Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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The Changes Keep on Coming: The Next Chapter for Little City Kitchen

You may have noticed the radio silence over the last few weeks.  The last four weeks have been monumental for me.  First came the announcement that Little City Kitchen Co. will stop producing baby food.  And now the next bit of big news that may come as a disappointment to some: I’ve decided to stop baby food altogether, which includes the education and cooking class components.

It all began three weeks ago with a potential publishing deal.  After the decision to get out of the kitchen, I moved the idea of writing a cookbook to the front of my mind and started researching my options.  Readers & customers had been asking for a cookbook for a while, and considering all the blogging I had already done, and the 60+ recipes I had already developed, publishing was an obvious next step.

I was introduced to No Limit Publishing through a trusted friend.  They’re a unique & innovative middle step between self-publishing and a full service publishing house. After several phone conversations with their Editor-in-Chief, I found myself staring at a six-page legal agreement that, if signed, would be my first step towards being a published author.  Yipee!

I called them on a Friday evening, gave them a verbal “yes”, and went home to sign the contract.

Then – an interesting thing happened.  I stared at the unsigned contract on my desk for the entire weekend.  Every time I would pick it up to sign, my entire body would rebel.  Literally, it would recoil. Those who know me well know that I’d never give a verbal agreement without intending to move forward, so what the heck was going on?

I originally thought that my disconnect with baby food came from the making of it (hence my decision to stop production), but what I realized in that moment was that baby food industry didn’t feel like the right path to me anymore.  I could no longer see myself being a baby food educator in the future, so why would I commit to writing a cookbook that took me further in that direction?

So while that revelation may seem sudden and shocking to some, I know in my heart of hearts that it’s the right one for me now.

My long-time readers are used to me sharing changes without having worked out all the logistical details, and this is certainly no different.  I have not decided what this means for the Little City Kitchen Co. brand per se, but it does mean that moving forward, we’re no longer going to be a baby food company.

And on a side note…I DID end up signing a publishing agreement, but not for a baby food cookbook!  Read on for more details…

Existing Customers…Still Interested in Baby Food?

If you are still interested in ordering baby food, there are two great businesses that I am recommending, and both are offering 20% off the first order to all Little City customers:

Big Dipper Baby Food offers in-store pickup in Bernal Heights, delivery options & a few store locations including Three Stone Hearth in the East Bay.  They offer lots of nutrient dense foods such as duck liver and beef marrow, blended with fresh fruits, veggies & spices to make them easy for the kiddos to enjoy.  Flavors are listed here.

Fresh Baby Bites offers a CSA-style delivery of fresh baby food weekly. They have 3 different kinds of baby food: Simple Purees, Spiced Up, and Spices & Grains depending on the texture your little one prefers.  Their recent menu is listed here.

I will be sending existing customers a separate email with more details on both companies and how to redeem your 20% off discounts.  And if you purchased a gift certificate for baby food or a cooking class that hasn’t been redeemed, please email me and I will issue you a full refund.


Jill Epner is a recovering food entrepreneur, advocate for early-stage food startups, and Bay Area food blogger. Follow her on Facebook, or sign up to receive her newsletter where she gives a candid peek  into the world of starting her own food company, Little City Kitchen Co.

True or False: Frozen Baby Food is Dead? Scoop on Starting Solids Blog Series

Many months ago, I was speaking with the buyer of a well-known natural foods grocery store about carrying frozen baby food from Little City Kitchen Co.  I figured if anyone would appreciate the value of “real” baby food, it would be this person.  After a minute, he looked me in the eye and said, “frozen baby food is dead”.

I must admit, I’m typically prepared to respond to just about anything in a business setting, but I was so stunned by his words that I sat there looking dumbfounded for about five seconds.  In classic Jill fashion, I then spent the next day replaying that conversation in my head and coming up with a better response.

Fresh or frozen baby food isn’t a product you can just put on the shelves and expect it to sell.  You have to educate parents about why frozen baby food is a better option, but once you have, they not only turn into loyal customers, they become advocates for real food within their respective communities.  Which begs the question…

Why aren’t parents already insisting on real food for their babies?

I have a few theories.

History, Culture & Marketing…Oh My.

First, feeding babies food from a jar is the accepted practice in this country.  It’s what you do, right?  I think it never occurs to most parents that there is any other option.  So why is it that in every other country in the world, baby eats what parents eat?  In Italy, a well-known first food is hard boiled egg yolk mashed with Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Yummy, right!!

Like it or not, we are all susceptible to marketing messages.  Most people don’t realize that up until about 70 years ago, babies in this country didn’t eat food from a jar; they ate a pureed version of the family meal.   It wasn’t until Gerber developed baby food in late 1920’s and launched an aggressive marketing campaign that baby food started to take hold.

