Baby Friendly Cheese and Spinach Muffins

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It’s funny isn’t it?! How you have these preconceived ideas of how you are going to ‘parent’. Before falling pregnant I never really gave it much thought. I loved children, and thought ‘one day sure’. Of those around me who were already winning at parenting, I would observe from a far and think ‘that’s the way to do it’. However, almost immediately after seeing those two blue lines appear on that plastic stick I began to plan how I was going to raise my child. I researched. I ordered books. I followed mums on social media and read their blogs. I studied friends and their children. Over those nine months I made a mental list of the way I was going to do things and that was that.

Roll on to nine months into being a Mama, and oh how I laugh at that list. Parenting is about survival. Getting through as best you can (with the odd *cough* glass of NZ Sauvignon Blanc thrown in for medicinal purposes and dutch courage). You can follow my Instagram and Twitter feeds for snippets of what I call ‘no-frills’ parenting. I now have a new list. It’s the list of ‘things I never said I would do as a mother, but have done’. Because let’s face it, when you are sleep deprived, often covered in some body else bodily fluids and trying to juggle motherhood, work, trying to keep your standards of cleanliness at a sociably executable level… you gotta do, whatcha gotta do! As long as everyone is smiling, you are winning.

I will come back to the aforementioned list at another time. However, I briefly want to touch on ‘Baby-Led Weaning’. I encourage anyone to do the research on this topic and then decide for themselves how they are going to approach weaning their baby. We started Geoff on solids at around five months old, as per the advice of our Health Visitor, and by then he was absolutely ready*. What I soon discovered about Geoff was that he was unsure about feeding himself and so I opted for a mixed approach in regards to his feeding. At each meal I would offer him some soft food on a spoon, fed by me, followed by some finger foods. Giving him the option to explore textures and tastes and practice feeding himself. I believe it has also greatly improved his curiosity in feeding himself with a spoon, which can only be a good thing as I do not intend on having a child who refuses to eat with cutlery?!

I know some may be agahst at the idea of feeding purees after six months, as the baby-led school of thought is that at this age a baby if fully able to gnaw away at anything you would eat as an adult minus the additives such as sugar, salt etc etc (and its also a no-no to honey, whole nuts, undercooked egg and shellfish before one). But seriously, my child is NOT going to eat enough on his own, even now at nearly ten months old, unless we spent ALL day sat at the table allowing him to try and do so. We have a happy compromise, I think, and Geoff is definitely weaning himself off soft-spoon food, and feeding himself more and more by the day. I am happy, he is happy and he is nice and full and dropping his milk feeds as per his age group should.

On the baby-led side of things, it can get quite repetitive and boring serving up the same finger foods. I reckon Geoffers as often chucked my offerings on the floor not because he isn’t hungry but because he is sick and tired of cucumber, carrot, humus, cream cheese and the other easy go-to finger food options. A while ago a friend gifted us The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett and once I got over how it might be messy/hard/time-consuming baking (gahd!) with a baby whizzing about my feet in his baby-walker, I delved in. To my surprise the recipies are really easy, not that complicated and super delicious. Even Sam thought the muffins were tasty, which is GREAT as a happy and well-fed husband in our house skips off to change a nappy, or do the bath-time/bedtime routine when he gets in from work. Win.

I have tweaked this recipe ever so slightly as a whole teaspoon of Cayenne pepper was WAAAAAAY too much in my opinion (I feared explosive nappies).

Baby Cheese and Spinach Muffins

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Makes 10 regular-sized muffins (note: they aren’t as fluffy and cakey as normal muffins, and resemble more of a scone in my opinion).

oil or unsalted butter for frying and greasing

1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped

175g (6oz) plain flour

1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

a small pinch of cayenne pepper

1 egg

110ml (4fl oz) of milk (I use whole milk)

125g (4 1/2oz) grated cheese

60-75g (2-2 1/2oz) baby spinach leaves, washed and torn

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius or gas mark three. Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan, add onion and fry until soft, then lift out using a slotted spoon (to drain off the oil) and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cayenne pepper into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat the egg in a jug or bowl and add the milk, whisking them together, then pour the mixture into the flour and fold together.

Add the cheese, fried onion and spinach, and fold gently until evenly mixed, then spoon the mixture into the muffin tray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size), until golden brown and springy, then remove from the oven and allow to cool in the muffin try for a few minutes before turning out.

Geoffrey adored these muffins and found eating them really easy, despite still not having ANY teeth at nine months. I kept them in an air tight Kilner Jar and they stayed fresh for three days until they were all eaten. I should think they would also freeze pretty well, but didn’t have any to experiment with!!

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Don’t worry guys! Geoffrey hasn’t been stung by a bee or had an allergic reaction… his hand are just THAT CHUBBY!

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It’s been a few weeks since making the first batch (typically I couldn’t work out how to take the photos from my Sam’s camera until he showed me last night that the computer has a magic slot for the memory card. Duuuuuh!) we have experimented a bit and tried a version with no onion and red pepper instead. Equally as yummy and pretty (see above). A sprinkle of cheese on top also add another flavour and texture dimension. YUM!

M x

*I’ve seen some negative comments on social media focusing on this subject and often it’s parents bashing other parents for their choices on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. PLEASE guys, let’s keep our comments supportive and loving of one another. Behind the lens, and out of the digital bubble of social media who knows how a parent might be feeling or coping that day and let’s face it every child is different. Your rhetoric and opinions might come from a place of concern, but think twice about posting just incase.
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