How to Feed The Whole Family Without Going Crazy {An Integrated First Foods List for TLB’s Infant Feeding Guide}

It’s dinner time. This might be the most dreaded and simultaneously anticipated hour of the entire day. What we often see happening in our heads is not always the reality of our experience, though.

Candlestick Table

Fantasy: A beautiful table setting. Children, clean, happy, patient, and compliant as parents bring in the food and set it on the impeccable table. Laughter ensues as you dish up tonight’s yummy food that you worked hard to shop for, plan, and create. It’s cooked to perfection, and your family takes turns sharing they highlights of their day, make appropriate jokes, and they eat everything without complaint, including your charming, little babe. You stare across the table at your partner with twinkles in your eyes and share a satisfied, knowing half-smile. Because nothing says foreplay like a good meal.

After the family works harmoniously and efficiently to clean the dishes, put away leftovers, and tidy up the kitchen, you all relax with a small dish of ice cream and nobody asks for seconds. It’s perfect.

Reality: After spending two hours in the kitchen assembling 3 different dinners to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs, you push homework and bills and a random assortment of household clutter that has mysteriously accumulated on your table during the last 12 hours over to the far corner where you artfully ignore it’s presence as you coax your children to eat amidst their complaining, your scolding, and eventually all-out bribery. Your baby throws everything on the floor, but not before nailing you in the face with home-made organic butternut squash puree. You and your partner are too consumed with the dinner activity to actually eat much, and after precariously re-arranging the refrigerator to accommodate nearly three full meals’ worth of food and haphazardly doing the dishes with a baby on your hip, you just call it a day, pass a package of bunny grahms around, and (miraculously) get the kids to bed.

You and your partner eat ice cream straight from the carton, feeling defeated but also relieved you made it through another day. You watch an episode of whatever series you’ve been trying to get through for months, and fall into bed with a high five before passing out from pure exhaustion. Maybe tomorrow things will go a little better, but who cares because you’re already asleep. For now.

I can’t always reconcile the Fantasy v. Reality dinner situation. I try, though. One of the ways I shorten the gap is by making a few meals a week that I know everyone can (and will) eat, including the wee ones. Here are some family dinner ideas that will satisfy everyone, and will be appropriate for all ages, even the babies who are just starting their life-long solid food experience.

Creamy Polenta with RaguPolenta Ragu

This is an easy dish that makes excellent leftovers. Polenta is easy to eat, doesn’t require teeth, and you get a full serving of veggies along with varied textures in each flavorful bite. This is a base recipe, but you can tweak it to please your family.





Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna Photo of Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

This is another one-dish meal that is easy for all ages to eat and appreciate. By substituting noodles with zucchini, you’re upping the veggie factor. Goat cheese can often be easier to digest than cow’s cheese, so this is great for those with sensitive tummies.





Perfect Chicken SoupPerfectChickenSoup

Soup is fun for little ones, even if it tends to be a bit messy. Fishing out chunks of chicken, veggies and noodles while splashing and tasting the broth is a great food experience. It’s yummy for everyone else, too.





Cauliflower Fried “Rice” CauliflowerRiceCorner

This veggie-based dish is quick to prep and has something for everyone. It’s easy to customize for your picky eaters, and your baby can enjoy eating this independently or with a little help from mom or dad.






Tortialla Soup paleo tortilla soup avocado bone broth

This is another great food experience for your little one, and you can get creative with toppings. It’s one of my family’s favorites, and full of healthy fats! If you aren’t up for letting your baby bask in soup, you can let them play with chunks of avocado, chicken, tomato, and cheese.





FrittataQuarterView Garden Vegetable Frittata

Frittatas are so easy, and ideal for busy families. A frittata takes 20 minutes to prepare and makes excellent leftovers for breakfast or brinner.






Hemp Crusted Zucchini Sticks EZucchini

This is my toddler’s favorite dish. I love it because they’re so healthy and he can share with his younger friends.







Brown-Butter Sage Spaghetti Squash SpaghettiSquash

This is an easy prep with a high satisfaction factor. With simple ingredients, this works well as a side or as an independent dish. This is ideal for trying solids!






Almond Joy Barscoconut bars

These are soft and easy to chew, but everyone will love them as a snack or treat after dinner. I often eat these for breakfast, but don’t tell my kid!






Quinoa Fritters

Quinoa Fritters with Honey Butter 

My family is stoked when I make these. I love cooking with quinoa because it has so many more nutrients and has a fair amount of protein. Many kids (and adults) with food allergies and grain intolerances handle quinoa very well. With the easy-to-grasp shape, these fritters are ideal for baby-led weaning or eating with some help from an adult. You can whip up a batch in a hurry, and serve with a side of bacon or some leftover frittata.



I can’t promise you’ll have your fantasy family dinner with these dishes, but hopefully it will make dinner a little less hectic and please everyone, especially your littlest eaters.  And if all else fails, there’s always milk.

You’ve got this.



Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (Paleo, Vegan)

PUmpkin Bread2

This is your obligatory fall pumpkin post.

And it’s freaking amazing.

Now, I have to be very honest with you. (What, like I would lie to you otherwise?! Being (too) honest is part of the fun.) I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin.  I’m really not a huge fan of pumpkin spice.  I find that I’m really happy with one gluten-free pumpkin treat a year.  I’ll eat the pumpkin pie if that’s my only option at Thanksgiving.  I’ll throw pumpkin cheesecake a bone, too, because that is legitimately the best thing about Fall.

But pumpkin flavored soda or pumpkin spice toothpaste or any other number of Things That Should Never Be Pumpkin are just not doing any of us any favors. Even so, I get it.  It’s a craze. It’s fun. And people enjoy the feelings of Fall, and all things associated with this beautiful season. Even if it’s still 90 degrees most days, I GET IT.

So, I want you to have as much fall as you can handle.  Baby Zeus knows we will all struggle with sad winter feelings come January, which is why I’ve created lots of pumpkin-y things in my kitchen this month.  Even though it’s been 90 degrees here in the PNW all September and in the 80’s in October, and we don’t have central air conditioning and I don’t like pumpkin much.  It’s okay. That run-on sentence made me feel better, just like pumpkin treats make you feel better.


Also, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to tasty desserts so I endeavor to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.  This only means GOOD THINGS for you, my friends.  Easy, mind-blowingly good things.


  • 1 16 oz jar unsalted almond butter (Raw is best, but roasted works, too.)
  • 3 large eggs, or 3 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp natural sea salt (I prefer kosher style)


  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs (or flax mixture), almond butter, pumpkin, vanilla extract and honey.  Stir well.
  2. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Combine thoroughly. (You can use a mixer, but I prefer using a sturdy spatula.)
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon batter into a greased bread pan. (I prefer to split it up between 2-3 small loaf pans.)
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-65 minutes, depending on your oven and size of pans.
  6. Remove from oven and transfer to a baking rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.  The cooler the bread, the better removal will go.  Because there is no gluten, it might crumble if removed too soon.

Pumpkin Bread

So, let’s have fun with this, okay? Mix it up.  Change out the chocolate chips.

Try butterscotch chips.

Try nuts.

Try maple glaze.

Try bacon.

Try Junior Mints.

Just kidding,  Junior Mints would be freaking disgusting.Make your pumpkin dreams come true.

PSL Forevah,

Easy Vegetable Coconut Curry {Vegan, Paleo}

VegetableCoconutCurryWHO HAS TIME FOR HARD SH*T?!

Well, not me.  Especially not when it comes to food.  When you have a super special custom eater for a toddler and you can’t handle grains, things get a little dicy.

So, I want to make easy things.  And if it’s healthy, even better.  Because you know what should be easy? Eating.  In this day and age, eating should be the easiest thing we do.  So, I’m on a campaign to make easy, healthy food that doesn’t require magic or rare ingredients from exotic places like Whole Foods.  Just real food, you guys.  Foods that nourish and feed your belly and give our bodies energy and the builidng blocks it needs to function well.

I’m starting in the easiest way possible: Frozen vegetables, with a side of canned coconut milk and a bit of hot curry powder.


  • 1 12 bag of frozen vegetables (I like cauliflower, or something with cauliflower in it because of texture)
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp (more for spicy, less for not) hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  1. In a medium or small saucepan, dump the bag of frozen veggies, coconut milk, and spices.  Heat on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook longer if you want to saturate the veggies with the curry flavor.
  2. Eat it.

Optional edit: You can pour this over rice or quinoa.  This feeds one person in my house without the rice, and sometimes even with the rice because when it comes to veggies, we don’t edit ourselves. I also like to sprinkle some fresh chopped cilantro on top of it for a bright contrast to the creamy deliciousness of the curry.

Keep It Easy,


Creamy Polenta Ragu {Vegan and Gluten-Free}

Polenta RaguI have these neighbors. We will call them Wilfredo and Valentina, because those are their actual names. Cool, right? Well, they ARE cool and totally live up to those epic names. They moved in downstairs about eight months ago from New Jersey and we have become close friends. So close, in fact, that my two year old son, E, feels totally comfortable opening their front door and walking right in to say hello at any hour of the day.  (Yeah, we’re working on the whole concept of knocking.)

Wilfredo and Valentina are both avid athletes. It’s not uncommon to see them sprinting up and down the steep hill in front of our building, or doing interval training in the parking lot at dawn. And rain or shine, Wilfredo is running his heart out, getting ready to run UltraMarathon races,  and Valentina is probably completing a 50 mile bike ride as part of her triathlon training before heading off to work.  They have a serious love for activity, the outdoors, and competition.

They’re also VEGAN.

Now, we eat many animal products in our house. We eat plenty of veggies and fruits, too. But we are decidedly not vegan.

Our tribe here has expanded to enfold Wilfredo and Valentina into our hearts. We want to fully integrate them into our little community and become a safe place for these New Jersey transplants.

