Best First Foods for Baby-Led Weaning

These are some of the best first foods you can introduce to your baby if you are following the baby-led weaning method.

Title graphic showing four of the best first foods for baby-led weaning, including zucchini, squash, bananas and oatmeal.

So, your babe is consistently demonstrating signs that they are ready to start solid foods and your doctor has given you the go-ahead to start on the solid food journey with your babe. Now what? It can be a bit scary when you first introduce solids to your little one, but these five foods are all great ways to get started.

While none of the below foods are common allergens, I encourage you to read up on the baby-led weaning method of introducing new foods. BLW (baby-led weaning) advocates introducing your babe to common allergens early and often, but one at a time so you’re aware of any adverse reactions. We are lucky that our little one doesn’t seem to have any food allergies or sensitivities, but if your little one does, you may want to consult a medical professional.

Another quick note: Don’t worry if your child doesn’t yet have teeth! Raia didn’t get her first tooth until after she was a year old, and that didn’t seem to hold her back one bit when it came to eating. You’ll be amazed at what they can do with just their gums!

So, without further ado, here were some of our favorite first foods for baby:

#1 Roasted Zucchini Sticks

A dish of roasted dill zucchini sticks.

Quick Fix: Cut zucchini into 3-4 inch long sticks. Toss with olive oil and some sort of fresh or dried herb (oregano and dill are both favorites) Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until soft enough for your little one to “gum”. If you want to be extra cautious, peel the skin off the zucchini before cutting it into sticks.

#2 Oven-Baked Butternut Squash Fries

A dish of roasted butternut squash zig zags,

Quick Fix: Prepare in the same way as the zucchini sticks, but try using curry powder or a mix of ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

#3 Sliced Avocado

Quick Fix: Cut your avocado in half, then in quarters. Peel off the skin and slice in half again. Serve plain.

#4 Banana

A clear glass dish full of sliced banana.

Quick Fix: When baby is first starting out, I might recommend cutting the banana lengthwise in half or quarters. Once they have swallowing down pat, you can just hand them an unpeeled banana, or cut it up into discs.

#5 Oatmeal

A clear glass dish of oatmeal topped with berry compote.

Quick Fix: Make oatmeal however you usually make it, but be sure you are using PLAIN rolled or steel-cut oats and are not adding in additional sugars or salt. Some of my favorite early oatmeal additions are pureed pumpkin or a homemade (no sugar added) fruit conserve.

*Note: Unless your little one needs extra iron in his or her diet, it is not necessary to start them out with baby oatmeal or rice cereal. Instead, you can go straight to real oatmeal or rice cereal that you would make for yourself.

Finally, one of my very favorite things about baby-led weaning is the fact that it encourages you to introduce your little one to as many herbs and spices as possible as early as possible. One resource that I have found INCREDIBLY helpful when preparing food for my little one is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg [*affiliate link]. It lists out common foods and then gives recommendations of flavor pairings that complement each one. I highly recommend you invest in it!

I hope this post has given you the tools you need to feel confident in preparing your baby’s first foods. As your little one’s oral and manual dexterity progresses, you’ll find more and more foods that they are able to eat. For some easy baby-led weaning recipe ideas, be sure to check out my e-cookbook, 30 Freezer-Friendly Recipes for Babies and Toddlers, this post on Easy Breakfast Recipes That Are Baby-Led Weaning Friendly and this list of 10 Easy Make-Ahead Baby-Led Weaning Recipes.

Happy cooking!

Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup

Zesty gluten-free Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes are topped with a homemade Blackberry Syrup in this easy recipe that’s sure to be a hit with the entire family. They’re perfect for special occasions but just as perfect for a lazy Sunday morning!

A stack of Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes topped with a homemade blackberry syrup.
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co. As always, I only promote brands and products that I’m actually in love with! Thank you for continuing to support the folks that make CaliGirl Cooking possible <3

Are you ready for an utterly delicious, flavor-packed breakfast that’s as easy as pie to whip up?? I hope so, because today I’m sharing a recipe for Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup and it is going to knock. your. socks. off.

I’m so thrilled to once again be partnering with my friends at Sonoma Syrup Co. to bring you some tasty recipes throughout the year. If you haven’t yet tried their syrups, extracts and sauces, it’s simply a must! Their products are made with all-natural ingredients and can be used in a multitude of ways. For example, I’ve used them in cocktails like this Chico Cocktail and this Spiked Lavender Lemonade, non-alcoholic beverages like this Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Float and this Honey Citrus Detox Elixir, and let’s not forget all the baked goods. I’ve used them to make donuts, Bundt cakes, coffee cakes and more!