Parents seem generally intimidated and scared about introducing solids.  Don’t be!!  There seems to be a perception that baby food from a jar is the “safest” thing for your baby, but to me there is nothing as healthy as a real banana, or cooked apple, sweet potato.

The first 4-6 months of introducing solids is the one of the most formative time in a child’s life.  It’s a small, but definite window of opportunity to teach them what food should taste like, so why not pack in as much flavor, texture & spice as you can!  More and more research shows that kids will grow up to be adventurous eaters and make healthier lifestyle choices when you start with an array of foods from the beginning.  Check out How to Grow A Broccoli Lover if this topic interests you.

Let’s be Realistic, Shall We

I realize that there is a big time & convenience factor that shelf-stable baby food addresses, and I’m always an advocate for doing the best that you can with the time and resources that you have.  Making your own baby food may not be realistic for you, but if there is a company in your area that offers this product, consider incorporating their food into your baby’s menu, even in just the smallest way.

My prediction: you’re going to see more baby food companies popping up all over the country.  Some of them will offer fresh, some frozen.  Some will deliver, some won’t. I’ve even heard of a few CSA and cooperative models in the works as well.  I think that slowly people are coming around to the concept of offering fresh food to babies, and I just hope that the grocery stores can jump on that bandwagon to support that movement sooner rather than later.

And on a personal note, I’d love nothing more than to prove that buyer wrong!  Frozen baby food isn’t dead…it’s just new.

Note to Readers: I’d particularly love to hear your thoughts or comments on this subject.  What went into your food decisions for your child(ren)?  What more could baby food companies similar to Little City Kitchen Co. be doing to make this product more available for you?

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Baby Food: Scoop on Starting Solids Blog Series by Little City Kitchen Co.

People always ask why I bother teaching parents how to make their own baby food when I’m selling my own.  My answer is always the same: whether they buy some from me, or make their own, the goal is getting kids to eat more “real” food.  I feel there is a (very big) difference between roasting & pureeing your own sweet potatoes and buying them in a jar that is shelf stable for two years.  I don’t think they qualify as sweet potatoes anymore.  So here’s why you should consider making your own…

Reason #5) Teach baby to like a variety of flavors

Here is your opportunity (your first and one of the best) to expose baby to a variety of flavors that will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy food choices.  Pack as many flavors, spices, and textures you can into the first few months.  Take advantage of this stage, because it starts to diminish the moment they start walking.  For more on this, check out: How to Grow a Broccoli Lover.

Reason #4) Better control what baby eats

There is no better way to know where you food comes from than when you make your own.  (I don’t know who grew those peaches in a jar?). Chose organic food whenever possible (see the Dirty Dozen) and support your local farmers if that’s an option in your area.  We live in a toxic world, so if you have access to good, clean food for your baby, then everyone wins.

Reason #3) Taste varieties that aren’t available on the shelf

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen baby food with roasted kohlrabi, blood oranges or Chioggia beets on the supermarket shelves before.  Whether you’re in the Bay Area or not, hopefully have access to heirloom varieties of foods that you can introduce to baby, and most likely these are not foods available in any pouch or jar.  And if you refer to reason #5, you’ll understand why it’s so critical to introduce them to so many flavors from the beginning.

Reason #2) Teach your kids what food should taste like

There’s something a little unnatural about the baby foods on the shelves.  The flavors are bland, the colors are muted, and the texture is super (super) smooth.  The bright flavors are lost during the high-heat processing method or from sitting on the grocery shelf for extended periods of time.  Set up your own baby food tasting experiment.  Sauté up some carrots and compare them to three different jarred varieties.  Which one tastes more like a real carrot?  This is your chance to teach kids what real food should taste like.

Reason #1) Re-establish a connection to food

I’ve saved the most important reason (from my perspective at least) for last.  As a culture, we’ve lost our connection to food.  Most people think food comes from the grocery store and have no concept of how it came to be there.  Take this opportunity to involve baby in the whole process: have them watch you roast sweet potatoes, smear it all over their face so they can taste the flavor, give them a cooked chunk to squish in their hands, and do anything to involve them in the process of transforming raw ingredients into their food.  Take this time to teach them that real food something to appreciate.

You’ll see from this list that nowhere have I mentioned saving money.  Some companies have taken the position that making your own baby food is less expensive, and while that may be the case with some ingredients, most parents I speak with aren’t drawn to making their own baby food for that reason.

They just want to feed their kids the healthiest food possible, and on some level, they know the answer doesn’t come from a jar.

