It All Begins with Food {Cookbook Review}

Food is a universal language we all speak, something that unifies us. It’s something to be enjoyed, and also the fuel we provide our bodies. If you’d followed the blog for a while, you’ll know that our family loves food, albeit with a few bumps in the road- we’re still gluten free, but other restrictions have since been removed from Ari’s diet- and I’ve sought out options as healthy staples in our diets. We enjoy as many home- cooked and healthy, whole- food based meals as we can, but still indulge in comfort food, etc when we get a craving or are short on time (everything in moderation, no?).

Before kids and since, I love a good recipe. There’s something I find soothing and therapeutic about preparing a meal (note: when the kids are cooperating); it’s a simple pleasure I find a lot of joy in. And while I turn to online sources for much of my inspiration when trying out a new meal idea, I still love turning the pages of a cookbook. There’s something about the tactile nature of running my fingers down the pages and marking recipes to try with sticky notes that I love. So when I had the chance to review the new cookbook by Love Child Organics founder Leah Garrad- Cole, I looked forward to the opportunity.

“Welcome to It All Begins With Food, a book dedicated to clean, whole- food recipes for your entire family”.

Leah and I share the same outlook towards food, with a focus on the quality and integrity of ingredients, especially when it comes to feeding our kids. There is a lot to be said about the source of our food today (how was it grown, where did it come from, etc) and while this isn’t always black and white, Leah offers up a valuable resource in her new cookbook for everyone from new parents to passionate home cooks alike. I discovered her line of quality baby food, Love Child Organics, soon after Ari was born and have had the pleasure of being a brand ambassador with the company and watching it grow over the past few years. The introduction of It All Begins With Food was something I was looking forward to, and now am happy to be sharing my thoughts on the book here with readers. This cookbook will grow with your family, and even if your kids are past the baby and toddler years, it is full of information and recipes you will appreciate and enjoy.

This is a beautiful cookbook, filled with photos and tables of information that compliment Leah’s recipes. But it isn’t all eye candy, and second only to the recipes themselves, the information Leah has gathered in this cookbook make it a great reference to have on hand. What does it really mean to be organic? What’s a GMO? What foods should I avoid introducing to my baby? Are just a few of the questions Leah addresses in It All Begins With Food, along with a section I love, make it yourself, make it better, which features suggestions on how to make pantry staples at home to avoid unnecessary ingredients such as sugar, salt and preservatives. 

“There is an overabundance of of information out there, and it can make the task of feeding your family really confusing and overwhelming. We all want our children to eat well, but it’s hard to know where to start, and with our busy lives, it’s really difficult to find the time to make it happen.”

Alongside the recipes, Leah has included information to help guide readers through food topics that we face today, including:

  • organic foods (one of Leah’s favourite topics)
  • The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen- foods grown with the most pesticide residue and least, respectively
  • GMOs- what are they and how to avoid them
  • alternative names for sugar used in ingredients lists
  • clean kitchen/ pantry shopping list + tools and equipment 
  • meal planning tips + planner
  • getting your kids involved in cooking + food prep
  • information, tips, and serving suggestions for introducing first foods to baby


While this cookbook is a wealth of information for starting out your little one on solids (see For Baby, below), Leah has covered healthy suggestions for the whole family from start to finish: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies, creating your own pantry staples (I’m looking forward to diving into this chapter more in the coming months), and recipes for entertaining. I tend to avoid recipes that contain ingredients that are hard to find or seem too complicated; most of the time I have the kids with me when shopping and cooking, so I’ve subscribed to the adage simpler is better on several levels when it comes to the food we eat.

And that also applies to the nature of the ingredients themselves: Leah uses common, clean/ healthy, simple- to- find- ingredients in her recipes, with prep and cooking time around an hour total for many of the recipes (many less than that). This is a cookbook with crowd- pleasing recipes, but doesn’t forget about the person creating the meal. You don’t have to have kids to appreciate her method, but it’s definitely a cookbook created by a parent with parents in mind: healthy food that doesn’t take hours to prep and cook. Thank you Leah!

