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Parenting
Posted under Simple Savings
05/07/2010
IconHomemade baby food The BIG secret: It takes less than 30 minutes per week By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers Making baby food is healthier for your baby, and offers your baby an introduction to foods rich in variety, flavor, color, taste and smell. All of your friends (and your mother-in-law) will think you are a super parent for making your baby's food. The big secret -- it is super easy and takes less than 30 minutes per week. A common approach to making baby food is called the "ice cube tray" method. The concept is simple: make large quantities of basic food purees using a standard blender or food processor and freeze it in single servings (1 ounce) in ice cube trays. With this method, you only need to make baby food once, maybe twice, per week. Over time you build up a large variety of single-serving baby food cubes in the freezer. Here are the four basic steps of making baby food with the ice cube tray method: Step 1: Prep - Depending on the type of baby food you are preparing, you will need to wash, chop and peel the fruits and vegetables. You should not use detergent or bleach when washing fruits and vegetables because these chemicals can leave a residue that will be absorbed by porous food like produce. If you are using frozen produce, simply open the package. Step 2: Cook - Cook the food in the microwave or use a stovetop method of steaming. We prefer microwave cooking for several reasons: saves time because foods cook faster; retains more nutrients than other cooking methods; and it is easier clean up. If you prefer the stovetop method of cooking foods, you must use a steamer basket. DO NOT boil food, boiling food reduces nutrient content. Foods must be cooked well. They are done when the can be pierced or mashed easily with a fork. Step 3: Puree - Pour the food and cooking juices into a food processor or a blender and puree. Food consistency is created during this step. You want your baby to have food that is soft and velvety in texture. You may need to add water to some foods to get the right consistency. Although water will slightly dilute the food's nutritional value, the difference is not significant enough to worry about. Step 4: Freeze - Pour the food puree into ice cube trays. Cover and place them in the freezer for eight to 10 hours or overnight. Pop the baby food cubes from the freezer trays. Place the cubes in a freezer storage bags or stackable containers (Label the bag/containers with the date and the type of food), and return them immediately to the freezer. Baby food cubes stay fresh for up to two months. Sample Recipe:APPLE PUREE 6 medium golden delicious apples Step 1: Prep - Wash, peel, core and cut apples into one-inch (3 cm) slices. Step 2: Cook - Place apples in a microwave safe dish. Cover. Cook 5 minutes and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook an additional 5 minutes. The apples are done when they can be pierced easily with a fork. Step 3: Puree - Place apples and cooking juices into a blender or a food processor. Puree to a smooth texture. Step 4: Freeze - Spoon into So Easy Baby Food Trays or ice cube trays. Cover. Place in freezer eight to 10 hours or overnight. Remove cubes from trays, place in storage container or freezer bag, and return immediately to the freezer. Makes 24 1-ounce servings. Stays fresh for two months in the freezer. To serve, select frozen apple cubes from the freezer, defrost and warm, check the temperature and feed. Age to introduce: About 6 months Serving homemade baby food Using the ice cube tray method of making baby food makes it is easy to create a large variety of food cubes in your freezer. When it is time for feeding, simply select the food cubes from the freezer, thaw them and feed them to your baby. You may want to warm the food first. Baby food can be served cold, at room temperature or slightly warm. Never serve hot food to your baby, and always check the temperature of food or drinks before feeding them to your baby. Baby food should have soft, velvety consistency. If you are just starting solids, thinner food is better than thicker food. If you defrost the food and see that it is too thick, you can easily thin it by adding some breast milk or formula. This also adds a little extra nutrition too. If the opposite happens, and the food is too thin, you can easily thicken the food by adding a little baby cereal, mashed banana or plain yogurt. After your baby has been introduced to a variety of single flavor foods and he is a little older, you can begin making meal time more interesting and introduce your baby to array of tastes, by combining different foods to create medleys. Here are some examples of foods cubes that taste great together: Green peas and sweet potatoes Green beans and white potatoes Broccoli, cauliflower and melted cheese Butternut squash, corn and mashed tofu Peaches, pears and rice cereal Mango, Papaya and banana Raspberries, apples, yogurt and ground walnuts About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby ( www.FreshBaby.com ). Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby. Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it's better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Fresh Baby's breastfeeding accessories and baby food making supplies provide parents with practical knowledge and innovative tools to support them in introducing their children to great tasting, all-natural foods - easily and conveniently. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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Posted under Simple Savings
