Homemade Applesacue

All in the package of finding recipes for tomato sauce and meatballs, I came across the applesauce. Well, it has been siting in my pinterest board for a while so it’s time to get down to making some. Applesauce is essentially apple purée. It can be eaten on its own as dessert, goes so well with meatballs, as a dip or spread with biscuits and bread, topped with oats and yoghurt. The possibilities are endless. Plain apple sauce can be offered as a first food for babies at 6 months old, and you add in a little of flavours as your baby gets older.

Applesauce is so easy to make. I usually make a jarful which lasts me over a week or a little more. To make this applesauce, you will need:
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5 small fuji apples (the ones i bought are really small. These 5 when chopped up, fills the entire Beaba container)
1 cinnamon stick* (or a dash of cinnamon powder)

How to?
1. Peel off the skin of the apples.

2. Cut the apples into smaller pieces and throw them into your cooking ware. Add in the cinnamon stick too.
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3. Steam the apples till soft. Remove the cinnamon stick when it’s done.

4. Blend the apples to the consistency you prefer.

I am using my Beaba to make the sauce (steaming and blending). Alternatively, you can steam it and blend it using whatever equipments you have. You can also cook it in a pot over the stove.

*Cinnamon stick works better if you are cooking the apples over the stove. I find that steaming doesn’t release the aroma of the cinnamon. It could be just a personal preference. I ended up adding a dash of cinnamon powder.

And there you have a jar of delicious applesauce!

Dairy Folks – Milk from a Local Farm

Last week, I shared about offering C UHT full cream milk instead of formula milk. As much as we are comfortable with that, we are also looking for better milk options.

Why better milk options?
You see, UHT milk is milk that has undergone ultra high temperature to kill off any bacteria in it, hence the long shelf life. This also minus off the some of the nutrients and enzymes in milk itself that are required to digest the casein which is indigestible. Then again, a lot of the organic milk that are available in Singapore have gone through UHT too.

Fresh milk? Full Cream Milk?
This article was very informative on what are the different types of milk and milk jargons. Before you decide on what milk to offer to your toddler, you might like to read up a little more on the milk jargons. After a mini research, I conclude that fresh milk is a general term that refers to milk that is non UHT, needs to be refrigerated, with a best-before date within 1 week plus or shorter. There are full cream fresh milk, low fat fresh milk etc.  There many variations of what goes, or does not goes, into the milk. So it’s important to read the labels properly.

On the other hand, full cream milk (aka full fat milk, regular milk) is milk that contains about 3-3.5% butterfat. It can be homogenised, which is an additional process that spreads the fat content evenly throughout the milk. It can also be non-homogenised, which you can tell by the creamy fat layer sitting on top, like chilled breastmilk.

Disclaimer: this is purely how I interpret these two milk jargons. I am also not sponsored by Dairy Folks. I am writing based on my experiences. 

So what is a better option for us? 
It has to be milk (real milk), hormone- and antibiotic-free. I am exploring the option of offering fresh milk, since it doesn’t goes through UHT and well, non-homogenized if possible as well. Organic milk is way too expensive, so whatever we decided on has to be within our budget. The family currently enjoys Meiji Fresh Milk. We follow a general guideline as follows:

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What have we decided on?
Before I share with you what we have decided on, I found this article  which provides a great summary on the milk brands available in Singapore.


I found out about Dairy Folks form the same article and decided to read up a little more about them. It meets most of my requirements: real milk, hormone and antibiotic free, full cream (because no fats removed), single pasteurization (which is fine to me. Remove bacteria and all right), not homogenized (YAY!), feed with grass and cows living in Singapore are really additional bonus. You can’t really go wrong with food stuff in Singapore with its stringent rules and such.

It is almost twice the amount we pay for Meiji but we can make do with it for now. We are currently trying it out and see how it goes. It is not sold at supermarkets but delivery is free for orders SGD20 and above. Since the family enjoys fresh milk, we can share with C, so that we can chalk up the orders and qualify for free delivery. And support local at the same time!

The milk from Dairy Folks comes from Holstein Freistein cows, which produces A1 milk. I have also read about the debate between A1 and A2 milk. I wouldn’t go into that over here but it might be a piece of useful information to some mummies.

What I really enjoy about the milk is that it is creamy but without the milk taste like the full cream UHT ones. C even enjoys it chilled. Yay! No more heating up of milk! While it may also take some planning ahead of ensure a constant supply for fresh milk, we have also figured out the delivery days for our area and worked out a plan. We just have to be home to receive the milk. Now I wished Dairy Folks may consider a form of milk subscription of some sort!

