When I first started to think about feeding Keira (feeding her something other than milk, that is), I had this lovely picture in my mind of what mealtimes would look like. I imagined Jeff, Keira and I hanging out in the kitchen with the garden doors swung wide open to let the fresh air in; me dorkily singing along to some good tunes on the stereo as Jeff and I chopped and prepped (I can rarely resist singing along to good music); and over time, Keira developing a greater and greater interest in food, cooking, and health. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but when I really let my mind wander I sometimes even pictured her as a 12 year old foodie entering a Junior Masterchef competition (sorry Keira, no pressure!).
A major part of this mealtime vision (aside from developing our budding chef) was that we would prepare a single meal that both little Keira and we could enjoy, rather than always preparing separate ‘baby’ meals and ‘grown up’ meals. There are many reasons I wanted to start a family meal tradition with Keira from the very beginning:
- Making baby-friendly meals means cooking with no added salt, sugar or other junk, and using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible – which we can all benefit from
- Sitting down to eat together is much easier when all of the food is ready at the same time
- It’s always less work to make one meal than to make two
One other benefit that I appear to have grossly underestimated when we started our journey of feeding Keira, was that there would come a time when she was more interested in eating what was on our plates than what was on her own. This is a stage we recently entered, and when she’s in the mood she’ll even refuse to eat off her own spoon but will gladly eat off my ‘grown up’ one. This is one thing if the food on each plate is exactly the same, but it would be a whole different thing if mom and dad’s plates were full of fried, processed, salty, or otherwise bad-for-baby food!
One of our absolute favourite family meals these days is Jillian’s apple pancakes. As Canadians, we have been making pancakes for about as long as we have been cooking, although usually just as a vessel for a good lug of maple syrup. But no word of a lie, these apple pancakes are the best I have ever made. And they don’t even need a drop of syrup. Fresh out of the pan, without a lick of butter or syrup, is how Keira and I enjoy them nearly every weekend. Jeff, on the other hand, still sneaks a bit of that maple goodness on the plate when Miss Keen Eyes isn’t looking.