Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts


introducing solids + the basics of homemade baby food

With both girls, we introduced solids around 6 months of age. At that point they were both showing interest in what we were eating, able to hold their head up and sit independently. For Olivia, I made all my own baby food and with Penelope we have been doing a combination of homemade purees + baby led weaning {often referred to as BLW...this basically just means you skip purees and offer table food}. Whatever methods you decide to use, here are the basics of introducing solids and homemade baby food. The methods are super simple, the tools you need are minimal and bonus: everything can be done with a toddler at your feet. 

From 6-7 months we really only offered Poppy purees,  I began with super smooth ones & eventually moved to textured. Once she reached 7 months, I started offering everyday foods we always have on hand in small pieces for her to learn to chew and swallow. A few examples of foods that are great for this {soft and easy to mash even without teeth and swallow smoothly without choking risk} when cut into very tiny pieces are avocado, banana, black or pinto beans {cut in half}, strawberries, rice puffs, and any soft fruit or vegetable.

We also skipped rice cereal altogether and instead found alternative "first food" options with both girls that are much healthier and nutritionally sound. My aunt is a Registered Dietician with over 25 years of experience in her field, so when Olivia was a baby I was able to sit down with her and spend a lot of time learning about healthy foods for babies and their development, foods that offer the most complete nutrition and satisfying well-rounded options.

Our top 3 recommended first foods:
Avocado || Sweet Potato || Cooked Egg Yolk 

I started Olivia on sweet potatoes. I simply peeled and cubed them, steamed them and then using a food processor, pureed them until smooth. We often use coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil to smooth out purees while blending. I started Penelope on avocado, simply taking a ripe one, cutting it in half and using a fork to mash it. She began eating about 1/4 avocado at a time and I just stored the rest in fridge until I needed it. After about a week, I added in cooked egg yolk with  her avocado, but it could really be mixed into any food. To prepare, simply hard boil eggs. Once cooled, remove the whites and store cooked yolks in glass container in fridge for up to 5 days. Mix in with your baby's meals as desired; Poppy eats about one egg yolk per day.

It is recommended to only introduce new foods every 2-3 days in the event of an allergy, it makes it easier to pinpoint which food may be causing a reaction. For the first few days I only gave each of them sweet potatoes and avocado, then after about a week I started introducing a new food every day or two. Now that Penelope is 7.5 months, she gets multiple new foods each day.

After you've introduced their first foods, you can move on to other complex carbohydrates {essentially vegetables}, protein {meats, beans + lentils}, fruits and of course, healthy fats. A well-balanced diet can be accomplished with the rule of thirds: 1/3 of daily calories (or 1/3 of meals) should be complex carbohydrates, 1/3 should be protein and 1/3 should be healthy fats.

Here are some ideas:

|| complex carbohydrates ||
sweet potatoes / butternut squash / broccoli / cauliflower / green peas / green beans / bell peppers / eggplant / rainbow carrots / zucchini / summer squash / cauliflower / spinach / swiss chard / rainbow chard / kale / oats / quinoa / beets / peas

|| protein ||
cooked egg yolk / free range organic turkey + chicken / wild caught salmon / wild alaskan cod / grass fed beef / split red lentils / beans / quinoa 

|| fruits || 
avocado / banana / blueberries / strawberries / apples / pears / peaches / mangoes / raspberries / kiwi / pineapple

|| healthy fats ||
avocado / cooked egg yolk / wild caught salmon / unrefined coconut oil / extra virgin olive oil / avocado oil / any unrefined seed oil / nuts + nut butters {when age appropriate; recommended to avoid until 1 year}

To make your own baby food, you really only need a few basic items. It's way easier to do than most people think and you can get a ton of food made in one afternoon if you have everything on hand and a plan. I choose a "prep" day {usually a Sunday afternoon} where Dustin can be with the girls and I can spend a few hours making enough food for 1-2 months. I make it, freeze it in trays, then store it in labeled bags in our freezer in 1 oz portions and can take it out as I need it each day.

|| homemade baby food basics || 

stock pot with steamer / food processor {I have a 3-cup and a 9-cup size I use} / trays for freezing in individual portions {our favorite here} / thin jar spatula / binding agents {coconut oil, olive oil, chicken stock, etc} / your food

|| simple step by step guide ||

1. prepare food // this is super easy to do. whatever the food, prepare it as if you were going to eat it that day. for most vegetables -- steam them individually in a pot until tender; frozen food can be steamed directly out of the bag otherwise peel/cut/chop fresh food before steaming {steaming is better than boiling because it preserves more of the nutrients}; for certain vegetables {like rainbow carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc} I roast them on a flat sheet at 375-400 degrees with olive oil until tender.