Interested in reading more?  Check out a Few of My Favorite Posts which has information on best baby food equipment, making your own grain cereals, healthy fats for babies, and more…

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

A Guide to Legumes: Incorporating Beans into Baby Food – Scoop on Starting Solids blog series

Let’s face it, cooking dried beans can be a daunting task, and it’s certainly not the first food you would associate with baby food.  You have to soak them ahead of time, cooking times are unpredictable, and we all know what property helped them to become notoriously known as the “musical fruit”.  How do you easily incorporate these nutrient-packed little legumes into your baby food, and can you do it in a way that’s easily digestible?

This is not a blog about how to cook dried beans (I’ll leave that to you & Google).  It’s about how to make them beans digestible for baby and to give you some recipe inspirations for baby food that you can use when you’re making your own.

And for those who have no interest in cooking dried beans from scratch, we’ll even talk about a specific brand of canned beans…one of the few canned items that I recommend for parents.

Behold the Bean

What makes them good for baby?  From a nutritional standpoint, beans are packed with fiber and protein, about 8g of each in ½ cup.  They’re digested and absorbed slowly, making baby (and us) feel fuller for a longer period of time.  Beans are also very low on the glycemic index, which means there’s no dramatic spike in insulin.  They’re great for maintaining consistent blood sugar levels and are typically a very satiating food.

And now we come to the word on everyone’s mind: digestion.  Here are some suggestions on how to make dried beans more digestible…for baby and for your entire family.

Tip #1) Soak dried beans for 2 whole days – This is a process called “sprouting”, but you drain the beans before they actually sprout.  Change the water 1-2 times per day and keep the soaking beans in the refrigerator, not on your kitchen counter!  Most of the gas-causing agents are in the skins, so a 2-day soak with several water changes usually takes care of 80% of the gas problem.

Tip #2) Add kombu or other sea vegetables when you cook the beansKombu has enzymes that further break down the beans making them more digestible.  Add a 2-3 inch strip to the beans to the pot during cooking.  Available at most natural food stores.

Tip #3) Ease babies into beans the first time – start small if little ones are new to legumes.  Give a few spoonfuls of your bean-based baby food to start, and feel free to combine with your favorite fruit, veggie or meat.  If you use the two methods above (like I do at Little City Kitchen for all our bean flavors), then the chances are baby will be able to digest them easily.

Canned beans

I don’t generally recommend canned items, but there are occasionally some items that are good compromises.  Native Forest coconut milk is one of them (the brand we use exclusively at Little City Kitchen), as are canned beans, specifically the Eden Organic brand.  Most canned goods have BPA in the lining, but the Eden Organic brand are both organic and come in BPA-free cans.  If you’re going for a canned bean, then this is the brand to buy.

Recipe ideas

Once your beans are cooked (or drained and rinsed if you’ve gone the can route), just throw them in your food processor with water or coconut milk, add any other fun ingredients and buzz away.

  • Red beans: wonderful source of iron, go “Cajun” style with some okra, celery and green pepper, or sweet with some cinnamon and coconut milk
  • Black beans: for savory, saute up some onions, mushrooms & garlic or for sweet, add some fruit like mangos or peaches and coconut milk
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): think hummus here…lemon, basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese
  • White cannellini beans: go savory with some roasted carrot, parsnip and orange zest

Go forth to the bulk bins at Whole Foods and report back with your own bean adventures!

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

The Scoop on Nitrates & Baby Food: Dig into the Carrots, Beets & Spinach…

For those of you who have attended one of the Little City kitchen baby food cooking classes or demonstrations, you’ll know that I love an interactive class. I watch everyone around get inspired by the questions and conversation, which inspires me as well.  There are always common themes, but one topic that seems to be coming up frequently is concern about nitrates.  Should you be concerned with nitrate levels and avoid baby foods like beets, carrots & spinach?

I asked our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Julia Getzelman, founder of GetzWell Pediatrics for her perspective.  She said that by six months old (when most babies start eating solid food), babies have enough stomach acid to digest just about anything you could throw at it, including nitrates.  In fact, she goes on to say that “kids would have to eat more than is almost humanly possible for nitrates to even be in the toxic range.  Whew!

The AAP has only issues some cautions around nitrates if you’re dealing with a baby under the age of three months old.  This doesn’t apply to 99.9% of the parents I speak with throughout the day, but see the full statement here if you’d like to read more.

Common Causes of High Nitrate Levels

Just to put your mind even more at ease, let’s talk about three common causes of high nitrate levels, and some suggestions that the everyday parent can use if they’re still concerned:

Cause: Unregulated well water – not too common here in the city
Solution: Use tap or filtered water in formula or if you’re making your own baby food
(Note – we use reverse osmosis water at Little City kitchen for all baby food)

Cause:  Conventional/synthetic fertilizers
Solution: Buy organic fruit & veggies, which are grown without synthetic fertilizers

Cause: Long storage times
Solution: Buy fruit & veggies from a local source.  Spinach from the farmers market is better than spinach from the grocery store.

