Welcome to the Fortified Family! I’m Katie Ferraro, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and mom of 7 and I specialize in baby-led weaning. I’m passionate about feeding strong families and making food fun.

Reading Right Now: The Baby-Friendly Family Cookbook

Reading Right Now: The Baby-Friendly Family Cookbook

Author Aileen Cox Blundell with her son Oscar

Author Aileen Cox Blundell with her son Oscar

This is not a sponsored post. This post does contain affiliate links.

Ever feel “stuck” about new meal ideas to feed your family? If you’re stuck in that recipe rut, I’ve got just the antidote - a brand new book from Aileen Cox Blundell with over 150 recipes your entire family will enjoy…including your baby-led weaning babies!


Fan Girl #1

As a dietitian and mom of 7 working full-time in the online space, I don’t have a ton of time to make new friends. But since I began specializing in baby-led weaning and infant feeding about 3 years ago, I have become dear friends and colleagues with another BLW expert and author, Aileen Cox Blundell.

Aileen is based in Dublin, Ireland - and if you live in Ireland or the UK and you’re a baby-led weaning fan, then you certainly know Aileen from her various TV segments and media appearances. She’s also the author of one of my favorite BLW recipe resources, her first book The Baby-Led Feeding Cookbook (my review of that book is here and you can get that 1st BLW recipe book on Amazon here).


Back with a Brand New Book

Aileen is back - this time with a brand new book The Baby-Friendly Family Cookbook. This time around she’s bringing us over 150 “healthy, fuss-free recipes the entire family will love”. Aileen’s recipes are all suitable for baby-led weaning, and she is gracious enough to share a few of her favorite recipes from the new book with you guys!

book url: https://amzn.to/2p04Nrn


Quinoa Falafels in a Bowl of Yum

I love this recipe - it’s high in protein and iron, great for vegetarian and vegan families. I love that it features tahini (sesame seed paste) - which is an awesome way to introduce your baby to sesame. Sesame isn’t one of the “Big 8” (…the 8 foods that account for about 90% of food allergy) - but sesame allergy is on the rise and it’s one of the foods to introduce early and often to baby to possibly help prevent food allergy down the road.

Katie’s notes for BLW & this recipe: red peppers and eggplant may be trickier textures for early eaters. It’s ok to omit parts of the bowl for the baby but serve to the rest of the family. Babies can eat MOST of what the rest of the family eats, but your meals won’t be “identical” for awhile, and that’s ok. Also, look for the lowest sodium version of feta cheese you can find, making sure that it is pasteurized for food safety purposes.

Quinoa Falafels.jpg

Falafel Ingredients

  • Drizzle of rapeseed oil

  • 2 medium white onions, finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 28 oz canned chickpeas

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • Juice from 2 lemons

  • 4 Tbsp chickpea flour or plain flour

Tahini Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • Juice from 1 lemon

  • Small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro :) finely chopped

Bowl Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cooked brown rice per bowl

  • 4 roasted red peppers

  • 2 roasted courgettes (eggplant)

  • Hummus

  • 2 avocados, sliced

  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.

  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Gently fry the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or so more until cooked but not browned.

  3. Add the cooked onion and garlic and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor and process until the chickpeas are broken up. Be careful not to over-process, as this will make the mixture too wet.

  4. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the mixture out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

  5. While the falafels are cooking, make the tahini sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together.

  6. Serve the falafels in a bowl with a little rice, some roasted veggies, hummus and sliced avocado and a small amount of feta cheese.


Hidden Veggie Mac & Cheese

Normally the idea of “hiding” vegetables makes me cringe. Aileen and I have talked a lot at length about this…and I like her approach to incorporating vegetables into foods family members (particularly toddlers) may already well be eating - like mac & cheese.

(Another project Aileen has spearheaded is her “Hidden Heroes” line of veggie-based convenience foods that are available for sale in Dunnes Stores in the UK. The “hidden” hero in her line of work here is not the vegetable, but rather the parent or caregiver doing his or her best job to offer babies and children wholesome foods in innovative ways that resonate with the little people. Check out Hidden Heroes here.)

This particular recipe is an update of Aileen’s Mac & Cheese Muffins from her first book - but this time around it’s loaded with veggies. Yes, there is cheese and breadcrumbs in the recipe and yes, they are 2 saltier ingredients. You can reduce these for babies if you wish…but I love the idea of incorporating a variety of vegetable flavors into a comfort food dish the whole family can enjoy!

Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese.jpg


  • 9 oz macaronic pasta

  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks

  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into chunks

  • 1/2 butternut squash, cut into chunks

  • 2 cups milk, plus 1/4 cup extra for the sauce

  • 1.75 oz unsalted butter

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • Black pepper, to season

  • 1 slice wholemeal bread, blitzed into crumbs


  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. When it is al dente, drain and leave aside.

  2. Add all of the vegetables to a steamer over a pot of boiling water and gently steam for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but with a little bite.

  3. Place the vegetables in a blender with 500ml milk until smooth and really creamy.

  4. Melty the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then whisk in the flour and stir well until it forms a roux (or paste). Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup milk, until the sauce is smooth, then pour in the pureed vegetables and mix really well.

  5. Bring to a bubble, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, nutmeg, pepper and cooked pasta.

  6. Place the breadcrumbs into a dry pan and toast until crunchy.

  7. Serve the mac and cheese in bowls with a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs on top.


Cook Once to Feed Your Whole Family

Aileen is gracious enough to spend an hour with my audience in an upcoming livestream. She will be joining me live on my Facebook page (and we’ll cross-broadcasting live with her @babyledfeeding and my @babyledweanteam Instagram pages) on Thursday October 3, 2019 at 10:00 am Pacific Time:

  • Click here for FB event notification

  • Click here to follow Aileen on Facebook @babyledfeeding

  • Click here to follow Aileen on Instagram @babyledfeeding

…and if you miss the livestream, check back here later in the week and I’ll have the whole hour of her cooking demo showing us all about how to cook once and feed the whole family - posted here for you!

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