Weaning Diaries with Emma Le Roux founder of Super Squish Food Pouches

Following on from last week’s blog post on batch cooking we wanted to post our quickfire weaning interview questions to Emma Le Roux, founder of the brilliantly handy Super Squish pouches for weaning and beyond. If you love home cooking as much as we do and want to find an easy way for your little one to eat your home cooked goodness on the go, we can’t recommend Super Squish pouches enough. They are easy to use and can be refilled over and over again, perfect for days out!

We were lucky enough to bump into the lovely Emma at The Baby Show in Olympia and were delighted to be able to find out her top weaning tips and favourite recipes.We love that Emma is a fellow batch cooker and lover of home made food! Over to Emma…..

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Tell us about you

I’m Emma, originally from South Africa, a lover of the outdoors and adventure, who is trying to balance life as a working from home mum! I’m also the founder of Super Squish – fun, reusable food pouches for babies and little kids, which were conceptualised when I was weaning my son. I noticed that he absolutely loved the ready filled store bought pouches and I was desperate to find a way to take my homemade weaning food out with me in something similar, so he’d gulp it down as quickly!

Tell us about your little one

SuperSquish-028(1)My son, Oliver, is 5 and is the inspiration behind Super Squish. He’s also obsessed with all things Lego, especially superheroes! I now understand the pain of stomping on a stray Lego brick unintentionally!

What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?

That babies are all different and, just like grownups, often have a preference for some foods over others. Don’t worry if your little one doesn’t like something. Don’t stress, just move on and try something else in the meantime. You can always try it again in a little while. My son would not touch avocado, no matter what I tried (he still won’t today!) and yet most of my friends babies loved them!

What helped you the most during your weaning journey? Being prepared as much as possible. I used to batch cook food in advance for the week, freeze in ice cube trays, and store in freezer bags ready for when I needed them. I’d try to prepare the menu in advance for the week, so that I wasn’t winging it all the time. I loved the guidelines in Gina Ford’s weaning book – it was helpful to have an idea of what to introduce when.

What did you find hardest during weaning?  

Hoping that I was doing it right and learning to trust that I was! Mother’s angst I suppose. Suddenly you realise you the one who is responsible for introducing your baby to food and it was daunting in the beginning. But then I quickly realised that all my friends were in a similar position and relying on each other for ideas and support was so helpful.

What was the best piece of equipment you found which helped make life easier for you or your little one when you were weaning them? Apart from my hand blender, I loved the Foogo food flask from Thermos. I could heat up food and take it with me. I still have it today 5 years later and it works perfectly, although I’ve had to upgrade to a larger one to hold enough to satisfy a 5 year old’s appetite!

Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe? I love a fish pie. It’s probably best to leave out smoked fish for little ones as it has a strong flavour. My son loved eating a variation of this Fish Pie when he was little. We have loads more recipes which we both love over on our Super Squish Recipe Page.

 

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Emma has very kindly teamed up with Tickle Buds to offer all of our lovely customers a 10% discount on their first purchase from Super Squish Pouches. Simply enter the code Ticklebuds10 at the checkout.

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Batch cooking for baby- tips and tricks

We are big fans of batch cooking! It’s lovely to know that there is something in your fridge or freezer, cooked by you, ready to simply re-heat when your day has gone crazy. Cooking a week’s worth of food for your baby all at once may seem daunting at first, but it can really help if you are short on time.

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Setting aside a few hours at the weekend to plan and cook food for the week ahead for your little one can make a busy week a lot easier and knowing your baby is getting good quality home cooked, healthy and nutritious food means there is at least one less worry.

Once you have cooked your extra food portions, puree or mash the food to the right texture, depending on the age of your little one. Then cover and set aside to allow the food to cool to room temperature before freezing.  And when you need it simply remove the portion of food from the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw. It’s important to reheat the food thoroughly before serving, and if you are using a microwave give it a good stir before you serve it in order to avoid hot spots.

Make sure not to freeze anything that has already been frozen and discard any of the re-heated food which has not been eaten. As a general rule batch cooked food placed in the fridge should be eaten within 3 days and batch cooked food placed in the freezer should be eaten within 3 months.

Top tips to ensure your fridge of freezer are filled with portions of home cooked food for baby:

  • Make extra portions of anything you can! When cooking an easy meal like spaghetti bolognaise for the family, get into the habit of making extra portions and storing them in the freezer (remember to only add salt to the adult part of the meal)
  • Cook extra Veggies: If you are making vegetables for dinner, cook a few extra for your baby. Separate them out and puree or mash them to your desired texture and store them in the fridge of freezer for later.. You can either serve these direct to your younger weaners as vegetable purees or add the puree sauces to pasta dinners for a bit of extra veggie goodness.
  • Potato wedges and mash: Bake or roast an extra potato or two when the rest of your family is eating. Once they are cooked, mash and pop them in the fridge or freezer for later – instant potato wedges or instant mash! It just needs to be heated up.
  • Mass puree fruit: Cook up large batches of fruit and puree them. You can store these in your freezer and then pop them in the microwave when you need them. Useful for an extra boost of fruit in the morning to add to porridge or cereal, to serve with custard or rice pudding for a yummy lunchtime pudding or to make into a homemade smoothie as healthy afternoon snack. (See our next blog for recipe ideas for home made smoothies for babies and toddlers).