In our cooking demos and classes, I talk a lot about giving kids a variety of foods.  Veggies such as carrots, beets and in particularly dark, leafy greens like spinach are all healthy foods to introduce early.  Don’t let your concern about nitrates get in the way of feeding your kiddos these great items!

So the short version: don’t be too concerned about nitrates, but if you still are, use local & organic produce and tap water to make your baby food…or buy some of ours!

Since the Burlingame farmers market is closed until April, we’re doing special orders every few weeks.  Next pickup/delivery date will be Sunday, February 5, so stay tuned for our flavors of the week.

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

A Few of My Favorite Posts

Being a one-man show has its advantages…but not this week.  When you’re the “do-it-all” person and you come down with a stomach bug, your progress comes to a screeching halt.  On the road to recovery now, but suffice it say I haven’t been in the kitchen cooking at all, nor have I been feeling my most creative…which tends to put a damper on my writing.

So forgive me for cheating a little bit this week, but in lieu of our normal blog (and because we have a ton of new readers) I thought I’d assemble some of my favorite blog posts over the year to share with you.

Making Your Own Baby Food

So your little one is 5 months old and you’re getting ready to start solids.  Congratulations!  You want to make your own food, but where do you start?

First, checkout my review of baby food making equipment.  My favorite piece of equipment is the food processor, but if you don’t have one of those on hand, here are some alternatives that work well.

Next, learn all about my favorite cooking methods here.  People think that baby food can only be steamed, but there’s a whole world of roasting, sautéing and other methods to bring out the best flavors for little one.

You probably know that I’m not a fan of boxed rice cereal being a first food for baby.  Homemade grain cereals, however, can be a wonderful addition to baby’s diet, so check out my guide to making your own baby cereals here.

And finally, once you’ve made all this great stuff, how do you store it?  Read all about the best baby food storage containers here.  I have a “Best Buy” and a “Wanna Splurge” item in each category.

Scoop on Starting Solids

One of the most exciting parts of starting Little City Kitchen Co. is that I spend a lot of time educating parents.  I started my Scoop on Starting Solids blog series to help the many questions that I get asked.  The questions are answered by my favorite pediatrician, Julia Getzelman, or another expert in the field.

A lot has changed in the baby food world in the last three years.  It started with the revised AAP guidelines that were released in 2008.  Read here to find out the newest recommendations for introducing allergens.

I use a lot of healthy fats in baby food including coconut milk, coconut oil and olive oil.  You can learn a little more about cooking with healthy fats here.

Every parent wants to raise a child that makes healthy eating choices, but most people don’t realize that they can teach food preferences from the very beginning.  Read all about how to grow a broccoli lover here.

And finally, I talk a lot about why rice cereal isn’t the best first food.  You can read a little more about that and some other suggestions for first foods here.

Enjoy the recap…we’ll be back next week with lots of new goodies to read.

A Common Sense Approach to Introducing Solids: Scoop on Starting Solids Blog Series

I’m a common sense girl.  I’d like to think that it’s one of my more redeeming qualities.  Some may find it annoying, but I’ve found that questioning everything can help weed out the superficial stuff and get to the heart of an issue.

As I’ve dug deeper and deeper with Little City Kitchen Co. into the world of baby food and infant nutrition, I’ve come to rely even more on this trait to help sort through the maze of antiquated guidelines and marketing messages from large baby food companies.  I can understand why parents are confused…everyone you talk to has a different opinion or suggestion!

The goal of every conversation I have with parents – be it during a baby food cooking class, demo, farmers market – is to provide another perspective to be considered as you’re are deciding what is best to feed baby.  To me, one of the beauties of being a parent is getting to decide what makes the most sense to you.

With that being said, I’ve assembled some common sense rules around introducing solids and deciding what to feed your little one.  And if any of these don’t makes sense to you, that’s okay, just skip over it and pick out the ones that do.

Five Pieces of Common Sense Advice

Educate yourself: Seek advice from at least 3 qualified people and don’t wait until your kid is 5 months old to start reading up on it.  A lot has changed in the baby food world in the last 3 years…  Suggested reading to open up your mind: Feeding Baby Green and Real Food for Mother & Baby.

Don’t always listen to your friends: Everybody parents in a different way, so you can listen to them, but don’t assume they’re always right.  Friends have a way of “guilting” you into things (“what do you mean you haven’t started rice cereal yet?”), so just add their opinion to your repertoire of resources.

Question your pediatrician: Doctors know a lot, but they don’t know everything.  I had a parent who’s doctor told her to avoid coconut because it was a “nut”.  (ps – it’s a fruit guys, not a nut). You guys know by now the value of healthy fats like coconut oil in baby food.