When they asked me to create another special treat just in time for Mother’s Day, I knew a recipe that would take brunch to the next level would be just the thing. I mean, isn’t Mother’s Day just one of those holidays where brunching is non-negotiable? I mean, I’ve only been at this mom thing for a couple of years, but it sounds pretty perfect to me.

Side view of a fluffy stack of Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes topped with a chunky blackberry syrup.

So, what makes these pancakes so special?

Well, let me tell you.

First off, you know I’m the last one to foray into the gluten-free baking world, but when there’s a tasty alternative like buckwheat flour involved, you don’t even miss the other stuff! Add some protein-packed almond meal and these pancakes have just gone from simply gluten-free to straight up POWER pancakes.

But we’re not stopping there. That’s right, we’re also adding in my favorite Meyer Lemon Infused Simple Syrup, some lemon zest AND a healthy serving of Sonoma Syrup’s Vanilla Bean Extract Crush (which – in case you were wondering – is basically vanilla extract on steroids with real vanilla bean seeds mixed in).

Do you see what I’m getting at here? These pancakes are seriously next-level.

Shall we keep it going? Let’s talk about this Blackberry Syrup. Super simple, super tasty, and the perfect contrast to those lemony pancakes. There are only three ingredients – two of which you most likely already have in your pantry – and it’s basically a “set-it-and-forget-it” deal. I love the chunkiness of this fresh syrup – the macerated blackberries add a whole other dimension to an already tasty dish.

Overhead view of Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes topped with a homemade blackberry syrup.

I love how these pancakes taste full-bodied and earthy, yet they’re actually quite tender and refreshing with all of the lemony vibes. The Blackberry Syrup might as well be the cherry on top – the robust tartness is the perfect contrast – and you may just end up making a second batch to drizzle on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

I’ll venture to guess that any mom would be more than happy to wake up to a big stack of Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes drizzled with Blackberry Syrup on Mother’s Day. It’s the perfect way to say thanks for being the amazing woman she is. In fact, if anyone wants to drop a hint to my hubby, I’d be ever so grateful 😉

A stack of Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup with a big wedge cut out of them.

Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Zesty gluten-free Lemon Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes are topped with a homemade Blackberry Syrup in this easy recipe that’s sure to be a hit with the entire family. They’re perfect for special occasions but just as perfect for a lazy Sunday morning!

Course: Breakfast
Keyword: breakfast, brunch, gluten-free, lemon, Mother's Day, pancakes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 260 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the pancakes:
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Sonoma Syrup Co. Meyer Lemon Infused Simple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract Crush
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Butter for griddle
For the syrup:
  • 12 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon syrup, lemon juice, egg, milk and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the lemon zest. 

  3. Heat a griddle or large pan on the stove over medium heat. Add a small pat of butter – just enough to “grease” whatever pan you’re using. Once the griddle or pan is hot, use a 1/3 cup measuring scoop to scoop the batter onto the pan. Fit as many as you can on at once, but don’t overcrowd it. You need room to flip!

  4. Once the batter in the pan starts bubbling and setting up around the edges, flip the pancakes and cook a couple more minutes, until golden. Place on a baking sheet fitted with a rack (or directly on the oven rack) to keep warm while you cook the rest and make the syrup. Continue this process until all of the batter is used up.

  5. In a small saucepan, combine all syrup ingredients and bring to a heavy simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the blackberries begin to break down and the mixture has reduced and become thicker (more syrupy) in consistency. Drizzle over pancakes to serve. 

Taste of the Tropics Li Hing Mango Margarita

A tasty Hawaiian treat – sweet and salty li hing mango – makes this margarita recipe a cut above any other. It’s festive and bright both in flavor and color and is sure to be the talk of the town at your next fiesta!

This Li Hing Mango Margarita makes a beautiful cocktail out of a classic Hawaiian snack. It's sweet, salty and tangy all in one! #margaritaweek #margaritarecipes #lihingrecipes

Boy, do I have a great cocktail recipe for you today! It’s just the right amount of sweet, salty and tangy and looks as beautiful as it tastes. This Li Hing Mango Margarita is sure to knock your socks off.

