I haven’t done a post on Everly and her eating habits for a while, and so thought it time to remedy that and hopefully inspire you with some meal ideas. And at the same time, I’d love to hear from you in the comments as to what your little ones are eating to help inspire me!
In case your new around these parts, Everly eats a pretty much Banting/LowCarbHighFat diet with no processed foods or sugar. This means she doesn’t get bread or pasta, and lives off of meat, fish, veggies, lots of full cream dairy products, loads of eggs and a bit of fruit. She’s a healthy, happy chubby baby and is never sick (I could chalk this up to good genes and the fact that I breastfed her till over a year) but I really believe her diet plays a big role in her health). I don’t judge any of my fellow moms, we all make our own choices, but we choose not to give our daughter anything processed (and try as much as we can to steer clear of store bought baby food….although those food pouches have their place!). This decision isn’t an easy one, especially when it comes to birthday parties, but like I tell family and friends, while I am able to control what Everly eats 99% of the time, I want the food going in to nourish her completely, and so she’s stuck with a mom who feeds her chicken liver sardines ;) It’s also a lot more work to prepare your own baby food, but as with our decision to do cloth nappies, you get into a routine and it just becomes a part of your day. Also, a low carb ‘diet’ (although I hate that word and my little girl is not on a diet…let’s go with the term lifestyle) doesn’t mean NO carb. We don’t count carbs at all like a lot of very strict Banters, but as we also eat a pretty low carb diet, we swop out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, and the veggies she eats regularly are butternut, sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
Here are my older posts on our journey to solids:
I’m 7 months pregnant with Baby#2 and so haven’t been feeling the most inventive when it comes to preparing meals, and as much as I love the idea of Everly eating what we eat, our meals are pretty sporadic too, and we eat a lot later than her so she either eats leftovers the next day or I end up preparing her something much earlier on in the day. This leaves me only feeling up to opening a tin of tuna by the time supper time comes around for us.
Also…how many days can a child survive on cheese alone?!?!? I remember seeing my friend Deborah post about that a few weeks ago and I really had a good giggle. While Everly is a pretty amazing eater and gobbles down just about everything we throw at her, she has been very fussy with texture lately. It’s really strange as she will eat hard/crunchy/very textured things but then went through a funny stage of refusing meat and spitting out most of the food I’d try give her. After a week or so of VERY frustrating meal times, I realised it would very unlikely that she would starve herself and we seem to be coming out of that phase.
My friend Sophie gave me some wonderful words of encouragement. She said it’s our jobs as moms to decide when baby eats and what they eat, and for them to decide on how much they want to eat. This helped me a lot during what felt like a very dark time. Luckily we are out of that fussy season, but it really just goes to show you that ALL babies/toddlers go through phases and they do (hopefully for everyone!) emerge and return to their old selves before you know it.
Here is Everly’s current rough schedule:
6 - 7am wake up (I give her a spill proof cup of milk to drink in bed while she ‘logs on’ in the morning). I also leave her in her bed till about 7am as most of the time she is happily playing with her teddy and talking to herself at this time. I also give her a book or two to look at which generally keeps her occupied for a good 20 minutes or so.
9am - anywhere between 10h30/11h30 nap time
1h30/2pm - 3ish nap time
6pm bath, dressed for bed with a cup of milk, story and bed by 18h30
Here are some ideas for meals and snacks that I give Evs.
I find I go through patches of being super inspired to whip up gourmet meals, and other days where pieces of cheese and baby tomatoes seem to be like the loaves & fishes and keep her going.
Scrambled Eggs (I whisk 2 eggs and a dollop of cream cheese together and add that to a pan of melted butter) and cook. I keep the eggs soft as I am not a fan of rubbery, dry scrambled eggs! Everly eats scrambled eggs pretty much every day of the week, and then I throw in a breakfast or two (if it last that long!) of chia porridge.
Chia Chocolate Porridge: this is a great recipe from the Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes book for Kids by Tim Noakes. This is where I usually turn for low carb meal inspiration.
Both of the above are usually followed by a bowl/cup (I still use and LOVE these Avent breastmilk storage cups for storing/freezing/feeding Everly her food) of full cream, homemade yoghurt with either a pinch of cinnamon or some frozen berries.
Lunch & Snacks
Lunch is usually a mix of whatever I have on hand, so veggies she can feed herself and then some leftovers…usually followed by another cup of yoghurt or fruit she can chew on herself. I mostly end up doing snacky type foods at lunch time:
chopped up cherry tomatoes
pitted olives - you’d be surprised at the flavors your toddler may enjoy! Everly is currently VERY into olives.
blocks of cheese/squares of Kiri cream cheese
half a tin of tuna/oven baked hake in butter (recipe posted below)
roasted vegetables (I usually do a tray of sweet potatoes or butternut that lasts for a few days). Simply chop up veggies of your choice, drizzle with oil (I usually use avocado oil or butter) and then sprinkle with your choice of herbs. Roast in the oven until crunchy and serve warm.
beans (I’ve only just realised how great canned beans are!). Farmboy is going through a bean phase, so there are usually leftovers from his lunch. Kidney beans & butter beans are a favourite at the moment. These are also the perfect thing for little fingers to pick up.
steamed veggies (Broccoli, green beans and cauliflower etc.)
leftover braai meat (boerewors/sausages are a firm favourite in our household!)
whole fruit - Everly annihilates apples…like, whole, the entire thing, core, peel and all! Lots of great fibre in those fruit peels! I usually give her Granny Smith apples so she doesn’t get hooked on the sweetness.
biltong/drywors - often biltong/drywors can be covered in salt an flavourings…simply rinse until cold running water and dry off before giving to your little one…the fattier the better ;) Just keep an eye when giving them drywors as sometimes the skin casing can get a bit stringy and be a potential choking hazard.
