What's the excitement all about?

As little jada already turned 3 months, I realised that it’ll be soon when she’ll start on solids. It got me to recall this one episode on Oprah where she featured Seinfeld’s wife who wrote a book on how to cook meals for the family with vegetable ingredients hidden in them, in the form of puree. Since then, I was intrigued to find out how I can prepare puree the right way, with the nutrition and tastes still intact.

My recollection of preparing baby food was one with my first, the little munchkin. I wasn't creative at all and only cooked rice cereal. My mom would come up from KL to where I was studying, to deliver me homemade processed anchovies - she'd fry them without oil and blend them twice, to give that natural saltish taste to his porridge. Thru time, I discovered the beauty of jarred purees from Heinz and Gerber, and added them in the porridge, while at times, serving the little munchkin right from the jar. I guess that was one secret that let the little munchkin to love eating vegetables at an earlier age since I started him on veges rather than sweet tasting fruits.

But, this time, I feel that I would prefer preparing purees myself to preserve the 'freshness' of the food I'm giving my baby whilst keeping it interesting and economical as well.

So, recently, I googled on how to prepare first meals for a baby. The search resulted in pages recommending the right tools, nutrition, advise on how and when to sterilize appliances and such. The best part, though, was when I came across a blog (sorry, I can’t remember the blog URL anymore) that wrote a recommendation from her paediatrician… a book by Annabel Karmel entitled, “First Meals”.

Thus, I went to Amazon.com and searched for her book. In the quest to find out about that book, the site also recommended other books by her but one that caught my attention was, “Top 100 Baby Purees”.

From then on and my continuous googling (yes, I love to google everything and anything!), I found a link to Kinokuniya website which allows online reservation and delivery that costs only a flat fee of RM6!

At first, I thought it’s too early to make the order but due to my ‘kiasu’ness, I decided to place the order immediately, afraid that the stock will run out when the time comes ;P and, since I don’t want to receive books with ‘puppy ears’ in the midst of them delivering to my apartment, I decided that the books will be picked up personally from the KLCC store (urrmmm… correction – my dearest loveliest most ‘hensem’ hubby, the one and only, will help me pick up the book since his workplace is just a few steps away.. hehe…).

Annabel Karmel is a trained cordon bleu cook. Therefore, with that background, you can be assured that the recipes in her books would be quite creative with tips on how to minimize preparation time. And, since she lost her first born to a viral infection, her quest for quality start of life for her second born and the rest of her other children make her books so interesting, with advise on nutrition, tips on how to maintain the nutrition in the food you’d be preparing, what can and cannot be eaten by the different stages of age of a baby – basically the whole works! And, I’d trust her advise vs the wife of a comedian…

This book costs RM60.17 (you can get it much much cheaper from Amazon.com, if you can wait for a 10-day delivery period, at least). It is a handy size of 19.5cm x 19cm, 128 pages excluding the hard cover, have soft-coloured pages, medium-sized font, with clear instruction of preparation and icons on suitable age of babies, how many portions it could make, cooking time and whether the recipe is suitable for freezing. The book also has a section on food allergies, reheating food and many links on common symptoms on babies. There is even advise on weaning preterm babies which gave me such an interesting insight even though it isn’t relevant to me.

The recipes are laid out in very eye-friendly pages, making it so clear when you want to look for which part is the ingredient, which part is the instruction, which part is the facts and which part is the additional advise on specific recipes. I believe you could view the first recipe page of this book on amazon.

I am not a natural cook and I could only prepare simple ones. So, with this book, I am able to learn what I could mix, the nutritional properties and food that I should avoid to prevent allergy symptoms in little jada. The best part is, it also features purees that can be prepared without needing to cook them first. I love it.

This book, however, is more complete. I am saying this based on its content - a complete information that you need on early nutrition (even includes vegetarian diet info), healthy eating, food allergies, kitchen basics (I love the part where it lists down pantry essentials!), preparing baby food (how to choose produce + different cooking techniques, freezing & reheating, food hygiene), and starting on solids (with advise based on facts and experience). Basically, the information comes in the first 33 pages of the 192 pages in the 20cm x 26cm hardcover. And it costs RM76 in Kinokuniya (again, much cheaper from Amazon.com if you could wait at least 10 days).