2. steam or bake until tender // the goal is just to soften your food enough so that it can easily be blended in a food processor

3. puree in food processor // I do each food one at a time; while warm, add to food processor and while blending, stream in a binding agent. We use a lot of coconut oil here and I love the yummy flavor it adds to food in addition to how many health benefits it has. You can use olive oil, low sodium organic chicken broth or vegetable broth {I always buy organic since many non organic brands contain wheat}

4. fill trays + freeze // once smooth, pour into your food trays for freezing. I use a thin jar spatula to smooth out the top and then lay them flat in our freezer for 6-8 hours or overnight

5. remove from trays + organize // once hardened, I pop all the cubes out of the silicone trays and put them in to labeled freezer bags. Another reason I love the tovolo trays is because they are 1 oz portions and perfect squares, making it super easy to stack in bags.

6. defrost + feed // most mornings, I pull out the food I'll be feeding Poppy for the day, typically 2-3 oz of food per meal. I put it in ramekins or a bowl in our fridge to defrost through the day. To reheat, simply put in small saucepan until softened and warmed through or microwave. I add coconut oil before serving if I didn't use it in the blending process and my favorite spoons for feeding are here. Once my supply of a specific food gets low {sweet potatoes and green beans below}, I restock it. You can do it all in one day over the course of an afternoon or one food per day in 10-15 minutes.

I'll be doing another post soon with more tips on preparing meat for your baby as well as our favorite food combinations and recipes and feeding products. We also love pouches and I've found a lot of organic options that are low in sugar with loads of vegetables I don't always have on hand. Pouches are great for on the go, busy mornings and to complement your meals.

bananas / strawberries / black beans / vegetable bake with lentils

Below are a few books that have been extra helpful for me in this season of introducing solids:

If you have other questions about introducing solids or homemade baby food, please leave them below so I can be sure to answer them in my next post!! Have a great day!!


our favorite bath & body products

Happy Friday! I often get asked what products I use for the girls so I thought it would be fun to share all our favorites that we always keep on hand for bathtime. I love finding products that are high quality, are as natural as possible and of course that smell amazing. Especially when a daily activity of mine is petting & smelling Penelope's fluffy hair. Oh, newborns.

We are all about variety in our home and I love using different shampoos, conditioners & bubble baths every day to keep things exciting. Yes, I get excited over bubble bath. 

body washes, shampoos & conditioners

(left to right with links)

tubby todd lavender hair & body wash // we love tubby todd! this wash is from an incredible family owned company based in the US, is formulated with 100% natural ingredients & smells ahhh-mazing

shea moisture olive & marula baby head-to-toe wash & shampoo // one of our favorite brands, shea moisture has some of the best smelling products around. yikes, I use it for myself sometimes! I almost always find this on sale at Target and just love love love it!

babyganics chamomile verbena shampoo + body wash // love how much this foams and the easy-to-use pump when my hands are full; also comes in a fragrance free version and an orange blossom nighttime version that we love
*** please be aware that not all babyganics products are safe; we love the think dirty app (free from the app store) if anything is in question! ***

shea moisture raw shea chamomile & argan oil baby head-to-toe wash & shampoo // another favorite by shea moisture, this has such a rich lather and the fragrance is off the charts

wash with water organics sweetpea & me shampoo and body wash // I had the privilege of working with wash with water earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with every single product they make.  Formulated specifically for infants, wash with water products have no added colors or any synthetic ingredients; this was the first shampoo and body wash I used on Poppy after bringing her home and love the light floral scent; I also love their barenaked babydoll line (fragrance free) and their a star is born kissable skin lotion

the honest co. conditioner // I only shampoo the girls' hair 1-2 times per week, so when they're getting regular baths I am almost always exclusively using conditioner; I love so many honest brand products and this one is right up there with the rest of them

california baby calendula hair conditioner // Don't even get me started on the perfection that is california baby and their calendula line of products; my number one product recommendation for any expectant or new mama is california baby calendula is a serious dream in a jar and I've used it on both of the girls since birth, for dry skin year round, after baths, for chapped winter cheeks, etc. I notice a difference in how soft their skin is overnight and absolutely love it; calendula is the most heavenly scent and although it's a bit pricey, a small jar lasts forever; this conditioner is the cream version for hair...same amazing smell and richness and a little bit goes a long way!

