Becoming responsible for another human being can feel a little surreal. In fact, I sometimes still feel like the little kid sitting at the adults table at the big family Christmas party. I feel so mature beyond my years and chuffed to be here, but also a little bit like an imposter…and then I realize, oh wait, I am one of them old responsible people now! How on earth did that happen?
Anyway, one huge area for which we are responsible is providing physical sustenance for our babies. For the first 6 months of LA’s life, it was easy. We were blessed with problem-free breastfeeding from the get-go, so very little thought was involved in providing for her nutritional needs. Outings also required hardly any preparation: we just grabbed some nappies and wet wipes and out the door we went!
The human body is an amazing thing isn’t it? The thought that I can sustain a baby through her first 6 months of life, and exhaustively provide all the nourishment she needs for the incredible physical and developmental growth she goes through in that time, sure is a baffling one. However, we entered a whole new world after the 6 month mark and solids came into the picture. Not only has my commitment to cloth diapering been sorely tested (goodbye “friendly” breastfeeding poops), but AB and I have together become responsible for ensuring that every bite of food that goes into her mouth contributes to her continued healthy growth and sets a foundation for a healthy relationship with food in her future. When you put it that way, it’s a little daunting.
While I was pregnant, I heard about baby led weaning from my sister-in-law. She mentioned that she had tried it with her youngest who, amongst her four children, turned out to be the best eater. That was enough to pique my interest and inspire me to do a little research. I liked what I read. The idea is that instead of spoon feeding certain amounts of traditional baby food and purees as first foods, you simply offer bubs a variety of manageable and healthy foods which she is free to explore and feed herself by hand. It has all kinds of supposed benefits, but I mainly just really like the idea of letting her explore food for herself. I am by no means advocating this as “the” way to start solids, but we do quite like it so far. It has definitely given her plenty of opportunity to work on improving her dexterity! We follow it pretty loosely though. For example, if we need a relatively quick and tidy meal, or there are things that are just easier to spoon feed (such as oatmeal or curry) then we do that…although she does a pretty good job with the spoon herself as well on occasion.
Anyway, one result of BLW, aside from me spending much time on hands and knees cleaning the floor multiple times per day, is that I have been spurred into becoming more health conscious. Because we often give LA modified versions of the same food as we are eating, I’ve become vary wary of what I am putting into my cooking and baking. This has resulted in all of us eating healthier, which is great.
As part of this pursuit, I’ve been making an effort to have more quick and easy grab and go food on hand for snacks and meals when I’m running behind schedule and just need to put something in front of the hungry munchkin. Muffins and baked things are good for that, but one goal I have is to hold off on giving LA any food with refined sugar in it for as long as possible, which sent me on a search for sugar-free baking recipes.
This led me to an incredible “discovery”.
Brown bananas! The humble banana. As far as I know they can be easily found in supermarkets and fruit markets all over the world for very cheap. To me, they’ve always been the boring fruit. The fruit that is a staple because they are cheap and filling. That’s all. They are the cardigan of the fruit bowl. Reliable, cheap and functional…but nothing particularly eye-catching.
One recipe I particularly love is for baked oatmeal. It is very versatile – you can mix and match whatever flavours you like, it is good to have on hand for babies/toddlers, is an energy-boosting healthy snack or breakfast for adults, and is very idiot proof! I’m not sure you can really mess this recipe up, which is great for an amateur baker like me who has a long embarrassing record of frustrating baking fails (previous flatmates have been known to find chocolatey messes in the rubbish bin after late night baking sessions…). Anyway, I’d thought I’d share (this is based on a mixture of recipes I found on the web). If anyone has any other ideas for baked oatmeal flavours or ways to utilise brown bananas, please share!
Super Versatile Baked Oatmeal
- 2 cups oatmeal (I’ve also added leftover cooked oatmeal, which resulted in a softer texture)
- 1/4 cup milk (optional, depending on how soft you want your oatmeal)
- 3 overripe bananas (the browner the better, and you can add more if you have on hand too)
- 1 large egg (or 2 if you want it more chewy and less firm)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Optional fillings/flavours – mix and match
- Chocolate chips
- Nuts (not for little babies)
- Other fruit (e.g. chopped apples, blueberries, raspberries)
- Grated Carrots
- Ginger powder
Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. If using, pour milk over the oatmeal and set aside.
Mash bananas until basically liquid. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda and baking powder to oatmeal mixture, and then the other ingredients (including your choice of fillings and flavourings). Mix until everything is incorporated, then spread into a baking dish or muffin trays.
Bake at 190 for 30 minutes (or 18-20 minutes if using muffin trays).
Let it cool in the dish before cutting into squares and removing.