Monday, 7 December 2015

Classic book review: The Munch Bunch Series

I loved the Munch Bunch as a kid. Before the age of seven or so, my two go to series that never failed me were the Mr Men, and the group of anthromorphic fruit, vegetables, and later a few select nuts who had escaped from certain doom at the green grocers, and lived at the bottom of the garden around the shed. Part of the allure was the almost unattainable aim of collecting the whole series, but
just as you thought you'd  completed the set on the back of the book, the publishers would release

Anyway, Luke discovered all my old books at my parents' house today, so we've been having loads of read alongs. I'd forgotten so much, but generally the rules seem to be:

1. All the berries are naughty, but don't pay much in the way of consequences.
Billy Blackberry and his friend Scruff Gooseberry decided to build a tunnel for the purposes of stealing the stock of the local confectionaire in order to fully stock their own shop. Despite the seemingly incriminating evidence of the entire inventory of one shop turning up in the only other similar outlet in the neighbourhood overnight, it actually takes several days for local constable Merv Marrow to overhear a confession. But instead of arresting him on the stop, Merv puts together an elaborate plan involving secret tunnels and diversions to land Billy and Scruff directly in jail for a lengthy sentence of... 'Not long.'

Rozzy Raspberry got it a little bit harsher, though her punishment could have been labelled slightly more inappropriate and dangerous when she was locked out of her house overnight for playing a few pranks on her friends.

2. Racial stereotypes are OK 
The Munch Bunch have no difficulties making sweeping stereotypical generalisations of whole populations. To start off with, there's Ollie the cowardly French onion, who's always crying.

Pedro the Orange, who wears a sombrero and strums an oversized mariachi style guitar.

Lizzie the Leek, meek, subservient and wearing a Welsh hat.

Supercool the cool cucumber, who seems to be a caricature of a Rasta, with his oversized hat and glasses, though appearances can be deceptive I suppose.

I guess it probably took all the restraint the author and illustrator had when they created the New Zealand spin off character Charlie Kumara (pals with the other Kiwi special releases, Kiri Kiwifruit, Ted Tamarillo and Patty Passionfruit)

3. So are inappropriate fancy dress costumes
Olly hosts a fancy dress party, presumably one of those frat-house-style ones with a bad taste theme. Tom Tomato decides to try on some cultural misappropriation with a Native American headdress. But, holy crap, is that Professor Peabody behind him, one upping the inappropriateness in a Ku Klux Klan hood?

4. Quackerry is all the rage, medically
Nurse Plum is the resident medical staff, keeping a small hospital to treat any injuries or illnesses which may strike the Bunch. There's no doctor in sight, but that's OK, some nurses are plenty competent enough to manage on their own. Nurse Plum, however, does have an approach to medicine which could be  described  as unconventional, at least.

Rozzy Raspberry, who as you may remember is a bit of a trickster, presents with an arrow through the head, having been 'shot by Indians' (there's that cultural sensitivity being laid on thick again). It's a trick, of course, but never mind that for now. Rather than preparing for neurosurgery, or, you know, examining her patient adequately, Nurse Plum is quick to lay Rozzy Raspberry up in bed and prescribe a course of  milk and sweets. You may think this is just the good nurse being kind, but no, she does actually say 'this will make you better in no  time'. Of course, th injury being a cruel jape, the worst thing that happened was Rozzy got locked outside for the night, but were an actual traumatic brain injury to present, the moral of this story would be a lot darker than 'be nice to your friends'.

5. The Munch Bunch diet is awful
You may have noticed this already. Obviously, any attempt to eat a healthy diet with five plus fruit and vegetable servings daily was going to end in grim canibalism.  So the Munch Bunch turn to sweets. A new sweet shop opens, with 'every type of sweet imaginable', and the whole town has turned out. Not only that, but when sweets start going missing frim said shop, it's a tragedy  that resonates throughout the township, enough to bring several townsfolk together to thwart the thieves to end the biggest local crisis since  the last spring harvest.

And we've already addressed the sweets as medicine fiasco.

This sort of book may have been OK back in the loose eighties, but you're probably safer sticking to reading your toddler Game of Thrones these days. That said, at least the skateboarding Rasta cucumber isn't too cool to use appropriate safety gear.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

MEAT! Wattie's Pumpkin, potato and beef

I'm scared.

I'm scared on a few levels in fact. Firstly, this isn't really a review I'm allowed to do, so let's get it out the way quickly. My wife is a vegetarian, and I love her for the conviction she has in trying to avoid all meat. I remember her anguish on finding she'd eaten a slice of bread 'fortified' with 0.05% fish oil. I didn't hear the end of that one for weeks, and as such, decided it best not to mention a few years later, on a trip to Australia, that I thought the chips we were eating were flavoured with chicken salt. This deep hatred of the ingestion of slabs of dead animal has spread to our kids. Luke has on several occasions come close to nicking s delicious chicken nugget off a friend, only to be reminded he doesn't like chicken. Never mind the fact a chicken has seldom been near any chicken nugget.  So, in short, we're not meant to have meat-laced baby food within the house. But this was on special, I was at the supermarket, I needed something to draw readers back in to my blog... So here we are.

and that brings me to the second reason I'm scared.... Now I have to eat the bloody stuff. Still, babies eat it, apparently, so how hard can it be?

Contains: Vegetables (61%) (Pumpkin (50%), Potatoes (6%), Carrots), Water for cooking, Beef (10%), Corn semolina, Cornflour, Herb

Here we go again... Lots of pumpkin, not much of anything else. In fact, I'm going out on a limb here and I'll say that this is going to taste more of pumpkin than anything else. hey Watties, why not just make it entirely pumpkin, aye?

Of note, however, is the mystery 'herb' listed in the ingredients. Singular, note. Is it basil? Thyme? Rosemary? Sage? Do babies even like herbs? I don't know. I'll tell you who does like herbs, though, and that's Sean Connery, though only partially.

First impressions: looking at the label of this, I'm expecting a nice roast dinner. Like one of Willie Wonka's three course gums, but instead of a gum, it's a puréed mush. Beautifully sliced roast beef, and a whole crown pumpkin appear enticingly on the tin. Opening the can, the appearance of said mush isn't as inspiring a sight as the package art work. Very watery looking, bright orange ochre, not the most appetising thing I've seen today. Surprisingly, savoury beef lingers long on the nose, along with water. Very little pumpkin or potato, though I don't really know that potato really does smell like anything, truth be told.

Taste test: guess what? Tastes of pumpkin! There are a few nuggety soft chunks which put me in the mind of small flecks of budget mince in a university flat bolognese, but the beef flavour doesn't really shine through that well. Maybe they don't want to save the finest cuts of sirloin for the under 8 monthers, but Watties could still try and give the meat content a bit more believability. Strangely, the water and potatoes make more of an impression, though the carrot is about as anonymous as it is on the label, however. Guess what, though! Right at the back of the palate, there is indeed the slightest hint of parsley!

