Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birthday Time!

Right after my last post, I suddenly remembered I said I would blog about the birthday cake I made for Lily’s first birthday, so here it is!

Note: I just made a single layer cake for her because I wanted to keep it simple and not have too many leftovers as we just had a small birthday party gathering. The recipe below is the original recipe I based mine off of for a double layer cake. To make it single, just halve all ingredients.

Lily's First Birthday Cake (adapted from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”)


2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 cup apple juice concentrate
1 1/2 cups raisins
Vegetable spray, shortening or butter
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tbsp low sodium baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9” square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

Combine the carrots with the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting below or sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar if desired.


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/8 tspn salt
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.

For the colored frosting we (Grandma and I) added vegetable-based food coloring and powdered sugar to the cream cheese frosting. Grandma decorated and I added shredded coconut to the sides. 

The frosting came out especially well, and the cake was tasty and moist. Not bad for my first cake, although I did make two test cakes prior. The first one was way too wet because the original recipe said to add a cup of apple juice to the actual batter as well. So, for the second cake I didn’t do that and it came out perfectly. If you try making this cake and think the batter is too dry for any reason, add some apple juice to it gradually to get desired consistency.

Also, I came across this recipe from for a banana glaze that sounds really good if you’d rather not use dairy or any frosting. I didn’t try it, but here is the recipe below.

Banana Glaze

1/2 med. banana
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped nuts optional
2 or more cup powdered sugar

Mash banana well then add lemon juice and nuts. Gradually add powdered sugar until you obtain right spreading consistency. Ice cake after completely cool.

And I don’t mean to direct you to another site, but is a wealth of information on how to feed your baby and great recipes. I refer to it quite often.

Aside from the cake being yummy and everyone enjoying it, the party was a success. We had about 20 guests and a variety of hors d’oeurves were served including tortilla chips, hummus, veggie dip, carrot sticks and baby cookies. Lily looked super cute in the outfit I got her for her special day with matching custom-made headband, and she got a lot of great gifts, although I was the one who opened them all. She also got a lot of playtime in with her cousin Rhys which was really sweet.

The only downside was that it took us about three days to fully recover from all the madness and cleaning and having to get Lily re-introduced to her routine. Then once that happened, I got the flu, and then Lily got a resurgence of roseola. It was not a pleasant week. But, we are all good now and Lily is walking around all over and getting into everything. So, I’m exhausted again. Sigh. But, she sure is fun to watch :) 

Enjoying her cake?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lily's Growing Up and Mommy's Steaming Artichokes

So I think it’s official- Lily only wants to feed herself now. Not with a spoon yet, mind you, but she is only down with the finger food. I still have some frozen baby food I have been trying to get her to eat, but it’s usually a losing battle, so I’ll probably just use it for something else. It’s all natural organic applesauce and pureed string beans, so it’s not like it’s something gross I won’t eat myself. I just won’t eat it as baby food, of course.

So, tonight Lily had steamed broccoli and corn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. For lunch she had cooked black beans and shredded cheddar cheese topped off with raisins (her favorite!). Although she’s off the baby food, I will continue to include baby food recipes on this blog anyway since that is what my original intention was with this blog. I just didn’t expect her to dis the mushy stuff so soon.

Tonight I attempted to make steamed artichokes for the first time. It sounded simple enough- cut off the stem, trim the leaves, stick them in a steamer basket for 20 or so minutes and voila! Well, the cutting and trimming was simple enough, but after letting them steam for about 20 minutes they were no where near done, so I put them back in for 10 more minutes, and then they were pretty good after that.

I did this with 2 artichokes, each the size of a baseball. I made a lemon mustard sauce to top them with, but after tasting it I decided not to use it. So I just dipped the petals into lemon juice and they tasted just fine that way. I made a huge mess taking these things apart; I hope I ate them right. Like I said, I never did this before. Eating an artichoke is such a process

The artichoke mess

The first time I tried an artichoke that wasn’t all mixed up in a dip was at a dinner at my sister-in-law’s house years ago, before she was even my sister-in-law. Her mother- now my mother-in-law –baked the artichokes in tin foil and when I first sunk my teeth into that first tender petal it was so good. I don’t know how you bake them, but I may see my MIL this weekend, so hopefully I will remember to ask her how she made that magic I so fondly reminisce about happen.

Anyway, I ate various parts of the artichokes and tried to find what is referred to as “the heart” (which I have had before in salads and in oil), but I don’t think I found it. I ate some yellowy-colored part in the middle near the base of where the stem had been, but I don’t know if this was what I was looking for. It didn’t taste too bad, but not how I remembered from those Greek salads.

I had the artichokes with baked herb-encrusted cod and steamed asparagus. I normally would’ve had a grain along with the vegetable and fish rather than 2 veggies, but I needed to use both the artichokes and the asparagus before they went bad. So I got a good dose of folate, and vitamins A and C, along with fiber, potassium and magnesium from the artichokes. It was the kind of meal you feel good about eating. Here are the directions:

Herb-Encrusted Baked Cod with Steamed Asparagus and Artichoke


2 cod fillets
2 medium sized artichokes, trimmed
10 spears asparagus, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

For the cod:

Preheat oven to 400°C. Coat glass baking dish with butter and place cod fillets inside. Top fillets with lemon, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Put in oven for about 15 minutes.

