Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini

Zucchini is overly abundant in the summer and since I’ve gotten a few from my CSA share last week. I’ve decided to bake it and add a few extra ingredients to style up a little.

Zucchini itself is a low calories vegetable, per one cup chopped only contains about 20 calories. It is also a good source of vitamin C, B6, Riboflavin(B2) and Manganese, these nutrients will help skin integrity and energy productions. So, take advantage of this summer vegetables.



One medium size zucchini
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
A dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko/bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon orange zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree.
  2. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Use a mixing bowl, add olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper together.
  4. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch thick and toss zucchini into the mixing bowl with the oil mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the seasoning.
  5. Add in panko or bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, evenly coat zucchini in the mixing bowl.
  6. Lay zucchini in baking pan and baked for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Grate additional Parmesan cheese and some orange zest on top as garnish when it is done.

Exploring Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Eating local and practicing sustainability in Oregon has always been at the forefront of their residents.  Organics/whole food groceries and small family farm has bloomed dramatically, particularly in the Eugene/Springfield township that I lived in thanks to the local demand. Farmers market has turned into the hot spots for the locals to hang out and enjoy the local produces/fruits, dairy and pasture during the peak growing season.

I love shopping at farmers market compared to patronizing whole foods stores because I know I’m supporting local business. I enjoyed going to Whole Foods, Market of Choice or Trader’s Joe don’t get me wrong, but their items are overpriced as it is and the items may be organic but it doesn’t necessarily is local. Eating healthy sometimes can be very expensive if you didn’t plan ahead.

So it’s time to go back to basic: eating seasonal and local foods. Foods that are the closest to our home tends to be a little bit environmental friendly as well, therefore, choosing local farmer’s market or joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) makes more sense to me. Since I don’t have the green thumb to grow my own food (friends have laughed at me for this since anything grows in Oregon’s ground), I’ve decided to join CSA to try it out instead. To my surprised, just in our county alone, there’s more than 50 farms that provides CSA services, choosing one definitely is not easy.

I’ve decided to join Food for Lane County youth farm because I liked their objectives to teach limited income teenager about food/nutrition, helping them gain skills about leadership and teamwork. Another plus for joining the youth farm for me was convenience of picking up my own CSA shares right at my work place. Most CSA has full share (feeding 3-4 people), and half shares (feed 2 people) available through the season.

The total half-share for 20 weeks cost me $350, averaging out to be $17.50 per week. Really not a bad deal for fresh, local produce. After two weeks of picking up my CSA box, I noticed that I have minimal waste on  the veggies compared to before that I’ve always had some wilted veggies in my fridge waiting for me to throw away.  It also forces me to be creative in making dishes with those items as well.

If you wanted to learn more about CSA, visit  “IFOAM organic international” website to explore what’s available in your area (North America, Japan and Europe).

Week 1 Bag: Strawberries, beets, garlic, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, Italian kale.

Menu Created for Week 1: 

  •  Steamed Carrots with Butter
  • Strawberries Lemonade
  • Roasted Beets
  • Sautéed Beets Greens with Garlic
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Sautéed Kale with Chicken
Week 2 Bag: Strawberries, Bok Choy, Italian Kale, Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrots, Green Onions

Menu Created for Week 2:

  • Strawberries Greek Yogurt Popsicle
  • Beef with Bok Choy
  • Roasted Kale
  • Broccoli & Tofu Stir Fry
  • Roasted Carrots
  • Zucchini & Carrots Soup
  • Garlic & Scallions Chicken

This is quite fun and I will continue to share my weekly finding and what menu item that I come up with. Hope you all can start exploring your local CSA and share your experience with me !

Homemade Infant Formula…What seems best may not be!

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We all know breast milk is the best food a mother can provide for your precious newborn. But there’s time when you aren’t able to provide enough breast milk for your infant and formula automatically becomes the next best thing we turns to.  In the past 3 years, homemade infant formula has becoming more popular thanks to parenting website such as wellness mama and celebrity Kritin Cavallari sharing her recipes on magazine and blog post.

