These tasty, tasty raw snack bars take very little time to whizz up in the food processor and are excellent for snacks. They’re a sort of knock-off of those Nakd bars and can be tweaked to suit your flavour preferences.
200g dates (the fancy ones in the trays give you the best texture but the cheaper ones in the bags work just as well, plus you won’t need to stone them yourself!)
Handful of raisins
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional: 1 tsp orange extract
Tip the cashews into the blender and give a few pulses to get them started.
Add the dates, raisins, cashews, cocoa powder and orange extract, if using, and process until the nuts are finely distributed and the mix clumps together. This will take a good few minutes, so do it in bursts to protect the motor and be patient – it will happen!
Line a square/rectangular container with cling film, tip the mixture in and press flat to approximately 2cm depth. Chill in the fridge for at least half and hour, then you can remove the container and keep wrapped in the fridge, or slice into bars and wrap individually in baking paper or cling film.
Try adding a handful of desiccated coconut or banana chips
Swap out the cashews for almonds and add dried or morello cherries instead of raisins for a Bakewell tart flavour
Leave out the cocoa powder and orange, replace the dates with dried apricots and add toasted oatmeal or coconut and lemon zest. You’ll need to play around with quantities to get the consistency right as apricots tend to be stickier than dates
One of the good things about baby led weaning is that you don’t need much specialist equipment. Here are some starting points for things you might want to get in stock:
A good, sturdy, wipe-clean high chair. I’ve mentioned the Antilop from Ikea already, but there are a few other good options. The only one I’ve found that’s breakfast bar height, incidentally, is the Brother Max Scoop (which is insanely expensive and doesn’t seem to be available on their own site anymore, though you can check out Gumtree and the like for second-hand ones)
Cutlery and Crockey. To you own personal taste, this, but you’ll probably want a few bowls, a good number of spoons (it might take a go or two to work out what length and bowl size your little can manage – maybe do some swaps with other parents to narrow it down), some little plates (although straight from the tray is always an option!) and some little cups. Remember they want to be like you!
Bibs. Lots and lots of bibs. Bibs for the home, bibs for the baby bag. Waterproof, long sleeved, with pouch or without. Although, it can sometimes be fun to do dinner in just a nappy…
Floor covering. An old sheet, some tarp or an oilcloth all make good floor saving options. Don’t put anything slippy underneath – both for the sake of the highchair and yourself.
Storage containers. Preferably freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe and in a variety of sizes. Make sure you’ve got some that fit well in your baby bag.
Ice cube trays
Portable water. Some might like a water bottle and little cup to decant into, some might prefer a sippy cup.
Pasta (in a variety of colours and shapes)
Bread (preferably wholewheat brown, but avoid bread with ‘bits’ while they’re getting started)
Fresh fruit and veg – try long stemmed broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, apples, bananas, melon, mango, big tomatoes, cucumber, etc.
Meat. Assuming you’re not a vegetarian, obviously. Chicken breast, drumsticks and sausages are good – just check the sausages for salt content.
Eggs (check for allergies) – largely as an ingredient in pancakes, muffins etc., but also good hard boiled.
Herbs – fresh herbs are good for wafting at baby, but by no means essential — dried are just fine. Good ones to have include: basil, oregano, rosemary and mint.
Spices – don’t be freaked out by spices. You can cool down spiced dishes with yogurt but don’t shy away from flavour. Do take your time to check for allergies and other reactions though. Good spices include: paprika, cumin and cinnamon.
Frozen peas and sweetcorn – babies shouldn’t have anything this small in isolation until they’ve mastered a pincer grip (i.e. they can pick things up with a thumb and forefinger) but they’re great for blitzing into a pancake batter and for providing you with emergency vegetable content when you’re running low on time and energy.
Cheese pizzas – or pizza bases (homemade or shop bought). You can shove whatever’s kicking about on to make your own combinations and as baby gets bigger they’ll enjoy helping with this.
Frozen dinners – again, I’m thinking of you here. If you or a friend/partner/relative have the time to knock up a few things to shove in the freezer, take advantage. Also, no one is going to judge you for having the odd supermarket ready meal in there. You’ve gotta eat.
There will doubtless be things you discover that I’ve not thought of – please feel free to share them here!