Baby Culinaire

3 Oct

This is by far one of my more domesticated blogs but egh it is related to one of my favorite topics to write about – FOOD.  And cooking, because I do love to cook.  Over the past month we have started our little guy (at 6 months) on solids and it has been an adventure for us as much as it is for him.  I read a lot about different ways to introduce solids and researched all our options in terms of baby foods.  I really like the concept of “Baby Led Weaning“.  This is where there are no puree or spoon feeding, you simply give the baby a piece of food and let them feed themselves.  Also, I’m not entirely thinking of this whole food adventure as about “weaning” in the first place.  We have a perfectly happy and healthy breastfeeding relationship and I do not see it ending anytime soon.  I should mention that I do work outside the home and pump milk for my little guy every day.  The other thing with starting solids is that I really don’t like the whole baby cereal (mostly rice) bull shit that industrial food companies market so heavily.  Why?  It’s very simple – babies can’t digest grains until they are around 1-year-old when their bodies start to produce an enzyme called amylase which is responsible for splitting starches.  Furthermore, most of the baby rice cereal is found to contain the toxin Arsenic.  I could write a manifesto about why to ditch baby cereal (and formula) but I won’t bore you.  For more on ditching baby cereal check out the Food Renegade – as for the benefits of breastfeeding (and perils of formula) just google it.

Back to the good stuff – so while I like the concept of baby led weaning, I also like to give my little guy the opportunity to try more foods that aren’t conducive to giving him in pieces (e.g, roasted pumpkin, peas, and kale) which is why we are going the “hybrid” route with baby led weaning.  I also stay far away from pre-packaged and processed (shelf-stable) foods for myself and my family.  Pretty much the only things I buy that are pre-packaged are canned beans, pasta, tuna, and bread.  I won’t even buy a package of pre-made tortillas if they have preservatives.  We get most of our food through a Community Support Agriculture (Earth Spring Farm), the local Farmers Market, and the rest comes from a local grocery store (yes, we are one of THOSE families that shops at Whole Foods).  Now, this made it tricky to find baby food since nearly all of it sold in the stores is heavily processed and pre-packaged.   There appears to be one decent line of organic and “safe” baby food – Plum Organics.  But it still seems as though the food is too far removed from the source for me to be entirely comfortable with it, though we will likely give it a try one of these days.  And that is where my adventure began in cooking for baby.

Now, I am a working mom with very little time on my hands so I have had to come-up with some creative ways to cook for baby without consuming the little bit of time I do have with my little guy.  That is exactly what I am sharing with you today.  While making baby food, may seem like an easy and obvious thing to do – it is – there are some neat tricks interspersed here that may give you the edge to give it a try for your baby (present or future).

The other night I was cooking herb roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed garlic green beans for my husband and I for dinner.  While baby is not quite ready to indulge in the deliciousness of my herb sweet potatoes or garlicky beans, I was able to cook him a bit on the side.  This helped reduce my time spent making “special” food for the baby.

First, start by peeling one extra small sweet potato and rinsed it well.

Partially peeled sweet potato

Washing Sweet Potato

Next, I cut the sweet potato into small chunks and then I leave a few pieces in matchstick or wedge shape.  These larger pieces are for my little guy to be able to easily grab with his hands.  Then I take a small handful of green beans (I used 8 green beans to make 4 baby servings) and cut them into medium-sized pieces.

Cutting up sweet potato and green beans

Once they are all properly cut-up, arrange them nicely into a basic steamer basket in a small pot with some water (filtered if living in the city) in the bottom.  Put a cover on the pot and let steam for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes and beans are tender (test with a fork) but not just falling to pieces.  In fact I like my beans still slightly crisp.

Cooking potatoes and beans

Next up is prepping them for baby. Be sure to set aside the larger pieces of cooked sweet potato and green bean so that you can give them to your baby to play with during meal time.

Take some of the sweet potato and begin to mash it up.  I use one of these mash and serve bowls, which I find really easy to use and they are inexpensive.  Add drops of breastmilk (or formula or water if you don’t have breastmilk) to the bowl as you mash so that it gets to a nice consistency like you see below.

Mashing Sweet Potato

Mashed Puree of Sweet Potato

And voila!  Mashed sweet potato is ready for baby!  Now, if you are making extra to freeze some of it, I don’t recommend adding the breastmilk while mashing.  Instead, just mash it up adding just a few drops of water and freezing it as is.  Then, you’d want to add the breastmilk once its de-thawed, just before serving.

Now for the green beans.  Place the green bean pieces into a blender, hand blender, food processor, or mini-prep – whatever you already have – with just a little bit of the cooking water and blend it for a few seconds until it reaches a nice consistency (see below).  Moral of the story is that you do not need to go out to buy anything fancy to make baby food.  I personally use a Cuisinart Mini Prep, which I’ve had for years and I love it.  I use it to make pesto, homemade pasta sauce, enchilada sauce, almond cream for quinoa porridge, and now lots of baby food!

GB_Prep

Once you are done with your green bean puree and mashed sweet potato, you can freeze them in portion size servings.  This is an easy way to make multiple meals in advance.  Regular ice cube trays work great to freeze baby food but I personally love the Beaba Multiportion Freezer Trays, which I only have because I got them as a shower gift from my mom.

Baby Food ready for freezer

And that is really all there is to making baby food.  As I mentioned, I always do this at the same time I am cooking for my husband and I to make life easier and to save time.  I have done similar things with pumpkin, carrots, apple, butternut squash, and sweet peas.  All of which he loves.  I sometimes combine foods too, to make it more fun.  Some of his favorite combos so far (at 7 months) – Pumpkin & Banana, Carrot & Apple, and Sweet Peas with Banana.  Those foods aside, we also give him raw foods, which he loves.  Avocado was his first food (and is still his favorite), which we do daily in both chunks for him to feed himself and mashed-up with a little breastmilk.  He also likes eating hunks of watermelon and banana.  Just today I was snacking on a sliced-up honey crisp apple and he helped himself to a slice while we were playing, which he also loved.

Have fun cooking for your baby (ies)!  And when you do, please share your recipes and stories.  🙂

One Response to “Baby Culinaire”

  1. Bill October 4, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Bravo, well done. Like the way you prepare Kai’s food at the same time you are cooking your own, and even that you use the same ingredients. That way, he’ll eventually learn to enjoy all the foods you eat, instead of being fed something different out of a box or jar. Good Job!

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