vegan

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I've been loving having this moist, healthy chocolate chip blondie around when less healthy options are staring me in the face.

There are a couple things I love about this recipe:

1. The list of ingredients.  Chickpeas, peanut butter, a few healthy sweeteners, no flour, and your choice of chocolate chips.  That's it.

2. These blondies can be made up in one bowl (the food processor bowl) and thrown in the oven in literally minutes.

3. They are low carb, vegan, dairy-free + sugar-free (based on your choice of chips), and an awesome alternative to sugary blondies.  

4. They are soft, moist and gooey in the center!  

5.  These are awesome treats to make for your kids if you're trying to wean them from sugary treats, for after a workout, or bagged up for your purse to enjoy at a social outing when you want to control what you're eating.  (Check out the nutritional facts in the recipe below!)

(Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen's blondies.)

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I'd love to hear what you think of this recipe.  I served these squares of blondies to the kids along side some whole milk plain yogurt for breakfast.

 

Don't be afraid to EAT the way you WANT to eat--it just means being prepared with healthy alternatives in your home and for when you're out and about and sugary-cravings or less nutritious options tempt you.   

Be HEALTHY for you.  Help your kids be healthy.  And LIVE BOLDLY.

 

Nicole Shiffler

 

 

 

zucchini hummus

This recipe has pretty much changed my mind that hummus can only be made and delicious with chickpeas.   Since I consciously limit my carbohydrates for my overall health it was a thrilling miracle to find a non-bean hummus recipe.  And this is the one and only recipe you'll ever need...

This is I Breathe...I'm Hungry's recipe that I slightly adapted.  I was fascinated by the idea and am so glad I tried it.  I love that it 1) uses up our big zucchinis and 2) is an incredible spread/dip for just 2 net carbs per 2 TBSP.  Super healthy too.

You've got to try it.

zucchini hummus 

4 cups chopped zucchini

3/4 cups tahini paste

1/4 cup lemon juice concentrate

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp minced garlic

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 TBSP ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Dip with veggies, chips, pork rinds, or use as a spread.

And if you still need ideas to use up for extra zucchinis, our number one favorite still remains to be these chocolate zucchini spice cupcakes...er...muffins when uniced.

 

chocolate brownie larabar

Our chocolate brownie larabar has turned out to be my kids (and my) favorite homemade larabar.  It doesn't take rocket science to figure that out--it's intensely chocolate. 

But these nut-packed snacks sure beat eating a traditional brownie in delivering loads of energy and protein.  Plus you can tailor them to your taste in terms of how dark you'd like them by either using 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate (our choice) or 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate.  The dates add sweetness while the cocoa powder and coconut oil add richness to the salty nuts.

I do believe you'll fall in love with these as much as we have...

chocolate brownie larabar

Makes one 8 x 8 pan of bars

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup peanuts

1/2 cup cashews or pecans (or other nuts you have on hand)

17 dates

4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 TBSP coconut oil

2 TBSP water

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (use dairy free chips if you need bars to be dairy free)

salt to taste (if you're not using any salted nuts)

Place nuts and dates in food processor.  Process until you've reached a fine meal consistency.   Add remaining ingredients and process until well incorporated.

Pour mixture into a parchment lined 8 x 8 glass pan.  Pat down in pan until even.  Refrigerate until coconut oil in bars solidifies a bit, at least 10 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator, lift out the parchment paper from pan, and slice into bars with sharp knife.

Store bars in air-tight container in refrigerator.

{I just had to share Caroline's gracefulness from Friday evening's recital.  

Although she spends hours every week at the piano composing, she will sit still to actually read music when she must. :)}

 

mini carrot spice muffins

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

I've been so excited about little treats here and there to make for me and my family that are grain-free.   (These happen to be dairy-free as well.)  These little cute muffins were made, divided, and all eaten within an hour.  I like that they are sweetened only with banana and dates and have wonderful ingredients pack in like carrots, walnuts, coconut oil, and lots of protein-rich eggs.  They are fun snacks for the kids and I was quite happy eating something that very much reminded me of eating grains.