And you know what, just for once it is nice to eat a baby food not trying to indulge itself in superfood wankery by trying to include a miniscule portion of quinoa, so ka pai for that, Watties.

Overall: still, despite the lack of pretentiousness, tasting only of pumpkin, yet promising so much more does let this food down ultimately. 4.5/10

Enjoy: you could try with a nice central Otago Pinot noir, but that would be a waste of good wine. My advice would be ditch the food, just buy some proper steak.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Classic children's book review: Where's Spot?

Here's something a little different today. As Emily eats more and more real food, and develops already-reviewed favourites, there are fewer opportunities to write about purees. Fear not, however! A few exciting opportunities and projects are on the horizon over the coming months... Vegetable lasagne in a jar, several flavoured crackers, meat, and to top it off, can I run a 60km trail race fuelled only by food designed for under one year olds? Only one way to find out, stay tuned for January 26!

But today, I thought it might be an idea to review some of the varied literature available for the infant market. I thought a good start would be one of Luke's current high rotation book, Eric Hill's classic psychological thriller Where's Spot?

When reviewing a book, the first step I usually take is reading already existing reviews. Hill's publisher, Puffin Books, makes this easy by including two on the back:

I'm not sure how to take the London Standard review. Clearly, if this is Hill's debut offering, it is a solid book, hinting at the heights he will later hit in Spot's Christmas and Spot Visits His Grandparents. However, the other read of this phrase also rings true: if you had not read a book previously, this would be an ideal start. Not so lengthy as to be a daunting prospect, yet with enough of a plot to draw the novice reader in. However, it is Child Education's review that intrigues me. 'Cleverly designed! Irresistible!' Steady on there... I assume the clever design refers to the flaps within the book, in which this strikes me possibly as a superlative too far... If this is clever design, just wait until Child Education sees pop-up, talking books, or, heaven forbid, iPads! 

The book itself serves as a salutary warning to parents not to be so distracted as to let your infant go missing. Sally, the main protagonist, becomes distracted from her parental duties by her dinner, only to discover that her son, spot, is nowhere to be seen when it comes to eating his. Not only this, but her house seems to have been invaded by a sinister gang of foreign animals. She journeys from room to room, but at each turn is met by a creature of varying threat. Early on, a boa constrictor is found hiding in a grandfather clock. Clearly a future influence for the popular Samuel L Jackson film Snakes on a Plane, this serpent appears to have either been whipped into some sort of hallucinogen-fuelled frenzy by some illicit substance, or suffering from a nasty bilateral conjunctivitis.

Fortunately, Sally is able to escape the maliciously drugged-up reptile, but is confronted by several other terrible fiends. There is a  hippopotamus sequestered in a presumably heavily strengthened grand piano, a crocodile underneath her bed, three cloned identical penguins in a random box, and a lion who, clearly finished with snacking upon adolescent wizards, is looking forward to a canine-sized desert.

Finally, Sally finds a presumably friendly, helpful, but terrified ally: a tortoise, who in clear defiance of the laws of physics is occupying a space much smaller than that of his own body mass under a floor rug. With a look of abject terror on its face, it screams instructions as to where her son is hiding.

Soon, mother and son are reunited. They trot off to complete their evening meal, ignoring the menagerie of doom now occupying their house, and thus setting up the perfect premise for a sequel, which has alas not yet been written.

I found Where's Spot to be a strong, enjoyable read, with strong, thoughtfully created lead characters in Sally and Spot, the unnamed tortoise providing good support. Where the plot is let down is the reasoning behind the hostile takeover of Sally and Spot's home... Who has sent these creatures, and what is their aim? This minor criticism aside, however, Where's Spot provides enough suspense and action to keep readers of all ages entertained for five minutes on end. Overall, a solid 7.5/10.

I'll endeavour over the future weeks, when not writing about food, to review further books, possibly even including my current favourite Maisy Makes Lemonade, number two in a trilogy which also includes Maisy Makes Milk, and Maisy Makes Chocolate Around The Corner.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Only Organics: More Quinoa

This isn't a food review. This is a quick Ost because I found these in the in-laws' cupboard the other day.

I have not tried these foods. This is because I do not need to try these foods. They will taste, respectively, like banana and blueberry purée and kumara and banana purée. The banana will overpower, but there will be a slight aftertaste of berries on the first, and a hint of tannin-like kumara on the second. Yes, the quinoa may be present on concentrations of up to 2%: BUT IT IS PURÉED TO A SMOOTH PASTE. It will not be detectable.

Only Organic baby food, I have tweeted you before on this topic. Please stop. I know if you put quinoa in your baby food you are enabled to write Supergrain Quinoa! in fancy writing on the top of your packet. But here's the thing: it makes no difference whatsoever. The amount of quinoa in one of these sachets is probably similar to that which I would inhale passively whilst walking down Cuba Street at 10am on a Sunday morning.

I've done a little research into the health benefits of quinoa, and actually found it a little mor fifficult than I expected, by which I mean the first four google hits were pretty useless and then I got bored. One site, sounded as though it would be fairly authoritive on nutritional matters. But then the first of their 11 proven health benefits of quinoa (number one is my favourite) boiled down to the following:

Which essentially in my opinion is the title  reworded. Granted, the article goes on to list the nutritional breakdown of quinoa, spell fibre incorrectly, and point out its benefits to weight loss, heart disease, type two diabetes and gluten intolerance, but none of these are particularly of concern to a four to six month old. Sure, quinoa, may be a great source of protein, but if your serving size is 1.4% of 120g, you're still getting  sweet FA protein. Then we come to this gem at number six:

Now, I'm not going to try and deny that quinoa has a low glycaemic index. But you know what has a very low glycaemic index? Kumara. That shit you've drowned your healthy, slow-sugar-releasing, all glorious super grain in. Damn. Anyway, on to proven reason number 8 that quinoa is good for you:

MAY have some major benefits for metabolic health. That doesn't sound so proven to me. Surely they can't pad out these reasons any more?

Fries are also easy to incorporate into your diet. I guess that's a proven health benefit of fries, then.

Oh, and on a side note, authority nutrition dot com, time to get better at clickbait: if you're going to have a list of eleven things, telling people that number one is your favourite then having it as such a let down means they're not going to read any further. Here's an example to help you out with the format!

So, after this brief foray into the world of health food blogs other than my own, I'm forced to conclude that Only Organic's slow morph into Only Quinoa can only be a cynical attempt to cash in on a current health fad. In which case, I fear they are already too late. According to the BBC Good Food blog, the UN declared the International Year of Quinoa to be 2013.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Heinz Organic Summer fruits and yoghurt with oats and quinoa

Remember that time I reviewed that Only Organic food with quinoa in it, and it got over two times as many page views than anything else I've written? Surely it was a one off and no other company would be stupid enough to put the almighty supergrain in a baby food?

