Archive for the ‘Becky Nagel’ Category

Homemade Baby Food Purees

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

homemade baby food purees

When my older daughter started to eat solids, I decided I would make my own baby food purees. Making my own purees was less expensive than buying jarred baby food. She had a milk intolerance, and I read that cross contamination in baby foods was a common problem. In addition to saving money, I was happy that making my own purees allowed me to control what went into her food (and what stayed out).

Her first food was avocado.  I simply used a food processor to mash the avocado. Once the avocado was smooth, I mixed in pumped breast milk to thin it out to a very loose consistency.

After Lily ate avocado for a few days, I tried sweet potato, then butternut squash. To prepare the sweet potato, I boiled the sweet potato, then used the food processor to puree it. I used some of the cooking liquid to thin it to my desired consistency. With the butternut squash, I halved it, removed the seeds, then roasted it in a shallow pan with a little water until it was super soft. I then pureed it in the food processor, and thinned it with pumped breast milk.

I used my slow cooker to make apple sauce and pear sauce once I started Lily on fruits. I would peel, core, and chop 4 -6 of pears or apples, place them in the slow cooker, added a little water, and cooked on high for 2-3 hours. Once the apple or pears were super soft and basically falling apart, I would puree them in my food processor, again adding the cooking liquid or a little pumped breast milk to thin the puree out.

When making the purees, I made much more than Lily would eat at any one time. I used ice cube trays to freeze small portions of the purees. When I decided what I was going to try to feed Lily, I would pull out one ice cube tray portion, and carefully heat it in the microwave, adding more pumped breast milk as needed.

Although slightly more work than picking up a jar of baby food at the store, making my own purees did not require any special kitchen gadgets and did not require much cooking time or food prep. The peace of mind of making my own purees as well as the money saved more than made up for the convenience of the jarred food.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

A Food-Allergy Friendly Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18th, 2016

A food allergy friendly thanksgivingLast Thanksgiving, I made a gluten, soy, and dairy-free meal to accommodate my husband’s celiac disease and my younger daughter’s milk and soy intolerances. We still had the traditional dinner–I just made minor adjustments to each dish to meet our dietary requirements. The following are the alterations I made to accommodate my family’s food allergies.

Turkey
Surprisingly, the turkey is where I found hidden dairy in the ingredients! I looked at four different brands of turkeys before finding one that did not contain any dairy. I then brined and prepared my turkey as I normally would, except I used olive oil instead of butter.

Stuffing
To make the stuffing allergen friendly, I used Udi’s white bread  for the bread and used homemade chicken stock in my recipe.  All the brands of chicken stock or broth my grocery store carries contained soy, so I subbed in my homemade broth.

Sweet Potato Casserole
I found a paleo version of sweet potato casserole that uses canned coconut milk and coconut oil to make this dish allergen friendly.

Cranberry Sauce
This dish is naturally allergen friendly, so I did not have to make any modifications to my recipe.

Green beans with Cranberries and Almonds
With a 3 month old and a 2 year old, there was no way I was going to make a green bean casserole from scratch (including frying gluten-free onions and making a dairy-free cream of mushroom base) so I simply roasted green beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the beans looked like they were getting close to being done, I tossed in some dried cranberries and sliced almonds.

Pumpkin Custard
My mother-in-law has perfected making gluten-free pie crusts. Me, not so much, so I made the filling for the pie and baked it in ramekins instead. I subbed in full-fat canned coconut milk for the milk in my pie filling recipe. I used SoDelicious’s Cocowhip as a topping.

Unfortunately, I am a mashed potato purest and have not found a dairy-free recipe for mashed potatoes that meets my standards, so we went without.  With a few minor modifications I was able to make a Thanksgiving dinner that included almost all our favorite dishes and met all our dietary restrictions.

Becky Nagel is a stay-at-home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Best Places to Breastfeed in Denver

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Denver is one of the most breastfeeding friendly places I have been.  If there’s babies, there’s moms breastfeeding!  The following are my favorite places to take my girls (and while they were still nursing, to breastfeed).

Denver Zoo 
Our favorite place to stop for a snack at the Denver Zoo is a bench watching the giraffes. I spent many breaks feeding my younger daughter while my older daughter enjoyed the giraffes and her crackers and fruit.  If you’re looking for a less public location to breastfeed, there are many less-traveled exhibits that you could nurse by. The zoo offers large family restrooms in a few locations that have chairs inside that they advertise as being breastfeeding friendly.  As I refuse to nurse in a restroom, I can’t speak on the usefulness of these areas for breastfeeding. The family restrooms are, however, great when you have a potty-training toddler and a baby that needs a diaper change!

Denver Botanic Gardens
When I was a new mom to one, I enjoyed exploring the York Street Gardens. There’s plenty of benches in the shade and off the main trails to take a quick nursing break, while enjoying the landscaping. There’s a “secret” bench in a bamboo patch that was my favorite place for a break. Across the street, the Mordecai Children’s Garden is a perfect place to go if you have multiple children. My older daughter enjoyed running around and exploring while I was nursing my younger daughter. There are multiple areas that offer benches or picnic tables in the shade.

Storytimes at the Denver Public Libraries
Denver Public Libraries have four levels of storytime (Baby storytime, Toddler storytime, Preschool storytime, and All Ages storytime).  Not only did I meet many of my mom friends through Baby storytime, no one bats an eye if you start nursing your child. With 26 locations across the city, it’s easy to find a storytime that meets your scheduling needs.