I’m so excited to be participating in Hola Jalapeño’s fourth annual #margaritaweek today. With Cinco de Mayo and lots of fun summer festivities right around the corner, it couldn’t come at a better time! I’ve already been drooling over all of the #margaritaweek recipes of years past, and this year I’m so excited to contribute my own.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying li hing mango, you’re in for a treat. I typically only snack on it whenever we’re in Hawaii, but it’s also sooo easy to make on your own as long as you have two ingredients on hand: a deliciously ripe fresh mango and li hing mui powder!

This Li Hing Mango Margarita makes a beautiful cocktail out of a classic Hawaiian snack. It's sweet, salty and tangy all in one! #margaritaweek #margaritarecipes #lihingrecipes

But wait, I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is li hing mui powder? Well, let me tell you.

What is li hing mui?

In a nutshell, li hing mui is a dried Asian plum, and the powder is simply these same plums ground into a fine dust. It’s quite popular in the Hawaiian islands, most often used to give a salty twist to sour gummies or dusted over fresh or dried tropical fruit. The third most popular use of li hing mui? You guessed it – in cocktails!

While you may be able to find li hing mui powder at a good Asian grocery store, I’ve found that simply ordering it via Amazon Prime is the most surefire way to get a hold of it, and it lasts forever because just a little bit goes a long way. You can find my favorite li hing mui powder here[affiliate link]

How to Make a Li Hing Mango Margarita

Aside from the li hing powder and mango, this recipe very closely mirrors a typical margarita recipe. You’ll need both fresh mango (for garnish) and mango juice (for the cocktail), but other than that we’re looking at the usual suspects: tequila, orange liqueur and limes.

Now, before we get into the actual cocktail-making, we need to prep our glasses. Since the li hing powder is already a tad salty, I decided to rim my margarita glass with a combo of lime juice, sugar and that bright red salty stuff. I simply ran a lime wedge around the rim of my glass, and then dipped it in the sugar-li hing power mixture. Then you’ll want to load up your glass with ice to make sure your margarita is nice and frosty as soon as it’s poured.

Once that’s done, we can get into the good stuff. We’re going to throw our tequila, mango juice, orange liqueur and some more li hing powder into a cocktail shaker with more ice, and give it a good rattle or two. After that, simply strain into your prepared glass, garnish with a lime wheel and mango wedge and, voila, you’re ready to sip on the tastiest margarita in town.

This Li Hing Mango Margarita makes a beautiful cocktail out of a classic Hawaiian snack. It's sweet, salty and tangy all in one! #margaritaweek #margaritarecipes #lihingrecipes

You can check out all of the official #margaritaweek recipes here (and be sure to check back, because new recipes will be posted all week!), but I’ve also gone ahead and put together my own little margarita recipe roundup from here on the site. If nothing else, I hope it inspires you to get in the kitchen and whip up your own favorite margarita (or two) this weekend!

More Margarita Recipes to Try

If you prefer your margie blended rather than on the rocks, give these Frozen Watermelon Peach Margaritas a shot!

If you’re into margaritas in the neon color family, this bright pink Prickly Pear Margarita is definitely one for you.

Looking for something different that will bring out your newfound taste for mezcal? You’ll want to try these Smoky Pickled Strawberry Margaritas.

A great wintertime margie? This Pomegranate Margarita fits the bill!

This Li Hing Pineapple Margarita is for you if you want to try li hing with alllll the tropical fruits.

Get it while you can: this Blood Orange Margarita always speaks to me when I can find those elusive blood oranges!

More pineapple with a shot of extra acidity – If you’re a fan of grapefruit, you’ve got to try these Pineapple Pummelo Margaritas!

This Li Hing Mango Margarita makes a beautiful cocktail out of a classic Hawaiian snack. It's sweet, salty and tangy all in one! #margaritaweek #margaritarecipes #lihingrecipes

Taste of the Tropics Li Hing Mango Margarita
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

A tasty Hawaiian treat – sweet and salty li hing mango – makes this margarita recipe a cut above any other. It’s festive and bright both in flavor and color and is sure to be the talk of the town at your next fiesta!

Course: Drinks
Keyword: cocktails, drinks, Hawaiian, mango, margarita, tequila
Servings: 1 drink
Calories: 309 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the rim:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon li hing mui powder
  • 1 lime wedge
For the cocktail:
  • 1 1/2 ounces white tequila
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how tart you like your margie)
  • 2 ounces mango juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon li hing mui powder
To garnish:
  • Lime wheel
  • Mango slice
  • Cocktail pick
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together the sugar and li hing mui powder for the rim. Once mixed, pour onto a small round plate in a circle the size of the rim of your glass.