WT actual F Heinz? You used to be a sensible company, dealing in ketchup and brown sauces, possibly a few baked beans or cans of spaghetti. Your baby foods have been mostly sensible combinations, albeit with the odd guava thrown in for no obvious reason. So why quinoa? Emily is, admittedly, two months older than last time she tried this fad, so I concede maybe it is slightly more likely she will finish her breakfast, stand up, and with perfect enunciation say to me 'Thankyou for breakfast Father. Especially, I am grateful for your foresight in giving me copious amounts of quinoa, which has given me the energy I need for my morning crossfit session. I'm off to the gym to flip some large tricycle tyres now. Ciao.'

Really. Quinoa in baby food. Next thing they'll have toddler sized Lululemon yoga pants.

Contains: Fruit (banana (31%), mango (16%), apples (5%)), Apple juice, Cooked oats (contains traces of wheat) (7%), Water, Greek style yoghurt (Cultured milk) (6%), Cornflour, Quinoa (1.7%), Cream, Vitamin C.

Two things stand out to me here. First, the very small elephant in the room is the quinoa, and to be fair, there's a whole 0.1% more in this food than in the Only Organic's quinoa based food, so I suppose there is hope of extra grainy flavour. Possibly with the promise of soft lumps within, there could even be some texture... Can you make quinoa into a soft lump?

Secondly, summer fruits: there are only three fruits listed in the ingredients for this food. You want summer fruits? You need peaches, strawberries, nectarines. Apple is predominantly harvested in the autumn months. Bananas, not grown in New Zealand, but are available plentifully year round at a reasonable price. Frankly, in my opinion really only mango can be classified as a truly summer fruit.

Emily's reaction: Generally, was quite favourable initially. However, soon food fatigue set in after half a jar. Emily is entering the stage where she wants to feed herself, and she wasn't about to be left wielding a spoon full of imitation cold sick.

First impressions: Have I used a cold sick analogy yet? In the last sentence, and several times previously in this blog? I'm using it again. It's yellow, and full of little lumps. It looks like cold sick. But to be fair, it's cold sick that smells predominantly like banana, like someone ate a banana, and then thought better of it.

Taste test: Actually against all odds, this goes down a treat. The taste is strongly of banana, with a hint of mango, but very little of the least summery of the fruity trio, the apply. Relatively thick on the tongue, little soft nuggets of rolled oats add an interest as it slides back. And YES! Sure enough, about once every spoonful, your tongue will find a single grain of quinoa! Sure, it's not actually enough to add any flavour, but it's there. That said, a similar texture could be achieved in this food by adding half a teaspoon of poppy seeds, or sand.

Overall: 7/10, not a bad taste or texture. Still can't get over the pointlessness of the quinoa though.

Enjoy: Down at the Hokowhitu Mums' organic paleo vegan coffee group, or wherever such people meet.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Only Organic Carrot, red lentils, and cheddar

There are times I sit down to enjoy a new baby food with my darling daughter, and we are confronted by a uniquely flavoursome punch to the palate, something we've never experienced before, but something we wouldn't mind much having to try again. And you know what? Because the world of baby purée is finite, we can try it again! But there's only so much deliciousness you can re -eat over and over again. So today it was on to new pastures, pastures containing carrots, red lentils, and cheddar. I very much had my suspicions that the lentils may turn out to be one of those foods added to the label to appeal to hipsters. Would I be proven correct? And would Emily make a face like this? (Spoiler alert: yes, that's why I have a photo of her making a face like this).

Ingredients: Vegetables (carrot (27%), pumpkin), Water, Apple, Cheese (milk) (5%), Lentil (4%), Ground rice.

And, it's all starting to fall down already. There's already looking as though there's more of the ubiquitous fillers pumpkin and apple in this than anything else, with a good dollop of water to boot. It's a little bit of a shock there's no kumara. And what was that I said about lentils being a trendy trace ingredient?

Emily's reaction: is pretty much summed up by the photo above. Mum had thought it a nice idea to try her on a piece of raw mushroom, a fungal delight her older brother inexplicably loves. Emily showed herself to be eminently more sensible, and had gagged and choked until the experiment was abandoned. 'Surely,' I thought, 'some pre-prepared packet food would go down a treat in this particular circumstance'. 'However,' I continued in internal monologue, 'past experience with cheese based foods would suggest the lentil and cheddar variety may not be the most welcome taste sensation.' Turns out the latter recollection was correct.

First impressions: I'm pretty sure I've previously hypothesised that if you were to add pumpkin to a food, it's going to dominate the taste and texture. If I haven't, I'll hypothesise that now, albeit in retrospect. On the spoon, this was orange. Granted, that could have been the carrots, but the sinewy, granular texture was all too familiar from previous pumpkiney tastings. The smell was, similarly, all pumpkin. Not even a hint of apple to linger over the turbinates.

Taste testing: I'm going to call it. What Only Organic have done here, is take Wattie's for Babies pumpkin and sweetcorn food, add some ground rice for texture, and put it in a packet suggesting far grander ingredients. I cannot taste cheddar. I cannot taste lentils. I will give benefit of the doubt, there may be some carrot included. But you are paying an extra seventy cents here for a bit of organic ground rice and a status symbol for a packet. Nothing more.

Overall: 4/10. Not bad, but tastes nothing like what it says it is on the packet.

Enjoy: trying to convince your friends at Thorndon Paleo Vegan Coffee Group and Crochet Club that your 9 month old is eating a pulse, when in fact they're actually eating a mass produced sludge aimed at a child half their age.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Heinz Organic Pumpkin, ricotta and spinach

As Emily grows, the more her diet repeats itself, and the more proper food she eats. However, today for dinner she found another baby food straight out of the upper middle class book of buzz foods. Ricotta, really Heinz? I can barely spell ricotta, let alone recognise it's taste. Surely the generic title 'pumpkin and cheese' would do? Anyway! excitement spread over my face. I realised this would be an opportunity to add to my already booming collection of foods containing pointless ingredients which should never be allowed near a small child's mouth, but at such trace levels that they barely do anyway.

Ingredients: Vegetables (71%) (pumpkin (33%), tomatoes, sweet potato, onion, zucchini, sweet corn, spinach (0.5%)), water, wheat pasta (10%), cornflour, cheese (ricotta (1.4%), pecorino (contains milk))

I feel like this is false advertising. I buy something on the pretence it is a pumpkin and spinach food, with a little bit of cheese: look at everything else in it! Half a percent spinach... It's not even trying to make an impression on the flavour, as opposed to the FIVE other vegetables listed as being present in higher quantities. And WTF... Pasta? That's a whole new carbohydratey food group just being dropped in, sorry if your baby who is pretentious enough to be eating ricotta at such a tender age is paleo, guess you can just GGF. And thirdly, I had to look up what pecorino is. Turns out it's a cheese made from the milk of sheep. Sheep. This is a food made for under one year olds. They're usually happy enough to eat a raisin covered in fluff they've found under the sofa. Why the need for sheep's milk? Chuck in some grated mild cheddar, they're happy.

