Monday, 20 July 2015

The First Foods Book by Ella's Kitchen

I adore Cookery Books; I have hundreds of them, so when Ella's Kitchen asked if they could send me another to add to my collection, of course I said yes!  My seven month old boy, Woody, is loving his food as we wean him off milk, but I'm struggling to think of new foods we can all enjoy - the inventive side of my brain seems to have gone away for summer.

The First Foods Book guides families through every stage of weaning, from first foods through to family meals and finger foods.  In my opinion, all foods should be family foods and I don't believe in making separate food for Woody; with this in mind, I skipped the first three chapters - 'Very First Tastes', 'Smoothly Does It' and 'Taking On Textures' and went from there - however, a quick flick through showed me that for families who prefer the traditional method of weaning and want to start on fruit and veg and move slowly to other food groups, these chapters would prove a great source of advice and inspiration.

On to the remaining chapters.

Introductions
You can't beat a cuppa and a flick through some recipes
Not actually a chapter, but the introductory sections gives some information on how to use the book and some advice on weaning itself, perfect for first time weaners.  With such a variety of foods covering such a wide span of ages groups, from first foods all the way though to eating as a family, it was great to see some recipes with serving information such as 'makes 6 ice-cubes', 'makes 4 teaspoons', 'makes 4 small portions' or 'feeds 4 kids and 2 adults' - this will most certainly help avoid trays and trays of the same food in your freezer through going overboard with the carrots.

'Time To Chew'
The recipes here are for 10 months plus where things start to get chunky.  These recipes are written for babies, but I found the recipes work for the whole family if you don't mash as instructed; you may just need to play with the ingredient volume to make sure there is enough to go round.  The Salmon Risotto was perfect for us.  I didn't mash it at all, just let Woody go for it in that very special 'Grab and Shove' method of eating he has (if I were spoon feeding I'd have mashed it), with a few spoonfuls from me thrown in.  You would never have known it had come from a weaning book and even my three year old went back for more!  The recipe makes 4 small portions; thinking that would suffice my children (i.e. one for Woody, three for the three year old), I made the same again each for myself and my husband (so three times the recipe in total) and there was plenty.  However, I did throw in a large handful of Parmesan at the end.  I know, I know, fish and cheese shouldn't go together in Italian dishes, but I'm not Italian and the heart wants what the heart wants.

Salmon risotto; Woody's portion compared to the book and the adult portion to the right
Also in 'Time To Chew' is three ways with a baked potato; we had a go at the Pesto Pea Filling, which made a great topping for my spud and a great one to mix into Woodys.  It's quite thick so again, perfect for the 'grab and shove' method of feeding yourself.  It was super tasty and given my jackets are normally topped with cheese and beans, this made a nice, healthy alternative for me.  Even better, it uses all store cupboard ingredients, perfect when you are caught on the hop.

The topping alone to the left and mixed with the potato to the right
'Meals For One + All'
For 12 Months Plus; there are some lovely sounding meals, all of which are written for a family and servings are generally for four adults and two children, with no mashing involved.  We fancied the Go Greek Lamb Stew.  For this one, I made it exactly as instructed, which serves two adults and four kids.  It did the four of us perfectly, but then we are big eaters.  It was deliciously slow cooked, the lamb melted in the mouth, perfect for children and little weaners.  We let Woody go for it and popped some, chopped, onto a spoon for him too, and ducked some bread into the sauce for him to gum away at.

'Fantastic Finger Foods'
Ruby Red Muffins - More Pink than Red!
This chapter has some great food for Baby Led Weaning, and we just had to try the fabulous 'Ruby Red Mini-Muffins', sweet muffins where the sweetness comes from the beetroot and carrot - genius, and a little sweet treat for your little ones without the sugar hit.  However, if you decide to give these a go, finely grate your beetroot.  I didn't and they weren't exactly ruby red, but definitely a winner.  The other downside to this is the waste.  If you regularly eat beetroot (we do) and feta (we don't) then great; if not you're having to buy a large quantity of these ingredients in the packet to use just a small amount.  That said, these freeze well, so make loads and freeze them to use up the ingredients.

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The First Foods Book is designed beautifully, all bright colours and Ella's Kitchen-esque child friendly illustrations.  The pictures of smiley, messy-faced children chowing down throughout the book gives high hopes for successful weaning and the drool worthy illustrations do the food justice.  It'd be nice to see a photo for each recipe which would appeal to my visual nature and make a quick reference for busy parents, but not to be in this book.

I'm also a bit in love with the pull out weaning charts and planners; this appeals to my list making side and the wall chart is a lovely memory of your child's weaning adventure; one for the memory box!  Such a lovely touch, as are the tips to help even the smallest weaners help in preparing their food.


I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to introduce more variety into their baby's, and their own diet and definitely for anyone starting on their weaning journey.  They excel at taking regular meals, such as shepherds pie, making them baby friendly (no sugar, no salt!) and adding new flavours, such as spices to introduce your baby to new tastes - cumin and ginger in the shepherds pie for example.

The first three chapters are purely focused on your weaning baby, but after that (Time To Chew on wards), this is a brilliant, family friendly cookbook.

Recommended.
You can buy the First Foods Cookbook from Amazon now for only £4.99! Just click on the link below to buy

 

*Ella's Kitchen kindly sent me this book for review; all opinions and words are my own.

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