I'm writing this following the dinner I just enjoyed with Travis and Brooklynn at our favorite little Greek spot. To start, we shared an appetizer of charbroiled octopus, and it was DELICIOUS. More importantly, Brooke thought so too. That's right, our one year old liked octopus and by "liked" I mean kept reaching for more, and pretty much ate a third of our whole plate. She followed it up by sharing in our meals that consisted of lamb, hummus, green beans, tomato, lima beans, and gyro. Of course, revisiting her eight tenticled friend between each bite. Does this sound like the typical diet of a baby to you? Probably not, but it should.
Travis and I feel strongly about raising Brooklynn with healthy eating habits, by giving her nutritious and real meals from an eclectic variety of foods. We're not afraid to let her try and enjoy all of the things we do, well, excluding a few things that might be too spicy or choking hazards. So when the octopus came to the table, we were ecstatic to share it with her. As we have been with everything we've given to her. We've yet to come across a food that she won't eat, well except mangoes, but I think the enzyme in them that numbs your mouth might be a bit weird for her. They're one of my favorites though, so surely she'll come around. Are we just blessed with a foodie like ourselves? Perhaps that's a part of it, but I believe the majority of it falls into the fact that we've opened up her palette by giving her such a vast array of foods since she's been old enough to have them. I will add, that I still breast feed her regularly; every two or so hours and that is where she gets her main source of nutrients from. We definitely incorporate all of the food though, to get her accommodated with it and the extra goodness that it provides her growing brain and body.
You know it might offend some when I say this, but I'd be damned if I had the kid that insisted they'd only eat chicken nuggets and soda. Not happening Jack. You can call your child a "picky eater', but who fed them that way? We are given the incredible opportunity to set the example for our kids, starting the day they are born, with everything, not just eating. Take advantage of that, and fill them with the best possible things you can. It really breaks my heart to see toddlers chomping away on Happy Meals, then we wonder why kids can't run a mile in P.E., and that we're the most obese country in the world. Not only is it cause for unhealthy weight, but it all leads to a scary list of diseases and injury. I know I don't want that for my child, or anyone. So, let's raise our children right from the start, so that when they're old enough to make meal choices on their own, they reach for the papaya or kale, not the bag of chips and candy bar. I choose not to let myself or my family be a part of the unhealthy epidemic. We pride ourselves on living a healthy lifestyle, and most definitely raising Brooklynn, and future children the same way.
Here is a list of foods Brooklynn has tried and loved...
This is about 98% accuracy of the order she tried them in, before they all became a regular part of her diet. Some of these things obviously started in puree or really mashed forms, but she now eats them all in bitty bite sizes perfect for her little fingers to pick up, or she drinks the beverages out of her sippy cup with a straw, she hasn't taken to the level 1 kind with the "spout". Sure, there were a few "what... is... this...?" faces along the way, she pulled some of it out of her mouth to inspect it, but usually put it right back in and screamed [politely asked] for more. Some of these items were even seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, and she takes to the spice well, just like her mama. So here it is...
1. Baby oatmeal: You know the good ole Gerber Baby Oatmeal the dr. recommends you try them on first. She ate it up. We quit using it as soon as as we started with other foods though.
2. Avocado: Man, was this a messy and fun first. Professing my love and ability to survive on this food alone, we thought it'd be a great first one to try. Oh yeah, the health benefits were a major factor too.
3. Cantaloupe: She actually leaned forward and just gummed a bite out of a piece I was holding, and loved it. She had like 1/8 of a bottom tooth at this point, so she had some powerful gums.
4. Beets: I won't lie, it took a few attempts on this one, but she now likes them, especially in hummus form.
5. Blueberries: I swear she can eat a whole Costco sized container in a week, a day if I'd let her, but I'm trying to avoid the scene from Willy Wonka.
6. Carrots: She didn't like them warm and pureed, but loves them raw to chomp on.
7. Sweet potato: favorite from the start and remains to be, just like her mama.
8. Oranges: Oh the sour faces, but she likes them.
9. Peaches: Huge fan, especially baked with cinnamon.
10. Asparagus: Luckily, haven't noticed the stench in her pee either.
11. Bananas: I wasn't the one to give her these first... ugh. We've also noticed they constipate her, so only every once in a while she has a tiny bit.
12. Strawberries: She scarfs these bad boys down. She may have eaten the leaves of a whole one, once.
13. Kiwi: The kid loves her some kiwi, skin and all. That's where most of the nutrients are btw.
14. Spinach: She's not a fan of leafy things... when they're leafy. She'll eat it steamed or sautéed, so that it's soft bites or pureed. I think the leaf texture sticks to the roof of her mouth and makes her feel as though she'll choke.
