Monday, March 8, 2010

Home Made Baby Food?

Nutritious, delicious and a real money saver, homemade baby food is definitely the way to go.  I know you think it sounds overwhelming but you can actually whip up a batch of food pretty quickly.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (think quality here--I totally suggest organic!)
  • a couple of sauce pans
  • a food processor
  • mesh strainer (like you would use for a tea or coffee press)
  • some breast milk/formula
  • ice cube trays (each little cube is 1 oz)
  • spatulas
  • quart sized freezer Ziploc bags (pay the price for the good kind!)
  • plastic wrap
What to do:

  1. Wash your fruits and veggies VERY well.  Remember that there may be pesticides on them so really give them a good scrub.  If your food has peels on it, this is a good time to remove them.  
  2. Chop veggies/fruit to smaller size.
  3. Get water boiling in a sauce pan.  Add fruit or veggies (one type at a type) and boil until mushy.  (You can steam if you desire).  (Remember, not all foods will need to be steamed/boiled.  Foods like kiwi, bananas, and avocado can be mushed without being cooked).
  4. Put the fruit/veggie in a food processor and puree.  For new eaters this should be a thin, creamy consistency with no lumps.  If you need to add liquid you can use breast milk or formula (some people mix the formula with the water the food was cooked in since it will have vitamins in it).
  5. If you made a food with a peel that couldn't be peeled (peas, blueberries) or that has seeds (blackberries, strawberries), strain the food now to remove the seeds/peels.
  6. When the food is cool enough (put in fridge or in an ice bath in the sink to speed this process), use a spatula to scrape it into one of the ziploc bags.  Cut a whole in the one of the bag's corners and fill up the ice cube trays.
  7. Cover the trays with plastic wrap and freeze.  When frozen, pop the baby food out of the tray and into labeled quart sized bags. Freeze.
To prepare:
  • Put frozen squares into a bowl and microwave.  Test to make sure it isn't too hot!
Good foods to start with:
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • plums
  • apples
  • pears
  • peaches
  • peas
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • avocado
  • squash (acorn or butternut)
Alternatives:
  • You can use frozen fruits and veggies if you so desire but I'd stay away from canned goods.
  • You can add some flavor to baby food but try to keep salt and additives to a minimum and definitely stay away from seasonings with MSG in them.
  • Be adventurous with grains--whole grain pastas, wild rice, quinoa, cous cous, etc., are great as baby food too (and baby is never to young to eat healthy gourmet!)
  • Remember that baby can eat what you're eating as long as the texture/thickness is developmentally appropriate. If you don't want to make/freeze food then consider purchasing a good food mill.
  • Don't be afraid to add protein.  Cook and puree lean cuts of beef, chicken, beans, etc.
WARNING:
  • If baby is a new eater, only introduce one food every three-four days and watch for allergic reactions.
  • Make sure food is not lumpy for new eaters.  As your baby gets used to eating, you can add more lumps.
  • Be aware of nitrates.  Nitrates are chemicals in water and soil that "stick" to fruits and veggies and get ickier with time.  Therefore, use frozen OR prepare your foods ASAP after purchasing.  Be advised that there are certain foods with high nitrates (carrots, spinach, etc.) so you'll need to be careful when making those foods.  And here is where I plug NOT buying baby carrots.  Get big ones for baby food.  Peel, chop, and cook.
Resources:
There are a lot of baby food making resources out there by my favorite is Once a Month Mom.  This blog offers how to's, recipes, and even menus.  Check it out!

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