For supper I like to give Everly a big meal so she goes to bed with a full tummy that lasts her through the night. She sleeps from 6 - 6/7 (long may this last!) and so needs lots of good & nutritious food to keep her content. I often cook up a big stew on a Sunday night that lasts the week, and then I freezer portions of it for future meals (again, those Avent cups I mentioned above are perfect for freezing food!).
Lamb/Beef Stew: using a slow cooker, I brown the meat (usually lamb or beef…you can buy cheaper cuts of meat at the butcher and remember, the fattier the better!) in lots of butter & garlic, add a chopped up onion, chop up what ever veggies you have on hand (I usually use sweet potatoes, butternut, celery, carrots), chuck in a tin of chopped tomatoes (I vary the flavour by using either the plain/Indian/Italian flavoured tins), a cup of barley, a cup of lentils/tin of mixed beans, and then top up with water and leave it overnight to stew. I serve it as it, as it’s got all the veggies in it, and then I usually follow with some fruit, depending on the season, it’s often blueberries or starwberries etc. Alternatively Everly has more yoghurt.
Oven roasted hake: I buy the Woolworths frozen hake fillets and pop them (frozen) into a dish with loads of butter, some garlic and then sprinkle with herbs. I then usually serve this with steamed broccoli & cauliflower and brown rice. This is a nice finger meal if your little one likes to feed themselves.
Liver Pate: Liver is an INCREDIBLE brain boosting food packed full of nutrients for your little one. You can buy tubs of chicken livers from the butcher/grocery store, but you can also use all those left over bits that usually accompany a chicken (giblets, kidney, liver…basically the offal). I know it sounds really gross, and while I’m not the hugest fan of the giblets etc when they are cooked up they taste rather yum! I pop whatever I’m using to make the pate (liver/giblets etc) into a pan with lots of butter and a bit of garlic and onion, fry until just brown, and then add to a blender with a dollop of cream cheese and blitz until smooth. I freeze this in smaller containers as it’s very rich, and your little one probably won’t eat that much of this at a time. This was one of the first foods I gave Everly, and often serve it with steamed veggies (nice for the first few months of weaning as it’s easy to add to pureed veggies). It’s also nice to add to a soft boiled egg, mashed up or serve it with pieces/mashed up avo…depending on how your little one does with texture.
Ideas for treating your little one, while still ensuring they are able to steer clear of added sugars and other nasties:
Ice-lollies: I bought these awesome lolly moulds from PouchLove (R155 for a pack of 4) and Everly loves them! I use rooibos tea (I make litres of the Apple Kids flavor) and keep that in the fridge for me to drink all day, and it makes a really great base for ice lollies! Then I just add whatever bits of fruit I have on hand…Everly loves blueberries and strawberries so that’s what I usually add. Then pop in the freezer over night and voila! The perfect healthy, summer keep-cool treat. They are re-useable and there are endless ideas for different flavors. I think this would also be a a great way to serve soup or chicken/beef/lamb stock on a hot day (I am MAD about stocks and made litres and litres of the stuff for Everly when was just starting solids. It was a great way to make pureed veggies taste nicer, while giving them loads of great vitamins and nutrients).
Stewed Fruit: it’s so easy to make your own stewed fruit, which is great to add to yoghurt, or to serve as is. Simply chop of your fruit of choice, add water (or you can add rooibos instead for a bit more flavor and anti-oxidants) and then boil away on the stove until soft and mushy. A combo Everly loved was apples and cherries.
Frozen Yoghurt: just as the recipe above for ice lollies, except use yoghurt instead of water/rooibos.
dried fruit - I only give Everly this on special occasions as it can be hard to find dried fruit that isn’t full of extra sugar…but mango is a great snack for little hands that will keep them busy, and so are dried apples & apricots. Don’t give too much as too much dried fruit can lead to runny tummies.
popcorn - cover in butter (although this can be messy) and sprinkle with dried herbs for extra tastiness. Avoid adding salt if you’re cooking it from seed.
From the above you can see Everly doesn’t have any allergies, and is especially okay with any and all dairy. If your little is lactose intolerant, adjust accordingly (although expensive, Almond milk is an option, but I would steer clear of Soy milk). Often babies and toddlers grow out of their allergies, so keep offering them yoghurt/etc every couple of months etc and see how they manage. On another note, I make all my own homemade yoghurt, this way I ensure there are no nasty hidden preservatives etc. If you are buying yoghurt, try to always give your baby full cream, plain yoghurt. This ensures no hidden sugars, and you can adjust the flavour yourself by adding frozen berries/stewed or steamed fruit/cinnamon and honey when they are a little older.
I hope you found this post helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or to leave your favourite toddler meals & snack ideas. I always love hearing from you!