Many doctors don’t know about the 2008 revised AAP guidelines and are still telling parents to hold off on introducing allergens for several years…  There’s no reason you can’t bring your own research to your pediatrician and have a conversation if you have conflicting opinions.

Feed your baby (and yourself) real food whenever possible: To me, carrots that can last 24 months on the shelf aren’t carrots anymore.  They’ve either added preservatives or heated it to a high enough temperature to kill all the good stuff.  If at all possible, make your own food, buy some of mine, or buy fresh/frozen baby food from someone in your area. Grab the pouches for a long road trip, but use them sparingly if you have another option.  Do the best you can on this one; I know it’s not easy.

And finally, my cardinal rule: If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, why would you ever feed it to your kid?  Look folks, baby food should taste great.  If you cringe at some of the stuff in the jars or pouches, think about how you can start incorporating more real food into baby’s diet.  Roast four sweet potatoes, two for you for dinner, and two in the fridge to make some baby food.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be real.

Birth & Baby Fair

We had another great time at the Birth & Baby Fair this past weekend.  The baby food cooking demo was the biggest crowd yet…close to 60 people came and participated.  Check out the photo album here.  Special shout out to my rockstar helpers: Kate K, Penny C. and MaLanie F.  You guys were awesome!

Hope everyone has a great week!


How to Grow a Broccoli Lover: Teaching Babies to Like Vegetables

One of the most popular baby food flavors at Little City Kitchen Co. is swiss chard and kale with caramelized onions, apple and white sweet potato.  Kids eat chard?  Really?  I talk to parents all day at the farmers market, and one of the most frequent statements I hear is “My kid doesn’t like _____”.  Typically they fill in the blank with a green vegetable like broccoli or green beans.

Which begs the question: Can you teach food preferences, or do babies already know what they like and don’t like?

I recently had the honor of attending the first annual Childhood Obesity Conference hosted by Slow Food San Francisco.   You may know one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Alan Greene, author of Feeding Baby Green and creator of the WhiteOut initiative that calls for a ban on baby white rice cereal.

My long-time readers know that I’m honest to a fault, so while I was familiar with the book Feeding Baby Green, I must now confess that I picked up the book for the very first time last week and sorta “crammed” for the conference – sorry Dr. Greene!  Imagine my surprise that nearly every philosophy and conclusion that I came to through my own research (with the help of experts like pediatricians and nutritionists) was echoed and even expanded upon in this wonderful book.

So back to baby’s food preferences…can they be learned?  YES!

Why is it important to expose your kids to a variety of foods at an early age?  Because you’re setting them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.  You have a distinct window of opportunity when they start solids to teach them to love a variety of flavors.  Once they start walking, that window closes and they rely on what they’ve been taught so far to carry them throughout toddler-hood and the rest of their life.

Dr. Greene talks about the key word to introducing new foods is patience, and to that I would also add the word persistence.  If you keep those two words in mind, you’re likely to have a drama-free feeding experience and a healthy eater in the end.

Three small steps that parents can take:

  • Involve baby in the new food ahead of time.  Let them feel the avocado skin, squeeze the cooked sweet potato in their hands, watch you chop up the green beans before you feed it to them.  Getting them familiar with flavors and aromas will help them be more accepting of those foods.
  • Eat these foods yourself for dinner.  Kids will naturally want what’s on mom or dad’s plate, so if you eat the same foods, they’ll be more apt to try them themselves.
  • And the most important one: Try new foods 7-15 times before allowing baby to make up her mind.  Just a spoonful a day needed, once a day, for at least a week.  No need to force it, just try again the next day if they aren’t interested.  You’ll be surprised when all of a sudden they gobble up the swiss chard they’ve been refusing for days!

Yup, you too can grow a broccoli-lover!   Please feel free to leave a comment below about your own experiences with getting kids to eat less-common whole foods!

Birth & Baby Fair

And just a reminder, Little City Kitchen Co. will be at the Birth & Baby Fair this Sunday at Fort Mason from 10-4pm.  We’ll be leading another baby food cooking demo that day at 3pm, and you can pre-register here to reserve your seat.  Hope to see you there!

Healthy Fats: Using Coconut and Olive Oil in Baby Food

Time for another chat with Little City Kitchen Co’s favorite guest blogger, Dr. Julia Getzelman, founder of GetzWell Pediatrics.  Today we’re going to tackle a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: using healthy fats such at olive and coconut oil in baby food, and some alternative breakfast foods for baby.

A reminder to readers – submit your baby food-related questions by posting a comment on our Great Baby Food Giveaway blog, and if we feature your question on our blog, you win a free pack of baby food from Little City Kitchen Co., just like Penny and Julie did this month – congratulations guys!


