BABY FOOD

Best first fruits and vegetables for babies

When babies reach about 6 months old, a lot of big milestones occur. With the OK from a pediatrician, many parents begin to feed little ones solid foods. This is an exciting time for both parent and child, as new flavors and textures are fun to explore.

With so many foods available, it can be difficult to know which are best for baby’s first tastes. La Leche League International recommends these fruits and vegetables for infants:

Fruits:

— Bananas cut into slices that have then been quartered

— Unsweetened applesauce or tiny apple chunks that have been softened in the microwave

— Finely chopped plums, peaches, pears and apricots, gently cooked if necessary

— Avocado diced into small, bite-size pieces

Vegetables:

— Baked or boiled sweet potatoes cut into tiny chunks

— Mashed white potatoes

— Finely chopped or mashed baby carrots, green beans, peas and squash

SWEETS

4 surprising facts about Easter candy

If you’re counting the days until you can bite into that chocolate bunny, you’re not alone. (This year, Easter is on April 16.) Here are four surprising facts about Easter candy from the National Confectioners Association:

— More than 88 percent of Americans eat the ears of a chocolate bunny first. Seven percent eat the feet first and 5 percent eat the tail first.

— Most Americans (52 percent) prefer filled chocolate bunnies and eggs over hollow ones.

— Brand names are important, as they influence 71 percent of Americans’ candy purchases.

— When buying seasonal candy/chocolate, nearly 65 percent believe it should feature seasonal packaging and colors, such as pastels for Easter.

TIP OF THE WEEK

How to store olive oil

You may know extra virgin olive oil tastes great and is high in antioxidants and healthful fats, but do you know how to choose and store a bottle? The California Olive Oil Council offers some tips for buying and storing extra virgin olive oil:

— Check the label for a harvest or milling date. Generally, olive oil is best when used within 18 months of the harvest date.

— Look for a dark glass bottle that helps reduce light exposure; light shortens the shelf life of extra virgin olive oil.

— Buying from a specialty retailer who knows the producers, growers and importers can help. Many will provide samples so you know what you’re buying.

— Store extra virgin olive oil in a cool, dark cabinet away from light, oxygen and heat.

— Use up the oil within 6 months of opening the bottle.

HEALTHY FOOD

‘Nice cream’: Ice cream without the guilt

That creamy flavor. The sweet indulgence. The cool sensation on your tongue. No, it’s not ice cream, although you might be tricked into thinking it is. As more people seek healthier alternatives to their favorite foods, fruit-based substitutes are gaining popularity.

One option is nice cream, an ice cream substitute that is easy to make at home. All you need is two ripe bananas and a blender. Simply slice the bananas, freeze and blend until smooth. This dairy-free, vegan treat is a great dessert for the whole family.

Want to jazz up your nice cream? Popsugar.com suggests customizing by blending or topping with chocolate, cherries or nuts.

— Brandpoint