 

Milk after 1 Year Old

Friends and families are usually surprised that C is not drinking formula milk at 18 month old. My mum said I was crazy to offer cow’s milk (I was doing  UHT full cream then) and insisted that formula was better. Some commented that it’s the Caucasian way. Some are interested to find why and how. I decided to share with you what made us decide on feeding full cream milk, why it is better, how did we go about doing that.

Disclaimer: There is another camp who does not agree on feeding cow’s milk for various reasons. I am not going into that. This is a sharing on formula, or not, and I have decided on full cream (cow’s) milk for practical reasons. I have also tried goat’s milk but C do not fancy the taste of it. I am also not sponsored by any of the brands  and am sharing purely based on my own experience.

In this post, milk refers to fresh or full cream milk, i.e. not powdered formula milk. And by formula, it also refers to toddler milk, follow up milk etc.

Why did we change to full cream milk?
I intended to breastfeed C till she self weans. My milk supply dropped tremendously after I was pregnant (She was 14 months then) and I wasn’t diligent in expressing at work. We resorted to formula to supplement while we look for a better option. While C was on formula, she didn’t quite finish every feed. I would say we wasted about 1/4 of each tin of formula. While we can still afford it at 1 tin per month (she didn’t drink a lot then), formula is expensive and we thought the money wasted could be better spent. Then I found out that some of my friends are actually offering fresh milk for various reasons. Either their babies don’t like formula or they don’t take to bottles etc. So I decided to read up a little more before I finally make the switch. The husband fully supports me and believes that I have done my research.

Why is fresh/full cream milk better?
I wouldn’t say that formula milk is absolutely no good or that it is poison. For toddlers who are generally eating well, there is no need for formula milk. It’s like protein shake. Not entirely bad but there are cleaner and better options to protein intake. It’s also like eating clean vs processed foods. Formula is a marketing gimmick, which is especially prevalent in Asian countries, with the added DHA, prosperous and calcium, which can also be attained from a well balanced diet. Formula milk is also not made from milk itself. WHO also issued a statement that formula is not entirely necessary.

While talking to my ex teacher’s wife, who is a PD, she explained to me in extremely simple terms why go for milk, rather than formula:

  1. Formula milk is high in sugar, which increase the risk of obesity and dental issues.
  2. Milk is higher in healthier calories which little children needs
  3. Offer milk as part of a healthy balanced diet to encourage children to eat more proper food. There is a tendency for parents to give too much milk (and if formula, it is sweet so children would prefers that), which result in children not eating well.
  4. It is cheaper!!!!

 

How did I go about doing it?
There are many articles online but I found this article extremely helpful because it tells me what is available in Singapore. I read from many sources that children below 2yo should be given full cream milk because they need the fats to grow. We started with Devondale (made in Australia) UHT full cream milk. UHT full cream is only kind of full cream that I know. Though UHT is not the best option, it is the most common option for full cream milk we can get here in Singapore. There is no need to offer the milk warm but C prefers it warm so we still have to warm up the milk for her. Otherwise, if your child has no sensitive stomach and what not, straight from the fridge is fine. Devondale costs us about SGD2.95 for 2 litres. That could last us about 5 days on the average.

Then came our Australia trip, where there is an abundance of ultra fresh and yummy fresh milk. It was the perfect time to transit her to full fresh milk! Absolutely no formula and we followed the guideline of recommended daily dairy intake. C has her milk at “home” and other dairy options like cheese and yoghurt on the go during the day.

At 19 months, C is on UHT full cream milk for breakfast and milk feeds before nap and bedtime because it soothes her to sleep. We also top up with other dairy options throughout the day, just like we did in Australia. 

So what’s next?
Well, now that we are pretty much comfortable with offering milk, we are currently looking for better milk options that are within our budget, which I will be sharing next. Stay tuned!

Lavender Lemonade

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I love making and drinking lemonade! It is always refreshing on a hot day! So while at Yallingup during our holiday last December, we were preparing for a late afternoon at the beach. We had our food prepared but just short of a drink. Then I decided to make use of the lemon that came as part of the welcome gift and some lavender in the backyard of our accommodation to zest up the flavor.