The book has many advises and useful tips in between recipes, which I can see very well why this book is recommended by paediatricians.

If you already have the knack for cooking, I guess you don’t really need the first book. The first book’s more fun with so many puree recipes but this one is more wholesome and no less fun, with over 200 recipes for babies until pre-school kids and beyond. Best of all, I even found a recipe to make naturally colourful vegetable chips, simple cakes, pies, meatballs, even your own strawberry freezer pops, and all that you can imagine, in interesting illustrations, cute presentations with them being suitable even for mommies and daddies to sink their teeth into as well!

I love it that the recipes are so simple and high in nutritional value. Whilst going thru the entire book, I was already imagining myself charting out the recipes so that I don’t have to scramble to find which meal I’ll be preparing and serving. But I was caught by a pleasant surprise when I saw towards the end of the book, a complete chart… all the meals properly mapped out for days and weeks. Unbelievable. Imagine having a complete chart for your 2-3 year-old toddler, every day, breakfast thru dinner, inclusive of snacks! Even has healthy snacks and party recipes…

I also would like to add that a friend of mine told me before that she prepared her baby food in ice cube trays. I didn't know what the hell she was saying at that time but this book explains it more for me to understand. I regret, though, that I don't believe I've seen any ice cube trays suitable for baby foods (with the recent scare on melamine-tainted food, I want to know that the trays are baby-safe) but I found one on tinytapir.com. Would probably check it out after I've exhausted every efforts and resources.

I would say, if you’re kiasu like me, you should at least own the 2nd book… even if you’re not kiasu, it opens up to plenty of wonderful opportunities for you to surprise your kids, especially those who hasn’t started on healthy eating habits. Eating right can be just as fun and delicious.

I also believe that this book could be a good option as a gift for those who just had a baby.

If you want more information about the books or the author, please feel free to visit Annabel Karmel’s website. She also lists down a few recipes in there for you to try out.

6 comments:

Heart of a Hunter said...

hei gurl, thanks for the review.
i think im gonna get the 2nd book and check out what i can prepare for my noti lil guwapo who's turning 3 soon!

Your review sounds interesting, makes me excited wanna get the book too! Hehehe...

Omecool20 said...

Masa Zara was around that age, we gave her bubur nasi. Linda rajin buat plus the Gerber stuff that you mentioned. Fyi, Zara is a picky eater la, mkn sikit2 je .. tak mcm daddy dia :D

emly2175 said...

U go girl!!! Good that u are doing this as laziness is common among mothers. I did what u wrote here with Arissa. and Alhamdulillah with my homecooked food & breastmilk, she seldom get sick easily . And I'm not going to stop if we have another child also.
And I think me too wanna get that 2nd book la ..

toughcookie said...

nina...
good luck, eh! the recipes in there looks like fun...

hehe...

ome,
your wife's working kan. susah sket la kot. now that i'm at home, nak la prepare fresh homemade. still ada bubur nasi cos nasi is the best for a baby who's weaning but at least i don't have to buy the jarred food... bagi dia tambah sehat hehe...

dude, kalau picky eater, lagi la your wife should try the recipes in the book cos the author complaint about her son who's a picky eater. try la... you never know.

good luck!

dearest emly,
hehe... you pegi browse dulu the book kat kino/MPH whereever. see if it's suitable for your little cutie pie.

tu la... dulu i takde kesedaran langsung pasal susu badan. but in this book i realised that we could even add breastmilk to thin the purees especially when the baby's just starting on solid. menarik betul.

thanks, babe for encouraging me on this quest.

Anis Zainal-Pacleb said...

babe, it's exciting you know preparing all those pureed food. I still remember, asal weekend je, i'd slave myself in the kitchen preparing her food from peeling and cutting all those fruits and veges, steamed, pureed, freeze and labelling the dates.... and no, i didn't use any bottled food except for some organic cereals...although penat a bit but i truly enjoy it.....

have fun yeah!

btw, i plan to get the fussy eater recipe cookbook from Ak too...

Chech said...

Hello toughcookie :) I reached your blog while (blog)hopping and I love reading your well-written thoughts & tips on parenting joy and responsibilities.

Anyway, I am preparing myself for my baby's first solid adventure and I found your recommendation very helpful.