By Kelli Morgan
My little sweet boy turned one this week. We celebrated with a fun monkey-themed party! A monkey theme was just so natural. First, Merrick LOVES bananas. Second, he is such a monkey! I swear the day he started walking, he started climbing and hanging on things and getting into mischief! He takes his role as a little brother very seriously! I was so happy the weather cooperated with me for his party. He was able to wear his furry monkey costume and take a spin around the neighborhood in his new blue car to see all the Halloween lights!
Here are some of the yummy recipes from his party!
Merrick’s Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
I found Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix. It is super good! With a few additions, it made the yummiest banana cupcakes! Check out the cute cupcake toppers my friend Tasha made for Merrick. (yes, Madilyn and I turned them into hair accessories!) She is super creative and makes them for all occasions. Check out her blog! http://southerngirlsecrets.blogspot.com/
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium-size ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Mash banana in large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl, and beat on low for 1 minute. Scrape bowl with spatula; beat 2 minutes more on medium speed. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool on wire racks. Once cooled, they are ready to be iced!
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1 stick Earth Balance Butter (or you could use regular butter)
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup vanilla almond milk (or you could use rice, soy or regular milk)
1tsp vanilla extract
Soften butter in bowl, add cocoa and vanilla. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed.
Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies are amazing and super healthy. I don’t even mind if my kids (or hubby) eat them for breakfast! The recipe comes from www.weelicious.com, my new favorite website for healthy recipes your kids will love.
3 Bananas (preferably ripe or spotty bananas)
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 Cup Dried Dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 Cup Oil
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 Tsp Salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mash bananas in a bowl, and mix in the remaining ingredients.
3. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
4. Using a mini ice cream scoop or tablespoon, place the batter onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 25 Minutes.
5. Cool and serve.
** To make into bars – place dough in a greased 7×11 dish, bake for 35-40 minutes then allow to cool. Cut into bars or squares.
**To Freeze: allow cookies to cool after baking then place in a Ziploc bag, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
Since hummus is Merrick’s favorite food, I had to serve it as the appetizer. I served it in a hollowed-out pumpkin with veggies. I thought it was pretty cute, if I do say so myself!
Even though Merrick is able to enjoy table food now, he still recieves his primary nutrition from me. Just as babies do, toddlers receive health benefits from breastmilk. At one year of age, a baby’s immune system is functioning at only 60 percent of adult level, and because formula has no live antibodies, it is strongly associated with high rates of infection. A child’s immune system isn’t functioning at adult level until age six. Breastmilk continues to provide immunities and vitamins, which can help protect your toddler from illness and allergies. Breastmilk is amazingly adaptable. If you give birth to a premature baby, your body will produce milk especially high in protein and other nutrients to help your baby develop. As your baby grows, you milk continues to adapt to meet your child’s needs. It is truly a remarkable process, fine-tuned over millennia to be the best food for our little humans!
Breastfeeding into toddlerhood is natural and beneficial, but how common is it across the world today? As explained in A Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning, Margaret Mead and other anthropologists discovered that mothers wean in the way and at the time that their cultures prescribe and that peaceful, cooperative societies tend to wean later using gentler methods. Furthermore, it has been estimated the median age of weaning throughout the world is between ages three and five. The Siriono people of Bolivia don’t wean before the age of three. In Mexico, the Zinacanteco Indians (descendants of Mayans) nurse until age four or five. In East Africa and the Philippines, nursing for several years is not rare. Mothers in China and Japan still nursed their children for four or five years well into the 20th century. Up until 1950 in Kenya, mothers nursed until five, and in Mongolia, mothers nursed until two or three and sometimes as old as six and seven. Breastfeeding suppresses ovulation for a year or so, so it also allowed the mother a natural way to space out her pregnancies. As ideals, expectations, and family roles shift, so does the culture. Other issues that can affect breastfeeding and weaning include religious beliefs, a mother’s every-day activities and employment, and outside influences.
I count myself very lucky to have such a supportive husband and family. Even though my husband was not nursed, he has always been extremely supportive and encouraging of my breastfeeding our children. My mother-in-law even tells me she wishes she had breastfeed after seeing the bond between me and her grandchildren. I was lucky to be breastfed until two (well, technically until a week before my third birthday, but why quibble?) I’m sure that is why I am so smart! I also saw my mother nurse my younger brother and sister into toddlerhood, so I never had anything but positive feelings towards extended breastfeeding. I’ve received some funny looks nursing my baby in public. I’ve never let it bother me because I know I am doing the best, most natural thing for my baby. I always find it fascinating how opinionated and heated people get over how other people raise their children. Last time I checked, my life has not been negatively affected by Suri Cruise drinking a bottle at five!