05/07/2010
IconSummer Musings The Dollar Stretcher by Gary Foreman gary@stretcher.com It's summer. When the days are long and lazy. And you have time to think about unusual things... Recently I glanced at some notes that my wife was taking. She had written 'reflected', but due to my "getting-older" eyesight it looked as if she had written "deflected". That completely changed the meaning of her notes. The dictionary gives multiple definitions for reflection. Among them is "efficiently reflecting light, heat or radiation". A second one talks about thinking deeply about a subject. Some people seem to reflect opportunity. Taking the time to think allows them to see possibilities clearly and explain them to others in a way that makes sense. They make the most of what comes to them. On the other hand, other people have an uncanny knack for deflecting opportunity. Even when they're in the right place at the right time something always comes up to prevent them from cashing in on good fortune. Somehow good things bounce off of them. How can you become a "reflector"? The first thing is to hang around reflectors. They're the ones who seem to be "lucky". The next thing is to build some time into your busy schedule to think. Henry Ford said that thinking was hard work and that's why so few engaged in it. Old Henry was a reflector. Speaking of opportunity, here in Florida we have a state lottery. The state has purchased billboards that stress the size of the current jackpot. It's usually in the $10 million dollar range. I know that they're trying to get people thinking that the jackpot is an opportunity. But, I can't help looking at that big number a little differently. I know that they pay out less than they take in. So to pay out $10 million, they'll need to collect somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 million. What that means is that my chance of winning the whole jackpot is much less than one in 10 million. Pretty long odds. I know that a ticket is only a buck. But it sure seems like a waste to me. Guess maybe I'm especially frustrated because that's not the only way that the lotto is misleading. People voted for the lottery because they were told that the money raised would all go to education. No more trouble paying for schooling. You guessed it. Years later we're still scrambling for school money. And now we're starting to see people with addictive gambling problems. On the other side of the coin every so often you hear something that really rings true. Here's one. "Opportunity only knocks once, but temptation leans on the doorbell." Unfortunately, I don't know who said it, so I can't give them credit. But they've spoken the truth. Most of us only get a certain number of real significant opportunities in our lives. Temptation, however, is always around us. Temptation to cut corners. To just sit back and let someone else do the work. To avoid the risk that comes with opportunity. It's funny. If you study people who have had large, public failures they usually didn't make one very big, very bad decision. Mostly they made a small, bad decision. Then followed it up with another small, bad decision. And kept doing that until the consequences of those decisions built up and came crashing down on them. The morale of the story? Everyone will give in to temptation some time. That's just being human. But when you're going the wrong way, turn around as quickly as possible. Although it's easier said than done, don't make a habit of giving in to temptation. On a whole different path, I admit that I get a kick out of the ads for psychics. Often there's a disclaimer that says their advice is for 'entertainment purposes only'. Of course it's in small print. Much more prominently displayed are promises that they'll help you find the right mate, riches and happiness. I've got a couple of questions for them. If they can see the future, why don't they buy tomorrow's winning stocks today. Then they'd have plenty of money and could offer their services for free. Wouldn't that be a better way of helping people with their special abilities? Or how about this. When you call in they'll ask for your birth date and credit card number so that they can charge for their services. If they know so much why do they need to ask? Maybe I'm just being too hard on them. But it would seem like divining someone's age would be easier than predicting how their love life is going to turn out. Ah, well. It's time for another iced tea and more summer contemplation. Gary Foreman is a former purchasing manager who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website www.stretcher.com/save.htm You'll find hundreds of free articles to stretch your day and your dollar! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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