“With an unwavering focus on replacing ingredients that have little nutritional value with ones that are nutritionally dense, It All Begins With Food ensures that every bite counts while making the end result is pleasurable and the ingredients are easy to find.”

Chapters in the book:

purees & mashes

finger foods

smoothies: the vitamin vehicle

superhero breakfasts to keep them going (and going!)

easy lunches

family- friendly dinners

healthier snacks & treats

let’s celebrate

make it yourself make it better


For Baby

For parents looking for information, tips, and recipes for feeding their baby, this book is a wealth of knowledge and I wish it had been around when Ari was a baby. As a Mom, Leah speaks from her own experiences, as well as from the wealth of information and knowledge she has amassed since starting an organic food company; I love this combination of experience and knowledge and I feel this approach will appeal to many parents beginning the food journey with their children. Here are just a few of the highlights for me that I appreciated Leah including:

  • Canadian & US official infant feeding recommendations
  • suggestions on when to start introducing solids + signs to look for that your baby may be ready
  • what foods to start with
  • food allergies + reactions (also the difference between a true allergy and an intolerance/ food sensitivity)
  • how much food + how often
  • baby food recipes (purees + mashes), tips + combinations


Whether you’re passionate about healthy cooking, want to incorporate more whole- foods recipes into your weekly meal plan, or starting out a little one on solids, It All begins With Food  includes ideas for all members of the family, and will be a welcome addition to any cookbook library. 

To learn more about Love Child Organics, visit them online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

It All Begins With Food available online at and Indigo

Disclosure: I received this cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This blog post contains affiliate links. 

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Baby’s First Christmas with PC Organics {+ GIVEAWAY}

Christmas is an exciting time of year full of fun activities, celebrations, and tasty treats. As adults it’s fun to continue favourite traditions with our kids and watch them enjoy the holidays, and there’s something a little extra special if it’s a first Christmas for your baby. While this can be a fun and exciting time for them, it can also be tough on a little one’s schedule/ routine. In my last collab with the PC® Organics Baby team we’ve come up with some tips to help the holiday season go smoothly for families with babies & toddlers. Check them out below.

Try to keep your little one’s schedule as
close to their regular routine as possible. If you bring your little one to holiday
gatherings where it will be a late night- or staying overnight- it’s a
good idea to bring bed and bath- time items with you. If dinner goes into
overtime, put your little one through their regular night-time routine and find
a quiet place to put them to sleep until the party wraps up. This way, you can
keep them on their regular routine and avoid undue upsets from being overtired. (We’ll make sure there’s a playpen or crib for the kids to sleep in and bring favourite blankets and stuffies to help them feel at home).
The holidays include a variety of sweet
treats in bright and enticing colours that are sure to attract your little one’s
attention. Be sure to watch your baby or toddler around sweet treats to ensure
they don’t put something in their mouth that could be a choking or allergy hazard.
Treats & Snacks
Family and friends often
want to feed little ones at a party, but many adult foods aren’t the best
choice for your baby or toddler. Why not pack some colourful fruit & veggies or age-appropriate baby cookies for them to snack on? Food pouches are another great idea. These options will make your baby feel
included in the festivities while giving you piece of mind that they’re not eating
anything they shouldn’t.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday
season it can be easy to forget to focus on family mealtimes and sit down to
eat. These changes in schedule and food can sometimes cause tummy upsets for
little ones. Try to keep your baby’s meal times as consistent with their
regular routine as possible. Offer them some healthy options that they enjoy. See here  and here for some healthy and convenient suggestions.
the Halls
Trimming the tree? Consider the décor you use with little ones around. Skip the tinsel, which can be a
choking hazard, and be mindful of small toys and ornaments. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, and other plants are commonly used as decorations during the season; however
these plants are potentially poisonous and should be kept well out of reach.
Time to Celebrate
The holidays are special for everyone, especially for the little ones in your life, and it’s the perfect time to make memories and create traditions for years to come. Include your baby in as many family
holiday activities as possible. From hanging stockings to the Santa Claus
parade, be sure to find ways your baby can participate, even in a small way.
Additionally, don’t forget to take lots of photos to capture those
special moments you’ll want to remember.