Emily's reaction: I wasn't present when she ate this one. I'm told she liked it, but then, the was also half a jar left. Don't know who to believe any more.

First reactions: Is there any label on a jar, can, or packet of food better worded to get a hunger up than 'soft lumps'? To be fair, 'soft lumps' was actually a fairly good description of what this looked like, a deep orange gloop with indiscriminate chunks of maybe vegetable, maybe pasta, maybe who knows what else interspersed throughout.

Bouquet: The pumpkin runs strong on the nose of this one. There are hints of tomato which linger, but the pumpkin is so overwhelming it is easy to see exactly why it deserves top billing. A slightly wheaty tone does hint at the pasta within, but would be easily missed if you knew not it were an ingredient.

Taste test: I've tasted a fair few baby foods now. Truely, this was the first one I had really hesitated before putting in my mouth. The soft lumps, to be fair, we're probably pretty much what you'd expect: little morsels of pasta (I assume), easily mushed under tongue, and not really adding to the overall flavour. A few small solid bits of onion or zucchini also were obvious on sight, and perhaps hinted at taste-wise if played over the tongue. The main substrate of the food was half pumpkin, half tomato, and certainly not unpleasant. Maybe some slight cheesy undertones were detectable, but the overall impression was of a slightly thickened minestrone soup served at room temperature. Was the ricotta and sheepy milk curd really noticeable? No, but I doubt sales would be anywhere near as strong in the upwardly mobile middle class target demographic if you called this cheap vegetables and cheese.

Oh, and I'd completely forgotten there was meant to be any spinach in it at all, to be honest.

Overall: 7/10. Honestly, it doesn't taste that bad. But cut the crap about the ingredients, and don't advertise the soft lumps.

Enjoy: Heat it up in a bowl and add some crusty bread as a starter before an Italian meal.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Wattie's for baby, Apple, kumara and mango

Another day, another random assortment of fruit with a token vegetable thrown in, puréed and served in a small vacuum sealed pack. If you can't tell by my decreasing blogging frequency, I'm starting to tired of these fruity concoctions, but never fear! Meaty feeds are on the horizon! So let's hurry up and get this one out of the way.

Just in case it had somehow missed your attention, it's International Baby Wearing Week this week, and what an exciting prospect it promises to be! If for any reason you are unfamiliar with the ancient art of baby wearing, it essentially involves strapping a small child (could be a toddler, doesn't even need to be a baby) to your person using cloth or a purpose designed carrier. And then doing things with the two hands that you presumably have free. It recently became news worthy because Ryan Reynolds did it wrong, and then lots of people told him he was doing it wrong, and he got a bit sad (that's a Daily Mail link by the way, if you'd rather avoid it. And I wouldn't blame you). I'd also point out he called his daughter James, which is possibly an even bigger error than the way he wore her.

Anyway, I write this not because it has anything to do with this Wattie's product, but because baby wearing is another buzz word which I cynically think might get me more page views. On with the food review.

Contains: Apple (62%), Kumara (20%), Mango (11%), Water, Cornflower

Just so you know, it is specified on the packet that water is added for cooking and to ensure appropriate texture. Quite a lot of mango, though, probably the food with the highest content of mango other than in a mango.

Emily's reaction: Emily quite enjoyed this one, despite the odd combination of ingredients. There were several false finishes, each punctuated with a shrill, loud demand for father to keep shovelling. That said, it can't have been too filling given she was chowing down on a bag label within the hour.

First impressions: Well, it's a deep yellow colour, and looks slightly granular in appearance. Not sure there's much else to say.

Bouquet: You know what this smelled like? Tea. Not like the meal tea, which might include apples, mangoes and kumara. Not Turkish Apple tea, or chamomile tea, which do somewhat have a not unexpected apple-ey aroma. But more like a Ceylon or English breakfast teabag that has been allowed to stew for longer than it ought to have. Exactly like the sort of tea served by Brittish Airways, with a dash of milk and certainly no sugar to corrupt it.

Taste test: It doesn't taste like tea, though. It tastes like apple, and frankly I that's pretty much exactly what I was expecting. Cos after a month of tasting baby food, I have learned two things: 1) they really will throw any ingredients they can find together no matter how bizarre it sounds, babies are dumb and they won't know any better, and 2) no matter what ingredients are included, if there's more than 50% apple, it's going to taste pretty strongly of apple. Granted, the 11% mango does shine through pretty strongly too, and the kumara does add to an interesting texture. But this is apple for most of the way down.

Overall: 6.5/10. Not bad. Probably not my first choice, but could be an awful lot worse.

Enjoy: With a small pack of biscuits on your flight out of Heathrow.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Rafferty's Garden: Spinach, apple, broccoli and pea

Today, I think I've finally stumbled upon the secret to making a top selling baby food.  Simply write down all the fruit and vegetables you can think of on separate pieces of paper, add a couple of grains if you feel fancy, or a few super foods if you feel particularly pretentious. Write 'apple' and 'pear' down on a few more scraps. Put all the pieces of paper in a hat, then draw out three or four. Mix them up in a big blender and put them in tiny little sachets. Wait for the dollars to roll in.

There is little other reason that a lot of these combinations should exist. I've written at length several times about the complete waste of putting traces of wanky foodstuffs such as quinoa and wild rice so minuscule that there is no way they can possibly impact on taste. Yet food manufacturers persist in these strange combinations that have no other business existing. Acai berries in baby purée is pretty much like having a parliament containing a member of a party voted for by 0.075% of the population, just for the sake of the representation of self-important cockatiel-lookalikes who enjoy wearing bow ties, and that we can have a pretty purple seat on the schematic representation of the House of Representatives, despite underneath everything him being nigh-on impossible to distinguish from the opinions of the rest of the centre-right.

Anyway, today's offering was one of these bizarre combinations, and with the grand contribution of 4% spinach, I wasn't holding my breath for a leafy flavour sensation.

Ingredients: Apple (70%), Pea (18%), Broccoli (8%), Spinach (4%)

Here we see the first trick in baby food manufacturing. We all know a true combination of broccoli and spinach would taste revolting, certainly to anyone under the age of 65%, and force feeding would likely be the quickest way to loose the trust of your 4-8month old. But people like the idea of eating healthy, and of giving their offspring what they perceive will be good for them, so these are precisely the ingredients they want to see in their baby's purée. So Rafferty's Garden gives them these vegetables, but in amounts which surely will have no impact on the taste of a food the contains 70% delicious apple. Really, a waste of space.

