Tuesday, 25 January 2011

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An Essential Super Porridge Breakfast for Toddlers


Picture: This is a power breakfast that I serve every morning to J (with variation here and there), and one that I can't do without. J usually eats a full bowl like this. I also believe this is the key to J having such good health, and that he hardly falls sick. When he has eaten a full bowl of this Super Porridge, I usually do not mind if he doesn't eat well for lunch at the daycare or dinner later at home.

The base ingredients of this power porridge are baby food cubes. You can read more on why I am still making baby food cubes here.

Ingredients:
1. 2 TBS of cooked oatmeal, which is cooked with low-fat fresh milk (1% fat) (white colour)
2. 1 cube of homemade mixed beans and grains (red beans, mung beans, black beans, quinoa, millet and barley) (red and black colour)
3. 1 cube of homemade frozen broccoli puree (green colour)
4. 1 cube of homemade frozen carrot puree (orange colour)
5. 1 egg yolk (optional, on egg days 2-3 times a week)
6. 1 banana (white colour)
7. 1 tsp of olive oil (fat is important for brain development, but use only the good fat)
8. 1 tsp of brewer's yeast
9. 1 tsp of wheat germ
10. Pumpkin seeds or sunflowers seeds (J likes to sprinkle this by himself as breakfast is served)

Directions:
1. Warm up the first 5 ingredients in the microwave for 30s - 1min.

2. Mix them together with the rest of the ingredients.

3. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top.

Tips:
You can grind and sprinkle some goji berries into the porridge once in a while. J loves to sprinkle goji berries on his porridge, and to pick them one by one and eat it on its own.

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Additional Information:
Some people have asked me how I manage to give J healthy food and manage to find the time to do so and still have a job. So I have decided to make a post on it.

I read the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron and followed it. The author's child is willing to eat such super porridge even until 3 years old, while even most toddlers would reject it. I have so far been fortunate with J. J is soon turning 2 years old, and still very willing to eat this breakfast, which he calls "zhao can" in Mandarin. He even requested "zhao can" for dinner.

How to get toddlers to eat such super porridge breakfast?

It takes hard work to get a toddler into habit of eating such a porridge and the hard work began all the way when J was just a baby. When he started on solid food around 5.5 months, I began to introduce such food one-by-one and the journey was completed by the time he was 1 year old. I did not use a single baby bottle food at all. I am relieved that it has shaped his appetite and willingness to eat this super porridge till this day. My advice is that you need to start your baby young, otherwise, it is very likely that he/she is not willing to eat such a bowl of super porridge.

The importance of nutrition and sleep

J is a very healthy boy and he hardly falls sick. If he does, he recovers really fast. The only time he fell sick for a long period of time was when he started day care and getting use to the germs and bacteria there. I believe this is due to the food and nutrition I give him, and also the amount of sleep I make sure that he has. Bedtime is usually at the latest 7.30pm and the exception is 8pm (when we are out). When I write bedtime, I mean the time he has fallen asleep. This means that he is usually in bed 15-30 minutes before. I believe that sufficient sleep also contributes to building his immune system. Because he is hardly sick, I have more energy to juggle work, and don't have to struggle with child's sick leave. Because he sleeps early, it also gives me time to do the household chores, spend time with my Superstar or do research on child development and work on my blog.

We are very strict about J schedule, especially his sleep schedule. The price we pay for keeping J's sleep schedule, for me to hold down a full time job, juggle family and meal time is that I usually don't accept any social invitation later than 3pm. This means that our social life is sacrificed, but since we already have so little time left for each other (our spouse), it is something that has to go. If we have any after 5pm appointment, it is usually at our home.

It is also very important that your child sleeps through the night. Otherwise, you will be interrupted constantly and would not have the time to yourself, which makes juggling a full time job even more challenging. In anticipation of me returning to the work force after a yaer, we had trained J to sleep through the night already when he was 14 weeks old (when he showed no sign of doing so on his own) with the help of my best friend, Jannie. It is a whole topic on its own, and I hope to do a separate post on it.

How to juggle?

This is how I manage to juggle making such a breakfast for J while having a full-time job:

1. I make the vegetables and bean puree in batches and freeze them in ice-cube trays.

(I usually multi-task and steam the vegetables for J while I am making dinner or cooking rice. I can steam the vegetables using my automatic rice cooker. I learned from my friends Ansoha and Jenny to cook beans in a pressure cooker, and it takes 30 minutes all in all only. Thus, it helps me to save some time.

2. I thaw the vegetables and bean cubes in the fridge the night before.

3. I make the oatmeal the evening before, and it usually last for 2-3 days of servings in the fridge.

(I multi-task by simmering the oatmeal under no. 4 heat source on my stove, while working on my blog. Usually it works well and I succeed, but it is not always as smooth sailing as it sounds on my blog. Sometimes I burn the pot, if I am too engrossed in the other task. If so, I am fortunate enough to have a great help in my Superstar to scrub the burnt pot :-). For example, I was making the oatmeal for J this evening while writing this post, and I just burnt the pot!)

4. I grind the flaxseeds in the morning and they usually last for 2-3 days of servings in the fridge.

(Again here I mutli-task, I grind the flaxseeds while preparing J's lunch pack.)

5. The rest of the enhancers (brewer's yeast and wheat germ), I have it readily in front of me in glass containers and I just spoon it and sprinkle it into the bowl.

6. I hard boil 5-6 boil eggs at one go and freeze the cooked egg yolks in ice-cube tray.

(To save time, I usually do this when I am preparing dinner for the family. After dinner and J goes to bed, I will peel the egg shell. Again, it is not always so perfect. I sometimes only manage to do this a day later. If so, I will keep cooked eggs in the fridge)

7. I mash in the banana in the morning itself.

Feeding the rain bow and variation

Notice that I am "feeding the rainbow", i.e. giving different colours of the vegetables and grains. You can make variations.

1. For example, instead of always using millet in the mixed beans and grains, you can use buckwheat occasionally.

2. Instead of carots, you can give pumpkin or sweet potatoes puree.

3. Instead of broccoli, I also give french bean puree.

4. Instead of olive oil, I sometimes mash in half an avocado. Avocado is very nutritious, containing the good monounsaturated fats as well as vitamin E.

Why porridge?

You may ask why do I give mashy food like porridge to J for breakfast, since Johua is already a toddler and he can eat food without mashing it?

1. It is easier to slip down his throat then giving him bread, etc. for breakfast.

2. Thus, it is quicker for him to eat. He takes him much longer to eat a piece of bread. Therefore, he eats more in a shorter time. Since I have to go to work in the morning, it is a real advantage that he can eat his bowl of breakfast in just 5-15 minutes.

3. It is easier for the toddler's stomach to digest and absorb the nutrients if the food is mashed and the seeds/nuts are ground. Otherwise, it will just come out of the system whole.

The Super Baby Food Book

The Super Baby Food book is not that easy to read - no glossy pictures, and full of words. But for those who can read such a book from cover to cover and make summaries to make it work for them, it contains truly golden knowledge far better than any baby's or toddler's food book I have come across. It is a "no Nonsense" book.



I must admit that I had 6 weeks of pre-maternity leaves and 1 year of maternity leave to read the whole book. For those who don't have such luxury, my blog is a summary of application of the concepts in the book with pictures, plus some of my own ideas.

References:
- Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron

- http://www.babywisemom.com/

29.1.11 - J having his Super Porridge Breakfast

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