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

I'm eating strictly Paleo (well, I do dairy except for milk) until Thanksgiving.  Then, I'll decide how strictly Paleo I'll remain for me and the family.  It has been very interesting how my cravings have changed eliminating refined sugar and all grains.  These dainty little muffins satisfy me so much when I want a little something extra in my day to enjoy with the kids.  These and 90% dark chocolate late at night.  :)

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

mini carrot spice muffin

Makes 2 dozen mini muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ripe banana

4 mejool dates, pitted

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

5 eggs (replace if vegan)

1/2 cup coconut flour (I use [amazon_link id="B000KENKZ8" target="_blank" ]Bob's Red Mill[/amazon_link] found in our organic section at our grocery store)

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup carrot, finely shredded

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

(Adapted from Multiply Delicious' muffins)

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease mini muffin tin with coconut oil or butter.

In a bowl, heat 4 dates and 1 tablespoon water on high for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Remove and mash with a fork.  Add an additional 1 tablespoon water and microwave for another 30 seconds and mash.

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

Add date mixture along with banana, vanilla and almond extracts, and eggs to a blender.  Blend until smooth.

In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add ingredients to the blender and blend until well combined.

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

Scrape out the batter into a bowl.  Add the shredded carrot, walnuts, and coconut oil.  Mix well.

Using a small ice cream scoop, fill each mini muffin tin to the top with batter.

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the muffin springs back with the touch of a finger.

Let cool and enjoy!

There are lots of variations you could make to these muffins: toasted pecans, mini chocolate chips, seeds, coconut, and dried fruit.  Use what you have on hand.

mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)
mini carrot spice muffins (grain-free)

I'd love to hear if you try them!

Happy snacking to you and yours.

And I've been excitedly working on a post about this year 's health transformation for me and my family that will be posted on Monday.  Can't wait to share the journey.

 

5-seed almond granola

5-seed almond granola (grain-free)
5-seed almond granola (grain-free)

I've recommitted to living 100% grain-free for a while.  And I'm pretty excited about how it will make me feel (being totally strict) and the wonderful possibilities of grain alternatives that won't leave me sluggish, heavy, and low.

My love of baking is what hurts the most when I pull out all grains.  (I had been enjoying oats everyday which I truly love but am giving up right now.)  And what also hurts?  Baking with grains for my children and watching them eat it.  So, I've decided to relearn how to bake 100% of the time with grain-free ingredients so that mother is happy and children are happy.  (And Bobby--who is more disciplined than me--will actually eat what I bake.)

There is a mental list of grainy-things (really oats) I do love to eat: granola, healthy cookies, and bars.   Breads, pasta, bagels, and such don't entice me--especially when I remember how eating them made me feel.  But those oats!  I do love them.

You remember my mother's granola?  Smelling that baking from the oven reminds me of my childhood.  I've decided to find a way to enjoy every part of her homemade granola without the grains.  And guess what?  This recipe honestly tastes just like it--almost better (sorry Mom!)--with the addition of almond butter, almond extract, more incredible seeds, and coconut oil.

There is so much flavor to this granola and totally free of refined sugar.  (It is only sweetened by honey and berries.)  It is faster to make (no cooking before baking) and really tastes absolutely incredible.  

5-seed almond granola (grain-free)
5-seed almond granola (grain-free)

5 Seed Almond Granola (Grain-Free)

1 cup almonds

1 cup walnuts

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/8 chia seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/3 cup flaxseed meal

1/8 cup hemp seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

1/4 cup almond butter (make your own with a handful of almonds)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

4 TBSP honey (use vitafiber if low carb, maple syrup if vegan)

3 TBSP coconut oil, melted

1.5 cups berries (frozen or fresh)

(We buy our nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, hemp seeds, and big tub of organic coconut oil from Costco.  Seriously the best deal around.)

  1. Pulse almonds and walnuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add nuts along with the 5 seeds to a large bowl and mix.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except for berries) and mix well.
  4. Add berries (I used frozen blueberries) to the mixture.  Frozen berries will dry out in the baking process so don't worry about the excess moisture.
  5. Spread granola over parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake on 200 degrees for 3 hours, stirring every hour or so.  Your house will become so fragrant!
  7. Once baked, let completely cool before storing air tight container.
5-seed almond granola (grain-free)
5-seed almond granola (grain-free)

{Checking on the granola after the first hour}

5-seed almond granola (grain-free)
5-seed almond granola (grain-free)

I can't begin to tell you how wonderful this granola turned out.  If I were blindfolded I'd have no idea it is grain-free.  And it is super-packed with powerful nuts, protein, powerhouse seeds (i.e.hemp seeds are amazing!), brain fuel from coconut oil, and so on.  This granola is wonderful with cow's milk or almond milk or served over greek yogurt.