  2. Take the lime wedge and run it along the rim of whatever glass you are using, then dip the rim in the sugar-li hing powder mixture. Add ice to fill the glass and set aside.

  3. In a cocktail shaker halfway filled with ice, add the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, mango juice and li hing mui powder. Seal tightly and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds, then strain into your prepared glass.

  4. Slide the lime wheel and mango slice onto the cocktail pick and use it to garnish your drink, then enjoy!

How to Make an Energizing Pink Latte (Caffeine-Free!)

Learn how to make your own homemade energizing Pink Latte using beetroot powder and dried rose petals. You won’t believe it’s caffeine-free!

This Energizing Pink Latte has beetroot powder and rose petals to give it such a vivid color and make it a completely caffeine-free drink! #pinklatte #caffeinefreedrinks #roselatte

If you’re looking for a natural (and eye-catching) way to boost your energy, it’s time you learn all about how to make a Pink Latte! That’s right, this vivid beauty is entirely caffeine-free, yet will give you sustainable energy to get you through the day. And, with the help of a few special ingredients, it’s super simple to make. You can think of it as the perfect alternative to that Sleepytime Lavender Milk you all love so much. Roses in the morning, lavender in the evening – it doesn’t get much better than that!

I’m not going to lie, Pink Latte’s first caught my eye for their Instagram-worthy color but, once I read up on them a little more – and after a chance encounter at the grocery store – I knew I had to create an easy recipe so I could make my own at home. I was so pleased with the results that I couldn’t wait to share them with you. So, let’s get into how it’s done!

This Energizing Pink Latte has beetroot powder and rose petals to give it such a vivid color and make it a completely caffeine-free drink! #pinklatte #caffeinefreedrinks #roselatte

Secret Sauce: The Ingredients

Before you embark on your Pink Latte-making journey, you’ll want to stock up on the following ingredients:

Beetroot Powder

TBH, I had never heard much about beetroot powder until my mom and I ran into a talkative soul in the dairy section of the supermarket a couple of months ago. The conversation started with him telling us just HOW good Kerrygold butter is (which, duh, we already knew – it’s the best!) for bulletproof coffee, but then he segued into his entire health history and why he now turns to beetroot powder for his daily energy instead of coffee. Sure, it was TMI, but it got me thinking about what the bright red little superfood could do.

After doing more of my own research (because, hey, you can never be too sure about those rando’s you meet in the grocery store) I learned that beetroot powder does, in fact, have many health benefits including, but not limited to: increased endurance, improved brain and heart health and reduced exercise recovery time.

The cherry on top? You can easily order beetroot powder on Amazon [*affiliate link] or just pick it up at your local Whole Foods or health food store.

Dried Rose Petals

Rose petals are another great superfood that you don’t necessarily think of when you want to make a power-packed drink, but you should! Not only do they lend a beautiful floral taste to whatever you use them in, but they also pack many health benefits, including: enhanced mood, help with digestion and pain relief, among other things.

You can also order culinary-grade dried rose petals on Amazon [*affiliate link] or you can find them at your local health food stores.

Aside from these two special ingredients, I’m willing to bet you already have the only other two ingredients you need already on hand: milk of your choice and honey!

This Energizing Pink Latte has beetroot powder and rose petals to give it such a vivid color and make it a completely caffeine-free drink! #pinklatte #caffeinefreedrinks #roselatte

Energizing Pink Latte, Comin’ Right Up!

Okay, now you know what you need, time to make this tasty latte in three easy steps:

The first step is to make our rose simple syrup, which is done by boiling together honey, your dried rose petals and some water until reduced.

The next step is to whisk together the beetroot powder with your choice of milk and then heat it up. You can use either a milk frother for this (if you have one) or simply place the milk in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

The final step is to assemble your drinks. This recipe makes two lattes, so be sure to recruit your hubby, partner, friend or roommate to enjoy one with you. Then you simply pour the syrup into your cozy coffee mug and top with the warmed milk and drink up.

This Energizing Pink Latte has beetroot powder and rose petals to give it such a vivid color and make it a completely caffeine-free drink! #pinklatte #caffeinefreedrinks #roselatte

I hope you enjoy this Energizing Pink Latte as much as I do. It’s a healthy, tasty and fuel-filled way to start your day!

Energizing Pink Latte (Caffeine-Free!)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Learn how to make your own homemade Pink Latté using beetroot powder and dried rose petals. It’s completely energizing yet entirely caffeine-free!