 

  • Using baby weaning pots: In the early days it is useful to invest in baby weaning pots so you can keep your freezer organised. I tried a variety of ways of freezing purees from using the pots I already had (generally too big), using plastic bags (ok but still a little tricky with such small portions) and using ice cube trays. If you are reluctant to buy specific weaning pots, ice cube trays are a good option and work at the start. Despite being more pricey, I found investing in some weaning pots designed for babies did make life  a lot easier (the purees were easier  to remove when needed and the size of the pots were much more suitable for weaning).

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  • Label everything: even if you think you’ll remember you probably won’t! And often one mashed up pot of food can look very similar to another!! Include the names and dates and use up everything within 3 months.

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All our Tickle Buds recipes boxes are designed to make batch cooking easier! Every new recipe provides at least four portions of each meal and there are three to four recipes in each box. Plenty for both the fridge and the freezer! Find our more here.

http://www.ticklebuds.co.uk

Fresh ideas for Weaning: A super simple, healthy green veg risotto

It’s the start of a new week and the sun’s out, so we thought we would share one of our favourite spring vegetable recipes: a lovely nutritious risotto that is really quick and easy to make!

This has become a staple in our house, my twins really took to it from about 8 months. It’s a super easy dish to make and it looks lovely and bright when it’s cooked making it an exciting new prospect for our little foodie adventurers. And for our baby led weaners, keep some courgette aside – courgette sticks are perfect for tiny fingers.

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Ingredients

2 Courgettes
2 Spring Onions
100g Arborio Rice
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
Fresh Parsley
85g Peas
25g Grana Padano Cheese

Method

Chop the courgette in half and then length ways into sticks.  Chop the remaining half into small, baby bite-size pieces.

Either in a steamer or in a pan with a little water, cook the courgette sticks for 5 minutes, or until soft. If cooking in a pan with water, drain well.  Set aside – these will be finger foods.

Meanwhile, finely slice the spring onions, discarding the root but using most of the green tips. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan, over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until soft. Add a little more oil or butter to the pan and add the rice.  Stir for 2 minutes until it turns opaque.

Dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 500ml of boiled water. Add a ladle of the hot stock to the rice pan and stir continuously.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, repeat the process with another ladleful of stock. Keep stirring and adding stock until ⅔ of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. This should take around 10 minutes.

Finely chop the parsley including the stalks and add it to the pan, along with the chopped courgette and the peas.

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Add the final ⅓ of the stock, a ladleful at a time, and gently cook until each ladleful of the stock is absorbed and the rice cooked through.

Grate the cheese and add ¾ to the risotto and stir to melt. Remove from the heat and serve each portion of risotto with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and the courgette fingers.

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ENJOY! If you try out this recipe we would love to know what your little ones think of it. Share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Homemade Toddler Snacks – Switching processed for unprocessed

It’s BLOODY HARD WORK being a mum! This week I’ve had several mummy fails including sending my husband and son to a birthday party two hours before it started…. AND making spinach scones my son refused to try!

We do our best as mums but we spend too much time worrying about the things we do wrong, the latest research that says energy light bulbs are dangerous or rice cakes aren’t good for us, or we shouldn’t leave our babies to cry….

Let’s STOP right there and think about what we are doing right for our little ones. Think about five things you’ve done today that are positive and write that STUFF down.  Remind yourself that you’re an awesome mum right here, right now!!

Now, lets think about what we can do more of, instead of berating ourselves for the things we need to do less of. My purpose on TickleBuds is to focus on the small things we can do to make life a little healthier and tastier for our families.

This month, it’s about the ‘snacking’. Lets face it, snacking is an important part of the day for most little ones… It’s part of their routine and keeps their energy levels up until their next meal. My son is 4 and he has 1-2 snacks a day (as long as he’s eaten his main meals). These usually happen mid morning and if he’s hungry early afternoon.

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I try REALLY hard with snacks to offer my son things like fruit, natural yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts, humous, homemade nut butter, and oatcakes. These are options that I know he likes but don’t contain vast amounts of ‘added sugar’.

Don’t get me wrong he also enjoys a treat from a packet such as pom bears, or a barney bear now and then!!! Why is everything a bear?? BUT there’s no substitute for homemade snacks, using whole food ingredients. I want you to know it’s actually really easy AND you know exactly what you’re putting in the snacks you make!!

