Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Favorite Baby Food Recipes

I get so many great questions about my homemade baby food. I decided it was time to go ahead and share them on my website, so they could be easily accessed when people ask me what I make for Eli. He is a great eater and I've found that he will really eat any fruit or veggie I give him, if it's prepared with great flavor. I taste all of the food I make for him and I've often found myself saying, "Man, I would eat this!" I think that's how it should be. His food should taste just as great as the food that Mundo and I eat. My favorite baby food book is called Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel. It is fantastic for getting your creative juices flowing! She breaks the purees into age groups, so you know what to feed your baby at each stage (6-7 months, 7-9 months and 9-12). As with anything, you experiment as you go. Eli has only had one reaction and that was to a puree I made with butter that I gave him at 7 months (she recommended it for that age). So, I waited 3-4 weeks and tried again and he did great. The trick is to make sure you've already introduced the veggies (as stage one purees with just water and pureed in the blender) one at a time before combining them to make the more involved purees. To be honest, I haven't always waited 3 days between trying new foods, because when he did have the reaction it was within 24 hours of eating that food.

How do I save my purees? I freeze them in ice cube trays. Then, I empty the cubes into ziploc bags and label them so I remember what they were. When it's meal time, I thaw them out in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.

6-7 Months:
When Eli was just beginning to eat solid food, I bought a bag of organic frozen veggies and fruits(we started with peas, then green beans and peaches and blueberries) and I poured the whole bag into a pot on the stove. I added about 1 cup of water and then put the lid on and let them steam until just thawed (if you over cook the peas and green beans they turn greenish gray and taste yucky!). Then, I poured the whole batch into the blender and pureed until smooth, adding more water as needed to make a smooth, somewhat liquified consistency. Then, I poured the mixture through a sieve and then into the ice cube trays. I also put whole sweet potatoes in the oven (washed and poked all over with a fork so they don't explode) and baked them until tender and juices visibly were running out of them. I did the same thing with butternut squash. When they were completely cooked, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it in the blender with a little water until it was the right consistency (no need to sieve because it will be smooth enough). For applesauce and pears, I peeled the fruit (make sure your pears are ripe and your apples are sweet) and cut it into chunks. Then, I put them in a saucepan with a little water and covered it. I allowed them to cook until really tender. I often seasoned them with cinnamon. Then, puree in the blender, adding water as necessary. You don't need to sieve it because it makes a very smooth puree.

7-9 months:
I began to add flavor to his food. Here was the first recipe I made with onions and butter from the baby puree book(the one he had a reaction to at 7 months, but did great and loved it at 8 months- you never know until you try!):

Carrot and Onion Puree
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 pound organic carrots (very important in this case because carrots tend to really soak up chemicals in the soil and these can cause anemia in infants)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock* recipe to follow
1/4 c. orange juice
Saute the onion in the butter until nice and tender. Add the carrots and saute 3-4 minutes. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add the juice and puree in a blender.

Vegetable Broth - to use to flavor purees (pg. 124 of Top 100 Baby Purees)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 large carrots, peeled
1 large leek, washed
1 stalk celery, trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups cold water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Chop veggies. Sautee the onion and garlic until tender, then add the rest of the veggies and cook over low heat for 5 minutes to soften. Pour in the water and add teh rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour. Allow to cool (2 hours would be great to really bring out the flavor, but you don't have to wait this long). Strain the liquid and then mash the veggies over the broth to get out any remaining flavor (I pull out the carrots before this step and save them to mash and feed to Eli). This can also be frozen in ice cube trays for easy measuring.

Eli's First Chicken Puree
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil
Garlic powder and pepper
1/2 cup sliced and washed white part of a leek
1 tbsp unsalted butter
5 organic baby carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups veggie broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour a small amount of oil over each chicken breast. Season the chicken breasts with garlic powder and pepper. Roast, uncovered, in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until the juices run clear.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Saute the leeks in the butter until tender. Add the carrots and sweet potatoes and broth. Simmer until the beggies are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Pull the chicken off the bones and dice. Add to the veggies. Puree in a food processor. *At 10 months, I added about 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli florets to the vegges toward the end of the cooking time.

Garlicky Puree of Peas and Spinach
1/3 cup diced onion
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup frozen organic peas
1/2 cup fresh organic spinach, washed and stems removed

Saute the onion and garlic in butter until very tender. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the peas and spinach and cook until the peas are thawed and the spinach is wilted. Puree in a food processor.

Baby's First Ministrone (pg. 69 of Top 100 Baby Purees)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. diced organic carrot
1/4 c. diced celery
1/4 c. frozen organic green beans (or broccoli or both!)
1/2 c. diced potato
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 c. vegetable stock
1 cup cooked whole wheat rotini, chopped if not pureeing
1/4 c. frozen peas
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for one minute. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans, potato, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the peas and pasta and cook until the peas are thawed. If not pureeing and simply mashing, chop the pasta into small pieces (or try to find whole wheat pasta starts- I couldn't find them anywhere!) Stir in the cheese. Puree in a food processor for smaller babies or leave chunky for older babies.

Cheese Sauce for Adding to Any Pureed Veggie (especially broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and peas) (pg. 126 of Top 100 Baby Purees):
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and make a smooth paste. Cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat until thickened and smooth. Stir in the cheese until melted.

9-12 Months:
All of the above veggie and fruit purees are still a hit, so he eats them regularly. I've also been feeding him finger foods such as pieces of whole wheat bread, cheddar cheese, cheerios, thawed mixed veggies (peas, corn, and carrots), diced pieces of ripe pears or bananas and his new favorite teething biscuits.

Spiced Teething Biscuits (adapted from a recipe I found online):
*Please watch your baby as he or she eats these. They will love these "cookies", but there is always a chance that a piece will break off and pose a choking hazard. These are very hard biscuits, so the chance is slim that this will happen. But, it's always best to watch them as they eat!
2/3 c. milk
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup, approximately, whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger

Combine the milk and butter and microwave until the butter milks. Cool until lukewarm. Beat together the milk, butter and sugar. Stir in the wheat germ and enough flour to make a dough. It will be the consistency of playdough. Kneed until smooth and satiny, about 8-10 minutes (I made it with my mixer and used the dough hook for about 2 minutes). Roll out dough until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Use a rectangular shaped cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and hard. I cut out all of the biscuits and only baked half (it made about 30 with my cookie cutter). I froze the raw biscuts on a cookie sheet and put them in a ziploc bag to bake when I run out.

1 comment:

peace said...

Oh, it's a very cute baby.
Later,I'll try this.