Banana Bread? Yes, Please

Baking. It’s all anybody seems to be planning to do, isn’t it? Judging by the lack of flour on the shelves, at any rate. But what, exactly, to bake? We’ve made gazillions of cupcakes throughout the last few years (and still, believe it or not, I suck at them). We’ve done sponge. We made brownies the other day. What’s guaranteed to be eaten, and tasty?

Well, banana bread, of course. Filling, simple, with one of your five a day – what’s not to love? I found a recipe on Pinterest using 4 very ripe bananas (my kids never want bananas when we have tons of them… strange little beings) and changed it a bit to suit us.

We used

  • 4 ripe bananas (we like them browning for cooking)
  • 45g melted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg, pre beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Generous dash of salt
  • 200g plain flour
  • Generous handful chopped Brazil nuts
  • 3 rows of Dairy Milk (from the sharing size bar)

We used the Aga, and I slightly miscalculated the heat of the ovens – next time, I’ll use the bottom one, but for standard ovens, 180 is recommended. Preheat it before you start – not something I had to worry about!

I got the girls to mash the bananas and the melted butter together, then we added all the dry ingredients, flour last, then the nuts and chocolate chips (some may have escaped – into tiny mouths or large ones? Who knows… shush). It’s really that simple – then just pour into a bread pan, cook for 45-60 mins (until a skewer comes out clear) and Bob’s your Uncle.

We decided to use our daily exercise allowance to take the banana bread on a picnic in the field next to the house – with some Dairy Milk spread, too, of course!

To Wean or not to Wean…

The title of this may be slightly misleading to some. The term ‘Weaning’ has different meanings, but both boil down to the same thing.

When you begin to wean, as far as I was brought up in England, it’s when you start your baby on solids. But the majority of people also seem to understand Weaning as meaning stopping breastfeeding. Both terms are actually correct – Weaning (solids) is the beginning of the end of the breastfeeding journey, no matter how far away that may be, because baby no longer relies solely on breastmilk for nutrition.

Now we’ve got that out of the way – this week we’ve started to very gently wean Elia. Weaning meaning the solids version. She meets the full readiness checklist, as suggested by KellyMom (my bible when it comes to infant feeding):

• Baby can sit up well without support.

• Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.

• Baby is ready and willing to chew.

• Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.

• Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

On paper, she is 100 percent ready. Yet… she’s just not that keen. Last night, she nibbled on a strip of chicken, chewing away happily. She gobbled a piece of Swiss chard without a blink. It was lovely to watch. But this morning, and the rest of today, she’s not been that bothered. She had a nice chomp on a chicken leg bone (so much like her sister). She had great fun playing in the scrambled eggs and avo I gave her (I didn’t see any enter her mouth, but her breath had a distinctly eggy smell afterwards).But here’s the beauty of Baby Led Weaning – it really doesn’t matter. As we did win Stevie, we want Elia’s experience with food to be fun. Especially at such a young age, it’s more about her tasting her foods, playing in them and fully understanding the fun behind eating. It’s messy and filthy and the dogs definitely put on some weight when Stevie was younger, but I love it. We don’t have to rush – when she’s ready, she’ll show us. And, if she’s anything like her sister, she’ll be eating like a grown-up at 3 years old (and by that, I mean eating when she’s hungry, and declining when she’s not). No, seriously – I’ve never seen anyone that size shovel so much food into their mouths in one day. Little food monster!

Losing my Mum Tum – the Healthy Way

It’s no secret that I need to be in shape for work. It’s also no secret that it can be damn hard to get into shape after having a baby. I refuse to use the term ‘back into shape’ as I don’t believe your body will ever be the same. But being fit and healthy and strong is so important, even for people who don’t wear bikinis for a living!

So here’s how I did it. I’ve written a food diary of the last week to show what I eat every day. My snacks (not written) are Woolies maple syrup infused prunes and Lindt 85% chocolate (2 blocks). I drink only red wine and sugar-free squash or water, and if I have a hot drink it’s either coffee or rooibos with one sweetener.

This is the eating plan which works for me. The cows’ milk aspect is obviously new, but otherwise this is the way I have been eating for many years now. There is no diet involved here. I eat what I like. My only rule is that I try to eat a good amount of vegetables throughout the day. I also exercise every single day.

Mummy’s, Daddy’s and Stevie’s

The reason I am sharing this is twofold – one is to potentially help anyone who doesn’t know where to get started on eating well. Because getting started is the hardest part! But the other is to show that there is effort and discipline involved after pregnancy – and during – if you want to get into shape again quickly. There is so much emphasis on how a woman ‘should’ look after giving birth, but there is a lot of effort there and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Read on, enjoy – and if you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments section.

Monday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: oriental chicken wings with mini corn on the cob

I forgot dinner – very naughty, I know.

