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Ella has a kitchen and in that kitchen she produces quality, yummy, organic baby food!
I make all of my daughters baby food myself but for when we are out I decided to try some of the Ella's kitchen range as I thought they would be quite convenient and handy. I chose this range as I liked the idea of all the food being organic plus I liked the look of the packaging. All their food comes in resealable foil pouches and all the different flavours are quite colourful, bright and eyecatching. All the flavours sounded yummy and different too so I bought quite a few different varieties.
Ella's kitchen is the brainchild of a gentleman called Paul Lindley. On his website he explains his vision as such, "Ella is my ten-year-old daughter and I set up Ella's Kitchen because I passionately believe that she, along with her generation, should have the opportunity to eat better food and also to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty and cool. We think it's important to always approach things from a child's point of view. So, we've taken simple, natural ingredients that ooze goodness and created foods, and packaging, that should really connect with kids - with flavours, colours, textures and even names that will appeal to all of their senses."
They have a number of different ranges within the Ella's kitchen umbrella such as breakfast foods, cookies, cooking sauces but it is the Stage 1 baby food that I am going to concentrate on and in particular their apples and bananas flavour. Their stage 1 food is described as such. "These are very different from any other baby food on the supermarket shelves for not only do they contain nothing, absolutely nothing, but pureed organic fruits and vegetables, they have been gently pasteurised and popped into our unique pouches that are so easy when you are out and about or at home. They are healthy AND handy - Pure and simple."
The apples and bananas come in a yellow foil packet with pictures of apples and bananas on it. The ingredients are listed as Organic Bananas 61%, Organic Apples 39%, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate (a dash), Other Stuff 0%. The foil packet has a plastic screw lid at the top which is resealable. When you squeeze out the ingredients you will see it is quite smooth as it is for babies from 4 months plus so will be quite smooth to begin with. You get a really nice smell of mainly bananas but you can tell there is something else in there too. My baby loves this flavour and really wolfes it down so they are obviously producing a product that babies enjoy eating.
The great thing about these foil packs is that you can store then in your cupboard and then once they are opened you have 48 hours in which to use them as long as you refridegerate them, perfect packets of food to take out with you. You do not have to heat them either which is great if you do not have access to a kitchen. Each pack is 120g and at the moment goes for about three different meal sittings for my little girl and at 99 pence a packet is quite a good bargain too.
My baby son is now just over 9 months old and we have introduced him to some solid foods, but we are trying to extend his diet and introduce new tastes and textures. Generally I try to make my own baby food, pureed vegetables and fruits, especially as my son is lactose intolerant, lactose is a protein found in some milk products. Making my own baby foods means I know exactly what is in them. However there are times when I find it necessary to use a manufactured baby food. Because of my son's lactose intolerance I have to be very careful about what I feed him and therefore I have found it harder to find products that meet his requirements. I have to look very closely at the ingredients of any products I buy.
I was doing some research on the Internet for baby foods that were lactose free and came across the Ella's Kitchen range of organic baby food. Ella's Kitchen was not a range I had come across before, and had not noticed in my local supermarkets. However the range is available in Tesco and Sainsbury, and other outlets. The food comes in a squeezy pouch, the pouches are different colours depending on the ingredients. Ella's Kitchen products are certified by the Soil Association and carry the logo on the front of the pouch.
As my son is only starting on solids we have started on the from 4 months varieties. There is quite a good range, we have tried the Butternut squash, carrot, apple and prunes, the carrot, apple and parsnip and the strawberry and apples. The pouches contain 120g, and have a plastic screw top, once opened the pouch can be resealed and stored in the fridge for 48 hours. I have been able to get 3 feeds from the pouches but as my son gets older I am sure this will change. The food can be eaten warmed or cold. The pouch should never be put in a microwave. I bought mine in Tesco and they were 89p per pouch, a little bit more expensive than other baby foods but you do get more in the pouch.
Who is Ella's Kitchen?
According to the information on the back of the pouch Ella's Kitchen is a family firm set up by a dad who wanted to produce food for his children that had only natural products. The products contain 100% organic fruit and vegetables with nothing added, not even water. The ingredients are very clearly labelled and there is a list of good things in the pouches. On the varieties I have tried it states very clearly that the product contains no dairy, eggs, wheat, lactose or gluten. For me with a lactose intolerant baby I feel assured that the products have no added dairy products or lactose. I have not checked the whole range for the ingredients but as I use them I will. Obviously it is important for anyone to check the ingredients to be assured that they meet their own particular requirements.
How do they taste?
To date we have tried 3 of the range, for the purposes of the review I have tried the foods and was pleasantly surprised.
Carrot, apple and parsnip.
