Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


Baby Food

Babies can definitely have a different palette than adults.  Not only is it different, it changes over time.  When you’re trying to prepare food for a baby that has limited ability to express himself, this can be a challenge!

Introducing Solids

I started giving solid food to my little guy at around the six month mark.  At first, he didn’t know what to do with the food.  Though he would be busy “chewing” any time he saw someone else eating food, when I finally give him his own food, he was a bit bewildered.

After a few tries, he got the hang of it and we were off to the races.   He started with brown rice and then quickly moved on to pears, sweet potato, carrots, and apples.

If you follow my blog, you would probably guess that I was determined to make my own baby food.  For the most part, I have and I feel really good about knowing exactly what I am feeding him.

Baby Food on the Go

That’s not to say that he hasn’t tried lots of store-bought organic baby foods.  They are easy to tuck into the diaper bag and also give him a chance to try new flavours.  In some cases, I have used the store-bought foods to introduce him to a new taste before cooking up a bunch of it myself.  My favorite brands of baby food are Baby Gourmet and Ella’s Kitchen.  Both use organic ingredients.  I also like supporting local businesses and Baby Gourmet is one of those for me.

Making My Own Baby Food

Once I knew some of my son’s favorite foods, I started combining them into different purees.

One of the first combinations I made for him was a roasted vegetable soup.   I roasted some butternut squash, some onion, some garlic and some carrots.  I mixed the roasted veggies with water and some cooked quinoa.  Finally, I blended the whole thing to make a smooth puree.  My son loved the vegetables and I was happy to have snuck some quinoa into the mixture for some added goodness.

Another favorite of his is butternut squash with onions.  Not only is it his favorite, it’s actually one of mine!  I pan fry the onions in a little bit of coconut oil until they are browned.  Then, I add the cubed butternut squash and some water.  I let that cook on low until the squash is soft.  I season it with cinnamon and salt.  It’s a really simple dish that is both healthy and tasty.  In the beginning, I would puree it for him to make it easy for him to eat.  Now that he’s older, I just mash it up with a spoon and he can handle the rest.  Here’s a photo of a fresh batch (unmashed) I just made this morning.

Butternut Squash and Onions

Make Ahead Baby Food

The trick to making baby food in advance is to freeze it in little cubes.  Each cube is approximately one tablespoon.  My son starting by eating just one tablespoon at a time.  Now, he eats closer to 8 or 9 tablespoons of food in a meal.  Here’s some cubes that I made a little while ago.  I left them in the tray a bit too long and it looks like they’re getting a case of freezer burn.  Whoops!

Baby Food Cube Tray

Baby Food Cube Tray

Other favorites for my little guy include any kind of fruit, apple sauce, pear sauce, apple/pear sauce…, Well, you get the picture, right?

Pear Apple Sauce

Pear Apple Sauce

Action Shot

Finally, I couldn’t resist posting a photo of my little guy in action.  He really loves his blueberries and raspberries too, no matter how messy it gets! (Thank goodness for bibs!)




72 Bags of Berries!

It’s the end of berry season here in the northern hemisphere.

I’ve been busy buying in bulk, washing and freezing berries all season.  I managed to get some raspberries, but most of the berries are blueberries and strawberries.  I like to stock up when I can get the berries fresh and then freeze them for the off-season. It’s my way to stocking up on fresh antioxidants!

I thought it was time to take stock of my efforts over the summer.

I’m still in a bit of shock to find out that I have SEVENTY-TWO bags of berries in my deep freezer.  In fact, there’s not much else in the deep freezer at all!  This is kind of like what our freezer looks like right now (it’s packed!).

On average, we consume a bag of berries each week.  Assuming we stick with the same rate, we’ve got more than a year’s supply of berries!  🙂


Make Your Own Face Mask

Over the summer months, I’ve been spending my Sundays treating myself to different face masks.  Some of them exfoliate and others moisturize.  I even  managed to concoct some that did both!

As much as possible, I tried to use ingredients that I had on hand in my kitchen or in my personal supply of skin care ingredients.