It is amazing what happens when you begin pulling out addictive foods like grains and sugars (carbs) how much more cleaner you feel, more agile you feel, and better clarity of mind you have.  It has been an incredible journey and I'm excited to begin telling my tale next week.

I'd love to hear if you try making the 5 seed almond granola.  This will be the new "everyone can eat" granola for this family.

 

pumpkin energy cookies

pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies

Good morning friends.

Has all of the excitement of fall/winter entered your home as it has ours??  The girls have already requested making our hot cocoa mix, checked out Christmas craft books at the library, and cut and clued things from catalogs for Christmas wish lists.

And although we are spending more time in the kitchen with our check list of things to bake/make, I'm always wanting whatever we're baking to be something healthier for them and for me.

pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies

I love pumpkin cookies and wanted to make something seasonal that had relatively few ingredients: lots of highly nutritional pumpkin, oats as super-star carbs for energy, nuts for protein, and a little sweetness.  These pumpkin energy cookies offer:

  1. Protein: Walnuts have tons of protein (second only to almonds) with 18 grams of protein (in 1 cup of walnuts) for this total recipe!
  2. Vitamins and other Nutrients: Pumpkin has 200% of the daily recommendation of vitamin A, lots of fiber to help with weight loss (feeling fuller longer), free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids, and pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient of potassium over bananas, making them a better choice for real energy.

With this particular combination of protein to carbs, it is perfect for a pre-workout/running out the door for a full day.  And as a post-workout, it provides a perfect balance of carb to protein ration to repair muscle and for recovery.

This recipe makes a big batch of these energy cookies with the idea that you'll eat some (share some with the kids) and then store the rest to have on hand throughout the week.  Package some in small containers or snack baggies in the fridge to grab as you head out the door for you or the kids.

(Recipe adapted from fitfabmommy's healthy pumpkin oatmeal cookie.)

 pumpkin energy cookies

Makes 30 large energy cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or sugarfree substitute 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips/sugar free chips/dairy chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, vanilla and almond extract, spices, and sea salt until well blended.
  3. Mix in the oats, sugar, chocolate chips, and walnuts until well combined.
  4. Using a medium, spring-loaded ice cream scoop (or a metal spoon), drop batter by the tablespoon onto lined cookie sheets. Since these cookies aren't necessarily going to rise in the oven, I flattened my cookies with a tall glass.  I keep a little flour nearby for the glass when it begins to stick to the top of the cookies.  (To keep these cookies gluten free, just use a gluten-free flour to help with the flattening.)
pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies

5.  Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes until firm.  They should be slightly brown on the bottom.  Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies

You can store these cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days on the counter or up to two weeks in the refrigerator.  This is important because I like to grab one of these  for some quick carbs before working out or for the girls before or after ballet practice.  Instead of overeating a regular pumpkin cookie if it is around I love that I can refrigerate these and trea them as what they are: energy cookies.  They last much longer that way.

pumpkin energy cookies
pumpkin energy cookies

As a side note, these are some hardy, heathy cookies for kids. (They really shouldn't even be called cookies.)  They are great for little hands and chocked full of good things.  And with just a 1/2 cup of sugar in the whole double batch, they definitely are a better choice compared to other sweets.  Rowan loves these with lunch.

 Enjoy!

 

apple chips

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

Apple chips are about the easiest (and healthiest) snack to make with all those delicious fall apples you may have overflowing your counters like we do.  They are a fun activity to make in the kitchen as well.  All you need are apples, a sharp knife, cinnamon and sugar, and an oven.  Come see how they're made with kids...

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

apple chips

3-4 large apples (we used a variety of apples--use what you have)

cinnamon

sugar

2-3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats

The most time consuming step is slicing your apples, width wise, very thin.  You can use an apple corer but I actually love how the apple slices look with the seed star still intact.

I start at the stem end of the apple and start slicing with a really sharp chef knife.  (Sharpen you knife ahead of time if you can.)  As I cut, I let the girls cover their own baking sheets with apple slices.  It gives them something to do to arrange and rearrange their apples.

Another job they have while I cut is to take any seeds that might have ended up on their baking sheet off the baking mat.

Note:

The thicker the slice, the longer it will need baking to become crisp and chip-like.