First impression: This food is really green, and as I'm pretty sure I've stated before, green is seldom a colour you want to be putting in your mouth in a puréed form. Pond weed again? Slimy bird poo? Whatever it is, the spinach, broccoli and peas are certainly making an impression colour wise, if nowhere else. Lowers my expectations,  if nothing else.

Emily's reaction: She actually really likes this one. Not as much as the traditional fruity favourites. Certainly nowhere near as much as Rafferty's Garden's other amazing offering, the Apple, pear and cinnamon. But half the pack is gone reasonably quickly, and even big brother trying to force feed her his lunch can't put her off.

Bouquet: Strong and sweet, this is apples on the nose all the way. Do broccoli and spinach even smell? If they do, I wouldn't want to smell them in a baby food, so the fragrant hints of Royal Gala and Red Delicious were a pleasant surprise on this one. If only it tasted this good...

Taste test: Initially, like the bouquet, the apples predominate as this pleasingly smooth mush rolls back down the tongue. However, as it reaches the back of the palate, the leguminous nature of the pea component lends slight nutty hints, which in her after the food has long disappeared down the oesophagus. This gives the overall impression of a smooth, but not sticky, peanut butter: not truly repulsive, but something that would definitely be an acquired taste. I had predicted the spinach and broccoli wouldn't make much impression past the colour, and it turns out I was right.

Overall: 5.5/10. An unusual combination of ingredients seemingly thrown together in a haphazard fashion give a slightly unexpected taste, which grows on you over time I guess.

Enjoy: as an alternative to mushy peas in your Friday night fish dinner

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Only Organic Pumpkin and wild rice

Lots and lots has happened since I last blogged, and it's only been three days. First an foremost, obviously, #piggate! I really wanted to do a tie in blog, but alas, there is a paucity of pork flavored baby foods, and pretty much every pun about pigs has been made on twitter. So I'm going to give Pork Hameron a break on this one.

Then there's Red Peak, which has featured in a previous blog, which has finally been given leave to be included in the New Zealand flag referendum. Allegedly, prime minister John Key wasn't keen to include it initially as the colours would have clashed horribly with his other pet legacy project, getting pandas to Wellington Zoo. Cos nothing else screams 'classic New Zealand experience' quite like that. The project comes with a cost of at least 10 million dollars, for which price, by my calculation, you could also buy an economy fare to Hong Kong and a ticket to Ocean Park for every New Zealand man, woman and child who is interested in seeing a panda. Thankfully, our masterful leader is trying to talk the price down by offering to trade some Kiwi, after his initial bid of a Lord of the Rings box set, an All Blacks jersey, the latest Troskey album and 65 pregnant sheep was knocked back.

Personally, I'm keen to start a Facebook campaign and petition for the government to consider Red Pandas instead, though I'm not too hopeful that I'll be listened to.

Anyway, with such a booming new cycle, I was full of excitement when I got home tonight to find the remains of a jar of Only Organic Punpkin and wild rice awaiting me. With the surprising palatability of the same company's Kumara, sweet corn and rice (with surprise pumpkin) last week, I was full of hope that this would provide a satisfying end to the day. Hey! It says Good Night on it as well! Can't fail, surely!

Contains: Punpkin (42%), Carrot, Ground rice, Wild rice (1%), antioxidant (vitamin C)

There's an obvious big fat elephant in the room here. The names ingredients only make up for 43 percent of the food! And of that, 42% is pumpkin, admittedly the most flavoursome of the listed components, but really is it necessary to call this a wild rice food when there is a lot more bog standard ground rice? Is it really necessary to include at all? Only Organic are a repeat offender in including pointless superfoods or wanky ingredients for the sake of sucking in gullible middle class hipsters, and I suspect we have another instance here.

Also, WTF is with Antioxidant (vitamin C). Why not just write vitamin C?

First Impression: it's very orange, as you'd probably expect from something containing predominantly pumpkin and carrot (regular, orange carrot I take it, not the wanky purple carrot Only Organic include in other products). There were also a few black specks in the substrate of the food. I suspect this is the token effort to make the wild rice more obvious, but really it's just for show.It's surprisingly watery in texture, however, dribbling off the spoon. I can't say it looks particularly appetizing, but to be fair a lot if pumpkin containing purées have presented this way, and some have turned out to be quite delightful.

Emily's reaction: I missed dinner time again, after a long day at work. I suspect the fact there was  a white bin covered in bright orange stains on the table and pretty much a whole jar of this food left speaks volumes.

Bouquet: when you have four ingredients, two if them are types of rice, and a third is carrot, the food is only ever going to smell of the fourth ingredient. And it did. This food smelt of pumpkin. But it wasn't a strong smell, just a hint of pumpkin wafting up the nostrils.

Taste test: as per the bouquet, there isn't really much to this. The food is dissapointingly watery in the mouth, the fine granules of the supposed wild rice non existant in texture. The taste is also dominated by a watery influence, interestingly for a food that does not list water in its ingredients. A hint if pumpkin comes through, not sweet, not savory, just there to the extent that it registers. Rice really doesn't have a flavour at all, and barely registers. Just as the purée reaches the back of the palate, a slight sweet hint comes through, just for a second, but gives a hint of hope as it slides down the gullet. A hint that is immediately extinguished as soon as the next spoonful enters the mouth.

Overall: 3/10. Not truly offensive, but there is just nothing to this food. It's so pointless, it may as well not exist.

Enjoy with: something with flavour

Sunday, 20 September 2015

12 reasons your baby NEEDS to eat Rafferty's Garden pear and Superberries: number 11 will leave you speechless!

And, as promsised, after a short hiatus, here comes part two of a continuing series on stage one and two baby purées with stupid ingredients. Today: Acai berries! I had little idea what these (apparently small, black) nuggets were prior to picking this out of the cupboard on a trip to dinner with the in laws today. Who eats these things? Do they have the same powers as eating quinoa and doing crossfit, in that they make you insufferable for anyone else to be around? WTF are they doing in my baby daughter's food? I felt some research was in order, so I logged in to the font of all well being knowledge, the Global Healing Centre, and found these amazing super fruits have not one, not two, but TWELVE super benefits!

1. Heart health
Are you worried about the health of your under-one-year-old's heart? Of course you are. But how much red wine should you be giving them to ensure their ticker remains in tip top shape until they're able to legally buy their own? Great news! That need not concern you any more as Acai berries have been proven to be just as beneficial as a glass of Pinot a day!

2. Resistant to harmful organisms
This sounds promising, but we need some more info on what organisms these are.... E. coli? Sharks? 14 year olds with home built clocks? Details, GHC!