Course: Drinks
Keyword: caffeine-free, dairy-free, drinks, milk, superfoods
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 141 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the rose syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons culinary-grade dried rose petals
  • 2 tablespoons honey You may reduce this amount if you don't like too much sweetness.
Other ingredients:
  • 1 cup milk of your choice I like almond or oat milk.
  • 2 tablespoons beetroot powder
Instructions
  1. Combine water, rose petals and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by about half, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. While the syrup is simmering, whisk together the milk and beetroot powder and heat up using a milk frother or the microwave. If you are using the microwave, it should take between 1-2 minutes for the milk to come to proper temperature without curdling. 

  3. Using a small sieve, divide the rose syrup evenly between two coffee mugs, then divide the milk evenly over top and serve.

Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned Recipe

Fresh and fragrant elderflower liqueur gives this traditional bourbon cocktail a spring-like twist. It’s the perfect brunch, lunch or dinner drink to serve as the days get longer and temperatures get warmer.

This Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned is the perfect spring cocktail for brunch, lunch or dinner! #oldfashionedrecipes #bourbonrecipes #eastercocktails

Please forgive me, because I just can’t seem to step away from tasty and creative cocktail world. If you’re already reading this post, I’m guessing you don’t mind. I just couldn’t resist sharing one more fun and festive cocktail before Easter because, if you’re a fan of bourbon, you’re going to want to add this Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned Recipe to your Sunday menu.

It’s no secret that Old-Fashioned’s are one of my favorite types of cocktails, if the Drinks section of my website is any indication. In fact, I love the fact that I already seem to have an Old-Fashioned recipe for every season.

For the fall/winter months, I love me a good Maple Apple Old-Fashioned. It just feels so warm and cozy and the flavors are just what you want to experience when you’re cozied up inside next to the fire.

For the hot summer months, I’m all about the Twisted Whiskey Kind of Afternoon, a twist on the old-fashioned which features zesty grapefruit and Aperol.

Come spring, it’s going to be hard to choose between this Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned and my OG Rhubarb Old-Fashioned. So many choices, so little time!

So, before we get into what makes THIS particular old-fashioned recipe one for the books, let’s get into what is typically included in this classic bourbon cocktail.

This Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned puts a tasty spring twist on the classic bourbon cocktail. #oldfashionedrecipes #bourbonrecipes #easterrecipes

Just your typical Old-Fashioned…

A typical Old-Fashioned recipe includes the following ingredients:

Sugar cube

Bitters

Bourbon or rye

Orange peel

It’s really quite amazing how these few ingredients come together to make one damn delicious drink, but it’s also fun to get creative!

This Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned puts a tasty spring twist on the classic bourbon cocktail. #oldfashionedrecipes #bourbonrecipes #easterrecipes

How to Mix It Up

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good classic cocktail, but man would this blog be boring if I didn’t mix it up every once in a while. I’ve already mentioned above some other fun ways I’ve reinvented this classic, but let’s get to the real reason we’re here today…my Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned!

The great thing about embellishing something that’s already (1) simple to make and (2) tastes fantastic is that you can’t really go wrong. Here, we simply use already fairly sweet elderflower liqueur in lieu of the sugar cube and it’s a win-win: no extra sweetness than you’d already have with your classic Old-Fashioned, and a faint floral taste that plays off the orange peel beautifully.

I love that you don’t need any special tools to make this one-of-a-kind drink. A glass, a rock (I love these ice molds! *affiliate link*), and a stirring spoon will get you right where you need to be: relaxing on the porch or in the garden with a delicious Elderflower Old-Fashioned in hand!

This Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned puts a tasty spring twist on the classic bourbon cocktail. #oldfashionedrecipes #bourbonrecipes #easterrecipes

Sip of Spring Elderflower Old-Fashioned Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
 

Fresh and fragrant elderflower liqueur gives this traditional bourbon cocktail a spring-like twist. It’s the perfect brunch, lunch or dinner drink to serve as the days get longer and temperatures get warmer.

Course: Drinks
Keyword: bourbon, cocktails, drinks, Easter, rye, spring, whiskey
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 253 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur (I use St. Germain's)
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • Orange twist*
Instructions
  1. Place one large ice cube in a chilled old-fashioned glass.

  2. Add elderflower liqueur and bitters.

  3. Pour in rye or bourbon.

  4. Slide orange twist down the side of the glass (on the inside), stir lightly and serve!

Recipe Notes

*To make an orange twist, use a vegetable or citrus peeler to peel about a 2- to 3-inch piece of orange peel.