Question from Julie P: I hear that healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil are good for babies and can be used in baby food.  Is this true?  Do I need to worry about the calories or fat content?

Dr. Getzelman: Yes!  Fats are good for babies.  Their developing brains and immune systems need lots of fats and olive and coconut oils provide distinct fatty acids to the body.  Organic butter is fair game too.  Be sure that babies’ food isn’t too lean by drizzling first press olive oil over prepared foods or allowing raw coconut butter or oil to melt on warm purees.  They will love it!

Jill’s note: for those familiar with Little City Kitchen Co. baby food, you already know that I use a lot of coconut milk and coconut oil in my recipes for this reason.  Coconut has gotten a bad rap in the past, but we’ve started to see a shift in thinking as the great benefits of this healthy saturated fat are recognized.


Question from Penny C: I wanted to ask for suggestions for breakfast for my 9 month old son. I’ve been feeding him pureed fruit and oatmeal from the box. I’m crunched for time in the morning and I would like to vary up his meal. Do you have suggestions?

Dr. Getzelman: What we think of as breakfast foods is shaped largely by culture.  For example, we think of carbs (often empty!) and sweets (like muffins or toast and jam) while the Chinese eat meat and vegetable soups for breakfast.

It’s good to start the day with good fat and protein so pastured eggs make a wonderful breakfast food and can be scrambled up quickly and served as finger food for your 9 month old, if he is already participating in feeding himself.

If he’s still taking purees, quinoa flakes (which can be made into a hot cereal) can be served with coconut butter or oil, almond butter, and fresh berries or a little cinnamon.  Alternatively, your son could have a puree (partly prepared the night before by using left-over steamed veggies) of mixed steamed or sauteed vegetables, chicken stock, a pinch of curry powder or some fresh or dried herbs.  He doesn’t yet “know” that breakfast is different from dinner or lunch and in some countries there isn’t much distinction!

Upcoming Events

Lots going on in the Little City kitchen for the next couple of weeks!

Scoop on Starting Solids cooking demo
Wednesday, Sept 21, 6:30 – 7:45pm
Whole Foods Los Altos
See event details and RSVP here

Guest panelist “Farmageddon
Local Chef’s Dinner and Conversation
Friday, Sept 23 from 6-9pm
Viewing at the Roxie and discussion following
View event details here

Scoop on Starting Solids cooking demo
Birth & Baby Fair
Sunday, Oct 2, 3pm
Fort Mason Pavilion
Details and register here
(Use code: LCK for 50% off registration) 

A Guide to Introducing Allergens: Revised AAP Guidelines and Recommendations

To wait or not to wait, that seems to be the question on parents’ minds about introducing allergenic foods to their little ones.  When I started research for Little City Kitchen Co., I was pretty confused because there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.

Some experts say to introduce things like eggs and peanuts early, some say to wait a year.  Which is it?

I think one of the beauties of being a parent is you get to decide what makes the most sense to you. Information about nutrition is published all the time…some of it I agree with and some of it I don’t.  This blog is just another piece of information that you can use to form your opinion as you decide what’s best for little one.

Allergens 101

Let’s start by reviewing the eight most allergenic foods identified by the FDA (which are responsible for 90% of all allergenic reactions):

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Nuts from trees (such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews)
  • Fish (such as tuna, salmon, cod)
  • Shellfish (such as shrimp, lobster)

We’ll cover the research first, and then my opinion. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) puts out recommendations for introducing solids that are intended to serve as a guideline for all pediatricians.

Their most recent revision came out in Jan 2008, and was a reversal of their previous version from 2000.  You can view the full revised guideline here, but I’m going to give you the abbreviated version in layman’s terms:

ALL foods (allergenic or not) can and should be introduced starting at 4-6 months old.  This includes meats, eggs, fish, wheat, vegetables, etc…

The AAP has found that there’s no research to support that delaying the introduction of allergens makes the babies less likely to have a reaction.  And in some cases, by delaying introduction to these foods, we’re actually causing a sensitivity to them.

(Note one exception:  If the baby’s mom, dad or sibling has an allergic disease, particularly a food allergy, then your little one is more likely to have food allergies as well.  You should talk to your doctor as the AAP recommendations may not apply to you.)

So the big question of the day…why are doctors still telling parents to wait to introduce allergens?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s that they aren’t familiar with the newest recommendations (which would be weird seeing as they’re three years old), or maybe it’s that they disagree with the AAP.

We choose our pediatricians because they are highly trained professionals and we trust the information that they give us, right?  If this information makes sense to you, and it conflicts with what your doctor has suggested, I see no reason why you couldn’t bring a copy of the AAP recommendations and have an open conversation with your pediatrician about why they recommend a different strategy.