3. Aids in weight loss
Very important if your six month old has leg rolls like mine does, with baby swim lessons starting in a few months these berries will help her achieve her ideal rash suit body. Helps maintain a lower weight too, probably cos you're stuck eating tiny little berries and not much else.

4. Promotes skin health
No mention of what skin conditions this treats, but infantile eczema can be a bitch.

5. Helps with digestive upset
A traditional source of dietary fibre, though when mashed into a purée, how much of this fibre remains is debatable. Might be better off with baby oats, but why take the chance, given they're not officially that super?

6. Reduces irritation
If your baby is grumpy, colicky, or just generally gets on your wick, this could be the ideal answer! I feel calmer for having tried this already!

7. Improved cellular health 
With plentiful antioxidants, general well being at a CELLULAR LEVEL are bound to leave you buzzing, and you know that must be good because it sounds sciency. And it helps get rid of free radicals, which is great cos that Only Get What You Give song really grates after a while. (OK, that's New Radicals, but I'm gonna leave that line in anyway)

8. May help fight cancer
Though if you do have cancer, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are probably going to give you a better fighting chance than eating sachets of baby purée

9. Anti-aging effects
Along with the weight loss benefits, this is likely going to be every baby's major concern once they hit the big 6 month milestone.

10. Energy boost
Every parent's primary concern, that their small child just doesn't have enough energy to continue causing the havoc that is part of their daily routine. However, a cheaper way to provide this adding stimulation may be instant coffee with a few extra spoons of coffee.

11. Better sex
No further questions, M'Lord.

12.  Improves mental function
There are great studies showing some early promise of boosting mental functioning in menopausal women eating Acai berries, and I'm sure the correlation is clear!

Anyway, with all that said and done, we need to make sure that Rafferty's Garden Pear and Superberries. actually tastes the part. The super berries alluded to in the name are not just the Acai (2%), but also blueberries (8%) and black currants (2%) (is a currant actually a berry? I don't know, this could be cheating.) The balance,  a massive 88%, is made up by pear. A thin, purple liquid on the spoon, this looked like something that would be quite pleasing to insert into the mouth. Emily certainly started with relish, but ran out of steam with a hyperactive brother taking precedence over finishing her meal.

On the nose, the blueberries and black currants dominate in a rich, deep and alluring bouquet. I haven't a clue what the famous Acai berries would actually smell like, so whether or not they add to this olfactory symphony is unclear. Certainly, however, high expectations were drawn for the tasting.

A thin liquid gave a slightly disappointing texture on first impression. Small, sinewy cares granules o pear pulp were quite apparent on tasting, and indeed, the overarching taste was of a sweet Winter Nelis varietal. Delicious after-hints of the berry flavours did linger, however, perhaps giving off the false impression of further subspecies- raspberries? Boysenberries? The mind played several devious tricks. Overall, in keeping with Rafferty's Garen's other options, a tasty treat.

Overall: 9/10. Delicious, and who can ignore those 12 key benefits to consumption: though at 2%, one would imagine you would need to consume a few packets to enjoy them.

Enjoy: with life, knowing you are living to the fullest, the fittest, the slimmest, the happiest, and the healthiest that you possibly can.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Only Organic Kumara, Sweetcorn, and Baby rice

Unfortunately sickness has hit our household over the past few days, with child number one (Luke, he of the train nappy) coming down with what's turned out to be a fairly nasty case of the old hand foot and mouth disease. Sleepless nights have been spent being kicked by small, febrile legs, and days at work downing coffee to get through to home time. Baby food has remained untasted, a small collection of mostly-eaten jars piling up in the refrigerator. Still, things could be worse: I'm still in my job, unlike the once Honorable Tony Abbott, immediate past prime minister of the commonwealth of Australia, who lost his last night. A man who liked to remind the press at every opportunity how he had managed to stop the boats, last night Tone was simply powerless in his attempt to stop the votes as they piled up for his opponent, Malcolm Turnbull. As a man with so many public gaffes, who had managed to alienate almost every single loving and dead Australian (as demonstrated by the great John Oliver), undoubtedly  the final nail in the coffin came when Tone bit into a raw onion on a visit to a vegetable processing plant. As a man who's job primarily depends on his kissability to babies, his days were numbered by chosing to chow down on the one vegetable I have yet to find as an ingredient in ANY stage one or two purée or mash. Why not the sweetcorn the kumara, or the baby rice, Mr A (wow, what a segue this is turning in to!) and so, though he tried to cling on to a Prime Ministerial job that is clearly comparable to an onion (layered, and he wasn't willing to let anyone else have a bite), his caucus colleagues declared, 'Tony AbbOut!!!'

Anyway, on to what Tony should've eaten at that factory.

Contains: Vegetables (Sweet potato (20%), Sweetcorn (17%), Pumpkin (unspecified percent)), Water, Ground rice (6%), Brown rice (1%).

Firstly, NO ONION, see Tony? The inclusion of pumpkin, despite it not being in the puree's name is vaguely interesting, in the same way that there's a drummer in U2, but everybody ignores the fact that he's there and he's probably forgotten his own name. And brown rice... This is verging on a superfood, and Only Organic are the company who trumpeted the presence of 1.6% quinoa in their food... Why not put this on huge front of the jar in large neon letters?

Emily's reaction: To be honest Emily had this for tea two nights ago, whilst I was trying to wrangle with a febrile toddler. The fact that there was easily half a small jar left probably means she didn't take too favourably to it though.

First impressions: The packaging comes in standard by now Only organic hues, with a picture of a cob of corn, a sliced kumara, and a little serving of white rice in front of a larger bowl containing the puréed mix of the three. No mention of the brown rice, and I won't be drawing any further parallels here. Nor the pumpkin. Again, like Irish purveyors of faux-political activism whilst pertaining massive wealth-mongers U2, there's a staple ingredient within which the music would be bland and soulless without in this, but they'll be damned if it's going on the album cover (please don't @ me with cover art depicting Larry Mullen Jr now, I don't care to take this analogy any further anyway).

What I will discuss further, is the presence of a 'Good Night' brand, with a little motif containing a moon and two stars in the upper Right hand corner of the label. What does this mean? Is the food good at night? If you want a pleasant evening, should you eat this? Will it send your baby into a sound sleep leaving the night ahead free for 'adult parent time'? (Spoiler alert: no).

The food itself is a congealed yellow mess. It even LOOKS like canned pumpkin soup. Some weird vegetable cleansing is going on here, and I do not care for it one bit.

Bouquet: Straight to the nose wafts strong elements of sweetcorn. Not just sweetcorn, though, sweetcorn and PUMPKIN. I can't detect much in the way of kumara and rice. Rice I can forgive: unless it is Jasmine (hardly likely in a stage one baby purée), rice is hardly the most fragrant of the carbohydrates. Kumara though, as a headlining act in this food, should surely be much less underwhelming?

