My New “Go-To” Lunch

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This burrito bowl has been the only lunch I’ve gotten excited about in a long time. I’m not sure if it has to do with being pregnant, but I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what I WANT to eat lately – Blake suggests this isn’t a “new” thing for me but he’s at peace with the fact that I blame all ailments on pregnancy at this point.

My top three priorities when choosing a great meal are these: ease of preparation, nutritional content, taste.

The burrito bowl does require some prep but the prep usually makes 3-4 lunches so it’s worth it. Also, it nails the other two priorities. I count it as a win.

This was my prep process –

The night before:

  • Open a can of organic corn, drain, place in container.
  • Open a can of black beans, drain, place in a container.
  • Have husband prepare chicken. Tell him it’s for a burrito bowl so to season it appropriately (I have no idea what this would entail which is why I delegate)
  • Contemplate buying pre-made pico de gallo at walmart ($3.00) or make my own. This time I made my own with Roma tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalepeno and lime juice. Cutting the onions makes me cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Next time, I’ll probably buy it pre-made.
  • Buy an avocado… hold off on cutting it as long as possible.
  • Make some brown rice. Easy peasy.
  • Grate some cheese because we don’t have shredded cheese… wait, what?? Normally I would just buy shredded cheese. Freshly grated tastes better but a’int nobody got time for that – plus I eat more than half of it in the process of shredding it.
  • Buy lettuce. image

The morning before leaving for work:

  • Frantically search for additional containers to re-portion all ingredients just for lunch. Realize after doing so that I should have just taken all the ingredients to work as is and then portion out throughout the week as I actually make lunch (the perks of an office fridge!)… clearly there is room for improvement here.

At lunchtime:

  • Spend half of your lunch break meticulously organizing all ingredients for an instagram-worthy lunch (see pic above).
  • Devour the entire bowl in less than 5 minutes.

There you have it… my new “go-to” lunch. It’s good, you should try it.

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The Best Diaper Rash Cream EVER!

IMG_5456Last week Carter developed the worst diaper rash I’ve ever seen (note: I’ve only ever seen her diaper rash but still it was bad). We knew it was bad because she screamed during diaper changes and was pretty fussy. That is a big deal for Carter – Blake and I are completely aware that we have “trick baby“- she hardly ever cries- usually if she is fussy it’s because we’re doing something wrong. Clearly, we had done something wrong along the way that had caused this and we were hell bent on fixing it as quickly as possible. I did what most moms would do in the situation – I googled any solution I could find. Blake is generally skeptical of this “google” strategy but his “status-quo” method wasn’t working so I started testing and implementing any and all diaper rash remedies.

First I tried to pin down the cause. Unfortunately typing “cause of bad diaper rash” into google is similar to typing in “headache” as a symptom in WebMD. There are a bazillion things that can cause diaper rash and I immediately began questioning all my recent parenting decisions.

Had we switched to whole milk too fast? We made the switch a few weeks ago and she seemed fine with it but now I’m reading about the plethora of babies who had awful reactions. Solution: Revert to a formula for a few days (our breast milk reserves were out!) to see if that would fix it.

Was it something she ate? Her diaper rash appeared one day after her first birthday party. At the party she had cake and barbecue… did she have a buttercream aversion? Solution: Implement the BRATY diet. Luckily she LOVES bananas (almost obsessively).

Was it the wipes? We use Huggies wipes and she has always been fine with those but then the news broke that they apparently have fiberglass in them.. was this just a cruel coincidence or had I been wiping her sensitive skin with glass shards. Solution: utilize the huge stock of baby wash clothes we got before she was born and use those to wipe… no not wipe… “pat” clean.

Did our diaper cream suck? The short answer here is Yes, yes it did. We used to use Balmex and Destin but the low-maintenance nature of Carter had lead us down the arrogant path to generic brand diaper cream. I know, we’re ashamed. Seriously, who doesn’t splurge the extra $3 for brand name diaper cream to prevent painful blisters from forming on their kid’s ass? The answer: us. Lesson learned! After the first screaming diaper change – I bought ALL the creams. That picture up top is proof. (Not pictured: The Aveeno Oatmeal Bath Soak).