bubble baths & soaps

wash with water shampoo and body bars // Made with the same trustworthy ingredients as all the wash with water products, I love these for travel with the girls and such a fun gift for a new Mama

the honest co. bubble bath // this tangerine dream bubble bath has calendula, chamomile and aloe to gently soothe the skin and organic coconut oil to moisturize and protect; the scent is light and refreshing

babyganics chamomile verbena bubble bath // This is my go-to bubble bath for V because it creates the fluffiest bubbles and I love the smell, plus it can usually be found on sale at Target and the large size lasts a solid length of time

tubby todd sweet quince bubble bath // like walking through an orange grove, this stuff is the bees knees. I love the scent, the suds it creates and the fact that its made with quality ingredients and 100% natural

california baby calming bubble bath // anytime a bubble bath has hints of french lavender and comes with a wand for extra fun, it's a win in my book. another favorite from california baby

mirasol farm organics bar soap // this is more for us Mamas (and our hubbys)... this is the only bar soap I'll buy for myself and seriously can't get enough. Based out of Wisconsin, Mirasol Farm was a brand I discovered at a craft fair a few years ago and I've tried almost every scent they sell. Lavender oatmeal is my favorite for washing my face after a long day because it provides some gentle exfoliation; my husband loves Rosemary Mint and especially for this time of year, we stock up on Wild Orange and Northern Lights

As always, if you have a favorite body or bath time product for yourself or your littles, I'd love you to share it below. Cheers to the weekend! XO


toddler meal archive

Last Fall I featured a 6-week series all about toddler meals || Below is the photo archive with all the meals and snacks featured -- Click on each picture for the full post with all meal details / You can also find them linked by week under the BABY + TODDLER page and for peeks at what meals Olivia is enjoying, head to my instagram @blessednestblog and click on the hashtag #BlessedNestToddlerMealSeries





Happy weekend!!


shop spotlight | blueberries and lace

Happy Monday! It seems every weekend comes and goes faster than the one before (how is it already mid-July?), but we are so excited as we count down the weekends left before baby girl arrives. We enjoyed lots of time outside and finished up a few DIYs that have been on my wish list. I also finalized most of the pieces going on our bedroom gallery wall and can't wait to share more with you guys soon!

To kick off a new week, I'm excited to be sharing a shop that creates incredible skincare products for both Mamas and babies! Double win. Today's Shop Spotlight is on Blueberries and Lace Organics, luxury vegan skincare products that are 100% natural and 100% toxin- and animal-free. Founded and owned by Heather Puett, Blueberries and Lace began when Heather found the selection of high-quality vegan skincare products on the market to be virtually nonexistent. Each time she needed a new skincare item, she created it herself. 

Heather shares more of her story below

"In 2008, I transitioned from a vegetarian to a vegan lifestyle. While there were plenty of dietary options in Nashville at the time, I had a lot of difficulty finding the right skincare products to correspond with my beliefs. Most notably, I couldn't find a deodorant that had 3 important attributes: Vegan, Natural, and Effective! That was when I first took matters into my own hands. After a lot of testing, I was proud to have fulfilled my 3 requirements. Soon after, most of my friends were asking me to make them deodorant. With their feedback and support, I followed that same process with several other skincare products."

"The story behind the Blueberries + Lace name is so simple! My other great passion is vintage fashion and styling. As a teenager, I started an Etsy page so I could share my fashion tastes on a larger scale. When it came time to pick a name, I wrote down my two favorite things: Blueberries (because they're delicious!) and Lace (because there's something about lace that embodies elegance to me). When it came time to name the Handcrafted + Vegan + Organic skincare line, I considered changing the name. However, Blueberries + Lace has come to represent the spirit of my business. It's simple. It expresses me for who I am. It makes me happy."

"Though the Women's Deodorant Cream is probably the dearest in my heart because it reminds me of my humble beginnings, I've really enjoyed making safe, natural, affordable products for new mothers as they welcome a new member into their families. Baby Oil and Mama Oil are two favorites because it brings me joy to know I've made an impact on the growing relationship between new mothers and their babies."

"My boyfriend and I grew my hobby into a real business in our quaint "treehouse" of an apartment in Venice, CA. We recently moved back to Nashville so I could return to my roots and so we'd have more space to expand the business. My favorite aspect of owning Blueberries + Lace is the time we spend at our home using our hands to make a product we believe in. It gives us ample opportunity to enjoy one another and discuss plans for the future."

Because I feel it is so important to have quality skincare products made from ingredients I can both understand and pronounce, I just love Blueberries and Lace, both for myself and my daughters. Being 8 months pregnant, even finding a really simple way to pamper myself makes me happy and for that I love their charcoal detox mask. It's an easy way for me to take a trip to the spa in my own home in the middle of nap time or after a long day of nesting (though I think I nest all the time even when I'm not pregnant!)

Another product that both my husband and I enjoy is the daily moisturizer. Although my skin normally isn't overly dry, the summer heat combined with pregnancy has me always wanting to put extra moisture into it, especially after showering and washing my face. Made with coconut oil, vitamin E, aloe vera and lavender oil, it's the perfect blend to keep my skin feeling great all day without clogging my pores or weighing me down.

