I have written before about how I love to cook and eat great food. Over the last few months I have forayed into something new in the kitchen — making baby food. Even before Owen started eating food, I thought a lot about my own food philosophy and how I hope to cultivate a happy, healthy relationship with food for him. This blog post on the topic turned controversial, though in rereading it I’m not entirely sure why, because I still stand by what I wrote. I guarantee that, down the road, there will be days when Owen will refuse “the healthy stuff”, but the bottom line is that if you don’t feed kids crap, they won’t eat crap. Period. And at least for now, I’m still in charge of what goes in his mouth! Although we won’t always be perfect, I think it’s still worth doing my very best to strive for a diet of mostly natural, whole foods and whole grains, with limited added sweeteners and processing. I’m not crazy about everything being organic (though when he moves into meat and dairy, I might be more inclined to stick to organic and hormone-free), rather, my focus is on eating pure, whole foods without additives.
In an effort to introduce him to the BEST flavors and textures out there, and to be sure that there’s nothing but food in his food, I make my own baby food. (Side note: Please do not leave me lots of nasty comments and emails about how I am judging people who do not make their own baby food. I am not. I’m talking about ME, not YOU). I was prepared for it to be a chore; a chore I was willing to do, but a chore nonetheless. But it’s not! It’s so easy and… I daresay… fun!
There are lots of cookbooks out there about cooking for your child. At this point we’re doing all purees, and haven’t added anything like spices, so there’s really no cookbook needed. However, I have found the So Easy Baby Food line of products to be incredibly helpful. My sister (a mother of two who also makes most of her baby food) sent me the So Easy Baby Food book and two of the lidded ice cube trays for freezing.
Essentially the steps to making your own baby food are to:
- Chop up the veggies (frozen or fresh) into small chunks
- Steam/bake/boil until they are mushy (I like steaming to keep as many nutrients as possible in the food and not in the cooking liquid)
- Puree (I like to use a food processor for big batches and tough stuff, like peas, or an immersion blender for smaller batches or easy-to-puree things like sweet potatoes)
- Pour into the trays and freeze
- Pop them out and move them to a labeled ziploc and use the trays for the next batch of food
Since Owen started eating solids at 4 months he has had: avocado, peas, green beans, sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach, apples, bananas, prunes, white beans and yogurt. All of those have been homemade except the prunes (that seems like WAY too much work!). And rice and oats (from a box). One time we tried jarred carrots, but he didn’t seem to love them, and once I tasted them I knew why. Yuck! No more carrots for us until he can eat them (steamed) as a finger food, I think. Also, the white beans may not have been the smartest choice. He was ok for a few days and then had crazy amount of gas/burps. I can’t be SURE it was from the beans, but I think we’re going to put the beans on hold for another month or two.
I never really subscribed to the “eat one and only one food for several days at a time” philosophy. I started with one food, and then built from there, adding only one food at a time so I could easily figure out the cause if he had a reaction to the new food, but instead of separating foods I continually mix them together. I figure this gives him a little different flavor with every bite and every concoction we put together. He seems to dig it! Today I sent him off to daycare with a bowl of apples, bananas and oats, and a bowl of sweet potato, green beans and rice. Not a bad day of eats. When he comes home he’ll get one more bowl, probably something like spinach and yogurt or something like that.
I’m always looking for new things to add to his repertoire. What other foods have your babies tried?