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.