Tuesday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: Brussels sprouts and baby spinach cooked with garlic in coconut oil with chopped crispy bacon

Dinner: hake tacos made with coriander, cayenne pepper, cumin, parsley and chipotle paste, with peppers and onions on lettuce tacos with homemade guacamole, goats’ cheese and Relicious green jalapeño sauce

Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs on corn cakes with smashed avo and chopped spinach, with Relicious jalapeño sauce

Lunch: homemade peanut, chicken and coconut soup with rye bread (I didn’t make it, I’m not that good)

Dinner: 3 Woolies pork sausages with Mrs. G’s hot sauce

Thursday

Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled in coconut oil, cooked with goat’s cheddar and chopped spinach, on corn cakes with smashed avo

Lunch: Woolies lamb frikkadels with homemade sauce – beef stock, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and ginger with onions, garlic and peas

Dinner: ‘Southern style’ shell-on prawns, steamed with fresh coriander, chopped tomatoes, onions, chilli and cumin, with charred mini corn-on-the-cob

Friday

Breakfast: 1 apple, 2 boiled eggs and one extra yolk (Stevie nibbles the whites and gives the yolk to me)

Lunch 1: three Woolies pork sausages with avocado

Lunch 2: 2 chicken breasts with pineapple and salad

Dinner: half portion of chips – oops!

Saturday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs with chopped spinach and smashed avo on corn cakes

Lunch: 2 fillet steaks, 3 steamed prawns (with garlic, chilli and lemon) and garlic wilted spinach

Dinner: 2x beef tacos with lettuce, guacamole and tomato and onion salsa.

Here’s a little disclaimer – I am not, in the slightest, advocating missing meals. Unfortunately, as a busy mum, time sometimes runs away with us. I like my three meals per day – it suits me. Monday, unfortunately, was not a good day – and I’ve kept it in the diary for honesty’s sake.

How to Grow a Tomato Plant…

Okay, so the title is slightly misleading. I actually don’t know the slightest thing about growing a tomato plant! But now, we have a perfect combination on big, beefy tomatoes and tiny, round vine tomatoes growing next to our braai…

Here’s what happened. A few months ago, I took seeds and stones from various fruits and planted them in the garden. There was no rhyme or reason for where I planted what – it was more just a bit of fun, to see what happened.

Well, needless to say, not much came of any of it. We’ll see in the next few years whether my apple or peach or plum trees grow or bear fruit – but my tomatoes are thriving!

My mum is a lot more green-fingered than I am – and she seems to think it’s the roses that have helped the vines to grow. They’re using the hardened stems to climb up, but because the roses are so well-established, so far they’re not being suffocated. We’ll see what happens there. All I know is, I’m getting some really lovely, fat tomatoes! And Stevie is very proud.

On Tandem Nursing and Adjusting to a Little Sister…

Elia is 3 weeks old today. 3 whole weeks! Time has flown by so quickly. I knew it would – it seems like yesterday Stevie was this small. And I’m literally pinching myself every day, trying to remember every single moment, because I know that, in the blink of an eye, it’ll be June and I’ll be going back to work, missing my now-chaotic little household.

But I will be completely honest – adjusting to having two children, and also tandem feeding and letting Stevie adjust, hasn’t been the easiest – and I didn’t expect it to be.

Right now, Stevie is about 90% in love with her little sister (maybe more like 95%, actually – her love grows day g day and it’s wonderful!) but 5-10% jealous and trying to get used to not being the centre of our attention all the time. Thank god for tandem nursing!

Baby bums!

Tandem nursing has been our saving grace, but also my biggest adjustment. Stevie loves sharing her booby with her baby sister, but I’ve been trying to limit Stevie’s intake still. Which may turn out to have been a silly idea – from tomorrow, I’m going to let my girls have a lot more control over their routines. The hardest thing for me has been adjusting to having two creatures demanding not just my time, but my body. But then I sit and think how small they both still are (even though Stevie now feels giant) and I just melt. I love feeding both my girls, so I’m going to do it as they want it. Besides, Elia’s already put on 700g (900g if you count from her lowest weight) so I’m obviously doing something right!

Sorry for my slightly ranting, verbal vomit post, but I like to keep people informed. I know tandem feeding is a controversial subject, but I see nothing controversial about it for my family.

Tandem Feeding Info

Every Baby is Different

I was so spoilt with Stevie. She was the world’s most perfect baby – she fed well, she slept well from day one. The only issues we had were that my own, personal sensitivity to cooked onions caused her extreme discomfort, and she never pooed. Seriously, even before the expected 6 week mark, Stevie pooed once a week – and my god did she poo. Once, she showered Pete, the wall, the door and the floor (and there may have even been spatters on Rome).

Baby Stevie – the face that launched a thousand poonamis

I appear to have been spoilt with Elia, too. This little poppet came out of the womb with the world’s most perfect latch, cluster feeding her way through the day. But she doesn’t seem to like dairy. And by that, I mean the fairly common intolerance that babies sometimes have to cows’ milk proteins, transferred through mum’s milk. In formula babies, this often results in transferring to expensive, sensitive formulas made with soy or other substitutes. In breastfed babies, this means mum has to cut all dairy out of her diet.