For the asparagus:

Trim off stalks then steam for about 7 minutes until tender and still bright green.

For the artichokes:

Cut off stem and trim the tips of leaves about ½”. Place in steamer basket and steam for 20-30 minutes. To check, pull a leaf off each artichoke. If the leaves come off easily without having to tug, they’re ready. 

I said I didn’t like how the sauce turned out, but if you want to try it anyway, here are the directions:


¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over artichokes and asparagus if desired. Can also be used for dipping.

Lily had:

3 broccoli florets, steamed
2 tbsp corn kernels, steamed
1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Bonus baby food recipe:

3-Grain Creamy Fruit

3 tbsp pureed fruit such as apples, peaches or banana
1 tbsp oatmeal cereal
½ tsp ground flax seed
½ tsp wheat germ
1 tsp plain yogurt

Mix altogether and serve. Very healthy and sure to wake your little one up (as if they need it!).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vegetarian Time

Vegetarian tonight!

Tofu and Black Bean Skillet


1 block firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 cup black beans, cooked
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp oil (olive or canola)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp hot sauce (or to taste)
Handful or 2 of baby spinach
Shredded cheddar cheese as topping (optional)
Bean sprouts as topping (optional)

Fry the oil in a medium skillet and then add the tofu. Fry for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, then add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes then ad sauce and beans. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, then add all seasonings and mix in. Cook for 10 minutes, then add spinach and remove from heat. Mix in spinach until it is softened. Dish onto plates and top with cheese and/or sprouts. Makes 4 servings, or 6-8 sides.

This is a tasty and simple vegetarian recipe. I conjured it while deciding what to make for dinner one day with what I had available in my fridge at the time. I’ve served it to several people who aren’t veggie heads, and they liked it just as much as any herbivore would. It’s also easily alterable, so you can add anything you like to mix it up if you please, or to make it for omnivores, such as adding chicken instead of tofu, corn, Spanish olives, potatoes…you be the chef!

Before I became pregnant with Lily, I had been a vegetarian for years. It started when I was about 12 years old and then I got on and off the wagon about 2 or 3 times, but never for long. I made the choice to become a vegetarian because I became particularly aware of where the meat on my plate came from and I did not like it one bit. So, I decided to brave the ridicule of “being different” I was sure to get from my peers and face the questionable looks from my family, and dive right in to a meat-free diet, a diet I was able to maintain for quite a long time with no issues.

About 3 months into my pregnancy, I had a couple of friends over my place for a music festival and we were grilling in the backyard. Everyone was enjoying the usual beef burgers while I opted for my usual Dr. Praeger’s veggie patty. One my friends was sinking his teeth into his burger and I caught a whiff of it and suddenly felt an old craving I hadn’t felt in a very long time. After pondering the sensation over for a few minutes, I revealed to my friend and husband my sudden craving, and Paul quickly handed me his burger.

I told my OBGYN about the burger incident and she told me my body was probably craving iron and B vitamins that could only be found in meat, and that I should go ahead and eat meat whenever I craved it. I asked if I could just take supplements, and she said it was best to get it from food sources and if my body was craving it, then I needed it to help my baby grow and thrive inside of me. Ever since then, I have been back off of the pesco-vegetarian horse (or zucchini instead of horse to keep it veggie!).

I sometimes think about going back to vegetarianism, and I hope that I will. Not only did I feel better about my choices when I was abstaining from meat, I honestly felt better physically and spiritually, and weighed less too. It’s better for me and better for the environment in so many ways in that it helps to reduce the carbon footprint left by all the toxins raising livestock produces and also keeps antibiotics used on the animals out of my body. Organic-raised meat usually costs a lot more than conventional and often (from what I’ve read, anyway) is not always guaranteed completely organic, USDA approved or not.

These thoughts all ultimately lead to how I plan to handle Lily’s diet as she grows. As of right now, she has not tried meat or any animal products other than dairy. Paul and I have talked it over a few times, and although at first he disagreed with my wanting to raise her veggie, he did agree that it would be healthier for her to have a meat-free life. He was mainly worried about any teasing she might receive from her peers in school and also guilt she might experience from wanting to try meat, a situation he experienced growing up with parents who suddenly wanted him to eat vegetarian after he’d already gotten used to eating meat. I informed him I would give her the option to choose to go omnivore when she was older if she wished to and not pressure her or preach about the wrongs of butchering animals for food if she got curious about fried chicken. He has relaxed since then, but we are still undecided about how to proceed as of right now, so we are just taking it as it evolves.

Tonight Lily enjoyed her usual vegetarian meal, this time of

3 tbsp pureed spinach
3 tbsp pureed corn
1 tbsp brown rice cereal
1 tbsp plain yogurt

Warm spinach and corn and then mix in other ingredients. Make sure it’s not too hot before serving!
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