The fish finger revolution……

In my albeit limited experience, every first time mummy has their particular area of fussiness. For some its cleanliness, others protectiveness, others development…for me, it’s nutrition.

ever since Little Bean was a mere flutter in my tummy, keeping her properly nourished has been one of my number one priorities. Early on in my pregnancy I began thinking about how we were going to make sure that we kept her as healthy and strong as possible and food was one of the main contributing factors towards this.

It began by making sure I ate all the right things while she was still in my tummy and more often than that  making sure that I didn’t eat or drink any of the many forbbiden things. So I religiously took my daily pregnacare tablets, got my 5 a day, avoided all alcohol, didn’t eat too much tuna and so on and so on.

Then she was born and to my joy I was able to breastfeed her. Having watched a close friend almost slump into postnatal depression because she’d set her heart on breastfeeding and then been unable to do it, I was keen not to take for granted that it would work for us. But thankfully, from her first ever feed at an hour or so old, little bean and I made a great breastfeeding team. That’s not to say our breastfeeding journey passed entirely without a hitch,(hitches included a blocked duct, thrush in bean’s mouth and the dreaded growth spurt periods, filled with cluster feeding and the like) but on the whole I found it a lovely, calming, positive experience. Obviously there’s monetary benefits and the ease of not sterilising and making up feeds, but my main reason for breastfeeding was the health and nutrition aspects for Little Bean.

When it was time to introduce solids, we decided baby led weaning wasn’t for us. As a stay at home first time mummy, making up batches of puree wasn’t a problem for me time wise, so that’s what I did. We started with the usual pears, apples, carrots and parsnips. But keen to ensure bean didn’t become a picky eater I soon started to experiment with lots of different combos and we added herbs and seasonings from very early on (obviously no salt). Before each new concoction, I’d do extensive research about possible ingredients, checking they were safe for Bean. Not wanting her to get bored I’d make up 3 or 4 different options of savory and 2 or 3 of sweet then freeze to last us the week. Favourites were peas, green beans, basil & mint or carrots, parsnips, garlic and ginger. I swear I kept boots baby stock cube line in business over those first few months! Thankfully, shes a fantastic eater and on the odd occasion she refuses to eat what I’ve made for her, its been because shes genuinely not hungry.

I never wanted to deny her of treats or make her into one of those kids who steals her friends sweets greedily because she never gets them, so she’s always been allowed chocolate in moderation. If a visitor came bearing sweet treats, I’d never deny her, if her cousins were eating ice cream or junk food she’s allowed to join in. She has her own pack of biscuits  and ‘sweet box’ at home and is allowed to indulge often. But I have rules of always giving a proper breakfast, lunch and tea, no snacks in the 1.5  hours before main meals and no chocolate or sweets until after 3pm.

After the pureeing stage, she started to have her own mini, adapted portions of whatever hubchin and I were having, still minus salt and usually chopped into manageable mouthful sizes. Because of this, I rapidly became obsessed with her not having anything that I didn’t understand the ingredients of, so since cooking for her I’ve made every meal from scratch, no bought jars of pasta sauce in our house! The only purpose made bought baby food shes ever had are the little organix fruit pots,  which she still has daily at 18 months old!

If hubchin and I were having a take away later in the evening or having a tea I knew she didnt like, then I’d prepare her a pasta dish or something of the like for her tea, which often required more work than what we were having!!

Bean is 18 months now and hubchin and I are out of the little baby daze enough to have started to think about normal things like exercise again and hubchin has started to do the ‘insanity’ work out plan. This means hubchin and I are having salad for tea 5 nights a week and eating much later after his exercise session. This combined with the lovely weather we’ve been having, means that time isn’t is abundant as it has been over the winter months (basically last September to this may!) And recently I’ve found that sometimes its 5pm before I know it and I have 15 minutes to get beans tea down in front of her before she gets too tired to eat it properly. So two or three times in the last 2 weeks, for tea, bean has had……fish fingers!!! Anything like this has been previously unheard of. Of course there have been times we’ve been out for a meal and she’s had to have some of the classic ‘kids menu’ gems like these or chicken strips…but never at home. And I try to keep her diet as varied and fun as possible, so from time to time she’ll have pizza or burgers but just always of the homemade kind!! I haven’t totally sold out, her plate was 1/3 fish fingers and 2/3 broccoli,  peas etc so I consoled myself that it wasn’t too bad. And I suppose as far as bad stuff goes, fish fingers aren’t really up there, they were the premium ‘omega’ kind!

Emboldened by this fast food revelation, for the odd occasion when time is short, yesterday I found myself in the ‘kids meal’ fridge in m&s buying a few options to pop in the freezer. And last night she has one of their chicken and sweet potato pies. Even as I write this, all joking aside I’m not sure how I feel about for the first time since she’s been with us, having been too lazy to make her something proper to eat on more than one occasion in the last few weeks.

Could it be that her new found vigor for throwing tantrums is down to this? Or is it just her age? Will she suddenly stop being happy to eat so healthily now she’s tasted the dark side? Or will it make no difference at all? Other than to mean that once or twice a week or fortnight, she gets half an hour longer ‘playing with mummy’ time as opposed to ‘mummys making tea’ time. And as she’s growing so fast, and everyday she changes more from a baby to a big girl, will I actually look back and be pleased to have sold out every now and again to give me half an hour extra to enjoy my time with her? I think so.

That being said, I can’t stray too far from my Bean nutrition obsession and in light of the M&S meal last night, tonight she’s having pasta with a lovingly prepared homemade sauce packed full of goodness…..

Puree Stash

Puree Stash

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A Mummy's View

Telling it like it is

JACK MONROE:

COOK. CAMPAIGNER. GUARDIAN RECIPE COLUMNIST. RED MAGAZINE'S WOMAN OF THE YEAR. AUTHOR OF 'A GIRL CALLED JACK' & 'A YEAR IN 120 RECIPES'. COOKS, WRITES, GROWS SOME STUFF, EATS. TWITTER: @MSJACKMONROE

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