Little Miss No-Dairy

This isn’t the worst thing for me. In order to get my body ‘back,’ I’m going to have to look after myself, and I don’t mind admitting I need to cut out my addiction to cheese. Thankfully, that’s my only dairy weakness. But wait – what about my porridge?

Bring in the almond milk and coconut milk. Almond milk porridge (half water, half almond milk with oats. Stir in a tablespoon of real maple syrup and a teaspoon of Flavorgod Gingerbread Cookie and let simmer fill at your desired texture) or coconut milk quinoa porridge (about 2 parts coconut milk to 1 part quinoa, with cinnamon powder or Flavorgod Chocolate Donut simmering but not stirring until fluffy and light) – and you can also do chia seed puddings with either, letting the chia seeds soak in the fridge in your desired milk overnight. I like mine done in coconut milk with vanilla essence, topped with berries the morning after.

Thankfully, the possibilities are endless. Now, to just convince myself that I don’t miss my stinky cheeses…

Chia seed pudding topped with pineapple, with banana loaf and almond butter

Quinoa porridge with coconut milk, topped with bananas, blueberries and coconut bits

Banana and egg pancakes – that’s it! No more ingredients! Top with whatever you please – lemon? Yup. Real maple syrup? Yup yup.

Flavorgod ships worldwide, including South Africa, for a small fee. Head to Flavorgod.com for prices.

Leftovers for Lunch

So, last night we made excellent stuffed peppers for dinner. I stuffed them with quinoa (boiled in chicken stock with peas), mince beef (stir fried with coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric), finely chopped baby spinach and grated mature cheddar.

So today, for lunch, I wanted to do something that both Stevie and I could enjoy – something healthy (because I am not getting fat this time around) and tasty and filling.

So I decided to use the leftover stuffing for a quinoa bowl – with a twist.

I should explain now – we love quinoa bowls in this house. They’re a staple meal for when we’re feeling lazy. Before Stevie could use utensils, she could get her hands in and dig around, and as far as sensory experimentation and pincer grip goes, it’s fab!

So back to the recipe. I just made more quinoa-and-pea mix, and strained some baked beans. Stevie adores any kind of legume, and they’re full of goodness. She sometimes brings me cans of kidney beans from the cupboard if she’s hungry… I know, odd child. Maybe I should move them up a couple of shelves.

I chopped more spinach, grated some more cheese and fried everything off in a coconut oil-filled pan.

And voila! We have a glorious, healthy, economical lunch that both adults AND toddlers can enjoy. Next time I’ll add a soft-poached egg!

The best thing about this, is that you can meal prep as it’ll stay good in the fridge for a good 3 days – and it can be eaten cold or hot.

Weaning Sense

So this week I was invited to the launch of a new book, Weaning Sense.

The majority of South African readers will be familiar with the author and occupational therapist Meg Fauré. She’s written countless baby books. As a Brit abroad these days, I wasn’t all that familiar. So I went into this launch with a nice, open, new mind.

The launch was in the gorgeous Broadacres Mall in northern Joburg, in BubHub. This is now my new favourite shop. They act as almost an old-fashioned community centre, with preggy belly Pilates classes and a coffee bar, and a baby clinic alongside the all-natural baby toiletries and amazing boutique buys (my favourite was Little Me – black and white, high-contrast pram toys, muslins and baby crockery). Pete and Stevie took themselves off to browse the pet shop and look at the duck pond.

I was introduced to Meg and her co author, Kath Megaw (clinical dietician). They said that this book has been the most fun the write of anything they’ve writtten before, and I can understand that completely.

Their concern is that the amount of ‘noise’ around baby feeding and weaning (in the traditional sense of weaning baby onto solids and not off milk) has taken the fun out of the whole exercise. The whole book concentrates on both parent AND baby being involved with the weaning process – no force feeding baba pureés until they literally scream for no more, but rather giving them an interesting variety of complimentary foods and putting some of the enjoyment back into eating. Because who wants to be that person who doesn’t enjoy food?

The book categorises babies and toddlers into different types of personalities, and by understanding which ‘type’ your child is, you can learn to help them eat and experience food better. For example, there’s the slow-starting baby, who needs time to understand food instead of it just being shoved in their mouth. There’s also the settled baby, who is so laid back they’ll just go with the flow.

Each section of the book is accompanied by scientific research to back it up, and recipes (with beautiful pictures, of course!) to accompany each ‘stage’ of eating. The photography and recipes are truly beautiful – I will not be waiting for baby no 2 to arrive and start solids before attempting the quinoa beef meatballs! And, as a bonus, there’s a freezer guide for each section, too! For myself, with my 3 freezers (no joke, but one is full of dog food) this is VERY handy.

This is a commercial baby book, but the general feeling is to take the business out of it, and to strip the whole experience back so parent and baby both have fun experimenting with new textures and tastes. If you only buy it just for the recipes, it’ll be so worth it.

The book Weaning Sense is available at Takealot and in select Exclusive Books stores. Meg Fauré is a renowned Occupational Therapist, and Kath Megaw is a clinical dietician and contributor to Nutripaeds. BubHub is based in Broadacres Mall, near Fourways, Johannesburg.