Giveaway Time!
I’ve got two PC® Organics Baby Prize packs up for grabs (worth $100 each!)! And my friend Andria from The Cheerio Diaries has teamed up with me so readers will have more chances to win (her giveaway coming soon!). See below for all the ways to enter!

Visit the PC® Organics website to learn more about their products and to find out how to speak with a Loblaws dietician. 
You can also find them on social media:

November posts sponsored by

Celebrating Special Occasions with Baby: Meal Tips with PC Organics

Having just enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner this weekend and with the holidays coming up, we’re heading into an exciting time of the year and there’s lots to look forward to. If you’ve got a little one starting solids it’s lots of fun to watch their reactions as they try new foods and the variety of culinary options are endless. 

This was Liam’s first Thanksgiving and I tried to introduce foods for him leading up to the long weekend that we would also be enjoying: squash, peas, and carrots to name a few. While it’s exciting to think of all the foods your little one will soon be able to try, it’s important to know what they can and can’t eat and how to offer them as you introduce solids. This is especially true when it comes to holiday cooking when the food is often more rich than our usual diets, and we get together for meals in other’s homes. A little planning ahead can go a long way.
To help you navigate feeding your little one at holiday dinners and special occasions, see below for some dietician- approved tips.

First Foods: Turkey, yes or no? 
I wouldn’t have thought this before having kids, but did you know that turkey can be a first food?
Iron-rich meats are a great choice to introduce to your baby after they reach 6 months. Use a hand-held blender on the pulse setting to puree the meat until it is
very smooth in texture. Simply add breast milk,
formula, or water to the mixture if it’s too thick. The final product should drip easily from a
spoon. Fattier meat from the turkey thigh or leg works best for this
baby-friendly version of a holiday meal favourite. As your baby gets older you can
introduce some texture and pulse the meat less.
Keep Veggies Simple
Mashed regular or sweet
potatoes loaded with butter are another Thanksgiving favourite. For baby it’s best to serve them as a plain mash; simply set aside some of the
mashed mixture before adding butter, cheese, bacon, or sour cream and serve them
the plain to your baby. For very young infants (6-8 months), thin the mixture with
formula or breast milk to ensure it isn’t too thick. Similarly, the veggies
from items like green bean casserole and glazed carrots can all be pureed and
served to baby.
Know the Ingredients
While we all have our favourite family
recipes, it’s important to know what’s in the food you plan to feed baby, especially if you’re dining with a new family or a new recipe is introduced. Things like nuts,
heavy cream, and spicy seasonings can be hard to detect in dishes like casseroles
and stuffing. Double check with your host ahead of time if these or other ingredients of concern have been used in dishes so you can plan accordingly (it might be easier to pack your own baby food). There are lots of baby food options available to suit the theme of special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Two ideas include the  Strained Apple PC® Organics Baby Food Pouch and PC® Organics
Pumpkin, Apple, Peach & Buckwheat Strained Baby Food.
And Now for Dessert!
While your baby doesn’t know what
dessert is yet, you can still offer them some if you like. Tasty treats like
homemade pumpkin pie can be easily transformed for your baby. For babies
6- 8 months old, simply scoop out pie filling and puree it until fine and
runny, adding formula or breast milk to thin the texture. For a quick on- the- go option you can try a sweet food pouch like PC® Organics Blackberry
Cobbler Flavour (contains no artificial flavours). Remember to keep sweet servings small while you
introduce your baby to this new taste (I like to combine a sweet item like apple sauce with a savoury flavour to lower the sweet factor).
Foods to Avoid
While adults enjoy loading their turkey
with condiments like gravy and cranberry sauce, serving these items to your
baby isn’t a good idea. Babies don’t need the added sodium and sugar these
condiments contain. Stick to plain foods as your baby gets used to consuming
and digesting solids.

