What Mackenzie Eats

I’m sure the title of this post drove the majority of my readers away, but for the curious, this is a quick update of my previous post about baby food.

It’s been three months and Mackenzie is a lot of fun to feed. She’s very expressive as she tries new foods and new textures, and we’re both learning as we go.

So far, no purchased baby food. So far, she’s been a whole plant food baby (no meat or dairy, or anything refined like white flour, sugar, etc.). She’s now nearly 11 months old and nursing 3 times during the day and sometimes once in the middle of the night. She drinks water from a cup during mealtimes (not a sippy cup, we hold it for her).

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • I feed her new stuff and hard-to-love stuff (like straight veggies) when she’s most hungry. At the beginning of a meal, quite a bit goes down the hatch before she gets remotely picky.
  • I keep exposing her to food she’s not thrilled about. She comes around after a while.
  • Near the end of the meal, I break out one of her favorite foods so I know she ends with a fully belly. Right now, the closers are usually grapes, applesauce, banana, or squash.
  • I insist on some things being fed by my fingers, or from a spoon, and she’s gotten used to that. (I don’t want to limit her food choices to just finger foods.) I try and include a finger food with every meal, though, so she can keep her hands busy between mouthfuls from a spoon.
  • At least one meal a day I put an awesome IKEA bib on her and let her go to town with the messy and the squishy.
  • She is far more likely to try things she sees me eating. And, I never make her anything I wouldn’t eat myself, anyway. So it’s easy enough to pull up a spoon and show her how I take bites of it too.
  • She loves to feed me, and when she gives me a bite of something, she happily accepts a mouthful in return.

Here are some things she loves:

  • Big black grapes, cut up into 6 pieces with kitchen shears (hey, I don’t want to risk choking and it takes 2 seconds with sharp scissors)
  • steel cut oatmeal with some combination of: cut-in-half raisins, applesauce, cinnamon, squash, yam, apple cider, orange juice.
  • breakfast “smoothie” with 6 grain cereal soaked in unsweetened soymilk, and blended up with banana, flaxmeal, walnuts, and dates.
  • red bell pepper, cut into little pieces
  • A “baby” version of whatever I make for us. Example: I made spinach and potato curry and I only added half the curry powder initially. I removed a bowl of it for Mackenzie when it was done, then added the other half of the curry powder and cooked 5 more minutes for me and Scott. I cut up her potato and carrot chunks smaller and she happily ate them along with the spinach.
  • Black beans. Just plain. She loves ’em!
  • “Green machine” – This is the only thing I still freeze in cubes. I take bags of frozen green beans, broccoli, peas, corn, carrots, spinach (pretty much whatever I have, but I try to do 2 parts power-packed to one part weak-sauce) and I microwave them, then food process until they are slightly chunky. Then I freeze into cubes and she’ll eat a couple of cubes at the beginning of a meal, no problem. (Power-packed: broccoli, green beans, spinach. Weak-sauce to make it palatable: Peas, corn, carrots)
  • Green smoothies – They’re usually brown, actually, and she doesn’t care. πŸ™‚ Fresh fruit, water or unsweetened soymilk, spinach, and frozen berries. I try to go easy on frozen berries because she has gums that are sensitive to the cold.
  • Whole grain goodness – My homemade bread, homemade pancakes, Trader Joe’s pita, Trader Joe’s tortillas, homemade chapaties (just whole wheat flour, water and salt, rolled thin like a pancake and cooked in a dry frying pan), or Trader Joe’s pasta.
  • She often eats our soup, using “whole grain goodness” as a vehicle. We soak it into the bread chunks, or pile it on top of a bit of pita. Even just floating a toasted O on a spoonful of soup makes it immediately more exciting for her.
  • Grapefruit. I peel it and she loves it.

A few word about my goals

  1. To have Mackenzie eat and enjoy nutritious food.
  2. To create a good environment for mealtime. No arguing, battle of wills, or disrespect for food by wasting it/throwing it, etc.
  3. To create habits that are sustainable when we have a larger family (we want lots of kids). I don’t want to be a short-order chef, making food differently for each child.

To that end, some thoughts:
– “You eat what the family eats, within reason”. Sure, you may not love mushrooms. So eat a few and pick out the rest to give to your dad (hey, that’s what I do!). But, no peanut butter and jelly sandwich when the family is having something else.