So remember, your little one needs a variety of foods when they start solids.  Don’t be afraid to try meats, eggs, greens, and other fun and colorful foods!  Happy Eating :-)

The Scoop on Starting Solids blog series

We have  another round of questions on today’s Scoop on Starting Solids blog series.  Our favorite guest blogger, Dr. Julia Getzelman, founder of GetzWell Pediatrics covers topics today on introducing solids to a “distracted” little one, addressing common baby digestion concerns, and I’ll kick things off answering a question about where I source ingredients that go into baby food from Little City Kitchen Co.

A reminder to readers – submit your baby food-related questions by posting a comment on our Great Baby Food Giveaway blog, and if we feature your question, you win a free pack of baby food from Little City Kitchen Co., just like Kathy, Christine, and Scarlett did this month – congratulations guys!


Question from Christine:  I’d like to learn more about your adventures in securing organic and fresh ingredients for your baby food.

Jill:  I buy as much directly from the farms as possible, always organic.  The majority of fresh fruits and vegetables are bought from local organic farms that sell at the same farmers markets as I do (easy pickup and I like supporting other market vendors).  My favorites are J&M Ibarra, Allard Farms, and Riverdog.

My brown rice comes from Massa Organics, an awesome local rice and wheat company.  I use exclusively the Native Forest brand of coconut milk because they’re the only organic brand that comes in a non-BPA lined can.

If I can’t get it from the farms directly, I go through a local organic distributor called Veritable Vegetable, or for small quantities of things, I hit up places like Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl.


Be forewarned, because next we’re going to talk about a topic that was bound to come up eventually, and one that is near and dear to any new mom’s heart.

Yup, that’s right people, we’re going to talk about poop………

Question from Scarlett:  My 6 month old has been eating solids for about a month. Since she started, she has been very constipated, despite feeding her high fiber foods like prunes and sweet potato. How can I change her diet to make to make it easier on her?

Dr. G: Some babies aren’t ready for starchy foods like sweet potato right away.  You could try leafy greens (kale, collard greens, chard), broccoli, and zucchini–these might help.  If not, beets often “move things along.”

Keep in mind, however, that constipation isn’t just a delay in stooling but hard/dry bowel movements.  So, if she is delayed but happy, that’s OK.  Probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids in the form of high quality fish oil are sometimes necessary to treat true constipation.  Some children do become constipated with the introduction of solid foods despite giving them high quality, whole foods and these are the kiddos for whom I advise using omegas and probiotics.


Question from Kathy L:  I’ve just started my six month old on solids, but she seems to like chewing on the bowl and spoon more than anything else. When do I start worrying about her not getting enough nutrition from breastmilk along and pushing for her to actually “eat” the solid foods?

Dr. G: Each baby is unique and some are ready to eat solids at 4-5 months while others seem to be happy exclusively breast feeding longer.  In some cases kids don’t begin to really “take” to solid foods until closer to 9-10 months or more.  By 1 year most children are getting the bulk of their calories from solid foods.  So, there’s no rush.

A healthy child will let you know when she’s ready.  You can keep trying by introducing different flavors and foods to her, but she may only take a bite or two and then be distracted by the bowl and the spoon for a few more weeks or months.


For any of you Peninsula Kaiser mom’s…come to our baby food cooking demonstration as part of the One Day Wellness Workshop held at Kaiser in Daly City.  It’s this Tuesday from 2-5pm (baby food stuff is from 2:45 – 3:45pm).  No charge, so join us if you can!  Have a great week everyone!

Just Say No…to Rice Cereal: The Scoop on Starting Solids Blog Series by Little City Kitchen Co.

Our Scoop on Starting Solids blog series kicks off today with three questions from readers about when to introduce common food allergens and why baby rice cereal isn’t the best starter food, contrary to mainstream thinking.

I’ve enlisted the help of one of our favorite guest bloggers, Dr. Julia Getzelman, founder of  GetzWell Pediatrics, to provide her perspective on these topics.

A reminder to all readers – submit your baby food-related questions by posting a comment on our Great Baby Food Giveaway blog, and if we feature your question, you win a free pack of baby food from Little City Kitchen Co.!


Question from Amanda P: Do I have to keep feeding baby that bland rice cereal?

Dr. Getzelman: I joke with my patients that the rice cereal box probably has more nutrients than the contents!  The iron in rice cereal and other fortified products is very poorly absorbed and often constipating.  Meat and eggs and dark greens and legumes/beans are far superior sources of iron!


