Clare Davidson

Writing without compromise

Book review: The First Foods Book

This post is a little off topic. I know I've reviewed books on here before, but they've all been YA, fantasy, or both!

However, as regular visitors know, I've been somewhat distracted by the newest addition to my family. So it stands to reason that one of the only books I've read recently would be a cooking book for babies!

When I started weaning Eleanor, I was convinced I was going to make all her baby food. So I was really disappointed when she rejected all my attempts at making stage 2 baby food. Then again, having tasted it myself, I agreed with her that it belonged firmly in the bin. From that moment on, Eleanor was solely on shop bought baby food until she was able to have what we were eating cut up.

Having Alec has given me a second chance of getting it right. With memories of my past failures firmly in my mind, I decided I wouldn't go it alone this time. This time I'd get a book.

Normally, I find Facebook ads annoying, but around the time I was thinking about getting prepared to make baby food, an advert from Ella's Kitchen popped up on my timeline. Not for their books or for their food, but for their YouTube video series on weaning. I sat and watched all the videos (which were short by useful) and then sourced their book:The First Foods Book: The Purple One.

First up, the presentation of this book is lovely. Every page is set out in bright colours, with different coloured section labels, so it's easy to get to the weaning stage you're up to. It's got lots of advice, from what equipment you need to information on allergies. In the centre, there are two pull outs. One is a quick reference weaning guide in the form of a map and the other is for keeping a record of your little one's weaning journey. I haven't actually used either of them, but they do look fun.

Of course the best bit are the recipes. With Eleanor, my first stage purees never really got much more adventurous than carrots, parsnips, apples and pears, either individually or in various combinations.

IMG_0642For Alec, he started off on a two week taste exploration where he got a different single vegetable/fruit puree every day. Tastes included potatoes, broccoli, avocado (a firm favourite), butternut squash and green beans (which he hated). After that there's twenty combination purees to choose from until baby reaches 7 months old. Most of these recipes make multiple portions (pears and avocado being the notable exception as avocado does not keep).

I haven't made every recipe, but every recipe I've tried has turned out well. One or two have been a bit on the watery side, but I suspect that was my fault! There's only one Alec hasn't really liked (swede, carrots and cinnamon), but I've kept the extra portions anyway to try him again. I like that there's a mixture of fruit and vegetable purees. I tend to make him one of each, so he effectively has a main meal and a pudding. The extra portions are handy for lunch times, too.

2015-08-26 17.14.46With all the variety Alec is getting, I'm pretty sure he's eating better than the rest of us! The best part is, he LOVES (almost) everything I'm making him and often "asks" for more. This evening he was very pointedly looking at the bowl, then looking at me until I went and got him more pears and avocado.

The recipes are grouped by age: 6 months, 7 months+, 10 months+ and one year and beyond. At 12 months, the recipes are all big enough to feed big mouths as well as little mouths. I love that every recipe tells you how many portions it makes (number of ice cubes for the purees up to how many adults and kids a meal serves). There's also finger food recipes, which I'm looking forward to trying.

All the recipes are fairly quick to cook, so I do them whilst I'm cooking everyone else's dinner! And if there's an evening where I can't be bothered, or haven't been to the supermarket to get fresh ingredients, I have a variety of pots in the fridge that I can turn to.

So far, I think this book is wonderful. In a couple of weeks I'll be moving on to the seven month recipes (it's scary how fast time is flying!), which start to introduce meat and fish. (There's still a good selection of purely vegetarian recipes!) I've already bookmarked the recipes I'd like to start with.

The Ella's Kitchen First Foods Book definitely gets a big thumbs up from me and Alec!


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