It really boggle my mind that 1.27 million hits on google search with homemade formula has come up in less than .5 seconds. This does concern me as a healthcare professional and a mother of a young toddler. I would steer away from making my own homemade formula at all cost. This is because there’s too much variation in homemade formula and the ingredients that they called for might not be the safest for your baby’s tiny body.  I’m certainly not “Pro commercial formula” but when it comes to infant’s health, I’ll stick to what I know is best 1) Breast milk and 2) Commercial Formula.  My recommendation is to stick with Organic or Non-GMO labeled commercially prepared formula if financially able to do so.

Parents often complaints that formula is so horrible because there’s sugar, corn syrup plus a long list of other ingredients that they are unable to pronounce. If they can’t pronounce and don’t know what that is, it must be bad, correct? Answer is no.  I think parents’ need to understand that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are two different things. One is a natural derivative of sugar from corn (mostly made of glucose), and the latter is a chemically altered to produce fructose from corn syrup.

You will only see corn syrup on the formula that is made for babies with sensitivity as it is easier for the digestive system. Babies need carbohydrate to grow, without it they simply wouldn’t thrive whether the sources is lactose, sugar or corn syrup.   And that the other ingredients listed (most of them are less than 2% of the formula content) are the vitamin and minerals scientific name carefully crafted to suites the needs for newborn to match the content similar to breast milk.

Commercially prepared formula is being monitored by the FDA, USDA and EPA and they have been subjected by thousand of research before to ensure their nutrient adequacy to be served to the most vulnerable populations.

Homemade formula on the other hand looks great in a glance but it carries a lot of hidden danger of food borne illness, nutrient imbalance and other potential health risk to your baby if you are not mixing it correctly.  Just one misstep can send your child into the emergency room.

Here’s the reason why homemade formula might not be the best after all:

Unpasteurized raw cow’s milk/ Raw goat’s milk

Any type of raw food products possess a certain type of risk for food safety. According to Center of Disease Control (CDC), unpasteurized dairy increases a staggering 150x of your baby’s risk of Campylobacter, Listeria, E.Coli infections.  Most dairy product related outbreaks are associated with consuming raw dairy products and children are the most affected populations.  You wouldn’t even drink raw milk when you are pregnant because it can increase your chances of food borne illness and affecting your unborn baby, now why would you want to feed your baby raw milk then? Seriously, think about it.

Here’s a link to the CDC hand out on raw milk statistics.

Raw Liver

This is another food source that can foster bacteria Campylobacter jejuni especially when using it raw. Campylobacter food poisoning can cause damages to your baby’s intestine and can easily leads to bacteremia (bacteria in bloodstream), a serious condition which requires hospitalization and heavy dose of antibiotics.  In rare cases, it can cause Guillian-Bairre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that the body defense mechanism start attacking the healthy cells.

Nutrient Imbalance

I carefully read through some of the most promising homemade formula out there, there’s no nutrient analysis of them anywhere. Only one I read was all the nutrients gathered according to the ingredients from the food database. Please be reminded, data gathered from food database is not a detail nutrient analysis of the formula, nutrient displacement can occur during mixing process.

Another scary discovery was whether it is cow milk based or goat’s milk based homemade formula, both contain excessive calories and protein per serving. To adults, a little higher calories or protein here and there doesn’t hurt but in tiny infant, every single one matters. If the infant doesn’t require extra calories and protein, it will make them gain too much weight too quickly. Excess calories will lead to extra fat accumulation which in turns link to adult obesity later on in life.  Liver based formula on the hand has the right amount of calories, but protein still slighter higher and what was lacking is sodium and calcium, two key nutrients that needed for bone and cell formations.  The extra protein in the homemade formula will put extra stress on their tiny kidney to process and can easily leads to dehydration.

So, if you think you are doing your child a favor, think twice before you jump into the homemade formula bandwagon. Just be aware of the potential risk of giving homemade infant formula, every baby’s body digestive system is different. Homemade formula is definitely not recommended for infant younger than 6 months of age.

Always consult with your child’s pediatrician or meet with a pediatric nutrition specialist to discuss your formula choice/decision. They can help you analyze the formula and let you know if it is safe.


Nutrition for Infant 10-12 Months

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This is the time when your infant can safely  transition to soft table food if you haven’t already done so. No more making separate meals for your little one and welcome them to dine together with the entire family and start modeling good eating behavior from a young age.  They might not interest in new foods in particular but keep offering and let them explore, it usually takes 8-10 tries of introducing same food item before they start accepting it.

