Whether friends with kids or new parents I meet, I am often asked the same questions: What do I feed Audrey? What does it mean to feed her a well-balanced diet? And how do I figure out what I am going to cook for her? The answer is long, but not complex.
I feed Audrey like I feed my husband and myself. I have always been a big advocate for one list of ingredients with variations based on whom the dish is for. If everything I made for Audrey were completely separate from what we ate I would drive myself nuts coming up with ideas and grocery shopping lists. My advice, do not let feeding a child take on a life of it’s own. If you’re making your infant a simple roasted parmesan broccoli, make broccoli and spicy Italian sausage pasta for yourself. If you’re making a peach, mozzarella and arugula salad for yourself, make pureed peaches with cinnamon for your little one. You get the idea. Keep it all within the same family.
I try to keep Audrey’s food as seasonal as possible. Meals in the summer include lighter, cooling foods such as watermelon, fresh corn, and sweet tomatoes. The winter calls for warmer, bulkier foods such as roasted acorn squash, apples and parsnips. Everyday I include a variety of color as well – bright red strawberries, dark leafy greens, yellow summer squash, deep purple plums, etc.…
Her food is healthy. I make all of Audrey’s food from scratch using natural ingredients. I avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates and I don’t buy pre-packaged foods. If a food has an ingredient I can’t pronounce, she’s not eating it and neither are we. That being said, pizza if we’re out with friends, an ice-cream at the beach, or a cupcake at a birthday party are all fantastic. I would never deny her the pleasures of such celebrations, but when we are home, we eat healthy. Period.
I make sure Audrey has a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates each day. I wouldn’t give her 3 meat-heavy meals a day nor would I give her 3 carb-heavy meals a day. And by carb-heavy I mean bread and pasta as the highlight of each meal. Breakfasts are often yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, oatmeal, chia pudding or scrambled eggs. Lunch may be a grain salad, zucchini pancakes, a veggie burger or rice with beans. Dinner is often lean protein such as white meat chicken and turkey, low-mercury sustainable fish such as salmon, sole or flounder and high-quality grass-fed beef – always served with vegetables. Turkey meatballs with cauliflower mash are a favorite as is roasted salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Snacks are fresh fruit, cheese, or steamed veggies with dips such as hummus, tahini, or guacamole. I’m not militaristic about all of the above – I’m just mindful of the balance throughout the day. The most important part, I feed Audrey the way I would want to eat. I feed her breakfast foods when it’s breakfast time and dinner foods when it’s evening. I feed her like a person with real taste buds, not a baby without any. The texture, salt and spice content may be different, but the concept is not.
At the end of the day, these are all just my opinions. I don’t judge, I don’t expect everyone to feed their children the way I do, and I completely understand that every situation is different. I am a chef with time to cook. I love being in the kitchen and I find great pleasure coming up with new and exciting ways to feed my family. So it’s very easy for me to have many of the opinions that I do. I only hope I can offer inspiration and ideas. And if you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve given you a few.