– I try and be sensitive to Mackenzie by making foods the right temperature for her, not too spicy, and giving her loved foods in addition to new stuff, but at the end of the day, she needs to eat what I have planned for meals.

– Kids won’t starve to death. They just won’t. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it. Patience, and persistence, and continually offering them things they don’t love at first will pay off (at least it has in my limited experience). It’s a life skill to eat and enjoy a variety of healthy foods.

– I go by the rule that parents decide “when” and “what” and kids decide “how much”. Mackenzie’s appetite fluctuates a lot, so I try to watch her so I know when she’s all done, or still hungry. Sometimes this means I have to scramble to find more food for her, and sometimes it means the last two bites are finished off by yours truly.

– “What if she becomes picky?” – Well, I know she won’t be begging for chicken nuggets, because we won’t have them! Worse case scenario, she wants to eat grapes instead of broccoli. So, a few bites of broccoli, and then all the grapes she could want. Hey, if the only options are healthy… it’ll all work out in the end.

– I try and get approximately equal fruit and veggies into her, with whole grains and beans/lentils as a bonus. This is just out of consideration for her digestive system. If I let her go down on too much squash, without some fruit in the meal… I’m afraid she won’t be loving life afterwards. She doesn’t yet “get” the consequences of over-doing certain categories of foods, so I try to mix things up for her a bit.

– Kids need lots of healthy fats, so I try and get avocado, sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, etc. into Mackenzie when I can. Although she (and we) eat healthy food, we’re by no means trying to restrict her fat or calorie intake. (In case you were worried.)

Yet to figure out…

– Supplements. Mackenzie won’t get much meat and dairy in her diet, and we just don’t do many (any?) fortified foods. So she’ll need a good source of B-12. We’ll probably end up with fortified unsweetened soymilk, or just B-12 drops.

– Protein. No wait, that one is just fine. πŸ˜‰ It’s a common one we get asked, though, so I’ll address it here. Every single thing we feed Mackenzie has protein in it. All whole plant foods do, and if you give a reasonable variety, protein deficiency is impossible.

– Fluids. I know she doesn’t need cow’s milk ever. The whole “three glasses a day for healthy bones” rhetoric is bogus. She’ll get plenty of calcium and protein from other sources and I’ve yet to hear of anything else redeeming about cow’s milk. However, I do want her to get plenty of calories without resorting to commercial (read: nutritionally devoid) fruit juice. I anticipate that after she weans, we’ll do unsweetened soymilk with dinner, smoothies when we have them, and water on demand.

Have more food ideas? Questions? Please leave them in the comments.


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Kids, Life as we know it. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What Mackenzie Eats

  1. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    so don’t they need whole milk after 1 year for the fat content?? for brain development? is soy milk enough…where will the fat come from..nuts etc?


  2. beanland says:

    @Lisa: I’m glad you asked, because that’s a really common idea.

    My first thought was “Think of all the millions of children in the world historically, and today, who don’t have access to cow’s milk, or who simply don’t drink it and are just fine.” For example, kids in Asia. Last time I checked, they aren’t hurting on brain development and since most (all?) are lactose-intolerant, drinking cow’s milk isn’t high on their list.

    My second thought was “I’d better get some good sources to back up my ideas.” πŸ™‚

    So here’s one from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in response to the new WIC guidelines (government assistance in buying food for at-risk babies and mothers in the US):

    “In the case of children age 1 to 4 years, the AAP urges the USDA to remove the requirement for medical documentation to allow the substitution of soy milk or tofu for milk products. The medical literature does not support any contention that soy milk or tofu are inappropriate substitutes for cow’s milk for children in this age group. Families should be permitted to choose these alternatives freely, not only on the basis of medical concerns. ”

    Also, regarding the need of so much fat for brain development, the latest report that the AAP is using (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/122/1/198) concluded that any children “at risk of overweight” after 12 months should drink low-fat milk instead of whole milk and that all children should switch to fat-free milk starting at age 2. To me, that says all the fat in whole milk is NOT necessary and may actually contribute to early cholesterol problems.