Have Back Up
A good idea if you’ll be away from home for meals is to have a small bag stocked with feeding essentials that you can toss in the diaper bag on your way out. Something that you can re- use and throw in the wash is a great option, but a plastic ziploc or grocery bag will work just fine as well. Include items such as a bowl, spoon, bib, a few jars/ pouches of food, and any other items you like to have on hand to make meal times away from home a little easier (I like to have something for Liam to chomp on as well now that he’s teething). You may not need it, but it’s great to have just in case.

No matter how you decide to celebrate you
baby’s first special occasion, it’s sure to be one you’ll always remember. Take lots of
pictures, invest in creating family memories and- most of all- have fun!

Visit the PC® Organics website to learn more about their products. 

You can also find them on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Photos: K Petrunia
Brands shown: PC Organics, Paper Airplane (bandana bib), Glitter & Spice (teething necklace), Fun Fiestas By Ili (noisemaker)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by PC Organics. All opinions are my own

October posts sponsored by

Solid Food Basics with PC Organics

For the next few months I’m excited to be working with PC® Organics to share some fun and informative content on the topic of feeding your baby. I’ve been a fan of this brand since Ari started solids and love that it offers organic options at comparable prices to many non- organic products. With Liam just starting solids I thought it would be a good time to share my first post in this series with some tips on starting solids with your little one.
It can be a little exciting and emotional- where did the time go??? Suddenly that little baby of yours is marking an important milestone and trying solids for the first time. But as with everything that comes with our little munchkins, there is a lot of conflicting information. To help sort through all of this info, this series of posts will offer up nutritional advice for your little one to help you figure out good foods to try and meet their nutritional needs. There will also be some fun surprises along the way (when aren’t there surprises as a parent 😉 ), so stay tuned!

It can be a little confusing when starting your baby on solids trying to figure out which foods to give them first, when and how to introduce new foods, etc. Below
are a few helpful, dietitian-approved tips to start your little one off on the
right foot. Bon appeitit little one!

Know the Signs
is recommended to wait until 6 months to introduce solid food (I waited 6 months with Ari, but tried solids a little sooner with Liam, since he was showing signs- see below). There are several signs you can look out for that can help you determine if your little one is ready to try eating solid foods. Signs your child is ready for
the transition to begin include:

  • holding their heads up and sitting upright in a high chair or seat
  • opening their mouth for food when it is
    offered and turning away when they don’t like it
  • closing their lips
    over a spoon when its offered, keeping food in their mouth and swallowing 
Take Baby Steps
It can be fun introducing your baby to ‘grown up’ food, but it’s best to take things slow and steady when introducing new foods. To help make this process a little easier:

  •  introduce new foods when your baby is happy and hungry to ensure a great
    first impression
  •  offer single
    foods first before offering blends of flavours (important if you’re concerned about potential food allergies or sensitivities
  • if your little one doesn’t like
    something, try it again another day
Lead by Example
Your baby learns to eat by watching you. When your family is eating together, give your baby  the same foods in a form they can eat. Eating the same foods as you will help your baby learn healthy eating habits with the rest of the family (with Ari I liked giving her foods that still had a little bit of texture, such as broccoli mashed with potatoes, so she didn’t only have purees, but you still have to watch out for lumps/ big pieces). There are some great baby food options available (click here for some ideas) and your baby can easily enjoy the same nutritious food your family does. It’s also good to think about your own behaviour when it comes to food: your baby may notice and mimic your behaviour with foods you don’t enjoy.
Unplug During Meal Times
With busy days,  it can be tough to unplug and focus on your meal and disconnect from electronic devices. But to set a good example, it’s best to limit distractions. Try to put aside 15- 30 minutes for you and your family to focus on your meal. This will teach your baby that meal time is important; and as your kids grow, this can become an important time to connect with them. And it’s worth noting that families that eat together, eat healthier.
Introduce Iron-Rich Foods First
At around six months of age, the iron stores that babies are born with begin to decline and they need iron-rich foods to meet the nutrient needs of their fast growing bodies. Try boiled or well cooked meats and fish, iron-fortified infant cereals (I like rice and grain cereals; try PC® Organics Rice Cereal with Banana), tofu, beans and legumes, and cooked egg yolks. Tip: Serve iron-rich foods with fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C to help your baby absorb the iron.
Spice Things Up
Plain veggies can get a little boring, so you can add flavour using herbs and spices that are mild enough for a baby’s palette. While additions like salt add unhealthy sodium, fresh or dried herbs and spices will introduce them to flavours in new and interesting ways. For an interesting twist, try adding cinnamon to PC® Organics Strained Sweet Potato & Chicken
Stay Hydrated
At around six months, babies can learn to drink small amounts of water, which has several benefits, including:

  • eases digestion
  • reduces tooth decay 
  • prevents dehydration 

During meal time, let your baby try sipping water from a lidless cup. With a little patience and practice, they’ll be drinking from a cup alone in no time.

Take It To Go
Once your baby starts solids, it can become one more thing to have to think about. If you’re planning a play date or outing, get their food bag ready ahead of time and stock it with everything you need: spoon, cup or bottle, bib, and the food you want to give them. One thing I am so grateful for is the food pouches that are now available. I stock up on a variety at once and you can either squeeze them onto a spoon or let your little one hold them. They make feeding on the go much easier and less messy. Plus they’re a great option when your kids are a little older and can feed themselves. 
Having fun trying out solids with my little guy!

Visit the PC® Organics website to learn more about their products. 

You can also find them on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Photos: K Petrunia
Brands shown: PC Organics, Munchkin, & Paper Airplane

Stay tuned for more content with PC® Organics in the coming months. 

September posts sponsored by

Amara Baby Food Review

I’m fairly picky about the food that Ari eats (partly by choice, partly by necessity) and always on the look out for new things to try with her. It’s been tough since we’ve had to further restrict her diet beyond dairy and gluten to include some fruits and veggies to determine if these foods are hurting her belly & gut. It’s been an interesting culinary journey to say the least and I’ve found that some of my favourite go- tos have been crossed off my list (including many of my favourite organic store- bought pouches). With these new restrictions I’ve had to make sure all the food she eats doesn’t have any sneaky ingredients that she can’t have (there was even wheat in the jarred prunes we were buying!) 

It can be frustrating at times, but it’s also led us to try new things. We recently discovered Amara baby food and have been trying out their banana dried baby food. Like rice cereal, all you have to do is mix it with water (or swap in breast milk/ milk or milk substitutes) and it’s good to go (I use a fork to mix it so there’s no lumps). It’s also great mixed into a smoothie or in oatmeal, making it a versatile option that Ari has been loving. And let’s face it, what Mom isn’t elated when her toddler eats what’s put in front of them and it’s healthy to boot?

Aside from the fact that Ari is happily gobbling it up, here’s what I like about it:
– organic
– non- GMO certified
– made just from fruits & veggies
– free from additives/ fillers 
(the ingredients list for the dried banana pouches: organic dried bananas. That’s it.)

Here’s the ingredients/ nutritional info:

Unlike the food that comes in pouches or jars, this food is dehydrated to ensure none of the nutritional benefit is lost. I’m a fan of dehydrating fruit for trail mix, etc, but didn’t realize just how beneficial this process is for keeping nutrients in food intact. While researching this post I learnt something that really p’d me off: because of the high temperatures used to cook baby food that comes in jars and pouches to keep it shelf stable, most if not all, of the vitamins and nutrients are compromised resulting in mostly empty calories. Uggggh. Those things aren’t cheap!

I try and make as much of my own food as I can, but sometimes you just need something that’s easy to grab & go. So for a convenient snack option I’ve been making smoothies with the Amara dried banana food and either putting them into reusable pouches or in cups with wide straws for when we’re out and about (a great way to sneak in spinach and kale!). You can also just toss the pouch of dried food into your bag and mix it up when you need it (which is a great snack for when we visit Grandma & Grandpa). 

Here’s what the food likes right out of the pouch and when stirred with water:

Amara’s baby food is good for babies 6 months+ and comes in several flavours. If you want to try Amara out for yourself, visit their website to see where it’s available near you (Whole Foods on Cambie Street in Vancouver is one local location carrying it). You can also find them on Facebook & Twitter.