But here’s the thing: I love them. I love them BIG. They love my kid fiercely and he loves them fiercely right back. My love language is food. So, in order to share our table with them, I’ve been experimenting with dishes outside of my normal food repertoire.

But here’s another thing: Every single person in our tribe has special food things. E takes the (gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, carrot-free) cake because of his FPIES, but he certainly is not the only one who needs special food. But nobody has excluded animal products entirely from their diets.

Until now.

So, when the tribe decided to do a vegan brunch a few weeks ago, I accepted this challenge with great excitement.  Because even though you will never see me sprinting up and down the hill for funsies, I do love a good challenge.  And if the challenge translates to a little food love, then even better.

Everyone can technically eat corn, including E. I typically try to avoid it, but it doesn’t make me feel like wheat does. I also wanted to do a homestyle dish that was still healthy and everyone could enjoy.  I began to dream about casseroles, baked dishes, and rich, flavorful sauces.

Creamy, hot polenta dishes started filling my mind. It’s easy to veganize polenta. So, I scoured the internet looking for recipe ideas. I hit a wall when I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for and started getting frustrated.

Then I remembered that I can cook. DUH.

I started extracting favorite elements from dishes that looked great. Easy enough. Then I got to work.

I discovered that making the polenta first and baking it for a bit gave it the perfect texture. Scoring it, and then topping it with a simple tomato and veggie mixture and putting it in the oven to bake longer made mouth magic.

I brought my finished polenta dish before our tribe. I know I can count on them to give me their honest feedback. They tasted. They went back for seconds. They lamented when it was over, especially Wilfredo and Valentina. Luckily, I made an extra dish of it just for them, and walked it downstairs after brunch was done. They were stoked.

This dish is the classic, simple-food-done-right, love-in-a-Pyrex pan taste of comfort every person needs in their life. Probably right now.

You can make your own variations by using what you have on hand. THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE VEGAN. But then again, you can’t share it with your awesome vegan neighbors if it’s not. So, prepare wisely.

Ingredients for Polenta:

  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • 4 cups unsweetened, unflavored hemp milk (or regular milk)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup Nutiva Shortening, or butter
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt

Ingredients for Ragu:

  • 1 jar crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch spinach or chard, chopped
  • 1-2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 4 leaves fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions for Polenta:

  1. Cook polenta according to instructions on package, subbing water for milk. Add additional water to thin it out. It should be a smooth, creamy texture, and easy to stir.
  2. Pour polenta into a large, greased casserole dish. Bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, and score with a sharp knife into 1-2 inch squares, but do not remove from the dish.

Instructions for Ragu:

(Note: This is great to start while the polenta bakes in the oven.)

  1. Saute onion and garlic in oil, then add herbs, tomatoes, zucchini and sauce. Bring to a low boil.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in spinach or chard.
  3. Pour over polenta, and bake for 30 additional minutes, or until mixture is bubbling.
  4. Serve and eat immediately, or store for leftovers.

This freezes okay, but stays good in the refrigerator for a week. But the thing is, I don’t think it will last that long. This is comfort food at it’s very best.

Hug a vegan,

Are you interested in learning more about vegan eating and running?  Visit Wilfredo’s blog over at Eat, Run and Done.



Aioli Grilled Asparagus {Dairy Free}


Summer is almost over in the Pacific Northwest.  The uncharacteristically hot weather has been replaced with overcast skies, cooler temperatures and a sprinkling of rain.  Summer lovers are eeking out every ray of sunshine and late-afternoon warmth in preparation for a rainy autumn and winter ahead.

As for me, I’m eeking out every opportunity to utilize the grill before we are driven indoors.  I like the rain.  I like the cooler temps and deep greens and blues of the rainy season.  But I miss my grill.

I attempted many new recipes this summer, with many new ingredients.  Because cooking with fire is FUN.  Asparagus has been a favorite go-to for a summer veggie, and my new favorite asparagus recipe is simple, impressive, unusual and freaking tasty. All it takes is a bunch of asparagus, a little mayo and dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, cracked pepper, and you guessed it, a hot grill.

Don’t let a fancy words like “asparagus” and “aioli” fool you.  Asparagus is full of important vitamins that naturally boost energy and immunity. And as for aioli? It’s just mayonnaise with something added to alter the flavor profile.  For this recipe, I used mayonnaise in place of oil and it turned out superbly. It adds a complex flavor and richness that oil misses.  I am sure this will work in the oven, as well.  But, you know. Summer.


  • 1 lb of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt


  1. Combine all ingredients, except asparagus, in a small mixing bow. Call this “aioli”.
  2. Coat asparagus in aioli mixture.
  3. Place asparagus on hot grill and cook until asparagus is slightly tender, and the outer skin crisps up a bit.
  4. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and serve immediately.

If asparagus is your dish, you will fall in love with it and impress your friends and family at your Labor Day gathering this weekend.  Or at the very least, give them stinky pee.

I hope your Labor Day is filled with love,