When I was little I loved things like chocolate spread, pop tarts and frosties but I’ve steered clear of these with my son because I know it’s up to me to help him make better choices and not always resort to something in a packet because it’s quick and easy.

Something I wanted to recreate recently was “nutella” after my son saw it in Sainsbury’s and asked if he could have some. With a whopping 227g of sugar in a 400g jar. That’s more than half the total ingredients weight!!! Plus a massive 8.5g sugar in a 15g tablespoon I wasn’t going to start that habit!!

I set myself a challenge to make my own “nutella” sweetened naturally with dates and a small amount of maple syrup. These are the results, which both make delicious toddler snacks!

Chocolate “Hazelnutella”

Ingredients

150g whole hazelnuts

1 mug of soaked dates

3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)

2 dessert spoons cacao powder

1 dessert spoon of maple syrup

2 dessert spoons of water

ingredients for homemade chocolate spread

Add the nuts to the food processor with the cacao powder and blend for a few minutes until the nuts are a crumbly consistency but not quite a powder. Then add dates, coconut oil and maple syrup and blend again. Check the consistency and add water if needed. You want it to be a thick consistency but not so hard that it won’t spread. Transfer the mix into an old jar or pot with a lid and keep in the fridge. It will last 5-7 days in the fridge.

We like to spread our chocolate spread onto oatcakes, rice cakes or chopped banana.

 

Chopped banana and almond butter

 

Another favourite snack, which doesn’t even require the food processor, is chopped banana with almond butter or peanut butter. My son regularly asks for this. The bananas are sweet and the almond butter adds a little crunch and it’s a fun snack. Almonds are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they provide energy for these busy little people.

**To check out more of Jo’s healthy living ideas and recipes visit her Facebook Page**

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Tickle Buds at Eat Chiswick Market Sun 2nd/ 9th April – with free foodie goody bags to give away!

Are you confused about weaning advice for your baby, or looking for some fresh inspiration for healthy food to feed your toddler?
Come along to the Eat Chiswick market on Sunday April 2nd and Sunday April 9th and have a chat! Plus we will have free foodie giveaways and you will have a chance to win a free recipe box for your little ones. We would love to say hello! We’ll be at the end of Chiswick High Rd, opposite Outsider Tart from 10am -4pm.
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Emma and Helen

We want to make your life easy, save you time, worry and stress, so you have more time to spend having fun with your family! All our boxes contain new  recipe ideas and fresh pre-measured ingredients and are delivered free and direct to your door, ready for you to cook healthy, nutritious meals for your little one.

At Eat Chiswick Sunday market, we will be giving away free food goodie bags and you will also have the chance to win a completely free recipe box for you and your little one to try.


Recently launched by two local Mums, Emma and Helen, Tickle Buds is the UK’s first recipe box service exclusively for babies and toddlers. With the help of a nutritionist, the age appropriate recipes are all designed to offer little ones a great start into the world of solid food.  And with no more worry, no shopping to do, no wastage and no more boring food, Tickle Bud’s recipe boxes are here to make your life easier too. Come see how Tickle Buds can help you out, win a free recipe box and sample some recipes on the first two Sunday’s in April.

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SALT: How much is too much for babies and toddlers?

Salt and weaning for babies and toddlers

Salt is a tricky one, we know we don’t need too much of it but it was one thing I struggled to get clarity on throughout the time I was weaning my twins. Too much is a bad thing of course, but how much is too much and why is it so bad for little ones? And what’s the difference between sodium content and salt content?

I had lots of questions, but as so often seems to happen, I had no time to find proper answers to them. I hope this blog post helps!

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What’s so bad about salt?

Salt is not great for any of us, whether we are one or ninety one. Too much salt puts our kidneys under pressure and leads to high blood pressure and eventual kidney damage

So here’s the science bit (I always like to understand the why!) – our kidneys are essential for removing waste and fluids from our body and anything that stops them doing their job, poses a risk to our bodies. As blood passes through the kidneys, the kidneys filter out the fluids we don’t need and send them to our bladders to get rid of as urine. If there is too much salt in our blood, the delicate filtering process is upset, the kidneys can’t remove excess water from the blood and our blood pressure rises. This puts strain on the little blood vessels entering the kidneys and over time can lead to kidney damage.

Why is too much salt a problem for babies and toddlers?

Babies have very fragile little systems and their kidneys are particularly sensitive. They are unable to process excess salt which leads to kidney damage in the same way that it can for adults. Their tiny bodies are just a lot more sensitive to any imbalances than ours.

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What safe levels of salt for your baby or toddler?

According to the NHS the recommended daily amounts of salt for babies and toddlers are:

  • Up to 12 months – less than 1g of salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium)
  • 1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (0.8g sodium)

What’s the difference between salt and sodium content?

