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Easy Meals for Busy Moms

Janel F.
JANEL F.
Registered Dietitian
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Are you in a major meal time rut? We've got you covered from breakfast to dinner and everthing in between. Led by Registered Dietitian, Janel Funk.

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Ask Janel, our Registered Dietitian!

Message Janel
JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Rice cereal
MEGHA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Hi there!
My son is almost 7 months and is a big eater :)
I usually switch between rice cereal and oatmeal with a fruit in the morning after his bottle - just wondering - how long do we have to use rice cereal??

Is It fine to stop and use just oatmeal??

What are other good variations for breakfast? He hasn’t loved eggs yet - but maybe there is better way to prepare it???

Thank you!

Janel
JANEL

Hi Megha, that's great he's a big eater! You absolutely don't have to use the rice cereal! You can keep up with oatmeal and mix in different fruits, spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg), etc. Yogurt or cottage cheese is a good breakfast mixed with fruit. You can make soft "toast fingers" (strips of bread that the baby can grasp and gum) with a spread of jelly, yogurt, mashed avocado or mashed banana. You can also do pieces of soft muffin or pancake, and if you need to soften it even more, drip on a few drops of milk or water to make it a little soggier. Keep trying eggs and don't be afraid to add flavor like herbs or a pinch of shredded cheese. Also breakfast doesn't have to be typical "breakfast food." If there are things he enjoys at lunch and dinner, you can incorporate them at breakfast, too!

MEGHA

That’s awesome!!! I thought I had to wait for those things because of whole milk restriction! Buying yogurt ASAP!

Which bread is best?

Janel
JANEL

Nope! Because of the way the yogurt and cottage cheese are made, they're a little bit easier for your baby to digest than whole milk, which you don't introduce until a baby is 1. Choose plain, whole milk yogurt and you can flavor them with some fruit purees or mashed banana. When buying bread, look for ones that are as minimally processed as possible (usually these are the "bakery style" breads as opposed to the rectangle shaped sliced loaves on the shelves). The fewer ingredients the better!

MEGHA

Agreed!

So I just toast the bread and he gnaws away? Or maybe muffins are better since they are softer ? I guess I’m Nervous about choking :/

Butter on bread? Unsalted of course

Last question - I made puréed chicken the other day with boiling the chicken in low sodium chicken broth. I used 1/2 cup broth and 1/2 water to further cut the 110 mg sodium per serving. Made 6 small 2 oz puréed containers

Before I give it to him - is that amount of sodium okay? He only eats meat once a day sometimes every other. Next month I plan to start fish. But mainly it’s veggies and fruits with dried and fresh herbs and mild spices. (No salt or sugar)

Janel
JANEL

I don't think you should toast the bread, as this will make it more dry and crunchy. Of course watch your child for any potential choking, but the food should be size and texture appropriate. Yes butter on bread is fine as well!

Regarding sodium - I'm more concerned about parents adding sodium to foods because we think they're too bland for our babies, as opposed to the sodium that is almost always found in things like bread or chicken broth. Being aware of sodium levels (as you are!) and choosing lower sodium options when possible is the best way to be mindful of sodium in your baby's diet without feeling like you have to track the exact milligrams. You can always flavor foods with herbs and spices, lemon juice, etc. But to answer your question, yes that amount of sodium is perfectly fine and you're doing great feeding your baby!

MEGHA

Thank you so much! Phew! That puts me at ease :)

FRANCINE

Hi Megha. My daughter is 4 months and my Pediatrition told me yesterday to throw the rice cereal that it tested positive for arsenic!!! Omg!! Scary! I figured I'd spread the word..

MEGHA

Hi there! Thanks - which brand?

Janel
JANEL

Hi Megha, Arsenic is naturally occurring in rice (and rice cereal, including other rice products). Infants are especially vulnerable to arsenic exposure because their bodies are so small, and many babies have a diet high in rice cereal when they first start solids. It is best to introduce babies to a wide variety of grains (like oats, quinoa, barley, etc.) in order to minimize exposure to arsenic, which it sounds like you're doing!