The thinner slices will become crisper with less time and could get darker than thicker slices.  All this being said, the more your slices are consistent, the better.  Without a mandoline they will all be slightly different in thickness and that is just fine.  It adds variety.  :)

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

Make a little cinnamon and sugar mixture in a bowl and spoon it over the apples on the baking sheets.  The apples should be in a single layer as best as possible so the kids can toss them on their baking sheet for all of the apples to get a little coating.   That's the fun part.

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

The idea here for an apple chip and a chewy apple slice is bake at a low temperature for a long time.  We baked ours on 200 degrees for 2-4 hours, depending on how crispy we wanted each batch.

After an hour or so in the oven, flip the apple slices over for the other side to bake.  I just used my fingers to flip them over since they will still be soft and moist.

How to know when they're ready to take out of the oven:

The apple slices after a few hours will get a little darker and should begin to get crispy.  Letting them cool on their baking sheet after taking them out of the oven will let them get crisper.  If you check on them in the oven and they are still very flimsy and moist, keep baking them.  You can always put a tray of apples slices back in the oven.

Making the perfectly crisp apple chips depends on two variables: the thickness of apple slice and baking time.  Just experiment.

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

Once you have the right crispness you want, take the trays out and let them cool.

Then gather the fam and crunch into some homemade apple chips!  You'll be amazed at how crispy they are.

We stored our leftover apple chips in an air sealed container.

baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips
baking with kids: apple chips

They are really a fun snack.  Prefect for bagging and taking on day trips, ballet practice, and a quiet afternoon snack.

Have you ever made apple chips?

Baking with Kids series:

Baking with Kids: Hiking Bars

Baking with Kids: Soft Pretzels

the sleepy time gal

baby biter biscuits

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Rowan's been ready.  Ready for the next step of something to hold, work at, focus on, and in the end, have something tasty in his mouth.

He's been ready for a homemade biter biscuit.  

I love the homemade biter biscuit over store bought biscuits because Rowan doesn't get covered in layers and layers of the biscuit.  The homemade variety keeps him quite clean.  And I love that I can see and choose the ingredients going into his first "hands on" food.  A few grains, applesauce, a touch of cinnamon, and coconut oil and that's it.

They are the perfect beginner hand-held food for a baby discovering textures and flavors and ready for a bit of independence.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

homemade biter biscuits

1 cup gluten free oat flour 

1/4 cup coconut flour 

1/4 cup almond flour (or arrowroot for nut free)

1 cup homemade rice cereal prepared (or store bought rice cereal prepared)

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 TBSP coconut oil

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

{I used two of my frozen homemade rice cereal pods, added water, warmed, and stirred to make my one cup of rice cereal prepared.}

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Combine flours.  Prepare rice cereal to be thicker rather than runny.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Add applesauce to rice cereal.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Add applesauce-cereal to flours.  Add cinnamon and coconut oil.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Stir.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Lay out dough on a floured surface.  It will be a little moist.  You can either add a little flour to firm it up a bit or chill it for an hour before rolling it out.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Cut the dough.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet.  Poke holes in the tops with a fork if you'd like.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

They should be nice and hard or approaching hard.  Let them cool completely.  Then can be stored in an air tight container.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

And let your teether enjoy!  Rowan usually gets a biter biscuit at lunchtime when he's at the table with us, staring at us eating.  It is a way he can feel a part of the family meal.  (He eats solid foods for breakfast and dinner right now.)

IMPORTANT: Since these are homemade biter biscuits they may crumble a bit more than the store bought ones (made with a lot more ingredients).  Always supervise your child.  

It took Rowan a few tries to get the biter biscuit.   I'm always next to him since all of the sucking by the end of the biter biscuit makes it break in half.  He now enjoys when a little crumble ends up in his mouth and he gums it to death.  :)

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

You can experiment with ripe bananas in place of the applesauce in the recipe.  They are very mildly sweetened but nice.  The girls wanted to eat them themselves.  They would be a nice gift tied up with ribbon for a friend's teething child as well.  Try them!  I'd love to see what you think.

wee ones: homemade biter biscuits
wee ones: homemade biter biscuits

hiking bars

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

I believe that food can connect the intangible with the tangible for a child.  Experiences, memories, and traditions become illuminated when we enjoy something familiar on our taste buds and, within seconds, feelings and emotions can be recalled.

