Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Baby Food Post (also great for adults, post-oral surgery!)

Knowing that I love to eat whole foods, people often ask me what brand of food I feed Baby C.  The answer is:  no brand.  That's right... I made all of his baby food in the tiny kitchen of our home sweet home!*  It wasn't nearly as hard or time-consuming as I was anticipating, and I had great peace of mind knowing every little ingredient that made its way into his pudgy little belly.

Plus, the cost is astronomically cheaper.  One bag of frozen organic peas is a couple of dollars, and it will make numerous containers of sweet pea puree.  One serving of store-bought organic pea puree is almost $2.

I'm not a nutrition counselor or doctor, so I'm not going to tell you what to feed your baby or when to introduce it to him/her.  Instead, I'm just going to give you some quick tips and tricks that will help you get started if you'd like to make food for your own little peanut.  The "recipes" below are organized according to preparation method, not order of introduction or even flavor.  Baby C is now almost 10 months old and has moved on to finger foods, so the methods I'm sharing are for the foods he consumed between the ages of 4 and 9 months. Oh, and I also consumed them for a while while he was 4 months old.  Jaw surgery left me flat on my back and unable to chew for about a week, so the little cubes of purees in our freezer provided the perfect soft food option while I was recovering.

* In a pinch, though, we fed him Plum Organics puree pouches. They're great because they contain only fruits and veggies.  The ingredients list for the sweet potato pouch is "organic sweet potatoes."  Compare that to other major brands of baby food, and you'll be surprised.


The first thing you'll have to decide is how to store your baby food.  If you plan to make a bunch at a time and freeze it, the best options are probably... containers.  These are nice because you can freeze and reheat all in the same container.
We received two sets of these wonderful Green Sprouts Baby Food Storage Cubes as gifts,
 and we would have purchased more if it was within our budget.

...plastic containers with snap-on lids.  My sister in law has a complete set of these (about 100 containers), and she loaned them to us when she taught me how to make sweet potato puree (C's first food - awww...).  We ended up using these the entire time Baby C was eating purees.  They're great because after the food freezes and sets, you can throw them in gallon zip lock bags to keep them sorted. I believe she bought them at the Dollar Store. cube trays.  Yep - just plain old trays!  You can spoon food into each compartment, let it freeze/set, and pop the cubes out into a zip lock freezer bag.  This method works quite well, but I chose to go with the plastic containers so I wouldn't have to worry about the frozen cubes sticking to each other inside of the bag.

  • Food Processor
  • Spatula
  • Spoon
  • Sharp knife and cutting board
  • Large pot with a steamer basket
  • Masking tape and Sharpie (for labeling food)
  • Fruits/veggies (organic, if possible)
  • Water

Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, white potatoes...
1.  Peel vegetable using a sharp knife or potato peeler.

2.  Chop into 1-inch or smaller chunks using a large butcher knife.

3.  Add a few inches of water to a large pot.  Place chunks in steamer basket and simmer, lid on, for at least 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, check every 2-3 minutes for consistency.  Your veggies will be done steaming when a fork can be easily inserted and removed.

4.  Remove veggie chunks from steamer basket and allow to cool.   Reserve water from pot.

5.  Place chunks in food processor and pulse until broken up.  Continue to puree for 1-2 minutes, or until a smooth paste has formed.  Use water from pot to thin the mixture until desired consistency is achieved.  When my sister in law taught me how to make sweet potato puree, she showed me what the consistency should be for Stage 1 and Stage 2 purees.  If you're unsure, check out the purees in the grocery store before you start cooking.

6.  Spoon puree into storage containers and freeze until set.

Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Cut squash in half lengthwise using a sharp knife, and scoop out seeds.

2. Place squash, cut side down, in a glass baking dish with about an inch of water.

3.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork can be easily inserted and removed.

4.  Remove squash from oven and allow to cool.  Place chunks in food processor and pulse until broken up.  Continue to puree for 1-2 minutes, or until a smooth paste has formed.  Add water as needed to achieve desired consistency.

5.  Spoon puree into storage containers and freeze until set.

6.  When baby is old enough to enjoy spices, cinnamon is a tasty topping choice for squash.  Baby C LOVES it!!

Peas, beans, corn, etc...
 1.  Prepare vegetables according to package directions.

2.  Allow to cool.

3.  Place in food processor and pulse until broken up.  Continue to puree until a smooth paste has formed.  Add water to achieve desired consistency.

4.  Spoon puree into storage containers and freeze until set.

Dried apricots, prunes
1.  Place desired amount of dried fruit in bottom of pot.  Add water to cover fruit, with an additional inch of water on top (fruit may float, so you might have to estimate the amount of water needed).

2.  Boil until fruit begins to hold water and expand in size.  Fruit is ready when it is plump and tender.

3.  Remove from water and allow to cool, reserving water.

4.  Add to food processor along with a splash of the water.  Pulse and puree until blended, adding water to keep fruit from becoming gooey and sticking to the blades.

5.  Spoon puree into storage containers and freeze.  Note:  dried fruits will not set into solid blocks when frozen, so the ice cube tray/zip lock bag method probably won't work.  You'll have to store these purees in individual containers if freezing.

Melons, berries, mango, avocado, apricot, peach, pear...
Most fresh fruits are soft and contain a lot of water, so there really isn't much work needed.

1. Cut up the fruit, peeling if necessary, and place it in the food processor.  Pulse until blended.  Add water if needed, but in most cases the fruit will be hydrated enough on its own.

2. Spoon puree into storage containers and freeze.  This photo shows the way I labeled each container with the contents and date, using masking tape and a Sharpie.

HOW TO PREPARE:  Grains for Baby
Oatmeal, rice cereal...
Many people buy baby versions of whole grain foods, and this is perfectly fine.  Your baby will be no less healthy if you buy baby oatmeal vs. pureeing regular oatmeal on your own.  I chose to prepare grains for Baby C myself because it was easy, and it meant that I had one less thing to remember to buy when I was at the grocery store.

1.  Place desired amount of grain in food processor.

2.  Pulse until soft and powdery.

3.  Store in an airtight container.

4.  Prepare as usual.

There are many, many other food options out there, and I'm sure you and your baby will enjoy exploring them.  Baby C certainly wasn't limited to the foods I've shared with you today.  I also made applesauce, whipped cauliflower, and other delicious treats for my hungry little boy.  Feel free to experiment, mix foods, and create new "recipes" that your little one can enjoy.


Found on Amazon

My first and most helpful resource was my sister in law, Heather, who got me started on this whole baby food making journey when C was about 2 months old and solids seemed eons away.  :)

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