You will need:

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1 lemon
1 cup lavender syrup*
1.5-2litres (iced) water

For lavender syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 sprig/1 teaspoon lavender

How to:

1. Make the lavender syrup first by combining sugar and water in a saucepan. Let it boil over the stove.

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2. After the sugar is melted and the mixture is boiling, turn off the heat and add the lavender. Let lavender simmer for 5 minutes.

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3. In the mean time, cut the lemon into half and extract the juice using a fork.

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4. You can seive the juice if you like. I prefer my lemonade with pulp. Transfer the juice into a pitcher/larger container that you are using to serve.

5. Seive the lavender syrup if you are using loose buds.

6. Add the water to the lemon juice

7. Add syrup to sweeten the mixture as desired.

8. Chill before serving.

 

Lily Pear Agar Agar


I was down with sore throat and cough with phlegm just before CNY and needed some home remedy to soothe and help with the recovery. So I made a ‘cough soup’ using a family recipe. For the first round, I drank it warm, like a traditional Chinese dessert soup. For the second round, I decided to make the soup into agar agar (I love agar agar!!!) which makes a good dessert to be served during this festive season to combat the heatiness of the CNY goodies. What I also enjoy about this dessert is that I didn’t have to add any rock sugar to sweeten! If you prefer it to be any sweeter, I would highly suggest rock sugar as it is cooling and doesn’t encourage phlegm to form like white sugar does.


You will need:
1 snow pear
25g dried pear slices
25g candied persimmons
5 pcs honey dates
10g Chinese almonds
10g dried lily bulbs
3-4 pandan leaves (optional)
1.5 litres water
1 tablespoon dried wolf berries (optional)
1 packet agar agar powder (I used ‘swallow globe’ brand)

How to?
1. Wash the first 7 ingredients and boil with 1.5 litres of water.

2. Turn to low heat and simmer for about 30-60 minutes. The water should reduce to 1 litre.

4. Sieve out the ingredients.

5. Add in the agar agar powder to the ‘soup’. You need to make sure that the amount of ‘soup’ in the pot is about 1 litres as that is the amount of water needed for 1 packet of agar agar powder. If there is too little water, the jelly will be too hard.

6. Stir consistently until the mixture boils.

7. Scoop the mixture into moulds. Allow to cool before refrigerating.

8. If you are using wolf berries, wash it and put 2-3 berries per mould.

This dessert also makes a good and healthy snack for little humans. You just need to make sure they are in smaller, more manageable pieces.

Homemade Meatballs

Our little friend enjoys self-feeding so I wanted to prepare food that encourages and allows her to do so. After reading up a bit, I decided on meatballs, which she can pick with her little hands or practise using a fork.

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You will need:
500g minced pork (I used pork because the wet market near my place doesn’t sell beef. A combination of pork and beef would be good)
20g cheddar
7 stalks broccoli
1 onion
1 egg
Salt, pepper, evoo, corn flour

1. Separate the flower part of the broccoli from the stalk. Add the flowery bits to the minced pork.

2. Chop the onion and broccoli stalk finely.

3. Sauté the onion and broccoli stalk. Set aside to cool.

4. Since I am using block cheese, chop up the cheese to smaller pieces. Add to the minced pork

5. Add the cooled onion and broccoli stalk to the minced pork and crack an egg to the mixture. Mix well.

6. Add salt and pepper to season, corn flour and evoo. Mix well.
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7. Once the mixture is a little sticky, roll it into balls.
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8. Lightly fry the meatball over some olive oil, till golden brown. You can also bake it in the oven at 180°C for about 20-30 minutes, until the balls are cooked. The time needed depends on the size of your meatballs as well. You will also need to preheat the oven if baking.
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Now, this is our little friend’s new favourite food. She kept asking for more! I will be sharing a simple recipe for apple sauce next, which goes really well with these meatballs. Stay tuned!

Snow White’s Last Bite Smoothie

This fanciful sounding smoothie is one of my favourite because it is a combination of a few of my favourites. Tea as a base for smoothie? Anytime for that boost of caffeine for a busy day!
You will need:

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1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup hot water
1 apple (I’m using Fuji)
1 frozen peach
1 cup chilled earl grey tea, concentrate*

How to?
1. Add hot water to chia seeds and set aside
2. Add the other ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth
3. Add the chia seeds after it has been soaked well
4. Chill before serve

*Earl grey tea concentrate can be prepared before hand by using 2 tea bags for 1 cup of water.

*Replace tea with juice for a caffeine-free version for little humans

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Look who can’t wait to have some!