Persistent and interactive fun is the key to coaching healthy eating behavior among children. Don’t skim on the flavor as well.  Children doesn’t have to eat bland or mild tasting food, introduce interesting natural flavor such as  strong vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, onion, garlic, ginger, cabbages), spices (not spicy) and herbs to stimulate their taste bud. They don’t have to like it but by offering and expose them to the flavor profile will do.

10 – 11 Months old 

Baby at this age still requires roughly about 4 feedings (6-8 ounces) of breast milk or formula on a daily basis. The breast milk and formula consist of 50-60% of their daily intake and the remaining is from food.  You can start offering combination meals and doesn’t have to be a single food item by this age anymore.  Peanut butter, fish, eggs are safe to introduce at this time as well if there’s no history of allergies in you or your partner medical history. A schedule 3 meals 2 snacks should be offered daily.

Make sure to keep offering 2-4 ounces of water in a cup during the day as well. If you live in an area that the water is not fluoridated, then make sure to add 0.5 ml drop of fluoride in the water he/she is drinking starting after 6 months of age. Always check with the pediatrician and pediatric dentist to see if your baby need it. Formula fed baby might not require additional fluoridation.

*There has been some controversies regarding the safety of giving fluoride to infant and young children. At this time, American Academy of Pediatric and American Dental Association still recommend fluoride to be given to children in none fluoridated communities. It will be up to individual parent decision whether they would like to use it for their infant.

12 Months old

They can start eating table food without any problem. Still cut round foods into quarters to avoid choking. Cut other foods into small strips for easy holding. Do not serve whole nuts and hard to to chew item as well. By about one year of age, your baby should be able to  self feed themselves (will be messy) with their finger or using spoon/fork. This is part of their development milestone to be able to pick up food and put in their mouth.

Breast milk/ formula still consist about 40-50% of their daily intake (3-4 servings of 6-8 oz milk) and the rest from solid foods. They should be eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.  A easy rule of thumb to remember how much solid food they should be eating is one tablespoon of each food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, meat/meat substitute) per year of a child’s age at each meal. Refer to this How_To_Feed_Baby-English step by step guide if you wanted a more specific serving size.

If you still have ample breast milk supply, please continue to breast feed your baby as long as you desire. And, if you are formula feeding, you can also start switching to whole cow’s milk/ full fat (original) fortified soy milk.  There is now toddler transitioning formula available from Similac (R), and Enfamil (R) if this is something you are interested in. Your child is also supposed to triple his/her birth weight by the time they turn one.

Note: Let your baby be their own guide as to how much they can eat.  Forcing baby to eat the amount of food you think they should can easily back fire and cause food aversion. There’s going to be weeks they don’t have much appetite for food such as teething period. Sometimes they will eat more than the recommended servings and don’t be alarm as well, baby tends to go through short period of growth spurts. As long as they grow accordingly along their growth curve without excessive weight gain or weight loss, there’s nothing much to worry about.

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Tenders

As I mentioned before, my daughter is very selective on the types of meat she eats and this dish has never failed me or her. I like homemade tender because you know exactly what you are using. No fillers, no grounding the meats and just a few simple ingredients you can transform a plain chicken breast to delicious delight the entire family can enjoy.

I’ve tried baking these before but the chicken turns out to be dry. So I decided to stick with pan fry using minimal oil as I could. The chicken breast stays tender, juicy and has a nice bite to it. Hope you like it too!


2 chicken breast (~5-6 ounces each)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppers
2 eggs
1 cup panko
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Cut chicken breast into 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into strips or triangle shape to please the youngsters. Set aside.
2. Mix in salt, peppers and flour together in a big bowl, set aside.
3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Set aside.
4. Mix grated parmesan cheese with panko in a baking pan.
5. Lightly dust the chicken in the flour mixture, next dip the chicken in the eggs and then evenly coat it with the panko. Continue this step until all chicken is completely coated.
6. Heat up a 10 inch skillet, filled up with cooking oil to about an inch thick (about 1 cup).
7. Once the oil started to glisten, slowly add in the chicken and pan fry 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown under medium heat.

You can add paprika and some cayenne powder to the flour mixture, or once the chicken is done cooking sprinkle some peppers flake over if you like some kick to it.