MEGHA

Thank you! :)

FRANCINE

Any brand. I know like Janel said arsenic is naturally occurring in roods including rice and it is actually a tiny FDA approved amount but it still made me nervous to give the rice cereal, so I'm sticking with oatmeal for now. I tried Barley and that made my lil one gassy. So l might try again later on. but the thought of too much arsenic in a baby worried me Even tho its "FDA approved". I know our bodies naturally produce it to.

FRANCINE

Janel l have a question for you. My lil girl just turned 4 months yesterday. And I've been introducing her to food the right way like start with one thing and stick with it for a few days (to see if she has an allergy) and whatnot but there really isn't alot of step 1 food. And would it be ok if l pureed her veggies that like we're eating for dinner before they're seasoned? Just plain steamed veggies? Is there certain ones l should avoid for now until she gets older? Thank you.

Janel
JANEL

Yes absolutely! There are really no vegetables you need to avoid unless your baby has an adverse reaction. And once she’s been introduced to some new veggies, you can try flavoring them with different herbs and spices instead of salt to expose her to new flavors.

FRANCINE

Oh good!! Thank you very much!! 😀

FRANCINE

Time to get the baby bullet out!! LoL.

JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Vegetables for a One Year Old
CAITLIN, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 6 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My 1 year old will only eat things that are not cut up and mashed up, he wants to be a "big kid" like his sisters. I'm struggling with vegetable dishes that he can eat with his hands and I won't worry about him choking on.

Janel
JANEL

That's great he's ready to advance his food palate! You want to make sure the vegetables are cooked soft enough, and that they're "grippable" so think steamed carrots cut into thin strips so they're not a round choking hazard, or broccoli florets where he can grab the stem and munch on the floret part. If you're looking for meals that incorporate vegetables, you can make things like pasta with a can of diced tomatoes which are nice and soft, minestrone soup, which has tiny bits of veggies with pasta and beans, or stir fried veggies with rice where the veggies are an appropriate size and texture. What are some foods his big sisters are eating that you're looking to give him safely? Happy to help you troubleshoot.

JANEL ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Breakfast
AMANDA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

I'm so excited to see this Q&A!
Lately, I haven't had much time to make myself breakfast. But if I miss breakfast, my blood sugar will drop to well under 70 by 10am. Do you have any suggestions for something I can do quickly for Breakfast? My Little one is a morning person, so she likes to do her exercises and tummy time all morning. Thanks so much!

Janel
JANEL

Hi Amanda, Yes breakfast is so important, especially if you're nursing (and even if you're not, you need to keep up with your active little one!). Try to combine carbs with protein for breakfast to keep you satisfied and energized. Some quick ideas that require minimal prep include greek yogurt or cottage cheese with some fresh fruit; hard boiled eggs (some grocery stores even sell pre-hard boiled eggs!) with diced avocado and fresh fruit; toast with mashed avocado and tomato slices; toast with peanut butter and banana slices. You can also make baked oatmeal (so many yummy recipes online!) easily with some nuts and fruit added to the recipe to just slice and reheat for breakfast, or make a big batch of crockpot or stovetop oatmeal once a week loaded with nut butter, fresh or dried fruit, chia seeds, milk, etc. for a hot breakfast that only takes a minute to reheat. I love making big batches of veggie scrambled eggs with cheese - you can reheat portions of the scrambled eggs for a few days in a row for breakfast, or make muffin tin eggs (basically scrambled eggs divided into muffin tins and baked) that you can reheat and stick in an english muffin for a one-handed breakfast. Also, breakfast doesn't have to be typical "breakfast foods." You can grab dinner leftovers, a turkey sandwich, melted cheese on crusty bread with tomato slices, etc. Be sure to plan ahead - either a few days in advance or at least before you go to bed at night so you know what you have ready to eat as soon as you get the first chance the next morning!

AMANDA

Wow! Thanks! These are all great ideas!