Question from Karra S: My question is regarding when to introduce potential allergens such as strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes. Due to some food sensitivities my older kids two had to eggs and cow’s milk, our pediatrician said to hold off on peanuts, eggs, and shellfish until 1 year.  I hate to withhold these delicious foods unnecessarily….what is your recommendation?

Dr. Getzelman: The most recent research supports introducing any and all foods as soon as infants begin to eat solids.  We have discovered we may actually be encouraging the development of food allergies by coaching parents to hold off on giving certain foods until after a year of life. In my practice, I encourage parents to prepare a wide variety of tasty and whole foods for their babies from the get-go.

No processed rice cereal or bland foods are necessary for infants.  My advice includes having parents look to the baby for cues about when to begin to give solids (baby gets to decide when he/she is ready!) and to start with savory things like veggies, meats and eggs, including stews and flavorful recipes.  Fruit can be part of the mix but giving too much fruit may encourage a preference for sweet things.

The main goal is to have fun with this process.  Most babies love to try new things, enjoy a diversity of food colors and flavors, and given opportunities to try a wide variety of things become fantastic eaters!


Question from Christine T: For food introduction, I’ve read that solid foods should be offered to the baby after milk has already been consumed, as the milk offers more essential nutrients than that one serving of solid food. I can do that, but how will I know and when will I know the priority to change?

Dr. Getzelman: I think this is only true for breast milk and until 6-7 months of age.  By 9 months a baby may be getting half of their calories from solid foods and if they are eating whole organic foods, not processed white/grey ones, they will be taking in lots of important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in addition to calories.  Be sure to make meals using good fats like olive oil, coconut oil, or some butter so that what baby is consuming is not too lean.  Babies need lots of fat to stay healthy and grow well.


Julia Getzelman is the founder of GetzWell Pediatrics, and is the only board certified, primary care, integrative pediatrician based in San Francisco.  For more information on GetzWell Pediatrics, check out their website here.

Join Little City Kitchen Co. and GetzWell Pediatrics at the San Francisco Birth & Baby Fair this Saturday for a baby food cooking demo and discussion about introducing solids.


Introducing Solids and Adding Spices to Baby Food: The Scoop on Starting Solids series by Little City Kitchen Co.

Our Scoop on Starting Solids blog series kicks off today with two questions from readers pertaining to introducing solids and cooking with spices.  I’ve enlisted the help of one of our favorite guest bloggers, Dr. Julia Getzelman, founder of  GetzWell Pediatrics, to provide her perspective on these topics.

A reminder to all readers – submit your baby food-related questions by posting a comment on our Great Baby Food Giveaway blog, and if we feature your question, you win a free pack of baby food from Little City Kitchen Co.!


Question from Lisa M: I have heard conflicting opinions on when the best time to start solid foods really is – is it early or is it later? I think this relates to allergies. So I am trying to understand what solid foods to start in addition to breast milk and when.

Dr G: My belief, and the research is beginning to support this, is that babies are good at deciding when they are ready to begin eating solids.  Sometime between 4 and 6 months most infants will become interested in food.  They will watch intently as mother eats, get excited when they smell food cooking, and may even mimic chewing as they observe others at meals.

When you see these signs, you may begin feeding your baby.  A minority of babies won’t be interested in solid foods until later than 6 months and in those cases should continue to breast feed until they are ready.

Feeding should be a fun process of introducing solids to your baby.  You may begin with any vegetable (or combination of vegetables—think lots of different colors!), steamed, pureed, and combined with a little breast milk or formula to get to a smoothie-type consistency.  The first few times a baby eats, he/she may make funny faces, and may only take a bite or two of what you have prepared.  Don’t let this discourage you.  Just forge ahead and continue offering healthy, organic vegetables to which you might consider adding a little olive oil and fresh herbs.  Most babies like flavor as much as we do!


Question from Jen A: I am curious about adding spices to my baby’s food, but I am worried that not all are safe for him.  Are there some spices that I should avoid?

Dr. G: Spices contain important antioxidants and other benefits, and babies like flavor.  The more variety you provide to your baby from the get-go, the more adventurous eater your baby will be in the long run.  Other than salt, there is no spice, that your baby may not try.  And keep in mind that a funny face doesn’t mean a rejection.  Furthermore, some babies/kids need to try a certain flavor over a dozen times before liking it.  So don’t give up!


Julia Getzelman is the founder of GetzWell Pediatrics, and is the only board certified, primary care, integrative pediatrician based in San Francisco.  For more information on GetzWell Pediatrics, check out their website here.

Join Little City Kitchen Co. and GetzWell Pediatrics for free workshops at the San Francisco Birth & Baby Fair on Saturday, June 25th.   Dr. Getzelman will be leading a Vaccines Q&A, and Jill will be leading a cooking demo for parents wishing to make their own organic baby food.