Should we stop using disposable diapers? I was really hoping and praying that this was not the cause so I put blinders on and didn’t even consider this as a possibility.

I even let her run around with no diaper for a few hours per day. Blake hated this strategy, but literally every source I read mentioned this as a legitimate way to cure the rash. Carter didn’t love it either… after about 5 minutes of no diaper she crawled up the stairs to the clean laundry basket and brought me a pair of clean shorts… I got the message – she’s fine in just a diaper but draws the line at anything less than that (makes me a little proud!). I put the shorts on but left the diaper off – I figured we clean the dogs pee and poop off the floor so why not hers. Still though, there was hardly any improvement in the rash.

After switching away from whole cow’s milk, changing her diet, eliminating wipes, using various creams, giving soothing oatmeal baths and allowing her to crawl around with no diaper, the improvement in the rash was marginal and she was still not happy about it. Neither were we.

But then, the Best Diaper Rash Cream EVER was shared with me. Carter’s day care teacher mentioned Maalox cream as a possible solution. I figured I would pick some up at Target, at this point I would try anything- BUT, it’s not something you buy, it’s something you make. So I whipped up the concoction. Here’s the recipe:

The Best Diaper Rash Cream EVER:

  • 1 oz. Maalox (or generic antacid)
  • 1 oz. Aquaphor
  • A sqeeze of anti-fungal medication

Mix all ingredients and apply liberally to the entire diaper area. Top with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. I stored it in her 2oz food containers.

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This cream is magic. The diaper rash was 100x better in 4 hours and completely gone (blisters and all) in 3 days.

I’m not completely clear on how it works – here’s is what I know: The active ingredients in the Maalox neutralize the acidity of the pee and poop. The Aquaphor helps heal the damaged skin. The anti-fungal just ensures it’s not a fungal rash (if you know that’s not the case, you can leave it out…. I have no idea how you would know though so I added it). The Butt Paste creates a great barrier between the skin and the diaper.

We have now transitioned back to whole milk (I’m so glad it wasn’t that) and her normal food (which still consists primarily of bananas and mac and cheese). We’ve returned to using wipes (although we switched to Pampers Sensitive wipes mainly because of the potential for fiberglass in the Huggies – I don’t know whether that’s actually true, but I’m not taking chances). We’re not going back to generic diaper cream… at this point we have about a year’s supply of all the good stuff.

Next time your kid has killer diaper rash, skip all the other crap and head straight for the anti-acid aisle. The Maalox cream is LEGIT!

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Baby Purees: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. (A step-by-step guide)

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The decision to personally prepare all of Carter’s first baby purees was a classic result of my decision making algorithm. It also helped that Blake was completely on-board and took it upon himself to prepare the purees the first few times… after he realized there was a “bad and ugly” part to the process he was less enthusiastic and resigned as her personal puree chef.

Blake prepared and packaged all of Carter’s first “Level 1” purees. These purees include just one ingredient and can easily be packaged into convenient 2 oz. containers.

Level 1 Baby Purees (Step-by-Simple-Step)

Step 1: Pick a few “Level 1” foods (ex. bananas, sweet potatoes, pears, etc.)

Step 2: Steam/puree the food (we used a Baby Bullet which came with a convenient guide and provided “recipes” – basically the recipe details the amount of water that needs to be added to make the fruit or vegetable into a puree… if you don’t have a Baby Bullet you can guess and check – it’s not rocket science).

Step 3: Pour puree into a 2 oz container (available at any baby store or walmart/target).

Step 4: Refrigerate or freeze puree depending on how soon you will be using it.

Simple, right? Yes! Blake prepared all of these Level 1 foods like a champ and all was good.

Then “Level 2” foods came along. While there are specific additional foods that are recommended as babies get older, the goal here is to start mixing flavors and developing a “mature pallet.” Literally, I read about this “mature pallet” thing on multiple blogs. Yall, I didn’t have a “mature pallet” until like 2 years ago – I basically survived on chicken nuggets and mac&cheese until I was in my mid-20s even though I’m sure my parents fed me fruits and vegetables as a baby.