15. Pumpkin: Oh how I love the holiday season, Costco sold canned All Organic Pumpkin Puree, with NOTHING but pumpkin in it. We added cinnamon and nutmeg too. Brooklynn ate a ton of this. We actually planted a pumpkin patch with her diapers. Kidding. That was so gross. Sorry.
16. Apple sauce: By which I mean, I sliced, steamed, then threw some apples in the food processor. Would you look at that, apple sauce without sugar or a bunch of crap to make up for lack of sugar.
17. So she tried cheerios... She's had them once, I wasn't ready for her to try them, long story I was sort of pressured into it. I know they're not horrible, but I wanted to avoid packaged stuff like that for as long as possible. Oh well, as far as cereal goes, it wasn't worth crying more than I did over.
18. Pears: She goes to town on them, I cut them in long strips, kind of like a carrot stick, and remove the seedy part, and poof they're gone. She likes to eat them whole too, but tends to drop them before finishing, and well we don't like to waste food. It is adorable to see her grip it with her bitty hands and face plant like a dog does a good bone though.
19: Lettuce: She played with a few pieces from my salad, before nibbling on a few. It isn't a major staple though.
20: Squash: She thinks it squashes a lot of other foods. haha. I can't help myself with puns.
21. Watermelon: Because, I mean, who doesn't love watermelon?
22. Blackberries: I tend to cut these up to avoid the harder center, and then she chows down. Warning: Your child will be purple, I highly recommend a bib or clothing you don't worry about. Even with top notch stain remover, I find it still leaves a tint.
23: Raspberries: She throws them back like there's no tomorrow. Side note: Has anyone every dissected a raspberry and eaten it one little "ball" at a time? Just me then?...
24: Brussels sprouts: The dreaded by every kid food? Not for our little one, she loves them. Then again her Daddy also cooks them like a boss.(:
25. Green beans: Not only did she like them, she knew to pull the little beans out of the pod. I'm telling you, vegetables make for smart kids.
26: Parsnip: Basically, she loves all root vegetables. A lot.
27: Turkey: What better day than Thanksgiving to have tried her first meat, which was obviously turkey prepared by her Daddy. Once she tried meat, everything else was chopped liver. Well, we haven't given her chopped liver, so scratch that, but you get it. The kid loves turkey.
28. Sweet peppers: Yes, peppers. Picks them up whole and chomps her way through them. Of course, they're mild and sweet. I wouldn't give her a jalepeno... yet. God forbid I get reported. haha.
29. Cucumber: Be sure to pick the seeds out, they cause gas. Other than that, great for a cool crunchy bite for the teething baby.
30. Celery: Just like cucumber, except for watch for stringy bits instead of seeds.
31. Pineapple: BIG HIT. Also, it's Mama's favorite fruit, so we fight over the pieces share them.(;
32. Honeydew melon: It's a green cantaloupe, same reaction from her anyway.
33. Radish: They're a peppery bitter veggie, but she digs them. In paper thin slices.
34. Venison: No chicken nuggets here, she wolfed down some venison. I hope my "wolf" term made someone laugh. PETA hates me now.
35: Tomato: In tiny little chunks, she likes them. I tend to give her the fleshy part, as the seedy guts get everywhere.
36. Pinto beans: Beans beans, the magical fruit... You know I haven't actually noticed an increase in gas when she has beans. Yay! She does love them, a lot!
37. Chicken: I eat some variety of chicken breast with a lot of meals, she was bound to hop on the wagon and love it too. We give her grilled and baked, no fried food for baby. Or Mama for that matter.
38. Salmon: YES! SCORE! I could live off of salmon. I love it! It's benefits outweigh pretty much, a lot of friggin stuff. It's amazing for you, and incredible for baby. So I'm ecstatic can you tell that Brooklynn eats as much of it as I do. Even seasoned with salt, pepper, lime, and cayenne.
39. Steak: She had filet mignon before she was one. Lucky kid. We went to our favorite Brazilian Steakhouse, and we let her try all of the cuts we had. Garlic Pichana was her favorite. Just be sure to make super tiny bites, and semi mash them, as steak is a harder thing for babies to chew.
40. Lemon: Okay, she actually stole it out of my water once and we let her nibble only long enough to get an entertaining video of her "Warhead face". Tooth enamel, I know.
