Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baby Bites ~ Homemade Baby Food

There are a lot of things about parenting that never crossed my mind before I had kids, and making homemade baby food was nowhere close to being on the radar.  However, when my oldest was starting solids, I started to dabble in it a little bit because I couldn't get over the "bananas" sold in baby food jars, when I could buy fresh bananas and mash them with a fork.  When my second came along, he would not touch anything out of a jar, and basically skipped "stage 1" purees altogether so I learned real fast how to make some interesting combinations with appropriate textures.  Now that my third baby is over 8 months old and thoroughly enjoying solids, I make almost everything. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I do buy a few packages of baby food at a time, so I have some "just in case" food in the diaper bag when we're out and about or going on vacation.  I'm not against store-bought food, I just find it easier to make my own most of the time, and cater to my child's taste buds and texture needs.  I also realized, I actually enjoy making baby food and coming up with combinations that my baby enjoys.  It is satisfying to me, so I thought I would share some of our favorites.

Getting Started
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First of all, making baby food is not hard, and it does not have to be time consuming.  Last night after the kids went to bed and my husband was at the kitchen table paying bills, I was making baby food.  While we were chatting, I made a variety of meals for her in approximately 30 minutes.  

I personally use a Magic Bullet, because that is what I had available.  It has a flat blade and a cross blade, so I can adjust the textures of purees as baby gets older.  Really, a blender or food processor, or whatever you have will work, as long as you can get a smooth texture for beginners.  Oh, I also use an "Apple Peeler Corer" for coring fruits.

How I Cook
Sometime I cook things in batches.  It really depends on my mood and what I have on hand.  If I have an abundance of a particular fruit or vegetable, I will turn it into baby food to freeze.  Sometimes I just adjust what we're having for dinner, so that it is baby-friendly.  It's as simple as cooking her veggies a little softer, or pulling out her serving before adding any salt, sauces or other ingredients that might not be appropriate for her.  

Because we had an abundance of apples, I cooked more apple recipes than usual lately.  Obviously, Applesauce is a must.  Normally I would cheat and buy a jar of all-natural applesauce, but I don't mind making it in bulk during the fall when I'm making applesauce for the whole family already anyway.  I use sweet apples for baby food, so there's no need for sugar.  I steam them for purees, or if I have the oven on for something else, I will bake them, and then kind of mash them into tiny pieces for finger foods.  

Pears Combinations
My husband bought pears on sale, but since he is the only one who likes them, I used the rest to make baby food.  I peeled and cored the pears.  I don't mind a little peel left on, since peeling is optional anyway.

I steamed the pears {and some apples right after} until very tender.

I pureed some pears and froze them as single ingredients.

I also made Pears & Bananas (left), and some Apple-Pear Sauce, because I like to use what is quickly available to me when I'm working.  Once they're frozen, I pop them into freezer bags and label.  This is obviously the process for all frozen baby food.  I don't tend to make too much of any one food at a time, so that it gets used quickly.

As I said, though, I am not always a "batch" cooker.  This is another area of my life where I'm pretty go-with-the-flow.  I generally look at our family menu and determine if anything can be adapted for the baby with minimal work.  For instance, one night we had carrots with herbs as a side dish.  I just cooked her carrots longer, so that I could puree some for her, and finely dice some for finger foods.  I also had all those apples I was cooking up.  I mixed some with the carrots for a tasty Apple Carrot Delight dinner.  She loved this one.  She also liked Chicken, Apples and Peas, although her favorite so far is a Peaches and Chicken puree.

My baby girl is loving finger foods right now, and one of her favorites is eggs.  Hard-boiled egg yolks are easily mashed into manageable pieces.  Scrambled eggs are good plain, but there's an endless combination of scrambled eggs you could make, but basically mix in small dices of finely diced cooked veggies.  It adds color and variety.  This one has carrots and red bell peppers, on a wacky plate.  Or, when I don't feel like having her throw a plate on the floor, I just put a few bites at a time on her high chair tray.

Oatmeal sounds like such a boring breakfast food, but there is really so much you can do with it.  Add-in cinnamon, fruit purees, cooked diced fruits, mashed blueberries.  I have even reserved the water from boiled blueberries {it's a very rich purple} to mix in.  Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are a good way to turn oatmeal into a finger food.  I used the "quick and easy fruity bars" recipe because I had ripe bananas that needed to be used.  She loved them!

Using Herbs & Spices
I do use herbs and spices in baby food, anything I would normally cook with for the family's meals, because it adds flavor and gets her used to the same flavors she will be eating with us in the future.  

For Teething
 Frozen fruit or fruit purees in a teether are messier than a plain ice cube, but a nice soothing treat for baby.

Websites and Articles for further Reading
Wholesome Baby Food - articles and recipes by food type
Homemade Baby Food Recipes by age
Homemade Baby Food:  Is it Right for You?

 Blogging Through the Alphabet

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  1. Great post! I love your ideas1

  2. I no longer have to worry about baby food, however I have some friends that would love this post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Very thorough post! I've always made my own baby food. I love it!