I love encouraging this relationship between food and experiences with my children.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

{Personalizing our sunflower stem "sticks" to become walking sticks}

Our new exploration with nature is hiking.  Exploring the Appalachian Trail to be exact.  This has been the most recent experience in connecting food with experience to enhance our hopeful tradition.

Baking with Kids tip:

  • Align your quality time in the kitchen baking with your children with a new adventure, exploration, or tradition.  The process of baking and its outcome make the event that much more meaningful and memorable.  Plus you can correlate the baked good with the specific activity.  A high energy activity (family soccer game, family bike ride, a child's baseball game) calls for an energy boosting food, a road trip calls for easy transport, minimum crumbing, and individual packaging, and so forth.

There are many granola bars out there.  I like using prunes and dates pureed as a base to create a natural and sweet bars.  Our Hiking Bar is filling, sweet enough from the chocolate chips for the kiddos, and can be made in literally 5 minutes before sent into the oven.  Truly a perfect bar for spontaneous nature explorations and family activity.

(Adapted from SugarCrafter's Peanut Butter Granola Bars

hiking bars

Makes 10 full size bars

  • 1 cup dried prunes
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup almond butter or sunbutter if nut free
  • 2 cups rolled oats (gluten free) or equal amount of nuts/seeds
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • butter

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Lets kids help prepare the measured ingredients ahead of time since you'll be controlling the food processor.  (They'll enjoy watching the ingredients come together in the processor.)

In a food processor, pulse the prunes and dates until pureed.  Add the water and almond butter and puree. Add the oats or nuts/seeds and pulse until the mixture comes together as one large clump.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the chocolate chips.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

Pour your mixture into your prepared pan.  With buttered fingertips, kids can help firmly press the mixture into the pan.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

With your little helpers, sprinkle coconut over the mixture.  Gently press coconut onto the top of the mixture.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

Bake for 25 minutes.  The coconut should be perfectly toasted within this time.  Let the bars cool for a few minutes within the pan.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

Carefully transfer the bars, via parchment paper, onto a cooling rack.  Let completely cool before cutting.

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

Bag up your hiking bars individually and store them in your pantry if you're not using them right away.   Now you can grab and go!

My girls really enjoy these bars and really enjoy them when we're out on a trail.   They've helped make them and love the thrill of stopping along the trail to boost their energy.

What is a hike (insert other activity here) without a special, specific treat to enjoy??

baking with kids: hiking bars
baking with kids: hiking bars

Tomorrow:  Our adventure in hiking with kids!

Baking with Kids series:

Baking with Kids: Soft Pretzels

 

homemade rice cereal

wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal

I'm excited to bring back the series Wee Ones that was interrupted some months back.  Instead of finishing up the one week series I thought it would be much more exciting to keep it a regular series in this space.  So the Wee Ones series is back!

And sharing homemade rice cereal is the perfect place to pick up from where we left off.

Making your baby's first solid food yourself is so much more fulfilling, cheaper, healthier, and satisfying.  You'll be amazed at how easy it is to make your own rice (barley, oat, quinoa, and so forth) cereal.  No more buying the boxed stuff.

make your own rice cereal:

1 cup basmati rice

Add rice to your blender.  Blend it until it is finely ground like powder.  Store in an airtight container.

how to cook for baby:

Add 1/4 cup of ground grain to 1 cup of water.  Whisk or stir constantly for about 10 minutes over low heat.  You'll have a nice, creamy consistency.  Add your liquid of choice to make a thinner cereal as necessary for baby.

how to store cooked cereal:

I make Rowan's cereal every 3 days when I'm already over the stove cooking the rest of the family's breakfast.  The cereal cooked and refrigerated is good for up to 72 hours.  If your baby is eating your homemade cereal often you can store the cooked cereal in ice cube trays as well and make double or triple batches to save time.

wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal

I think he's getting the hang of it.

wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal
wee ones: homemade rice cereal

I've really enjoyed the process of making and heating up Rowan's homemade rice cereal.  The sky is the limit with trying other grains as well!  I think a variety of ground grains stored in glass jars would be a unique baby gift for a new mama with the cooking instructions included.

Some of my favorite "feeding" supplies for baby number 5:

You'd think after four kids I'd remember how messy new eaters can be.  I am in desperate need of some little wash clothes for wiping up I'm reminded every day.

Wee Ones series:

Wee Ones: Simple Projects for Baby