Taste test: first hint past the lips is of sweetcorn, strong, flavoursome, and yes, sweet. Both the pumpkin and kumara hit you next, travelling over the palate towards the back of the tongue, and lingering strongly. The rice does make itself known: whether brown or standard white is unclear, as it is mashed beyond recognition, but certainly it does give the food a slightly intriguing texture on its journey oesophagus-bound. All round, quite pleasant, and I've been quite happily snacking on the rest of the jar over the course of tonight. 

Overall: 6/10. Not too bad an evening option. Could rebrand as a risotto on the go and sell in a larger quantity. Not sure why Only Organic are so loathe to advertise the pumpkin content though.

Enjoy: When a leadership spill threatens to end your Prime Ministerial term in office. With the advertised promise of a Good Night, there'll be no stopping your vote! Best to take a litre bottle of gin, however, just in case you do lose your job.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Heinz Organic Sweet Baby Vegetables takes on the KFC challenge

Today, a two for one deal, as I start a new quest: to find a babyfood replacement for new Zealand's most popular purée, KFC's potato and gravy. The first challenger is Heinz Organic's sweet baby vegetables, one of the few stage one purées I have found with real potatoes in it, though given the nature of KFC's potato and gravy, I doubt having real potato in it need necessarily be a qualifier for these foods.  But first: the original.

A week after starting this blog, I received a direct message on the the twitter machine from a Dr Andre from New Zealand (@keeweedoc):

  • Hey Chris,
    Loving the reviews.
    After a few recent consultations with almost 4 month olds I have seen a pattern 
    emerging in first food choices. Our good friend the colonel provides a well puréed dish at his widespread children's fattening centres. Potato and gravy. Not sure if I'd give it to Emily but interesting contrast to other options.

Firstly, thanks Andre, glad to hear you are enjoying the blog (or were a while back, I do note readership has dropped a bit since then, come back!)

Secondly, great idea! I did refrain from using Emily as a test subject for this one, on account of not wanting to displease my wife. However, it was not an invitation I could pass up. So I acquired myself a small pot of the Colonel's finest, and tucked in.

Contains: Honestly, who knows. According to KFC, potato and gravy. Also, according to their Facebook account, it's not vegetarian, but no further details. Given Frank Bainimarama threatened to kick KFC out of Fiji unless they told him what the eleven secret herbs and spices were (clue: salt, pepper, and mine others you can't taste), he might be a good person to ask. I've tweeted him, no reply yet, but I'll keep you up to date.

First Impressions: Much the same as when I've eaten this before, I open the little plastic tub and marvel at a) how much this doesn't look like the picture on the menu, and b) how much this doesn't look like potato. A mess of white purée with a greasy brown gelatinous gloop oozing down the sides. The strong bouquet is mostly of  chicken stock, strong and lingering on the nose.

Taste test: According to double-U double-U double-U dot KFC dotcom, this produce 'always hits the spot'. The potato should be 'soft and fluffy', and the gravy 'thick and rich'. Now, I'm not one for strong language, but I'm calling bullshit on this claim. As hinted upon, there a two elements at play here, so I shall review their gustatory merits separately.

Firstly, the potato, or what masquerades to be such. Soft it is, but rather than fluffy, I would draw up one another f-word, flakey. Given, the side serving was not at optimum temperature at the time of my dining, but I felt it more came apart in my mouth rather than ran back down the tongue and onwards in the manner a true cream should. Taste wise, there was very little, but to be fair, the potato is present more as a vehicle of delivery for the 'thick and rich' gravy.

Speaking of which, I was mildly surprised to find that the gelatinous appearance did not translate into such a texture once past the lips. The gravy was, indeed, thick and viscous, but certainly retained a pleasant fluidity within the mouth. Strong salty tones predominated, presumably from a chicken stock heavily influenced by some, but likely not all, of those eleven seasonings known only to Colonel Sanders and perhaps Commodore Bainimarama (still no reply though).

Overall: 5.5/10: whilst not perfect, the true beauty of the Colonel's potato and gravy is it can be used as a makeshift dip for your chips, or as a thick spread for your sweetened dinner roll. It's going to be quite a role to challenge!

Enjoy with: A KFC quarter pack, obvs.

And so, on to the first challenger, Heinz Organic's Sweet baby vegetables. On account of the word sweet in the name, I already had my doubts whether this could be enjoyed alongside two pieces of original recipe, a dinner roll, chips and a regular drink. On top of that, how could something advertised as being so purely organic possibly sit alongside dismembered hunks of presumably battery farmed chicken? Nevertheless, I had a job to do.

Contains: Vegetables(65%) (Sweet potato (21%), Carrots (15%), Potatoes (15%), Sweetcorn (14%)), Water, Vitamin C.

 An ingredient list upon the packaging! Score one over imported American convenience food!  Again, similar to pervious Heinz Organic foods, this comes with asterisks next to all ingredients except water, to put you at ease of mind that they are all organic. No mention as to whether the vegetables themselves are babies, or whether 'baby' in the food's title is just denoting who this product is for. If the latter, then up yours Heinz Organic, I ate some too!

As a side note, we are informed below the ingredients listing that 'water is added for cooking, and to ensure appropriate texture', just in case you were wondering what this non-organic non-vegetable was doing imposing upon your baby's food.

Initial Thoughts: A pale orange colour, with a slight granularity about it, this just looked so much more ALIVE than the mass-produced fast food mash. It wasn't, of course, the vegetables within had been harvested from the life-giving Mother Earth, processed, and mushed beyond all recognition. Bent there was some sort of vitality here which was lacking from the boy-tied military man's food (Sanders not Bainimarama).

Emily's reaction: We'd been back on fruit predominantly for the past few meals, so the shock of something masquerading as savoury was initially quite disconcerting. As an added distraction, Grandpa was visiting, and making funny noises across the room. Still, a solid enough attempt, and ate most of the packet without grizzling or gagging.

Bouquet: I may be smelling too much baby food these days, but honestly, pumpkin was the main hint I got off this one. Very little in the way of sweetcorn, potato or carrot on the nose, but a sweet and alluring scent nonetheless.

Taste test: texture wise, this wasn't a million miles away for the KFC potato and gravy at all, moist, a few firmer small particulars adding a coarseness on the tongue. Additionally, on first taste, I felt this quite bland. Moving towards the back of the tongue, however, got the party started, with strong kumara and sweetcorn hints reaching up and punching me in the uvula. An after taste of carrot lingered, then all was forgotten before the next spoonful. A sweet concoction that wouldn't be fully expected from a combination of four vegetables, had it not clearly stated 'sweet' on the front of the packaging.

Overall: 6/10: Probably not a viable substitute for the dipping of French fries, but not without its own charms.

Can you eat this with fried chicken?: You could, but I don't think it's the best match. Maybe as a puréed compote next to a medium-rare scotch fillet would be more fitting.

