I really, really, reaaaaally don’t like buying prepackaged, processed snacks for the boys. It’s a standard I set for myself a while back, when boy #1 was in my belly. I just didn’t want to feed them unnecessary ingredients and support “easy” snacking. Let me explain…
This standard comes from many, many years of snacking out of boredom: I’ve yo-yo’d with weight, seen negative emotional tolls, and genuinely struggled to identify when I’m actually hungry. I am trying all the time to become more conscious about what I’m eating. And, as I go through week 7 of a low-FODMAP diet (as directed by the GI doctor), it’s become so much more manageable because eating by these rules is so hard. It’s hard despite the fact that I’ve eaten Paleo-ish for well over 5 years now and completed multiple Whole30s. It’s hard because we have other dietary restrictions in the house, which makes my possible grocery items list even shorter. And it’s hard because I just want to eat all the whole, real foods out there! It just doesn’t make sense in my brain most of the time. So, because it’s so hard to buy for and find things to eat under these restrictions, I have the freedom to focus on whether or not I’m really hungry at the time (glass half full, right?).
Now, outside of my own food battles, boy #1 is currently going through his own growth in food consciousness. Right now, he’s eating all the time. I think it’s part growth spurt, part boredom, part fascination with foods. He is a fantastic eater, my Paleo toddler. But, the older he gets the more aware he becomes of my return from the grocery store and what that means: new/more food in the house. Score! It’s like he’s won the lottery and wants to spend it all. He wants to try every item that comes home, especially if it’s in a bag. I do purchase things like popcorn, gluten free pretzels and Kind Pressed snack bars, because there is a time and a place for easy, portable snacks. But, it’s his reaction to those that reminds exactly why I try to make most things at home: he’s enamored. They’re too easy, too glowy…there’s little thought behind whether he actually needs them in his stomach or not. I know, I know. I’m really neurotic about this. But, knowing my struggles and the physical struggles his younger brother has with eating, I want to set him up for Food Freedom and true food consciousness. He deserves that!
Enter: homemade puffs. I’ve worked tirelessly on this recipe, which I modified from another I found on line. I modified it because I needed it to be perfect for the baby, who needs specific textures for eating practice, and because I didn’t want to use baby cereal. I’ve baked them a million times (it feels like), with different ingredients and at so many different temperatures. And, FINALLY! They’re exactly where I want them to be! Luckily, if you’re not looking for a very specific texture, you are able to swap out the fruit puree for really any type of fruit and you can adjust the baking time as needed, if you’d like a crunchier snack. These bake with a tough outside, but soft middle, and allow for biting practice without the alarm of a too-hard chunk of food for a younger child. I will say, they do not dissolve like a store-bought, gluten-y puff or cracker. But, they work perfectly for us.
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1 flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed, mixed with 2.5 tbsp water; allow to sit for 5 minutes)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 oz pureed fruit or vegetables
- 4 tbsp liquid (water, milk, breastmilk, lemon/lime juice, etc.)
- 1 tbsp oil (coconut, avocado, olive)
Set the oven to 350*F. Make your flaxseed egg and allow it to sit while you combine the other ingredients. Blend all of the ingredients together until combined (it should be thick). Pour into a piping bag or sandwich baggie (cut a hole in the corner to pipe through) and pipe onto parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes at 350*F and then lower the oven temperature to 170*F. Bake for 10 more minutes or until desired hardness. (See notes)
- I like to use half mango/banana for the 4 oz of fruit/vegetables, and 1 tbsp lime juice/3 tbsp water or other liquid. Very tropical!
- I use my immersion blender stick to mix the ingredients, because it allows the final product to be more crumbly when bitten. If you don’t care about the texture, use any type of blender.
- I bake circular puffs and longer sticks (see photo), so that the toddler and baby have two separate shapes. The baby practices biting through the sticks, while the toddler is able to eat the puffs independently.
- If you are baking sticks, flip the sticks at 5 minutes when you lower the temperature to 170*F.
- To help shape the sticks, accordion your parchment paper so that it acts like a baguette pan (see photo).