41. Hummus: I have on obsession with hummus, and clearly passed it onto her. All sorts of flavors; garlic, spicy red pepper, beet, and carrot. She doesn't even know about pita bread yet...
42. Onion: Raw or cooked, she likes them. I'm excited for her, as many people don't enjoy them. The breath is another story. haha.
43. Zucchini: Since she likes squash and cucumbers, this is a no brainer.
44. Prime rib: She tried this at a family event, I'm not too fond of giving her such fatty cuts, but we avoided as much of the fat part as we could, and she ate it like a beast.
45. Peas: Perfect finger sized and easily chewed little balls of goodness.
46. Fruit & Veggie juices: NOT store bought, but straight from the juicer made with real fruits and vegetables only. I've given her several recipes including all of the foods on this list. Well, fruit and veggies on this list. I wouldn't suggest throwing chicken in there.
47. Black beans: The kid LOVES beans!
48. Limes: She's licked like two. No enamel comments please.
49. Mushroom (grilled): She nibbled a bit, but was way more into some hummus, so didn't go for a lot. I've only tried it once.
50. Oatmeal: Quaker Plain Old Fashioned Oats. No added nothing, well I add cinnamon and dash of almond milk to it for her. She'll eat it warm or cold. Also, she finds it's great as hair product, generally requires a bath.
51. Lamb: She's definitely a meat-eater. She LOVES lamb.
52. Lima beans: I mean they're beans, SUPER SIZED, what's not to love?!
53. Almond milk: I gave this to her in a sippy cup with a straw and she guzzles it. Almond milk is what we drink in the house, just by preference, and it's what we're raising her with. Once she's older she's free to have dairy milk if she wants, but for now this is what we're giving her. We use Silk Almond Milk Original. It doesn't have a bunch of added flavors and crap.
54. Almond butter: Seeing that she had no reaction to almond milk, we knew she wouldn't have the nut allergy so we tried it. I dip just the tip of my pinky in the jar to let her have a little taste, I don't do it too often though. We use Maranatha All-Natural Roasted Almond Butter. It has NOTHING in it, but almonds.
55. Mangoes: As I mentioned above, she seems to spit them out. I'm assuming it's the numbing feeling they sometimes cause your mouth.
56. Kale: It was actually kale chips, home made with a drizzle of olive oil and some spices and she thought they were bomb.
57. Greek yogurt: I've only let her lick a tidbit off my spoon once or twice, only because she was staring me down with her adorable "share with me" face.
58. Gyro meat: We love Greek food, as you know from the intro to this. So does she.
59. Octopus: Yes, octopus. Yes, the eight-tenticled sea creature. She LOVED it. We had it charbroiled and drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
60. Potatoes: We've given her some rosemary baked fingerling potatoes once, but I don't plan to carb/starch her up a lot with them.
61. Baby back ribs: Travis made them at home, trimmed all fat, and glazed them with a home made hot mustard vinaigrette sauce, that had zero sugar and crap in it. She chowed down on it. Needless to say, pull the meat off the bone first.
62 & 63. Broccoli and Apples: I forgot to add those, but she eats both with pleasure. I have to cut the apple pieces super tiny now, otherwise she attempts to put the whole apple in her mouth.
We've done our best to provide all sorts of tastes, textures, and temperatures in all of these and hope to encourage this kind of eating all of her life. You probably noticed there weren't very many, if any examples of starches, dairy, or sugar... Exactly. Now, there will come a time when we'll incorporate whole grain pasta, brown rice, healthful breads and throw in some cheese and nutritious yogurt, but we don't want her to be obsessed with those, and be the "I only eat grilled cheese" kid. Or corn, because well, diapers are gross enough without identifiable things in them. As for sugar, we plan to avoid her consuming this for as long as possible, using plenty of natural substitutes along the way; such as coconut sugar, agave nectar, dried fruits and REAL juice from fruits, but never processed sugar and obviously not artificial sweeteners. Sure, the inevitable time will come when she's exposed to it as she's older, but we're going to prevent it while we can and of course limit and avoid it once she's come across it. We will never be the house with the box of Twinkies, I warrant you that.
ps. Mamas, it makes it a lot easier to feed your child healthy, if you're eating healthy yourself and keep yourself eating healthy, if you're feeding your child healthy. Hard to over indulge on your kid's fruit snacks or cheesy puffs, if you're not buying them.
I'll try to post some fun and healthy recipes or meals we eat, but if you have any questions until then, please ask ask ask!(:
and naturally a few photos of our little piglet...