Friday, 11 September 2015

How to change a nappy on a train: a cautionary tale

In a desperate attempt to keep this blog sort of fresh (unlike most of the food I'm trying, am I right?), I  thought I'd branch out a bit and try give some general parenting advice/ramble on about crap. So, today, a cautionary tale about changing a nappy on a long distance train.

Travelling with a toddler can be a great experience, opening their little minds to new ideas and places. More commonly, however, it's treading a fine line between a tolerable experience, or absolute disaster. Last year, before Emily had reached the age of being a viable foetus, we decided to take one and a half year old Luke, who was just developing an enviable vocabulary, to visit his Aunty Lizzie in Canberra. After negotiating the trans-Tasman flight without too much difficulty, we thought a 3 hour train ride would be of little challenge. Little did Dad know.

We were seated in a reasonably packed carriage in the middle of the train, with entrances and bathrooms at both ends. After a few stops, a self-important looking gentleman took a seat across the aisle from us, probably off for a weekend with his piece on the side out of town, or to the kangaroo markets, or whatever Australians do for fun.

About twenty minutes on, a slightly pungent smell touched on the nostrils. My first hope was that possibly Mr Haughty Playaway opposite us had let one rip. But sure enough, not twenty seconds later, young Luke piped up confidently and loudly with 'Daddy, I've done big poo! Need new nappy!'

We weren't getting out of it. I got up, picked up my malodorous son, and headed for the end of the carriage nearest the engine, where I assumed I would find at least a toilet. I did, but the space within which it was enclosed was possibly the size of a modest coffee table. I put the lid down, stood Luke up, and wedged myself in before closing the door. It would have to be a standing nappy change. I managed to take down the offensive undergarment, and realised that Luke was correct, it was big. And loose, on account of the copious amounts of local watermelon he had been sampling over the preceding days. And it had tracked: up the back, down the legs.

Half a packet of wet wipes later, the dirty nappy was in the bin, Luke smelled, if not sweeter then at least bland, and i was feeling pretty happy with my dexterous baby change skills. We headed back to the seat, just as Mr Uppity McScrewaround passed us heading for the door, giving me a long, judgemental look on the way past. Back in the four seater bay, Luke soon fell asleep. I sniffed. Something still was hitting my smell centres in an unpleasant way. I looked down, and saw what had obviously offended our promiscuous travel buddy upon his departure: a pungent, brown stain had reached it's way down my brand new rust coloured Kathmandu hoody, sending off the stench that was still permeating our end of the not unpacked carriage. I wore a raincoat the rest of the journey, the offending garment tightly wrapped in a plastic bag.

Anyway, about half an hour later, Rachel got up to use the toilet. On her return, she informed me there was a large bathroom at the opposite end of the carriage, complete with full baby change facilities. So I suppose the moral is, if you're travelling with a baby or toddler, make sure you know where to change them before the need arises.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Heinz Organic apple, guava and berry porridge

I know, I'd promised no more fruit flavours, but dinner was underway by the time I was home from work today, and frankly I had kinda been looking forward to this one. Heinz Organic is advertised on Wattie's website as being like their premium organic range, but TRICKY... Closer inspection of the jar reveals that, actually, this product is made in Australia from local and important ingredients... So, save the planet by eating organic, but destroy it again with baby FOODMILES! Scandalous!

It's actually been a couple of days since I last ate a puréed food, my last attempt being the frankly disastrous Wattie's green peas and courgette, so I was eager to get back in. This is the first of several foods in the pantry containing cereals or grains. My only grain experience so far being the totally anonymous quinoa offering last week, I was keen to see if a less wanky, preposterous cereal would make more of an impact. Oats have been described previously as having mysterious cholesterol lowering properties, so surely they're pretty super too?

Contains: Fruit (Apples (77%), Pink Guava (6%), Blueberries (2.4%), Blackberries (2.4%), Raspberries (2.4%)), Cooked oats (8%), Oatmeal

I'm going to call it before eating, the guava is not in this for flavour, but similar to the quinoa, is present as a wanky middle-class enticing status ingredient. I'm not sure I've ever seen a guava in my local supermarket, much less eaten one, but I reckon you could get a similar flavour out of this with an extra 6 percent apple. 

Similarly to Only Organic, Heinz Organic put an asterisk next to each of their ingredients sourced organically. In a point of difference, however, every ingredient in this Heinz Organic product has an asterisk next to it, somewhat ironic given the Only Organic name. More ironic than rain on your wedding day.

First impression: This is not a purée, it is labelled as a mash. I think that means it is allowed to have lumps in it. This food is a deep pink in colour. Now, as I said, I'm not a guava expert, and judging by the picture on the jar, this pink MAY JUST be the colour of guava, but I'm sure a similar colour could also have been made using a combination of the apples and raspberries within. Still, a fun looking colour to ingest, and the small lumpy oaty nuggets promised an exciting in-mouth experience was forthcoming.

Emily's reaction: As I write this, Emily is doing her best to loudly wake the fish that lies motionless at the bottom of our fish tank. It is surprising, therefor to know that not half an hour ago, she was lunging hingrily at the spoon from which I was attempting to taste this food. This was by some distance the biggest jar of food we had attempted to feed Emily, by the time I got home from work it was mostly empty. I'm unsure whether the guava was apparent to Emily, however.

Bouquet: Three elements predominate on the nose. First off, not surprising considering the 77 percent content, apple tones delicately dance their way through the turbinates and towards the olfactory nerve head. These are followed by generous hints of both banana and raspberry, pleasant and sweet, and enticing. I don't know what a guava smells like, I assume it's not present though.

Taste test: I had expected the soggy, soft, mushed oat sensation to be unpleasant before tasting, but I was in for a surprise. The nuggets clusters complemented the finally granular texture of the overall food substrate devinely, and proved not offensive at all. It came as something of a shock, considering the heaviness of the bouquet and the content in the ingredients list, that apple was not the predominant taste in this food. Indeed, berry tones took charge upon the buds: black, blue and rasp, with delicate currant flavours pirouetting around the back of the palate. The overall sensation in the mouth was indulgent. Perhaps a slight improvement would be made by adding some morsels of stewed apple or a similar fruit, but it would be too easy to be over critical of this food.

The guava, however, seemed once again absent from the experience. I am beginning to suspect that my belief it is to fruit what quinoa is to grains is confirmed. However, in that case, oats must be to cereals, as the humble apple is to fruit based baby foods. Somewhat ironic. Like finding a thousand knives when all you need is a spoon to eat this delicious offering.

Overall: 8/10. Being a predominantly fruit based mash, this was always going to score highly. Perhaps could have scored higher still had it ditched the guava in favour of more berries.

Enjoy: Spread on buttered fruit toast, with a cup of strong English breakfast tea.