the cereal is cool and the raisins have absorbed some of the liquid and are plump and soft. This will encourage the baby to chew. This makes 1-2 servings.

Just a little bit of food goes a long way, so it's easy to cook larger batches of most items and then freeze them in individual containers. Ice cube trays are actually perfect for storing leftovers. Each section holds about an ounce so you can pour the item in the tray, freeze it, pop the cubes into one bag or bowl, label it with the item and date and store in the freezer. Most things will last a month so you should have plenty of time to use those leftovers.

The look of happiness and admiration you get from your adult friends when you serve them dinner is wonderful, but the grunts and sticky fingers grabbing for more of what you've made for them is a wonderful compliment.

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