JeffCo Open Space Parks and Trails
One of the best things about living in Denver is how quickly you can get out of the city for a hike.  Many of the JeffCo Open Spaces are only a half an hour to 45-minute drive from the city.  You’ll see all kinds of people taking advantage of the trails, including many moms and families.  Whether you choose to nurse at the trailhead at a picnic table or during your hike, you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful scenery while feeding your baby.

These are just four of my favorite places to take my kids and some of the best places to breastfeed in Denver.  Denver also has a great Children’s Museum, Museum of Nature and Science (that has an awesome kids zone), plenty of shopping, and lots of restaurants to enjoy.  No matter what you feel like doing, you’ll easily be able to find a good place to nurse your child.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Hiking with Kids

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

img_7455One of our family’s favorite activities is hiking. When we decided where to locate pre-kids, we decided on Denver since there are so many places to hike in Colorado.  In the summer of 2012, we planned one last backpacking trip before we started to try to have kids.  We saw a family hiking up the trail in the opposite direction on our last day.  Trailing far behind the rest of the family was the miserable looking father, carrying a child, plus what looked like gear and water for the others.  I jokingly said to my husband, “That’s going to be you soon!” once they had passed. We had a good laugh, but we had a lot to learn about hiking with kids. The following tips to make certain no one looks as miserable as that poor father did.

  1. Research and try on a kid carrier before purchasing one. Be prepared to spend some money.  Your hips, shoulders, rest of your body will thank you. While our kids were still little, I carried them using my soft-structured carrier. Some people still use their woven wraps to carry big kids. When they were about 10 months, though, we purchased hiking carriers. Just like a good hiking backpack, make sure you find one that will allow you to adjust the load between your hips and shoulders.

  2. Make sure your kids stay hydrated. Even living in Denver, when we go up to the mountains, the elevation affects us. If we’re feeling the elevation, the kids are too. We encourage Lily to drink water often. To prepare Juniper for the hike, I would nurse her in the car before starting, on any breaks we took, and once we were finished hiking. I didn’t use a nursing cover with my girls, so I made sure to wear a nursing tank under my hiking shirt. Now that Juniper is a year old, we bring her water too. We also bring an extra liter of water on top of what we normally bring to ensure the whole family is properly hydrated. On longer hikes, as an extra precaution, we bring our water pump.  (We split the load.)

  3. Minimize travel time. Gone are the days of waking up at 5:30, driving the two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, then driving the two hours back home. We have found many hikes closer to home, within forty-five minutes of our house. Although the views are slightly less spectacular, everyone is much happier with the decreased travel time.

  4. Related to #3, plan your hike length appropriately. Even with frequent breaks and allowing Lily to hike on her own, our kids have about an hour and a half tolerance for hiking. Lily no longer naps, but when she did, we would try to plan to hike during naps so we could go on longer hikes. Be prepared to move slowly if you have a little one hiking on their own. Lily loves finding pine cones, sticks, rocks, and other treasures.  All the exploring greatly decreases the pace we move at.

  5. Expand your first-aid kit. When it was just the two of us, a first aid kit that only included limited bandaids, antibiotic cream, an ace bandage, and ibuprofen was sufficient. We’ve added Children’s Benadryl, extra sunscreen, emergency rain ponchos, additional bandaids, alcohol wipes, and tweezers. In addition to our expanded first aid kit, we also make sure we have a change of clothes for the girls and diapers for the baby.

Although hiking with kids is a little different that hiking pre-kids, it can be just as much fun (if not more).  Now it is not just a hobby that my husband and I share, it a favorite activity of the whole family.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Helping Pets Adjust to a Mobile Baby

Monday, October 17th, 2016

When researching about pets and babies when I was pregnant with my first, I found lots of information about introducing a new baby to your pets.  Other than Peanut needing to try out all the new baby stuff, once we brought our babies home, our pets, Midnight (a lab mix) and Peanut (an orange kitty) adapted well.  Midnight loved the baby instantly both times.  Peanut was a little jealous of the attention the baby received but adjusted quickly.

Introducing the girls was the easy part.  Once they started to crawl, and then walk, we needed to teach them how to treat the animals so that both our pets and children were safe.  This is an ongoing process, but we want both our pets and kids to be safe and happy.  Most of the following rules we have for interacting with the animals are common sense, but they take monitoring and reminding the kids how to be kind to the pets.  Some days I’m amazed at how many times I request that my 3-year-old moves her face away from the cat’s!

  1. If the dog or cat is sleeping, let them sleep and leave them alone.

  2. Keep your face away from the dog or cat’s.  Do not face nudge the cat, even if she has done so to you in the past.

  3. Stay clear of the dog and cat when they’re eating.

  4. No grabbing the dog and cat’s tails, legs, or ears.

  5. Do not try to ride or climb on the dog.

  6. Pet nicely (from head to tail) and limit the duration of pets.  Be conscious your pets’ body language so you know when to stop petting.

  7. When out walking, always ask another dog’s owner if the dog is friendly before trying to pet him.

In addition to the above rules, we have spaces for each pet to go that is their personal area so when the kids get to be too much, they can retreat and have some peace.  Both our pets are very tolerant and understanding of kids.  This does not mean that we let our guard down.  We love our kids and our fur babies, so we constantly watch how they interact and remind the kids how to appropriately treat the pets so that everyone is safe and happy in our home.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.