When I squeezed some of the product into a feeding bowl I was pleased. The ingredients were well pureed, there were no lumps, this particular variety was orange in colour and the predominant smell was of the apple. I did heat the food a little and tried some before giving it to my son, it tasted mostly of apple and was quite sweet in flavour. There is no added sugar or salt so the flavour comes purely from the fruit and vegetables contained. I thought this was a good combination, carrots and parsnips I would put together anyway and the apple added a little bit more intensity to the overall taste. My son did seem to like it, well at least he did open his mouth to have more as I brought the spoon closer to him.
Butternut squash, carrot, apple and prunes
Again this is well blended and for me the overriding taste was of the prunes which did give it a very sweet taste. I am not a great lover of prunes but the taste wasn't unpleasant, I didn't get much taste of the butternut squash.
Strawberry and apple
This sounds more of a dessert than a main course but I gave it to my son as a breakfast. The fruits again are well blended, no seeds or fibrous bits. It was quite a deep red, not a bright red and the taste was very good. The overriding flavour was of the strawberries and I think this is my son's favourite so far.
I would definitely recommend Ella's Kitchen and I will continue to try different flavours in the ranges. More information on Ella's Kitchen and the other foods available can be found at www.ellaskitchen.co.uk
This review may appear elsewhere.
Ellas Kitchen is one of those rare home-start businesses that has made it into the big time. Set up by a doting dad determined that his little girl would only eat the best food, Ellas kitchen is dedicated to providing organic, pure food which appeals to children. Although the company started off producing child-friendly fruit smoothies they then branched out into baby food and it is this range that caught my eye whilst shopping at Waitrose.
I tend to make all of my own baby food where possible but pre-prepared jars and packages do come in handy when travelling and for a change from time to time. I have also found that it is far easier to prepare savoury foods than desserts. Many baby-friendly fruits are out of season at the moment and the time required to make a variety of dishes in small quantities is rather out of proportion to the benefit obtained from making your own. The quest was on for some mummy approved foods which didnt contain anything more or less than was strictly necessary.
Ellas Kitchen apples & bananas contains 100% fruit apples and bananas nothing more. Pureed to a baby friendly consistency the mix is contained in a foil pouch ready for use. It can be eaten hot or cold and will keep in the fridge for 24 hours once opened.
OK, so apples and bananas are not exactly hard to come by and I could make my own, but I decided that this was an easy flavour for a young tum to try out before getting a bit more adventurous with other flavours.
Despite the lack of additives or treatment other than pasteurisation, the puree is a lovely orangey-yellow colour and the distinctive smell of bananas hits your senses as you squeeze the puree into a bowl. The puree is very smooth and about the consistency of a fruit portion of the type you get in a Muller fruit corner or other unmixed yoghurt.
Im sure Im not the only mum who tastes baby food before giving it to little un. I tell you, baby was lucky that he got any of this. It is delicious. The balance of flavours is spot on and it is neither too sweet nor too sharp. Tasting predominantly of banana there is also a sweet, almost jammy taste although I think I would have struggled to tell you that the other fruit was apples. If Id been guessing then Id have said the second fruit was something stronger such as peach or even mango. It's not that acidic to an adult palate but who knows what it tastes like for baby!
As for baby, he loves this. An open mouth greets, or even pre-empts, every mouthful. Its a great way of getting pure fruit into him and goes down well whether he is in the mood for food or not. Ive also used it to brighten up savoury dishes that baby doesnt take to, particularly chicken. It sounds gross but fruit and meat are often combined in baby foods and, indeed, in other cultures. Chicken and banana curry is particularly nice (but thats another story and not something to feed to baby).
Baby will happily take this hot (warmed in hot water), at room temperature or even ice cold straight from the fridge. The serving is a 120g pouch which will go down in one sitting at lunchtime or in two if we have it for tea.
I like the idea of the pouch as it is unbreakable and therefore ideal for travel, however, as it is a pouch youll need a bowl and spoon to feed baby when out and about as opposed to feeding directly from a jar. To my mind the convenience of the pouch is therefore outweighed by the inconvenience of having to carry a bowl around (and a dirty one when baby is done). Of course you could decant it first but why?
The other problem with the pouch is that it is sealed with a tiny screw cap. This could be dangerous if a young child got hold of it and so means that you have to open the pouch away from the child and have somewhere to put the cap out of the childs reach. If your baby is like mine the allure of the pouch will be so strong youll be having a battle to get it away from him!
These problems are minor, however.
Id really recommend this puree as a no nonsense approach to food. Expect to pay in the region of 75p per pack - a tad on the expensive side in my opinion but worth it for the convenience and the knowledge that you're not giving your little one anything nasty.