    We’re obviously not worried about Mackenzie being overweight, but I do question the accepted practice of giving cow’s milk liberally to all toddlers. What happened to the poor toddlers born 100 years ago who didn’t have ready access to cow’s milk? Ack! πŸ˜‰

    It is scary how good the marketing by the dairy council is.


  3. Liz says:

    Very thorough post! Have you given her any more nuts since that last (possibly rashy) episode?

    I started giving the twins and Audoo nut butters pretty early – around 9 months. They *love* PB&J’s on sprouted Ezekiel bread and have been known to spoon PB into their mouths. Yay for healthy fat and protein. πŸ™‚

    They also *love* hummus – making it homemade (as I’m sure you know :)) is a cinch with our Vitamix and it’s nice because you can blend in a bunch of extra goodies – sunflower seeds, flax…

    Btw, I found a soymilk that seems to be working well for us now – I wanted something without carageenan, but that was fortified and was less “watered down” (and as a result higher in protein) than most soymilk brands. It’s called Edensoy Extra Unsweetened Original. Fuhrman recommends blending up almonds & sunflower seeds with it and feeding it to 12-18 month olds (if not BF’ing). I tried it with Audoo and it was a no-go. I admit it was quite chalky tasting. I need to play with the ratios. πŸ™‚



  4. Julia Graden says:

    Annie, Hi. I’m Kristin and Nancy’s friends. I really enjoyed reading about what you feed Mackenzie and how you’ve chosen to fuel your bodies. I wondered if you ever use Rice Milk rather than Soy. I used to use Soy but found some studies show that too much actually can be a bit harmful, and it is more gassy, doesn’t last as long. I’ve used Rice Milk for years now and love how it makes me feel. Thanks for all the tips. It gives me great ideas for setting some goals for the new year. Julia


  5. Maya says:

    What is your philosophy about “hiding” healthy foods into less healthy foods to fortify them (like pureed carrots in mac and cheese or spinach in brownies)?


  6. Angie says:

    Great post. I am attempting to feed Kathryn solids, but she just isn’t interested yet. I used to let my kids eat whenever and whatever (of course only healthy options) they wanted. I have learned that I need to control the ‘whenever’ part more. I am glad you are starting out with that. Thanks so much for posting on this. I really wish I had started our kids out on rice milk..which I like better than soy. Andrew loves it, but not Olivia. Kathryn will for sure be getting this instead. Happy Thanksgiving!!


  7. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    yeah, that makes sense. i still drink more cow milk than soy, just cause i love cow milk. i’ll have to try harder with nolan to get him to eat better. that’s a good tip about giving them the new veggies when they are most hungry.


  8. Wow! You’re an amazing mom with a beautiful family. I loved reading this post… gobbling up each and every word.

    Cheers and Happy Holidays,


  9. beanland says:


    I no longer think the rash was nut-related. She’s had it three times after eating, kinda randomly. Here’s a photo of the last time: http://beanland.smugmug.com/gallery/6677692_BHyic#426283362_DbfYs-A-LB.

    I still need to conquer homemade hummus (and other bean dips). Those will be great to give M as well.

    After reading the comments on this post, I’m going to look into making our own drink for M, if we find she needs extra calories. It’ll most likely be almond-based with maybe some seeds and dates thrown in. Stay tuned…

    @Julia: Rice milk is definitely an option. It doesn’t have the fat or fiber or protein of soymilk, as it’s mainly carbohydrates. It’s a fine source of calories but doesn’t serve that fat niche I’m concerned about for toddlers. It might be something to consider for me and Scott though!


  10. beanland says:

    @Maya: Good question. I have no problem with “fortifying” food by adding veggies or nuts or whatever to it. For example, I regularly put spinach in “fruit” smoothies. Why not if it tastes great? πŸ™‚

    However, I definitely want my kids to be friendly with veggies. Healthy food will be a part of every meal, so I think consistently hiding it won’t do any of us any favors. I can see how that would be a good way to introduce older kids to healthier tastes, or to improve a diet if your child is going through a picky phase. For example, if she hardly touches the greens on the plate and devours spaghetti, I could definitely see putting some leafy greens in the spaghetti stuff so she’s getting a better variety of nutrition when she eats it.


  11. debbers says:

    Wow! Great post, Anne! Where were you when I was a new mom? I wish I had started this when Andrew was little; starting when they’re mostly grown is a lot harder. You’re a terrific mom!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s