Clay masks

The first masks I ever made were ones that used clay.  Clays are great for helping to remove impurities from the skin, without irritating your skin.

Red and White Clay Mask

My first mask was a combination of red and white clays as well as crushed rose petals.  I mixed that with Manuka honey and some aloe vera gel.  The mask was pretty thin on my skin.  The rose petals helped to exfoliate my skin a little bit as I massaged it into my face. It washed off fairly easily and I followed it with my Day and Night Oil.

Making a Thicker Clay Mask

I personally like a thicker clay mask.  An easy way to make that is to combine some clay (say, 0.5 teaspoon) with 1 Tablespoon of aloe vera gel.  I found this to make a thicker consistency and have had great results with it.  In this particular case, I made the mask with 0.5 teaspoons of green clay and aloe vera gel.

Face Masks from the Kitchen

I have learned how to make a few different masks using kitchen ingredients only.  It’s been lots of fun experimenting with different fruits and combinations.

Avocado Mask

To make this mask, I blended one half avocado with 1 Tablespoon of Manuka honey and 1 tsp of coconut oil.  I spread it all over face and neck and left it on for 15 minutes.  It was very creamy.  I could feel it dry a bit on my skin.  This was super moisturizing and it took a while to rinse it all off my face!  My skin felt very soft afterwards.

I’ve also tried this mask with some oatmeal added to it.  It served as an exfoliant as I massaged the mask into my skin.

Berry Delight Mask

I first mixed one crushed strawberry with two or three crushed raspberries. I then stirred in some Manuka Honey.

This mask was fairly thin. I thought it might also be scratchy with the mashed up berries, but it was actually very smooth.  I left it on for about 10 minutes and felt it tighten on my skin right away.  It also washed off easily.  My skin felt noticeably soft and moisturized afterwards!

Bananas and Honey Mask

For this mask, I mashed a quarter of a banana and mixed it with Manuka honey.  I massaged it into skin and left it on for 15 minutes.  Even though it was runny when I applied it, I felt the mixture tighten on my skin.  My skin felt soft afterwards, but not quite as supple as it felt after the Berry Delight Mask. strawberry/raspberry mask.

Chocolatey Goodness Mask

I was inspired to try this mask after seeing Kristina post about it on her blog Homemade Wellbeing.  I mixed 2 tsp of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of Manuka honey, 2 tsp of coconut milk and 2 tsp of ground oatmeal.

I massaged this into my face for a bit of exfoliation.  I left it on for about 20 minutes and my skin felt very soft at the end.  Between the smell and having soft skin at the end of the mask, this was definitely one of my favorites.

I liked this one so much that I tried again with a slight variation.  On the second try, I mixed cocoa powder, five mashed blueberries, Manuka honey and coconut milk.   Once again, it was divine!

Do you have a favorite face mask?

Do you have a favorite mask that you use?  Even better, have you ever experimented with kitchen ingredients for your skin care?  If you have, please leave me a comment to tell me all about it!


Stock up on your antioxidants now!

I love summertime.  It’s sunny, hot and there’s lot of fresh fruit!

Freezing fresh fruit

Ever since we ended up owning a deep freezer (the first one we owned was left behind by the last tenants of the house we moved into), I’ve been stockpiling frozen fruit.

I love to add blueberries and strawberries to my smoothie in the morning.  Berries are definitely in my list of my favorite beauty foods. They are full of antioxidants and they add a natural sweetness to the drink.

However, for most of the year, it’s hard to find fresh fruit that’s in season.  There’s always frozen fruit available to buy, but why would I buy that in the winter when I could freeze my own fresh berries during the summer?

Buying in Bulk

During the summer, for the few short months when fresh fruit is available at a decent price, I buy at least double what I need each week.  I wash all of it and chop it if required.  Then, I lay the fruit out on a cutting board for a few hours to let it dry out a bit.  Once it’s dry, I pack it into plastic baggies and store it in the freezer.

If I buy enough of it now, I’ll have enough for the rest of the year and save myself the expense of buying frozen fruit in the winter.