But I was committed to making all of Carter’s baby food – it’s cheaper, makes me feel like a good parent, blah, blah, blah, so I pushed forward. Prepping, mixing and packaging 6-8 month purees is a process. I officially found “The Bad” and “The Ugly” in making baby purees (although those “finds” may have everything to do with still being a sleep-deprived, hormonal new mother and less to do with it actually being a frustrating/time-consuming process) but still.

Level 2 Baby Purees (Step-by-Step)

Step 1: With Level 2 purees the first thing to do is determine what type of mixtures you would like to try. Since this step involved decision-making, it was hard for me. Here are a few purees that are Carter approved:

  • Broccoli/Apple
  • Carrot/Mango/Apple
  • Chicken/Avocado/Butternut Squash
  • Peas/Pears/Banana
  • Zucchini/Banana
  • Turkey/Apple
  • Chicken/Sweet Potato
  • Green Beans/Apple

General rule of thumb: When in doubt, mix with apples. Carter also loves bananas so we mixed in those with anything she wouldn’t eat.

This makes the work worth it.

Carter enjoying bananas and tolerating peas and pears.

 

Step 2: Next, buy all ingredients. Theoretically you could decide on proportions for your mixtures ahead of time and buy the appropriate amount of each food but that makes far too much sense. I just eyed the contents of my cart as I shopped and thought “yeah, that’ll work!” (I was still enthusiastic about my homemade food at that point).

Step 3: Peel, steam and puree all ingredients. Here is where I grossly underestimated the amount of time this would take. I highly recommend you invest in a heavy duty peeler. Also worth noting – when pureeing, give the Baby Bullet breaks… it will overheat and it will break down…. if you happen to have a Ninja blender I suggest using that for the entire process.

Literally took half a day to peel and steam everything.

Peeling for days.

I would eat apples everyday if they were chopped like this.

Ready to steam.

It looks pretty.

The puree food triangle.


Step 3.5:
Take a break and do some yoga or mind relaxation techniques. I skipped this step which is why you see empty beer bottles in the pictures below.

Step 4: If you skipped Step 3.5, you are probably over the whole process and want to curse the Baby Bullet book that incorrectly states “Make a week’s worth of meals in 5 minutes.” WRONG. But at this point, your best bet is to push through… it’s for the baby, you are saving money (tell yourself what you have to). Step 4 is packaging.

At this point, we decided to package the food in convenient squeeze packs using this Infantino Squeeze Station. Convenient in that, once made, we can simply pull a “fruit,” “vegetable,” and “protein” squeeze pack to pack in Carter’s lunchbox and she will be set for the day. The actual packaging process is not convenient at all. Here’s what you will need: a bowl to combine your mixtures, a washcloth to clean the spatters as you push the puree into the bag, a chopstick to unclog the contraption when tiny bits get stuck, a beverage of your choice to help you cope, a filter for the 4 letter words that may fly from you mouth every time the contraption gets clogged.

Basically, you combine your mixture and then pour or spoon the mixture into holding stations which are attached to 4 ounce plastic baggies. You then use the ramming rod (my term, not theirs) to push the puree through the holding tubes into the bags. Then cap and label the bags. Often times, the blender doesn’t do its job and small bits of apple or carrot clog the process – at this point, it is as if the world is working against you and you have no choice but to drink an adult beverage. (Helpful hint from Jen, my sister and master puree-er – use a slotted spoon to catch these bastard chunks before they clog up your process… I should listen to her more often.)

The Squeeze Station.

The Squeeze Station.

Step 5: Put everything in the freezer. Well done. Well done.

The finished product.

The finished product.

So, there you have it. If you choose to make your own purees – Bravo! If you would rather pay for someone else to do the work and fork over the cash, hey- I’m not judging.

*Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is based on scientific evidence or research. We supplemented home made purees with Gerber Oatmeal and added in yogurt when she reached 7 months. Now she eats finger foods like Cheerios, Goldfish, Cheese, etc…. so clearly we aren’t sticklers for organic and home-made… my decision scale balances though.

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