Salt is made up of two minerals, sodium and chloride, and food manufacturers often quote only the sodium content on food labels. This can sometimes be confusing if you are thinking in terms of salt content and how much salt your little one can have. Salt is made up of about 40% sodium and it’s the sodium content of salt that causes the health issues.

copy-of-signs-your-little-one-is-ready-to-start-solidsTo work out salt content from quoted sodium values, simply use the sodium figure on the packing and multiply it by 2.5. This is your salt content! If you see 1g of sodium per 100g on the label, this is the equivalent of 2.5g of salt per 100g. To find out the amount of salt per serving, just divide by 100 and multiply the answer by the serving size.

Salt and weaning your baby

At the beginning of your weaning journey, your baby will still be reliant on milk. Breast milk has exactly what your little one needs in terms of sodium, and equally formula milk has also been designed to provide exactly the right amount for babies and toddlers, so no worries there! But as you introduce solid food, it is really crucial to keep an eye on the salt content of the food you give your baby. The most important things are to avoid processed foods not designed for babies, and to avoid adding salt to any home cooked baby food.

How to reduce the amount of salt you give your baby

  • Offer healthy snacks such as fruit or vegetable sticks and try to avoid salty snacks like crisps or biscuits.
  • Make snacks yourself so you know exactly what is in them.
  • Don’t add salt to your baby’s meals. Try to add flavour through herbs and spices.
  • Swap your sandwich fillers, try tuna and chicken instead of ham and cheese.
  • Check food labels- many things like cereals and bread have surprisingly high levels of salt.
  • Try making your own pasta sauces. Shop bought sauces can be high in processed salts.
  • Avoid giving your baby processed foods not designed for babies as these are very likely to be high in salt. Weaning products for babies will not contain high levels of salt, so specific baby products are a much better option for your little one.
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Home made hummus: a great alternative to shop bought hummus which are often high in salt. This carrot hummus is from a Tickle Buds weaning recipe box. (Photo by Melissa Collins, copyright Tickle Buds 2017)

How to add flavour without adding salt to homemade baby food

Spicing up fruit purees– Cinnamon can be a great addition to apple purees. Mint often works well with fruit as do small amounts of nutmeg, vanilla and ginger.

New flavour combos for vegetables– Basil is a great herb for adding to sweet potatoes. Add garlic to green beans, nutmeg to butternut squash, cinnamon to carrots, turmeric to root veggies. Creamed spinach works well with nutmeg too.There are loads of yummy combinations to try!

Less salt = healthier weaning

By looking at labels, home cooking with fresh ingredients and by avoiding adding salt to your baby’s food you can ensure that your little one doesn’t consume high levels of salt. And you can have lots of fun coming up with healthier and more adventurous combinations of flavours and tastes. There is so much out there you can use instead of salt, it’s just a case of experimenting!

 

Diary of an imperfect mum

 

Making time for breakfast time

 

As I sit down for my first (hot) cup of tea of the day, it makes me think about breakfast and how important it really is to make time for the first meal of the day. This morning we were all running behind, I skipped breakfast and I am catching up by myself in a cafe, sneaking a bit of me time before my work day really begins, my husband had a gulp of coffee as he ran for the tube and my little ones munched on a banana until they got a proper breakfast at nursery. It wasn’t the ideal start to our day, and it’s not that uncommon.

We are regularly told how breakfast is THE most important meal of the day, the one you shouldn’t skip. But it feels even more important now we have two little people in the house. My twins have just turned two and breakfast is a meal that is gobbled down. They seem to wake up starving and the change in energy levels after they have had their breakfast is hugely visible. From cuddly and sleepy little people (and often a little on the grumpy side), after an injection of food, they turn into bundles of energy. And even though adults are better at hiding how they feel, I know how much better I feel when I leave the house with some food inside me, I don’t charge down the street at top speed, but I do feel better in myself.

Breakfast provides all of us with the energy to start our day in a better way, it jump starts your metabolism and lets your body know that the calories will be coming regularly throughout the day and there’s no need to start conserving stores. Although it is not always possible, the best breakfasts are the ones we all share together as a family. Due to work schedules, it never seems to work for us to sit down for dinner at five pm, so breakfast is the meal we can all share or at least all be in the kitchen together. When we make the effort to do this, it always seems like a much better start to the day, we all leave the house with our tummies full and smiles on our faces.

By making time for the first meal of the day, I want my children to grow up with breakfast as a regular part of their day, a moment that we all have together, before all our different days start. It might be messy, hectic and rushed but at least sometimes we are aiming to start the day together! I hope that these early habits will stick for them and help them build healthy habits for the future.

Running out of breakfast ideas? See our next blog on some ways to make breakfast more nutritionally varied and more interesting for your little ones. 

Sparkly Mummy