After Penelope is born, I'll be using B+L's breastfeeding butter and diaper balm. I love that the breastfeeding butter is lanolin-free and made with calendula-infused extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil & shea butter. It's safe for breastfeeding Mamas and their new babies, which is so important to me. I've used the diaper balm with Olivia and love the consistency and how effectively it absorbs moisture, which is especially important in the summer heat! 

If you're expecting like I am, another great product from B+L is their belly balm, formulated to maintain healthy moisture that soothes the skin and combats stretch marks.

And because we can't forget the men in our life, Blueberries and Lace even offers products for them, including men's deodorant cream, beard oil and coffee scrub (though I am all about that coffee scrub for myself!)

If you're interested in trying B+L products in your own home, Blessed Nest readers can save 15% off their total purchase from Blueberries and Lace using the code BN15 at checkout. I have been so happy with everything I've tried and I love how healthy and safe it is for me and my loved ones. Discount valid today through June 19 only / start shopping here

Hope your week is off to a great start!!


Healthy Eating Series with Replay | Day 12 {Safe Sweets}

With April being only days away, today is the last post in my Healthy Eating Series with Replay Recycled. If you haven't been following along, I featured a four-week series all about preparing healthy meals for the whole family, with a specific focus on toddlers and children. Each post focused on a specific healthfood and offered three simple recipes for how to prepare it in a kid-friendly form. 

All of the previous posts from this series can be found below:
lovely lentils / carrots / quinoa
broccoli / power greens

Being that dessert is the best part of every meal, I'm finishing up this series with a post all about healthy desserts -- "safe sweets" -- made from fruit.

We don't give Olivia a lot of fruit with her meals, so when I make one of these desserts, they are an extra-special treat for her. I'm especially looking forward to enjoying them in the backyard under the sunshine this summer!


{A light and refreshing treat perfect for warmer days, these yogurt blueberry bites only require two ingredients and a little bit of patience! Olivia can eat them faster than I can make them!}

what you'll need:
+ Fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
+ Greek yogurt of choice {We love honey flavored Greek yogurt, plain vanilla yogurt or Noosa lemon yogurt!}
+ Small plate or tray, spoon / freezer

what you'll do:
+ Using a spoon, dip or roll each blueberry in small dish of yogurt until well coated and place on plate or tray
+ Once you’ve done as many as you want, place plate/tray in freezer for 10-15 minutes or until yogurt is solid but blueberries aren’t completely frozen through
+ Remove and serve {I suggest tasting one…or a few before serving to your child to be sure they aren’t too cold / These are especially great for teething toddlers, as the mild cold is soothing to their sore gums}


{As much fun to look at as they are to eat, these grape kabobs are a wonderful and healthy dessert either fresh or frozen, depending on your child’s age and preference. I often find Olivia reaching into our fridge to pluck grapes from our colander and know she loves them as much as I always have / Keep in mind you can make these grape kabobs as short or as long as desired, simply by cutting your kabob sticks into smaller pieces}

what you'll need:
+ Fresh grapes; we used a mix of red and green {I left ours whole since Olivia is nearly two, but you could also cut them in half before putting on the skewer}
+ Kabob skewers, cut to size preference {I recommend cutting them versus breaking them, to prevent any sharp ends}
+ Plate or tray / freezer

what you'll do:
+ Skewer grapes onto a kabob stick close together
+ Serve fresh or pop in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until partially frozen {How much fun would these be for kids to eat in the backyard on a hot summer day?}
+ Always taste test food before serving it from the freezer to be sure it isn’t too cold or hard to chew and keep in mind that smaller grapes or grape halves are going to freeze much quicker than larger whole ones}


{Since Olivia was very young, I have been serving her homemade applesauce that contains no sugar, but just apples and cinnamon. Even if you don’t make your own, there are now so many healthy applesauce options without sugar and even with multiple flavors - like berry, pineapple and veggie. If I don’t have any homemade applesauce on hand, I love buying Go Go Squeeze pouches and squeezing the coins directly from the pouch}

what you'll need:
+ Applesauce of choice {low to no sugar if possible}
+ 1 sandwich size ziplock bag
+ Plate or small tray / scissors / freezer

what you'll do:
+ If you are using applesauce that isn’t already in some type of pouch, fill a sandwich sized bag with a small amount and squeeze all into one corner; using a scissor, cut a tiny hole in the corner to create a mock up pastry bag
+ Squeeze applesauce onto plate or tray in small coins, about the size of a nickel
+ Freeze 10-15 minutes or until frozen through enough to handle
+ Top with a dusting of cinnamon if desired and serve

{Keep in mind if you are using a pouched applesauce, simply squeeze the coins directly from the pouch and skip the bag altogether!}

I'd love to hear what you thought of this month's collaborative series and if you would like to see something like this again in the future!

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